A famous couplet of Indian poet Tulsidas, the writer of the Epic of Lord Ram, says that a person without freedom can not realize happiness even in his dreams. In fact freedom is considered to be so universal that it is said to be "self evident truth". Freedom is indeed the most important necessity for being happy. Abraham Lincoln on September 11, 1858 on his famous speech at Edwardsville, Illinois said,
Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere.
Yet even after many millennium of human evolution, liberty still eludes the human race. We all seem to be dependent on numerous people and our freedom is restricted through numerous laws made by the State. We are chained by time as every day, we have to go to school, colleges or on our jobs. We hardly have any freedom at our workplace as we have to do the work that is decided by someone else. In the home, a man is chained with the family responsibilities and numerous obligations towards the other members of the family.
A man in his desperation cries for freedom but finds it nowhere. No wonder, most people fail to attain happiness as they fail to realize freedom as no civilized society can survive without rules and laws whose sole purpose is to restrict the freedom of the man.
Does that mean the happiness shall permanently elude human race?
One Action: Two Perceptions
Freedom is truly not an act of being but a state of mind. Let us compare two cases to illustrate this point.
In the police and army training academies, the physical fitness is considered extremely important. Every recruit has to get up early morning and go for the "drill" where he has to jog, run and do numerous exercises for the fitness of the body. These exercises are in the interest of the recruits as they are designed to enhance the physical power and fitness of the recruits. Yet most recruits find the drill most painful, though they have no option but to follow it due to the fear of punishment which are quite severe in Academies. No wonder most recruits stop these exercises no sooner, they get an option.
Yet if you visit your neighborhood park, you may notice numerous people, who gets up in the early morning and get ready to come to the park for walking, jogging, running and doing various physical exercises. There are many people who pays a good amount of money to join the Gym and go there without miss to sweat and build their body.
If one sees only the action, there is no difference between the action of a recruit and a person in the park. They are doing identical things. Yet there is lot of difference between the two actions which lies in their perception of the doer. While the recruits does it as his duty due to fear of punishment, the jogger does it for the sake of the self and enjoys it.
Thus the same action can be done either voluntarily or involuntarily. A voluntary action is an action done by the free man which leads to happiness while the involuntary action is done by the dependent man which is the source of pain to him.
The Laws of Nature
Most people do not feel independent as they do not understand the laws of the nature. They have to be always guided or forced by someone to do something. If only one can understand the laws of the nature and perform the job voluntarily without any interference from a third person, all our actions would be done by our free will and we shall always be happy.
We are all required to work to sustain our body which requires food, water and shelter. We have to also keep our mind happy by acquiring some status and position in the society. It is for this reason that we are required to work in this world which make these things available to us in return of our contribution towards it.
It has to be understood that there is no reaction without action and that there is no free lunches. Everything has a price which has to be paid to get the thing. Hence, in any organization, one has to contribute before one can claim any return from it. If one performs his job, then the laws of karma prevails and everyone is compensated for what he does.
However, most people fail to perform their duties without the fear of the punishment. The temptation of rewards fails to drive them as they are not sure of their success. They work only under treat rather than by their free will. If only, a person understand the requirement of the organization and fulfill it without being forced, he can expect freedom.
For example, if you are employed in an organization, you have to understand the bosses, the colleagues and the subordinate. They all have an expectation from you. If you are aware of their expectations and needs, you can be able to fulfill their desires without any problem. In this way, they would never have to say anything to you or force you to do the job. You have to anyway do the job, just like the trainees has to follow the drill as it is an important part of their training to develop their physical strength. Therefore, if you have chosen to be a cop, you have to pass through the drill to make yourself fit for the job. If you can understand the truth and follow it without any coercion, you attain freedom and joy.
Freedom Means Self-Discipline
The world can not exist without discipline. Even the plants and stars follow discipline in their life by following a predetermined path. Often, the discipline has to be imposed externally as most people fail to observe it voluntarily. The only solution is self-discipline which eliminates the need of any external discipline. However, self-discipline can come only from within to those who have deep knowledge of the self and the world as only such knowledge can integrate the self with the world. Only a self-disciplined person can have the freedom in this world and only through freedom one can realize the true happiness.