These days, a lot of people online want to sell you freedom. They say the way to freedom is through becoming self-employed, being location independent, or shedding all of your possessions.
But I don’t think freedom can ever be found by breaking free of anything. Because once you move in the direction to Freedom from X, you start to put yourself in opposition to X. And that’s when you put yourself into another pattern, another groove. Once you identify as counter-culture, you’ve become the thing you wanted to rid yourself of: conformity.
Freedom is not found in patterns, nor on the edges of contrarianism. Freedom isn’t about escaping the 9 to 5, revolution, or breaking away.
When I quit my job in 2009 I thought that that was what I needed to create freedom in my life. And did it? No, and yes. It created more time for me to do the things I wanted. But it didn’t grant me freedom. That was something only I could claim, right now. I didn’t need to be free from a job in order to be free as a human. Freedom doesn’t rely on achieving any specific circumstance in the future. It’s here now, or not at all.
But a lot of people have trouble accepting that. They think they need to do or change something in order to earn their freedom. We think that freedom is something we have to protect and fight for. As soon as you start thinking that, it’s already too late. You’re in another pattern of you vs. them. Freedom has no home, it’s alien to all patterns.
No one can take away your freedom.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what freedom means to me. Is it the absence of desire? Detachment? The ability to do whatever I want?
What I found is that…
Freedom is the absence of conditioning
It sounds simple, but being free of conditioning is a hard thing to do. We spend most of our lives submitting to ideas, beliefs, perspectives, and patterns that are false. They keep us confined and keep us from experiencing life.
Because that’s the sad part: you can’t experience life right now when you’re trapped in a pattern. You’re looking through the lens of conformity and distortion. What was once alive has been filtered and processed down to an automatic response.
You can’t listen to another person when you’re formulating a response. And you can’t experience life when you’re caught in a pattern of thinking. As soon as you say “this is the way,” you have stopped living.
Freedom is not for sale
Just as no change in circumstance can bring you freedom, you can’t buy freedom either. No one can sell you a guide or solution that will give you what you need to liberate yourself. A lot of people like to claim they can help you become free with this new system or this or that change. It’s all bullshit.
The only thing that will set you free is… curiosity. Deep, sincere inquiry. This is a quality that I attempt to cultivate in myself, and is something that I think can serve you for life.
I’m not here to say that things like lifestyle design, location independence, or self-employment are wrong or that they don’t enhance your life. But to say they are necessary to being free is misleading, and simply not true. And evangelizing it as the way just puts you in another pattern.
So yeah, you can master lifestyle design, travel the world, and hack your personal growth, but that won’t make you free.
Radical, sincere, and fiery inquiry is the only medicine potent enough to burn through conditioning. Then, whatever action you take is rooted in insight, not just responding to what other people think will set you free.
The truth is, your burning questioning is all you need to set yourself free. But don’t believe me, investigate for yourself.