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Freedom Manifests in Action

--by Rabindranath Tagore (Mar 08, 2011)
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The more man acts and makes actual what was latent in him, the nearer does he bring the distant Yet-to-be. In that actualisation, man is ever making himself more and yet more distinct, and seeing himself clearly under newer and newer aspects in the midst of his varied activities, in the state, in society. This vision makes for freedom.

Freedom is not in darkness, nor in vagueness. There is no bondage so fearful as that of obscurity. It is to escape from this obscurity that the seed struggles to sprout, the bud to blossom. It is to rid itself of this envelope of vagueness that the ideas in our mind are constantly seeking opportunities to take on outward form. In the same way our soul, in order to release itself from the mist of indistinctness and come out into the open, is continually creating for itself fresh fields of action, and is busy contriving new forms of activity, even such as are not needful for the purposes of its earthly life. And why? Because it wants freedom. It wants to see itself, to realise itself. [...]

Thus is man continually engaged in setting free in action his powers, his beauty, his goodness, his very soul. And the more he succeeds in so doing, the greater does he see himself to be, the broader becomes the field of his knowledge of self. […]

Those who have fully realised the soul have never talked in mournful accents of the sorrowfulness of life or of the bondage of action. They are not like the weakling flower whose stem-hold is so light that it drops away before attaining fruition. They hold on to life with all their might and say, "never will we let go till the fruit is ripe." They desire in their joy to express themselves strenuously in their life and in their work. Pain and sorrow dismay them not, they are not bowed down to the dust by the weight of their own heart. With the erect head of the victorious hero they march through life seeing themselves and showing themselves in increasing resplendence of soul through both joys and sorrows. The joy of their life keeps step with the joy of that energy which is playing at building and breaking throughout the universe. The joy of the sunlight, the joy of the free air, mingling with the joy of their lives, makes one sweet harmony reign within and without.

--Rabindranath Tagore, from "Realisation in Action"


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On Mar 23, 2011 Pancho wrote:

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all.    It is always a joy to share spacetime at the Kindness Temple. I've noticed that the number of siblings coming to Wednesdays have increased in the last weeks. More souls have been touched and the ripples of the insurrection of love only get stronger and stronger. These were the 3 points I shared that Wednesday:   1. Fearlessness 2. Freedom 3. Gandhi, Tagore and the Ultimate Freedom   1. Fearlessness One could be not afraid of anything but that doesn't mean one is fearless. Because if we are courageous and feel no fear of anything but some people are afraid of us, we have not reached true fearlessness. To be fearless is to be respectful and loving towards all living beings.   2. Freedom One could claim to be free and have no physical chains but that doesn't mean one is free. Because if we are have the ability to pick our choices but we promote economic slavery, we foster  See full.

My family calls me Pancho and I'd like you to know that I love you all. 
 
It is always a joy to share spacetime at the Kindness Temple. I've noticed that the number of siblings coming to Wednesdays have increased in the last weeks. More souls have been touched and the ripples of the insurrection of love only get stronger and stronger. These were the 3 points I shared that Wednesday:
 
1. Fearlessness
2. Freedom
3. Gandhi, Tagore and the Ultimate Freedom
 
1. Fearlessness
One could be not afraid of anything but that doesn't mean one is fearless. Because if we are courageous and feel no fear of anything but some people are afraid of us, we have not reached true fearlessness. To be fearless is to be respectful and loving towards all living beings.
 
2. Freedom
One could claim to be free and have no physical chains but that doesn't mean one is free. Because if we are have the ability to pick our choices but we promote economic slavery, we foster war we support oppressive regimes, we have not reached freedom at all. Te be free is to respect and honor the freedom of all living beings.
 
3. Gandhi, Tagore and the Ultimate Freedom
Perhaps Gandhi was one of the most powerful spiritual geniuses of the ages. He was a genius in the art of living. Right before the starting of his most powerful satyagraha, his very close friend Tagore asked him what was the next step he was planing for the independence of the part of the Planet we call India. Gandhi had no idea, he was "waiting for a Divine Call". Gandhi's inner freedom allowed him to wait equanimously while many people were feeling the precious opportunity to overthrown the British was slipping from their hands. Little did they know, the Mahatma --as Tagore, and later most of the World, called him--  was about to birth one of the most spectacular nonviolent direct actions humanity has ever witnessed.
 
Gandhi's main message was that there could be no nonviolence without fearlessness. Therefore, the ultimate freedom is the freedom from fear.
 
May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.
Pancho 

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On Mar 14, 2011 Ganoba wrote:

 Our identity has two aspects, one is inside the skin and the other is outside.

All our difficulties, intellectual and otherwise, are caused by not taking them together as a set.

what is inside is the potential, also called the soul, the spirit and many other names.

What is outside is the field of action, of thought.

These two need each other to find fulfillment.

an artist without a stage would be no artist. Aplayer without a playing field is no player. The opposite is also true.

The unmanifest (potential) needs the field of action to manifest.

The debate is pointless.



On Mar 14, 2011 pratibha wrote:

yes--i don't want to miss affirming the grandeur and inspiration that R.Tagore offers to the world for all time.



On Mar 12, 2011 adrian halichic wrote:

i think ihave a good future



On Mar 11, 2011 Mariette wrote:

Last night, I read a passage from Byron Katie's Loving What Is that also touches upon the interplay of freedom and action.  It also goes on to describe the loving source of action.  I transcribe it here: [Context:  Katie has developed a 4 question 'inquiry' she calls "The Work" to question one's thoughts and finds one's truth in them.  Also, she calls 'story' the countless thoughts that we create in our mind that often judge, justify or explain.] "A question I often hear is 'If I do The Work and I'm no longer fearful for the planet's welfare, why would I get involved in social action?  If I felt completely peaceful, why would I bother taking action at all?'  My answer is 'Because that's what love does.' The fear of not being fearful is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people beginning inquiry.  They believe that without stress, without anger, they wouldn't act, they would just sit around with drool running down the  See full.

Last night, I read a passage from Byron Katie's Loving What Is that also touches upon the interplay of freedom and action.  It also goes on to describe the loving source of action.  I transcribe it here:

[Context:  Katie has developed a 4 question 'inquiry' she calls "The Work" to question one's thoughts and finds one's truth in them.  Also, she calls 'story' the countless thoughts that we create in our mind that often judge, justify or explain.]

"A question I often hear is 'If I do The Work and I'm no longer fearful for the planet's welfare, why would I get involved in social action?  If I felt completely peaceful, why would I bother taking action at all?'  My answer is 'Because that's what love does.'

The fear of not being fearful is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people beginning inquiry.  They believe that without stress, without anger, they wouldn't act, they would just sit around with drool running down their chins.  Whoever left the impression that peace isn't active has never known peace the way I know it.  I am entirely motivated without anger.  The truth sets us free, and freedom acts.

When I take people to the desert, they may see a tin can lying under a cactus and say, 'How can anyone do that to this beautiful desert?'  But that tin can is the desert.  It's what is.  How can it be out of place?  The cactus, the snakes, the scorpions, the sand, the can and us - all of it.  This is nature, not a mental image of the desert without the can.  Without any stress or judgment, I notice that I just pick up the can.  Or I could tell the story that people are polluting the earth, and that there is no end to human selfishness and greed, and then pick up the can with all the sadness and anger I'd be feeling.  Either way, when it's time for the can to move, I notice that I'm there, as nature, picking up the can.  Who would I be without my investigated story?  Just happily picking up the can.  And if someone notices me picking it up, and my action seems right, they may pick up another can.  We're already acting as a community, beyond anything that we've planned.  Without a story, without an enemy, action is spontaneous, clear and infinitely kind."

(This link took me to that part of the book if you wish to read the greater context.  Hopefully it works for you too.)

 

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On Mar 10, 2011 Somik Raha wrote:

Reading this, I was reminded of the censure that individualism generates these days, and remember shaking my head - I don't want to be the selfish individualist. However, I love the grandeur of Tagore's individualist, and want to hold on to life till the fruit is ripe. Why is one individualist position so obnoxious, and the other so sweet and desirable? On Sunday, Deepak Chopra was at the Santa Clara home of Wednesdays, and he said (quoting Rumi), "We are not a drop in the ocean, but the ocean in the drop." That metaphor helps resolve the confusion. The small individualist is a drop in the ocean, desperately trying to make a mark, from a position of increasing scarcity. The grand individualist has discovered the ocean in the drop, and cannot stop expressing/creating/giving through individuality. There is depression in the former, and joyful being in the latter. Makes all the difference. Deepak also shared that science was discovering that not only are we connected to each ot  See full.

Reading this, I was reminded of the censure that individualism generates these days, and remember shaking my head - I don't want to be the selfish individualist. However, I love the grandeur of Tagore's individualist, and want to hold on to life till the fruit is ripe. Why is one individualist position so obnoxious, and the other so sweet and desirable? On Sunday, Deepak Chopra was at the Santa Clara home of Wednesdays, and he said (quoting Rumi), "We are not a drop in the ocean, but the ocean in the drop." That metaphor helps resolve the confusion. The small individualist is a drop in the ocean, desperately trying to make a mark, from a position of increasing scarcity. The grand individualist has discovered the ocean in the drop, and cannot stop expressing/creating/giving through individuality. There is depression in the former, and joyful being in the latter. Makes all the difference.

Deepak also shared that science was discovering that not only are we connected to each other at the emotional level, but also at the phsyical level, so much so that the notion of the individual is turning out to be a myth. If that is indeed the case, then why bother living? Why work? Why create anything? It seems to me that Tagore is raining down hard on the attitude that generates such questions, pointing out a colossal misunderstanding of unity. He is urging us to discover the ocean in the drop, and then shine out, for that is the game of creation. 

As many pointed out last night, Tagore's individuality is about self-awareness - knowing what is coming through us, and getting out of the way without holding on to it. When Tagore talks about freedom, he says in other places that freedom has no meaning without creation, and creation is ALWAYS the creation of limitation, be it with materials or with thoughts. A distinction draws sharp limitations on what is and what is not something. Creating limitations is not the curtailment of our freedom, but the highest expression of it. That kind of creation only happens when we are aware of being an ocean in the drop, and not a drop in the ocean.

To make all this concrete, I've been trying to write an article on the problems in medicine and other fields that use classical statistics. I sent the article out to friends, and most wrote back saying it was confusing or unclear. One even asked me if I often get questions like "What do you mean?" Something was not right. I was bored reading my own article. I finally gave up and sat down to meditate. And then - a moment of clarity. What was missing in the article was my individuality, my life. I couldn't really tell that a living being had written this. What is the sign of life? How do we know that the ocean is finally making its presence felt in the drop? It is when limitations that are products of the drop are swept away by the ocean. It is when rules are broken, not with disgust or anger, but with a transcendent joy, and a dance begins. I am totally ruining that moment of clarity trying to articulate in words what simply can't be spoken of. But the net result of that moment was that I knew how to change the article. 

The article was not about methods, it was about life itself. It had to start with people that I could relate to. And to convey the hardest and most abstract idea, I had to take the help of the gods. Literally. So, I now have an article that talks about the Karthik and Ganesh, as the gods of two schools of scientific thought, one that limits knowledge-seeking to data gathering, and the other with a holistic view that incorporates beliefs. 

After rewriting it, the same people who were turned off by the previous one loved reading it. The big irony here (or insight really) is that a volition to serve is not enough. The article was intended to be of service. But it wasn't serving anyone in its initial form. Only after being touched by the ocean in the drop, understanding my own individuality and how it wanted to express itself, and honoring it in the best way possible can I produce something that actually helps others.

Here is the before and after piece.

There were awesome reflections from the circle. One shared a quote, "Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive." 

Pavi shared about her yoga instructor who'd put her in constraining poses and then ask her to find freedom within the constraint. On these lines, Afreen shared a touching story of losing her freedom through an injury and being on crutches, and how two people she did not know bent down to remove her shoes on Sunday at Deepak Chopra's event.

Viral pointed out that freedom was in understanding oneself and choosing without reacting. Nipun shared about how we find a great deal of selfishness in individualist cultures and tremendous peer-pressure in collectivist cultures - pointing to a need for greater awareness in the moment instead of making generalizations. 

Jennifer pointed out how for her, expressing her freedom to create was not just about acting, but about deciding to be and not react. That would create a different space altogether.

Santosh shared a story about her daughter's interpretation of freedom which I hope she will share online.

Pancho hinted at a debate between Tagore and Gandhi. Tagore found Gandhi's ideas of everyone spinning the charkha distasteful. Why should painters, artists, poets, etc. be limited to one activity? Such constraints crush the soul. The poet should be free to lose himself/herself in the flight of a family of birds in the blue sky. Gandhi responded fondly, "Yes, but those are the birds that have had a hearty meal." Where does Gandhi's message of social justice fit in? Pancho raised the question on whether one can truly be free if one's brethren are not. The seeming contradiction was resolved in Pancho's next comment on the Dandi March when, Tagore asked Gandhi, "The entire nation is looking to you for action. What are you going to do?" Gandhi reportedly replied, "I don't know, but I'm praying." Praying was Gandhi's method of achieving clarity, and the fascinating thing for me to note is that Gandhi came up with a great expression of his own individuality - the salt march was an extremely creative idea, and there was great humor in every aspect of it. Gandhi wrote to the British detailing exactly what he was going to do - to make salt. They couldn't care less. And the rest is history.

We missed CFDad, who is at a 10-day retreat, serving. 

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On Mar 10, 2011 Austin Correia MSFS wrote:

Thank you Nipun!  This passage deeply moves me.  R. Tagore has co-authored my life through lines like these...