What is freedom of mind, and what is a mind trap? In an era when everyone is aspiring to be independent in a world that exists because of the interdependent nature of everything that surrounds us, it is challenging to define what is freedom and what is a trap for our minds. Something that gives you freedom now could become a trap the next moment.
An example of how the concept of freedom changes to being a trap could be the need for freedom from your parents and being independent – not having to listen to anyone, not being controlled by anyone, but after some time, you start to feel lonely. Without them bothering you, you begin to feel as though nobody cares about you. Sometimes, with the need to have independence from your parents, you think getting a separate apartment is freedom. However, if you end up unable to pay the loan you took to buy your apartment, the very loan that gave you freedom becomes a trap for you.
Marriage is another example – getting married to the love of your life is truly the freedom of your life. However, after some time, that same marriage to the love of your life may seem to be your life's biggest trap; some even get a divorce to get freedom from that marriage.
Talking about our workplace, as an employee, you may feel you cannot go where you want to; you cannot take leave when you want to, etc. To free yourself from this trap of restrictions in your workplace, you will work immensely hard to set up your own company to be your own boss. Then, the company being your own, you are responsible for the financial matters, and you land up working longer hours than you used to as an employee of another company. And even when you go home, you are working because now it is your company, and you are actually more stressed.
From all these situations, it is very hard to define what really is freedom and what is a trap. If the freedom of mind and mind trap were physically existent, it would have been resolved with less complexity, for example, by becoming the boss of a company, getting married, or getting a new apartment. But definitely, it does not seem to be like that. While, to a large extent, external factors or situations can trap us, both freedoms and traps are essentially the concepts created by our minds. This means that both feelings of freedom and trap are traps of the mind. And we usually fall into this trap when we strive to be 100 percent independent and act 100 percent independent without including the importance of others in our day-to-day interactions.
The question we have to ask ourselves is - How can we be 100 percent independent? Right from the start of our life, unless we are born from a lotus, we depend on our parents. The very feeling of being loved, which makes us happy is because someone else loves us. All emotions, such as love, respect, and appreciation, that make us feel good and happy come from others. The food that we need to eat for survival comes from the farms with the hard work of farmers, then brought to the marketplace by shopkeepers. When we depend on others for everything to such an extent, isn’t saying “we need to be independent” the biggest mind trap of the 21st century? I may be wrong, but this is what I feel.
How can we be independent? How can we not include the importance of others in our day-to-day interactions in our life to some extent? Practically speaking, I feel that we need to understand that we need relationships to survive in this world. The very survival and happiness of human beings are interdependent on each other and many other things. We need air, trees, water, and a clean environment for survival. Therefore, to understand our existence in a wholesome manner, we need to first understand the importance of others, including our environment. Practicality demands that we care about each other, the environment, and our family, but at the same time, without becoming extreme. Again, extremism brings about a whole set of problems. If we become extreme in caring about our family, it can become a headache, a trap. For example, it is excellent if you care about your wife, but if you are extremely caring and follow her everywhere, it is not good. We have to live well in society, but if your concern about your career becomes extreme and you start sacrificing everything else, it will stress you out. We are often so consumed with our career and status in society that we can kill ourselves if we end up losing the so-called status, which was a mind trap from the very beginning.
To some extent, what affects us individually in our small world depends on how we look at and interact with the world. So, I believe that we will be able to nurture the seed of compassion in ourselves and at the same time not get too deep into the mind trap.