« Glossary Index

Spiritual freedom is the awareness that you are not subject to control of your soul, and this reflects into wider views of freedom. Freedom is something greater than just the right to act however I choose—it also stands for the equity or fairness of everyone having an equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Freedom is the basic condition for you to touch life, to touch the blue sky, the trees, the birds, the tea, and the other person.
Thich Naht Hahn


To most reasonable people, freedom therefore means more than just hedonistic  ‘free to do whatever I want’. (Taken literally, that approach would produce anarchy—every man, woman, and child for himself or herself.)

Certainly freedom does mean the right to do as one pleases—to think, believe, speak, worship (or not worship), move about, gather, and generally act as you choose—but only until your choices start to infringe on another person’s freedom.

This still leaves a great deal of latitude. There is a long list of things that one can say, and say freely, for example, that excludes falsely shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Caged birds accept each other but flight is what they long for.
Tennessee Williams, Camino Real

Devotion to your moral intent helps you to stick to your values, ideals or spiritual path while knowledge helps you to practice self-judgement and gradually release yourself from all entanglements, and obligations to beliefs and forces of external control. We practice discipline to remove our attachments but in the process if a new set of burdens is picked up, then life will lead to greater lack of authenticity. Spiritual freedom makes us aware and cautious of such petty thoughts, superstitions, wrongly construed ideas, and false beliefs which tie us to stereotypes and inauthentic obligations.

Here are some common categories of freedom:

  1. Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, and the absence of a societal control by immoral leaders.
  2. Freedom of assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. The right to freedom of association is recognized as a human right, a political freedom and a civil liberty. This freedom can be limited by laws that protect public safety.
  3. Freedom of expression includes freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of assembly and petition. This freedom doesn’t extend to expression that defames, causes panic, creates fighting words, incites people to crime, creates sedition, or is obscene.
  4. Freedom of speech is the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference. The right doesn’t extend to hate speech, advertising, child pornography, and a few other instances.
  5. Freedom of religion is the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. This right extends to any religious belief, but not in the practice of all religious activities (for example, ones that involve breaking other laws).
  6. Freedom of the press prohibits the government from interfering with the printing and distribution of information or opinions. It can be limited by libel and copyright laws, and it doesn’t include the act of news gathering.

See also: The Concept of Good

Ignorance may be bliss, but it certainly is not freedom, except in the minds of those who prefer darkness to light and chains to liberty.
The more true information we can acquire, the better for our enfranchisement.

Robert Hugh Benson

Full Glossary Index