Freedom is possible

By Mathias Maurer, September 2019

Freedom can be experienced in different ways. On the one hand this is due to the fact that one person’s freedom need not necessarily be shared by another person, indeed, may even be experienced as a lack of freedom. On the other hand, there are various levels of the human being which determine the way that the experience of freedom comes to expression.

There is the level we experience, for example, through our body and our senses: what pleasure radiates from the face of a one-year-old child which has defied gravity with its body, stood up, taken their first steps and learnt to move freely in space. We, too, still have this feeling when we feel at home in our body as we move about or take hold of it again after an illness.

Our soul life no less demands movement and freedom. It would become slow, barren and inhibited if we did not allow ourselves to be touched inwardly, did not experience states of wellness and unwellness, did not have to deal with sympathy and antipathy. What relief is there for a child when they are allowed to weep away their anger or pain on the shoulder of an adult. What inner freedom can arise in clearing up a misunderstanding with another person, becoming reconciled with an enemy or revealing our less pleasant sides to a friend.

The idea of freedom of thought is probably most familiar to us. But are our thoughts really free? When do we think a really new thought which does not relate to something that has already been thought? But here the experience of freedom is not dependent on whether an idea has already been thought but whether we think it ourselves, whether it has really become our own knowledge so that a context becomes clear to us which allows us to understand the world and another person on their own terms, that is, creates a free relationship.

These three brief examples show what is required to come to an experience of freedom: endeavour and flexibility on all three human levels.

So freedom is not something that is available just like that; it does not develop naturally but lies as a potential in us that has to be grasped and shaped. At the beginning this still takes place with loving people with whom the child lives. Then, with increasing age, the questions of freedom increasingly turn into questions of self-education and self-control. It is up to me to continue to develop and become free – not under the yoke of affliction and sacrifice but out of our individual decision and loving intent.

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