What is freedom?

It seems the greater the sense of self-assurance and self-certainty the more the sense of self is reified - we ‘become’ somebodies. Insight into the Dhamma relaxes this contraction - the grasping of perceptions and thoughts and taking ownership of them.

When there is a sense of ease and relaxation - a sweet letting go - there is more comfort in the mind and inside this bag of skin. Thoughts and perceptions arrive and are held lightly, they seem weightless - without substance. There are the primal elements of experience - there is consciousness - but ‘no owner’. There is contact, consciousness, feeling but no taking hold of the flow of experience.

Perceptions and thoughts acquire the power of persuasion through faith and confidence. They are important and valuable tools in the service of wisdom but they often serve no useful purpose. Everything has its place - its appropriate use.

We come out of dukkha by holding things lightly, gently, with kindness and, with presence of mind. The purpose of Buddhism is to help us to realise our freedom - to inquire into the nature of our tendency to become ‘bound to’ anything! Therefore, Buddhism is only a skilful means for ‘crossing over’ the stream of the world to the safety of being human - without needing anything from the world for our sense of self worth - our inner peace, joy and deep abiding care.

We cannot be bound to the truth that liberates because there is nowhere to tether ourselves - and attach. All bonds can - and will - be broken. We only need to avoid getting in the way. Who is it that attaches and ties itself to freedom without measure - without conditions? To discover this ‘freedom’ (unbinding) we need to start somewhere. We require a heart-felt interest in finding out what is going on with us that makes us suffer without good reason. The purpose of Dhamma inquiry - Dhamma practice - is to let go of the inquiry. It is not required when we find the answers we need - and live them without reservation.

An awakened being is not taken-in by confidence-tricks. Stream entry is the discovery of complete self-doubt - no more personality belief. Freedom is its own evidence - there is no clinging and no desire - nothing is required. Its more obvious than the nose on our face. Emptiness requires no affirmation therefore, there is no confirmation-bias. Liberating insight cannot be imagined as that is already one-step removed.

Letting go does not mean throwing away - it means holding lightly with care and wisdom. We don’t need to throw away anything that is helpful in Dhamma inquiry. Any ideology that divides people and prevents them meeting with care and mutual respect should be let go of without hesitation.

It is the belligerent insistence that there is certainty where ‘there is none’ that undermines free and (open inquiry) - this includes science and the Buddha-Dhamma. This is why we need to challenge secular ideologies - not secularism - and religious fundamentalism. They tend to trap their victims in self-certainty where self-questioning is required.

The truth is not arrived at through a yes/no process. It does not require our assent or an (act) of approval. The truth is liberating - there is no freedom without truth. There is no freedom as long as we believe we are a ‘somebody’. They always have a ‘role’ to play and it never solves the problem - permanently. Our esteem needs require endless maintenance and the wheels always fall off - sooner or later. Anything that is put-together will eventually come undone. This is why the world rings hollow.

We are not who we think we are and we are not what we take ourselves to be - the body/mind is ‘not-sef’ (anatta). We are not true-believers or non-believers or some other ‘persona’(mask) that hides our simplicity of being.

There is a sense of security in the known but it is not a true refuge. As long as we have a sense of being a ‘somebody’ we will remain ill-at-ease. When subjectivity dissolves in the beautiful - in Jhana - it is clear what unsullied happiness looks like.

The ending of dukkha is available in emptiness where perception and cognition cease. Existence is self-liberating when there is no grasping and clinging - as soon as anything arises its on its way to cessation. How could it be otherwise?

If we end up with anything - as a result of practice - we are still in a pickle. When we lose everything 'there is nothing more worth having’ - because its not *up to snuff. Letting go makes living meaningful - it has to be lived.

“But the people … they called … “up to snuff,” and equal to every occasion, had already seen a way out of the difficulty.” - P.G. Wodehouse

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This statement is true only for Arahants.
There is a Sutta to support it.

“Just try to keep your mind in the present. Whatever arises in the mind, just watch it and let go of it. Don’t even wish to be rid of thoughts. Then the mind will return to its natural state. No discriminating between good and bad, hot and cold, fast and slow. No me and no you, no self at all—just what there is. When you walk there is no need to do anything special. Simply walk and see what is there. No need to cling to isolation or seclusion. Wherever you are, know yourself by being natural and watching. If doubts arise, watch them come and go. It’s very simple. Hold on to nothing. It’s as though you are walking down a road. Periodically you will run into obstacles. When you meet defilements, just see them and overcome them by letting them go. Don’t think about the obstacles you’ve already passed; don’t worry about those you have not yet seen. Stick to the present. Don’t be concerned about the length of the road or the destination. Everything is changing. Whatever you pass, don’t cling to it. Eventually the mind will reach its natural balance where practice is automatic. All things will come and go of themselves.”
― Ajahn Chah

“Do not be a bodhisattva, do not be an arahant, do not be anything at all. If you are a bodhisattva, you will suffer, if you are an arahant, you will suffer, if you are anything at all, you will suffer.”
— Ajahn Chah

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Above statement sounds like the household equanimity or non-doing.

They are instructions or guidelines for practice translated into English. As the practice takes its course fewer obstacles arise. An obstacle appears small or large depending on the degree of involvement with it. If we hold our hand in front of our eyes it can prevent us from seeing - if we hold it away from us we can see clearly.

“In zazen, leave your front door and your back door open. Let thoughts come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.” ― Shunryu Suzuki

Yes this is true! However mind the fact that in stream entry the fetter called ‘doubt’ (vicikicca) is eliminated. This is one of the three fetters removed at stream entry along with self-view (sakkaya ditti), and attachment to rites and rituals (silabbataparamasa). Faith (saddha) is a result of stream entry and an unshakeable one at that!

A degree of faith required to begin the quest:

"Monks, I do not say that the attainment of gnosis is all at once. Rather, the attainment of gnosis is after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice. And how is there the attainment of gnosis after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice? There is the case where, when conviction has arisen, one visits [a teacher]. Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one lends ear. Having lent ear, one hears the Dhamma. Having heard the Dhamma, one remembers it. Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings. MN70

However the arahanth in someways have their faith faculty (indriya & bala) at the highest at the level of an arahanth. However simultaneously, they are called ‘faithless’ (asaddhaka)- because faith is superfluous when one has insight into phenomena.

with metta


Here’s a story about faith in the Buddha, dhamma and sangha arising after stream entry happens:

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Rajagaha at the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Sanctuary. Now at that time in Rajagaha there was a leper named Suppabuddha, a poor, miserable wretch of a person. And at that time the Blessed One was sitting surrounded by a large assembly, teaching the Dhamma. Suppabuddha the leper saw the large gathering of people from afar and thought to himself, “Without a doubt, someone must be distributing staple or non-staple food over there. Why don’t I go over to that large group of people, and maybe I’ll get some staple or non-staple food.” So he went over to the large group of people. Then he saw the Blessed One sitting surrounded by a large assembly, teaching the Dhamma. On seeing this, he realized, “There’s no one distributing staple or non-staple food over here. That’s Gotama the contemplative, sitting surrounded by a large assembly, teaching the Dhamma. Why don’t I listen to the Dhamma?” So he sat down to one side right there, [thinking,] "I, too, will listen to the Dhamma."
Then the Blessed One, having encompassed the awareness of the entire assembly with his awareness, asked himself, “Now who here is capable of understanding the Dhamma?” He saw Suppabuddha the leper sitting in the assembly, and on seeing him the thought occurred to him, “This person here is capable of understanding the Dhamma.” So, aiming at Suppabuddha the leper, he gave a step-by-step talk, i.e., a talk on generosity, on virtue, on heaven; he declared the drawbacks, degradation, & corruption of sensual passions, and the rewards of renunciation. Then when he saw that Suppabuddha the leper’s mind was ready, malleable, free from hindrances, elated, & bright, he then gave the Dhamma-talk peculiar to Awakened Ones, i.e., stress, origination, cessation, & path. And just as a clean cloth, free of stains, would properly absorb a dye, in the same way, as Suppabuddha the leper was sitting in that very seat, the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye arose within him, "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."
Having seen the Dhamma, reached the Dhamma, known the Dhamma, having plunged entirely into the Dhamma, having crossed over & beyond doubt, having had no more perplexity, having gained fearlessness & independence from others with regard to the Teacher’s message, he rose up from his seat and went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: “Magnificent, venerable sir! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what had been overturned, were to reveal what was hidden, were to show the way to one who was lost, or were to hold up a lamp in the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way the Blessed One has – through many lines of reasoning – made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life.” Ud5.3

with metta


No more ‘I’ making and mine-making - ahankaramamankara. Seeing through personality-belief is not an article of faith. Personality-belief has always been a case of misplaced confidence. Doubt as a hindrance is something else - entirely. Faith in stream-entry is born of the confidence that the practice delivers - through direct knowledge and vision. Ii is not merely believing in something - it is not vicarious experience.

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Absolutely! Eye to eye, with the dhamma! :eyes:

with metta

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Here’s what the Buddha said:

When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering’ — then you should abandon them. AN3.65

with metta

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Seeing through the sense of self is not like reflecting on what is wholesome and unwholesome, skilful and unskilful - practicing the former and rejecting the latter. Its a case of mistaken identity - seeing that which had been taken to be ‘somebody’ was nobody all along. It’s not the product of discursive activity from anywhere in the known universe. Liberating insight is of a different order to things that are known vicariously - truth is different from actuality - facts and fictions - and, personal reality (that is a product of personal history). The stories we live by are a ‘made-up’ world - an imaginative invention. They do not lead to Nibbanic peace, contentment with little, serenity and true happiness.

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Belief in a Self can be harmful too:

“Now, what do you think, Kalamas? When delusion arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?”
“For harm, lord.” AN3.65

with metta

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It could not serve a skilful - a useful - purpose if it not grounded in the Dhamma. Cling to naught - the Dhamma is that which sustains and liberates.

As per you OP, there is no ‘freedom’ when the internal wall of the ‘Self’ is there take the hit for ego-attacks, blame, praise, self-critical thoughts, etc. Also there are no ego based competitiveness as well. When no self is posited, these things just fly past - I’m of course talking not about self view here, but rather, that which remains after the self-view is penetrated - the sense of self which lingers until dismantled.

with metta,

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lovely link to Ajahn Chah’s talk - Thank you :slight_smile: