Freedom is a powerful idea. But I am not sure we are always very clear what we have in mind when we speak of it. Does freedom mean doing whatever we feel like in any given moment? Does it mean having the power and liberty to exercise our will with no obstruction? Does it evoke a state in which we have shed ourselves of all obligations to others?
Many of our notions of freedom are based implicitly on the idea that we are utterly self-sustaining and separate entities. This model leads us to feel that others’ claims on us undercut our freedom. We experience our relationships as ties that bind us and limit our freedom. Based on this, we assume that we cannot all be free, because the freedom of one person comes at the cost of another’s. If we believe that, it is small wonder that people so often seek to dominate and oppress others. This is an idea that slips into discussions of freedom—the idea that freedom is in some fundamental way a limited resource, such that one person exercising his freedom detracts from another person’s ability to be free. But this is not the case. Freedom is not a zero-sum game.
It is possible and realistic for every person to experience real freedom. The reason we have not managed to do so is we lack an understanding of what real freedom is and how it can be achieved. We need the wisdom to distinguish the egocentric pursuit of self- interest from the pursuit of authentic freedom.
When I hear what people say about freedom sometimes, it sounds to me like longing to live out the fantasy of being independent and absolutely autonomous individuals, of being free of consequences and responsibilities—that is to say, exempt from the principle of interdependence. But there is no such thing. We cannot exist out- side causality or outside the connections of interdependence, and so freedom cannot be a matter of escaping from those connections.
Only freedom developed on the basis of a realistic view of who we are and how we relate to others can be authentic—and extended universally to all. If we acknowledge our interdependence, and take into account the vast networks of interconnections in which our lives and actions are embedded, we will find that our own freedom is inseparable from the freedom of all other people. When we truly appreciate this fact, we experience interdependent freedom—a freedom that does not detract from others’ freedom. This is the freedom that we can all enjoy together without conflict.
Freedom’s Inner Conditions
Freedom does not start from the outside. Although external conditions have a part to play, that is not where freedom originates. This might sound backward, but authentic freedom arises initially from inner conditions. Its deepest roots are within us.
Most often when we speak of freedom, what we actually have in mind are freedom’s outer manifestations. This may be the gravest error we make in our understanding of freedom. If we think we will achieve freedom when we can exercise complete control over our immediate environment, we overlook the single most important determinant of authentic freedom: our own minds.
Our mind has unlimited potential. It is not bound to any one position or viewpoint. What we think or feel—our mental state—is not simply determined by outer circumstances. Because of this, no matter how challenging our external conditions might be, we can experience freedom if we cultivate the inner resources that allow us to feel free. The basis for establishing authentic freedom is within us.
If you can access a sense of inner freedom no matter what is going on around you, you are experiencing freedom. As important as outer liberties are, freedom does not consist solely in enjoying physical or verbal liberty, such as freedom of movement or freedom of speech. We may have the liberty to do and say as we wish and yet still be deeply unfree mentally or emotionally. This is why inner freedom is key. When we have freed our minds and hearts from within, our happiness no longer depends on making the rest of the world serve our self-centered goals. Not only that, we gain freedom to work to change the external conditions that have the potential to limit or obstruct our freedom from outside, and we also have what we need to be able to work for the freedom of others.
What are we looking for when we seek freedom? Maybe at the bottom of it all, the freedom we seek is the experience of genuine happiness. Since this is an inner experience, external things cannot be the measure of our happiness or our freedom. We will come back in a moment to the question of what we mean by happiness and how it enables us to experience freedom, but I think if we examine our own experiences, we can see that whether we call it freedom or not, if we feel free, we feel happy, and if we feel happy, we also feel free. The state of mind and the feeling we seek can be called freedom, or it can be called happiness. But whatever name we give it, if we want to experience happiness or freedom, we must cultivate the inner conditions that give rise to those states.
One of the most important Tibetan Buddhist leaders worries about the growing Chinese influence and diminishing numbers of the community in exile
Sanjay Kapoor Delhi
In the year 2000, a 14-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorji or Karmapa Lama, head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of Tibetan Buddhists, escaped from Tibet and walked across the mighty Himalayas to India. His daring escape was viewed with suspicion by some who thought that it was part of a Chinese conspiracy to disrupt Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist Exile community in India. Karmapa, who was selected through a complicated process that combined prophecy and rigorous interviews by Buddhist monks in Tibet, through the force of his charismatic personality has been seeking to assuage the misgivings and controversies that plague the exile community. Karmapa lives in Dharamshala, where Tibet’s capital in exile is located. He enjoys an excellent relationship with Dalai Lama and many see in him as the spiritual lea…
United Kingdom Tour - 2017 (London Time)
May 2011:00 - 12:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break15:00 - 16:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind
May 2111:00 - 12:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break15:00 - 17:00• Chenrezik Empowerment
May 2714:00 - 18:00• Long Life Empowerment
United Kingdom Tour - 2017 (Indian Time)
May 2015:30 - 17:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break19:30 - 21:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind
May 2115:30 - 17:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break19:30 - 21:30• Chenrezik Empowerment
May 2718:30 - 22:30• Long Life Empowerment
Gangtok, May 20 (PTI) A delegation of monks of various monasteries of Sikkim met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging early permission for Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit the state.
The monks called on Singh, who is on a two-day visit here, at the Raj Bhavan last evening, officials said.
They submitted the resolution taken after a peace rally here on May 18 which urged the Government of India to grant one of the "most important demand and aspiration" of the Buddhists of Sikkim seeking early permission for the Karmapa to visit Sikkim.
The delegation was led by the Sangha MLA Sonam Kelyon Lama, who is the elected political representative of the monks in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, the officials added.
A central government order bans entry of all the three Karmapa claimants to the title of Karmapa at Rumtek monastery in East Sikkim since 1994.
The Sikkimese Buddhists who follow the Khagyu sect recognize the 31-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorj…
DHARAMSHALA: Kalon Karma Gelek Yuthok, Department of Religion and Culture, Central Tibetan Administration, attended the convocation ceremony of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectic, Dharamsala and the college of higher Tibetan studies, Sarah, this morning. The event was held at Sarah college of Tibetan Higher Studies.
His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Thinlay Dorjee graced the inauguration of the convocation as the chief guest. The function began with recitation of prayers by the students followed by serving sweet rice and butter tea to the guests, staff and students.
Ven. Kalsang Damdul, the director of IBD and CHTS gave welcome speech and briefly introduced the college and courses provided by the institution. Mr. Passang Tsering, Principal of CHTS read out the report of the college. The function was attended by Mr. Topgyal Tsering, secretary of Kashag secretariat, CTA, Mrs. Nangsa Choedon and Mr. Karma Senge, Secretary and Acting Secretary of Department of Education, representives of…
The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, arrived in central London this afternoon on his first ever visit to the United Kingdom. A long line of devotees offering katas greeted him on his arrival at his hotel. He was then officially welcomed at a special reception in the form of a traditional English afternoon tea.
April 30, 2017 – Sarah College of Higher Tibetan Studies, Dharamshala, Kangra, HP, India
The Gyalwang Karmapa’s car passed by ordained and lay students who stood along the tree-lined road leading to Sarah College. After a brief visit to the college office, he was invited into the main hall where he was offered a mandala and the three representations of body, speech, and mind. As the Chief Guest, the Karmapa had come to confer, along with Kalon Karma Gelek Yuthok, certificates to the Lobpon graduating students, the Uma Rabjampa and the Parchin Rabjampa students from Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, which shared this convocation ceremony with Sarah College.
Welcoming everyone, the Karmapa noted that he’d had quite a bit of experience attending functions at universities, both in India and abroad, yet he felt a special connection with Sarah College that made him especially happy to participate in this ceremony. For special greetings, the Karmapa singled out the students who had studied the…
GANGTOK, May 18: pending demand for allowing 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim saw scores of monks and followers taking out a robust rally in Gangtok on Thursday, a day before Union Home Affairs minister Rajnath Singh comes visiting the Sikkim capital.
Their well-timed persistence extracted an assurance from the State government that a 15-member delegation from their side would be allowed to visit Rajnath Singh on Friday to place the Karmapa visit demand.
Another strategic objective of the rally was to attract the attention of intelligence agencies based in Gangtok for sending a message to the visiting Union Minister that the Karmapa followers in Sikkim have reached exasperation level.
A meeting of Chief Ministers of five States who share borders with China is taking place at Gangtok on Saturday for which Rajnath Singh is arriving.
“We want the IB and RAW officials listening and taking note of our rally to take the…
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, will begin his first Canadian tour at the end of May 2017. This visit, to last nearly a month, will begin in Toronto, proceeding to Calgary and reach Vancouver as its final Canadian destination in mid-June. Activities planned during His Holiness’ visit in Vancouver include: a Chenrezig empowerment, Akshobhya teachings and empowerment, and a panel discussion on our environment and social inequality.
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa is the spiritual leader of the Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The Karmapa lineage dates back 900 years; it is the oldest and foremost lineage to commence a tradition of reincarnate teachers in Tibetan Buddhism. The current Karmapa has taken birth in 1985, unto a nomadic family in eastern Tibet. He was recognized as the 17th lineage holder at an age of seven, and journeyed from Tibet to India at the age of 14. Ever since, the Gyalwang Karmapa has assumed the role of a spiritual leader. He has traveled the wor…
What we need to do now to improve our lifestyles and create a sustainable world, is to simply connect, says the Karmapa, OGYEN TRINLEY DORJE, to NARAYANI GANESH...
The ancients have always spoken of the web of life. In your book, ‘Interconnected’, are you presenting a different perspective?
■ In terms of the actual meaning there is no difference but this is a way of expressing an experiential perspective for today, to feel it experientially. So in actuality, there is no difference. We have been and will always be interconnected and so are interdependent.
You are saying, ‘See the connection, feel the connection and live the connection’. Sounds easy. What are the challenges in adopting this path?
■ We are not separate but we have the concept of the self or mind as ‘I’or ‘me’. Because of the idea of being an independent self, we feel a sense of separation and this is the biggest impediment — of there being an independent self.