Chapter 22: Freedom Doesn’t Choose, It Discovers
Living decisively, knowing what one wants, seems easy. However, my reality is that I can never make up my mind about anything. I can always see both sides of an argument and can never decide which is right. So I am left hanging between the two. One part of me, listening to you, feels this is okay, but it makes me feel static, as if I am only partially alive. Please comment.
Mind is never decisive. It is not a question of your mind or somebody else’s mind; mind is indecisiveness. The functioning of the mind is wavering between two polar opposites and trying to find which is the right way.
Mind is the wrong thing, and through the wrong thing you are trying to find the right way. It is as if by closing your eyes you are trying to find the door. Certainly you will feel yourself hanging between the two - to go this way or that; you will be always in a condition of either/or. That’s the nature of mind.
One great Danish philosopher was Soren Kierkegaard. He wrote a book, Either/Or. It was his own life’s experience - he could never decide about anything. Everything was always such that if he was deciding this way, then that way seemed to be right. If he was deciding that way, then this way seemed to be right. He remained indecisive.
He remained unmarried, although a woman was very much in love with him and had asked him. But he said, “I will have to think about it - marriage is a big thing, and I cannot say yes or no immediately.” And he died with the question, without getting married. He lived long - perhaps seventy years - and he was continually arguing, discussing. But he found no answer which could be said to be the ultimate answer, which had not its equal opposite.
He never could become a professor. He had filled out the form, he had all the qualifications - the best qualifications possible - he had many books to his credit, of such immense importance that even after a century they are still contemporary, not old, not out of date. He filled out the form, but could not sign it - because of that “either/or”.whether to join the service or not? The form was found when he died, in the small room where he used to live.
His father, seeing the situation - and he was his only son - seeing that even going somewhere he would stop at the crossroads to decide to go this way or to go that way, for hours.! The whole of Copenhagen became aware of this man’s strangeness, and children nicknamed him “Either/Or,” so urchins would be following him, shouting, “Either/Or!” wherever he would go.
Before he died, his father liquidated all his businesses, collected all the money, deposited it into an account, and arranged that every month on the first day of the month, Kierkegaard should receive so much money, so for his whole life he at least could survive. And you will be surprised: the day he was coming home, on the first day of the month after taking out the last installment of the money - the money was finished - he fell on the street and died. With the last installment! That was the right thing to do. What else to do? - because after this month, what will he do?