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Chapter 5: Watch This! Stranger than Fiction

A young man came to me; he wanted to marry a girl. He was a Brahmin, a very high-caste Brahmin, very respected in the city, and he wanted to marry a Parsi girl. The parents were obviously against it, absolutely against it. They had told him that if he married that girl they would disown him - and he was the only son. The more stubborn the parents became, the more the young man became determined to marry the girl. He had come to ask my advice.

I said, “Just meditate for three days on one thing: are you really interested in the girl or are you simply interested in saying no to your parents?”

He said, “Why do you say this to me? I love the girl, I am absolutely in love.”

I said, “If you say so, then get married. But I don’t see any love in your eyes, I don’t see any love in your heart. I don’t see any fragrance of love. I only see some negative aura around you, a black aura around your face. It says you are determined to go against your parents - the girl is only an excuse.”

But he wouldn’t listen. If he was not going to listen to his parents, how was he going to listen to me? He got married. After six months he came to see me, crying and weeping. He fell at my feet and said, “You were right - I don’t love that woman, that love was false. You were right, your diagnosis was right. Now that I have got married to her and I have denied my parents’ order, all love has disappeared.”

This is “freedom from.” This is not much of a freedom, but better than nothing.

The second kind of freedom is “freedom for”; that is positive freedom. Your interest is not in denying something, rather you want to create something. For example, you want to be a poet, and just because you want to be a poet you have to say no to your parents. But your basic orientation is that you want to be a poet and your parents would like you to be a plumber. “Better be a plumber. That is far more paying, far more economical, far more respectable too. Poet? People will think you are crazy. And how are you going to live? And how are you going to support your wife and your children? Poetry can’t pay.”

But if you are for poetry, ready to risk all, this is a higher freedom, better than the first. It is positive freedom - “freedom for.” Even if you have to live a life of poverty you will be happy, you will be cheerful. Even if you have to chop wood to remain a poet you will be utterly blissful, fulfilled, because you are doing what you wanted to do, you are doing your own thing. This is positive freedom.

And then there is a third freedom, the highest; in the East we have called it moksha - the ultimate freedom, which goes beyond both the negative and the positive. First learn saying no, then learn saying yes, and then just forget both, just be. The third freedom is not freedom against something, not for something, but just freedom. One is simply free - no question of going against, no question of going for.

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