Thirty-six streams are rushing toward you!
Desire and pleasure and lust….
Play in your imagination with them
and they will sweep you away.
They flow everywhere.
If you see it spring up,
Pull it out by the roots.
Pleasures flow everywhere.
You float upon them
and are carried from life to life.
Like a hunted hare you run,
the pursuer of desire pursued,
harried from life to life.
Give up desire.
Shake off your chains.
You have come out of the hollow
into the clearing.
The clearing is empty.
Why do you rush back into the hollow?
Desire is a hollow
and people say, “Look!
He was free.
But now he gives up his freedom.”
Gautama the Buddha’s whole religion can be reduced to a single word. That word is freedom. That is his essential message, his very fragrance. Nobody else has raised freedom so high. It is the ultimate value in Buddha’s vision, the summum bonum; there is nothing higher than that.
And it seems very fundamental to understand why Buddha emphasizes freedom so much. Neither God is emphasized nor heaven is emphasized nor love is emphasized, but only freedom. There is a reason for it: all that is valuable becomes possible only in the climate of freedom. Love also grows only in the soil of freedom; without freedom, love cannot grow. Without freedom, what grows in the name of love is nothing but lust. Without freedom there is no God. Without freedom what you think to be God is only your imagination, your fear, your greed. There is no heaven without freedom: freedom is heaven. And if you think there is some heaven without freedom, then that heaven has no worth, no reality. It is your fancy, it is your dream.
All great values of life grow in the climate of freedom; hence freedom is the most fundamental value and also the highest pinnacle. If you want to understand Buddha you will have to taste something of the freedom he is talking about.
His freedom is not of the outside. It is not social, it is not political, it is not economic. His freedom is spiritual. By “freedom” he means a state of consciousness unhindered by any desire, unchained to any desire, unimprisoned by any greed, by any lust for more. By “freedom” he means a consciousness without mind, a state of no-mind. It is utterly empty, because if there is something, that will hinder freedom; hence its utter emptiness.