Freedom, and “the divine outlaw”

In “The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll”, we read the remarkable thinker ask “Is there a God?” and honestly reply: “I don’t know.”

He then goes on to describe, realizing with “every drop of my blood,” the “joy of freedom.”

“The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world — not even in infinite space. I was free — free to think, to express my thoughts….free to use all my faculties, all my senses — free to spread imagination’s wings — free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope — free to judge and determine for myself….free from popes and priests….free from devils, ghosts and gods. For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought — no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings….no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.”

Bertrand Russell, in his 1903 essay titled “A Free Man’s Worship”, observes that “there is an element of slavishness from which our thoughts must be purged.”

True freedom, Bertrand writes comes with “the great renunciation” — walking a Path where “The Self must die.” 

Bertrand goes on to tell us that this “Gate of Renunciation leads….to the daylight of wisdom, by whose radiance a new insight, a new joy, a new tenderness, shine forth to gladden the pilgrim’s heart.”

Swami Vivekananda adds to this view from agnostics in an 1896 interview with the “Sunday Times” (“The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda”, Volume 5)

The person who dedicates life to the freedom that Robert and Bertrand speak about is the Sannyasin, Swami Vivekananda says, and explains that —

“the very word Sannyasin means the divine outlaw, one might say, divine nihilist….”

Peace 😊

“….religion isn’t about believing things….”

In “Sit Down and Shut Up”, a book on his experience with Buddhism, by the punk rock guitar-playing Zen priest, Brad Warner, we read that “The first principle is the practice….itself. Buddhism….is a philosophy you do.”

In a conversation with Powells Books, Karen Armstrong makes the point, which is a constant theme in her writings, that “religion isn’t about believing things. It’s ethical alchemy. It’s about behaving in a way that changes you.” It is a way of living (“The Spiral Staircase”)  that “dethrones the ego from the center of our lives and puts others there.”

We listen to Swami Vivekananda (“The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda”, Volume 6) in one of his Talks: “Religion comes with intense self-sacrifice….Do all for others.” It is the cultivation of selflessness, living in accordance with the fact that “you and your brother are one.”

Elsewhere, explaining Karma Yoga (“The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda”, Volume 1), he is characteristically direct. “Unselfishness is God.”

Peace 😊