Freedom – the personal reflection of the interaction between necessity and lawfulness

by yoga teacher emeritus Gregorian Bivolaru

The word liberty (equal to freedom) comes from the Latin word libertas. Freedom represents a defining determination for the human existence, the personal reflection of the interaction between necessity and lawfulness. Freedom is an attribute of conscious behaviour that is subjectively motivated by goals and aspirations. Freedom combines essential aspects of personal necessity, on one hand, with the objective lawfulness of nature and the macrocosm, on the other hand.

For a long time, philosophical thinking has interpreted in an abstract metaphysical way the relationship between freedom and necessity as being one of opposition between an essential attribute of the ego and the apparently blind and implacable mechanism of nature. The opposition of two elemental entities – the free ego and nature governed by necessity – has determined, from a conceptual point of view, a debate that is impossible to resolve discursively.

The voluntary conception of freedom as an ontological defiance and annihilation of necessity by spontaneity, ungoverned by mechanical laws; of free will, the supreme self (Atman) being sovereign in a distinct domain of the being (“higher” or “deeper” than the apparent platitude of the natural cosmos) are pitted against the limited fatalistic understanding of freedom as a contemplative surrender in the unequal fight with implacable destiny (karma) that the limited ego, recognizing its defeat in the domain of causality, surpasses though the spiritual dignity of the reflexivity that is at peace with itself.

The way out of this philosophical dilemma can be seen along with the first steps made toward understanding the true relationship between freedom and necessity. Philosophers such as Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant developed the idea that freedom cannot exist in total absence of necessity, without which the cosmos would turn again into chaos, in which everything is subjected to unpredictable and irrational hazard. So, freedom is conceived as an immanent necessity, an auto-determination of the human being by means of a superior will, guided by the Atman, that is manifesting through a superior knowing.

The perspective of the metaphysical rapport of the ego and nature is integrated, and nature is conceived as a universe governed by a strict and wholly comprising necessity. In this regard, the ontological place and role of freedom can be only a weak one – a special form of necessity, not blind, but conscious. In this regard, Hegel stated, “For the stupid, the necessity is blind because it is not understood.” The Hegelian conception, a culminating point in modern philosophy, is expressed in the famous thesis of Logic: “So this truth of necessity is freedom.”

What is allowed by God represents a form of necessity. The main characteristics of this interpretation are twofold:

  1. Freedom is admitted as an attribute of the being in general, its premises being looked for in nature. Projected on the cosmic background, the limited ego appears minor and insignificant in itself, acquiring a special Godly ontological dignity since it is the actor of the final scene of the cosmic becoming, called to accomplish the hidden plan of God that governs the whole being.
  2. Given that the existential singularity of humanity is constituted by the spirit, the attribute of freedom expresses itself through the capability to understand the necessity through concept: in action, the ego remains dominated by an implacable lawfulness but is totally free since it creates from this lawfulness an inner norm. Thus, the deepening of freedom becomes exclusively a question of deepening objective knowledge.

The millenary teaching of the yoga system offers some essential clarifications to the ontological status of freedom. Freedom is a defining attribute for the Godly condition of the human being, as an emergence of a superior existential state, that appears once the human being detaches himself from the circumstances given by nature, by means of yoga practice, which accelerates the spiritual evolution.

Freedom is understood as a determination of the existence of the human being, integrated in harmony with Godly laws that exist in the macrocosm, constituted by the wisdom of God and reflected in the non-temporal dimension of the human essence, Atman.

Yoga teaching surpasses the limits of a contemplative approach to the essence of freedom, proving that the reality of freedom affirms mostly through the effective action of humans, through which, if we have a firm, clear, and precise intention, we may act in a transforming and conscious way, in unison with the infinite will of God, in objective reality, without breaking the universal Godly laws.

From the perspective of the yoga philosophy system, freedom is a manifestation of a desired triggering (in unison with Godly laws) of some causal series in the progress of the real facts, so that their result, which can be anticipated in yogi’s consciousness, should coincide with a certain beneficial, harmonious goal while fulfilling a necessity or should accomplish a beneficial intention, precisely manifested.

So, freedom supposes certain ontological conditions:

  1. The act can be free and integrated in the Godly harmony only so far as it is accomplished on the basis of proper knowledge of the Godly laws of nature and the macrocosm, which enable a correct anticipation of the beneficial effect a human being triggers to bring into force certain subtle energies from the macrocosm.
  2. The subject is totally free in that he or she has the effective possibility to face some practical alternatives, to choose a strategy of action guided by their values and discernment. This implies the responsibility of the subject (by the means of the ulterior karma that sooner or later will appear) if they have not accomplished the consecration of the fruits of that action to God the Father or to a Great Cosmic Power.

The concept of freedom constitutes the categorical basis of delimitation, from different theoretical perspectives, of the particular significations attributed to moral freedom, spiritual freedom, and so forth. The understanding of freedom from the perspective of its rapport with objective necessity, the knowledge and action, with the normative based on value, and with the responsibility, are constituting the basis of the metaphysical idea of the absolute freedom, as a total absence of any determination at the level of Atman, proving at the same time that in the concrete human existence, determined by karma, it is possible that only a relative freedom, whose boundaries are continuously widening, along with spiritual progress, as the Godly ascending forces of the being, are conquering a space of manifestation more and more encompassing and diverse, in the efficient control of nature as in the conscious and continuous integration of Godly energies of the macrocosm.

Excerpt from Guru-ology, 550 aphorisms of yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru


January 26, 2023



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