The dearest purpose of my heart
That I may know and do my part
To speed the cause of Liberty.
One of the greatest of God's gifts to man, and one most dearly prized by him, is Freedom. Without it, his pleasures are baubles—his joys are empty; with it, though he be of the highest or lowest, richest or p poorest, his happiness is complete.
What man—even though he has a hard struggle for life, his pleasures limited, his friends few—would change places with him who is ever surrounded with friends who flatter him, who dwells in marble halls, who revels in luxury, having every desire of his heart gratified, but in spite of all knows not that freedom which is the keynote and foundation of happiness, the glory and strength and very life of the free man.
To be free in our bodies, to be free in our actions, we must first be free in our minds. We must see with unclouded eyes the true Life; we must listen with minds unbeguiled with flattery or scandal to the voice of science, and we must obey with willing hands, free from disobedience from duty, the commands of the Spirit.
Men have tried in all ages to make men think and act alike, but they have failed. They cannot make men like animals or reduce them to the level of machinery, for men have what animals and machinery have not—the power and freedom of thought and reason.
No man can control another's thoughts, for though a man's body be chained, his thoughts are free. Some men are foolishly influenced by others, but it is only because they do not take the trouble to think for themselves. When they do take their thoughts in hand, and exercise the mind, they throw off the yoke of the oppressor, and come out into liberty of boundless thought and light-giving reason.
There are two states of freedom, the freedom of desire, and the freedom from desire. He who allows his desires to gain the free hand is not really free though he appears to be so; but he is in the darkest of dungeons bound with the strongest of chains; he becomes so accustomed to free living that he soon finds he cannot live otherwise, and must pursue that course of living till the angel "renunciation" unlocks the door and he finds a freedom which is true and deep—the freedom from desire.
The one supreme object of all religions is the emancipation of the soul, the freeing of the soul from the fetters of sin and the prison of death—spiritual death, and this state of emancipation is Truth.
Freedom lies in knowledge, in enlightenment. It is because we are ignorant of the possibilities within us that we allow our-selves to be chained by circumstances and the idea of chance. When we are willing to accept the correction of the Law, and learn for ourselves the lesson of evil, evil will begin to leave us, because its help is no longer needed, and we shall enter into a great understanding—the way to emancipation from evil.
Independence is the companion of freedom, and he who can control his desires, exercise dominion over his thoughts, who finds his place in serving others, will have few wants, many of which he can himself provide. Luxury is a weed requiring much wrong and useless labor to cultivate.
The lover of luxury can never be independent, and cannot know freedom. The more charity the poor man accepts from the rich, the more helpless and dependent upon the rich he becomes. The less the rich man does towards providing and producing his own necessities and luxuries, the more he has to depend upon the working man for them.
The Truthseeker longs for freedom, and bent on gaining that only, he bursts the bonds of ease and luxury, breaks down the wall of habit, and clears from his path that stumbling-block—opinion. Vain is the chant—ritual—-and the trumpet-blast—ceremony —to him; in vain men try to instill into his mind a fear of the judgment. He does not speculate as to loss or gain, but he goes steadily on, and at last he reaches the land of enlightenment, which is the land of freedom, on the borders of which he leaves his old dead self.
Religionists, reformers, and socialists look for a golden age of liberty, and strive to bring it to crushed and burdened humanity; but freedom, like all gifts of God, waits for man to come forward and receive it, and it is beyond one's power to bring it to others. He who would set his fellows free, must lead them to freedom; to lead them aright, he must himself know the way; to find this way, which is by self-conquest, he must overcome desire, and then he will be pointing out and manifesting the way—perhaps unconsciously—to others.
The most trying struggle is the conquest of self; the truest yoke, the yoke of obedience; the highest salvation, the salvation from sin; the fullest freedom, the freedom from desire; these constitute the one and only Way of the emancipation of the soul, and he who stands alone will stand where others fall.
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage
That never knew the summer woods.
I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfettered by a sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes.