Liberty from responsibility is not liberty – it is slavery to irresponsibility

We all long for liberty. In today’s uncommitted age, we may conceive of liberty as freedom to do whatever we feel like doing, unencumbered by any responsibility.

However, feeling-driven actions can be binding, not liberating, because our feelings are often fickle and unreliable. For example, if someone feels like drinking and they give in to that feeling, they may drink excessively and end up addicted. The Bhagavad-gita (03.16) cautions that those who don’t sacrifice for a higher cause live in vain, dissipating their life in gratifying petty sensual desires.

In contrast, a sense of responsibility can empower us. For example, kids may feel like playing all the time. But when they have a sense of responsibility to their parents, they will contemplate that their parents are working hard to pay for their education. And that contemplation will inspire them to study diligently, thereby freeing them to create a good career.

Can some obligations be too restrictive or unbeneficial? Possibly, but to discern this, we need clear intelligence, not clamorous feelings that rebel against all responsibility.

Ultimately, our aspiration for liberty is fulfilled by bhakti. How? Bhakti wisdom explains that we are souls, parts of the all-powerful supreme, Krishna. We are meant to delight in eternal love for him. When we connect with him in a mood of loving service, that connection provides us higher pleasure. We feel inspired to connect steadily with him, thereby gradually pushing out lower desires from our consciousness. When we are thus freed from our lower desires and filled with the desire to love and serve Krishna, that consciousness is the supreme liberty – the liberty to delight in love and joy unending.

Thus, bhakti paves the way to liberty not by rejecting all responsibility, but by facilitating the most empowering responsibility: connecting lovingly with Krishna.

Think it over:

  1. How can freedom to do whatever we feel like doing bind us?
  2. How can responsibility empower us?
  3. How does bhakti fulfill our aspiration for liberty?

 

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