Does Freedom Mean Physical Distance and Financial Independence? – 20 Jan 11


I already told you that I like the way how in India people more easily are in physical contact with each other and that families have stronger emotional connections among their family members. When I say such a thing, it is more a statement about a fact and not a judgment about the situation in any country. And when people in the west come and tell me about their loneliness and inability to express their emotions through physical contact, I can see the reasons behind that. I have travelled in the western world long enough to know that there are many factors in society that makes people distanced and in a way cold.

If you see the typical lifestyle in the west, it is all about freedom. When I say freedom, I usually mean a freedom of the mind, of decision and independence of any negativity with which you block yourself. When I hear the word freedom in the west, it often means physical distance and financial independence.

If freedom means physical distance – your own place to live, not within the reach of your parents or other ‘disturbing’ family members, it is already clear why there is no physical contact. If you have physical contact and closeness, you are in danger of losing your freedom! This is how it seems to many people. In this situation it is also really difficult to find a partner and more difficult to make the decision to move in together. All the time you feel that your freedom is threatened by the closeness of another person. You need to allow this closeness in order to make an emotional connection, in order to experience love among people, be that friends, partners or family members.

The second meaning of freedom, financial independence, makes people just as unhappy as physical separation often does. Two partners want to be independent of each other, they have high ambitions on where they want to reach and just want to earn more money. There is however never an end to this. You can keep on earning and earning and you will never be satisfied. You will just spend more and more time working and less time with your partner or your children. I warn you that in this way, too, you lose your physical closeness. Through this it can happen that you lose your emotional connection. And in this way you forget how it is to be close and give love through a touch. You didn’t mean anything wrong, you only wanted the best, but the price was your physical relation.

So if your parents, siblings or other family members have never really showed you their love, if you have never received a loving touch, don’t resent it too much. They themselves have been in this situation, they had the same feeling that you had: how can I express my emotions? They may not have found a way through touch and they may seem cold to you now, but the fact that you have made a change can make you open your eyes and see how difficult it must have been for them, too. It is now your chance to give to them instead. Maybe, it will open their heart because now someone else approaches them and they have the possibility to receive and to express emotions through touch.

44 Replies to “Does Freedom Mean Physical Distance and Financial Independence? – 20 Jan 11”

  1. When we speak of closeness through “touch”, I think it’s important to bear in mind that spiritual touch is just as important as physical touch, probably much more important in fact. I think touch, hugging, and other forms of physical touch mean little without spiritual connection. I define spiritual connection between people as love or even just liking someone for who they really are, including their personality traits, interests, and values. Many people are just not likable in this way, because they have too much negativity, usually in forms of excessive anger and avarice. In such cases of negative personalities, it’s often a good idea to keep a safe distance, because such people are often seeking to draw others into their negativity and to spread their negativity to them, or even to hurt or exploit others in some way. However, if a person has positive personality traits of lovingness and wisdom, one does not get close to them mainly through physical touch or hugging. One gets close to them through communing with their love and wisdom, getting to know them through the qualities of their soul first, and then perhaps through some physical touch. That’s what we need more of now, more spiritual appreciation of the good soul characteristics of others, and more communing of loving and wise souls with one another.

  2. I am not okay. I am still HEARTBROKEN over the loss of my home, of my family there, of everything and that is just one death in 36 years of the loss of moments I loved very deeply. My whole life I want to experience deaths like this. I want my heart to break a 1,000 times a day. I want everything to be that precious.
    And I want to be that aware of the pain that will be in me…inevitably.
    In this moment I do not see loss as tragic.
    My heart is broken, and I am not afraid.

  3. It makes me feel really sad; thinking about how cold the people around me feel. I feel lonely. I want a real connection with someone. I want to love someone, in any fashion. My experience of people feels perpetually stale.

  4. I can’t imagine that two people who genuinely love each other would keep their distance in order to make more money. I know it happens though (or maybe there is no love there) and I am wondering if I have had similar experiences, leaving friends I love to go do whatever it seems like I am meant to do naturally. But that kind of leaving never seems to be a mistake, as sad as it is. And I always fall in love with other people. What I could not stand would be hearing that the people I loved and left were not off having beautiful experiences of their own. It is wonderful when the paths of people who love each other keep crossing and sometimes they don’t. But the love remains.

  5. It doesn’t feel like a lot of space is made to morn the loss of family when someone moves away from home. But I don’t know many people who weren’t deeply hurt by that move.

  6. It seems to me that whatever people decide will make them happy (money, separation, etc.) is conjured by people when they are unhappy. If your unhappy with your partner, why not find a new one?

  7. I’m not sure there will be happiness there either. If you are saying “don’t settle,” I understand. And also your comment cleared the way for my own. At the risk of sounding cliche I want to say that satisfaction will never be based on what you do.

  8. I feel like physical contact threatens my freedom when I do not love or care for the person that is touching me…wanting a hug, wanting to be held…I don’t know what I think about this. I would love to be capable of loving everyone or at least being genuinely loving towards everyone. When someone that I don’t love, especially if they love me, wants to be held or touched, or wants my emotional attention, I don’t know what to do. I cannot give it genuinely. I would have to pretend to give it. And that feels like a loss of “freedom,” and some kind of twisted violation. And I do wonder as I sit here and write this if this issue of freedom is not more about people’s inability to genuinely love that it is repression of feelings of love and affection.

  9. “All the time you feel that your freedom is threatened by the closeness of another person.”
    I think you hit the nail on the head there. That’s exactly it, for me at least.

  10. I think financial independence is important in the US. I mean you do need it to survive but when you come from there it doesn’t seem like a survival thing it just seems like – this is the way the world works. this is what I will do. And it’s not so bad.

  11. I never did any work in my house growing up. Not even a single chore. I know that many households aren’t like this and that many are. Financial dependence for me meant finally doing something of value. I can see how this system is all screwed up. This was a good step for me though.

  12. You’re right, this does get in the way o relationships. Because everything about the way we live teaches separation. But nothing we do teaches us to be together because that isn’t part of survival in our culture.

  13. People need financial security to allow themselves to enjoy their lives. It doesn’t have to be much money but it has to be enough. And in the west you can’t find this if you don’t go off to school somewhere and follow a job, where ever it takes you.

  14. I like how you say not to resent it too much if our family hasn’t know how to love us. I just recently had my first child and I do things sometimes that make me hate myself as a parent, or at least hate my default behavior but I know where these behaviors stem from and suddenly I realize reasons my parents were the way they were. They are small people trying to make it in the world just like I am now. Now I understand. And I wish I could take back all the resentment I’ve shown them.

  15. How much is enough? When people say they need financial security what are they asking for? Freedom from fear, or in other words, an acceptance of it. If you work and make 2,000 a year or 200,000 you will notice that you are still quite afraid, even if you find yourself to be afraid of different things (even though you may still feel you don’t have enough money to quite feel safe).

  16. I often find myself feeling really imprisoned by how inappropriate it would be to be honest with people, it not being acceptable to tell them I adore them in that moment or that I care. It has to be masked and let out in veiled ways or it won’t be accepted. sometimes it makes me feel so heavy.

  17. Family members are disturbing though! You are born surrounded by people who don’t love you and forced to stay with them til college when you go go and find people you actually like.

  18. I feel too busy to make my life with family and friends. I feel the stress. It is not good and I don’t like. I cannot live without so much work. There is no choice for me with this.

  19. I hear ya pip. I live in Upstate New York and I work for a professional consulting firm. I feel like there is way too much on my plate but I couldn’t pay my bills if I didn’t do what I do. I think that maybe I can rearrange my lifestyle and adjust my standard of living and work less. But I’m afraid of that. It is impractical.

  20. I think the US has used the word “freedom” to describe the lifestyle of its citizens for over a century, no matter what that lifestyle is. Its tired rhetoric. Nothing more.

  21. Don’t forget the freedom to express! The freedom to be completely inappropriate or reserved. These are things we value so much. Any religion you want to join, any way you want to dress, any one you want to be with – there is a place in America where you can be who are. There is so much opportunity here. That is a high goal in our lives. Maybe a lot of people who are heteronormative Christian business men don’t ever have a reason to appreciate that, but for some who is gay and an atheist who has traveled the world and seen how people aren’t allowed to just “be” (like me) I value it so much. Sooo so much.

  22. In your experience Swami Ji, would it be very strange and rare to find your parents to be “disturbing” in India? I mean of course we can all become frustrated from time to time but do you think it is less possible for people to think of their parents as disturbing?

  23. Hans- I am not gay or an atheist and I still highly value the fact that I can be who I want to be in the US, and if I can’t be who I want to be where I am right now then I can go somewhere and find people like me.

  24. It is sad to move away from love, sometimes falling in love with new people in some distant sense feels like betrayal to me: a silly thought. But it always seems to happen that once I love new people there is plenty of love available for them too. I am in a transition right now. Moving even further from the people I have loved than ever before. I have no choice but to believe I will find more love, different love, and no reason not to believe that. Maybe this is an essential part of true freedom. Free to allow myself to experience loss in order to continually gain. Being okay with passing.

  25. It’s also not just young, independent sons and daughters who seek freedom and independence from their parents. I have actually heard many parents in the U.S. tell their children that they have to move out by the age of 18. Or they have to be financially independent by the age of 20. Often, it’s not even the children who are ready to be on their own, but their parents enforce it. Maybe it’s because that’s what their own parents told them… I guess it’s just the American way. It’s unfortunate in many regards, but it does have its benefits as people have written above. The freedom to do basically anything is at your will in the U.S., even if it’s illegal. Pros and cons, pros and cons.

  26. I’m afraid that I disagree with you here. I accept that you may have experienced this and I don’t deny that it happens in many places. However, to generalize the whole of the west in this way is not right. I am from the UK and I believe myself to be a very free person AND I have very close physical and mental relationships with many members of family and friends. I believe that if I were not so supported and close to these people that I would not be as free. How much or little contact you have is just as much decided by the person as by the culture.

  27. Being free doesn’t have to be something that you actually can see, like money or physical distance. You can travel to the end of the world or to the surface of mars, you can be BiIl Gates or George Soros, you won’t reach freedom if you don’t feel it in your heart and in your soul.

  28. This is so very true, when I think of my freedom it’s independant from my parents in financial ways well as even physical distance…as is evidence by my distance right now as I write this. But then who am I with, I guess really I am alone, and although I know that my family love me very much and I’m meeting wonderful people in my travels, i am having wonderful experiences…but it’s not the same….don’t get me wrong I don’t regret anything, not at all…

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