Our Illusion of Freedom

Our Illusion of Freedom

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Why our illusory concept of freedom got us into a deadlock.

If my freedom depends on somebody or something, such as a partner or a government, there is something wrong with the concept of freedom. Freedom and dependency don’t fit together!

We’ve never experienced this as clearly and painfully as we do now.


Our society is based on the concept of freedom in the sense of “I am free if I can do as I wish.” This definition combines freedom with power. The more power I have, the more I can do as I wish, ie the more freedom I have. The striving for freedom becomes a striving for power.

This definition is the root of a lot of problems.

For an illustration, imagine a tree that casts a shadow on two houses. The resident of the one house enjoys the shadow, the resident of the other house dislikes it. The one resident wants to keep the tree while the other wants to cut it down. Obviously, only one of them can exert his/her power. The result is a power struggle between the two. Each wants to show the other – and themselves – that he/she has power, ie is free.

In the past, power struggles were fought with fists. Today, there are less violent methods, like democracy and money. But power struggles remain power struggles.

This power-based concept of freedom is deeply rooted in people. It is part of the “human chicken program” (using the metaphorical language that I introduced in “The OTHER Story of the Eagle in the Chicken Coop”).

At the beginning of the twentieth century it was further promoted by the occultist Aleister Crowley. He founded a religion/philosophy named Thelema, which is the Greek word for will. Crowley formulated one fundamental principle of Thelema: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

This sentence is a call for exerting power. Crowley and his mindset were made popular through artists. His portrait or his name are found on record covers of popular musicians and bands like Michael Jackson and the Beatles. The above “law” also is found in part or as a whole in song lyrics.

Masses of people got and get programmed accordingly. Everybody wants to do as they wish.

This brings forth power hierarchies. Those with more power suppress those with less power.

Somebody may have power regarding one issue, but lack power regarding other issues. Hence, depending on the issue, hierarchies are likely to differ. This can create quite complex situations within any group of people – starting with simple groups such as partner­ships. It leads to subtle power struggles and opens the doors to many kinds of misuse and manipulation.


Let’s look at the current situation from the perspective of power hierarchies. The world got shut down because an organization declared a pandemic and gave recommendations. Almost all national power hierarchies followed these recommendations and shut down their nations.

In other words, a few people have the power to shut down the whole planet.

This is not about evaluating or judging the current situation. This simply is about realizing the existence of this power structure.

Power structures are but tools. An enterprise needs a power structure in order to function as an enterprise. Paraphrasing Shakespeare‘s quote

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, scene ii)

we can say

A tool is neither good nor bad, but using makes it so.

I can use an axe to cut down a tree – or kill a person. The axe is neither good nor bad. Only its use is.

Misuse of power is as old as use of power. History is full of examples from all areas of human life.

Opportunity makes the thief.

This is the danger, we are in now. Even if the current situation gets resolved somehow, such a situation can happen again as long as this deeply rooted power-based concept of freedom is part of the human mindset (ie the”human chicken program”).


Why exactly is this concept of freedom a problem?

Having power, such as physical strength, money, or a position with command over others, is not satisfactory. Having power does not give the experience of being free. Ultimately this is because the belief that having power is freedom is but a program and thus an illusion.

As a consequence, people exert power (a) to prove to themselves and others that they have power and (b) to experience what they believe is freedom.

But because people don’t get enough satisfaction from exerting power, they keep exerting it in order to keep obtaining small snippets of volatile satisfaction. This confines them in an endless loop of striving for and exerting power. On a large scale, this leads to permanent power struggles within any group of people as well as between groups of people. The history of humankind contains ample proof of this.

Therefore, with this concept of freedom, humankind is in a deadlock.


Is there a kind of freedom that is not dependent on anyone or anything else but only on me?

Yes there is. It is to be free from my programs.

Every child is proof. Children are born free – free of (mental) programs. They do start copying the limiting behavior of their parents and peers right after birth. But they enjoy a few years of life with only little programming. This ends when programs have reached a certain size and heaviness. We say: “When the serious side of life begins.” (It really is “the limiting side of life” …)

In other words, as children we are largely free. Provided our biological needs, such as food, are fulfilled, these are the most beautiful and most satisfying years of our life.

If you want to re-experience this deep joy of and satisfaction with life, you need to get free from your (human chicken) programs. I call this process “self-liberation.”

Self-liberation covers a large spectrum. The human chicken program limits people in the range of 99%. (Just think of the life the eagle leads in the chicken coop.) Therefore, there is a lot from which you can liberate yourself. Accordingly, true freedom covers a large spectrum.

The amount of true freedom that you achieve depends on how much effort you put into self-liberation.


More about freedom:

Chapter 10 in my book “Curiosity: The Mental Hunger of Humans”

Chapter 14 in my book “Consciousness: Its Nature, Purpose, and How to Use It”