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Tuesday, October 20, 2015


In the movie Indecent Proposal, a billionaire businessman played by Robert Redford propositions Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore's young couple, whom he meets at a casino. Let me have your wife, Diana, for the night, he tells Woody's David, and I will pay you a lot of money. David and Diana are confident in the strength of their love, which they believe nothing can tear asunder, certainly not the lustful power of this older man. Even if he is Robert Redford! So they agree. Diana allows herself to be wooed, David feels threatened, and the promising pair breaks up. Time passes, and the courtship between the young hottie and rich older man fades. Demi's Diana and her David try to make it work. David says, "Losing Diana is like losing a part of me. I thought nothing could change the way we felt about each other. I thought we were invincible."

Which leads to the movie's most memorable quote. "Someone once said," says Diana, "'If you want something very badly, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours forever. If it doesn't, it was never yours to begin with. '"

We find a version of Demi's line in Sting's hit song, "If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free." We find also that freedom has been a hot topic not only in relationships but in all the world's major religions. And there is a time in each of our lives when we ask the question of all question: Is the soul free? And funnily enough, Demi's logic, that you cannot achieve what is not already yours forever, applies.

The philosopher Vivekananda once gave a talk on the subject of the soul's freedom. This was in London, 1896. In his talk he discusses the world religions - Hebrew, Islamic, Christian and Buddhist - all of which maintain that the original nature of the human being is perfect. That at the time of the fall (thanks Adam!), this nature is lost though ignorance and sin, but that purity and perfection can be regained, whether in Buddha's Nirvana, or through Christ. The difference in each system is how the individual is to go about regaining what she has lost. So one person performs rituals, while another worships a personal god, and another prays or practices good works. But the oldest system, which is also the most universal, (and of which Vivekananda himself was a staunch proponent), says this: "We are pure already, we are already free. If you think you are free, you are free this very moment; if you believe you are bound, then bound you shall be."

Vivekananda makes a sound argument for why this is the case. "If freedom is not your nature," he says, "by no manner of means can you become free. Or if you were free and in some way you lost that freedom, then you were not free to begin with." In other words, if you believe that you can achieve freedom in life, and that means freedom from all outward constraints, even death, then it is inevitable that your nature is already free, since freedom is independence of anything outside, and so there is nothing outside you that could give you what you lack (because you lack nothing) or take from you what you have.

The truth of all truths is that you are not bound, weak, or helpless. You are perfectly free. It is only thinking otherwise that is dangerous, since by believing in your imperfection and mortality you "rivet one more chain upon yourself." It does not mean that your body will no longer feel hunger or thirst, or that you will not die; but rather, who you are is much greater than this body with its limitations. Who you are is beyond time and space, beyond birth and death. Realize this, and you access your true nature. You are invincible!

Vivekananda closes with these words: "The time will come when we shall look back, each one of us, and smile at every one of those superstitions which covered the pure and eternal Soul, and repeat with gladness, with truth, and with strength: 'I am free, and was free, and always will be free."

At the end of the movie Demi and Woody get married. Now go see about your happy ending.

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