"The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do." ~ Eric Hoffer
Column by tzo.
Exclusive to STR
The Voluntaryist Master was addressing a new class of students.
"As a Voluntaryist, your mission will be to educate others about human freedom. But in order to spread the ideas of freedom, you must first become a free person. And in order to become a truly free person, you will need to learn, unlearn and relearn many things. But acquiring an accurate body of knowledge is just the beginning.
It is not enough to understand the definitions and theories relating to freedom—freedom must be lived and experienced—it needs to vibrate in your bones. Freedom is like true love; like physical pain; like the fragrance of a rose. One can consult a dictionary for their definitions, and one can read all about them in encyclopedias, but until they are experienced, they cannot be truly understood.
True—we are reasoning animals—but we are also instinctual, emotional beings. It would be inaccurate to consider the attributes of reason and emotion as being unrelated to one another. To understand why we believe any particular thing, we use both reason and emotion—the logical sense and the intuitive sense—in order to explain that belief.
One cannot properly call himself a Voluntaryist if he only understands the concepts on an intellectual level. One must be immersed in, be at one with, and be transformed by, freedom. Freedom is logical, instinctual, and passionate. Without all these ingredients being present, the meal cannot be prepared.
This enlightenment process is not easy, nor is it fast. There are many paths to it—as many as there are individuals seeking those paths. Each journey is unique, and I will be more a guide to you than teacher. I can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls, but I cannot do the work for you. If you do not truly wish to reach the enlightened state, then you will not.
But if you do, then you will succeed after much hard work.
Your minds' muscles have been atrophied from lack of use in the direction you will be headed, making the journey difficult. There will be times when you will despair. You will want to give up, and everyone around you will be encouraging you to do so. But you will forge ahead nonetheless, and you will succeed.
Then the world will become a different place—you will see it though a new set of eyes. I cannot adequately explain this new perspective any more than I can explain the fragrance of a rose. All I can attest to is that I have benefited immensely from the experience, and I believe the same rewards await anyone who undertakes the endeavor.
But I reiterate—the path is long and arduous. You may leave some friends behind. You may make some new ones. Anything is possible. I am here to tell you that you should expect at least one year to pass before you reach even a first, minimal state of enlightenment. And even this will not be the path's end.
The path is unending, but once your path lies within the land of enlightenment, you will have entered a new world, and the walk will become ever more tranquil and pleasant.
You all have the common vision of wanting to change the world for the better, but this will prove impossible until you change yourself for the better. Free your mind first, and all the rest will follow.
Calmly confident, the people will be drawn to you as a source of peace and grace that stands out in a turbulent world of violent chaos. You will not need to go out and spread the word so much as you will make yourself available to receive the people who will come to your door seeking understanding.
That is all for today."
After the class, one of the students approached the master to speak with him.
"Sir, I am ready and very excited to reach this enlightened state. But one year is a long time! I don't doubt that there is much work to do—and I am not at all daunted by the prospect—but to have to wait a whole year! This is asking too much!
Sir, I will be your most dedicated student. I will work twice as hard as all the others. Morning, day, and night I will keep at it. I will memorize the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, if necessary.
The writings of Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Washington, and Adams will become my rosary.
I will strive to understand the esoteric knowledge of the modern-day Patriots—the subtleties of the strawman, microprinting, allodial land titles, and all the rest.
I will join the Libertarian Party. I will study the issues and vote for policies that increase freedom. I will fight to help get men like Ron Paul elected in order to help get this great Republic back into the shape that the Founding Fathers intended. I will run for office myself, if I have to. Whatever it takes to help move myself and my fellow man back towards freedom.
Sir, you can see my obvious enthusiasm and dedication. I will be the best student you have ever seen. But one year is too long! With my extraordinary effort, please, tell me—how long do you think it might take for me to reach that first, minimal state of enlightenment?
The master studied the enterprising student for a few moments as he thoughtfully stroked his own chin. Then he gave his carefully considered response: