What Makes Me Think I'm Not Free?

We have heard that the Self is described by the Sanskrit term satchitananda – a compound word consisting of three parts: sat, meaning “beingness” or “existence”; chit, meaning “consciousness”; and ananda, which is usually translated as “bliss,” but Vedanta teacher James Swartz defines as “limitlessness.”

The good news is, we don’t need any help knowing that we are two out of the three! We already know that we exist, and we already know that we are conscious. Those two parts are self-evident. But we have a harder time with the third: it is not immediately apparent that I am limitless – that I am free.

You are free, but you don’t know it. Something in the appearance – the apparent objective world appearing in your consciousness – is telling you that you are not free. It’s not your existence telling you that, and it’s not your consciousness telling you that. It’s something that appears to you – appears
in you, consciousness – that is telling you that you are not free. Does an object appearing in you have that power over you? Does an apparent object (be it a thought, feeling, or belief) have any power to limit you? To tell consciousness that it is not free? Can a limiting thought downstream actually limit anything upstream from it?

So it’s only the idea that your consciousness is limited that needs to be sorted out. If you follow the logic, which tells you that you are already free since you are the Self, then you have a platform from which to launch a good line of inquiry, using questions such as the ones above, or any question that is meaningful for you.

As James Swartz says, Vedanta offers a lot of different teachings. But understanding the truth of just one of them will set you free.