There is no such thing as freedom. As soon as you define it, you’ll immediately see that it’s a ridiculous concept and an impossibility to attain.
Many of us have had long periods where just being alive was mentally painful, in so many ways, and we struggled to get out from that state. We turned to every possible avenue.
Some of us had turned to meditation and philosophy and a community of like minded seekers. And for some of us that worked, and the pain and suffering diminished and it was good to be alive most of the time, sometimes great to be alive for long stretches of time.
Some of us turned to increasing our social wellbeing, and found that that worked, even when all meditation tricks did not.
Some of us turned to financial wellbeing, and found that that worked, even when all meditative and social avenues of exploration did not work, and found happiness and peace then.
Some of us turned to being in mutual love, and found that worked immensely well, even when meditative discipline and an active positive social life and financial wealth did not bring us nearly as much steady contentment, joy, and bliss.
But there is no such thing as freedom. Happiness is still relative; existence is still fundamentally conditioned. Subjectively and objectively you have to do A to feel B, and external situation C will make you feel D. It is a fools goal to seek unconditioned freedom.
Awareness can contextualize the ego, such that ego and desire still happens, but that’s a relatively minor part of what happens. One word for that is vipassana, which has been roughly translated as spacial awareness, or insight. Using words to talk about it breaks down and becomes gibberish, because we need subject/object distinctions in language, but the contextual wider awareness is on both sides of the fence at once.
Having that experience of prajna, or vipassana, is rare and occurs usually in peak life experiences or to a small portion of the most advanced meditators, and it can be argued that it either never happens as a continual stable experience, or that if it does it happens as a stable experience to an extremely minor population of an extremely minor population. Work at it your whole life with full dedication and it’s still extremely unlikely that you will have a stable strong post meditative experience.
On the other hand I did have some moments of weeks and months where my experience was flavored with non-dual wakefulness that was wider than ego and knew “itself” to be so, and some periods of near 24 hour awareness, through into dreams and the deep dreamless state. And there are many discussions of people regularly experiencing “samadhi”, or the witness state without the subject/object narrative happening at all (and I’ve experienced that too, as I now dimly recall).
It’s been said that even for those who do stably rest in the witness state, that their thoughts and ego don’t get in line with that perspective for decades later, if ever. Basically our normal self just gets contextualized. The same rules and regulations of emotions that we had before continue on as before. What we like and don’t like stays the same, and our emotions are just as contextual as before; songs and life events affect “us” emotionally. We get angry, irritated, happy, sad. It’s just that awareness can contextualize it to a degree such that this is only a relatively minor part of awareness. It gets silly to call our “self” this narrative story we used to call our self.
But again, such a witness state is very rare for people to stabilize in, and it’s usually only the most advanced in a very large community of dedicated meditators who get much of an experience of that. And even then without constant dedicated re-grooming of neurons with mindfulness training, such experiences fade.
What does seem to last however is being less bothered by things – it’s no tragedy if an emotion happens. You already get into the habit of knowing it doesn’t much matter if you are happy or sad, and allow yourself to be that. In a strange way the new type of emotional regulation is to not regulate.
Talking about that is considered by some to be unskillful, because you have to first go through the stages and steps. It’s not really the same thing to have uncontrolled rage as it is to accept your strong emotions as they arise with nuanced control and finesse, like a surfer riding an enormous Maui killer wave.
It’s not skillful to tell beginner meditators to not alter their thinking process. But advanced meditators kind of do just that. Sounds paradoxical, so it’s almost better not to talk much about it. But this is why beginning meditators emphasize concentration first, or shamata, and then later raise their gaze and emphasize resting their mind in wide spacial awareness without altering, or vipassana. The not too tight not too loose balance takes time and physical neuron connections to grow into, and those neuron connections will degrade without regular reinforcement through deliberate mindfulness/awareness training, and besides, the shift in attention to a non-dual perspective is elusive for the vast majority of people, and even those that do sometimes get that shift can lose it and not be able to get it back, seemingly no matter what they do.
But the whole reason I am talking about these things isn’t to get into esoteric Buddhist philosophy or to discuss subtle aspects of meditation, it’s to discourage people from using asceticism as an excuse to not put in the effort to get laid.
In every school of Buddhism, the ascetic outlook is specifically frowned upon. Despite the fact that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the hallmark and stamp of the religiously fervent in all traditions, avoiding desire and pleasure for the sake of it is NOT a Buddhist attitude. So, MGTOWers, stop using that holier than thou approach – the Buddha thinks your an idiot for your ascetic self denial in the name of ascetic self denial.
You are not a more free person for “not being ruled by your penis”. You are just an ascetic prude.
You don’t have to make it through to the most advanced stages of meditative awareness to be able to sacrifice and work hard for a cookie, to enjoy the anticipation of a cookie, and to enjoy the delicious crunchy chocolaty goodness. The same for sex. There is nothing holy in self denial. It’s just living life wrong like a stupid idiot.