“The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom, courage.”

Presumably, without freedom of choices like in the extreme case of slavery, happiness is elusive. Moreover, it takes courage to fight for our freedom.

However, the connection between happiness, freedom and courage may be otherwise.

The key to happiness is gratitude, optimism and freedom from karmic prison. Gratitude and optimism are self-evident; freedom from karmic prison less so, that’s why it’s the secret of happiness.

Simply, karma is the stories, categories, relative descriptions, meanings, etc. our mind has created based on our past experiences in this life. Karma affects how we experience the present, essentially imprisoning us from experiencing the present as it is. As much of karma is not particularly happy, karmic prison precludes us from happiness in the present.

Our karmic prison is also the basis of our identities. Escaping from karmic prison means letting go of our identities. Doing so is scary as we’re very comfortable with our karmic identities, however difficult they may make our lives in the present and limit our choices. We fear the seemingly unknowable experience that follows; fear of  the loneliness and loss of self that our mind tells us we will suffer if we are free. Hence, it takes great courage to turn the key that allows us to escape from karmic prison.

However, the presumed loneliness and our karmic identities are illusions. Freeing ourselves from these illusions that keep us locked in karmic prison requires wisdom and compassion.

Wisdom is viewing a situation from many perspectives, at least one of which is funny. If we can’t see our karma as funny, we need conclude we don’t truly know what we’re seeing and we shouldn’t take our karma seriously. We are then free to leave our karmic prison. However, as this is obvious, wisdom is not the secret that allows us freedom.

Compassion is the realization we are inextricably connected to others and thus treat others as we treat ourselves. Compassion is love. The etymology of courage is “heart” which represents love. The identity of oneness, not our person identity that’s based on our karma, that comes from love is the courage that allows us to escape karmic prison. Love is the secret of freedom.