Paulo Coelho in Eleven Minutes wrote: “No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it.”

After reading such a quote the following questions come to mind:

Do we really never own anyone?

Can we really embrace such an idea?

What are the benefits of this freedom?

Is this the type of freedom worth having?

One way of looking at the statement is to say that non-ownership of another is the key to freedom. Freedom is about the ability to do what you want when you want and how you want. Is there such a state where you can do totally what you want? If you don’t own another then you are free? Our definition of ownership matters too.

Anyone is a person. Historically people have been owned – by kings, by lords, by husbands, by slave owners, by serf owners. This type of ownership has been backed up with force and cohesion which is contrary to freedom. Both the oppressor and the oppressed are not free according to Paulo Coelho's quotation.

The nature and mindset of man is to regard things (including people) in terms of property that you own – my mobile phone, my car, my girlfriend, my wife. Thus ownership has extended to living creatures.

Have you ever owned a living creature? A cat or a dog? Officially if you own a pet, you are legally responsible for them and sometimes you can only use brute force to keep that pet doing what you want it to do. The animal will comply but usually we see that it is not happy about it. How much nicer it is when the pet willingly comes to you through kindness and giving the dear animal what it wants.

Are humans any different from pets? In English society up until the mid-20th century – rich people had companions – these were people who were not servants literally but were the paid friends of rich people. There was an element of ownership there because the companion had agreed to be the companion in return for a salary. In some situations a companion was employed in the household for the duration of the rich person’s life.

Control may be bought either by kindness, gifts (food for pets), money and companionship. Control is the negative way of looking at such relationships. There may be mutual consent and then the situation is what both parties want and where both parties freely enter into such a relationship willingly. Where there is agreement then there is dual control, where there is consensus then the decision has not been made in a controlling way. Paul Coelho must be talking about a control that is one-sided and the other really does not want or appreciate.

People have to understand what a relationship is – it is a creation - a creation by two or more people depending on the nature of that relationship.

Anyone who has tried to literally own another in terms of control will know that you have to maintain a friend though cohesion or care. Care is the much better way to go. If it is cohesion then Paul Coelho is totally correct – all you have is force and literal control but their spirit and their love is not with you. That has to be given freely by another.

Perhaps what Paulo Coelho is talking about is too much attachment and a need to have more faith in ourselves. Just as we need air to breathe and there is infinite air (usually), so the world is infinite and will give us everything we want, but just not total ownership of another because they have aspects that are uncontrollable/un-ownerable. Enlightened souls who can operate at this level are indeed free. To do this we have to have tremendous faith in ourself and others.

When we look at the reality of life some form of ownership even with living creatures can be the foundation of a good life. We are material beings and need material comforts, so a level of ownership is necessary for a happy life, which actually is more important than freedom. If I don’t own a good property then I can’t live in a good neighborhood. In some countries if I don’t live in a good neighborhood I can’t live safely. If a person doesn’t want to please me at times then what is the point? No,I believe in a certain level of ownership because happiness, satisfaction and creature comforts are more important than absolute freedom.

Some people will say yes and advocate free love - but think what are the dangers to you and society of that? An increase in illness and incurable diseases for example. Unstable relationships for children. Never being able to experience deep and true love.

Sometimes freedom is too big a price to pay or is not worth the freedom. Think carefully before you choose freedom. While you can never totally control a living creature, you should perhaps choose someone with similar interests so that there is no feeling of control and you feel as free as a bird. And when we are thinking of birds - remember the best relationships are likened to the lovebirds.Now that may be the most freest way to live. It certainly is the most blessed.

Really what Paulo Coelho is saying is that the best thing and the most important in the world is unconditional love and that control is contrary to experiencing such a love. Thus we must find our lovebird if we want to experience unconditional love.

Author's Bio: 

An I CAN READ English specialist with over 20 years teaching experience, I have worked in the British Council and Linguaphone, well-known language institutions. I am a London-trained lawyer and have been the public affairs officer at the British High Commission, Singapore, as well as an editor in an international book publishing house and a national magazine. In 2006, I was appointed as an Ambassador of Peace (Universal Peace Federation and Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace). I am also co-author of two law books: English Legal System and Company Law, published by Blackstone, Oxford University Press. For enquiries about I CAN READ classes, email FOR DAILY BLESSINGS: