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Can freedom co-exist with one's roles and responsibilities? || Acharya Prashant (2017)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
13 min
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Question: In this materialistic life, we realise the importance of Freedom that you are speaking of. Then what should we do?

Acharya Prashant (AP): what she is asking is, "I am already engaged materially. I work somewhere, I have commitments there; I have a family, I have responsibilities there. And everything was going alright. And then suddenly you barged in. The party was on – and then there was a gate-crash. And now you are talking of all these abstract things: Freedom, Absolute Love, Emancipation. Now what do we do? We are already booked!"

Again you see, you are seeing this as an either-or game. It is not an either-or situation. If it is an either-or situation, it is actually a neither-nor situation. Either-or does not mean that you will have one of the two; either-or means that you have none of the two. But you pose your question to me as if you have something, and if you listen to me, then that something would be lost. Is that not the simple and direct assumption; simplistic and direct assumption?

"We have our material world. And now this man with the shabby beard has come, and he’s saying that there is another world. And not only is he saying that there is another world, he’s actually publicizing it; blowing the advertisers trumpet - 'Come, come, come! There is something more attractive there!'."

There is no other world that I’m talking of.

Everybody is presently and always in a particular situation. That situation is a flow from an accumulation from the large cycle of cause and effect chain; all the past, all the conditioning, all the experiences, all that mankind ever went through comes together to put you in your particular individual position. One cannot dispute or fight that position. That position is the truth of one’s mortal being; that position is the fact of one’s personality. One cannot deny that. One is in that position.

If one is a mother of two kids, the two kids are there; they are facts. If one is now seventy four years of age and has maybe just five more years in front of him, that is a fact. If one has elderly parents to take care of, one cannot just wish that they evaporate into thin air; they are there, it’s a fact. The question is: Who are you in all this? The one that you are in all this, will decide your relationship with all these events, happenings and people.

You have your job. And you have pressures there; you have targets there, colleagues there, and you have bosses there. What you think of yourself, what you take yourself as, will decide your relationship with everything at your workplace. What you take yourself to be will decide your relationship with your kids.

Have you seen, what you call as the ‘normal relationship’ between parents and kids? Must relationships be like that - parents that are insecure and ambitious at the same time. And it’s a miracle how people manage to carry these two together – insecurity and ambition. Trembling in one moment that they are insufficient as people and parents, and ready to pounce in another moment at the highest possibilities and temptations that the world has to offer. Firing at the highest target, nothing short of that will satiate them, and using the kid as the cannon fodder in the process!

Is the family the problem, or is the individual mind the problem? If you are not relating to your kids, to family members, to neighbours, or to colleagues, you would be relating to somebody, right? If the family is a problem, if the workplace is a problem, let’s take away the family and the workplace; you would still be left with somebody to interact with. And if your very mind is diseased, whatever interactions you enter into, would also be diseased. If your mind is healthy, then it’s beautiful to have a relationship with the child. What’s wrong? What’s wrong? Then the relationship is not a compulsion; then there is nothing really distorted or ugly about the relationship.

Mostly we have heard that Spiritual men and women do not have families. You haven’t heard it rightly, completely. Spiritual men really do not have families, and the statement is not yet complete - Spiritual men do not have families of the kind most men have. Yes, Spiritual men do not have families; families of the kind the so-called normal men have.

Spiritual men have beautiful families. What you call as the 'normal, well-adjusted man', he has ugly families. What you call as a ‘normal family’ is just a compulsive maze of blood relationships.

"Now that you are carrying my genetic stuff, you are caught. Now you’ll be called my son, and there is no reprieve. Why? Because your first cell came from my semen. So you are stuck! Now you cannot run away. And you, woman there! I fertilized you! So you too are stuck, now you cannot run away."

This is the definition of family that we normally have.

Do you know what the relationship, the family, of a Krishna is, of a Buddha is, of a Jesus is, of Kabir, Nanak, Krishnamurti is? You know how their families are? Their families are not about blood and semen. We are so sexually obsessed, you see, that the very foundation of our families is sex. When I say 'sex', it implies the body, physicality. Fathers would proudly say, “You know, my blood is running through your veins.” Now the fact is that blood does not fertilize; sperm does. If the father had any honesty, he would’ve said, “My sperm is running in your brain. And that is why you are such a dickhead.”


That is our family - everybody related to each other through the sperm. What is holy or pious about this family? The father is the giver of the sperm, the woman is the receiver of the sperm, the son and the daughter are the products of the sperm. Alright, you can add the egg to it; the sperm and the egg. That is the foundation of the family - sexual, just physical.

Can’t there be a family of another kind? And can’t even the biological son and father be related to each other in a different way? Is it not possible that the son is able to look at the father as a human being, that the father is able to appreciate the humanness of the son, that the mother and the daughter can be really friends? Genuine? Is it not possible? And if it is possible, then how is Spirituality a threat to the genuine family?

Spirituality cannot be a threat to the genuine family; Spirituality is actually the foundation of the genuine family. But Spirituality is really a threat to the false family, to the family that is based on just the sperm and the egg.

All Spirituality is about love for the Truth; Love and Truth. Don’t you want Love and Truth to sanctify your home? Don’t you? Don’t you take care that your house remains clean? And what can cleanse your house more than Love and Truth?

If the family is based on just compulsive, physical relations, then it is a bondage; it will result in suffering. Let the people be the same. You cannot change your son and daughter, they are there. We said right in the beginning that they are facts; if you have two sons, they are facts. Please take care of your relationship with them. See how they are growing up. Let them not become victims of your personal traits; let them not become victims of your hollownesses and insecurities, and all the petty things.

Can you raise your kids like God raised the universe? Can you be wise enough to know the difference between guidance and dictation? Can you be wise enough to know the difference between care and confinement, between protection and strangulation?

If you can know that, then you will know how to relate with any human being. And if you know how to relate with any human being, you also know how to relate with your husband, your in-laws, your relatives, your sons and daughters. You’ll have a beautiful family. The relationship will then not be just of this, the body; the relationship will be found here, the Heart.

The questioner is saying, “How can we get Freedom along with our current roles and responsibilities?” Wherever you are, free or not, roles and responsibilities will be there. Is Krishna free or not? Is he or not? You say that he is free. Does he have a role in the battle of Kurukshetra or not? Is he the charioteer or not? He’s still playing a role! And because he is chosen to play that role, he respects it. Do you think all of a sudden he will climb up and supplant Arjuna, and say, “I am God the almighty! Why should I run the chariot? I should have the highest role! You go and look after the horses, I will fight!”?

Roles are there even for God himself. And he respects those roles. Freedom is not when all your roles evaporate; Freedom is the foundation of all roles. Given any role, how do you operate in Freedom?

Krishna is free when he is a charioteer; Krishna is free when he’s playing the flute; Krishna is free when he is angry at Bhishma; Krishna is free when he is wooing the girls; Krishna is free when he is playing tricks and politics; and Krishna is free when he is narrating the Gita.

Roles keep changing and there would be no point when you would have no role even superficially; superficially, roles would always be there. Remember that superficially the role of Krishna on the battlefield is that of the charioteer. Given that role, what does he still manage to do? He still manages to bring down the Gita to Arjuna. Roles are there. Was Rama playing his role or not when he went to the jungle? Of course, Rama is not someone confined to his identities. Then why do you find him weeping when his wife is abducted?

Ravana has taken away Sita, and Rama is so disconsolate; he’s even asking the animals and the trees, “Where is my Sita?” He’s just playing his role. Roles are always there – even right now I am playing a role; you too are playing a role. The question is: What is the quality of this role?

The quality of the role is determined by the Freedom of the one performing the role.

You might be playing the role of a captive on a stage. Suppose you are playing the role of a captive, a prisoner. A prisoner has no freedom, right? In the role he has no freedom. But you will be able to play that role perfectly, only when you are free as an actor.

Even to play the role of the prisoner perfectly, you must first have perfection in Freedom.

And it requires a really fine actor to play the role of a captive, because a captive by definition cannot do much; his hands are tied, his legs are tied; he might be blindfolded; even his mouth might be strapped. So he can’t do anything. That is his role – he cannot do anything; he’s totally enslaved. But even in this role, is freedom needed or not? And can you perform this role without freedom?

Freedom is not about being in any particular role. Freedom is about being free in whatever role you do, so that you can do that role to perfection.

Freedom sits here (pointing inwards) ; roles are all on the periphery, superficial. Yes? And if you have Freedom in your Heart, if you worship Freedom, then you will find that all your roles are getting sanctified; there will be a touch of purity in all your roles. You will change as a mother; with God in the Heart, you’ll change as a mother. With spirituality as the foundation, the family will change.

It is not as if being free means, giving up on roles and responsibilities; roles and responsibilities are not to be finished off, they must be cleansed, purified. There is a difference between healing something and killing something. Are you getting it? There is a difference between healing something and killing something. Simultaneously, it is also true that healing means killing the disease.

If you have a problem relationship, do not kill that relationship. Heal it. And there is no emancipation possible by running away from relationships. You can run away from a particular relationship – even that is actually not possible, because by running away you have established it firmly in your mind that you can run away from a particular relationship. But can you run away from relationship per se? Wherever you will go, you will strike some other relationship; even the previous one is not really going to go away.

So, be where you are, and be truly where you are.

'Being truly where you are' means - be with the Truth first, don’t run away; stand firm; and then see how the atmosphere around you, the relationships around you change, because their center has changed.

When the mother has changed, when the wife has changed, the husband cannot remain the same; the son and the daughter cannot remain the same.


Have faith, this is possible. Do not look for easy escapes; they are not easy. And what I’m suggesting, is not difficult.

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