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Freedom is your nature—will you choose it? || IIT Kanpur (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
4 min
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Questioner: If awareness is our true nature, then why don’t we have a natural inclination towards it? Why do we get so easily overpowered by our bodily tendencies?

Acharya Prashant: Awareness might be your nature, but you live by your habits, not by your nature. This system that we call as the person, the human being, exists as a habit. Therefore, it is a system, right? A system means a habit. A system means something that can proceed without any consciousness. A machine is a system. A machine, even a very sophisticated machine, needs no consciousness to function.

So, when we talk of man, these two things have to be remembered at once, parallelly: One, our nature is awareness, joy, freedom; but our habit, our structural habit, our long-standing habit, our evolutionary habit is dimness, which is insentience, bondage, and sorrow, which is suffering.

Now, it depends on you. What is it that you want to choose?

The ‘I’, the little self has a choice: it could either proceed towards its nature or its old habits. And if it chooses nature, which is freedom and pure consciousness and joy, then there are pros and cons; there is a reward to be had, there is a price to be paid. Equally, if it chooses to live by its old habits, then again there are pros and cons.

So, that is a choice you and I make every moment. What is it that we want?

I like to put it this way: Freedom is our love, but bondage is our habit. And if you look at people, mostly you will find that we let our habits defeat our love. When it comes to a conflict between our love and our habit, then habit wins. Fear, for example, is an ancient habit and it wins, mostly. So, if you are asking why do people live unconscious lives in spite of consciousness being our nature, the answer is: well, only those people can tell, because it is a sovereign choice each of us makes.

In the very moment when you were choosing fear, you could have chosen faith. Why did you choose fear over faith? There is no reason; it is your choice. In fact, if you will reason it out, then you are trying to hide your culpability, then you are running away from your responsibility. Why are people preferring bondages over freedom? Well, probably because they like the rewards that bondages bring with them. Aren’t cages very safe places?

So, if you are someone who has not investigated his value system and therefore places a great premium on safety and security, you will probably choose in favor of bondages if they promise safety of some kind, security of some kind. Freedom might be your nature, but you will keep freedom aside, you will tell freedom to wait.

So, never talk of man as some kind of embodiment of awareness alone. Man is sandwiched between these two, and man has the choice to choose either of the two. And that choice is continuous. As long as the human being exists, the choice too exists. Your choice could be in favor of the highest possible, or you could choose to wallow in the lowest.

Your choice will never be denied to you. At the same time, you will never be allowed to deny the results of your choices. If you can remember this, then chances are that your choices will be in favor of awareness.

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