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Willpower is a useless medicine for a non-existent disease || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2013)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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Listener: Sir, I often find myself surrounded by fears like fear of failure, fear of society. I want to know that how can I get rid of these fears? How can I develop strong will power?

Speaker: Anubhav, will power is rubbish. You do not need willpower. Willpower is a useless medicine for a non-existent disease. Remember this,

Willpower is a useless medicine for a non-existent disease.

What do you want to overcome through willpower? There is nothing to be overcome. You want to ask a question, so you get up and ask a question, what is the use of willpower in this? You require willpower only because you are living in illusions. I can very certainly tell you that at this moment I do not require any willpower to speak to you. What is right, what is natural is being done, what is the role of willpower in all this? But we make matters complicated for ourselves. What do we do? We first let imaginary fears encircle us, and then we fight these fears using willpower. Have you heard a story of these two friends who had a lot of willpower?

So, these two friends were standing at a place. One of them said that I want to buy some land and start farming. The other one said that I too will do the same. It is a good idea, you will buy land and I too will buy land adjacent to you. First one says that it is such a nice thing that two of us will still be together, our fields will be next two each other. Second one says that don’t you allow your animals to come in my field, because if you are going to have farms then you are also going to have pets, so don not allow them to wander in my fields. First one says that yes that must not happen but you see that animals are animals, how long can one control them, one cow, one buffalo, etc may accidentally stray into your fields. Second one says that I will not like this. First one says that even I do not want that, but you see I cannot guarantee, it can happen. So, second one says that what do we do then? First one says that see this is my field, and he makes a small field on the ground using his toe, and this is your field, and the boundary is clear, then why must your animal come to my side. The other says that my friend you do not understand, this is the field, this is the animal; now see this animal is going to your field, see what can be done, an animal is just animal. He says that if your animal comes here I will kill it. He says that the animal is already gone, can you kill it? He takes two deep breaths. Two deep breaths! And says that now your buffalo is going to be slaughtered, and he kills the buffalo. The two of them fight each other, hit each other, there is mud, dirt, and blood. They are taken to the court where the magistrate asks them, ‘what were you doing?. One said that he killed an animal. The other one said that I did not want to kill. The magistrate said that I know you. You are not a violent man at all. How can you kill an animal? He said that it was very very difficult for me to kill that animal, extremely difficult, but I generated a lot of willpower and killed it. So magistrate asks the policeman, ‘where is the animal? Which field?’ ‘Right now there is no field and no animal. There is only willpower’.

Then what is being killed? What are you killing using your willpower? What are you overcoming? There is nothing to overcome. Where is the animal that you are killing? You got up to speak and I bet you were afraid. Right? What are you afraid of?

Listener: Failure.

Speaker: What is the failure that can happen here?

Listener: It is about my failure in not achieving my goals. Failure in future.

Speaker: What is the barrier in asking the question?

Listener: Sir, I do not think there is any barrier in asking the question. I gathered courage in asking the question.

Speaker: Why did you have to gather courage in asking the question? Tell me, would you require courage if these people are not here?

Listener: No, I won’t need courage if these people are not here. I will just come and ask.

Speaker: You won’t even wait that let the Samvaad session get over and then I will ask the question. The inference is obvious. There is some pressure that you are experiencing on your mind from these people, and you are using willpower to counter that pressure. How many of you sitting over here are exerting pressure on him? How many of you sitting here are even interested in exerting pressure on him so that he does not ask a question? How many of you did that in last one hour, sent some pressure on him to not ask question?

Listeners (Everyone): We did not.

Speaker: Now look at the fun of all this. There is no pressure yet willpower is being used to counter pressure. When nobody is putting any pressure on you, what are you using your willpower for? Understand this. You are fighting an imaginary enemy. There is no enemy. We have begun by saying, ‘Willpower is a useless medicine for a non-existent disease’. The pressure does not exist, why are you experiencing it? Where is the pressure? Is the pressure real or imaginary? So, is there any need for willpower then?

Listeners (Everyone): No.

Speaker: But we need willpower. And there are so many Gurus around who will tell you how to wake your willpower up. Willpower! For what? Using willpower is like trying to buy a tank to shoot a bird which is not there at all. First of all, you are buying the whole tank to do what?

Listeners (Everyone): Shoot a bird.

Speaker: That is not there at all. How profitable is this trait? But we feel so proud. ‘You know I have so much willpower’. The more willpower you have, the more stupid you are. Only stupid people need willpower. Fear itself is imaginary. What is the use of summoning willpower?

You said that you wanted to talk about overcoming fear. Fear is there only when mind feels the danger of something being taken away. Right now the imaginary fear was, ‘My reputation will be taken away’. Do you understand that? Why are you afraid in asking something in front of hundred people? Your fear that something will be taken away. What will be taken away?

Listener: Reputation.

Speaker: Image! My image will be destroyed, will be taken away. What if I do not care for reputation? What if I say that I know myself and it does not matter to me what others think of me? Will I still be afraid? If I know that whatever is precious and real and valuable cannot be given to me by others, it is entirely mine. When others cannot give it to me, how can they take it away, will I still be afraid? You depend on others for your reputation that is why you are afraid of others. The more you bother about reputation, the more afraid you will be. The more you depend on others for your self-image, self-concept, the more you will live in fear, and of course, it is a useless fear. Are you getting this?

Fear is the thought of losing something. If you do not take anything, how can you lose it? Reputation-you take from others, obviously you can you lose it. When you realize that the most precious gifts that I have, you do not even realize, you are grateful for it, when you are grateful that I have the gift of understanding, that I am alive, then you say that something valuable is already and always there with me, nobody has given it to me, it is mine, no one can take it away, I am fearless, I am enjoying, and this enjoyment cannot be taken away.

As I speak to you, if I depend upon you for your approval or for your applause, then I am bound to be afraid. But as I speak, this speaking is itself sufficient for me, it is a joy in itself, so you cannot take away anything. There is nothing that you can take away from me because I am not afraid. And then the exciting thing is that when I am not afraid, then I am really related to you, because I am not dependent on you. Hence, there is a real relationship. And when you are dependent, then the relationship is always of?

Listeners (Everyone): Fear.

Speaker: And why fear?

Listeners (Everyone): The person can take away something.

Speaker: You are dependent upon him, he can go away. He can refuse any day, any time to give you what he is giving. So, you will be afraid. There can be no love.

Do not be dependent: not on your friends, not on your family, not on the entire world, not on situations, not on circumstances, not on time. Be complete within yourself and then there will be no fear. The more you are dependent, the more afraid you will be. The more you collect, the more you accumulate from others, the more will be the thought that all this can…?

Listeners (Everyone): Go away.

Speaker: The greater your accumulations are, the greater will be your fear, because everything has come from outside and all this accumulation can be…

Listeners (Everyone): Taken away.

Speaker: So even when you have something, do not be attached to it. Rest silently, peacefully in your own splendor, in your own richness. Who can take it away? Nobody gave it to you, who can take it away? Take away my life but you cannot take that away. Kill me but you still cannot take that away. How can I be afraid?

Wherever there is fear, search for dependency. Look for dependency, you will find it, and the moment you find dependency, do not stop yourself from getting rid of it.

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

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