Very often we justify our current state of life, inability to pursue dreams, running away from situations and citing such other reasons to be some or the other compulsion in life.
We say things like, I have a family here, how can I leave them behind and go pursue my dreams, that would mean to be selfish. When we cite this reason as a compulsion thats holding one back, we dont take responsibility for the decision and consider it as something outside of our control. But thats not true. Think of it as the choice you are making. Infact it is a choice. No one can hold you back, except yourself agreeing to be held back.
Infact human being is the only organism in whole of life on earth that has the freedom to make choice. This is our default setting when born on earth. Every other organism follows its inherent pre-set properties to behave like one based on its structure, habitat and role in the ecosystem. The interconnectedness is intricate and incomprehensible. However, a human being has no such pre-set life pattern at all. That is why we see human beings living in different kinds of habitats, using different languages, pursuing different dreams, expressing varying talents and capabilities and so on. The diversity is innumerable. Ofcourse there are some natural functionalities arising out of our gender, the process of our ageing, genetically pre-set condition of our organs or faculties which are out of our control. So we have just a little control over our body, but what we do with it is always our choice.
We say, religion restricts one from doing certain things, laws restrict, customs restrict, traditions restrict, families restrict, scriptures restrict and so on. This is like saying I am bound by these aspects of religion, laws, customs, etc. Unless you want to be bound by them, can you be bound ? We are mostly bound by these out of mindless (lack of thinking) acts, fear of consequence or complete understanding and respect for the said contraints.
This is something we have to ask ourselves and elicit a response from within, an honest response as to which of the three is the correct reason for each of the things we decide and do.
- a) Mindless Acts (lack of thinking, blind habit, matter of routine, everybody else does so, for ages its been this way)
- b) fear of consequences
- c) out of understanding and respect.
When we dont want to admit and lack the courage to face life we settle down with citing reasons of compulsion. We have a hundred ways of justifying compulsion.
- Justification given: Peer Pressure, some kind of compulsion.
- Actual reason: It is a choice not be ridiculed or disregarded by friends and colleagues. Valuing their impression about you more than what you truly belive and want to practice.
- Justification given: Financial Security for yourself and your family, its my duty, some kind of compulsion.
- Actual reason: It is a choice you are making to avoid the consequences. Fear of ‘what if’? Fear of the uncertain future. Rather than wanting to do what you truly value.
- Justification given: Its the tradition of the family. Its our culture. Some kind of external compulsion.
- Actual reason: Either b or c. Either that you are afraid to face the consequences of breaking/moving away from the tradition or that you are doing it out of respect and understanding for the practice.
These are just some indicative examples to help us explore our own inner selves and decision making processes.
Most often, there is difference between our belief and practice. Between how we understand things and what we actually do. Let me take an example.
- Belief: We say God is everywhere. God is in everyone. God is in everything. God truly resides in the most needy and suffering population.
- Practice: When ever we want to pray to God, we go and sit in front of a symbol representing God (such as an idol, a photo, a symbol or an alphabet and so on). Every day, we offer our daily worship in a designated room called Pooja Room, Mandir and so on. We go to temples, churches, mosques, synagogues, Gurudwaras.
However quite often we ask ourselves. How is it that God is everywhere and in everything, but I dont experience as such. How can you?
Although you seem to believe (actually you want to believe that you believe so) that God is everywhere and in everyone, your practice is however quite contradictory. Therefore your experience is in line with your practice. Align your practice to your belief. Shed the shackles of compulsion. Compulsions are meant for those yet to grow and mature. The fence is for the sapling and not for trees. Having grown, dont continue to bind yourself by the fences of compulsion that presents itself to you in the form of customs, traditions, culture, peer pressure, etc. Make your choice with courage and wisdom.
If you want to experience the omnipresence of God, then practice your relationship with God in same manner. Align your practice to your belief.
I tell myself repeatedly. Where is Sai? Is He is my pooja room, or in Puttaparthi or in Shirdi or everywhere. He is certainly everywhere as much as He is in each of these places. But this everywhere seems too wide for me. I find it difficult to relate to him as truly ‘every everything’. And so I answer this question as follows. Where is Sai? Sai has merged into soceity (Samashti) and Nature (Srishti). How can I get close to Sai? By Loving and serving Sai. By loving and serving Samashti and Srishti.
At this point, some might ask, what then of the holy tenets in the Vedas and Puranas and all such divine scriptures. These are not restrictions or compulsions. These are but the voices of those who have unraveled the mystries of life and creation. Having experienced and understood the very mechanism and structure of this universe, it is their list of recommended choices. In our day to day parlance, while the child may grab a chocolate based on the colour and style of packaging, the mother would chose items based on quality factors such as natural or artificial, nutritional content and so on. We call such customers as informed customers making informed choices.
Similarly the Vedas and Puranas and all the holy scriptures are the words of informed human beings. They have discerned as to what aspects must be valued and what must not be. What is just colour and packaging and what has true nutritional value. Its their recommended choices. These recommended choices are such that one can unravel human potential fully.
Nevertheless, even in this case, one has to make a choice and take decisions in life. Every second of a humans’ life is a choice. What to do, when to do, how to do, why to do, where to do….every action is a choice. Each of us are exercising such choices all the time, whether we are aware of it or not.
Lets tell ourselves repeatedly that we are limitless beings of choice and not limited humans of compulsion.