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Question: Sir, my question is that why are we often so afraid of putting our thoughts in front of others? Why do we care? Many times we care about others, about the people around us. Why is it so?
Speaker: You have been wanting to ask a question from the very first minute. Right? It is there in your eyes, but you have been unable to ask. Why does that happen? (Laughingly) I don’t look particularly like a monster. Do I? I do.
(Somebody in the audience makes some noise) Heard him? Do I emit those kinds of sounds? This would not have been the case, had this hall not been full of people. It is not ‘your question’ which is blocked. It is about the others. Do not think that there is something in the question, it is the ‘presence of others’. Had you been alone in this room, there would have been no barrier at all. You would have just simply, spontaneously said what you wanted to say. Right now you are worried about what the others might think. It is a simple thing.
The ego finds sustenance in others’ opinions, and it is a horrible thing. Is it not?
(Pointing at one of the listeners who was whispering some sounds) More horrible than the sounds he was making. Even the most simple and intimate matters of our life are governed by the opinions of others. ‘What will he or she think?’ You could not ask because there are others, and he is emitting these sounds because he can hide behind the others. Now had it been only me and him, these sounds couldn’t have come. And had it been only me and you, the question would have simply come. Is that not so?
So, we speak because there are others and we do not speak because there are others. So whatever we do we do it for?
Speaker: Tragedy. Too bad, too bad. ‘Others’ are controlling everything in my life. Just everything. Reason? Simple. I believe myself to be what others tell me I am. Somebody tells you, ‘You are wonderful’ and you start feeling good about yourself. You don’t know yourself, so you depend upon the other person to tell you who you are and how you are. Now, in feeling good about what the other person is telling you, you totally forget that you have given the other person power over yourself.
The same fellow who tells you in the morning that you are brilliant, can tell you in the evening that you are stupid. And if in the morning you felt good, then in the evening you will have to feel bad. You do not realize in the morning that by feeling good you are making this fellow your master. And you feel good, only because you do not know yourself. When you are thoroughly convinced about something, then you do not require others’ opinions. But you are confused about yourself, so you require a certificate from others, a validation from others. ‘Somebody else must come and say I am good.’ That is the reason why even in your friend circle you put up a fake personality. It is horrifying to know that even in our most intimate relationships, we find it compulsory to put up a fake face so that the others keep approving of us.
You need not worry. When you know yourself, when you are aware of your being, then you are your own master. That is the fullest freedom possible. Then it doesn’t matter what he or she is thinking. Then it doesn’t even matter what you are thinking. ‘I exist independently of my own thoughts. There may be a point when I am not feeling good about something, but yet I realize what is to be done. I go ahead and do that. I have freedom not only from others, but also from myself.’
It feels good, valiant to be free from others. Right? The mind likes that. ‘Yes, freedom from others’! But there is an even bigger freedom; freedom from yourself. It is easy to be free from others, but it is more difficult to be free from yourself. ‘What is the other thinking about me?’ and that voice called ‘conscience’ which is always telling you, ‘no, no, don’t do this, this is wrong, difficult, bad, immoral.’ Freedom from conscience! Do not be dependent on others and then there is no question of hesitation. Then life will flow smoothly, like a river, no jerks.
Listener 2: But Sir, that is not controlled by us. It comes naturally.
Speaker: Yes, but don’t call it ‘natural’. See nature and conditioning are two different things. Nature is ‘real self’ and conditioning is ‘habit’. Nature is not habit. You have started calling your habits as your nature. Habit is something that you acquire. Nature is something which is your very own. It is not your nature, it is your habit. Habit is conditioning. You acquire habits. You are not born like this.
Ever seen a little kid? You are hesitating in speaking something. Have you ever seen a two-month old hesitate? It wants to cry, it will cry. Doesn’t matter if everyone else watching a movie in the theater is disturbed. It will cry out loudly. It doesn’t matter even if you are the president of the world. If he doesn’t like your face, he will slap you and say, ‘Go away.’ And if you still don’t go away, he will spoil your precious suit. Now you will have to go away.
Were you always hesitating? You were not always hesitating. Somebody has taught you to hesitate. Somebody else given you this habit. Somebody might have given it to you because you were dependent then. You were so small. You were helpless. But now you are not helpless. Now you can give up that habit. Now you can fly free.
Conditioning a child is a pathetic act. You are so small, and you are given all kinds of beliefs. ‘You must be a good girl, this is your religion, you must act in this way.’ And you don’t know anything, you are innocent, so you believe. You say that it must be alright. ‘People are saying, and everybody is saying the same thing, family, teachers, friends, TV, everybody is saying the same thing so it must be right.’ You were so small, what could you do. The child is exploited by the society.And we all have been exploited. But never mind. The past is past. We might have been exploited, today we are no more kids. We are mature, adult, young men and women. We will be the master of our lives. We will not let these habits control us. We will not let the others control us.
Your nature is freedom, nothing else is your nature. Your nature is truth, nothing else is your nature. Never say that all this hesitation is ‘my nature’.
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Others taught you to hesitate || Acharya Prashant (2014)
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