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Question: ‘What is bitter at first is sweet in the end, What is sweet at first is poison in the end. To everyone is given the choice. It all depends on the effort put in, and the unflagging determined will; for whoever strives must soon arrive at the city of his choice.’
Please give us clarity on the words, ‘effort’, ‘determined will’, ‘striving’ and ‘choice’.
Speaker: ‘What is bitter at first is sweet in the end, What is sweet at first is poison in the end. To everyone is given the choice . It all depends on the effort put in , and the unflagging determined will; for whoever strives must soon arrive at the city of his choice.’
The unflagging determined will, choice.
Existence is freedom because there is nothing except it. It is unqualified, unconditional freedom. It is free even if it pretends that it is not free. It is free to act free, and it is free to act unfree. Even in the worst of situations, even in the deepest of slavery, even in the most unconscious sleep, there still is the power of choice available.
If there is one thing that one never loses, it is his ability of freedom, the power to choose. The power to choose is just an expression of your inherent freedom. The other day we said that it is never too late to take a ‘U-turn’. Do you see what it means? It means that you may have driven thousands of miles down the wrong road, yet the choice to continue going down the same road or to take a U-turn is still available.
It’s not as if the choice is depleted or forsaken or withdrawn. Nobody can confiscate this choice. This choice has not been given to you by anybody, it is a part of your being. You may lose anything and everything, but you can never lose the ability to decide to wake up. Never!
And that is why I speak to you, that is why anyone who has ever spoken, has spoken to you. It is because that possibility of waking up is always there. It cannot be taken away. It is your essential nature, FREEDOM! ‘I am free to take a ‘U-turn’ at any point in time. Anywhere I am, whatever be the configuration and conditioning of my mind, I still retain the ability to get rid of it.’
What that essentially means is, that no conditioning is bigger than freedom, that no conditioning has more power than intelligence, that no cloud is more vast than the sky. So, the ability to get rid of all the darkness and all the cobwebs that are surrounding the mind, that are obfuscating the Sun, that you always retain. Nobody can take away that ability.
‘To everyone is given the choice.’ Lalla says, ‘To everyone is given the choice.’ To be someone is bondage. To have the choice is freedom. To everyone is given the choice is the name of ‘world’. What do you have in the world? You have in the world ones, and ones, and ones, and multiplicities, diversities, persons, divisions, fragments. ‘To everyone is given the choice.’ And you also have in the world, the great redeeming, blessing of freedom.
‘I might be born a slave, yet freedom calls from within. And I can respond any day, I can answer the call any day.’ Saints like Lalla, all that they do is that they nudge you a little, they prompt you a little. They say, ‘You see, ultimately you have to answer the call, because answering the call of freedom is your nature. Why don’t you do it a little early? Why don’t you do it right now?’
‘It all depends on the effort put in, and the unflagging determined will. For whoever strives, must soon arrive at the city of his choice.’
It is your choice to remain in bondage. And, it will be out of your choice that you will give up the bondage. So, essentially it means you are never in bondage. You see, if it is always within the powers of a slave to become free, is he ever a slave? He is just role-playing like a slave. If it is in your powers to break out of the jail whenever you wish, are you ever in jail? No. You have just gone there like a tourist. It’s your choice.
You chose to become confined, small, captured. You were the one who chose captivity, and you are also the one who can choose freedom. Go ahead, choose. Choose!
Now, you are asking, ‘What is then meant by effort and determined will?’ Not much. Once the mind has decided to answer the call , your entire organism dances to the tune of freedom, that is called effort. Once you have made the choice, events just happen on their own, that is called effort. So, it’s not even your effort. Events happen on their own. All those efforts are actually choice-less. once you have made the grand choice of answering the call, you don’t have any choice in making those efforts. ‘Now that I have chosen to fight the battle, do I have a choice in firing the shots?’ Yes? So, effort is choice-less. It happens. Just happens. It is an effortless effort.
And determined will? Determined-will arises from seeing the repercussions of the choice. ‘I made a choice that I will remain in bondage, and I see what that choice has brought upon me. Just as freedom is my nature, truth, realization, sensitivity is also my nature. I see what has happened to me, and when I see what has happened to me, I want to get rid of it’, that is what leads to the reversal of choice.
Kindly remember, there is no fatalism here. You are in control all the time. Let nobody come and say, ‘Now I am at such and such point in life, what can I do?’ You are at no point in life. Situations are not dictating your location. Whatever is happening is happening out of your own will. And if your will can bring you here, your will can also take you back. Your legs brought you away from your home, it will be these same legs that will carry you back to your home.
So blame not destiny and do not shift the responsibility. You are the only one. Who else is there to blame? Whom would you blame? That is one of the irritating things about aloneness. You cannot blame somebody else. ‘I alone am! Whom to blame?’ Now, you can’t complain! ‘Ahamev hi kevalam (Alone I am), so whom to complain? And what to complain? Who did it? I did it. There is no body else who did anything.’
You did it and the karm-fal (fruit of the actions), and you see what is happening out of your doing. And if you have the sensitivity and you have decided that the time has come, then the things will happen on their own. But remember, no ‘will’ will arise and no ‘effort’ will take place if the mind is shrouded in the notion that I did not do it, or I cannot do it. There has to be an honest acceptance. ‘Being what I was, this was inevitable. It is not accidental’! Your life situation is not random, it has not been randomly thrown upon you. Being what you are, this had to happen. It is a result of your own mind.
But, nothing is lost! It’s never too late! A ‘U-turn’ is always possible. If you realize that the time has come, go ahead, make the choice. It will appear difficult, but make it. You do not know what reserves of energy you have within you. You will be surprised by the quantum of effort that you can make.
People talk of willpower, you will see that willpower is a nonsensical thing. You do not require willpower. Out of realization, ‘will’ arises on its own. But, you have to realize. You have to realize. Let these immortal words of Lalla always remain with you, ‘To everyone is given the choice’. Never forget that it is always within your capacity, that it is never too late, that it is never beyond you. Never!
‘For whoever strives must soon arrive at the city of his choice.’
So, there are obviously two cities she is referring to. Which city do you live in? The city of death, or the city of joy? No, I am not referring to Calcutta. (Everyone laughs). No, I am not referring to Delhi either.
Which city do you live in? The city of death, or the city of joy? We live in the city of death; ‘mrityulok’. You came here out of your choice. Your birth was not accidental. As a metaphor, we say that latent desires take birth. Your birth was not accidental. You wanted to be born, that is why you are here. You wanted to be there in the city of death, that is why you were born. You have something to achieve.
The man who has collected millions, wanted to accumulate money, that is why he was born. He was born hard-wired to accumulate, that is what we call as ‘physical conditioning’, ‘hard-wiring’. So, your birth itself is a choice. Poor parents don’t have much to do with it actually. They were just agents. you made them come together so that you can arrive. So, you chose to come here. Now, you can also choose to go to the other city. Choose! It’s within your powers. Choose! And do not forget, once you have chosen then you are choice-less. Do not forget that this choice is available at all moments.
What to do when one tries to capture the Truth in silly words? This is what one comes to. So, on one hand you have to see that there is utter choicelessness, on the other hand you also see that a choice can be made any moment. What to do?
Truth is too vast and too paradoxical to be captured.
– Excerpts from Clarity Session held at Advait Sthal. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at What is sweet at first, is poison in the end
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