Is willpower really needed? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2013)

Is willpower really needed

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Question: Acharya Ji, how to improve willpower?

Acharya Prashant Ji: So, what has Aditya (the questioner) asked? “What can we do, to improve will power?” Right?

What is ‘willpower’, and why do we need it? What is ‘will power’?

Listener: To have determination.

Acharya Ji: To have determination. Determination, for what?

Listener: For our goal.

Acharya Ji: For our goal. To ‘do’ something. Right? To ‘do’ something. You need willpower in order that, something happens, that something gets done, right? Now, why does something, not get done? We often find that we are unable to act, to ‘do’.

Why are we unable to act, and ‘do’?

Listener 1: Because of fear.

Listener 2: Because of restrictions.

Acharya Ji: Fear. Restrictions.

If fear is there, if restrictions are there, and you give them importance, then obviously you cannot act. And when you cannot act, then you get up and say that you need willpower.

So, willpower is needed, only when you feel fear, only when you feel restrictions.

In order to overcome them, you need willpower. And that is what you are asking – “How can I enhance willpower?” What could be a better question?

Would it not be a better question: How not to be afraid? How not to be restricted?

Are you trying it, with me? We say, “We need willpower.” What if the willpower is actually not needed? What if you are fighting imaginary demons? You say, “You know, I require a lot of willpower, to enter that room, because in that room, there are ghosts, are there are demons?”

And as long as you believe, that there are ghosts, and there are demons, what will you require? Will power.  Willpower, motivation, somebody to give you courage. Somebody to pump you up. What if you come to see that there are no ghosts, and there are no demons? Would you still require willpower? Would you still require willpower?

(Pointing at one of the listeners) You are shaking your head, would you require willpower, to shake your head? You are again shaking your head, do you again require willpower? You are saying, “No, Sir,” do you require any willpower to say, “No, Sir”?

You just know, and out of that clarity, a simple action is happening. There is no willpower needed. But, if you are told that the fellow sitting in front of you, is a maniac, and the moment somebody shakes his head, nods his head, he shoots from the podium itself, then you will need a lot of willpower, to nod in ‘Yes’, or ‘No’. Right? Otherwise the action is simple. If you have to enter a room, you have to just step in. If you have to shake your head, you just shake it. A simple nod.

We need willpower, because we have created obstacles.

When we look into these obstacles, we find that they are only, as long as, we believe in them.

Then, you do not need willpower. Wisdom is enough.

Then, you do not need courage. Clarity is sufficient.

But, instead of asking for clarity, we often ask for courage. Now, courage is not needed, clarity is needed. Instead of asking for wisdom, we ask for will power. Will power is not needed, wisdom is enough.

If you are deeply afraid, and you believe that everybody will laugh at you, when you will ask a question, then you will need a lot of willpower. But if you are wise, and you say, “First of all, not many people are going to laugh. Secondly, even if somebody laughs, how does it matter to me?” then, will you still need will power?

You don’t need willpower. You need willpower, only as an antidote to fear. Where there is no fear, there is no need of willpower. So, don’t ask me, “How to enhance will power?” The more afraid you are, the more will power you need.

Is that not so?

Listeners: Yes, Sir.

Acharya Ji:

The more restricted you feel, the more willpower you need. Is that not so? Just open your eyes and see, that there is no restriction, except those, that you subscribe to, except those, that you willingly self-impose.

Then you will say, “Well, willpower! Who needs it?” When you are enjoying a particular sport, then you run around a lot. You expend a lot of energy. Do you need willpower? Do you need willpower?

Listeners: No.

Acharya Ji: But you will need a lot of willpower, if you are told to go jogging, and if you don’t enjoy jogging, then jogging even fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, you will say, “O my god, I am just dragging my feet. Give me some willpower.”

When you are really into something, when there is no fear, who asks for will power?

It is not needed.

Are you getting it?

Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session:  Is willpower really needed? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2013)


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You are so powerful that it scares you

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Question: Sir, I experience fear a lot of times. How to get rid of it?

Acharya Prashant: As long as it’s just an experience and you honestly acknowledge it, every such experience will burn away the seed from where this fear comes. Every time you experience without yielding to the experience, every time you experience without being afraid of the experience, you are letting the experience burn something inside you. It’s like there is someone who is firing a revolver at you, and how many shots does the revolver have? Six. Every time you are able to survive a shot, what have you done? You have heightened your probability of survival. Now he has one bullet less left. Something that was firing at you has burnt down. Something has burnt down without harming you. So it has burnt down and you have not been harmed. That is how you have to go through experience. Every time you experience fear without yielding to fear, please see that your past conditioning has reduced a little. Read more

Do you really need knowledge, power and money to love?

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Question: When I see children in a slum or working at a construction site, I feel like to give them all the knowledge or at least help them to study the basic things but then a thought came that you are still not in a condition to help anyone, first acquire knowledge and get placed so that you can financially support anyone.

AP: How much knowledge do you want to acquire?

Let’s say, you invest all your life in acquiring knowledge, how much of that would you have by the end of your life? Let’s say all your current knowledge is 1 G.B (gigabytes) and the remaining life is invested in just adding to this database. How much would you have in your hundredth year? Somebody, please toss a number, every number is as bad as the other. Read more

You are going to be afraid

You are going to be afraid.

And not only ‘fear’, you are going to experience all that which you usually call as
negative emotionality—temptation, jealousy, greed, insecurity, possessiveness.

All that will come to you.

But remember, your resistance to all that, is the energy that inflates it up.

Don’t resist fear, and you will find that fear is just a thing in the brain.

Don’t have pretensions about jealousy and possessiveness, and you will find that they don’t really have too much power of their own.

The relationship between freewill, destiny, and law of attraction

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Question: Can you talk about the relationship between free will, destiny and the law of attraction?

Acharya Prashant: All three do not exist.

(Laughter)

Free will belongs only to the Truth.

Your destiny is to reach the Truth.

And only the Truth really attracts you.

Free will — only the Truth has free will, all other actions are unfree.

Destiny—the Truth is your destiny, nothing else is. Destiny is something that is inviolable, only the Truth is your destiny.

Law of attraction—nothing else attracts you only the Truth attracts you. It may appear that this or that or x, y, z is attracting you but the fact is that whenever you have been really attracted, you have been attracted only to the Truth. Read more

Honesty- a direct uncorrupted movement from Self to action

Speaker: When you say ‘honesty is the best policy’ to a kid in school, you are validating honesty but more than honesty you are validating policies. You are on the side of honesty; that is obvious. You are saying ‘honesty is the best policy’; so you are advocating honesty. What we do not notice is that simultaneously we are also advocating…?

Listener 1: Policies.

Speaker: Yes and what are policies?

Listener 1: Man-made, rules and regulations.

Speaker: Policies are alternatives, policies are choices. I may do this or I may not do this. All policies are decisions and you have made honesty into a…?

Listeners (in unison): Policy.

Speaker: Decision, and the moment you say it’s my decision to be honest, you are saying that I am bigger than honesty. I am choosing honesty and I reserve the right to…?

Listener 2: Not to choose honesty.

Read more

What is unconditional freedom?

Question: Is there any difference between freedom and unconditional freedom?

Speaker: We live in bondage. What we call as our normal, usual, daily life, is a series of bonded movement in time. Our thinking, acting, even breathing is bondage. It is happening as per forces we have no understanding of, and hence no control over. And then suddenly, without our explicit demand, it so happens that this series, that this chain gets disrupted for a while, like a flash of lightning in dark sky, not lasting long, but having its distinct presence, an undeniable presence. It didn’t last, but it illuminated as long as it was there, and I can’t forget that it illuminated Read more

Intentions don’t matter; Awareness does

Question: What we get from outside especially in the childhood, is the love, affection, care of our parents, family. How can that contribute to our ego?

Speaker: There is a saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” People’s intentions are good, but they end up doing a lot of harm. People’s intentions are good but they end up doing a lot of harm because they are not aware. Even their love can only cause harm to the loved ones.

Intentions don’t matter, awareness matters.

I may have all the intentions of helping my son, my friend, somebody. But how can I help if my notion of help itself is misplaced.

Read more

No ritual is spiritual

Question: Sir, could the people of India be enslaved for long because they were spiritual people?

Speaker: If India was enslaved for so long, if the people here could be conquered and banished, and be made to live against their will, it was not because they were spiritual people, it was because they were not at all spiritual.
I ask you a simple question. What is the most fundamental tenet of spirituality? It is to know what is this game called ‘the world’ and ‘Who am I?’ Right? That is the foundation. ‘What is all this going on?’, and it’s a most obvious question that any intelligent man must ask. Right? Only if you are very stupid, then you will be not spiritual otherwise you have to be spiritual. What else can you be? Spirituality is common sense. Don’t you want to know what all this is? That is spirituality.

Read more

What is sweet at first, is poison in the end

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.’ Read more

To not to be spiritual is to be a social slave

Question: A simple rejection from anybody affects me completely. How to overcome this and what causes this disappointment?

Speaker: Rejection might be simple, but do you keep it simple? Do you allow it to remain simple? Do you know what ‘simple’ means?  Simple means, direct. Simple means, it is what it is. I do not add anything to it, I do not distort it, I do not take away anything from it. Rejection is rejection. But for you is it merely rejection? You make it a part of your self-assessment. It all pertains to the question, ‘Who am I?’ When there is no clarity on that question, then that question clamours to be answered. And it gets answered in very confused ways, in very distorted ways. ‘Who am I?’ The one, who will be accepted by others. ‘Who am I?’ One, among the others. Are you getting it? Read more

Happiness cannot be the purpose of life

Question: Sir, what is the purpose of life?  Is it earning money, or happiness?

Speaker: The lady is asking, ‘What is the ultimate purpose of life?’ She has already presented us two options:

  1. Earning money or,
  1. Happiness.

But you already know. You have already discounted everything else and zeroed in on to two options. What are they? That the purpose could be either to earn money, or to be happy.

Alright. So let’s first look at these two. What does one earn money for?

Listener 1: For livelihood.

Speaker: And, why does one want a livelihood?

Listener 2: For comfort.

Speaker: What does comfort give you?

Listener 3: Satisfaction and happiness. Read more

Freedom from compulsive slavery

Speaker: The topic of ‘Compulsion’ and ‘Free-will’ is what we are concerned with. When do you call something a compulsion?

Listener 1: When I am not interested in doing something and I am forced to do something.

Speaker: At a superficial level compulsion is when the mind does not feel interested. And according to you, when you feel interested, then it is not a compulsion. Correct?
Listeners(everyone): Yes.
Read more

The delusion called ‘Achievement’

Speaker: Do you really want to understand what this whole business of ‘achievement’ is? If you really want to understand, only then we can go into it. If you are into it superficially, out of an obligation, then you will not understand anything. So do you really want to understand this ?

Listeners: Yes, Sir.

Speaker: If you think this must be a very, very serious thing in which we are investing our entire life, this business of achievement, then it is very important to understand it. If you think this to be of that great importance, then only you will be able to understand. And if you think that there is nothing to do, life comes and goes, and if we waste one life then another life is waiting for us, then there is no point discussing all this. So are you really sincere about understanding ? Read more

Whose desires are you chasing?

Question: What is the proof that we are still evolving?

Speaker: Who says that it is not happening anymore? That process takes millions of years. There is enough proof. If you go hundred years back, the human brain has become larger. The overall size of the body has decreased because we have moved from an agrarian society to a society that is service-based, doing far more of intellectual work than mechanical work. Do you know what is happening? Across the world, babies are being born with bigger brain and smaller body. Evolution is at work all the time. Because your life span is only eighty to hundred years, you never see that. It takes place across centuries. You never see a monkey changing into man overnight. Read more

Of Confidence, Falseness and the Idea of Perfection

Speaker: The question is, “How do I know whether I am confident or overconfident? One is considered positive, the other is considered negative.” I ask you again. How can I declare a quantity ‘x’ to be positive or negative if I do not know that quantity. I must know something about it in order to understand it as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Do I understand what is ‘negative’ or ‘positive’?Do I understand what this confidence thing is? You will go back to your home, most of you, after few hours. When you are with your parents, let us say with your mother, sitting in a very relaxed way, do you really require confidence to speak to her? Do you really require courage to speak to her? It’s a natural, smooth, free flow. You do not require any confidence. Right? But when you have to speak in front of an audience, when you are standing on the podium, then you require a lot of confidence. Right?
Read more

Stop thinking, just relax, and understand

Speaker: Now as I am responding to this, did I plan to respond? This is attention – to be completely alert and wakeful. And out of that alertness comes a spontaneous response. This is attention. This spontaneity is attention, and spontaneity is of great benefit. What is that great benefit? You need not think. Read more

When you are really sure, all your energy rises into action

Acharya Prashant: Energy arises when you know what you are doing. Life is inert and boring when you do not know what you are really doing. You have no interest in doing anything.

All of you are sitting here. There are many of you who are looking here and there. Many of you are on the verge of sleeping. All this is happening because many of you do not know what is happening here, why they are sitting here. When action comes out of understanding, then a lot of energy opens up, then you are alive and young, over flowing with energy. And that is life, that is the joy of life, not this yawning. Read more

Awakening begins with suffering

Speaker: The question is that why good people have to suffer the most? How many of you think that it is so or how many of you have seen this happening in your surroundings that good people suffer?

(Few in the audience raise their hands)

Alright, so there are few others besides her.

Kirti, man can exist, all of us can exist in three distinct states. The first state, the lowest state is that of a stone that has zero consciousness; absolutely no understanding of what is going on. It understands nothing, none at all. And it does not suffer at all. Are you getting it?
Read more

There is nothing called ‘my success’

Questioner: Isn’t there something called an individual business effort, not conditioned by others? Is it not possible that a business or entrepreneurship effort could be free of society and based on one’s own mind? We are all students of social entrepreneurship.

Speaker: Is there something called business untouched by society? The real estate business, or pharmaceutical business, or the business of selling shoes or software — if one enters into these, with the ambition of success, then it is already a social phenomenon. Real estate is not significant. What is significant is that the individual is entering with a view to earn success. Remain with that: from where does your motion of success and failure come? If somebody wants to prove himself, don’t you see the mental game of success in his desire?

Read more