We are all spirit souls and part of God, according to Gita, and Krishna is svarat which means he is completely independent. As parts of the supreme Lord, we also have independence. People can take away your money, material nature can take away your health, time will take away your youth, everything is taken away from us inevitably, but there is one thing that no power in all creation that can take away from anyone in this human form of life, and that is our free-will. This is all important.
Life is about how we choose to use our free-will at every moment. According to how we use our free-will, we become conditioned to think that way, to see the world in that way, and to act in that way. We become conditioned by whatever we are associated with. – Radhanath Swami
Just a gross example: if one uses one’s free-will to smoke cigarettes, no one can force anyone to do it, but the association you keep can severely influence you to do it. When you start, it tastes horrible, but by your free-will, if you keep doing it until your free-will is so much conditioned to surrendering to that experience that you become addicted, and then practically it seems that you do not have a free-will anymore. By this addiction, you are practically being forced and crushed that, ‘I have to do it and I have to do it. I must do it. I cannot live without it.’
Alcoholism is same thing. Drug addiction is same thing. You use your free-will, you do it enough times and soon you become so much conditioned by the modes of nature that you are willingly surrendered to that. It appears that you lost your free-will. But in fact, you haven’t. So whatever our consciousness is, whatever our way of thinking is, we should understand that it is not our nature eternally, it is our acquired nature. It is the nature, the characteristics that we have created ourselves according to what and who we choose to we associate with: in our lives, in this life, and in our previous lives.
When we take birth, according to Bhagavad-Gita, according to the characteristics we have acquired, we have a particular state of consciousness in this life. Some people are very dynamic. Some people are just really lazy and lethargic. It is not that one is just born that way. It is through choosing lethargy in this life, may be in previous lives, that that becomes your nature to be lazy. Some people, by nature, just cannot stop complaining about everything and everyone. Have you ever met anyone like that? They just love to complain. In fact they may not love it, they cannot stop it. It is through complaining and complaining and associating with complainer that you develop that aptitude that attitude.
Similarly, when we associate with people who are positive, and when we choose to engage in a positive perspective, with positive activities, then we are reconditioned ourselves in that way. But this is the special virtue of human life that we always have a freedom of choice.
You may not be able to control the environment, but you do have that full control of how you are going to respond and react to the environment. – Radhanath Swami
If you are on a boat, you may not have control over which way the wind blows, but you do have control over how you want to control the sails of your boat. How you are going to respond? You have a choice. When very unpleasant things or unfair things come upon you, you can either choose to be a victim, or you can choose to learn a lesson. You can choose to complain and bring everybody else down, or you could choose to see what is the positive opportunity is in this apparently miserable condition. When human intelligence is properly utilized, whatever situations come upon us, instead of simply reacting we can make an intelligent choice of what is actually of the highest virtue that I can achieve. ‘Seek and you shall find,’ as said in Bible, ‘Knock and the door will open.’ Every situation is an opportunity. It is said, ‘When opportunity knocks, most people complain about the noise.’
Vision is to see the invisible and to see the positive possibilities in every situation that comes upon us. – Radhanath Swami
This whole world is a mirror of our own consciousness. Nobody sees the same thing in this world in the same way. Whatever and whoever we come in contact with we are going to see according to our own state of consciousness. The world is just a mirror of our own attitudes.
One person sees, “Look at this rose bush, it is full of thorns,” and keeps grumbling about the thorns on the rose bush. Another person rejoices, “Look at the thorn bush, it has a rose!” So, they are seeing the same thing, but are they seeing the same thing? No! If you have rose colored glasses, everything will look rose colored. If you have yellow colored glasses, everything will look yellow. If you have green colored glasses, everything will look green. If you have clear colored glasses, you see everything as it is. So yes, according to our state of consciousness we have certain attitudes, and we will perceive reality according to our acquired attitudes. How we choose and what attitude we choose to adapt in situations is what is going to determine our future consciousness and our whole perception of the world.