Radhanath Swami says, “You always have your free will, the power to choose.”

Radhanath Swami on Free will

“According to the Bhagavad-Gita we are all spirit souls, parts of God. Krishna, the Supreme Lord is svarat: he is completely independent. And 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; and everything is taken away from us inevitably. But there is one thing that no power in all of creation can take away from anyone in this human form of life, and that is our free will. To properly understand this is all important.” – Radhanath Swami.

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 associate with.

Let me use the gross example of using one’s free will to smoke cigarettes. No one can force you to do it, though the association you keep could severely influence you to do it. When you start it, it tastes horrible. But by your free will you keep doing it until your free will is so much conditioned to surrendering to that experience that you become addicted, and then it practically seems that you do not have a free will anymore. By this addiction, you are practically being forced and crushed – ‘I have to do it. I must do it. I cannot live without it.’ Alcoholism is similar, and so is drug addiction.

“You use your free will, you do it enough times, and soon you become so 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.” – Radhanath Swami

We can always change

So whatever our consciousness is, whatever our way of thinking is, we should understand it is not our nature eternally, it is our acquired nature. It is the nature of the characteristics that we have created for ourselves according to what and whom we choose to associate with in our lives – in this life and in previous ones.

For example, some people are very dynamic, while some are really lazy and lethargic. It is not that one is just born that way. It is through choosing lethargy in this life, or maybe in previous lives that it becomes one’s nature – to be lazy. Some people by nature they just cannot stop complaining about everything and everyone. Have you ever met anyone like that? They just love to complain. Or sometimes they may not love it, but they cannot stop it. It is through complaining and complaining and associating with complainers that one develops that aptitude and 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 reconditioned ourselves in that way.

“This is the special virtue of human life: we always have a freedom of choice. You may not be able to control the environment, but you do have full control over 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 – misery likes company – or you could choose to see what the positive opportunity is in this apparently miserable condition.

Radhanath Swami urges us to always look for the positive opportunity

“Human intelligence is properly utilized when in whatever situations that comes upon us, instead of simply reacting, we make an intelligent choice of what is actually the highest virtue that we can achieve in that situation.” – Radhanath Swami

“Seek and you shall find,” it is 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, to see the positive possibilities in every situation that comes upon us. This whole world, as far as perception, 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. Yes. The world is just a mirror of our own attitudes.

One person grumbles about the thorns on the rose bush. “Look at this rose bush. It is full of thorns.” Another person rejoices. “Look! The thorn bush has a rose.” They are seeing the same thing. But are they seeing the same thing? No.

If you have rose coloured glasses, everything will look rose coloured. If you have yellow coloured glasses, everything will look yellow. If you have green coloured glasses, everything will look green. If you have cleared coloured 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, what attitude we choose to adapt in situations is what is going to determine our consciousness and our whole perception of the world.

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  • Kalpana Kulkarni

    “How we choose, what attitude we choose to adapt in situations is what is going to determine our consciousness and our whole perception of the world”. Wonderful thought provoking words.

  • satyam

    very nice article. Free will is something that can never be taken away from us. How much more important it becomes for us to be responsible. Thank you Mahraj

    • Ram Mohan Gupta

      True. One of most important aspect of Gita teachings is that it puts responsibility on us for every little thing we do. Thanks to Radhanath Swami Maharaj for beautiful elaboration on free will.

  • Onkar Deshpande

    very very insightful article ! Thank You HH Radhanath swami Maharaj

  • vani

    our freewill is the greatest asset which God has given us.Hence by proper intelligence it should be exercised for the higher cause, in evrery situation.

  • Navin Poojary

    True ! Free will is only thing no one can take away from us! Thus , we have to exercise our free wil carefully

  • Satya Kama Das

    Very nice and helpful article. Thank you very much.

  • Chandala Potdar

    Thank you maharaj for this article.when we associate with people who are positive and when we choose to engage in a positive perspective with positive activities, then we reconditioned ourselves in that way.

  • Deepakswangate

    ya its right that we are free to make our choice but problem is how to choose when we get tougher options. and sometimes we make choices that make us regret afterwards. though we have or free will, sometimes we are just helpless to go with that as it wont be beneficial,nether materially nor spiritually.

  • Ninad Kambli

    Awesome article by Radhanth Swami, I always face problem by not using free wheel properly. After reading this inspiring artickle. It definitely helps me to use free wheel properly.

    Liked point where it is explained use free wheel properly, otherwise we will be bound to choose wrong things.

  • Satish Rane

    beautiful article. Thank you maharaj. hare krishna.

  • Sanjiv

    Simply wonderful – For example, some people are very dynamic, while some are really lazy and lethargic. It is not that one is just born that way. It is through choosing lethargy in this life, or maybe in previous lives that it becomes one’s nature – to be lazy.

    • Ram Mohan Gupta

      Thanks Sanjiv. I too loved this description by Radhanath Swami Maharaj.

  • Yadati Raja Shekar

    The very fact that Krishna does not interfere with our free will reveals His unlimited love towards us and as a reciprocation we should surrender to His will for our ultimate benefit.

  • biswajit

    Its all about making right choice

  • vilas bhujbal

    Life is about making right Choice.With great Commitment we will be able to face the Challenges on the path of fulfilling our right Choice. Guru Maharaj is a Connection between Krishna and the person making right Choices on the path of Bhakti. AND it is CONSISTENT that Krishna Comes.

  • Kiran Shetty

    Just to share one interesting thing about choices we make. When we generally see situations in life are hardly under our control- so do we really have a choice?

    Yes…We can make our choice but the results of our choices are binding…Be careful when you make a choice!!

    • Ram Mohan Gupta

      Thanks Kiran for sharing this thought. Yes results of our choices are binding. Only if activities are done for the Supreme Lord (akarma), results do not bind us but free us from the bondage. Thanks to Radhanath Swami.

  • Satya Kama Das

    Free will should be used in the service of the Krishna and his devotees.

    • Ram Mohan Gupta

      Thanks. That is the meaning of your name too. One whose all desires(kma) are directed towards the Supreme Lord (Satya) is called Satya Kama. Thanks to Radhanath Swami.

  • Pankaj

    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. Best point of the article.

    • Ram Mohan Gupta

      Excellent point. Thanks to Radhanath Swami.

  • biswajit

    Beautiful article

  • Yadati Raja Shekar

    Often we are stuck with indecision and helplessness as we are only dependent on our own strengths and freewill. If this freewill is dovetailed with the will of Krishna, then the doors open for the real success.

    • Ram Mohan Gupta

      True. If we align our free will with Krishna’s will, we get Krishna’s grace and that adds another dimension to our activities and their results. Thanks to Radhanath Swami.

  • biswajit

    profound wisdom,

  • Satya Kama Das

    Thank you very much for sharing about Positive Opportunity.

  • vidya karekar

    a message to be always remembered

    • brajswaminidd

      Truly.

  • Satish Rane

    Beautiful article by Radhanath Swami Maharaj.

  • Sumit Sharma

    Wonderful message from HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj.

  • Navin Poojary

    The utilisation of Power of free will being Positively engaged is well explained

  • Pankaj

    According to our state of consciousness, we have certain attitudes and we will perceive reality according to our acquired attitudes.

  • Smitha Krishna Das

    Very interesting and inspiring. Free will has to be used intelligently.

  • Raju K Mewada

    I like this..”The world is just a mirror of our own attitudes”. H H Radhanath Swami has given a very good example here…One person grumbles about the thorns on the rose bush. “Look at this rose bush. It is full of thorns.” Another person rejoices. “Look! The thorn bush has a rose.” They are seeing the same thing. But are they seeing the same thing? No…

    I understood what we see reflects our consciousness..and our consciousness is reflected by our selection or free will to choose. or..power to choose…power to select is very important in our life and it matter a lot what we choose. Choose to be good or to be bad, our destiny will give reaction according to our selection. So if we can keep our consciousness steady in Lord’s service, Lord will provide us intelligence to choose correctly path.

    • Piyush Singh

      Wonderful elaboration Raju ji. You added these yummy toppings on this already tasty pizza served by HH Radhanath Swami maharaj :).. Thank you very much.

    • Ram Mohan Gupta

      Thanks Raju for further elaboration on points made by Radhanath Swami Maharaj.

  • vidya karekar

    too good

  • R.A

    Very enlightening lecture. Really,the world is mirror of our own attitudes. Thank you for this eyeopener discourse

  • Mangesh

    we should always look for positive opportunity ,thanks HH Radhanath Swami for inspiring discourse

  • Yadati Raja Shekar

    The free will is one aspect which Krishna never interferes, because with free will comes the pure love.

    • Piyush Singh

      Very true. By continuous right application of Free Will the pure love of God awakens. Thanks for pointing this.

  • Rajendra Kamath

    great sir HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj

  • Deep

    Very inspiring article.

  • biswajit

    Wonderful discourse

  • Piyush Singh

    Yet another beautiful discourse by HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj. So much to learn from this profound lecture, the examples used are so fit that it makes understanding the point very easy. And the hope that “We can always change” is the best point that touched me the most here. Many thanks for making this transcription available.

  • CS Sandeep Shinde

    Positive opportunity is necessary. Thank you very much for sharing the same.

  • Ranganath Bandari

    “instead of simply reacting, we make an intelligent choice of what is actually the highest virtue that we can achieve in that situation” Very nicely said. Thank you.

    • Piyush Singh

      Indeed.

  • Y Raja Shekar

    Such a nice deep insight to understand the power of free will is lucidly explained by Radhanath Swami. Truely wonderful

  • vidya karekar

    How we choose, what attitude we choose to adapt in situations is what is going to determine our consciousness and our whole perception of the world.- so nicely explained

    • brajswaminidd

      So true.

  • NSP

    Wonderful explanation of what free will is and how to use it! Thank you for sharing Maharaj!

    • Mick

      I sometimes feel free will, does it really work.. there are so many situations which make one act in a particular way as if someone forces us to do it.. do we really have free will??

      • Piyush Singh

        Very relevant question Mick, often we do feel that the act just happened even while I didn’t feel like indulging. Krishna tells in Bhagwad Gita.. that this is because of lust (selfish desire to enjoy) and anger… and later he also guides that by practice and renunciation this can be counteracted and we may get to feel that yes we are the decision makers for each of our actions, words and thoughts.