Freedom of Choice

From our e-book “We are Here to Celebrate”

Many see spiritual development and wealth as opposites. I had a conversation with a friend which is a good example of this belief:

Friend: “The people who lead the world and make changes are not spiritual people.”

DY: “That is not entirely true; what about Mahatma Gandhi?”

Friend: “Yes but people like that are rare. He is the divine born in a human body; but he was murdered in the end”

DY: “It does seem in this world that the leaders tend to be ruthless and uncaring people. However, this does not mean that this world is right and it does not mean that the world will stay this way permanently.”

Friend: “I agree with that. However, I notice that spiritual people tend to be soft. I want to fight and meet problems head on.”

DY: “When One’s awareness is not strong, one will act in accordance with one’s karma or habitual tendencies. If one is impatient, any disturbance from another person will cause one to react aggressively. A person, who has strong awareness, whether or not we see him as ‘spiritual’, will always have a choice, to act in accordance with his habitual tendencies or to act wisely. When anger arises, he is aware of the anger and does not allow the emotion to dominate him. He then makes a choice whether or not to argue with the other person who provoked him. He will only do so only if it is beneficial. Having that choice is not being soft. Rather, it is being wise. If one only reacts to one’s karmic tendencies, then one is a prisoner of one’s conditioning. The person does not have true freedom of choice.”

My friend did not want to believe what he thinks; that is why he brought the subject up. You see, the divine is coming into his life in many ways. On one hand, he is happy about it but on the other hand, he is worried about his material wealth. We know where real happiness lies but yet, we are still attached to the tinsels we have gathered. I am glad he discussed this with me because this subject has crossed my mind before but I did not contemplate it deeply enough.

Many believe that spiritual practices can affect one’s career or progress in life. I admit that I once held this doubt as well. The saints in the past did not build a fortune for themselves. So, the obvious conclusion is that spiritual practices are not good from the perspective of wealth.

Now, this is taking a very narrow view. These saints are truly free from the attachment to wealth and as such, do not chase after them. They have true freedom of choice. Mahatma Gandhi is a good example. He could have lived in a castle if he chose to, but he knew that will not lead to happiness.

We are still bound in the prison of our attachments and narrow views. We still think that we cannot be happy unless we are richer than our neighbor. What can we do; we have been brought up by our parents to think that wealth is very important for our happiness.
The only thing that our spiritual practices do is give us freedom of choice. We get to choose wisely rather than live our lives in accordance with what others taught us, our beliefs and our conditioning.

We have not really considered if all that has been taught to us is right or wrong from the perspective of our own happiness. Our higher awareness enables us to enjoy whatever that we already have and this gives us happiness in the present moment. Is this not better than clinging on to some imaginary future happiness, which brings us mental suffering in the present moment?


Rudra Shivananda

There are many examples of great spiritual beings that have carried out their responsibilities as householders, raised great children and held successful careers until retirement. Lahiri Mahasaya, Yogiraj Gurunath Siddhanath, Marshall Govindan, Rudra Shivananda and Deepak Chopra are only a few examples. They lived their lives as examples for us to follow. Spiritual progress and material progress may seem to be at polar opposites but once the creative power of our thoughts and intentions are clearly understood, the rules of the world will change. Nothing is permanent.

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