Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Questioner: Sir, youngsters in India and the world over, often rebel against rules and regulations in the name of freedom of choice or freedom of expression, the list of complaints is long and all have one bottom line: My life my rules. What do ancient wisdom and Vedanta say on this issue?
Acharya Prashant: You see, when you say ‘choice’, you are referring to the options that you have in the external world. Right? Whether you want to have pizza or paratha, whether you want to follow this religion or that faith, whether you want to go with that person or this person, whether you want to keep your hair long or short. That’s the kind of freedom of choice we usually refer to. And we say, “I’m a free person, so I must have the right to do as I please.” We say, “I’m a free person, so I will decide what I want to say, I will decide where I want to stay, I will decide what I want to read, I will decide what I want to eat.” That’s the philosophy, that’s the premise on which the entire argument is built.
But let’s look at it a little deeply for a moment. Who is making the choice? Is the chooser really free? Who is the choice-making agency? Can we look at that agency, can we look at that point from where the choice comes? Is the decision-maker really free to make the choice?
What does it mean to be really free? It means to be free of unencumbered of prejudices, past, ideologies, ignorance, all kinds of things that call themselves knowledge. When you are free of these, when you have clear eyesight that is not burdened by anything, that is not blocked by anything, only then can you have free choice. Right?
Unfortunately, we tend to focus a lot on the aspect of choice and too little on the central issue of the chooser. Is the chooser free? If the chooser is not free, then freedom of choice is just a feel-good kind of self-delusion, no? The chooser is enslaved and how is he enslaved? He is enslaved in a very anonymous way, you do not even know who your internal masters are. You do not even know how deeply you are conditioned and that probably and unfortunately is the situation of most of mankind. We do not even know, how many unknown, faceless, and anonymous masters we are carrying within. And now carrying all these masters…