We have independence. A thief can take away your money, disease can take away your health, time will take away your years – everything will be taken away from us inevitably – but there is one thing that no power in creation can take away. That is our free will.
According to how we use our free will, we become conditioned to think in that way; to see the world in that way and to act that way. We become conditioned by whatever we associated with.
For example one uses one’s free will to smoke cigarettes. No one can force it to do it but the association you keep could severely influence you to do it. When you start 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 that you 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 conditioned by the modes of nature that you 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 it is not our nature eternally, it is our acquired nature. It is the nature of 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.
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. But this is the special virtue of human life is we always have a freedom of choice. You may not be able to control the environment but you do that full controlled of how you are going to respond and react to the environment.
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.
One person says that “Look at this rosebush. It is full of thorns.” He keeps on grumbling about the thorns on the rose bush. Another person rejoices “Look at this thorn bush. It has a rose”. 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 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 a situations is what is going to determine our consciousness and our whole perception of the world.