Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Power Of Free Will

About a month back, I delivered my Project 3 speech in my ToastMaster Club and here is what I spoke

Paul the Octopus had the entire world in his tentacles for over a month. I am pretty sure, there are people in this room, who cannot name 10 international footballers but know all things about Paul.

Paul's seemingly spooky psychic abilities made me think - Are our destinies predetermined ? Is the universe heading towards a foregone conclusion. Are we really wasting our precious time thinking qualities like hard work,honesty and sincerity will help  us?

Dear Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and Guests, I am here today to share with you why I think the answers to all of the these questions is an unequivocal "no", and share with you whatever little knowledge I have about the power of free will.

If you look up the dictionary, free will is defined as the power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine intervention. Let me tell you a story. Jessica Cox was born without arms as a result of a rare congenital disease. She did not understand why she had no arms like other children. She frequently felt oppressed, downtrodden and on the verge of breakdown resulting from anger and frustration. For Jessica, the main challenge was the constant perception of outside world more than the physical adversity itself. But one day she said to herself "enough is enough" and decided she would be everything that others presume she cannot be!

Today she is a holder of a degree in Psychology, holds an unrestricted driving license, fills gas for her car on her own. She is able to write 25 words per minute, dry her hair, put on her make-up, and wear her contact lenses with the same ease as anyone else. All of these not with artificial hands, but with her legs!! Jessica is the first lady in history to have piloted a plane without arms. She said in one of her interviews - “Most of the times, fear starts from the lack of knowledge of the unknown. There is a universal fear, that of lack of self-confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, who else is going to ??" Surely Jessica could not have been destined to live normally in our society, let alone pilot a plane and have the lives of many people in her hands (or should I say legs)! This is a true example of the power of free will.

"Free will" also refers to the type of decision which is uniquely humane: a moral choice. But let's not mistakenly think that morality is the choice between "good and evil." What is good for you could be evil for others. Everyone chooses to be "good" - even the most evil, immoral people. Hitler rationalized that the Jews were the enemies of the world, so in his mind he justified whatever he did as doing "good." Osama Bin Laden opined that America is a threat to Islam and should be destroyed. His conscience propels him to think that this is not evil. But these actions can't be called as exercising one's free will , can they ??

So what exactly is free will? Friedrich Wilhelm defines will as "any internally motivated action", but more of a "creative spark," a certain independence and stubbornness. It helps us believe "If you want it, you will get it". But it requires focus, it requires channelizing  all your energies towards thought motivated actions , so that you can achieve what you aspire to. The vedas say "yad bhavam tad bhavati" meaning whatever you think so will it be. If you think positively, you have created a sphere of positive energy around you and you are guaranteed to succeed. On the other hand, if you constantly let yourself taken over by negative thoughts, you are destined to fail.

We, as human beings, have a power - the power to judge ourselves, the power to analyze our actions and do what we think is good for us, good for society, good for humanity. But to exercise such free will, one needs discipline, the discipline to resist the evil forces that try to distract us from our path.

If you ask me, life is nothing but a simple mathematical equation. Its just like swimming against the tide. If your force is greater than that of the stream, the next movement is in your hands, else otherwise. Your force here is symbolic to your free will, and the speed of the stream is symbolic to what we blame on circumstances that life puts us in and the restrictions that life inflicts upon us.

Mahatma Gandhi one said - "Strength does not come from physical capacity it comes from indomitable will". Shimon Peres, a noble laureate referred to Gandhi in one of his interviews as - A man without an army, without a head quarter, without a state, without a party, a single person equipped with a moral strength, there is no other person in recent history who possessed such a strong will, and we all know,how he shocked the entire world with his actions !!

Unlike other creations, only the human beings are blessed with free will, within which lies our potential to shape and change our lives and make a difference. So I urge all of you to exercise your free will. If you are low on confidence, just because you happen to be an overweight fella, stop eating those not-so-healthy potato-chips and onion-pakodas by the road-side. Try to find time for some jogging. If possible, join a gym, do some workouts and try your level best to reduce your weight.If you are scared of public-speaking or sort on communication-skills, come and join Toast Masters. Remember, proper usage of free will beautifies and perfects, misuse of free will plunders and destroys. So use it judiciously, go out, be what you want and stun the world !!

Over to you Toastmaster !!

Some of the content has been copied from Pavithra's Blog and most of the content about Jessica Cox has come from SlideShare

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