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Why is authenticity so difficult for some people? || Acharya Prashant, on 'The Fountainhead' (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Question: Acharya Ji, Pranaam! While reading the first chapter of the Fountainhead, I found that the character Peter Keating shows us our reality. But in front of Howard Roark Peter can’t hide his falsities, though he tries his best to.

Even though Peter gets a glimpse of what his reality is, why does he continue his ways? Why is the renunciation of the false so hard to him?

Acharya Prashant Ji:

It’s not about being hard or easy, it’s a choice. If you want to renounce the false, it gets renounced. It is neither easy nor difficult. It happens. And if you don’t want to renounce it, it doesn’t get renounced. It is neither easy nor difficult.

Are you getting it?

‘Easy’ and ‘difficult’ come in context of the external obstacle. There is no external obstacle, there is just a choice.

If I want to lift this (lifting a glass of water kept on the table) , it is easy. If I want to lift this (lifting the table) , it is difficult because the obstacle is external. If it is external, I will call this ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’, but in these matters it is just a choice. There is no external challenge. You are the one making choice about yourself – it is neither easy nor difficult. It’s just a ‘Yes’, or ‘No’. Say, “Yes,” it’s done. Say, “No,” it’s not done.

If I say, “There is a reason,” then Peter Keating (one of the characters in Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’) is justified. Peter Keating will say, “Oh, it was very difficult for me to make the right choice. It was relatively easier for Roark (the protaganist in Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’) to make the right choice.”

And then Peter Keating will act like a victim.

“What do I do? I am a victim of my situations. I didn’t get the right people, I didn’t get the right mother, so it was very difficult for me, you see. Roark, well it is so easy for him, he had no parents.”

This ‘easy’ and ‘difficult’ things give rise to the victim mentality. There are no victims, there are only choosers. Sadhana (spiritual discipline) is neither easy nor difficult, it’s just whether you undertake it or you don’t undertake it.

Whenever somebody comes to you and starts talking in the language of – “I am trying you see, but the challenge is big,” then you should know that the fellow is just seeking an excuse. Sooner than later he will come up and say, “Oh I tried, but it was quite difficult so I couldn’t succeed.”

Your decision is the success, if you decide to succeed. Your decision is the failure, if you decide to fail. Nothing at all outside of you matters. It’s all your choice. Take the responsibility.

Why is Peter Keating the way he is? Because he chose to be the way he is. What is the reason behind his choice? There is no reason, because if you give a reason then you have justified Peter Keating. Why is Peter Keating a ‘Peter Keating’? Because he chooses to be a ‘Peter Keating’. Why does he choose to be Peter Keating? No reason. Choice!

“But Sir, there must be some reason behind the choice?” No, nothing behind the choice. Just choice. Nothing behind the choice. Just choice. Wrong choice, Right choice, just choice.

Everything that you call as being behind the choice is just a rationalisation, a justification for the choice. There is nothing behind the choice. There is just the choice.

If you say, “I chose the wrong path because of X,Y,Z,” then X,Y,Z is not real, it is just a rationalisation. Forget X,Y,Z, all that matters is that you chose the wrong path. It’s a choice.

Are you getting it?

No situation is too bad to make a Right Choice in. And no situation is so good that you no more need the Right Choice. And the wrong choice – it can be made any time. In good situation, in bad situation, in apparently easy situations, in apparently tough situations, anything can happen anytime, it’s a matter of your choice. Which means that you have great power, you are tremendously powerful. You can choose the ‘Right’ irrespective of the situation. Which also means that you are potentially, incorrigibly awful. You can choose the wrong in spite of all the Right situations. Both these are there.

Great situations, you can still choose the wrong things. And absolutely adverse situations, you can still make the Right choice.

Tell yourself, “Situations don’t matter, my choice does.”

Just as the ego loves to take credit, it also loves to play the victim. If something good has happened, “I did it,” if something bad happened, “It happened to me.” Good things, “I do,” bad things, “Happen to me.”

This is astounding.

Good things – “I do.” Bad things – “Happen to me.” So playing the victim is the favorite pastime of the ego.

Most of the times it has to play the victim because only bad things happen to it. Good things, the ego being what it is, will only happen once in a while. So the possibility of taking the credit arises only rarely. Most of the times you are just left to play the blame game because bad things are happening one after the other. So you seek to put the blame on somebody.

No Sir, you know everything. It’s all within you. You very well know who lies on which side of the divide, you know that. And if you don’t know that, it is your responsibility to know. You better know that.

You better know that when you are faced with a choice, what exactly are the two choices about. You must know.

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