You already know it instinctively – a coin if found on the road by accident is no achievement, but a rupee you earn through your effort is considered an achievement. However, we often forget what achievement really is.
Can a prisoner exercise free will?
There are two ways to look at the achievement.
One is to connect achievement with value. You accomplish a series of tasks that leads you to something valuable – acquiring a skill, better health, strength, worldly possessions, fame, trust of other people and so on. When you get to the point of acquiring, you say that you have achieved something. Example – a treasure hunt. You go through a series of obstacles, solve riddles and then you acquire the treasure. The treasure is your achievement.
Another way to look at achievements is that every task you do is an achievement in itself. Every step you take is an achievement; every riddle you solve is an achievement even if you never make it to the treasure. You get up from your chair, and that is in itself an instance of achieving. You got up from the chair because you wanted to, and that is an achievement, no matter how insignificant in value.
If you disassociate the concept of value from achievement –you can recognize that everything you do, out of your own free will, is a fulfillment of a wish, a desire of yours. In this sense, almost everything you do or even every decision you make is an achievement. Every experience is result of tiny achievements – provided you are doing what you are doing out of your free will.
Free will can be exercised even in the most adverse situations. Let’s imagine, that X is a prisoner, in a high security cell, always watched, and he must follow orders. Now this is not a good situation at all, and there is almost a complete absence of choice for him. Even in such a circumstance, there is a theoretical possibility that he may still choose to follow the orders of others out of his free will. He may choose to not follow them and accept the consequences. Of course, if his free will wants to rebel, then he does not carry out the orders out of his own free will but the orders of others, he would not be acting out of free will. However, if he chooses to follow the orders for whatever reason, he’s achieving what his free will wants to achieve in every step. This achievement of free will is very essential to our well being and out sanity.
I remember an instance of free will in prison from a celebrated book – “Shantaram”. As the protagonist was in jail, his hands and feet tied to iron bars and several other prisoners were beating him bloody – in that moment he realised that he was still free. He was free to forgive the tormentors. That is an act of free will.
We are all prisoners of our circumstances in one way or the other. It is difficult but we need to learn to exercise our free will no matter what our circumstances are. Without exercising free will, there is no true achievement, and our mind is always on the verge of destruction.