Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills.Arthur Schopenhauer
kāmamaya evāyaṃ puruṣa iti
You are what your deep, driving desire is
sa yathākāmo bhavati tatkratur bhavati
As your desire is, so is your will
yatkratur bhavati tat karma kurute
As your will is, so is your deed
yat karma kurute tad abhisaṃpadyate
As your deed is, so is your destiny
Twofold is the life we live in
Fate and will together run
Two wheels bear life’s chariot onward
Will it move on only one?
Spiritual practice is will asserted and re-asserted. Who has not the daring will not accept the real even when offered. Unwillingness born out of fear is the only obstacle.
-Nisargadatta Maharaj (I am that, Chapter 38)
Obstacles can’t stop you. Problems can’t stop you. Most of all, other people can’t stop you. Only you can stop you.
“Invictus” is an adjective in Latin meaning ‘unconquerable’. Here are the reasons why Invictus is a powerful poem.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the first four lines we understand that there is pitch black darkness disguised as a gloomy problem or despair and there seems to be no way out of it. He ‘prays’ to the gods in most agnostic way possible by saying ‘whatever gods may be’. But even as he prays, he doesn’t ask for strength to deal with the crisis looming overhead, he simply thanks them for the strength he already has. That itself is an indication of how is soul is invincible.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
The second stanza stands tall and continues to tell the tale of a courageous soul that never complained once in the wake of difficult circumstances; a soul that never flinched once even as the problems were staring into its eyes. The power is demonstrated as the poet writes ‘ bloody, but unbowed’ which tells us that he’d rather endure the beating than call for a surrender.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
I know that I am living a life filled with constant threats and I know that the future holds a greater problem (death, perhaps). But I know that all the troubles I have sustained over the years have prepared me to face what lies ahead.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
The meaning of ‘strait gate’ is judgement day and even then, he recognizes no one but himself as his own master. Only he can decide what is to be done with his soul and hence, his fate. This is makes it evident that he has strong will.
The poem continues to inspire many because of the feeling it incites that you alone can control your fate, you alone know what is best for you and you alone know which path you choose. It is a poem that’s strong at heart and strong-headed.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control. Sickness may challenge your body. But are you merely your body? Lameness may impede your legs. But you are not merely your legs. Your will is bigger than your legs. Your will needn’t be affected by an incident unless you let it.
Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will.
There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will.