On why we are materialistic and how we miss being human || Acharya Prashant (2013)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.

Speaker : So what are your eyes telling you? What are you seeing through your eyes?

Listener : Objects.

Speaker : What kind of objects? Material or immaterial?

Listener : Material.

Speaker : Material objects. So all your eyes can show you is the material objects. We said the child is bound to remain the machine till the age of…?

Listener : Twelve.

Speaker : Twelve or fourteen. Now we are saying that this machine works through the senses. The senses can show you only material. We looked at one particular sense, the eyes can show you only material. Now look at the another sense, ears. What do the ears do?

Listener : Hear.

Speaker : What do the ears hear?

Listener : Sound.

Speaker : From where does sound come? Alright, anybody here you would want to produce a sound? Anybody here, just produce a sound.

(One listener claps)

Speaker : How does this sound get produced? By the collision of two material objects. Now I challenge you, if there is anybody here who can produce a sound wave without using a material object. Do that. Don’t use any material and produce a sound. Do that.

(A listener produces some noise from throat) Material – vocal cords.

(Another listener produces some noise using mouth) Lips.

(Another listener hits something with one hand) Only in Zen do you have the sound of one hand. Otherwise when you produce a sound from one hand, it is still two material clashing against each other.

Listener : Sir, what do you mean by one hand?

Speaker : Alright. One hand means one fixed hand . In your case it is the elements of one hand whose elements, that is fingers, are clashing against each other. So what your ears are telling you is also material.

Let look at another sense. Try to touch something which is not material. Try. Try to touch something which is not material and tell me how is it. Hot or cold, smooth or rough. Try to touch something which is not material. Try.

Listeners : Not possible.

Speaker : So all that this sense can tell you is the material. Let us take another sense, tongue. Try tasting something which is not material. Try.

So the nature of the machine, that is the mind of the child, is that its senses will bring to it only the material.So, it is simple that the child is materialistic. Because it knows nothing except material.

Is it obvious? Your senses can show only material to you so you are materialistic. The problem is, it’s not only the child that is materialistic. Even after growing up, people are still materialistic. They cannot go beyond the material. To not to go beyond material is to not go beyond the senses. If you cannot go beyond the senses then you are working like a machine.

Material means appearance, that which the senses can make sense of. You see that the language we have. When we say that we want to understand something we say I want to make sense of it as if understanding can happen through senses. That’s where our language has brought us. You want to understand something you say you want to make sense of it. Sense can only give to you the material, sense cannot give you the understanding.

Now my question to you is:

How to go beyond the material?

Is there anything beyond the material?

Can a human being ever look at something which is beyond the senses?

(The speaker calls one of the listeners on stage and says, pointing at him) What can our senses tell about our friend? Suppose he is there in front of us, what can our senses tell us about our friend? What will my senses tell about him? What are your senses telling about him? There is this black-blue kind of garment that he is wearing, he is wearing a pair of shorts, then there is a pair of slippers and a particular complexion.

(Addressing the listener on stage) Speak something.

Listener(the one who is on the stage) : Hi, friends.

Speaker : A particular voice, a particular touch and if you come close to him, a particular smell. Now is that you? Are we talking of him really?Are we really able to describe him? Is he only a material? If I have to use only my senses to understand what he is then I am making a fool of myself. Then if I were to describe who he is, I will say that there is somebody with black hair, thinnish body, sparse facial hair, khaki shorts. How are you feeling when I am describing you in this way?

Listener (the one on stage): Robotic.

Speaker: Robotic. Voice of a particular wavelength. How does it feel if someone says that he has a voice of 63.25 Hertz. How does it feel? It feels wrong. It feels almost insulting. You come to me and if I say a forty-eight-kilogram weight is coming, how does it feel? But if you are material then it’s alright to describe you in terms of your density — weight and volume. How does it feel to describe you as a material- that a pink thing is talking to the red thing. That’s all that my eyes can tell. That green thing is creating a sound. You know that there is something missing here. Can we give a name to that missing something? That is what human-ness is all about.

You know that there is something missing here. Can we give a name to that missing something? That is what human-ness is all about.

Human-ness is missing in this. That human-ness is called Intelligence. Suppose there is somebody in the audience who really loves him. The fellow does not need to bother what is the complexion of his body, his weight, his colour and all that. They know him far better without referring to his weight, colour, smell. They will not use these parameters to describe him. Are you getting it?

There is this, a beautiful story of a little prince. How many of you have read it? Those of you who haven’t must read. It’s a very small read. You can finish it in a couple of hours. There is a prince from an alien planet who visits the earth and he says that here people do not know what things really are and he also says that: you know something only when you really love it. Without loving, you will not know anything. Loving is the key for understanding. I will keep describing him in such foolish ways- as the wavelength of his appearance, etc., almost mathematically. Such description can be given accurately using just the five senses But you know that such a description will be materialistic and wrong. Why wrong?

Listener: It’s an insult.

Speaker: Insulting. What else? It’s incomplete as well . Do you see why the material part of it is very insufficient? Intelligence is to go beyond the material. We use the word ‘obviously’. Intelligence is to go beyond the obvious. Obvious means very that which is visible to the eyes. Intelligence is to see beyond what the eyes can see, it is beyond what the ears can hear, beyond what the hands can touch. Are you getting it?

Similarly, I am saying something to you right now. There is this process of listening. Entire day you are listening to various people. There are two ways of listening. One is the material way. What happens in that? You say a particular wave is emanating from your throat and falling on your eardrums and you receive that wave, just as the camera is receiving the sound waves. That is the mechanical way and hence the materialistic way of living life. Does this camera understand anything? It keeps recording and recording but it never understands anything. How do you want to live life? This material way- the camera way -that keeps receiving the material but does not understand anything? Is understanding material ? Can you do anything, any scientific innovation, that can help this camera to understand what I am saying right now ? Is there any technology that can enable the camera to understand anything that I am saying right now ? It can translate it. Will this camera ever understand what I am saying?

Understanding is not material, not mechanical, not programmable .

Understanding is what makes us human. That is what intelligence does. That is why the child that remains mechanical till ten or twelve years of age must advance. That is why even till advanced age, mentally, we remain like a machine. That also gives you a definition of the term maturity. What is maturity?

Listener : Being able to understand.

Speaker : What is maturity?

Listener : Going beyond your machine nature.

Speaker : To go beyond machine nature is maturity. Progressing beyond your machine nature is maturity. Those who have not progressed beyond the machine nature can not be called mature even though they may be of thirty or forty or eighty years of age. Life is an opportunity to mature and if you do not mature and remain like a child, concerned only with your senses, life will be a wastage. Understanding is not words, because even this camera(pointing at the camera) is recording words; understanding is not images, because even this camera is recording images. You can develop a machine that can record smell and taste as well . But that understanding is neither smell nor taste. That is something else and that is what makes you human. Are you with me?

Listeners : Yes.

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session video: On why we are materialistic and how we miss being human || Acharya Prashant (2013)

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