You have forgotten the key to yourself || Acharya Prashant (2014)

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Question: Sir, good afternoon. While I speak before you, I will try to choose my words very gracefully. Sir, I have many things in my life that keep me happy but it is life and we are not supposed to have everything. I have lacked something in my life that I can say as self motivation. How do I get self motivated?

Speaker: What you are really asking for is not motivation. So first of all let us make a little bit of semantic correction.

Do you know what is motive? A motive implies a desire. A motive implies a target. All motives are outside of you and hence all motives are a kind of greed. To be motivated means to have a desire to attain something outside of you. That is my motive. That is my target. That is what I want. That is what I want to attain. That is my motive. You have talked of two kinds of motivations. Let me look at both of them.

One is external motivation which you kind of don’t like and then there is self-motivation that you are asking for. What is this external motivation? You see external motivation is when somebody comes to you, speaks to you, fills your mind with his thoughts, gives a goal to you and you feel like going towards that goal. But you forget that those thoughts and that goal has been given to you by somebody else. The thoughts appear powerful now, the goal appearsWhen the motivator is gone tempting now but the power and temptation will stay only as long as that person is there. When the motivator goes away, the motivation also goes away. You would have seen that happen. Somebody comes and fills you up with energy and you feel this is it. ‘Yes! Now I can move mountains, but the next day, back to your slovenly self. Because it was very external; it was just a borrowed thing that was coming from outside and hence went back. It was not yours at all. This is the first kind of motivation.

The second kind of motivation is when you say that it is ‘my own motivation’ and that is what you are calling as self-motivation. What is that? So you go to the highway, you look at a particular hoarding and what do you see? A new mobile phone has entered the market. You already have a decent phone but you look at that advertisement and at first when you look at it, the advertisement hardly has any effect upon you. You say, ‘I already have a mobile. It is just six months old. I don’t need a new one.’ But the advertiser is clever; quite cunning. He repeats that advertisement; he bombards your mind with the advertisements in newspaper, T.V., internet. And you also see that new model in the hands of a few of your friends. And one month later you find yourself saying that I want this mobile. This is what you call as self-motivation.

‘I am motivated to buy this mobile.’ And if somebody will stop you and say that no, you don’t need this mobile, you don’t want this mobile, you will say, ‘No, I am motivated to buy this mobile.’ That mobile can be replaced by anything else. That can be replaced by career path. That can be replaced by anything tangible. You completely forget that it is not at all your motivation. You forget that you have been influenced to go towards it by forces that are not visible to you. You will never know who is the advertiser. You will never know the man who is earning profits from the sale of that mobile. You will never know that man. But still you are being influenced. Not only are you being influenced, you are also being deceived to think that it is your own motivation which it is not. It is not your motive. Your mind has been filled with somebody else’s motives. It is just borrowed stuff that you are mistakenly calling as your own. And it is all the more dangerous.

When the influence upon the mind is gross then you can at least easily recognize it. Then you can say that I don’t want to be influenced or motivated by somebody else. But when the influence is hidden, subtle, deceptive then you fall into this trap of self-motivation. There is nothing called self-motivation. All motivation is external. It is just that the external has two forms; explicit and implicit, hidden and open, covert and overt. So first of all let’s just junk that word motivation because all motivation is just an influence upon the mind tempting you towards something external. But then you are faced with a problem. The problem is that motivation has been your engine so far. Motivation is from where all your energy rises. Is that not so? When you feel motivated then you feel energized to do something. Now you will ask that if we are not motivated from where will our energy come. Why will we move if there is no motive? Even the slightest of my movement happens only when I am motivated. Why do I eat? Because I am motivated to take care off my hunger. Why do I wish somebody? Because I am motivated to get some favours. Why do I smile at somebody? Because there is the temptation of reciprocity or the threat of social ostracization. If I don’t follow social etiquette, then I will be ostracized. So there is always some motivation even in my slightest action. “Now Sir, you are saying that motivation need not be an engine of movement. Your actions, your living can come from somewhere else. From where can it come?”

Far more powerful than motivation is another engine, truly internal engine and when I say, ‘internal engine’ I am reminded of a car. The car that you are. A beautifully built car that has a really sound internal engine, a very powerful engine. A very smooth engine that the best technician has designed. But what do I see? I see that the car is being pushed and pulled. And that’s how it’s moving. Ten people are pulling it from the front and twenty people are pushing it from the behind. And that’s how that car is moving. I wonder why this car is being made to move in this way and my surprise is heightened by the fact that those who are pulling and pushing the car are sometimes applying their forces in mutually opposite directions. So those at the back want to take it ahead and those at the front want to take it back. The result is, the car is not moving anywhere; it is just kind of vibrating in a very disorderly way. Oscillating, not really going anywhere. So, I come close to that car and see what is really happening. Then somebody tells me that the car is wonderful but nobody has the keys. ‘We do not know how to ignite the engine, so that’s why we have to apply all these external forces.’ These external forces are called motivation.

You require motivation only when you forget the real keys to yourself, to your own engine, your internal engine. What is that internal engine? That internal engine is of understanding; that is your own innate powerful engine. You Don't need motivationdo not need motivation, you just need to understand. You do not need any external push or pull; you need the source of energy that supplies power and direction from within. And you have it already, but you have forgotten the key. You have been made to believe that the key does not exist, that unless you are shown the way, you cannot move. No, you don’t need to be shown the way. No pied-piper needs to come and queue you towards a fancy designation. You are the finest car that can be made. No improvement is possible upon you. Discover your own key and then you would not need to be motivated.

Remember wherever there is motivation, there would always be the accompanying threat of de-motivation. Only a de-motivated man asks for motivation. Otherwise there is no need to be motivated. Sitting in front of you, I am not motivated at all. I am just speaking. There is no motivation. Why do I need motivation? You are motivated to achieve something. Till the time you don’t achieve it, there is a kind of suffering. Why? I still don’t have it. And if you happen to achieve it, it is never final. Then the next target would come up and the restlessness would continue. It’s an entirely different way of operating.

I am meeting you not to get something from you. I know who I am and I know what I must do. From where are coming my actions and those actions can never be short of energy; short of appropriate energy. When a lot of energy will be needed, you will find me overflowing with energy. And when I will need to relax, I will be completely relaxing. Appropriate energy. I know how to switch the car on and I also then know how to switch it off. When you have the key then you know both; how to turn the engine on and also how to turn it off. You are the master of your life then.

Imagine the most beautiful and the most expensive car. And what are you doing to it? Ten people are pushing it from the back at the grand speed of 5 kilometers per hour. You have an engine that can supply 500 HP and the maximum speed you are attaining is 5 kilometers per hour. You look at the meter, you look at the dashboard and what do you see? You see that the maximum speed possible is many hundreds of kilometers per hour. You see that and then you look at your current speed and you say, ‘5 KMPH. Is that all that I am built for?’ And you wonder what’s wrong. This is what is wrong. Only the internal engine can give you 500 HP; only the internal engine. Those of you who are dependent upon external sources of motivation, all that you will ever get is 5 KMPH. Languishing like a man strolling randomly on the road; sometimes this side, sometimes that side, and real cars are whizzing past him. How many for the internal engine, the real Rolls-Royce engine that powers even fighter aircraft? How many want that?

(Everyone raises their hands)

And how many of you want to be pushed by five people from the back? Yes?


But that is what is happening. I have heard that even to bring you to the classroom, you require five to ten people to push you. Is that so?  Behind every face I see five other faces. Such a fine creation you are. Why do you require motivation? And you are adults; capable, intelligent and beautiful. Why do you require that external push? It is demeaning; it is a kind of humiliation.

Listener 1: Sir, I still have a doubt. Although you have been quite patient to me, there is something missing. How do I find those keys?

Speaker: The question of finding arises only when you have lost the key. This is such a fine car that the manufacturer has ensured that the keys cannot be lost. The keys are there. And you must realize that there is a great difference between losing something and forgetting it. You have not lost the keys. You have just forgotten that the keys are with you; within you. What has happened is that since childhood because we have been brought up on a diet of external motivation, we have started believing that the external is all that there is. If you just look closely you may find the keys in your left pocket. But what has happened? You see, when you were young, a kid, what were you told? ‘If you come first in the class then you will get toy; this particular toy.’ What is this? This is external motivation. How do you take a child to mathematics? By having him, by getting him into the love of mathematics or by luring him with rewards and threatening him with punishment. But what do parents do? How many parents really invoke the love of mathematics in the mind of the child? They don’t do that. What do they say? Either solve these many questions by evening or you are not coming with us to the market tonight. If you want to come with us to the market today evening then by evening complete your home work. Is that not so? What kind of motivation is this?

Listener 1: External.

Speaker: You are not falling in love with Maths. When you were two years old, then you were offered some kind of a doll. When you were in class five, then you were offered some video games. When you were in class twelfth, you were told that if you get selected then you will get a particular bike. The toy is changing. It’s just becoming a bigger and a more fanciful toy. But one thing is common: greed and fear, and that is what is motivation. And you look at grownups; thirty years old, fifty years old, eighty years old. They are all running after toys. It’s just that the toy has changed. When the man was five years old, the toy was a building, this big. Now the man is fifty years old. What is the toy? It’s a huge corporate building. But the toy is a toy. Earlier it was a doll, now it’s a beautiful wife. But a toy is a toy. And how do you get that toy? By reaching some target. ‘You clear the U.P.S.C. exam and you will get a nice wife.’

(Listeners chuckle)

 That’s how it works. Does it not? Even the rates of dowry are predetermined. So much for engineers, so much for this and that. So there is a nice catalogue already in place like the menu card of a restaurant. What do you want to order? You must have that much of money in your pocket.

Because you have been brought up in this kind of a system where all actions are dictated from outside, so you have just forgotten that the key is in your left pocket. How do you look at your left pocket? This one; the left pocket, the breast pocket. How do you look at it? You look at it only when you bring your eyes down towards your heart. Till your eyes are looking towards the world outside, you will not be able to look at your own pocket; here (pointing at the physical location of the heart).  The keys are here.

Turn your sight inwards. Stop looking at the world, stop hunting for the things on the outside. Bow your head down as oneLook inside bows down in surrender and look at your heart. You will find the key there. The key is there. You need not worry. The difficult part for you would be to stop looking outside. Because you have been deeply trained to keep looking outside, deeply trained, it will require courage on your part to say, ‘No’ ‘What do I want to do? I wouldn’t ask anybody. I will look inside. What do I want to say? I won’t go by social norms. I will look inside. Where do I want to be? I will not follow conventions. I will look inside. Who am I? What is my real identity? I will not borrow it from
here and there. I will look inside.’ This looking inside is very simple.

The difficult part for you, I am repeating, the difficult part for you would be to gather the courage to not to look outside, because you have now cultivated an artificial kind of helplessness; an artificial dependency. You need not be dependent, but you have assumed that you need to be dependent. It’s a very cultivated helplessness. So don’t ask about the key. The key is there; safe and secure. You can never lose the key. Ask about the direction of your sight. Till the time you follow the comfort of being dependent, you will never get the key. Till the time you take the easy route of tradition, you will never get the key. Till the time you feel that your definitions and identities can come from here and there, you will never get the key.

Have faith in yourself, you will find the key there. That is the key.

-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: You have forgotten the key to yourself

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