Play Hard, not Work Hard || Acharya Prashant (2014)

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

Questioner: Sir, what will happen if I stop working hard?

Acharya Prashant: It is a deep, deep conditioning that hard work is necessary. Look at the entire existence around you. Do you think anything, anybody, any creature in existence is working hard?

Everybody is simply partying, enjoying, celebrating, dancing. Man is the only one who has condemned himself to labor. Nothing else labors.

Though they dance around with vigorous energy, but there is no labor involved in that. Have you seen a river?  The way it flows there is great energy in that, but it is not working. It is not ‘working’. There is so much energy in a flowing river that it runs all your power plants, yet is the river working?

Look at the eagle that is soaring in the sky. It is not working. There is a playfulness.

Man is the only one who has told himself that ‘hard’ work is the key to success.

That is why you are asking this question that what will happen if you stop working hard. It would be wonderful if you stop working hard. Play hard, that is important.

Anything that is substantial, comes from playing hard, not from working hard. Play hard, celebrate like a mad-man. And that is life, not hard work. When you are playing hard, then hard work just happens, without your doing. ‘I am enjoying it so much that I am giving it every ounce of energy that I have.’

Listener : That is hard work.

AP: Yes, that is hard work.

L: Then what is the difference between playing hard and working hard?

AP: Playing hard is purposeless. You do not want anything from it, except enjoyment. Working hard always has a target. Playing hard means that I am always happy, that I am dancing around. Working hard means that I am so sad that I must get something. They are opposites.

Playing hard means that I am so contented that I can dance and play. Working hard means that I am feeling like a beggar. It means that I must work hard to attain something. They are opposites.

Do you get the difference?

Play hard, do whatever you want to do but with a deep contentment in your heart. The heart must always be contented, and then your work becomes play. And that is beautiful.

There are two ways of working: one, with a heart that is empty. That’s a beggar’s heart.

Let me get something. I am studying for the sake of marks. I am working for the sake of salary. I am meeting somebody for the sake of some pleasure.

This is the beggar’s way of living. The king’s way of living is, ‘I am so happy that I am meeting you. I am so full of joy that I am simply distributing it to everybody.

L: But Sir, we have always been told that if you want something, you have to work hard for it. If I don’t have anything to achieve in life, why will I work?

AP : So to make you do something, what is implanted in your mind? Your logic is that unless I feel dissatisfied, why will I work. So if I want you to work, what will I put in your mind?

Listen to me again:

You are saying that unless you are dissatisfied, you will not work. So if there is somebody who wants to make you work, what should he do?

He should make you feel very dissatisfied about yourself, because only dissatisfaction is your engine.

L : Because that is demoralization.

AP : That’s wonderful. So this means all your work emerges from demoralization! You have been made to feel dissatisfied about yourself since a very long time. Family, society, education, religion all these have continuously told you that there is something missing in you, that there is something wrong about you and you must work hard to make up for it. You are not good enough as you are. You have been made to feel small, petty, inadequate. And you have been told that if you want to become something, if you want to gain any bit of worthiness, then ‘do’ something. “You do not deserve my love if you do not get ninety percent.” Even love is conditional!

There is something seriously wrong with you if you do not get ninety percent.

L : So, if  it is based on conditions, then it is not love.

AP: Then it is not love. But that is what we have been brought upon. Something that is not love at all.

L : Sir, is there anything that is unconditional?

AP: Don’t you know that? Don’t you know that?

L : You are telling that if I get ninety percent, then only parents will love me. But in every case there is a condition. Is there anything unconditional?

AP : Ever been to a strange place where you are unlikely to go again?

A new place, let us say a hill station. Have you ever met a dog there? A beautiful dog.

Let us say, you go to a hill station, you meet a dog there and you pat the dog. You were unlikely to see the dog ever again. Why did you touch it with love? The dog cannot give you anything. It is not your dog either. You would never see it again. Why did you touch it with love?

Does it answer your question: Is there something unconditional?

You are not demanding anything. It is possible.

What is the central problem?

The central problem is that we have been made to feel small about ourselves. That is the central problem. I am saying this repeatedly to you. Fundamentally there is nothing small about you, there is nothing missing in you. All the diseases of life, all your unease, all your gossip, all your restlessness arise from this deep-rooted conditioning that there is something wrong and missing in you. Kindly get rid of that notion.

You are wonderful, perfect, beautiful. With all your inadequacies, you are still very beautiful. With all the layers of conditioning that you have, you are still wonderful.

A diamond may fall in the mud, but does that reduces its price? You are very, very valuable. But those who do not know their own diamond nature, they make everybody feel small.

In fact, there are only two kind of people in the world. One who feel small, the other who feel complete and dance. The ones who keep feeling small about themselves, their only purpose in life is to make others feel small. The one who is afraid will necessarily spread fear around him. Have you not seen such people? Exams are approaching and she is shivering. So what does she do? She calls up five others. And what does she do to those five? Does she give them courage?

L : No.

AP : What does she do? The one who feels small, ends up making everybody feel small. Beware of such people. They might be very close to you, yet be extremely cautious of them.

L : And the one who is complete?

AP : The one who is complete will obviously radiate completeness.

L : How would we know if someone is complete? Completeness is impossible.

AP: How do you feel when you are with a person? Do you start feeling more and more inadequate, or do you gain a certain relaxation? That ‘presence’ will tell you. Do not be so certain. Do not be so certain that completeness is impossible.

Completeness is not impossible. It is your very nature.

How can it be impossible?

It is there; covered, yet there.

– Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

View the session at: Play Hard, not work Hard | YouTube

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