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Question: While reading the various articles on your blog, I feel that they are like medicines for the mind, but despite having gone through several of them, I am still not able to cure the mind from its illness.
Acharya Prashant: You have several diseases, several illnesses, and what do you do? You go to a pharmacist. You go to a large pharmacy shop and thousands of medicines are there. Will you be cured by going to a pharmacy shop? Yes, indeed the blog is full of medicines, just as a pharmacy shop is full of medicines. And you are full of illness. So you go to the pharmacy shop, the shop is wide open to you and you have all the choice to pick anything as per your convenience, as per your likes and dislikes. And the medicines are there. These are complicated medicines. They have come after years of research. And you are standing there, all the medicines are there, and you start popping pills.
“I want that one, the deep pink! Aah! This syrup looks nice, this smells of alcohol! Give it to me!” And what will all these medicines do to you? Which medicines do you like? Do you know how these cough syrups sell? The government actually had to regulate their sales. You know people with drug addiction, they just like to taste things like Iodex, even Fevicol.
How can medicines help you when ‘you’ are choosing the medicines? All the medicines might be available, but which medicines will you choose? The one which has alcohol or the one which has the glossiest cover, or the one which is branded. That’s the one you will choose. (Referring to the questioner) So that is the reason our friend chooses to read what he chooses. That is the reason why Anshu would come here and then go back and send an article, explaining how spirituality is exploitation and how all the gurus have only exploited everybody, that too right on the day when he has been advised on closeness.
When you choose that particular article, you choose the medicine for yourself, and all the medicines are available.
I sometimes do feel that this is one of the worst injustices that can be done to mankind: to give it a free hand in picking up their medicines. When you allow just anybody to pick up a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, then you are actually harming that person. He is not eligible to read the Gita, why is he being allowed to lay his dirty hands on Krishna?
You do not know a thing about spirituality, you do not know the Guru, but with great confidence in yourself as a scholar, you are sending those mails. Pitiable, pathetic. Without a prescription, must you pick a medicine from the pharmacy? Then why do you just roam about picking up any book and reading it? You will be greatly harmed. In fact, don’t read at all, that is better. But to read the wrong book is like consuming poison. And I assure you that you will only choose poison for yourself. That’s all that you can choose.
So I will advise you . . . your life is so dry, it has no movement, no liquidity, it is like a rock, a fossil . . . so I will advise you to sing and dance and go to the saints. But you will not go to the saint, you will go to J. Krishnamurti. And there might be a superstitious fellow who is steeped in belief and he is all the time only reading Ramayana by Tulsidas, to him I would say, “Go to J. Krishnamurti.” But he would not go to J. Krishnamurti. He would say, “No. My chowpais (quatrains) are enough.. I only know Ayodhya and Vrindavan. Radhe radhe. No Krishnamurti for me.”
The one who must not read Krishnamurti is drawn towards Krishnamurti. The one who must read Krishnamurti is drawn towards some other rubbish. Because you are so clever, you want to choose your own medicine. That’s what you do with the blog as well.
I have recently heard a very, very clever statement from one of you: “Sir, we don’t need. After all, blog is there. Whatever you will say in the camp will ultimately be posted on the blog and the blog is available.”
Have you not heard that?
“Sir, all the videos are there. Why do we need to come to the Clarity Session?” There is no need. Why travel all the way from Lucknow, Kanpur or Moradabad? There is no need. After all, whatever will be said, will sooner or later appear on the blog or on YouTube. So there is no need.”
And we will choose. We will decide what is important, what is not important.
And there are others who say, “Alright. Let him prescribe the medicines. I will not take any medicines outside the list that he prescribes. But from within the list, I will choose. So, if he tells me to do three things, I will do one, and I will choose which one to do. After all, I cannot be harmed. Had it been harmful, he wouldn’t have prescribed.”
You see, I take some Methotrexate, which is a poison. But along with that, my doctor has given me something which is a remedy to the side effects of that poison. So he has given me two medicines together, and he has cautioned me to take both of these. One will treat your illness, but will also give you a side illness. The second medicine will treat the side illness. But I am so clever. What do I do? I take only the first one and I avoid the second one. What do I say? “After all this is the real medicine. This cures the illness; why do I need the second one?” So what will I get? I will get a new disease. I am so clever.
And there are some others as well. “My doctor says, Take both these medicines, but do not take alcohol.” So, what do I do? I say, “See, I am not taking anything which he did not allow me to take. I am not going outside this list. Am I taking any medicine outside this list? No. And whatever is there in this list, I am taking. But why should I follow the other rules that he has set for me? I will take alcohol!” So that’s the kind of mind we have.
“Sir has given us certain books to read. We will read them. But why should we write daily reflections? That is not needed.”
What you do not realize is that the entire thing works together. Even if you take all the medicines and yet do not take the precautions that the doctor has advised, it will not work. The entire thing has to work in totality. But you are so clever: “Why should I do it?” And then look at your face, then look at all the sickness that is there. I am so clever. In thirty different ways you apply your cleverness, and in three hundred ways you suffer. Don’t you see?
Don’t you see? You pick up a book. The book might be by a great master, by the so-called enlightened ones. But don’t you see that you are the one who decides which chapter to read? And don’t you see that those answers were given to somebody else? Are you sure that had you asked that same question that is there in the book, you would have received the same answer?
Let’s say that you are reading Krishnamurti . . . and there is a question and an answer . . . that is the format of the book. Is Joydeep asking that question?
AP: Is the answer for Joydeep then?
AP: Then how can you be so stupid? Is that answer for you? Look at this very venue, look at this occasion. If Manjeet asks me a question versus if Anushka asks me a question versus if Rahul asks me a question, will I give the same answer? But you record the answer that I gave to Anushka and play that answer to Rahul. What will happen? Will he be helped?
That’s what a book does to you. You don’t even realize that what Krishna is saying in Bhagavad Gita, is for Arjun. Are you Arjun? But you love the blog: “Blogs are good. I am a reader. I read so many other things as well. I am a very well-read person.”
What do you get after reading so many other things? Concept is all that you get. You become a walking inventory of medicines. You smell and reek of medicines. When you talk, you only talk of medicines. In fact, the medicines talks, you are nowhere to be seen. And it can be pinpointed that this statement is coming from this Upanishad.
Yes, speak more, “Yes! This is from the bible.” Speak a little more, “Aah! That one was from Nisargadatta.”
So medicines are talking. Where are you?
Have you seen those patients who take many medicines daily? Now, only medicines are there, like a patient on ventilator. Only the ventilator is there, the man is long gone. The ventilator is breathing. The ventilator is pumping blood. Only the medicine is remaining, you are no more there. But books are such a consolation – “I will read.”
I start feeling a little jittery when I see people who are very well-read. It is very difficult to talk to them, very, very difficult. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t read. I don’t know what you will make out from these words. Next time I advise you to read, and you will say, “Yuck! Poison”
“That day you said that never read. And now you are saying read!”
L1: Sir, isn’t the choice of book related to what is going on inside?
AP: Yes, yes. Obviously. Always.
L2: Sir, I am pursuing a particular course of study. So I have to read. I sometimes feel guilty that the knowledge given in that course, is in a different light as compared to the discussions that we do here. Yesterday I was reading something, but I was not able to concentrate, because I felt guilty, because I thought that this book will only substantiate my ego. What should one do in that case?
AP: See, one does not go to a temple with the same mind that he has while bargaining in the market. You are not pursuing a spiritual course, you are pursuing a marketable course. When you are in a market, you should know that this is the market and this is knowledge. I must know what the rate of potatoes is. That is what your education teaches you. So you must know that these are potatoes, not a Shivalinga – just a potato. You cannot take it seriously. Alright, you are pursuing some academic course. Is that what you are saying? Which course is it?
L2: English literature.
AP: So all these poets that you read in your English literature course, are they Kabir or Jesus? You must know that this is something for livelihood, and there is the poet who is saying this and that. A poet is not a Rishi (Sage). Is he? So read the poet, it is alright.
Bhagavad Gita is about the mind, and so are the Upanishads. One of you is pursuing a psychology course, and that too is supposed to be about the mind. But will you pursue a psychology course assuming it to be spiritual? There is nothing spiritual about it. It is like looking at the mind just as one looks at the shop. There is no self-observation there. It will never take you to the root of the mind. In fact, it will be very difficult for a psychologist to turn spiritual.
And Bhagavad Gita too is just psychology – how the mind functions. But you cannot take these two, try to compare them, and co-relate them, and what not. These are just toys that man has made for his entertainment –this study, that study. Let them be there. It’s alright. You must have a reason for pursuing that course. It’s alright. Pursue it, pass it, and get that degree. Don’t take the whole thing so seriously. There is no need to feel guilty about it.
There is this bread here and there is jam inside. The jam has a particular color and I am feeling guilty about the color. How can I take it so seriously? It’s alright. I may eat it; I may not eat it. In fact, I don’t want to eat it! So, it’s alright.
You eat it, it’s alright. You do not eat it, it’s alright.
You must know, what is to be taken seriously; that itself is called vivek (discretion). What is vivek?
The art of knowing what to take seriously and what not to take seriously.
L3: Then the question arises: Who is saying it?
AP: Okay, but at least in the moment of your seriousness, if this can arise, “Does it deserve it?” then there is some possibility. “Does it deserve that seriousness?” When you are fighting and quarrelling with your wife, in that moment if this thought can arise, “Does she deserve this seriousness?” Then you will just shrug the whole thing off and maybe get out of the house, take a walk, sip nice tea somewhere and come back. “She doesn’t even deserve this much of seriousness. How can I even fight with her seriously? You want to shout, keep shouting. I don’t take you seriously enough to fight with you.” This is called discretion, vivek. But obviously, it must arise at that moment, at that time.
L3: How can this arise at that moment, because at that time emotions are very high?
AP: Nothing can be done at that moment, because your mind is a product of time. So everything depends on what you have been doing in time.
On Sunday afternoons it will be difficult for you to fight with your wife, assuming that Sunday mornings are being spent here. So, what you have been doing in time, how you have been spending your time, decides the quality of your time. Are you getting it?
Spend your time wisely and then your spontaneous response will shape up. We talk of ‘spontaneous’ response. But remember, that to have spontaneous response in that moment, you must first have gone through an entire process of cleansing – cleansing in time. A time drawn process, a long process. So the response is spontaneous, but to reach that spontaneity, you must first pass through a long period of time in which there has been an effort, a devoted effort, to take care of the mind. And then you become capable of spontaneity.
L3: Sir, my looseness in this moment will welcome the trouble in the future . . .
AP: Yes, obviously. Wonderful.
That is Karma, fruit of the action.
L3: I am regularly reading Kabir. Chances are that I wouldn’t get into a fight. On the other hand, if I am reading a magazine, I would get into fight . . .
AP: Yes. So there is a man who is attending the session right now. His chances of remaining peaceful in the afternoon and in the evening today are more as compared to a man who is reading a magazine right now, or to a man who is spending Sunday morning lazing in the bed. Evening depends on the morning.
L2: Can that be sustained?
AP: Depends on how desperate you are. Depends on how much your wife has beaten you.
There can be no other answer. There can be no other motivation. You must see that you are suffering. You must clearly see, clearly realize that your ways are of blindness. That they are only giving you pain.
L 3: Sir, a few days back, I read a blog article on anxiety and fear because I was feeling anxious and fearful. Would reading that article harm me?
AP: (Sarcastically) You have already taken it. The medicine has gone in and done whatever it had to do. What is the point? It happens in families where there are small kids.
“Doctor, my son has taken in phenyl.”
“Two days back.”
Now what had to happen has happened. Maybe it is because of reading that article that this anxiety is there.
You read something on anxiety and now you are anxious. “What will happen to me? I have read that!”
The medicine will show its effects . . .
– Excerpts from a Clarity Session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at: Whatever you choose for yourself will be ‘poison’
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