What are hobbies and interests? || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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

Question: I am doing something due to somebody else’s wishes. Instead of that I want to pursue my hobby. How can I start working towards it without hurting others?

Speaker: The world is full of people who pursued what they call as their ‘interest’, or their ‘hobby’, or even their ‘love’, and kept feeling as frustrated as you probably do. See, the influences that others have upon us, we resist them. So, as you are saying, your parents have a certain influence upon you. You want to resist it; you don’t feel comfortable with it. There is a constant feeling that- I am doing something under somebody’s influence or pressure. So, you turn to the mind and then we ask the mind, “What do you want?” and the mind comes up with an answer which I call as ‘my interest’. You say, “I want to pursue my interest.”

So, somebody is born in a particular family, living in a particular house, in a particular street. When he is a kid there are many influences upon him. There is the influence of the father who wants him to become a shopkeeper; who wants him to take over the traditional family shop, the elses influencebusiness. And then there is the influence of all the elder brothers, the neighbors, and the kids who are living in the vicinity, and they are playing cricket all the time. So, they take this fellow out to play cricket. Now, cricket is something that he acquires from these people, but he starts calling it ‘my interest’. And the shop is something he gets from his father and he calls it ‘father’s shop’.

Look at this. Where does he get the shop from? The father. And he says, “No, no, no. I do not want to go to the father’s shop.” Right? Whose shop is it?

Listeners: Father’s.

Speaker: It is the father’s shop. And what does he call his interest in cricket?

Listeners: My interest.

Speaker: ‘My interest’. And he says, “I don’t want to pursue my father’s interest. I want to pursue my interest.” Seriously? Your own interest?

I am not suggesting that you allow others to influence you. I am saying you are already very-very influenced. When the influence is superficial, you call it somebody else’s influence. And when the influence is very deep, then you call it ‘my interest’. In fact if you must resist, what must you resist? The superficial interest or the deeper interest?

Listeners: The deeper interest.

Speaker: The influence that is superficial cannot be very harmful because it is superficial. So, even if you don’t resist it, the harm will not be great. So, if you ask me to wear a particular color of kurta today, I will probably not resist. I will say, “Fine. Give. I will wear. It’s not a big deal. It’s not a significant matter.” It’s a superficial thing. It does not merit great resistance. But if something is a deep influence, there you must fight.

Now, what must you really be up against – the shop or the cricket? What must you really be cautious against – the shop or the cricket? But you will say, “No, no, no. Shop comes from father. He is trying to impose himself on me. I will resist him. Cricket is my interest.”

Not only is cricket not your own interest, it is actually an imposition that has enslaved you deeply now. I am alright if you are doing something that others are telling you to do. But I become very alert when somebody talks of his own interests. And I become doubly warned when somebody says, “This is not even my interest. This is my individuality.” Now this is an emergency situation.

You know, these are three levels of influence: –

1. When the influence is superficial, you call it ‘influence’.

2. When the influence is deep, then you call it ‘interest’.

3. And when the influence has penetrated the very depth of your mind, then you start calling it ‘my individuality’.

So, the most sick people are those who say that this work is an expression of my individuality. Oh my God! The patient is almost beyond redemption now.

What will happen? What will happen is just that you will pursue what you call as your interest only to be dismayed, only to be even more frustrated.

Right now you are living in a hope, and you are blaming your father. Your hope is that when I leave this technical course and pursue my passion, then life will be heavenly. This is your hope. When you will actually pursue your so-called passion then you won’t even have that hope, and you will be greatly frustrated.

So, what is the way out then? Whatever you are saying, doing or claiming is arising from your mind. This assessment that you have given me that I am in this peculiar situation, this whole story that you have narrated, is arising from your mind. When the mind is cleansed, then this narrative will change. You will not look at the situation in the same way. Right now you are seeing only two parts. One of influence, the other of interest. One suggested by your parents, the other suggested by your interests.

When the mind is cleansed, then many other parts open up. When the mind is cleansed then from nowhere another path presents itself. What path that would be, I do not know. Even you cannot know. But surely there will be a better and a brighter path. Instead of choosing between two different kinds of slavery, why don’t you choose freedom? Right now you have two choices, and it is difficult to say which is worse. One entails being a slave to one person; another entails being slave to your own mind, which obviously cannot even be called your own.

None of these choices is a worthy choice. Don’t exercise these choices. Leave both of them. Let your attention go inwards. Let the mind have a certain refinement, a certain quality, and then from that quality the right path automatically will emerge. And it is unpredictable. Don’t even try to guess it. Don’t try to speculate. Don’t try to peep in the future. You will see nothing. Are you getting it?

A mad man comes and asks, “I have to go to New York. Should I travel vertically up or vertically down?” What would you suggest him? If he is giving you two choices; two options are there and he is asking, “What should I choose? Should I fly up or should I dig a tunnel all the way to New York?” What would you recommend him? Recommend him some freshly cut lemon.


He does not need to move here and there. He needs to get rid of the hangover. Don’t just keep making decisions. Drunk and making decisions. Should you decide or should you first get sober? Yes?

Listener 1: Decide.

Speaker: (Sarcastically) Decide. Good. This is what happens when you keep drinking liquor for two months and then return. The liquor is still heavy upon your mind.

First get sober and then decide.

– Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

View the session at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjZ3a5LHs4g

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