Why can’t I change my behaviour? || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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

Question:I am distracted, both mentally and physically.The world pulls me in different directions. I chase this and that. I chase respect. I chase accomplishments. I chase women and sex as well. All this is a problem, because it interferes with my day-to-day comfort. The urge is so over-powering that it disrupts my daily patterns. How to deal with this?

Speaker: You have a particular way of living and you want to talk about it. You have selectively picked up one aspect of your living for discussion, because you want to get rid of it.

We do not see that it is impossible to change just one aspect of one’s behavior. There are many ways in which the pattern of our mind finds expression, a thousand ways. Of these thousand ways, a few pertain to academics, a few pertain to your job, and a few pertain to your beliefs about the world, about religion, about politics. But of all these thousand ways in which the mind finds expression, you pick up only two or three for discussion.
Which are these two or three ways? The ones that are the most conspicuous, right? You do not talk of the others ways because they are either hidden, or are pleasurable so far, or at least they don’t pose any problem of any kind. Even a moral dilemma is not being posed by them. They are either socially sanctioned, or they are below the radar of your consciousness. You do not even know that these patterns exist and they come from this source. So, you are alright with them. You never talk about them.

I have never seen somebody come to me to ask, “Sir, why do I feel like going to a temple on every Tuesday?” You never mention this as a problem, because this conduct is socially sanctioned. So, it has never become a problem for you.  I have never seen somebody come to me and ask, “Sir, I want success. How do I get rid of this wanting?” The entire world tells you that being successful is good. So, you never think of this as a problem. But if you are chasing girls, then you will come and talk about it as a problem, especially if her brothers are a little violent.


Now it is a problem! Now, is this attraction towards women a problem, or is this mind that cannot see the totality of the things a problem? And often, this mind that chases girls is also the mind that goes to a temple every Tuesday; two expressions of the same knot. But going to the temple will never be labelled as a problem. Never.

In fact, when you raise this question, what you want is that ‘going to the temple’ remains intact, but the ‘girl problem’ is taken care of, or at least her brothers are taken care of.

You will have to live with the consequences of what you are. You will have to pay the price. You cannot be selective about pain and pleasure. You patterns give you pleasure. And then you don’t come and complain. Or do you?

Listener: No

Speaker:But those same patterns when they give you pain, then you come and say, “I want to get rid of my pain.”“Get rid of pain and protect the pleasure.” You are very smart! “Protect ambition and get rid of restlessness.” Quite a demand!

teachersSo, never come up with these specifics. You have to live with them. Teachers who give you miraculous solutions to specific problems are only giving you pain relievers. And pain relievers, forget about curing the disease, they  drug you into a false sense of numbness. You do not feel the pain. So you cultivate the illusion that you are cured.

You will have to live with it! You will have to pass through the hell every day and every night! So then, you must ask, “What is the point of all this discussion? I am anyway bearing all the pain and all that you are doing is telling me that I have to bear it. Then why have I come to the doctor? Why?”

Listener 1: Because feeling the pain is the remedy itself.

Speaker: Yes. Bear it. Don’t resist it. Bear it. Your entire training is to resist it. Don’t resist it. Take it. Let it come.

Who are you? The one who has been trained to resist. The moment you say, “I am not resisting,” you are not the one to whom pain comes. It is a little mysterious thing. Understand this.

Pain comes to the one who is trained to resist the pain. Why is he resisting the pain? Because he does not know that pain is the natural corollary of his being. So, he lives in the illusion that – I can be what I am and yet avoid the pain. You cannot avoid the pain. Now, going through the pain will help you look at your life, with a little bit of honesty. Going through the pain will help you know that this is what I have been sowing and reaping and living. And when you are honest about it, the pain misses you. You are no more the one to whom the pain was addressed.

Pain is like an envelope. It contains somebody’s address. The envelope contains a lot of pain and the address that is written on it is– ‘To, Mr. Pain-avoider’. What does the envelope contain?

Listener 1:Lot of pain.

Speaker:And what is the address written on the envelope?

Listener 1:‘To, Mr. Pain-avoider’.

Speaker:The moment you say, “I welcome this envelope.” Who are you?

‘Mr. Pain- not-avoider’.You are not avoiding it any more.

The moment you ask for the pain and say, “Yes,it is my envelope. It is a product of my being and, very manly,I want to take the consequence of my being. Give that envelope to me. It is my pain. I must bear it,” the pain doesn’t come to you. It misses you.

The envelope was addressed to ‘Mr. Pain-avoider’, but now the address has changed, because now you are not avoiding it any more.

But of course, you cannot make this into a tactic. The envelope is smarter than you.


The moment it knows that you are making grand statements just to avoid the pain, then you are exactly the one to whom the envelope is addressed, ‘Mr. Pain-avoider’.

Listener 2: Plus cunningness.

Speaker: And there is another envelope on its way– ‘To, Mr. Cunning’.

Don’t try that. Live through the pain, and smile. Don’t expect that you are somebody to whom these ugly things should not happen. You are exactly the one with whom all the ugliness must happen. Life humiliates you. Take all the humiliation with honesty.

“Yes, I am worthy of all this humiliation. It is coming to me because I deserve it.” And that’s it!

– Excerpts from a Clarity Session held at Advait-Sthal. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Why can’t I change my behavior?

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