On having motives in life || Acharya Prashant (2014)

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Question:  Sir, is it not important to have motive in life?

 Speaker: See Sana, motives are there. So the question: “Whether or nor motives are important and whether we must have motives?” is a little irrelevant because motives are anywhere there. And who is asking this question? Is it optional to have motives? If I say, “Don’t have motives”, is it within our capacity to not to have motives? The one who is asking this, will necessarily have motives. Why?

Because that is the state of the mind.

Where do motives come from? Have we tried to examine the state of the mind from where motives emerge? Motives are there, they are already there. Aren’t they? And we don’t find a way of get rid of them, we can only substitute them; one motive can make way for the other. But motives are there. Where do these motives come from? Where do these goals, targets, purposes come from? From what state of mind do they arise? Where do they come from?

When you are really contended, are you thinking of a motive at that time? When you are really contended, at that point, do you have motives, still? When you are deeply immersed in whatever you are doing, do you still have motives? Is the thought of achieving something in the future, still there in your moment of immersion, deepest immersion?

Listener: But there is always a picture of the future.

Speaker: Do we understand immersion? In your moment of immersion, are you still thinking of the future? Are you talking to me right now? You are. As you are talking to me right now, are you thinking of the future?

Listener: No, Sir

motiveSpeaker: You’re not. So there is no motive, because all motives pertain to the future, right? I want to get something in the future. As you are talking to me right now, there is no question of the future. But it is possible that when we cease to talk, and now I’m occupied with somebody else, then your mind starts wandering and starts thinking of the motives that you have for today evening.

As you are immersed in the moment, there is no motive. There is just immersion. But when there is disturbance, then thoughts will rush to have a motive, some kind of a plan, some kind of an image for the future. This image of the future is called motive. So, what is the state of the mind from which motives emerge? Do they come to a peaceful mind or do they come to a disturbed mind?

Listener: Disturbed mind

Speaker: And the more disturbed the mind is, the more goals, purposes, targets, motives it will have. So let’s not talk of motives, let’s talk of the state of mind. Those of you who are deeply occupied with motives must enquire into the state of mind. “Why am I so disturbed that my mind must always rush to the future, why?” Had the mind been peaceful, there was no question of thinking about this and that. Peace is sufficient. Only an insecure mind needs to think so much of the future. Otherwise it’s not needed. There must be some perceived deficiency, in the present, in order for you to have a target in the future. The mind thinks that it is acting very smart by having some target in the future. The mind’s logic is clear; the mind is saying, “There is something wrong, I want to set it right. There is some problem, I want to correct the problem. There is some disease, I want to heal the disease. “But ask the mind, “When is the disease? Alright, you are saying that you are diseased, just begin from there. When is the disease? The disease is right now, and when are you aiming for the treatment? You are aiming for the treatment 2 years, 4 years, and 20 years from today! If I have a headache right now, do I want its treatment 2 years down the line? Worst still, if I get a heart attack right now, do I want the heart attack to be treated 4 years later?”

That is the stupidity of motives. First of all motives are arising from a flawed assumption, that there is something wrong right now. There’s nothing wrong, it’s just a position that you have taken, that there is something wrong.

Secondly, even if there is something wrong. Even if we were to accept that there is something wrong right now, what is wrong right now must necessarily be corrected right now! Why wait for the future? Everybody has been taunting me that I don’t look good. Everybody has been saying that I don’t have a muscular body. Everybody has been saying that my height is not enough and everybody is saying that I don’t look attractive. So I will never have a girlfriend. That is the perceived disease, first of all. Remember, it is not a disease, it a perceived disease. You have unnecessarily taken the disease upon yourself. It’s a perceived disease.

So first of all you perceive a disease, secondly you figure out some kind of a treatment for it in the future. And what is the treatment that you figure out? You say that “I will get such and such qualification , then I will start earning so much and ultimately I will earn a girlfriend or a wife.” So you have a motive now and what is the motive coming from, a perceived deficiency, just a perceived deficiency, it is not actually there. You are alright. Now the fellow will not go ahead and have the guts to challenge the basic assumption that there is something wrong with him. He will not cure the disease in the present moment; he is waiting for another 2 years. “Let me get the degree, then let me get a job, then let me get the money, then let me get the respect and then let me get the wife.” He has unnecessarily charted out a long convoluted road to the future, which is not needed at all. Does that not happen? That’s where all your motives come from.Motives come from a disturbed mind

Remember, a synonym for motive is greed. And greed arises only when you feel some incompleteness. All motives arise from a mind that is not feeling good about itself. Otherwise there is no need. The question that you’ll ask is that “if we don’t have a motive, why will we work? You’ll work exactly because you don’t have a motive. Earlier you were working in your sadness, now you’ll be working in your joy. This question that ” if we don’t have a motive why will we work?” This question is like asking, “Sir, if our mood is not bad why will we work?” Do you really require a bad mood to work? Can’t you work in a good mood? But that’s the stupidity of this question “Sir, if there is no purpose, why will anybody work? Sir, if there is no disease, why will anybody work?” Why? Can’t you work in your health? Can’t you work in a good mood? Can’t you work feeling nice and complete about yourself? What’s wrong with that? What’s so difficult about that?

But we’re not used to it. Our sense of inferiority has become our engine. That gives us the drive. “I’m inferior so let me work hard so that I can come level.”  And this is a stupid engine, an artificial engine.

Is that clear?

-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: On having motives in life

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  1. Sir, since birth we have been seeing and learning from outside only, so it’s obvious all our learnings, interests and curiosities have come from outside only, then how is it really possible to know what we want or really love to do when everything we have learnt has come from outside. It has to be something new as u said and it has to come from inside, what I don’t understand Sir is that how can there be an inside when everything has come from outside only.


    1. If there is no inside, then there can be no understanding. Outside is all material, and understanding is not material.

      But we do understand, dont we?

      Similarly, love and joy and silence are not ‘things’ that can come from outside.


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