What is inspiration? || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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

Question: How can inspiration be so effective that it changes life of a person?

Speaker: Person have no inspiration, they only have ‘expiration’. Do you know what inspiration is? That is “in spirit”, your very core; when it arises from there, only then it can be called an inspiration. In spirit! Are we ever inspired really? No. (Smilingly) We keep expiring. That is why a saint has said that “you die a thousand deaths before you physically die“, because we always expire. Inspiration means when you really know not when you have heard, read or thought about it and it has stopped at that.

The person is made up of the world. He cannot have inspiration. He has nothing actually that can take control of him and comfort him and relax him. He is always at the mercy of the outside buffeted by and in between a thousand forces.

Because a person is asking this question that is why the person is asking, how can inspiration be so much or whether inspiration can be so much? All this is the lexicon, the tongue of the person. In the wiring of the person there are only movements and processes and reaching and doubts so he will firstly ask whether and then he will ask how.

Inspiration is about being totally possessed. Inspiration is about giving your complete command to something that you are not. And when we are talking of completeness, then it cannot happen in doubt. Doubt means hundred percent cannot happen. Doubt means something will be reserved.

Inspiration is not for those who ask for why and how. Inspiration is when you drop all this mental veneer. And allow yourself to roam naked. Inspiration will not tell you what to do in your current circumstances.

Inspiration2That is what we are looking for and that is the answer we often do not get, Right? We say my inner voice is not guiding me. It can’t guide you, you say I am confused and I do not get an answer from within. You will never get an answer from within.

Because inspiration, I repeat, ‘is not for the person’. ‘You’ can’t be inspired; ‘you’ will never get that internal guidance. It is not for ‘you’, you are condemned to remain a slave of the world. All power arises from within. In the moments when you will desperately need that power you will find that there is no power. You may keep thinking that you have become powerful but in your moment of need you will go hungry. Sitting here you may be full of concepts about strength and power and the rest of it. But cometh the moment and you are trembling, cometh the moment and you are weak and weeping, because inspiration is not for you.

You are the one who wants to continue as ‘you’. How can you have inspiration? I said inspiration is for those who roam naked. You first turn naked and then you will know. If your aim is to preserve yourself, then do not forget that all preservation happens in the world. When you say “I want to preserve myself”, where do you want to preserve yourself? In the world, where else?  So all the tools and techniques and the oil and the jar and the spices for preservation, all the preservatives will only come from outside because that’s where you want to preserve yourself.

Why do you ask for inspiration? Inspiration is dangerous. Inspired, you will not achieve your objectives. Inspired, first of all you will cast away the man who wanted to achieve. You really want to be inspired? No, you want theories, doctrines, concepts. You want some helping hand from the society who can take you as far as he went. A person wants to go a person’s way.

A person doesn’t want to go the divine way.

You only want to go as far as your neighbour has gone, maybe a step ahead. You only want to go as far as your seniors have gone. You don’t even have real ambition. And left to yourself you will find that you have nowhere to go.

Inspiration leaves you with yourself.

Listener: Inspired men do not have real ambition. What is this ambition?

Speaker: To go as far as possible for a human being. Do you know how far a human being can go? Do you know what heights can be scaled?  That’s what I call real ambition. We live lukewarm lives. Two kids’, two BHK flat, two cars, two air conditioners, two husbands that’s all. Is there anything more that you want? Anything more? Two jobs from the campus that will fill up your heart; two wives, maybe a mistress or a concubine, it’s alright. Anything more that you want? Two bank accounts, one for white money, one for black money; two flats, one for living, one as an asset.

(Everyone smiles)

Anything more that you want? You don’t have any ambition. Do you know how much is possible? You will have to expire.

(Everyone laughs)

Really expire, not in the sense of being influenced from outside. And how much you are besotted? How deeply you care for your two pairs of slippers. Twenty four hours you are preoccupied with thinking about these things. Are you not? “My two husbands, my two kids. What to do with them?” Is there anything else that fills up your mind? Honestly? Your two jobs, two kids, two houses, two cars, two pairs of slippers, two pairs of undergarment. Anything else that fills up your mind? That’s the extent of your living.

Do you think you live?  Is that all to living? Do you have any ambition? 

You talk about achievement. Do you have any hunger for achieving? Really? Have you had any hunger, how could you have settled for so little? Had you really wanted to know, how could you have gone to all the imbeciles?

Two meals a day, enough?  Go get it if you think that’s all to living. Do you know what the word ‘Brahm’ means? It means more. Seriously it means more. Brahm means the ever expanding, it means that which really can never be contained.

And your desires are so petty. Two vacations a year. Third is not even desired. It doesn’t even occur to you that there could be a year long vacation. It doesn’t occur to you, or does it?

You want to know who you are, what are your dimensions. Just ask yourself, “What am I thinking about all day?” That’s what you are. Don’t fool yourself! The maid doesn’t come one day, you spend half the day thinking about her. Is that so or not? That’s what you are, ‘the thinker of the maid’. That’s the scope of your being. The kid is unwell for two hours and you do not which way to go, that’s what you are. One little tiff with the husband, you are totally shaken up, thinking about it for two days. That’s what you are. What else ? That is the scope of your being.

Do you have any ambition? Tell me what is it that you have been thinking of? Half of you are thinking about this tea that is kept here. That is the breadth and depth of your being, the radius of the cup and depth of the cup. Yes, and if that cup has liquor you think about it for two days and weep your heart out. That’s the depth of your existence. Have you ever thought of what all fills you up, shakes you up, dominates you? Have you ever seen that? Take today as an example. From morning till now what have you been thinking of? What have you not been thinking of? Taxi charged you 50 rupees extra and you think about it for half an hour. Which dress to wear? At least fifteen minutes. What food to make? That fills up your mind for 4 hours a day. Somebody has said a few things to you and you remember it for two months. That’s what is ‘life’. Will inspiration allow you to remain this way?

The inspired man forgets this rubbish. And because this is rubbish what we are, the inspired man actually forgets himself. That’s what I meant when I said that he allows himself to be possessed. His world is different, his topics are different, his attention is different. He is not thinking about the things that you keep thinking of. He is here, he is never somewhere else. He has no topic really to think of.

What have you been thinking of? What do you keep thinking of? 

Listener: Do we need any source to inspire us? As you have said that inspiration comes from inside.

Inspiration is yoursSpeaker: You don’t need any source outside of you for aspiration because inspiration is totally yours. Any sources outside of you can have just one utility – to cut you off from all other sources outside of yourself. Nobody brings you back to yourself because you are already there. Remember this.

But because you are attached to and captivated by a thousand sources outside of yourself, another external source can have this much utility. What is the utility? To cut you off from everything that is external. He can’t give you anything that is internal, that is impossible. He can never inspire you because inspiration is yours. But he can tell you that you are mistaken. He can tell you that you are too attached to your roles. He can tell you that you have ventured too far away and now you are almost lost. He can tell you that you must go back. But he cannot give you a house. Why? Because you already have a house, and he doesn’t have a spare one. That’s the role of the external. Are you getting it? The day there is nothing to cut you off from, the external is left with no utility either.

The day your madness disappears, the teacher also disappears.

Listener: You said “Look at the things that you think about all day” and this has come to me many times, that look at the day, at what you have been thinking about. And in the last session we discussed about realization being that ‘Oh‘. Even when you say I see, the ‘Oh‘ never happens. What is that which stops that from happening?

Speaker: The ‘Oh‘ is very intimate. It is very very intimate. The real fun of bicycle riding cannot be there till it is there at the back of your mind that somebody is supporting the bicycle from behind. The fellow might not actually be supporting, he might have enabled you and left you long back. But it is still at the back of your mind that I have a support from behind. The ‘Oh‘ will come when you will turn back and you will find that you are all on your own and still riding, and you are a good rider. Then you say ‘Oh‘. It is not a faint ‘Oh‘. It a very visceral  ‘Oh‘, arising right from your guts. It’s not a sweet nice ‘Oh‘.


So look back and see that you are on your own. You have always been on your own. There is nobody supporting your bicycle. So nobody can actually make you fall of.

You are already on your own. You are just imagining that a lot of other people are there to support you. By thinking that you are being supported, you open yourself to weakness. Realize that you are already not being supported. How can somebody take away the support when there is no support? Hence, there is no reason to fear. Then there will be the ‘Oh‘. The ‘Oh‘ is almost like potato popping out of your mouth, something that was stuck in your throat, and it just pops out.

Whatever I am saying is not very useful at all. Fact of the matter is that you already know all this. But you have to accept that you already know. Till the time you keep thinking that here is some authority with some special ability or knowledge, dishing it out to you, you will comfortably hide behind your concocted ignorance. You make me special so that you can comfortably remain a juvenile. You can very comfortably claim that “I am not yet there” or “I don’t understand. Ya, he talked about freedom. But because I do not understand freedom, so how can I act free?” You will have to accept that you understand everything. For that you have to look over your shoulder and see that there is nobody. And there is the way ahead, a long way ahead and you have to ride on your own, all on your own. Right! There is no teacher behind you, teachers actually don’t exist. You are on your own.

It helps you right, to keep looking at me? That helps you not look at yourself.

Listener 2: Actually a few days back I felt that whatever I surf on the net mostly have your photo on it. You photo seem to be everywhere.

Speaker: And you use that photo to remind yourself that you do not know. And somebody else uses that photo to remember that he already knows. It depends what you do with my photo. You can do a thousand things using my photos. There are photos of all shades and flavours.

(Everyone laughs)

Listener 3:  You have talked earlier about our own limited ambitions, you talked about actual hunger. What is an actual ambition? I have always been confused, like I want to do something as of today, which is attached to the world. Is it a wrong thing to have such an ambition?

Speaker: No, it is not wrong. It’s just petty.

Listener 3: But if I let go off my dreams, I won’t have the drive to live life. Won’t that make me aimless and direction-less?

Speaker: If you do that tomorrow obviously you will be aimless and that won’t be a good feeling. The way you look at yourself you require those aims. So you will surely feel aimless. But at the same time, how does it feel to be with aims?

Listener 3: I feel discontented that I might not get it. Once I get it then my aim or my objective is to do something else. Then I am again discontented.

Speaker: What continues?

Listener 3: I am always discontented.

Speaker: Discontentment – that’s what continues. So why move around so much? Why exert yourself so much? If discontentment is all that continues, then just sit and remain discontented.

Listener 3: I feel better about the fact that at least I am trying. I achieved something.

Speaker: Knowing  fully well that it all amounts to nothing.

Listener 3: That’s how I measure my worth.

Speaker: So it’s an apology. Right! Knowing fully well that I don’t know the answer to a question, I write a story, hoping that something might come to me out of this. All I know, I know out of my understanding, and I know even from experience, that it means nothing. I know from my internal honesty that it will take me nowhere. We are addressing that.

And hence this entire discussion is useful for those who have come to that point of seeing their discontentment. The ones who are so terribly unaware that they don’t even know how it feels, will actually not be able to make much sense of what we are saying. So, it’s good to go beyond your little ambitions.

You know, one has this daily routine and one is well settled with it, and one doesn’t want anything beyond it or the desire to go beyond is very feeble. And then there are those who actually do step a little ahead. And then they discover something. They say we are as discontented right now as we were within the boundaries of our home. We thought that we are dissatisfied, incomplete because we thought that we are living a very ordinary life. But here is a life a little less ordinary, and yet the discontentment is unabated. It is just the same. Now they have a question. What is this happening? “Our entire life we were living in the assumption that if we move then there will be some reason for satisfaction. We thought that we are dissatisfied because we do not move and we are stagnating.” But here is a surprising observation. Those who are stagnating are dissatisfied, and more dissatisfied are those who are moving. Then they want to know, then they want to understand, what is happening? The very assumption of living is under question. The very foundation on which we base our lives might be wrong, misplaced. That is terrifying. And that is also the possibility of redemption because now your foundation has been tested and proven dubious. Now you want to do something about it. You see I live in a house of cards, with no foundation and no stability or longevity. But that house has never been tested. A cyclone might be a good, an auspicious thing for me. It tests my house. And my house is my life. It is my mind, my world. Now it is being tested.

It is not that just the cards have been proven to be weak or not attached to each other. What has been shown is that there is no cementing, no cohesion present in my life either. So this observation, this realization that discontentment is all that I have, this penetrates everything that I have, everything that I am, every breath that I take; because all is based on a mental foundation, all is based on an assumption that hypotheses is not acceptable. It is shown and if it is not acceptable then we need a different ground for living. Then we need a different base, a different foundation of living altogether. This model of achievement and satisfaction arising from achievement, this model itself is junk. And if this model is junk I can’t eat, I can’t wear, I can’t live, because everything was based on this model. All the economics, polity, family, concepts of progress, concepts of good life and redemption, all of them depend on this. And if this is junk then by subscribing to this my life is junk. So one is lucky if this occurs to her. But if it occurs then you cannot continue in the same way without taking a lot of pain. The more you continue the more is the suffering. It becomes inevitable that you strike new ground, which is available, which is not very difficult. But like everything that involves a change or a movement, it is a little turbulent, the process shakes one up.

One has to have a strong mind, a large heart to live through it and then live by it.

Listener 4: There are some things in life that are essential and inessential. When I am not greedy there is no fear and vice-versa. I feel I am compromising with the essential.

Speaker: The cups were kept outside. The tea inside it was hot or cold? Did these have more or less tea? When is the tea less in the cup?

Listeners: When there is tea in the cup.

Speakers: When you feel that the tea is cold?  When there is tea. When do you find the vegetables to be dry?

Listeners: When vegetables are there.

Speaker: It is only when it become an issue. It is only when the essential that you started off with is no more the issue, till the time you were listening to the conversation, was the tea cold? And the tea is cold. When did the tea become cold?

Listeners: As soon as it became an issue.

Speaker: That is why the way is no way. The moment you look at the way, the way disappears. This is exactly what object mean, that now it would be displeasing for exactly the same reason because you were attracted towards it. There is nothing wrong with the object, what is wrong is why you got attracted towards it. Truth and spirituality are not there to give you nice and better dreams. They are to wake you up.

But we are so surrounded with experiences that even the worth of this is measured only as an experience. How do I feel about it? You may feel miserable about it. How does it matter? It’s your problem. You may use my photographs for anything, that is your problem. You may keep thinking of the tea, it is your problem. These are not meant to be experiential things because experience is all yours. Have we not said a thousand times that your experiences are nothing but your own self? That is why experiences are different. How you feel upon coming in contact with the truth is a non-issue. In fact if you have started feeling then that is an issue. The content of the feeling is immaterial. The arousal of the feeling is a danger sign. You may feel very good upon attending the session. Danger. Why did you feel? And you may feel very disturbed upon attending the session. That again is a danger sign. Not that you felt disturbed but that you felt at all. Why did you feel? Not that you won’t feel at all. Why did you give weightage to the feeling? Why did you think that the feeling is important? On one hand, you talk of the essential. And then you talk of your feelings. Do you know what is important?

The kid is given a shot, an injection in his arm. What does he do? He cries. The adult is also given an injection. Does he cry?

Listeners: No.

Speaker: Because to the kid all that is important is the feeling, the experience. He doesn’t like the experience. “Something is piercing my body. I don’t like the experience”. He has nothing to do with the fact of it. It is a medicine. The adult also feels the same pain. Right? Not that he doesn’t feel violated, his skin is getting pierced; but does he give weightage to the feeling. Does he give weightage to the feeling?  Now we have an adult who is given a shot and he starts dancing.


Had he known the fact how could he have danced? Even your positive experience doesn’t mean anything.

You may feel this way, you may feel that way, how does it matter. It is incidental that you liked the taste of the medicine. Now will you thank the doctor for that? Your medicine tastes really good. Will you thank the doctor for the taste of the medicine that it gives me a nice sensory experience. The medicine does something else and you don’t even know what it does. You cannot know what it does. But you live in experiences, so even when you came to thank the doctor, you only thank for the colour and the taste. “You know the pink one that helped me choose the colour for the paint for my walls.” Even when you are thanking the doctor your thanking is useless. And when you are cursing the doctor see what you him curse for. “His hospital stinks! Why don’t you have a better lavatory in your clinic? You come here for the lavatory, seriously?” But that’s what happens. You have five star hospitals today who charge you less for the treatment and more for the hospitality? You don’t go there for your cancer. You go there for their commode. Their commode is more important than your cancer, clean nice sparkling.

~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Prashant Tripathi: What is inspiration?

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