When you chase something, you will get its opposite as well || Acharya Prashant (2015)

Drunks fear the police but the police are drunk too.

~ Rumi

Speaker: We are prone to thinking that a ‘thing’ is cancelled or neutralized by its opposite and our superficial experience in the world supports this kind of thinking. When cold water is mixed with hot water what you get is water that is neither cold nor hot. When a force toward the left meets a force towards the right, what you get is equilibrium. So it is no wonder, that we think that the opposite of ‘something’ neutralizes it, finishes it, dissolves it.

If the day is hot, we wait for the night. We say, “The day is so hot, the night might bring us some relief.” And when the night comes, we are glad to say, “The night brought us relief from the heat of the day”.

For us, a ‘thing’ finds its end, its deliverance, its solution in its opposite. If the day troubles me, then my deliverance lies with the night. If white threatens me, then my succor lies with black. If going upwards, I find suffering then the correct way for me is to go downwards. That is the way of the Samsara (World). That is what our ‘normal’, everyday experience has taught us.

But the wise man looks attentively at the world. He asks, “Is really a ‘thing’ finished by its opposite?” He probes deeply into life and what he sees is that the deeper is the pain, the more is the search and the memory of pleasure. And the more is the pleasure, the more is the urge to consume the pleasure out of a fear of pain.

He sees that just as, the more a spring is stretched, the more it wants to return to its unstretched position, similarly, the more a thing is, the more its opposite is created.

He sees that you cannot have ‘something’, without parallely creating its opposite. If you want to see pitch darkness, then you will need to have a background of white. Without a background of white, it will be impossible to have even black.

He sees that the opposite of a ‘thing’ does not neutralize it, instead enhances it.

And that is the difference between the worldly man and the wise man. The worldly man, the worldly mind rushes from one end of duality to the other end of duality, looking for relief. Of course, whichever end he goes to, he only finds more suffering. But to him there is no world, except the one found between the two poles of duality. To him, there are only the two poles of duality. And his world is between them. So even if he suffers, he remains helpless. Where can he go? When night troubles him, he begs for the day. When the day tortures him, he fondly remembers the night. And, he argues that there is only the day and the night, that no third condition exists. So he says, “Even if I suffer in the day and I suffer in the night, I have to be either in the day or in the night. There is no third possibility. The best that I can do for myself is that when the day becomes too much for me, then I can rush toward the night. And when the night starts killing me, then I can go towards the day. (Laughingly) Or if I try to act a little smart, I can position myself somewhere in the middle, at the dusk or dawn maybe!” (Mockingly) You know, we are smart people; we try out ‘tactics’.

 “So I can position myself at some kind of interface between day and night. But wherever I am, I am in the game of opposites. And I am sustained by my belief that, ‘Relief from one end is possible by rushing to the other end.’ That is what makes me stay in this game and that is what does not allow me to rebel. I have short memory and I am so hopeful. I forget, I conveniently forget that I have rushed from one end to the other end, a million times, without ever finding permanent peace. I completely forget. And even if somebody comes to remind me that you are engaged in a lost game, that what you are trying out is impossible, that your efforts are going to fail, I reply with the grand statement full of hope; I say, ‘One should never stop hoping, one should keep trying!’”

 “Yes, I have failed a thousand times before, but who knows? I may just succeed the next time. And that is what my elders always taught me: ‘To be hopeful.’ So even if I see that jumping from one pole to the other doesn’t do anybody any good, yet, I maintain a foolish belief that I might be an exception!”

“I maintain a foolish belief that, by walking down the same road (n+1)th time, I will reach a different place. I have walked down the same road n times and I never reached anywhere! Yet I am so hopeful, that this time, I will reach paradise!”

The wise man realizes a simple, basic and obvious thing. He says, “Enough of this ‘left-right’ business, enough of this ‘pole to pole’ business. I have been hopping around like a monkey, since ancient times! When heat has troubled me, I have gone to cold. When I was young, I use to pray for maturity. When I became old, I remember my young age. When the wife would trouble me I would rush to the mother. When mother would be too much upon me, then I would hide with the wife. When I would be with people, then I would crave for aloneness. And when I would be on my own, then I would search for company. In the summers, the winter would look so nice, so I would want to rush to the hill stations. In the winters, I would build a fire, devoted to the memory of summers. You see, this game is a stupid game! And one end of duality is not cancelling out the other end; one pole is not neutralizing the other pole.

He realizes that one pole is the foundation on which the other pole stands and vice versa. He realizes that pain is not the opposite of pleasure. Pain is the inevitable, inexorable and natural companion of pleasure.

Without pain, there can be no pleasure.

Now this man’s life, after this realization, cannot be the same. He cannot chase happiness and pleasure anymore! He has realized that happiness is not at all distinct from sadness, and the one who chases happiness is simultaneously chasing sadness. In fact, happiness, sadness, and the chase for either of these are just one and the same thing. All three are the same!

Having realized that the two ends of duality maintain and sustain each other, that they never cancel out each other, they look like opposites, but they are not really opposites; having realized thus, the wise man is established beyond duality. Now, the highest point in his psyche, in his mind, remains no more a dualistic point.

In the mind of the worldly man, the highest accomplishment is a dualistic accomplishment. Whatever the worldly mind will want will have an opposite; it would be dualistic in nature. Which means that whatever the worldly mind would want, would still be within the mind; would be a product of the mind; would be within the limitations of the mind; would be within the dualistic domain. And if the highest that you can want is still dualistic, it means that if you are wanting the highest pleasure you are simultaneously arranging the highest pain for yourself. And that is the fate of every single worldly man.

Running after pleasure and happiness, the fool does not even know that he has been arranging the highest pain for himself. And when pain comes, he acts as if something unexpected has happened, he pretends as if something beyond the acceptable has chanced.

He would be targeting and he would be targeting high, but remember, his highest would still be in the low domain. For example, he would be targeting to win races, but it would be a low race that he would want to win. He would say, “I want large numbers in my field of activity”. ‘Large’, it might be, but what is sure is that he would be wanting some number; he would never be able to go beyond numbers. Now, numbers are dualistic because what you call as a ‘large’ number is large only if, parallely there is something called ‘small’. There can be no ‘large’ number if there are no ‘small’ numbers.

So all his life, the fool, would keep moving in the dualistic plane, and never realize why he has been suffering, why his life has been an unbroken succession of miserable mistakes. Time and again, life would show him, expose to him that his life lacks juice and love and attention and wisdom. Time and again, he would stumble and fall down, but like a drunkard he would get up and act as if nothing has happened! Time and again, life would show to him that he is missing out on something very important but like a biased judge he would totally ignore the evidence! He would want to continue with his drunken ways.

The wise man, the wise mind, on the other hand, does not target anything within the dualistic domain, within the mental domain. His eyes are firmly set upon that which does not have an opposite. He asks this very question, “The ‘thing’ that I am wanting, did it have a beginning?”

And if the answer is, ‘yes’, he says, “If it began at a point, it will also end at another point, because that is the law of duality. I cannot want it. If I want it, I would only be ensuring trouble for myself”. He asks a simple question, “That which I want so deeply and so badly, did it begin?” and “Did my want for it begin?”

If the answer is, ‘yes’, he directly and fearlessly says, “If it began at a point in time, it is sure to end at another point in time. By wanting it, I cannot curse myself to suffering!”

Then he asks himself, “Does it have a limit, that which I want?” And if the answer is, ‘yes’ he says, “If it has a limit, then outside that limit, its opposite exists; and a thing cannot exist without its opposite. Now, by wanting it, I’ll have to parallely want its opposite. I am creating suffering for myself.”

So he says, “I cannot really want that which is limited, I cannot want that whose existence is dependent upon the existence of its opposite.” And thus, the wise man comes to want that and only that which the mind cannot think of. Because the mind can only think of dualistic objects; the mind can only think of limitations. Having realized, the wise man says, “Whatever the mind can think of, will only bring misery to me.”

The wise man abstains from wanting anything which is an object of the mind. He says, “If I can conceptualize it, if it is a worldly object then it cannot be my primary concern. It cannot be the center of my life. I cannot allow it to dominate my mind.”

And a great revolution happens!

The revolution is that the mind of the wise man becomes liberated from material.

Mind is material, material is mind and both mind and material are dualistic. You can call material as material only if it has a limit and a boundary. You call material as material only if your senses perceive it, and your senses cannot perceive the limitless. The mind of the worldly man is full of material and material only. You can call the worldly man as a “material man”, to him nothing but the material exists. His highest quest is for the material.

Yes, he may use word like ‘God’, but even his ‘God’ is a material God. And this itself is the punishment of the worldly man, because when the highest you can want is material, then you will never get that which is not material! Your life will be totally devoid of that which the mind cannot think of, which the hands cannot hold, which the eyes cannot see and that which is beyond perception and experience.

You will have no flavor of that. And, what is that? What is it that you cannot hold in hands? What is it that you cannot think of? That is what the worldly man will miss and he will not know what he is missing. It’s just that he will keep suffering without ever realizing why he is suffering.

You cannot hold love in your hands. And if the material is the highest that you can want, you will never get love, never! Yes, you will have the word ‘love’ but even your love would be a material love and hence there would be no love.

The mind cannot LoveYou will keep thinking that you know love, but all that you know is material. So you, obviously, do not know love. The mind that is ambitious, and when you are ambitious, obviously, you are chasing something material. The mind that is ambitious and wants money, property and recognition, this mind simply knows no love. This mind cannot love. And it is not that this mind has no ‘love for mankind’, this mind will have no love even for his near and dear ones. This mind will have no love even for the most intimate persons. He will have a particular formalized code of conduct which would look like love. But actually it would not be love.

It would just be that particular, formal, patterned code of conduct.

He would say, “I love you,” but saying, “I love you” is not love.

He would bring flowers for somebody, but bringing flower for somebody is not love.

He would go to spend time with somebody, he might say nice words for somebody, he might go on international tour with somebody, thinking that any or all of these is love.

But sweet words are not love, singing songs for somebody is not love. These are things; material, past and history that you absorb and copy from the influences that you have had. But so poor and deprived is the life of the worldly man that he mistakes these silly expressions for the real thing! He lives in shadows and thinks that these are real people.

He lives with the word ‘love’ and thinks that he knows love. That is his punishment. He will die without ever having known love even for a second, even for a moment. That is his punishment. And it is not only love that is non-material. How will you weigh peace? How will you measure peace?  How will you store peace? Peace is not material and if material and duality is all you know then you will never be at peace!

(Mockingly) What is the unit of peace? What is the density of peace? Where do you dig out peace from? In which laboratory do you process it? How will your analytical mind ever come to know of peace?

Peace is non-dualistic, peace is non-material. But you refuse to have faith in anything that is non-material. You dismiss it, you are contemptuous towards it. And you are such an idiot! You do not even realize that by being contemptuous towards the immaterial, the beyond material, you are being contemptuous towards the highest that life can give you. You are such a fool, but when you are dismissing that which is beyond mind, you act as if you are being sensible; you act as if you are being smart and intelligent. You say, “I am not superstitious.” You say, “I have a rational and scientific mind. I believe in evidence, show me the evidence and I will agree to what you are saying.”

Like a fool, you want the evidence of that which is all around you and within you! That which is right under your nose and right in front of your eyes, you want evidence for that! You want evidence of that, which is not only in front of your eyes but also behind your eyes!

And because you get no evidence, proudly you declare, “It does not exist”, and that is your punishment. By declaring that, “It does not exist,” you actually prohibit yourself from knowing it.

Nothing but Truth existsThat is the only difference between the knower and the fool. The fool says, “Truth does not exist,” and he never, hence, knows the truth. The wise man says, “Nothing but the truth exists,” and he sees nothing but the truth!

That is the only difference. The fool has a deep belief in his ideas about the world, and about the world you anyway only have ideas. He has a deep belief in his ideas.

All ideas are material. He gets no love, no peace, and no joy. He gets his calculations, he gets his numbers, and he gets his conclusions.

And it is not as if, he is never reminded. His suffering, explicit and implicit, superficial and deep, is a daily reminder to him that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way he is living. But the deeper he goes into his ‘ways of living’, the more he finds that he has invested into his ways of living, and now he gets another ‘smart’ argument. He says, “I have invested so much in my current ways of living that I cannot come out of them! You know, my deep investment is at stake! Let me first recoup that investment and then I will exit the whole portfolio.”

 “Let me first recover all that I have put in here.” And what is it that you have put in here?
I have put in my entire life here; how can I just leave it like this?”

His argument is similar to that of the man who purchases an expensive ticket for a horrible movie and it’s a three hour long torture.  It is evident, right in the first twenty minutes, that he has made a terrible mistake. But he won’t come out of movie theater. What is his argument? He says, “I have invested three hundred rupees! Now, how can I leave this movie?” What he does not realize is that by continuing to sit, he is losing out on not only the money, but also the time. Somehow, he feels that by sitting through the movie, he will recover his investment.

We calculate so much, yet we are pretty poor even at calculations. Our calculations are never holistic, we never calculate the total cost that we are paying; we never calculate. Somebody offers us money for a job and we are able to see how much we would be earning in this job, but we are never able to see what we would be paying for that job. We are never able to see the hidden costs; we are never able to see how we are paying with our life and our blood to get that amount of money.

And if you were wise enough to factor in all the costs, if you could make a total, comprehensive and holistic calculation, then you would see that whatever you are doing in life is a very-very loss making proposition. But you simply have no idea of all the costs that you are incurring. The costs remain hidden. You do not know the value of love, so how can you put a number to what you have lost? Living a loveless life, what is the cost? Finding no joy! Can you put a number to your loss?

Can you put a number to your loss? And because you cannot put a number, so you say, “There is no loss.” Somebody pays you a lakh rupees and in paying you a lakh rupees he ensures that you would be joyless. But joy is invaluable, you cannot put a number to it, you cannot assign a value to it, and because you cannot assign a value to it so you say, “It has zero value.”

 (Mockingly) Terrific arguments you give! And you say, “Hence, what I am getting is a lakh rupees and what I am paying is zero.”

You do not realize the difference between ‘zero value’ and something being ‘invaluable’.

You have no sense to distinguish between these two, no sense at all. For ten rupees you are prepared to sell your peace. Why? Because peace cannot be expressed in rupees, so you feel it is a nice bargain, “Get ten rupee and sell your peace.”

Says Rumi, “Drunks fear the police but the police are drunk too”.

Drunks fear the police but the police are drunk too - RumiWherever you see a pair of opposites in this world, realize that both ends are just the same, like two faces of a coin. We often think that the drunkards and the thieves necessitate the police. What we fail to realize is that it is policing that continues and sustains crime and theft parallely.

The common logic is that you require locks so that there may be no theft. But the wise man says, “It is not, as if, theft brings the lock into existence.” The wise man says, “The thief and the lock are born together, not one after the other. Not one after the other. It is not as if thief came first and then the police came. It is not, as if, the thief or the theft happened first and then the lock is used. The fact is, the same mind that wants to steal is also the mind that wants to hoard and conserve and use locks. These two are the same mind but they look opposites. Hence we are fooled into thinking that they are actually opposites. They are not opposites. The mind that will have no intention of stealing would also be the mind which will have no intention of safe guarding his possessions. And if you are particular about safe guarding your possessions, kindly understand that you are not far away from stealing.

This might sound a little preposterous to some of you, but go into it without prejudice and you will see how the law of duality works. I repeat, if you are very particular about locks, then you cannot be far away from being a thief.  If you are very particular about possessing, then you cannot be far away from acquiring. And when the acquisition happens as per means approved by society, you just call it acquisition and achievement, right? You say he is an achiever. And when the acquisition happens outside the ways approved by the society, then you call acquisition as a theft. That is the only difference between achievement and theft. Achievement is acquisition sanctioned by the society and theft is the acquisition not sanctioned by the society. But fundamentally they are just the same, just the same.

And social norms keep changing; laws of the land keep changing. What is today ‘a theft’ would tomorrow be called ‘an achievement’, what is today is ‘black’ money would tomorrow become ‘white.’

LocksPossession and theft go together because you cannot possess without acquiring.

If you like possessing, you will have to like acquiring. The thief and the lock are one; the lock and the thief are one.

Rumi is saying, “Drunks fear the police but the police are drunk too.” The thieves are locks too, the locks are thieves too.

Are you getting it?

Whenever you see a thing, do not be captivated by it. At that very instant, remember it’s opposite. Be situated at a point, where you can look equally at black and white: together and in parallel.

Do not be swayed away, do not be taken in. And when you are bothered, resist the temptation of going to the opposite of your current state. It would be a great temptation, but resist.

When you encounter suffering do not jump to the other pole. Instead, remember that suffering comes when you are in between the poles, or at either of the poles.

Suffering is the result of forgetting the non-dual Truth. Suffering is the result of forgetting Advait (non-duality; oneness). That is the only reason why you suffer.

Resist the temptation of jumping from one pole of dvait (duality) to other pole. Stay with your suffering boldly, fearlessly, intelligently. And if you can stay with it, look at it, then there would be no need to go to the opposite state. That fearless staying is itself advait (non-duality; oneness).

Do not be in a hurry, you have always be in a hurry, you have always been hopping around, try something else, at least once.

Listener 1: Sir, so I if speak bitter, then if somebody tells me that “You speak bitter”, then going to the ‘sweet’ part sustains and maintains the bitterness?

Speaker: You see, going to the other end, that of ‘sweetness’, obviously sustain the bitterness but staying with the bitterness too does not diminish bitterness. So to the bitter mind, we are not giving a license to say bitter. But such is our mind that it can use any argument for anything!

 “I speak bitter and I have been told that the poles go together, so I will not jump to sweetness” What will I do? “I will stay bitter.” Nice argument, nice argument.

Advait (non-duality; oneness) is not the opposite end of dvait (duality). It is also not this end of dvait (duality).

We are saying, “Changing dreams does not mean awakening.” That does not mean that continuing with your current dream means awakening!

You change your dream – that does not mean that you have woken up. But if you do not change your dream and continue to dream what you are dreaming, that too does not mean that you have woken up!

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

 Watch the session at: Prashant Tripathi on Rumi: When you chase something, you will get its opposite as well

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