Attention must be like heartbeat, continuous and quiet || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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Question: What should be the motive, at different stages of life?

Speaker: When you realize that these are different stages, then you know that what you did in the previous stage is no more applicable to this stage, right? You said, “Different stages,” and ‘different stages’ means – it is new, it is not same as the old one. And if it is not same as the old one, then old laws, old approach, old thinking, old patterns do not apply to this stage.

And how frequently do these stages change? Do they change every year? Do they change every five years? Do they change on a monthly basis? How frequently is life changing? How frequently are you seeing new stages? After every six months, after every hour, or after every moment?

How frequently is life changing?

Listeners: Every moment.

Speaker: Every moment. So every moment requires a ‘new’ attention towards itself; a new attention. If you heard the last answer properly, that is no guarantee, that you will hear this one as well. To understand this one, you will have to be attentive while listening to this one. Your attention of five minutes back will not help you right now, or will it? Will it? It won’t. Are you getting it?

Now, you said, “What is the motive at every stage in life?” If I have a motive right now, can I be attentive? You understand what ‘motive’ is? Something that you want.

“My motive is money,” “My motive is power,” “My motive is a job.” If I want something, then my mind would be busy with that thing. For example, if you are sitting here, and your ‘motive’ is food, would you be listening to me? So with motive, it is impossible to be attentive. One can be attentive, only without motive. A motive is a kind of greed, and greed dominates the mind. Attention requires a clear and light mind, so attention and motive cannot go together.

And every stage in life, by which we mean-  every moment in life – requires fresh attention; to know what that stage is, what that moment is, and hence what the right response to that moment is. If in a particular moment you are not attentive, you will not even understand what is going on. And if you do not understand what is going on, how will you respond? How will you know the right action? Are you getting it?

This is tremendous, is it not? That, nothing that you did one minute back, can help you right now. Similarly, nothing that you did one minute back, can prevent you from understanding; in this moment. The past is largely immaterial. Is it not? One cannot live on past laurels.

You were breathing, till two minutes back, are you alive right now? What do you call a man who was breathing ‘till two minutes back’? What do you call him?

Listeners: A dead man.

Speaker: Dead! Or would you say, “He is still alive, because he was breathing ‘till two minutes back’”? Is he breathing, right now, in this moment? Attention is like this.

It does not matter that you were breathing till two minutes back, it does not matter that you had been breathing for fifty years, if you are not breathing right now, then you are…?

Listeners: Dead.

Speaker: Dead, finished. It is like heartbeat. Your heart has been beating since fifty years that does not mean that you are alive right now. Is it beating right now? If it is beating right now, then you are alive. Otherwise, you are not.

AttentionYou cannot skip life, even for a moment. And it is easy, it is effortless. It is as effortless as the beating of the heart, as effortless as breathing. Attention is no workout; attention is not a demanding activity. Attention is simple, effortless; you just have to be present. And when you are simply present, then you know what the whole game is all about.

Knowing the game, you also know your role in the game. You know what to do.

Isn’t it very relaxing, that you don’t have to try so hard? Just the quality of a presence – free of disturbance, free of needless thinking – will show you the way. And all of us are so eager to know – “What is the right way for me?”, “What to do?”, “How to proceed?” Is that not a question that troubles all of us?

“What to do next?”, “How to make decisions?”, “Which direction to go?” These are the questions that we all are occupied with. Are we not? We are confused, we do not know. “Which course should I choose?”, “Which job should I take?”, “Whether to meet that friend or not?”, “Whether to attend that session or not?” Are these not the questions that demand answers?

The answers cannot come from the advice of others; the answers cannot even come from your own experiences in the past. The answers can arise only from your deep presence, right now. When you are available to what is there, when you are open to it, then magically, without even trying, you know your answer.

When you are confused, just go close to the situation. Be with it, know it, fearlessly. And in knowing the situation, you will come to the solution. You will not get answers by reading books. Life is so fresh that old answers don’t work. I would like to say that – Life is an examination is which no question is repeated. Only new questions are there. And new questions can be answered, only with fresh intelligence; not through memory.

We try to approach life through experience, through memory, or through tutoring, coaching, advices of others. Doesn’t work. Look at the question, with sureness, that – “If I look at it properly, if I look at it directly, then the question will open up, then the situation will open up, and I will know what to do. An inner guidance will arise.” And inner guidance never fails you, it does arise.

You have a friend sitting in your heart, do you know? You have a friend sitting right in the middle of your heart, he is always available for guidance, but he demands attention, he demands that you remain calm. If you remain calm, and if you are not afraid, and if you have faith in your friend, then your friend will provide you with all the answers and guidance. He is a very good friend, a ‘pakka(close)’ friend. He never leaves you. It is just that you do not listen to him.

(Chirping of birds, squealing of squirrels)

See how these birds and squirrels are enjoying. And they have nothing. They are all busy – playing, singing, genuinely smiling. They have no confusion. This question does not come to them- “What to do?” But we are so confused, and loaded, heavy. “What to do?” They know what to do. Why do you not know what to do? Do you think they are sad? Listen to them, are they sad? Are they cunning? These two go together, probably. If you are cunning, then you have to be sad. If you are too clever, then you have to be sad. If you are simple and innocent, like these birds and squirrels, then everything is clear to you.

Clarity comes only to an innocent mind.

Do you get this?

(Referring to the birds chirping outside) They are agreeing. Do you agree? Won’t it be good to be like them? Simple, cheerful, innocent, no future, no past, the day is sufficient, and it’s a nice day. The weather is nice, and the trees are there, and the grass is there. What else does one want?

The last time I was here, we had a few of them attending the Samvaad session. They were here, here, and one baby squirrel got stuck. Was anybody in the audience present in that Samvaad session? And we had to stop the Samvaad session in between. The baby squirrel was running hither, thither, and people went after it. It was taken out of the room, and released in the ground outside.

And I think that brought more clarity to everybody present, than the session.

~ Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Prashant Tripathi: Attention must be like heartbeat, continuous and quiet

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