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Speaker: There is no question of failure unless I decide that failures constitute success. Now, for example – if you had come here thinking that spending an hour over here would be fruitful if I say a few kind of things, then you may find this event to be successful or failure against the benchmark that you have already set i.e. “my goal is to go there and gather this kind of information”.
Now you can say that “I have failed because I wanted this and this did not happen. I wanted ‘A’ and ‘A’ did not materialize”. But there may be another kind of individual present over here who did not come here out of expectations, who has just come here and is listening. Now there is no question of success or failure for that person.
Failure is only against the backdrop of a pre-existing desire. And none of your desires is yours. So, how can the failure be yours? Your problem is – your success is not yours; even failure is not yours. So, before you jump into these words- ‘my success’, ‘my failure’, ‘my goals’, ‘my ambition’, find out how much of ‘my’ is there in any of these. Find that out.
Listener 1: Sir, there are three hundred million people in India who are living on less than one meal. And I am from a village and nearby my village, there is another village. And there approximately 500 people are living. I have seen by myself that there are families who are not able to get the meals two times a day. They are living but they need proper meal to survive.
Whenever there is any problem like in the rainy season, there are lots of viral diseases. And when they face such kind of problems (diseases), they are not able to cure themselves. Even they do not have money. And they are dying, they are crying. They do not have any desires. They want to secure their families, themselves, feed themselves.
Let’s remove this wearing part because we are wearing to cover ourselves from the society. Okay, let’s remove. But our basic need is to drink and eat, so that our body can function.
Speaker: You have already talked about this; eating, wearing.
Listener 1: No Sir, I am leaving wearing.
Speaker: You talked about eating already right?
Listener 1: And I am talking about these 500 peoples.
Speaker: What about these people? You or that person, we all are same as far as our basic needs go. There is very little that we require for that. What you are sitting in this campus for is not to prevent yourself against untimely death coming out of a viral disease. You are sitting here chasing grand ambitions. You all know that about yourself.
Listener 1: But that’s where my dream has come from.
Speaker: No, that is again a stage of your past. Are you right now in that situation? “I was miserable three years back. I am alright now. But the memory of that misery is haunting me so much so that I cannot live in present.” Do you see that this is mental sickness? I am slave to something that happened years back. And that is what is happening. What else is all this religious hatred, national hatred; memories of the past that you cannot do away. Something happened with me in the past and I am unable to let go off that. Are you right now that person? Are you right now that person?
Listener 1: I am just saying…
Speaker: (interrupts) Are you that person?
Listener 1: I wasn’t that person. But I want to secure them. That’s why I came here. I want to earn money.
Speaker: Wait Sir. Wait!
When you say, you want to secure somebody, do you really understand what is the meaning of this word ‘security’? Can a person who is deeply insecure himself, give security to somebody else? I have ten rupees with me. What is the maximum that I can give you?
Listeners: Ten rupees. (In unison)
Speaker: I can only give what I have. If I am ridden with violence, with mischief, with insecurity, with fear, with ghosts of the past, do you really think I can make anybody else’s life secure? That is what all the parents try to do. They try to give a lot to their kids without having it with themselves. I want to give peace to others, whereas I am deeply violent man. Now can I do that?
The fact is, “If I am insecure howsoever hard I will try, I will only spread more and more insecurity around me”. That’s the inviable existential law. “You cannot make others secure without first being deeply secured in your mind.” And security does not come out of these.
Listener 2: Sir, what about the word ‘vision’, if you could talk about that? The word ‘vision’ is one of the things which take you to future itself. If you don’t think about the future in that sense, don’t you think that we are losing on something?
Speaker: No, you see, what do you mean by the term ‘vision’? Let us come to that very directly. What do you mean by vision? Marx had particular vision. And what was his vision? – To turn the entire world into a communist state. Correct? Am I right?
Listeners: Yes Sir. (In unison)
Speaker: There are many others who viewed their vision. Communists had one type of vision. All kinds of other organizations depending on their particular affiliations, they have their own vision. What would happen if these visions start getting realized? What do you think would have happened had Marx really realized his vision of turning the entire world red? I won’t have been speaking to you this way.
Our vision comes from our limited mind, our conditioning and the vision is about the unseen future which is vast and full of possibilities. And what you are doing by having a vision? You are cutting down; You are aborting all the possibilities except the one that my mind is obsessed with. I want to cut down all the possibilities. So, I have a vision for my child’s future. And where does that vision come from?
Listener 3: From the past.
Speaker: From my past, I have the vision and very proudly I declare that. And the child squalls and crotches that, “What are you doing dad? Kindly don’t have any visions. Let me live.” And it is very obvious when one man does that to his child. Unfortunately, it is not very obvious when we do it to ourselves. It is not very obvious when I do it to myself, so much so that we start feeling very offended when it is told to us that this world of dreams and visions, which we are living, is illusionary and false.
Listener 4: Sir, again if vision was not there, it may be possible that we could not have met at all, if we are talking about present moment only. We are here because somebody else had a vision.
Speaker: How? Show me?
Listener 4: Somebody had the seed in the mind that, “I want to create”.
Speaker: I am teaching to you right now. And I don’t have any vision. I didn’t come here with any expectation. None at all. I have no idea what is the kind of questions that might be post by you. Three or four of you have already spoken. I had no vision when I came over here. What is happening right now is not at all a result of somebody’s vision, not at all.
Listener 5: Sir, I have a question here. If somebody doesn’t have a vision, as you said it is from the past, if somebody doesn’t think that he has to move in a certain way, then the whole situation and the whole circumstances will lead him or her where they are supposed to go. Maybe this will be the best for him or humanity. But the opposite may also be true, because unless you have the clear idea of where you have to go, how will you go at all?
Speaker: So, as the two of us are talking, do we have a clear idea where we want to go?
Listener 5: No. I just have a little confusion and want clarity.
Speaker: So, we are talking without having any idea where to go, right? And yet the discussion is proceeding so nicely and so smoothly and this flow of conversation everybody is able to understand.
You just nodded. Did you nod by thinking? Did you plan to nod? Was there even a faint vision behind that? It is just happening. There is a particular flow, just a particular flow and it is just happening. It’s proceeding. There is no need for a vision. It’s happening. Right now, it’s happening. It’s in front of everybody. Where is the need for that?
There is no need of it in real life. But there is a great need for it for an insecure mind. The insecure mind says that, “Even before I will take one step, I must know in advance what will be the outcome.” And the outcome must be as per my security. The free flowing mind, the healthy mind does not require or demand security. It’s happy in the flow. Just as we were happy in the flow! You ask me something and I responded then you responded and so on, right? A healthy discussion is pursued without any planning, without any vision.
But then there might be an odd insecure students here who would first think two steps ahead before asking a question, just as they do in the game of chess. Now, if you start living your life that way then you are inviting suffering and frustration, thinking two steps ahead.
Listener 5: Sir, but MBA’s are teaching like that only.
Speaker: How these poor students are responsible for that? They didn’t revise their curriculum!
They have their own life to live, not the life of those who wrote those books of management. You have one life and that is your life, right? You are not obliged to live the life of anybody who is writing those books and management rules. And you have your own intelligence and your own eyes to look into it. You are intelligent. And you have your own eyes to look into it, to see into it. Why can’t you do that?
Why is it so difficult? I will take you back to that. You see, the topic is – ‘Work-Life integration’. I go and ask them that any integration presupposes a separation. First of all you create a lot of separation and then you try to find ways for integration. My question is why must you separate in the first place? Why must you live a fragmented life? Why must you?
(Silence for a while)
Listener 6: This is the nature of life.
Speaker: This is the nature of the life that you are living. This is not the nature of life itself. What is life? Life is something different, far-far different from your own conditioned being. Life includes your capacity to observe and find out intelligently for yourself. Life very much includes that. Does it? Or does it not? Life includes that. So, do not just call it the nature of life. That is the nature of our life, not the nature of Life. We have condemned ourselves to this kind of life. Life didn’t come and say that, “Make me this”.
Listener 7: Sir, is anticipation a good quality?
Speaker: See, anticipation is a good quality. Alright! You throw a stone at me and I anticipate. That’s alright! That’s alright! But you are not anticipating. I would rather use the word ‘forecasting’. But you are not forecasting or projecting. You are desiring. And you are desiring based on something of the past. It is alright. There is a snake in front of me and based on my past I know that it is poisonous and I run away. That is entirely a different affair. You throw a stone at me and it’s triggered a way. That’s also entirely a different affair. But is that what we do in our corporate lives? No, we don’t do that. We do something totally different.
(Silence for a while)
Again, none of what I say holds any value, any importance because what I am saying is so obvious that it has no value to it. All I can ask you is, all I can request you for is some concern towards yourself. I am talking about Self-love, a little bit of esteem. Once you have it, you will find it out for yourself.
Listener 8: Is that a vision?
Speaker: No, that is not vision. That’s an existential thing; a child has it. You prick a child. It will not tolerate. Give it any kind of discomfort, it will not tolerate. But we as adults have been conditioned to be cruel to ourselves. It’s not about a vision that a child says, “No, don’t take away my toy”. It won’t take it. It won’t tolerate. But then we keep on leading days and days in which we suffer in our offices, in which we suffer even at our homes. We have become so cruel to ourselves that we don’t even realize what is happening. We think that this is the nature of life. And then we declare that proudly; life is like this. No, life is not like this. You made it like this.
You suffer from 9 till 7 (office timings) in your job but then you are so thick skinned that you don’t even realize what you are doing, what is happening to you. You want to tell me that we are condemned to live this kind of life. No. Not really.
Listener 8: Somebody is saying that I want to become the CEO of any organization. Is he wrong?
Speaker: How do I know? Ask him. Why does he want to become the CEO?
Listener 8: Because that gives him happiness.
Speaker: Thinking of the happiness means that he is unhappy right now. If I am unhappy right now can I cure life in the future moment when I become the CEO? You said I want to become the CEO because then this will give me happiness. I can demand happiness only if I am unhappy right now. Do you see that? If I am unhappy right now, the treatment must happen right now. What is the point in dreaming about future treatment? If you are unhealthy right now, go and get the treatment right now, become healthy right now.
Listener 8: Now, how should I become happy?
Speaker: Good! How to do that? How to do that? Will thinking take you there? Will thinking take you towards happiness?
Listeners: No. (In unison)
Listener 9: Because we will have to execute that.
Speaker: You would only execute what you think. In fact, thought itself is the execution. Will thinking take you there? You are not listening, are you? You are not really listening, still lost in your words. Are you listening? Will thinking take you there?
Listener 10: No.
Speaker: Why can’t thinking take you there?
Listener 10: Sir, thinking is already in the past. Or thought is already a past. May be in the future, it’s not good!
Listener 11: Now, she has been conditioned by your thoughts.
Listener 10: Sir is saying that you need to desire but you should also look at the practicality aspect of it.
Listener 11: Exactly, whatever you are desiring, if you are not able to achieve that, you won’t be happy.
Listener 10: Becoming a CEO is a future desire and we should also look at the practicality aspect of it.
Listener 11: Ma’am, there is no present, if you measure in seconds.
Speaker: Are you alive? Wait! Are you alive?
Listener 11: Yes Sir.
Speaker: Are you alive in the past?
Listener 11: I was.
Speaker: Not was. Are you alive? ‘Are’ is in the present tense. Are you alive in the past? Are you right now alive in the past?
Listener 11: My memories are alive in the past.
Speaker: Only the memories are in the past, right? Are you alive in the past? Don’t argue for the sake of it? Are you alive in the past?
Listener 11: My memories…
Speaker: Memories are dead. This camera has a lot of memory of my earlier speeches. Am I speaking there at this moment? Memory is dead.
Listener 12: Sir, we are not discussing about living and non-living things.
Speaker: No. Wait! He says that there is no present. So, get into it. If there is no present then there is nobody speaking here because I am not speaking in the past and I am not alive in the past either. The fact is that – We are alive, means we are in the present because you cannot be alive in the past or in the future’. The future has yet not come and the past has already gone. So, if you are alive, you are in the present. Don’t dispute that.
The present is when you are alive. It’s just that you are unable to think of it; so you are helpless. You can’t think about it. But you are in it. That is why you are alive. It’s not a question of practicality, that desires have to be practical. It’s a question of understanding; where this entire thing comes from?
If you just go deeply into this one sentence that I am unhappy and I want to become happy by becoming the CEO then this word ‘becoming’ will reveal its falseness to you. ‘Becoming’ cannot take you anywhere. If you are unhappy right now then this moment is devastated. If you are unhappy next moment, the next moment will also be devastated.
“No amount of visual thinking can cure the unhappiness of this moment.”
He asked a very pertinent question, ‘how to be happy this moment’? Let’s go back to that. How to be happy this moment? Well, I am just turning around and ask you how not to be happy this moment. How not to be happy this moment? You cannot be happy this moment by scrawling around there and there. That’s certain. You cannot be happy this moment by taking happy dreams which most of us do as an escape from the present which is full of suffering, hurt and frustration. What do we do? What do we do? This present moment is so boring. What do I do? I start dreaming of a nice future or I go into the memories of a nice past.
Now, this only proves ‘how inadequate I am’. Now, if I were adequate then I would rise to the challenge that this moment is throwing at me. I will not escape into memories or dreams. I escape into memories or dreams because we find that we cannot respond adequately to the present moment. We find that we are helpless in the present moment. But then running away to the future or to the past will not help you either. All you can do is, look at what is right now. Look at it! And when you get deeply into it then you find that you have also encountered that you have looked deeply at your unhappiness, at your past.
Listener 11: You have then MBA yourself. I am not happy because I am sitting here till 9.30; I have to work, I have to wait, do assignment. If I won’t do these, I would be free. I will be here. So am I doing good or no?
Speaker: See, now this is coming out; the source of all happiness. Good that it is coming out. This is what is called being insensitive to oneself. Right now, because you are a student, you can say this. There is a corner of your mind which confronts this. By the time you become a manager, you may find that there is no corner left. Everything has become so numb and dull that you don’t even know that you hate being in the office till 9:30. Now, if this is what I am doing. Then should I not find out, why the hell I am doing this?
When I came here last time, it was to speak to juniors. Is that true? The first year batch! And the first question I ask them, boss, why are you here? I ask this to them because that was the right time. Now Ravi, You have last year. You are already too late. But it’s still time as far your corporate career goes, they were about to commence a journey. You too are about to commence a journey outside the campus. You must ask yourself in the light of this experience; why did I come here and similarly why the hell am I going there?
I am not asserting that you must not go. Mind you! I have not come here with an agenda to establish that you must go there or must not go there. I am just asking to find out for yourself that this is what the entire stuff is all about. This is the daily routine, it gives me. This is the life style, it gives me. Get up at nine, pick up a vehicle, go on a sales call and keep reporting to boss every three hours. This is the life style, it gives me. Why the hell am I here? Because I have grand ambitions to pursue.
And then again you will be asking the same questions two years down the line. Today you have a very benevolent teacher in front of you; say you can just request him to excuse you. Your boss may not be so friendly. In fact then, because under load of your ambitions, you not even want to say that, you will say that ‘I love my work so much, I am so damn passionate about it that I really enjoy being here till 11:30.That’s what will become of you. I love sales shoes or credit cards, SIM cards and all that stuff’. That’s my passion. That’s what I was made for.
Listener 11: Sir, What should I do then?
Speaker: Find out yourself. What’s your age?
Listener 11: I am 22 year old.
Speaker: You are 22. Till 22 years of age, you have been asking this question to others. And that is the reason why you find yourself without an answer right now. “Answer can come only from within.” Your answers have all been coming from outside. Society has given you answers. Religion has given you answers. Morality has given you answers. Education has given you answers. Have you given yourself any answer? Have you tried to find it out? And listen Ravi! Who is Ravi; You or me? If Ravi doesn’t know, how can Prashant know?
Listener 11: The question is, I will be set free and I don’t need to do…
Speaker: Ravi! Don’t jump so fast forward. Being in your own state, do really you know what is it to be set free? If I have never known freedom, I only have an imagination of what freedom is all about. So, don’t talk about freedom. Only talk about slavery. Witness the present reality because freedom for you is only an imagination. And imagination is about time.
‘Look at the reality that I am bonded under the load of my aspirations.’ Look at that! “Don’t dream of freedom because freedom means different to different peoples according to their conditioning.” Depending on, who you are, your concept, your thought, your idea, your imagination of freedom will be different. So, don’t dream of freedom. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist, you all know that. Right? Talk of slavery, talk of bondage.
Listener 11: Did Mahatma Gandhi was wrong?
Speaker: Neither you nor I am Mahatma Gandhi. You are reading Mahatma Gandhi because it has been fed into your mind that he is an important fellow. We are talking about our lives; your one life Ravi not Mahatma Gandhi’s.
Listener 11: Sir, to aspire and inspire from them is wrong?
Speaker: Who will get inspired? Ravi! And who is Ravi? Does he know him? Does he know himself?
Listener 11: Ravi is a human being who wants to become an entrepreneur.
Speaker: And that want is coming from an external influence. Where is Ravi? What is a human being by the way? You said Ravi is a human being. What do you mean by human being?
Listener 11: It is a creation by the God.
Speaker: Who is God? An imagination! Who is God? Who is Ravi’s God? Where is Ravi’s God? All stuff that has been filling your mind. Right? Have you met Him? Had you any personal experience?
Listener 11: No.
So, just an imagination. Just an imagination. So, who is a human being Ravi then? Ravi doesn’t know himself. Ravi says I am a human being. I ask him, who is a human being. He says it is creation of God. Who is God? An imagination. So, who is Ravi? His own imagination.
Listener 11: So, there is no God?
Speaker: You tell me! You raised God, I didn’t.
Listener 11: Sir, you are defending that there is no God.
Speaker: I don’t know anything about God. You said God. I asked you, do you know God. And if you don’t know what right do you have to speak of God?
Listener 11: That’s what society is where we are living!
Speaker: So there is Ravi. Just say, I am society. If ‘I’ mean Ravi then before using ‘I’, tell who is ‘I’?
Listener 11: Ravi.
Speaker: and who is Ravi? A human being. And who is human being? Creation of God. And who is God? An imagination of Ravi.
Listener 11: Sir, there is no Ravi because Ravi has a name given by somebody.
Speaker: Then there is Ravi. There is Ravi. Find him out.
Listener 12: No, the point is, if we find it out, we again will think about it.
Speaker: No, don’t project it. Don’t project what will happen? Don’t project it. Find out first. Because what you may find out may be beyond all your beliefs and dreams and thoughts. So, find him out; the real Ravi. Right now, you are just speculating and speculation doesn’t help.
Listener 12: How can you know that this is speculation? Take it as a speculation itself that how can we think that what we will think definitely it will be the same?
Speaker: No, you don’t think. You will find out.
Listener 12: We will find out and that will be the right thing. Who will judge that?
Speaker: No, there is no question of judging. You see, I judge something when it is outside of me. I can judge this. I can judge this. I can judge this. What’s your name?
Listener 12: Karan.
Speaker: Karan, are you here? Or do you judge that you are here?
Listener 12: I am here.
Speaker: You are here. There is no judgment involved. “In finding oneself there is no need of judgment.” You don’t believe that you are here. Now, you are here. Karan, do you believe that you exist? Or do you exist?
Listener 12: I exist.
Speaker: I exist. Right? You exist. There is no judgment needed. When the Self is to be found out in matters of life, there is no need for belief or judgment. It is obvious because I am not finding something outside of me. There is no question of belief, I know that I exist. Find it yourself out.
Listener 11: And that is also a goal. To find Ravi, I am second goal.
Speaker: You are right. Goals are alright to an extent that the mind discovers its falseness; that Ravi said he is a human being, Ravi said he is a God’s child, Ravi said this, Ravi said that. To that extent mind will function whatever mind created. All these are mind’s creations. Right? Imaginations, we said. To that extent, yes, you take a goal and go ahead. But finding Ravi cannot be the mind’s function.
Listener 11: How to find?
Speaker: Yes, we are coming to that question. Don’t try to imagine what you are. Just see that what you think you are may not be true. Do not look at imaginary selves that this is what I am and all that. Find out whether this definition of Ravi that, Ravi wants to be an entrepreneur is this what Ravi is? This definition of Ravi that, Ravi is a human being in such and such body. Whether this is Ravi?
Some hints, few hints- ‘something that keeps changing coming and going that cannot be you, something that is a product of external influences that cannot be you’. This is sufficient. Find out that, which is not a product of external influences. Is everything in you a product of external influences, coming from outside? Find out that which is not coming from outside. That is you. Be with that.
Listener 11: And what do I do by knowing that?
Speaker: Why must you have to do something?
Listener 11: I mean the question is if I want to…
Speaker: (interrupting him) have you ever been in love Ravi?
Listener 11: Not yet.
Speaker: Do you ask this question that what do I do by kissing you? It is there. It doesn’t give. That moment itself is sufficient. It doesn’t give after sometime. Or do you kiss today and be happy after the week?
Dream of it. Or fantasize. You will do that. And if you will do that then that is sickness.
Listener 11: Everybody do that.
Speaker: Every, all you know, all are sick then. There are some things where you do not ask for the result. They are self sufficient.
Listener 12: If I am having a quality to think about something and…
Speaker: Please use it. Please use it. But then do not use it as a forecast. You have been given that for your physical survival. It’s just like radar that a plane has. You know, what does a radar do? It terrace says what lies in the future. That is there for plane’s survival. So you have been given eyes, they tell you what’s there four steps ahead. And the four steps ahead is future. But then eyes are not there to pursue desires. They are there for your pure survival.
‘What has happened is we have turned survival into desiring.’ Please use all your faculties. Be very-very intelligent. Please do see that the global warming continues then by 2016, the icecaps will melt by that extent. Project! This is called projection. Project! And take intelligent action based on that. You understand. You understand what I am saying.
Desiring is an entirely different thing altogether. If I am sick and my doctor gives me three months then I can very well project that by next week, I will be dead. That is one thing; projecting that by next week, I will be dead. But then we all know that what I am going to do. I am going to desire that I do not meet end. There is a difference between these two. Now, do not get at me same question. Should I not want to live any further? I am giving an example to understand what is the difference between projecting and desiring?
Listener 11: Sir, why should I take action against global warming?
Speaker: I didn’t say that. Why will you ever take action against anything? In fact by all your means, you will only perpetuate it. You see, by that all, do people say? Does anybody say? All outsiders; the society say that global warming is harmful.
What is the maximum that can happen out of it? You and I are not going to suffer very soon. Right? First of all the tiny sea creatures will die. Then all the aquatic life that is living in the icecap areas, that is going to suffer. When the water level, sea level rises then the coastal areas will suffer. And those who live in mansions, they will not suffer. The poor will suffer. You and I may not suffer. Suffering will come to us very late. Let’s say that the average global temperature rises by three degrees, we can easily adjust our A.C.s to a temperature 3 degree lower. And we will be alright.
To feel for other, to feel for that man who live on shore, to feel for that animal who is going to be killed, I must first ever be trained to feel for myself. I am so insensitive towards myself, how will I ever feel anything for other? I am so full of myriads towards myself, how may I ever have any sensitivity towards the pain of other? So, even if you want to do something for others, you cannot. You cannot because that requires tremendous compassion. And I don’t have that. I don’t have that.
See, this can continue till whatever time. As I have said, all that I have said holds very-very little value. You will have to figure it out for yourself because it is your life. Right?
Just remember this. And you are not obliged to suffer. You are not obliged to be bored and frustrated. You are not obliged to carry hanging faces like these. It is not your deeply a responsibility to sacrifice your life for the sake of X, Y or Z. Not at all. Please, be little kind towards yourself.
That’s all! Thank you!
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Work-Life Integration-2 || Acharya Prashant (2012)
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