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Speaker: If somebody asks, “Tell me about yourself”, then how will you talk in the language of ‘We’? You see, this is what it is. I do not know myself and I claim to know everybody else as well. It is already dangerous to claim self-knowledge, and I am claiming knowledge of others as well. Yes, so ‘I’…?
Listener 1: But Sir, I am not getting you actually.
Speaker: “I am not getting you”, right? Not “We are not getting you”. What did you say? “I am not getting you”. Correct? So, ‘I’! Yes?
Listener 1: Sir, I was saying, up to now, it was just a growth. But now I am here for development. Growth plus progress.
Speaker: Alright Sir. Now how do you differentiate between growth, progress and development?
Listener 1: Sir, according to me growth + progress = development.
Speaker: What is growth? What is progress? When you say X + Y = Z, you must first know ‘X’ and ‘Y’ in order to come to ‘Z’. What is growth? What is progress?
Listener 1: Growth is just increase in size and when some progress is included in that, it becomes development.
Speaker: When some…?
Listener 1: Progress is added to it.
Speaker: What is progress?
Listener 1: Progress means enhancing your views, observations and all the things.
Speaker: When you say increase in size, increase in whose size? Your body’s size. Is that what an educational institution is for? What do you mean by increase in size?
Listener 1: Sir, knowledge, mindset. It is a part of development.
Speaker: Growth. Let’s first focus on one thing. What do you mean by growth? We will then come to progress so that we can come to development. What is growth?
Listener 1: Simply as you have told that…
Speaker: Why should what I have told? I am nobody.
Listener 1: You were saying one thing…
Speaker: (Interrupting) You tell me, what do you mean by growth because it is your life, not mine. Right? It is your life. Not mine. So you tell me, what do you mean by growth.
Listener 1: Yes, we can say that…
Listener 1: Ok, I take growth as that I have grown in size from birth till 22 years of age.
Speaker: You would have grown in size. What’s your name?
Listener 1: Rajan Nath.
Speaker: Rajan, you would have grown in size anywhere, without entering any educational campus. All animals and plants grow in size without being educated. So, don’t talk of all that, about bodily growth and everything.
Listener 1: Second thing is that…
Speaker: No, the first thing is wrong, stick to that.
Increase in size is immaterial. Education is not for that. Stick to the first thing itself.
Do you really know only this much? I really believe you are capable of knowing much more than this. I really believe that you are capable of far better clarity, had you paid attention to yourself. Today you are talking in such vague terms which do not make any sense at all only because you have never paid any attention to yourself. So, that is the reason I ask you, “Why have you come over here?” And you gave me an answer, like ‘increase in size’ and all those cock and bull stories.
Now, it’s you who have come here and it’s your own life that you are going to live. I am just trying to ask, ‘Why have you come here?’ Am I asking you a question that requires an encyclopedia? Do you really need to do Google search to come to this answer? Yes?
Listeners: No. (In unison)
Speaker: Your life, your motivations. That’s what I am trying to ask, ‘Why are you here?’
Listener 2: We are here to…
Speaker: (Interrupting) No! I.
Listener 2: Sorry. I am here to give myself a second chance. I didn’t like the job that I had before. So, I wanted to choose a new field to go into, something that is much more beneficial, basically finance. I was in production and I didn’t like that job. So, I want to go into finance and I am very much excited. I mean to say that I am very-very fond of finance.
Speaker: What’s your name?
Listener 2: Rahul Garg.
Speaker: Rahul, there are two ways of moving. One is the way of love. The other is the way of fear. I am going from here till there. One is, I can go because I love that place and I am myself joyful. In my joy, I am moving to that place. Right? The other is, I am deeply afraid of standing here. I had a very bad experience. And there are no bad experiences. There is only a bad mind which has not understood what is happening. So, the second is, I am deeply afraid of standing here, so I am running till there.
Do you see that these two movements are very-very different?
One is – I am joyful, and in my joy, I find things to be lovable. Hence I am moving.
The other is – I cannot bear standing at this place. So, I am escaping from this place in fear, in hatred.
Which of these two reasons will not be of any help? Which of these two ways is a worthy way of living life?
Listeners: First one. (In unison)
Speaker: Yes, first one, right? If you are here because you did not like working in your previous job, have you tried to understand that first? If I am afraid of standing here, what do I do? Run away from here or first understand the process of fear itself. Tomorrow I reach there, I won’t like that place also, and so, I will run away from there and escape from there and escape from there (pointing at different points). And a thousand escapes is what my life’s story will be.
Do you see the essential difference between acting out of love and acting out of fear? The action may still appear to be the same. Just as I said that a sleep walking man and a wakeful man, they both are walking. The action appears to be the same but there is a great difference. Similarly, there are two men moving from here to there; one in love, the other in fear. They will appear to be moving in the same direction, in the same way. But do you see the great difference in the movement? Yes? Do you see the great difference in the movement? Do you understand what I am trying to say? Are you with me?
Listeners: Yes Sir. (Loudly in unison)
Speaker: “I hate my current life. Hence, I am escaping to the hills”. Will I get any peace even there? Because I am carrying this mind along with me, I cannot keep it back. This is going along with me. Right? All the conflicts and contradictions are in my mind and I am carrying this along with me. Will escaping ever help me? Or should I first stay put and apply my intelligence to understanding what is? And the moment I understand, fear is gone. The moment I understand, all the negative rationality is gone. What do I do? Apply my intelligence or run away from here?
Listeners: Apply my intelligence. (In unison)
Speaker: When I was at IIM, Ahmedabad, it was kind of the same story for me. Let me share it with you. Most of the engineers, especially the IIT engineers, had cracked that 99 or 100 percentile because of their superior quantitative skills in the CAT, as you would expect, right? The moment they enter, they find that proficiency with numbers is all that they have. Or, let’s say proficiency with numbers is all that they think that they have. So, they shy away from fields like marketing, consulting. Two months into the campus, and they start chanting, “‘Fin Focused’, ‘Fin Focused’. I want to take finance. I want to take finance.”
But why do you want to take finance? Not because you love finance, because you fear marketing. Most of them are not doing even finance today, ten years after passing from the campus. Some miscellaneous jobs here and there, leading a routine monotonous life. Ya alright, they are Vice Presidents now! But when we meet, we do not hide it from each other that we had been deceiving ourselves.
Is this a place of refuge where you have come to hide after getting beaten up by the world? Is this an ashram wherein I have come for respite now that nothing has worked for me in the outside world? Wherever I have worked previously, I have experienced great misery and therefore I have come here. Is this that? And if you enter this place with that mindset then this can only become a refugee camp and nothing more than that.
Do we know why we are here? Do we really understand? Or are we sleep walking? It’s difficult. Because we don’t at all have the habit of understanding. From childhood till now we have never been told that understanding is important. “Just continue doing like others are doing. What is the need to understand? The entire world works this way. Are you an emperor that you need to understand? We have completed our education, our father completed his, and so did our grandfather, now you too complete yours. What is the need to understand why you should complete your education? Why is it necessary to understand? Who are you to ask why? Who are you to try to understand? Just do it. Just do it.”
So, you completed your schooling, then your graduation, and now you are doing your post-graduation. Soon, you will get a job after this. And then after that you will marry and have children. Then you will say, “I must have a house, otherwise where will I keep them?” So, you will buy a house on EMI. Then you start paying EMI. And then you will start jumping from one job to second, second to fourth, then fifth to eight. And while doing all of these, you will keep thinking that peace, joy, satisfaction, happiness, contentment, all these are surely available just around the next corner, I will get it as soon as I enter the new job. And this story will keep on continuing. You will continue looking forward, and one day while looking and looking into the future, you will be finished.
This is the script that has been already written. Now, what are you to do as intelligent beings? Live this script or understand that it’s one life that you have, that you need not conform to any script.
What are you to do? Just keep on living this script which has been written in advance?
All of you are young people. Do you really want to live a life like this, pre-scripted by somebody else?
Listeners: No Sir. (In unison)
Speaker: But this is what is happening. I am asking you why you are here. Is this not already a part of that script? If it is not so, then I will be very happy. But can you be absolutely sure that your coming here is not a part of that script? If it is not a part of the script, then you tell me why you are here.
Listener 3: Actually Sir, I had worked in a few companies and then army also. But I didn’t get satisfaction there. I could see that I was not fit for that. I thought for myself that when I was in business, it was good. I felt good about it. So, I came here so that I could get satisfaction. Whatever I do it doesn’t matter but I will get satisfaction from that.
Speaker: How many of you really think that you can project satisfaction in the future? How many of you really think that it is possible to project satisfaction in the future? That in two years you will definitely get satisfaction?
Yes! You can imagine. There can be imagination, but imaginations are always imaginations. They have no contact with reality.
Listener 3: Sir, I have done family business also and I do have experience of that.
Speaker: What’ your name?
Listener 3: Mohan Mishra.
Speaker: Mohan, you have done family business. But have you done PGDM earlier?
Listener 3: No Sir.
Speaker: You have not done PGDM previously, have you? So, I would like to ask you how do you know that you will get satisfaction for sure after completing this when you are doing it for the first time? I can understand if you say that you had received satisfaction or dissatisfaction from your family business. You have passed through it. Right? But how can you project satisfaction from this when you have not tasted it?
Listener 3: When I see the future, after five or ten years, it never comes to my mind that I would be working for anybody. I only see that I would be working for myself. And others are working for me.
Speaker: Let’s try to understand this.
He is saying that when he thinks about ten years from now, he cannot imagine that he is working under someone else. He can only see that others are working for him, that he will be providing employment to others. Are you getting it?
So, ten years from now! Your age now would be twenty, twenty-two or twenty-three years. Now, I take you to even ten years back from now, when you were eight or ten years old. What did you want to become then? Go back to the time when you were in class 2, class 3 or class 4. What did you want to become?
‘I wanted to become a superman!’
(The audience burst into laughter)
Someone among you would have wanted to become a Barbie doll, or a deep sea diver.
Listener 2: Politician! (From audience)
Speaker: You wanted to become a politician. Someone would have wanted to become a police or even a thief. (Everyone laughs)
Why are you laughing? That child who is eight or ten years old, is not laughing. He is very serious about what he wants to become. But today you can laugh at him because you see that it is foolish to project what you want to become after ten years.
That child will never laugh at himself. But just because today you are able to look at him from a distance, you can see how stupid it is. It is utter foolishness to think of ten years into the future. I can only think up to the extent of my mind. A child can think only to the extent of his mind, based on the intellect that he has. He calls his limited past and limited experiences, and based on that he tries to project the future. Right?
That’s what a child is doing. But is that child not doing the same thing even now? Isn’t he doing exactly the same thing.
Listeners: Yes Sir. (In unison)
Speaker: Is he not repeating the same script again? When he was ten years old, he wanted to become a superman ten years from then. Now, he is twenty years old, and now he wants to become an entrepreneur ten years later. Isn’t he repeating the same script again?
Listeners: Yes Sir. (In unison)
Speaker: This script could be changed if one could see that looking at ten years into the future is insanity, then the script can be changed. But is that happening? When you were ten you were thinking about twenty, and when you are twenty, you are thinking about thirty and at thirty you would be thinking about fifty. Is there any movement really happening? The same script is being repeated, like a compact disc (CD), playing again and again, unconsciously! And it can’t even see that it is playing the same track again and again.
Listener 3: Sir, it’s human nature.
Speaker: No, don’t go into that. You don’t know anything about yourself and you are talking about humanity? Whatever you say just say out of your own mind.
Listener 3: Everybody wants…
Speaker: Not everybody. You! (Everyone laughs)
Listener 3: Talking about myself, I want something special from now. Presently, I am here but after sometime I want to be somewhere else. This satisfaction level is enough for me for a particular time but it changes with time.
Speaker: Right friend, but that is the same story that others have been telling, that, “I want to reach somewhere else. That is why I have come here”. Is that not the same story that everybody else is telling? Is that not the same thing that a ten year old kid wants to do? I want to reach somewhere else.
Listener 4: Sir, I want to ask two questions. Has there been no progress in the intellect of that ten year old child and us now? And second question is, if imagination does not have any relation to realism, then can’t we even think of it? Is there any formula to think about the future?
Speaker: Let these two remain with you. (Everybody Claps)
If you can honestly hold on to these two questions, you will learn a lot. And one thing you must not do is, ask these questions to somebody else. Don’t even do that! It is your life. Just hold on to these two questions. Will you?
Listener 5: Will you please explain Sir. We are speaking so much on this. So, if imagination and realism are two different things, then we will not be able to do anything.
Speaker: Do not go into realism. What do you mean by realism, ‘real-ism‘? The immediate reality is right now. You cannot even look at that but you are talking about realism – don’t go into that. Why do you go into this ‘real-ism’? What is the immediate reality? Since the last twenty minutes, I have been standing at this podium. I have been trying to ask you, do you understand your immediate reality. Am I asking you why did you come here two years before? Or, am I asking you what will you do five years after? What is that one question that I have been repeating? What is that one question?
Listeners: Why are you here? (In unison)
Speaker: Why are you here? And when are you here? Right now. Are you here yesterday? Are you here tomorrow? When are we here? When are we here?
Listeners: Right now. (In unison)
Listener 6: We are here because we were told that there is going to be a guest lecture here.
Speaker: Right. It’s a very direct answer. Good. Now, who told you?
Listener 7: Our teacher.
Speaker: Somebody told you that there is going to be a guest lecture. Let’s understand this. That is exactly what may have happened. That a notice was put up, somebody verbally or orally told you or an email was sent. Something happened. Correct? I receive an email, I receive a communication to be at some place at some time. Now, what am I? A horse, a dog, a machine. What does an intelligent person do in such a situation, when he receives a communication? What does an intelligent person do in such a situation?
Listener 8: He reacts.
Speaker: Does he react? A chemical reacts. Does an intelligent man react? A dead chemical with no consciousness, even that can react. An intelligent man responds. And what is meant by responding? To respond is to understand.
Reaction, even a dead chemical can have. Are you getting it? Reactions keep happening all the time. Even as we are sitting here, there are a lots of reactions happening in this mixture of gases around us. They react! There is no need of consciousness or understanding or intelligence for that.
But then we are so used to living life like this. Someone comes and tells us to do something and we start doing it. Someone comes and tells us to move and we start moving. Someone tells us that life has to be lived like this and we start living like that. But if someone says, “Stop! Hold on! Look at what you are doing”, then we cannot even understand what is being said.
Because twenty, twenty-two years is a long time. Our intelligence had been burdened with so much of dirt and rubbish of conditioning that it becomes difficult for us to see, to understand that what is right before our eyes.
We are all inherently intelligent. We are all inherently full of potential. But then that is the most difficult thing to accept.
If someone comes now and says to you, “See, you need not even think, just do what I am telling you.” Then you will become very happy. You will say, “Good! I have got a great support system.” You will say, “You know, he is a very good senior and he has come here to give us guidance”. Right? Somebody comes here and gives you code of conduct. Somebody comes here and shares with you all his experience. Somebody comes over here and tells you what the world is like. You will become very happy, because that will not require effort from your side, because that will not require application of your intelligence. And that is the one thing that you are afraid of – your own intelligence.
But if somebody comes over here and tell you, “Stop looking outside. Look at yourself. Your own motivations, your own processes, your own immediate life, the way you are living, all the conflicts and all the influences on your mind. Look at that because that is what you are. That is your life“. Then it becomes unbearable. Then it feels like, “What is he saying? What is this happening? What is this happening? I don’t understand. Run away!” Correct?
So, when I came here in January for the ‘Entrepreneur Summit’, one of your seniors, he said, “Sir, I have a huge problem! Laymen brothers have collapsed. So many economies are in a bad state. Eurozone is sinking! Greece’s condition is devastating and I heard that even Kodak company will also be closed soon. Tell me what should I do?” I asked him, “You were among the Laymen Brothers? Are you their brother? Does your family survive on Kodak? Are you a citizen of Greece?” I then asked him, “Where are you from?” He named a particular small town. I asked the audience then, “How many of you are from NCR or any other metro cities?” Two or three raised their hands and most of the others were from small towns and other small areas.
You have been so completely dazzled by the gloss and the jazz of the corporate world and of a metro-city that you have forgotten yourself. That was an ‘Entrepreneurship Summit’ where you could have asked me that, “Sir, to live an independent life, I can even run a chain of juice shops”. Can you not talk of that? No! You are not asking about that. You are asking about the closure of a multinational company in which you will not even get entry beyond the reception. You will not be able to reach even the reception, atleast not for now, absolutely not in the immediate future.
And the result of this will be that some big brand will hire you and gives you absolute menial work to do. But you will go there because you have become mad about brands, because you have never been told to use your intelligence, because you have been taught that whatever seems huge, has a big influence, just follow that, run after that. Because you have lived only like this. What it results in is, you will be hired by a big bank, but you may be only selling credit cards at a petrol pump. Yes! But you will call your family and say that you work in so and so private company, that you work in a bank. But what are you doing there? That you cannot tell them! “I sell credit cards at the petrol pump”.
That is the fate of those who do not know what they are doing. Their life is driven by influences and those who wants to influence, knows very well that you will get influenced. So, they have many ways to influence you. They know very well how hungry you are. What will be the result? You will suffer. You will suffer.
This whole script that you have been living so far has not given you joy till now. And it can only give you more suffering in the future. Let that not continue. Let your entry here be a point of departure, that whatever has been the trajectory of your life till now, there will be a departure from that, a point of inflection.
Are you getting what I am trying to say? Don’t let this be an extension of the life that you have been leading so far.
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Why you have come to this Campus? || Acharya Prashant (2012)
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