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Acharya Prashant: Not only do we give value to experience, we also give value to learning. And because the valuer is the same, so we put these two at the same level – ‘experience’ and ‘learning’.
We want to value everything; we want to attach some kind of a quantifiable assessment to everything, because the mind is limited. It seeks security in measurement. It wants to take the measure of everything it comes across.
Now, we give a lot of value to experience and we give a lot of value to learning. Both are false, but in very different ways. This must be understood. The value that we give to experience is false because the value that is being given to experience, is provided by experience itself. The valuer himself is a product of experience.
How did you learn to value anything? From where did the valuer come? The valuer himself without knowing, without understanding, is just a coincidental aggregation of experiences. Now such a valuer has no independent yardstick through which to measure experience. Are you getting it?
Who are you? You are somebody who was born in a violence ridden family. You are part of a tribe that attaches great value to honor, dignity, and bloodshed. That’s what you are. That’s what the valuer is. And you have been made this way by your experiences. Now whatever you will value, will be according to . . .
AP: Your values. And your values have been given to you by your . . .
AP: Experiences! Hence when you say that you are valuing a particular experience, that statement is nonsensical. But we want to value everything. Even as you are listening to me, some of you might be busy valuing me, trying to take a measure of me, without realizing that the entity that is trying to take a measure of me is itself a product of biological and social . . .
AP: So that is the reason why valuing experience is meaningless, it doesn’t make sense.
At the same time, we want to value learning. Now learning too cannot be valued, but for a different reason. Learning cannot be valued because learning happens only when the one who is obsessed with valuing, falls silent for a while. You and I are together, and learning can happen only when your noisy valuer becomes silent for a while. Otherwise, you will not be learning, right?
So learning and valuation do not go together. As long as you are valuing, learning cannot happen. As long as you are assessing, measuring, learning cannot happen. Learning is invaluable. Experience has zero value. So the process of valuation does not apply to both. It does not apply to experience because experience anyway has no value of its own.
Understand this: the value that you attach to experience is dependent on what experiences you already have had. So experience has no independent value of its own. Are you getting it?
Learning, again, the tendency of your mind to value it, even to attach respect to it, is absurd. Because how can the limited even say that it respects the unlimited.
Anything that the limited does, will be a product of its limitation. The best that the limited can do is, cease to be attached to its limitation, cease to exist, cease to clamor, cease to have an obsession with its being.
See, you say that you respect Truth, or you respect God, or you value Love, but whatever you will do with these, would be coming from what you think of yourself. Would it really be an expression of respect, or would you rather be soiling or spoiling in your own petty way that which is totally beyond you?
Take a simple statement, “I respect God.” Now can we see the arrogance contained in this statement? We are talking about valuing learning. In that context, I am saying, let’s look at the statement ‘I respect God’. Can we see how arrogant that statement is? Why is it an arrogant statement?
L1: Because the ‘I’ thinks that it has some measure to evaluate to respect or not to respect.
AP: Even to respect anything, you must first have some idea of what that thing is. So you will have to bring it within the domain of ideation. The thing may be a million times bigger than you according to your proclaimed point, but still you are saying it is measurable. “I am two units and God is two trillion units” – still you are saying that God is measurable. Also look at the other things that you attach respect to. The tongue that is saying, “I respect God,” also respects the police, the army, the nation, the caste, the religion, the tradition, the boss, money, and so much else, right? With the same tongue, and with the same mind, you are saying that you respect God, right?
“I respect money, I respect the army, and I respect God.”
So you’ve brought God down to the level of money.
It would be wonderful if you could say that I respect only God. But when you respect only God, then the word ‘respect’ is not at all needed. Because then, what you are saying is, that your respect is unconditional. The kind of respect that we offer is given by us and because it is given by us, it can be withdrawn also. I am offering respect based on a certain condition of my mind and if that condition changes, surely the same mind will withdraw that respect.
So, do not value learning, do not value the Truth, and do not value God. Just see what you currently value, and currently you value experience. See the hollowness of all that you value. In the spiritual domain, what usually happens is, I say, “I respect my life, my being, my styles, my habits, my family, my job, and now because I am now also spiritual, hence I respect the Truth as well.” That is the most commonly followed approach and that is the approach that comes instinctively to us. We think that this is the way to go. We say, “I have a certain pattern. I have a certain house in a city in which I exist, and my name, my meanings, my language, my patterns, all come from there. Now I have been told that there is something missing in my life. So, just as I respect a lot of other things, spirituality implies that I will now also respect . . .
AP: No, no.
Wisdom or spirituality is about seeing the hollowness of experience. It is not about bringing Truth down to the level of experience. It is not about saying that your city must exist and you must also now instate God in your city. “Your city is there; what it lacks is a temple.” So being spiritual means, that you must raise a beautiful temple in the city. Is that not what man has been doing? There are grand cities and because they look incomplete without a touch of the religious. So what do we do? We find a nice space in the city and then some temple is raised.
No, not that way.
Real spirituality is about seeing the hollowness of the city itself. It is not about bringing the temple down to the domain of the city. It is about seeing that the city itself is the cause of my suffering. Are you getting it? You don’t need a temple. You need freedom from the city.
When the city is your bane, then building a temple in the city is not going to heal your wounds.
In fact, what you’ve done is that you are closing the only possibility of redemption that was available to you. Truth could have redeemed you, but what have you done? You’ve brought Truth down to the city. Now the Truth is the city. The city is the problem, so how will the Truth now help you? Now the Truth is the city and the city is the problem, so the Truth too has become the part of the problem. The Truth that could have been your savior is now a part of the problem. Such a temple is never going to save you.
But we say we respect Truth; we say we value Truth. So, when we go to that temple, we bow our heads down, we stand up, we offer our respects. It doesn’t help; it cannot help. And man has been doing that and trying that since centuries.
Do not turn Truth and God into newer experiences. Instead see the falseness of all that which you anyway are experiencing from morning till evening. That ‘seeing’ itself is God. You do not need to see God. Seeing itself is Godliness.
Would you be able to see without God? So why this urge to see God? Why this urge to measure the Truth? All your measurements are happening because you are powered by the Truth. Because you can measure anything, it is proven that the Truth is energizing you. Otherwise, how could you measure anything? Now don’t have this childish demand that you must measure the Truth as well. That’s what thought tries to do, right? When thought is told that you arise from beyond, that your origin is unthinkable, then immediately thought tries to think about the unthinkable.
Don’t have a desire for something new, something exotic. Just be careful about that which already is.
Be very careful about what you are doing, meeting, what you are eating, what you are thinking, and everything opens up there itself.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabdyog’ session held at Advait BodhSthal, Noida. Edited for clarity.
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