To questions of your life, who else would know the answers? || Acharya Prashant (2014)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.

Questioner: How should I identify my calling? If I have two options in front of me – I am doing engineering but I want to know and go for film-making. Would it be okay if I go in that direction? I like both the ways, Engineering as well as film-making.

Speaker: I have four kinds of answers, would it be okay if I give you answer 2 or answer 3? If I have to give an answer, who must know the answer? Whose life is it? If I have to give the answer, should you decide the answer? And if Shivam (referring to the questioner) has to decide the answer then I am a worthless man sitting on this chair.

This is the chair of life, this is the hot seat, you are sitting here, it’s not me who is sitting here. Do you understand? You are sitting here. And if you are sitting here, who will decide the answer?

You are asking me a question, what should I say – I have four options -and you tell me which option do you want? Would that be a worthy answer? If I must answer, if it is my answer, then who must know the answer? If it is your life, your calling, who must know the answer?

You already made the first mistake by not knowing. Would an organization like Advait exist if I were to ask people around me? There is nothing similar to it, there is no precedence, there is nothing I could copy or follow, would it ever come into existence if I were to go and seek advice?

It’s the matter of the Heart, Son!

Film-making. How can I advice you for or against it? You ask. Do you love it? Then the answer is there. Why are you asking me?

Questioner: But it will put my life into chaos.

Speaker: So, what do you want? Laddoo (sweets) in both hands? On one hand, you are a grand Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Indian film director, producer, screenwriter and music director) and on the other hand you also have security and orderliness. Chaos will be there and let chaos be there.

Somebody has said Only out of chaos great stars are born.

Do you know the history of the universe? How big-bang happened? There was only chaos in the beginning, and let there be chaos. Without chaos, how will stars come into being? Let there be chaos. At most what will happen, the chaos will kill you, it will give you so much tension that you will die.

That’s alright!

If that is the highest price, it is no more a high price. Or would you rather prefer not doing what you must and sitting in some cubical, in some IT company, 9-8 job, coding, debugging, with an occasional solace of a trip to the US for 2 months, offshore, and posting your photos on facebook. You see for 2 months I have been sent to California and you will cry, every time you will see somebody with a camera in hand, you will cry. You might not weep but your heart will cry. You want a life of that kind?

See, when you want to really go for something, then you learn the art of making the impossible, possible! There is no conflict between Engineering and Film-making. Engineering is a good branch of education, a good engineer will not become a bad filmmaker. Engineering may or may not help you in film-making, but at least, it is not going to spoil your film-making talent. Why do you see a contradiction?

It is not about this or that.

Life is about having this and that.

It’s total.

You need not pick a fragment.


But you know, we want to pick up fragment because that gives us an excuse. Why didn’t I do what I really wanted to do? Because there was something else to do.  Now how does that justify the entire thing.

You know I was a good badminton player.

Why did you stop playing then?

Oh, I got into engineering.

What kind of excuse is this?

I was a good actor.

Why did you stop acting then?

Oh, you know my parents started getting angry.

What kind of relationship is it with your parents that you can’t keep your parents happy and keep acting? Why must there be OR in between? That either parents will be happy or I will be acting. Why can’t there be an AND? Why can’t both be managed? I am saying life is about having everything, one need not choose. You have been given air and water, and all colours of the rainbow. How many colours do you see in this hall? Or is it about AND or is it about OR? This and that and that and that… and imagine if the entire room was uni-colored. If actually the entire room is uni-coloured, you won’t be able to see anything, because one sees only through contrast.

Have you heard of a term Polymath? A polymath is a person whose dexterity extends to many many fields. He is this and that, and that, and that…

There was a time, just a few years back when the Chief Ministers of many states of India were IITians. Now, do you say that either I can be an IITian or I can be in politics, or can you be both? And there is Albert Einstein who is a scientist and also a good music player. You are talking about film-making, the film industry, do you know the backgrounds of people who are doing well there, what kind of varied backgrounds do they come, one is a son of a politician, a chief minister, in fact two of them are sons of chief ministers. Someone is holding a law degree, someone has done an MBA from the UK, someone is an erstwhile sportswoman.

Why do you want to confine life to small spaces? There is no need. Everything is available. Do not justify your lack of energy and lack of courage by saying that I could not do this because I was constrained by situations. Do not do that, there is no need.

You know when Rabindranath Tagore would be writing his poetry or his prose, when he would need to cut a particular word, he would not only cut it, he would in fact convert it in a drawing. Now the man is writing an essay, a story, a poem, and what is he doing? What do we generally do? To cut a particular word, you just cut it, cross it and you are done. He would not be content with cutting it, he would convert it in an art form, he would say why can’t this piece be both a poem and a painting? That is the art of making the impossible, possible! Its both, a poem and a painting, or at least a sketch.

I am reminded of an incident I quoted yesterday, once I was meeting MBA students in an institution in Delhi, these were 2nd year students about to pass out,

I asked them, ‘What do you want to do?’

One of them said, ‘for 5-10 years I want to work and then I want to start an NGO’.

I asked him, ‘What would an NGO do?’

He said, ‘It will work for the literacy of slum kids, whose parents could not afford them education. My NGO will work for their welfare so that they can read, study and go to a school.’

I said, ‘That’s a very noble task, but why delay it for another 10 years, why not right now?’

He said, ‘No, for 10 years I want to gain experience, know the world and then I will do this.’

I said, ‘You will never do this’.

He felt a little jolted.

He said, ‘Why are you saying so?’

I said, ‘Come here, look out of that window, what do you see?’

He said, ‘I see slums’.

I said, ‘Do you know that those slums have many kids?’

He said, ‘Yes of course, I know that Sir, I see those kids as well.’

I said, ‘Here is the slum and here are those kids, right next to you, had you really wanted to do something, you would have done – today, here, simply, easily. You wouldn’t have said that right now I am doing my MBA so how can I teach? Its right there, the opportunity is there, don’t teach 200 kids, teach 5 kids, don’t devote 24 hours, devote 1 hour per day or half an hour at least or 2 hours per week at least. You didn’t do that. It’s just that your morality says that you must do something for the underprivileged, so to console your own sense of morality you have set an imaginary ideal in front of you. You are saying after 10 years I will work for these kids so that you can tell yourself that  – I am a good man. I am not here just to earn money. I want to do some social work also.

This is just to pacify your own moral guilt.

Those who want to do, they go ahead and do.

They don’t talk of OR’s, they don’t talk of choosing, they say, ‘This and This’. I need not choose, I can study and I can teach.

I was doing my MBA and I was feeling restless about the whole environment. Very first year, I, just casually went to the Gandhi Ashram. The main complex, the ground, the building, the museum, that didn’t quite attract me. In one of the corners I saw a few kids playing, I was attracted towards that corner; went there, and I figured out that there is some NGO which is running an informal school for them and I started visiting that place, very frequently and that was along with my MBA studies and when I would go to them I would not only teach, I wanted to also give them something, sometimes something to eat and sometimes something to wear.

Now if one has to do that, and one has to do that with clean hands, one cannot ask for money from parents, so I started earning on my own and that was along with my studies at the campus, I did some online work, I went and taught at a few places, a little bit of money but that was sufficient to give something to those children.

I could have easily said that it can wait for 2 years and then when I will be placed and then when I will get my first salary then I will contribute a few thousand rupees to them. It would have been very convenient.

But that’s not how the heart really operates. If you have ever known love, then you know that you do not want to wait, or do you say that this is something that I love but this must happen after 50 years, is that so?

Listeners: No Sir.

Speaker: 5 years?

Listeners: No Sir.

Speaker: 5 months?

Listeners: No Sir.

Speaker: 5 hours?

Listeners: No Sir.

Speaker: When do you want it?

Listeners: Right now!

Speaker: Right now! Because Life is…

Listeners: Right now!

Speaker: Remember AND not OR. This AND That! And if you will call your energy and summon your Intelligence, you will find ways how to make this and that both parallely possible. You will find ways, it is possible.

Watch the session at: Prashant Tripathi: To questions of your life, who else would know the answers? The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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    1. There are various opportunities to connect to and meet Acharya Prashant. These are:

      1. Meet the Master:

      Meet the Master program is rare opportunity to meet Acharya Prashant personally, either physically or online. To meet the Master, send your application, write to or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917.

      2. Advait Learning Camps:

      Advait Learning Camps are monthly retreats organized under Acharya Prashant’s guidance. These camps are about spending four days and three nights in the lap of nature, while reading, reflecting, learning and evolving. So far, scores of ALCs have been organised in places like Rishikesh, Mukteshwar, Jim Corbett National Park, Chopta, KainchiDham, etc.
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