When one knows only the external, then one lives only for the sake of the external || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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

Questioner: Our education system is at fault because it has been designed to make you a worker, not to live life the way it should be.

Speaker: Yes, yes. It is designed to make you into ‘something’. At some places, it is designed to not to make you into a worker, for example, there are many countries where the system is designed to ensure that women do not become workers. But, if it doesn’t want to make them workers, it wants to make them somebody else, a housewife, let’s say. So you must become something. If not a worker then a housewife, but you need to become something. A system is quite full of intent, it must make you into something.

And it does succeed in making you into something. To that extent, it does a good job. Our education and knowledge have been helpful to the extent that we are sitting here comfortably, there is light, the temperature is being maintained, the recording is happening, to that extent our knowledge is helping us, surely. But there are things more important than air conditioning, aren’t there? Or would you rather like to spend life with an air conditioner? (Smilingly) There are many who probably might. I’ve heard many nerds say that if they have an internet connection and a good machine, then they really do not want human company. (Smilingly) We appreciate such people, don’t we? And they really rise, often. They rise at least as long as the rise is within the technical domain. They do rise.

You know, when one knows only about the external,

then one lives only for the sake of the external.

When I know only that which is visible through the eyes and can be touched through the skin, then I live just for the sake of it. I live just to consume it. I want to consume a man, I want to consume a woman, I want to consume the rivers, the mountains, the animals, the birds, I want to just consume everything. Because if it is outside, then my only relationship with it is that of separation. It is outside, it is different, separate. And my education has told me that to be worthy you must acquire stuff from outside so I am all the time occupied with thoughts of consuming. That is what our relationships are and I am talking of relationships with everything, my relationship with you at this instance, with this bottle of water, the pizza, with the animal on the road, with a co-worker walking down the staircase. The things that they show on T.V., what do they want? “Take them in!” “Take them in!” That’s what they are prompting me to do, right? “These are nice things, consume them.”

So the result is that just coming from the other end of Noida, you almost take one hour to reach here. I am coming to this part of the city after a while and my estimation was that it would take me thirty minutes. It took me fifty-five minutes. And what do we have? The hottest month of August that mankind has ever had. Are you aware of this? And this is after the hottest month of July that man has ever seen. Almost two degrees above the historical average. Do we see how that is related to the way we are brought up and educated in our colleges and schools, and trained in our careers? Do we see a linkage? We very well know where climate change is coming from. Yet our urge to consume is so strong, we won’t stop it. We very well know how many species of animals and plants and beautiful birds we are continuously losing and we know that the loss is irreversible, they will never come back again. Yet we can’t do without air travel. Yet we can’t do without that big car.

I look at my friend here (pointing at a listener) and I feel humbled. He comes to me in a Maruti Suzuki Alto. A humble Alto. And I was gladdened and saddened. I was glad that in this entire bleak scene there still are people who are not motivated by consumption alone. It is a very small thing. He obviously didn’t mean to demonstrate, he’s not that kind of a man. And I didn’t comment about it at all, it’s been two or three weeks, but I tend to notice small things, and today we have twenty-three-year-olds, twenty-five-year-olds who want a big car, obviously on a big EMI, that return a mileage of eight kilometers to the liter. It’s alright, you must have a car, but why do you want so much of steel, hauling it around? You only want space for yourself to sit, right? You look at the peak traffic time, how many cars do you see carrying even two people? I bet two-thirds of the cars are carrying just their driver. Are they not? You want to verify, just pay attention to the evening traffic today.

What is so special about carrying a lot of stainless steel? But we have been told that the measure of our self-worth is consumption, so to feel good about myself, to feel that I am ‘somebody’, in order to have some self-esteem, I need to have things. Not Love, not Intimacy, not Joy, not Truth, but things.

Because, if I feel down, what do I do? I buy a new dress. That pushes me more into depression because somebody made a snide comment about the dress, so I go and buy some furniture.

(Listeners giggle)

Things. And it becomes horrible when even people are things for us. We have a few ladies amongst us, they know how it feels to be seen as a thing, even men know, but ladies have a more frequent experience of this, I know. Have you seen this (asking a female listener) how humiliating it is to be seen as a thing, as an object, as something to be consumed? But we are churning out minds that just look at the entire world as things. And what is the measure of advancement in life? How many of these things have I been able to appropriate? How many of these things can I claim as belonging to me? How much have I consumed? How big is my belly?

So that is my work, my mission, and obviously my message as well.

Thank you.

Excerpts from a Shabd Yog session held at Data Resolve, Noida

Edited for clarity. 

Watch the session: Prashant Tripathi:When one knows only the external, then one lives only for the sake of the external

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