When you are alright, then the sound of your footsteps is compassion || Acharya Prashant (2016)

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Question: How to be free from this division between ‘pure’ and ‘unpure’, between ‘wise’ and ‘foolish’?

Shri Prashant: The desire is to be able to distinguish between the True and the false, the wise and the unwise, the Real and the unreal, right action and the wrong action. That is the desire. The only thing is that whatever will come out of desire will necessarily be a misplaced action. The very definition of wrong action is that it is an action coming out of desire. Now if I desire to know the right action, can I ever know the right action?

Please go into the situation.

What is a right action?

A right action is that which comes from actually nowhere.

Just happens.

And therefore, it is fresh.

And therefore it does not need the assistance of past.

“I want right action.”

When I say, “I want right action”, surely I have an image in mind. I say, “This is right action”. That image is coming from the past. But right action, by definition, is the one that cannot come from the past; which means that all my efforts to distinguish between right and wrong, wise and unwise, True and false, will always be unsuccessful. Or will appear successful but will yield very harmful results. It is an auspicious sign if one wants to make that distinction.

We want to know the difference between love and hate, we want to know the difference between right living and wrong living. The only thing is, what is the agency that will decide on this? Who will decide? Who will be the judge? Now, if I am the judge, then the beginning to find right action is itself a wrong beginning. I want to find out what is the right action for me. Remember, right action. And my first action in finding out this right action itself is wrong. What is the first action? That I have chosen ‘myself’ as the agency that will…?

Q: Choose the right action.

SP: Choose the right action. I have chosen myself, and thereby I have chosen my thoughts. I have decided that ‘I’ will think and decide what is the…?

Q: Right action.

SP: Right action for me. Now here things have already gone wrong. Now whatever conclusion you come to, would definitely be a wrong conclusion.

The wrong conclusion may sometimes depose as right (smilingly). And that is why the habit continues, because, at least, sometimes, we get the feeling that, “I made a right decision.” So, that sustains the hope that if one time I could make a right decision, then surely it is possible next time also.

Please remember that whenever something really right happens in life, it does not happen as a result of one’s decision. If your decision is coinciding with the happening, it is just a coincidence. The really good comes to you from very unknown place. It does not come because you called it. It does not come because you drafted it. It does not come because you had anything to do with it.

Since morning, one is crying for rains. And it indeed does rain in the afternoon. The personal self wants to believe that “The rain has come as an answer to my prayers.” Have you not seen it often that, “I had been wishing since morning that it may rain today and it did rain. So, my prayers have been answered”? That is the kind of coincidence that makes us believe that “Something good can happen out of my effort and decision.”

The really good, the right action, meeting the wise one, entering the True  – that happens on its own.

On its own, and is prepared to happen all the time, provided – you do not become an authority on your own; provided – you do not become the judge; provided – you do not become the decision-maker and the actor.

What we are doing right now is giving some kind of code to Reality.

This code has two short-comings:

  1. It is not perfect.
  2. Even to the extent that it is helpful, it only goes halfway, in the sense that it points and leaves you to cover the rest of the distance.

Are you getting it?

And even as a pointer, it is not a perfect pointer. Because I may point towards the sky and say, “Look at that star.” And then you may look at another star. I am not even talking of reaching the star. So, I am saying, first thing is the pointer itself is not perfect. I may point towards something else and you may think of it as something different, right? Secondly, even if you come to know what I am pointing at, the distance has to be covered by you, not the one who is pointing.

So, what we are trying here, this language, this communication, this session; is a special exercise, suited only to this occasion. It must not be tried indiscriminately outside with others. There you have to use ways that are suitable to the other person and to the other occasion. There the method of communication has to be different. What method? That depends upon the occasion, which means no method. Or which means the method has to be dynamic, constantly changing.

When, let’s say, a Krishnamurti says, that methods are false, what he says is particular methods are false, what he says is, one or two or four methods won’t suffice, because reality is dynamic. What you call as the universe is time and space and constantly changing. And it is in the universe that you are applying the methods. So, you need, not four or five methods. You actually need forty thousand, fifty thousand and infinite number of methods and the precise method, the right method, suitable for that moment; can come neither from idealism nor from memory. It can come only from being present and having the courage to try the unknown, to let the unknown happen. Because the method that will be suitable in front of your friend or your life-partner or your colleagues in your work place, will not be a method that is being applied in this camp. And the method that will be suitable with one colleague will not be a method that would be appropriate with another one. And the method that is appropriate with one colleague at one time will not be functional at another time, even with the same person. Different ways, different words, a totally different approach will be right at another time. That approach cannot be a product of thought. That approach has to come by living in a very free way, in a very carefree way.

So, the other one is coming from the front and you are just doing what you are doing. In just doing what you are doing, in not really bothering for the other, you are actually displaying a great compassion for the other. And that is the right method. You will not even know how you have had a healing effect upon the other, without even wanting.

Because you have been surrendered, because you have been moving as one with existence, only the right things will happen through you.

You won’t even have to try to be an agent of change.

Your very presence will cause the right change all around you.

You won’t even know why your wife is suddenly behaving in a more peaceful way. You didn’t try. In fact, you are not even thinking of her. And yet the change has happened.

Change does not happen when you are actively trying to change the other. In fact, if you look at it, it is some kind of a violence. When you are actively targeting the other, trying to change him, is it not an act that is beyond you? Are you not trying to play God? Yes?

Q: Yes.

SP: Is it really befitting a human being to think that he can change another human being? Or is it our first responsibility to turn inwards? Not try to change the other, but to be what we must be?

It is a paradox. If you will look only at one side of it, then you will come to very stupid conclusions. I am saying, when you are not bothered about the other, that is when you are totally compassionate. When you are not trying to change the other, that is when you become an agent of change. Compassion is not about thinking all the time of others.

“Oh you know, she is so saintly! All her life she was working for others only. She deserves to be called a Saint because her life was full of selfless service for the underprivileged.”

No, this is not compassion. This is some crude attempt at being compassionate. You are trying to be compassionate, and compassion is not a cultivated thing. You cannot try to be compassionate.

Getting it?

When you are alright, then the sound of your footsteps is compassion.


That is what compassion is.

Would you remember this?

You are just going your way. You are going your right way as a healthy being, and the sound of your footsteps, that is compassion.

Remember this.

~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session held at 23rd Advait Learning Camp (International Spiritual Exchange), Shivpuri.

Watch the session video: Prashant Tripathi: When you are alright, then the sound of your footsteps is compassion The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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