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Question: What is the sign of a real disciple?
“A disciple is not someone who has so much devotion for his Guru, but for whom everything is a Guru. From every situation, every person he is learning something, not only from one person but from everything.” That was a very interesting point.
Acharya Prashant: But take it, I did say that the real disciple is the one who already knows that which is essential, and then learns whatever he has to learn. The real disciple is the one who already knows the essential. Full-stop! And then goes on to do whatever he has to do – learn, unlearn, forget, remember. The real disciple cannot be a learner. He is the learned one. In fact, the word ‘learner’ is a very dangerous word, because it’s a word of imperfection. The real disciple is the one who already knows.
Listener 1: This self-image of perfection, is it not more dangerous?
AP: Any image is dangerous. Any image is very dangerous. Unfortunately, you can never have an image of perfection. Whenever you will have an image, it will be an imperfect image. Try having an image of perfection. Don’t you want to improve it? Is it perfect then?
So, the image will always be of imperfection. The real disciple is already seated in perfection, knowing everything. Now, he is free to gather knowledge.
L2: But isn’t the greatest knowing, like Socrates said, that one doesn’t know. Like Socrates said that he only knows that he doesn’t know.
L1: Yes, and that is also what this guy says. He said that the only difference between a real disciple and someone who likes the idea of a disciple is that the disciple really knows that he doesn’t know and that he wants to know. That is his own knowledge.
AP: If you know that you don’t know, then the knowing is tremendously more important than not knowing. There are two parts to this sentence. I know that I don’t know – in this, the ‘knowing’ part is tremendously more important than the ‘not knowing’ part. That is the disciple who already knows. Who already knows, and knowing already, now I am free to say ‘I don’t know’.
L2: But that knowing is just being centred in the Truth, and life is spontaneous. It’s not a specific knowledge.
AP: It is not knowledge, it is not something.
L1: You are saying it is already a level of awareness?
AP: Not a level of awareness. It is the Truth, not a level of awareness. It is the Truth. Otherwise, learning will arise from an inferiority complex. You will say, “I want to know because I don’t know.” So, you are starting from non-fulfillment, which is a bad point to start from.
L2: But many people are starting from that point. Even Krishna said that “The one who are desperate are coming to me.”
AP: Read that sentence nicely.
L2: Okay, I cannot say. I am not the expert.
AP: Krishna says, “You come to me only when I call you.” This calling is far more important than the coming because the coming will anyway follow when you are called.
The calling is the perfection.
Krishna says, “You attain me only by my Grace. On your own, you can never attain me. Even to attain me, you have to be first devoted to me.” So, what is more important, your attainment or your devotion?
“To attain me, you first have to be devoted to me.” So, what is more important – the attainment or the devotion?
L1: If these go together, then there is nothing that is more important because you cannot separate these.
AP: Okay, which of these two, if I have to do away with one of them, which of these two can I do away?
AP: So, if I am devoted then the rest would anyway happen. I don’t even have to bother.
L1: But there is another thing. You cannot be devoted to something you don’t know. So, deep inside…
AP: You can only be devoted to that which you do not know. If you are devoted to something that you know then it is not devotion. Then it is just attachment. If you are devoted to something that you know, then you are devoted to an object and that is attachment.
Devotion is always to the unknowable.
Devotion is Faith.
It is always to the unknowable.
L2: When you are in love, it is kind of the unknowable.
AP: Love with God. Never say that Faith requires knowing. Faith requires absolute unknowing. Only then it is Faith. Otherwise, it is something else.
L1: Otherwise, it’s business.
AP: Otherwise, it is business.
L2: It ties back to the ‘surrender’ that we started off this conversation with. No methods. Just Faith.
L1: And that’s the tricky part because it is so hard to surrender because the mind has fear of the unknown.
AP: But you are already surrendered. Before you started speaking this sentence, did you know what would come out of your mouth?
L1: No. (laughs)
AP: So, aren’t you already surrendered?
L2: Yes, that’s totally true. It’s just happening.
AP: Aren’t you already surrendered? Yes, this is surrender. You are already surrendered. Now, why are you worrying?
L1: But one guru said once, “But you don’t have a choice. You have to surrender.”
AP: You are surrendered. It is not like you have to surrender. You are surrendered. Even to say you have to surrender makes surrender something distant.
You are surrendered.
L2: Brings up the concept of the river again. Swimming against it is to think that we are not already surrendered. You know what I mean – letting go? When you are letting go, you have to let the full force of the river behind you.
L1: So, all effort in the Spiritual path then would be a sign that you are going in the wrong way.
AP: Or a sign that you are having good fun, either. If effort is serious effort, then you are going the wrong way. If effort is, “Let’s party baby!” then you are going the right way. You know, sex burns so many calories. It’s effort. It is not for the ones with large tummies.
So, effort not only means you are going in the wrong way. It also means that maybe you are having some good fun.
L2: You know, it’s in subtle things like that interaction where we are assuming using this language that we are sharing, is more understood in surrender, right? When you are saying the effort side of things, letting go-off the effort, I was agreeing with you in this sense. So, I see how limited the mind can be as soon as you bring up the fact that it’s a shattering of this. Just to be aware of the subtle things of how limited our language and how limited our thoughts can be.
If you did not step in, we could have engaged in a conversation for twenty minutes about how everything is about being effortless. Get what I mean?
L1: Yes, yes, it is easy to bring in a wall, a limit and not go further. We almost would create a new concept, something against effort.
L2: So, it’s just about being a little bit more aware of these things as they occur. Well, the call would be to, well I guess I look at it as, to not be of a limited expression, not to become a story but being the space in which stories can flow, can just pass, but to be not of any limited thought. I saw that just happen there. That’s all.
AP: So, one can only narrate and only narration is one’s responsibility. Not action. Action is happening on its own.
L2: Yes, yes.
AP: Narration is alright, as long as you are not interfering, like a commentator in a match. You are narrating, not becoming a player. You said that “I saw that happen.” And it’s so beautiful when you use that. “I saw that happen. I did not make it happen. I saw that happen. I am a commentator. I am not even a commentator. I am like Sanjay in Mahabharata – seeing with eyes closed.”
L1: Guess one of the traps would be then that you are giving too much importance to words and meanings and…
AP: And to God, and making a mess of him in the attempt.
You know, in some sense, making a temple is the most irreligious act that you can ever do. By giving importance to God, you bring him down to your own level.
L2: I like how you used Truth or Love or God as like water, pure water, nothing to be excited about.
AP: But in some sense, you know, speaking of all these things, it’s a disgrace. Remember what Hafiz was saying yesterday – ‘You are already in a lip lock, and you tear away to say, “Kiss me”.’
Or, he didn’t say you are already in a lip lock, but he said that “Why you want to say ‘kiss me’? Why do you want to talk about these things? They are there, now why do you want to talk.” So, after a point it gets sickening. And you want to stop all this and go and rather roll around in the dust and take a nice bath.
L1: What do you think about these place, like these promising places, where people go to meditate because of the energy and…?
AP: How does it matter whether we discuss here, on this chair or there, on that chair? Is the chair doing the talking? Yes, the chair should be comfortable. If it is sending a pin up my ass, then it will be a problem, but apart from that, nothing else. So, what do you mean by a place full of positive energy and this and that?
First of all, science education should be made mandatory til at least fifteen years of age, so that people don’t talk of all these things – positive energy, negative energy, this and that. We must know what energy is.
L3: What is energy?
AP: Energy is matter, material, physical, that’s all. And all matter is mind. That’s all.
L1: What is spirit then?
AP: That which makes you call material as material, because material has no agency to know itself. This table (knocking on the table) will never call itself a table. But this material (pointing to himself) calls this material (pointing at the table) as material. And that is the Spirit.
L3: You know, about this energy thing, like I understand what you are saying. But usually, it requires experiencing the same thing. Like you spoke in Varanasi, and that the energy is very vague.
AP: That is the danger in it. Everybody is experiencing what everybody else is experiencing, which means they are experiencing it only because everybody else is experiencing it. It is a mutual mass hypnosis.
“Oh, you experienced it. Let me also. Yes, yes now I also have experienced it.” And if you don’t experience it, then you are an out and out liar. Nobody likes you because you are exposing the myth.
L2: Preparing out a big bowl of French fries, we are all going to agree that it smells good.
L3: Or if you blindfolded someone and took him to Varanasi, and say that actually it’s Delhi Airport, and he would say that “There is this really strange energy at Delhi Airport today.”
AP: Would he say the same thing if he is asleep in the airport?
L3: If he is asleep then he will have no idea.
AP: He will have no idea, right? So, energy is just an idea.
If it goes away when you are asleep, then it means you are not real. Why are you talking about it?
L2: Everything goes away when you are sleeping.
AP: Which means everything is an idea, which means the energy is same as the personality – a thought, an idea, false.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant: Who is the real disciple?
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Commentaries on ASHTAVAKRA GITA
Commentaries on Ashtavakra Gita is a collection of 8 Questions asked by a seekers when they were not able to relate the verses of Ashtavakra Gita in their daily living.
Even the greatest texts in the world can be just a mental load if they don’t bring you to peace. This text on Ashtavakra Gita is essence of Ashtavakra bringing one to his/her essential nature and simplicity of life.