Does life have a purpose? || Acharya Prashant (2016)


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Listener 1: I usually think about the purpose of life and obviously, there is no answer to it but when I talk to my friend about it who is an atheist, we always come to the conclusion that there are good people and bad people and both chose their ways and end up in  the same soil. But what after that? That is the thing that gets me confused every time.

Acharya Prashant: Even if there is a purpose of life, what will you do with that?

Let there be a purpose of life or maybe there is no purpose of life, but right now that we are talking, what will you do with that purpose? The three of us are busy in conversation, now what will you do with that purpose? Right now I have something to say to you and you have something to say to me but what will we do with that purpose?

And if we keep remembering that purpose then how will we talk? So, I don’t know whether there is a purpose. All I know is even if there is a purpose it is quite an irrelevant purpose.

L1: Think about those who doesn’t have the chance to learn or think out of the box. They just couldn’t get out of their conditioning. So for them what is the purpose of life?

AP: It is so unfortunate, is it not? You are born and that box is just there waiting for you and then you become that box. You identify yourself so much with the box that you don’t want to leave it. It’s quite unfortunate and that is human suffering.

L1: Sir, is it that the people even knowing the real thing still avoid what is right?

AP: No, they don’t know. They only have information.

Knowing is something very radical. 

Knowing is a fire. 

Knowing is an engine, it powers you. 

When you really really know then you cannot stop yourself from acting rightly. 

So if someone says, ‘I know yet I still avoid the right action’. Then you should know that he does not know. He only has some knowledge, something that he has heard from somewhere. It’s not arising from his understanding.

When it really arises, then you are helpless in front of it, then there is something inexorable about it. There is a finality about it, you cannot challenge it. If you can avoid it, challenge it, deceive it, then it is still not yours.

What is yours, actually commands you.

It lords over you.

That is why it is said that God sits in your heart. Have you seen the power of love or the power of freedom? Even if you tell yourself that you want to remain in the bondage, you cannot compel yourself. Can you convince yourself that you will live a loveless life? Even if you manage in convincing then you will find that you’ve to break your promise. Such is the nature of inner clarity.

That is why so many wise men have said that your inner clarity itself is the Truth and the God. You don’t have to search God in some religious domain. Your very understanding, the depth of your clarity is God. And if you don’t have that clarity then you are Godless. And if you have that clarity then you can forget all about God because you already have God with you. So, even if people call themselves atheists, it doesn’t matter.

The only question is- Are they living wisely or stupidly?

You can call yourself religious yet you can be extremely stupid, and you can call yourself an atheist but you can be wise and meditative. So, if an atheist is meditative, wise, operating from peace, then actually he is deeply religious. He has all the blessings of God.

Sometimes I wonder that it is maybe easier for atheists—true religiosity. There is one poster which says that—Who is the one most likely to reject the God standing right in front of him? And the answer is the one who believes in God.

So these God believers are really God deceivers. They have nothing to do with God.

What do you think seriously, if the essence of the Prophet comes in front of the so-called orthodox believers today, will they welcome it? If the essence of the Prophet comes in any shape—in a shape of situation, in a shape of a book, in the shape of a person, situation, if it comes in front of them, then what do you think? They’ll not welcome it, they’ll kill it. They’ll become it’s sworn enemies.

L1: Sir people give too much emphasis on rituals.

AP: Yes, people think that just because you can follow a few rituals that make you eligible for something. I am not saying one must defy rituals, all I am saying is rituals are very peripheral, they cannot be the center of religiousness. Yes, of course, it is a good ritual, for example- to take a bath daily. Why must one defy this ritual? It’s a good thing, why must you defy it? It’s a good ritual for example: to remember Allah five times a day. Why must you defy it? Remember God and why only five times- seven, eight, twenty, fifty, it’s a very good ritual. But just following rituals is highly insufficient and also dangerous because following rituals makes you complacent that you are already doing what is needed. So you become smug.

L1: That’s also makes you learn more.

AP: You do not learn more, you say, ‘I m doing what is needed, I am following the rituals so why do I need to know?’

It’s not the monks or the monasteries or the ashrams or the yoga centers, it’s about the hills, it’s about the snow up there. That will teach. So be open to all of that. There is this beautiful eagle that has been doing the circles here since hours, just going round and round. If you can observe that eagle, really, without thinking, without being occupied with what the media says, what corporation says, what the holy book says, what your family says, then you’ll learn. That is why I like the hills so much, just because of that. It’s beautiful when it is cloudy, it’s beautiful when it is sunny.

In fact, I have also seen that people who are silent about religion or say that they have nothing to do with religion, they are more genuine people, more authentic people. People who are dressed like religious people, in a particular way and color, carrying all the marks of religiousness, they are often quite weak and also quite afraid.

~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Does life have a purpose?

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Editor’s Note: 

Books by Acharya Prashant



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