Why is man so curious? || Acharya Prashant (2016)

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Question: What brings me here is curiosity – to know what I don’t know – about the mind. Who am I? What’s going on actually? What’s behind everything, whatever is happening in this world – me, you, everyone. Why do we do what we are doing? We just keep on doing it without even thinking why we are doing it. One day the life ends; we won’t even get to know. So, why is it? Yes, that’s my question.

Acharya Prashant: What’s really going on?

A great drama keeps unfolding, in predictable ways, in strange ways, every moment. And it is very difficult to really put it in a framework, make sense of it, put it within a logical equation and one keeps struggling with it; trying to fathom the ends of it. And before that can happen – one is gone; One is gone. What is all this that is happening?

What do we see happening from morning till evening and then in the night, in the dreams, in the peace, everywhere? What do we find?

Listener 1: It’s life-unfolding.

Acharya Prashant:  Life. Unfolding. Happening.

The moment you say ‘happening’, you mean change, you mean time, you mean events, you mean the entire world in which changes are happening. What perplexes us is that one thing doesn’t really seem connected to the other and sometimes it does. If it were never connected to the other, then we would have simply come to a conclusion that nothing can be made sense of. But often, things are connected, the law of cause and effect holds. And that leads to expectations. The central expectation being that, “I can decipher life.” I can come to know what all this is all about. And why does one want to know all that? What is it that one calls as curiosity?

L2: Mind

AP: Alright, let’s look at it this way, by way of an example. Man was curious about a lot of things and he was able to unravel those mysteries. He came to know that steam exerts pressure. Heat water – it turns into steam – and steam exerts pressure as its temperature rises, alright, curiosity solved.

He came to know what is photosynthesis; what is this compound called chlorophyll? He came to know how to extract particular elements or compounds from the earth, from the ores. And then what did he do? What was this curiosity centrally about?

L2: It is our special ability that there exists a future and we have to prepare for the future. So, curiosity is we can control the future.

AP: We can control the future. We must be in command of life. The moment I come to know something, I exploit it in a way that suits my conditioning. Do you see that technology always goes along with science? Whatever science discovers, technology exploits, do you see that? Science is curious, and technology is eager to reap the fruit of that curiosity and turn them into instruments of human comfort.

Same is the case with any curiosity, even if it is of the spiritual nature.

We want to know so that we can command. If internally, there is no need to be the master of one’s life, of one’s destiny, there would be no need to trace a pattern, to go into cause and effect. Then it might just suffice to say that things are just as they are. I do not feel an urge to string together the separate events and figure out some kind of a logical pattern. I do not feel that need. Whatever is, just is.

If I can figure out the cause of something, then my next step inevitably, is to exploit that cause to a desired effect. Now I know what causes what. So, I will use that cause to produce an effect that suits my conveniences, my desires.

Fundamentally, we all are beings that are struggling. Don’t we see that? The whole game of insecurity unfolding all around us. He said, “We want to be in control of our future.” Does one want to know the future, predict the future or control the future if he is not insecure? And do you see how much of our time and energy goes into just deciding and worrying and building – whatever that means – the future.

There is nothing here to be known. What we call as knowing is just a burden upon the mind. Man and specially man today, needs an unburdening; not more burdening. Any kind of knowledge, not only material, not only scientific but even spiritual knowledge is an added load upon the mind. For it is a thought; for it is a concept; for it is a verbalization – it has to be remembered. It sits on the mind. It takes a space, a corner, a fraction of your space. And there is already so much there, it is so crowded.

People often come here with the expectation of knowing more. You too said that you want to know that which you do not know. That was how we began.

No! we already know a little too much. We need freedom from that knowledge. All knowledge comes from the past, comes from experience and can never fully capture the vastness, the unpredictability of living. But knowledge brings with it a promise that it can become the basis of living. In fact, most of us live by our knowledge, don’t we?  We use our knowledge to decide matters. We use knowledge as the bedrock of life. But knowledge, is so little, so inferior. Whatever is essential can never really be contained in knowledge.

So, do not come asking to know more. Far better it may be to just see whether it has helped us to live by our mental stuff, to live by our knowledge, our intellect and our cleverness? See, even at this moment, some of us might be just exercising their intellect – intellect, which thrives on knowledge – and if you are still living by your intellect, are you not missing this moment?

That is what knowledge does. It makes you go around in its limited circles and you miss out on that which is available and real and alive – that is lost. So, if you have come with the expectation that I’ll have something more to offer you –  I neither have anything nor do I have the intention of offering anything more, even if I have. Let’s rather talk about being free, being light. Let’s rather talk about the futility of carrying memories, images, past, experience, knowledge, the whole space, yes?

A lot of what I am saying, let me just caution you, will become very unintelligible for you, if you remain within your own circles. If there is an internal dialogue going on within you, then you will not be able to listen to me. The only way to really connect is to connect. Your face has it when an internal dialogue is going on. Instead of talking to yourself, my advice and my request is – talk to me. You already have enough of yourself to talk to, and always. When you are going to bed this night, kindly use two, three, four, ten hours to talk to yourself. This is an opportunity to talk to somebody else. Let’s please make good of that opportunity. Yes?

Somebody said, “Man is a silo.” You know a silo? A self-contained entity. Someone living within a tight, insulated, impermeable enclosure. It’s no fun living like that, right? It’s just bondage and slavery; slavery to oneself.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Why is man so curious? The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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