On Anger, observation, middle path, and right action || Acharya Prashant (2016)


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Question: It is said that the sage doesn’t get angry for long time. Can you talk about this?

Speaker: Do you bother about how other people love? If you have a real relationship with anybody; with a child, with a dog, with a woman, do you bother about how other people love? Why must you bother so much about how that particular sage was behaving or acting or performing miracles? You have your own heart, and your own God, your own lover. Why don’t you look directly at Him? And if you are really a lover, would you look directly at your beloved or would you look around?

There is a beloved and you are experiencing a distance between you and Him, and that distance is your only desire. You want to get rid of the distance. Your eyes are set on your beloved. Now would you talk about this and that? Would you talk about what is happening in the neighbour’s house? Would you talk about how they behave and perform and talk? Tell me. Would all of that be of any importance to you?

L: No.

AP: Then why do you talk so much about other people’s lives?

Don’t you have your own Truth sitting in your heart? Don’t you have that great peace beckoning you as well? Yes? Why can’t you go directly and straight to it? Why do you need all these tortuous and convoluted ways? Why do you need to travel the universe to take one direct step? Why?

We all are restless, are we not? That is the basic basis of all experiencing; an inner restlessness. That restlessness itself indicates that you know both. You know what you are restless for and you also know that there is a distance that makes you restless. Of one, you are conscious; of the other, you are just aware. Of the end, of the lover, of the source, of that final nothingness, you cannot be conscious, but you are aware of it. Of other things that appear as the distance, you are conscious as well.

When you know both of these, when you know both of these, what else do you need to know? Why must you refer to stories? Your own life is sufficient. Your own mind and its travails are sufficient. Your own breath carries a love song, you don’t have to borrow it; beg for it; import it. Getting it?

L2:Observation makes you restless?


Observation will expose your restlessness. That, which was probably in the subconscious; that, which you were unable to think of, now you are able to consciously conceptualize; that will happen. Observation does not make you restless. Observation is to see all the making and the unmaking. Observation is not an action; neither is it a cause, neither is it an effect. It has no effect whatsoever. To observe does not mean to participate. Participation has effects. Observation has no effects and observation has no cause either.

But observation reveals. Reveals to whom? It reveals to the observed itself; to no other entity does the revelation comes. It is a little magical. Though the observer — who in the pure sense, is a witness — never-never participates, yet in the field of observation, the observed changes. If the observation is honest, it changes the observed entity; without participation. Without doing anything, a lot of change comes. It is doing, without doer-ship. Getting it?

Observation just tells you how you are living and in that telling, in that enabling of seeing, a lot of change is enabled. When you see that you are restless, you also see how deeply you love being in rest. No one feels restless without first loving the state of restfulness. Restlessness would not bother you had you not first love restfulness. So if your restlessness is being exposed, you are just being told that you are in love; that’s good news.

 L2: Sir, it needs to be a continuous process. Once, you start it, you cannot stop.

AP: You didn’t begin it. How will you stop it?

Had you been the cause, you could also have discontinued. You can end only that which you begin.

Witnessing is grace. Neither do you begin it, nor can you end it.

Yes, please?

L3: So, observation is not in my hand. But can I create some situations where observation can happen?

S: You can un-create all that which you have created as a barrier against observation. That which you call as ‘creation’, is just what the Buddha called as ‘dependent origination’; an origination of falseness. We just mistakenly call it as creation. It is imagination; imagination of a fiction; dreaming up of a story; coming into existence of the pair of the opposites, dualities. Un-create them. Stop giving them your energy, your support, stop believing in them, stop thinking that they can come to rescue you. Observation will happen, what was that?

L: On its own.

AP: A little louder?

L: On its own.

AP: Everything that is essential, real, precious, always happens, on its own. So, observation too happens on its own because it is your very nature. You cannot cause it. It is uncaused. It does not ever originate. Getting it?

But you can start believing yourself to be someone who doesn’t observe, or is not observing, or cannot observe. See that all your stakes in that belief are false. See that you can drop that belief without really losing anything. You wouldn’t be harmed if you get rid of that belief. We are all natural observers.

It is impossible to not to observe, unless you are highly determined to not to observe.

I ask you, where does that determination come from? How do you failed to observe?

L2: But observation looks like a trap sometimes.

AP: To whom does it appear like a trap? To the observer? Have you ever observed the one to whom it appears like a trap? Does the observer ever say that I am a trap to myself? Does the observer ever say anything at all? To whom does this appear like a trap or whatever? To whom have you observed that entity? And if you have not observed that entity, why you are talking about observation? Never having observed that entity, you are saying, “observation feels like a trap.” To whom? Observe that one.

Don’t take your problems, your life, your thoughts so seriously that you cannot distance yourself from them. Initially, at least as you are, you require certain distance and that distance means you have to stop taking yourself as the most important thing in the world. And when you say, “I am taking myself to be important,” all that you then call as ‘important’ is your petty troubles. “Oh! They are so important.” And when you call them important, obviously you cannot observe them; then you are associated with them, and in association, observation becomes very difficult.

I ask you, how do you manage to remain associated with something as wonderful and beautiful as troubles? Don’t you find anything better to be associated with?(sarcastically)

Observation means finding a right partner, not remaining associated with troubles, and flies, and diseases. Observation means, now I am associated with silence and peace; which essentially means, now I am not associated with anything. In another language, you can call it as being in nothingness; that is observation.

There is no load upon you that you can take seriously. What you take seriously, becomes your load.

Do you see this? There is no load here(mind) that is worthy of being taken seriously. It is just that, what you take seriously..

L: Becomes load.

L1: I just visited a museum and a temple where there were pictures of people who burnt themselves. So, did they take themselves too seriously?

AP: No! If you take yourself too seriously, how can you burn yourself? Can you even burn the tip of your finger if you take yourself seriously? Can you? To really emulate yourself or something that you consider higher than yourself requires that you take yourself, as not very significant. There is something far bigger and in service of that, this body can be exhumed. Do you get this?

L4: But they (may be) taking the load; which is on Tibet, or the problems they take them very seriously that they will sacrifice their life for that?

AP: Is it Tibet that they are talking seriously or is it ‘that’ which Tibet stands for? What is ‘Tibet?’ The soil of Tibet, the snow of Tibet? Or does Tibet stands for something more sublime, higher, invaluable? When you say that, “you love your land,” do you literally love the ‘land?’ Tell me.

What is Tibet? What is India? Tibet is important because it is one entity that devoted itself almost exclusively to the service of spirituality; and that is one reason why it went defenseless in the worldly sense. And that is why it is important to further that cause. I love ‘India’. When I say, “I love India,” what do I mean? I mean, I love that which India stands for. Or do I mean, ‘India’, the borders, the political entity; same with Tibet. But yes, land is required to further some basic life. To that extent, one wants land as well.

L1: And then they have other people saying, “No. They should not do this.”

AP: Forget the other people. It’s between you and your lover. We have said that.


You talk too much about what the others are doing.

L1: Yes! But they are also Tibetans and they are also being hindered by the government..

AP: Only when you are total and complete within, then you get all the freedom to act in unpredictable, unlimited, absolutely free ways. Now you need not go down the beat and trail. You are free to burn yourself. You need not live the common life of a householder. You are free to keep walking, and you are also free to live as a house holder and you are also free to not to walk at all.

In the great sky, no path is a wrong path. Do you get this? The Buddha talked so much of the middle path. In that great infinity, every path is a middle path. Any action born out of your awareness is an appropriate action. So do not keep asking questions about people’s actions.

L1: Does the middle path means, that do not go to extremes; like not to much fasting or..

AP: When the Buddha said the ‘middle path,’ he said that all the pairs of dualities; an extreme means an end. When he said, “not this’, “not this,” what he meant was the pair of opposites. All pair of dualities are your own mental fiction. Watch them! Carefully. The middle path does not mean that presented with “this” and “this”, you will walk here. The Middle path means, “neither this, nor this.”

L1: Let’s take the example of a string. If it tightens too much, it will break and if we loosen it so much, it will not play.

AP: Is it about the string or is it about the music? What determines the tension in the string? All that is being said is, “be where the music is.” And your essence is the music. Do not be ‘there’ where the tension is too much; there is no music there. There is nothing wrong with too much tension, the only thing wrong with that is…?

L: There is no music.

AP: There is no music. Had there been a lot of music in high tension, the Buddha would have said is, “Wonderful! Go ahead with greatest tension.” Because that where the music is. The music is central. Do not talk too much about the tension; high tension, low tension. If someday, great tension gives you great music, then of course you must welcome great tension. It is the music that is central. Are you getting it?

And life is like that. Sometimes, the music in the middle, sometimes the music is ‘there,’ sometimes the music is ‘there.’ When He said, “The middle path,” what He implied was in the negative. The Buddha language is very beautifully crafted. He does not want to say anything extra of His own .He just want to remove your diseases. The extremes are are your disease. So when he is saying, “The middle path,” all He means is ‘not the extremes.’ His language is always a kind of a medicine; ‘not the disease.’ What does the medicine say? ‘Not the disease.’

He would say, “Anatta, Anikka.” Do you see in all of these, He is saying, “not something.” Similarly, when He is saying, “middle path,” He is saying, “not the extremes.” And where do you find extremes? In dualities; and where do all dualities come from? Your ego.

All that He is saying is do not live by the ego; live by the music.

L4: Sir, how dualities come from the ego?

AP: Because whatever you can think of is thought of only in the context of its opposites. The ego thrives on concept and all concept exist only in an environment of their opposite. So, the ego loves in dualities.

By talking of the middle path, do not become an enemy of the Absolute. The Absolute means Total. Often those who talk a lot about middle path, they talk of the middle path as an avoidance of the Absolute. They say, “no. Go only till a distance. Never go the whole distance.” And that is what they mean by middle path-Go only till a particular place. Never cover the whole distance. Truth is about covering the whole distance. So do not use this concept as a mean of escape. It just becomes an ugly compromise. (Sarcastically)“Why didn’t you keep your word?”, “Well! I kept my word a little; you know middle path.” Just as you say, “I am understanding a little.” That is some kind of a middle path.

We take the great words of the great sages and then we distort them; to suit our convenience. “Why didn’t you listen to the whole discourse?” “Well!! you know it was a two hour thing. I took the middle path and left after one hour.” What these ugly confabulations are? When Buddha left his palace, He left it totally. Totally! Or did He come to a compromise? Did He say, “no, let me take at least a few things along. How can I reject the whole kingdom? And the wife and the kid? Let me at least have something. How can I take extreme step?” Did He say that? He took the most extreme step.

L5: So we also need to follow Him?

AP: We are not to follow Him. But we are not to create stories around Him. The Buddha lives in all of us. Our essence is Buddhahood. The Buddha is our very heart, our very Truth, our nature. But just as we like to create stories about Truth, we also create stories about the Buddha. Those stories just mislead.

L1: Sir, there are many stories about Buddha; like the hungry tiger come and he offers..

AP: Yes! All the Jataka tales.

Read them as the Buddha. Do not read them with the intention to become the Buddha.

In contentment, whatever you do is divine.

Remember, that those stories did not come from just anybody, they came from Buddha. Coming from Buddha, they can be read only by the Buddha. Otherwise, you will just misinterpret. Read them with the sureness that the Buddha sits in your heart. Now read. Now read whatever you want to.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant on Buddha: On Anger, observation, middle path, and right action The transcription has been edited for clarity.

Further Reading:

Book Of Myths


This is the most challenging book one can ever come across. It will questions all the popular beliefs one harbours. Never imposing itself on the reader, at the same time the book facilities a thorough enquiry of popular knowledge which is blindly accepted as an obvious fact. It demolishes our so called holy concepts.

If you are someone who has read anything on self-help or on spirituality this book is a must for cleaning of spiritual information.

Paperback: https://goo.gl/VVD8Yg

Kindle: https://goo.gl/VsIucH

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