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Questioner: If I have to make a decision and there are two options, my thoughts don’t bring me any further, then I try to listen to my heart and that also does not bring me any answer. So, how can I find a way to the solution?
Acharya Prashant: If there are two options, if there are two paths, then do not choose any of them. When there would be a right path, then there would be only one path. The right path never comes as alternative to something ‘existing’. The alternative to that which is ‘existing’, will always be related to that which is ‘existing’. In some sense, it would be an opposite of that which is existing.
‘A thing’ and its ‘opposite’ are always in the same dimension, in the same plane. Never say that I have to choose between A and B. A, and B are both in the same plane. If one side of the coin is not good for you, the other side too, would not be good for you. Because with the other side, will come, the first side as well. If a thing is not proper for you, mind you, its opposite too cannot be proper for you. Shun both the options. This is the fundamental law of duality.
The two sides of duality, appear as opposites, but are always together. So, if you choose either one, you have also chosen the other one. Do not choose any of the ends, do not say ‘yes’ to any of these options.
The right decision is never a decision. The right decision is a spontaneous happening.
Whenever a ‘decision’ is involved, the decision would be a flawed one. So, if the mind is hesitating, procrastinating, it is good news. Let it procrastinate, even more. Let the action not happen at all. Procrastination means, there is no inner sureness. So, it is good. When there is no inner sureness, then the action does not deserve to happen. Keep postponing it. And one day, out of sheer necessity, under the weight of existential circumstances, action will happen on its own. And most likely, that action will correspond to neither of the two options you are conceptualizing. Keep postponing, don’t act at all. Why must you act, when you are not sure?
You have two proposals and you aren’t sure about any of them, would you be happy marrying either of them? Postpone. And postponement is not an active thing, it means “I am not budging, I am not moving, I am not compelled to act.” The situation, that is, is better than any of these two options, it’s okay, I am here, alright.
Life is quite intelligent, life knows how to decide on your behalf. If you have just a little trust on life, she will take all your decisions beautifully. Better decisions, than you and me can ever make. Just trust life with the decision making part.
L: How do we explain that marvelous intelligence of life?
AP: Is that marvelous intelligence, higher than your own personal intelligence? Do you believe that way?
AP: Then how would you explain it, using your own intelligence?
If you are asking me to explain, then surely there is a hidden belief somewhere that your own personal intelligence is wide enough to accommodate the existential intelligence.
L: May be mind is wanting a metaphorical image
AP: Okay. It is called Faith. Faith means, “Though I do not know what it is, yet I am fully sure that it is.” Faith means, “Though I do not quite know what its nature is, but I am fully sure that it is good for me. Though I do not know what it is going to do next, but I am fully sure that whatever happens, irrespective of my reaction to it, it is auspicious.” That is Faith. Faith is, trusting in the unknown. That, existential intelligence is not a thing to explain. It is an existential lap, where you can relax peacefully. It is like the breast of the mother, where you can just lapse into sleep. You cannot explain it. You can only leave yourself to it.
L: A quotation from Osho- Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.
Is it just a quotation, or is it to be lived?
L: I have faith in that
AP: And Faith is then something that breathes, something that has a heartbeat. Just as you said, ‘it is to be lived, not just talked about’.
The whole spiritual process can so easily become another pursuit of the ego. It can just become more collected knowledge. The only thing that distinguishes egocentric activity from self-inquiry, is ‘faith’. An ability to know without knowledge. Ah, what is that? It is no ability, it is blindness. It is madness. It is a kind of craziness. But you must be capable of that craziness. It is not scary, it is fun. Don’t stare at me like that. It relieves. It is alright to be not in the driver seat sometimes.
L: You have read many books, been with many thoughts before saying all this that is coming to you, or this is coming from nowhere?
AP: Yes, and that is giving me words. But none of the knowledge, none of the books that I have read, is giving me the centre from where I am speaking. Knowledge can give me an appropriate word. But knowledge cannot provide me with the centre from where that word emanates. May be, if I have read the scriptures, then I can come up with an appropriate quotation, a shloka, a sutra, a verse, or a doha. But even if I were to have not read that, then it wouldn’t make much of a difference. The centre would still remain the same.
Kindly do not think that you require a lot of knowledge, to go into yourself. You already have a lot of knowledge, and that knowledge is sufficient. Let me ask you a question. What knowledge did the first Upanishadic Rishi have? Had he read other Upanishads?
AP: Yes. And if he could have it, then is it so impossible for you? Where was he getting all his understanding from? From nowhere, from life, from insects, from birds, from rivers, from the daily interactions, from man and woman, from the crying child, from jealousy, from attachment, from man’s search for something sublime. This was available to him for observation. And is it not available to you, for observation?
Don’t you think that if you walk on this street, not with all your beliefs, not with all your baggage, but with your eyes really open, then you will know what the Upanishad is saying? Oh, you may not know the words, you may not know the shloka, but you have already known what the Upanishad is saying. And you know what is amusing about all this. Only when you have known the Upanishad by yourself, then the Upanishad of the rishi becomes relevant to you. If you have not discovered your own inner Upanishad, then the Upanishad (the book) in your hands, will not really speak to you.
So, the book means nothing. The book cannot give you anything, if you have not already obtained it. In a sense, a book is just for a kind of verification. A book is just for joy, a book is just for resonance, “Ah, the same, the same, yes, yes.” So, you read that shloka and you say, “Yes, yes I know that, you are right man, I believe what you say.” It is not that you read it and then you memorize it and then you say, now I know. No. How would you know from the words, if you have not known from life? Is that not a good question to ask?
So, the scriptures are just to corroborate, just to support, just to validate, not to teach. There can be only one teacher, your own life, your consciousness; you are living, you are alive. I am not saying that the scriptures have no value, I sincerely recommend them, I make it a point to even push my students to read them. But I also know, that no scripture helps the one, whose eye for honest observation is not open. I call them the two wings of spiritual flight. First, an honest observation of the world, second, a deep faith in the words of the scripture and the Guru. Both must exist together, and then, you can fly.
Usually the second one is missing, the faith is missing.
Practically, if the book says something, and that something is not backed by your own experience, would you be able to deeply believe in what the book is saying? You can force yourself to believe. That’s what man has always been doing. Oh, it’s a holy book, so whatever it is saying must be true, let me believe. The book is saying that angels descend from heaven and deliver babies, so that must be true.
And then, you are just divided. Then what do you say? You say that spiritual life and spiritual books are different from worldly life and worldly books. So, the book of medical science may say something about where babies come from, but the spiritual books are saying something else about babies. And both are true, because I can’t reject either of them, yet both are separate. So, let me make two compartments. One is the maternity ward of the hospital, where babies are coming from, and the other is the spiritual place, where you have babies dropping from the sky.
No. That compartmentalization is false. Bring down the wall. Every moment of life is a spiritual moment. You might be in your office, you need not be wearing saffron, you need not be wearing a t-shirt with Om and Ganesha on it. Even if you are wearing a neck-tie, even if you are busy in a business transaction, still it is a spiritual moment. Do not take vacations to enter spirituality. Because if you take vacations, the vacations would end one day. Every vacation has a deadline. And then, what will begin again?
Don’t take vacations, let your life itself be a spiritual vacation.
L: What is believing?
AP: Believing is, taking something, ‘as it is’. When you attach the prefix, ‘it is’ to anything, you have believed in it.
L: So, does it mean that whatever thoughts are arising during the day, they are all beliefs?
AP: Yes, they are all beliefs. Whenever you say, that something ‘is’, you have believed in it. Now the question is about the quality of the belief. Have you believed, just because you have been told that it is, or have you believed with the full power of your knowing? When belief is superficial, absolutely baseless, then it becomes ‘superstition’. When it has some basis–somebody told it to you, you read it in a book–then you can call it a kind of trust. And when the belief is again baseless, arising directly from the heart, a totally foolish belief, then you can call it faith. Faith is so much like superstition, and yet totally different from it.
How do you know that you love the right one? How do you know? Can a machine prove it, can a chart prove it? Can a method or a formula prove it? Can your past experience prove it? How do you justify your love for a lamb? We met a kitten an hour back, and everybody was eager to hold it, to caress it, how do you know that it is the right action? There are people here who hold piglet as well.
You would never ever really consciously know, whether it is superstition or faith. And faith shaken, would appear so much like a superstition. You would curse yourself. Whenever you find a reason to believe, you are in the safe zone, you are trusting some source. The source could be a teacher, a book, an experience, anything. Faith is, trusting without a base, without a reason, without a cause. Superstition is much the same. They look so alike, very minor differences are there.
Come on, is nobody here interested in knowing what those minor differences are?
Okay, you are not interested, so I let it be.
L: What are these differences?
AP: Superstition, is always ‘about something’. It always has a story attached to it. It is always ‘objective’.
With faith, there is no object, and no story. You cannot say anything about faith. All you can say is, it is alright. All you can say is, it is good, nice. Why nice, I do not know. How nice, I cannot explain. Who do you have so much faith on? On nobody.
You are faithful towards? Ah, well, nobody in particular.
When you ‘trust’ somebody, there is always ‘somebody’ that you are trusting. When you have ‘faith’, then there is nobody. You are just trusting, such is the deep trust. Trust says, don’t worry, you will not be harmed. Faith says, even if I am harmed, it is alright. Trust says, everything will happen as per your wish, faith says, my wish does not matter. Whatever happens, even if it is against my wish, I am alright.
Trust is always conditional. Faith is free, not having any boundaries or conditions with it.
Yes, things can go bad. See, if you continue like this you will have to file for bankruptcy. Trust will say, no, that day will never come; some money will arrive from somewhere. And what would faith say?
L: I don’t care
AP: Even if I care, it does not matter. Because sometimes you do care, sometimes you are afraid, sometimes you are shivering and trembling. Aren’t you?
Faith says, even if I am appearing like an intimidated puppy right now, yet everything is alright. Yes, I am suffering, yes I am crying, yes there is blood oozing from my sores, but it’s so cool that I can still laugh at a joke. I can still enjoy something silly. I will not get enraged, I will not say, “So bad is my condition, and you are playing a joke.” A joke is always welcome. Even if five of my teeth are missing, I would still smile. Faith says, good is good, and bad is … better than good. I am still feeling bad, mind is not saying that everything is hunky-dory, no. The mind is feeling bad, the body is trembling and falling apart, and yet there is an untouched center, which is at peace.
The eyes might be crying, but there is something within, which is totally undisturbed. That is faith. Faith does not mean that you will walk around like some saint, “Oh, see the faithful one.” That is just a fanciful image. You have to live in this world, and if you don’t get food, then you ‘will’ feel bad. The stomach ‘will’ cry out. If you are insulted, humiliated, slapped, or wounded, you ‘will’ feel violated. From the mind, there ‘would’ be a recoil. In the middle of that disturbance, in the middle of that chaos, still remain untouched. Let that be touched, whose nature is to get touched. Whose nature is it to get touched? If I come near you, what is the maximum I can touch?
AP: So, let the body be touched. Whose nature is it, to feel hurt very often?
AP: Yes, let the mind feel hurt. Even when the mind is feeling totally hurt, I am still alright. Why?
I don’t care to know. I am not even bothered about knowing. That is faith. Faith does not say, “I don’t know.” Because then it means that I do not ‘yet’ know, but I will be knowing in future, I will try to know. One day, it might be known. Faith says, “Who wants to know? Better things to do.” Come on, bring on the kitten. Why load yourself with spiritual questions. I am not accountable to divinity. Let God come, if he wants all these answers. Why must I read one of the holy books? I would rather read a book on how to raise kittens.
Learn to play with a cat. That is more spiritual than raising your legs and practicing breathing. If you don’t know how to play with a rabbit, if you can’t hug a tree, then it does not matter how you breathe, you don’t have a heart. What will you do with all your breathing, if your heart is not beating?
Kittens are the key, that’s the sutra.
Never forget it.
The small things, small things, that is where the big lies. And that is why the big is so easy to miss, because we are accustomed to miss the small. We are not missing something which is shrouded, concealed; we are missing something which is present and apparent. We are not missing the secret. We are missing something which is so very obvious. And the obvious is very easy to miss, when you are in search of a secret. When you are looking for something you have lost, one place where you would never look, is the ground right under your feet. May be it is there. May be that’s why it appears lost.
And there is always ground under your feet, whether or not it is Rishikesh. You don’t have to come to Rishikesh to search for ground, ground is always there. If you are there, the ground is there. Do you know which ground I am talking of?
That ground is also called “the Atman.”
That is the ground of being. There is always ground under your feet, look there, right there. Don’t search here and there. So, keep a kitten close by to remind you of this.
Oh, you wanted something big? Something from the Upanishads, something from the Yoga sutras, something from Ashtavakra Gita. You don’t like kittens?
We have those texts here, would you rather spend the evening reading them?
L: I love kittens
AP: Ah, Yes. (Laughter)
L: And piglet, and Babies …
AP: And leaves, and rotten leaves as well, why not? And beautiful young babies and also stinking corpses. Don’t forget them.
L: The bird is out of the egg and tries to flap wings, sees his parents doing that and wonders when would I be able to fly. Yet the security of the nest is so alluring, only after she gets a kick is she able to leave…
AP: Don’t believe in special moments, there are ‘NO’ special moments, there is only the flow. There is no special kick that the bird needs. It is a continuity. One day, the baby emerges from the womb, it is not a special moment. This moment was in the making since many months. If those months have been there, this moment too will be there, this is not special at all. It is a guaranteed moment. It is a part of those previous months. But if you believe in special moments, then you will pay no attention to all those months. You will believe as if something special, something unique, something different, something external is going to happen, ‘one fine day’. In a way, you are hoping for ‘divine intervention’. Now, divine intervention is never special. It is continuous.
Grace does not fall upon you one day, grace is that ubiquitous ground under your feet. Grace is always there.
Yes, sometimes you realize it, and you say this moment is special. God has been so kind to me. God has always been so kind to you, it is just that you are realizing it right now.
There is nothing special here, everything is so ordinary. Learn to live in the ordinary. If there is anything that is special, it is the ordinary that is special.
Every fragment of time, every inch of space, all of it, is special. Every single relationship, every breath that you take in, every heartbeat, all is special.
You know, we make a grand mistake, when we turn God into a special entity. Probably that is the first mistake that mankind made. God was the first extraordinary imagination that man had. Ah, the special one.
God or Truth, is not special. Here, there, everywhere, all around. By making him special, you send him away. By seeing him in the ordinary, you embrace him. You want to keep him in a special church or do you want to keep him right close to your heart. In your kitchen, in your bedroom, in your bathroom, in your garage, in your playing field, everywhere. Do not give him a special place. No moment is special. Nothing special ever happens. If you keep waiting for the special, you will keep missing on life. Life is ordinary.
I know what your next question might be, it would be on that special thing called enlightenment. It is a myth.
You are already enlightened. Enlightenment is ordinariness. Just accept your enlightenment. You don’t have to be enlightened. Just as you need to accept all the small and little things in life, similarly, you have to accept another little thing, called enlightenment. It is the littlest thing. It is the most ordinary thing.
And it eludes us, because we are searching for it, in the grand, in the ornamental, in the heavens. You won’t find it there. You would rather find it, where? In the eyes of the kitten. Don’t miss it there.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant: Let Faith make your decisions
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