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Question: Sir, how to judge what is valuable?
Acharya Prashant: You said, “Sir, how to judge what is valuable?” How sure are you of your judgement? Behind every judgement, (there) is someone who judges. How sure are you of that judge? Is he reliable? Or is he someone who has a tendency to modify, even reverse his own judgements? Is he someone whose judgements stand the test of time and changing conditions? Or is he someone who often mistakes in judging?
You have trusted your inner judge since long. You have lent upon so many other books, authorities and teachers. But ultimately, it is your internal teacher you depend the most upon. Let’s judge that judge.
You are asking, “How to judge what is valuable?” Let’s judge the one who will judge this! How secure have your judgements made you feel so far? How does the inner judge decide? Does he have an inner yardstick to measure; an innate source from where to know? Or do his judgements keep changing as his knowledge keeps changing? What have you observed?
Listeners: Keeps changing.
AP: So, his judgements really do not arise from himself. They are the function of the knowledge that he has. Take away all the knowledge from this judge, take away all that he has absorbed, how will he judge? How will he judge now? So, this internal judge, is he internal at all? He does not appear anywhere outside; outside in the sense as this wall appears to be outside, as other people appear to be outside, as the world appears to be outside. This internal judge doesn’t appear to be outside, he appears to be sitting somewhere within the body, somewhere within the brain. So, we call him “internal” and the moment we call him “internal,” there is reason to be identified with him. He is sitting within “my” bodily premises; ‘must be internal!’ If it’s internal, I could say he is mine. I could even say, ‘He is “me”.
Whatever he is, he has imbibed from somewhere. Whatever he has imbibed is “him”. That’s somewhere where his existence comes from is always not “him”. So this internal judge is totally a function of fluctuating circumstances. A person appears so attractive right now; a piece of information comes in, telling you something ridiculous about him. And instead of attraction, you start feeling repulsion. A piece of cloth, a garment appears just the right choice to be brought. A little bit of new information is added to what you are seeing, the price tag that is and the choice changes. That which appeared fit to be taken home is fully discarded. The judgement changes. Yes?
The food looked so nice, until you were told what it was made up of – information keeps changing the judgment. The judgement has no inner validity of its own. The man looked tailor-made for you, till you came to know his name. One sound bite and the whole universe changes. But we rely a lot on this judge. Don’t we?
We let him judge on our behalf. If there is one thing that we have neatly outsourced, it is life. We allow that judge to live on our behalf. He lives, he loves and he decides, he moves, he walks and he talks. Now you want to judge the most valuable, and again you want to depend on the same judge. Surely he will come up with some judgement. It’s not in his training to politely say that, “I am not equipped or authorized to judge.”
Whenever you will ask him, he will have some opinion of the other. The opinion might be baseless, fickle, temporal, but for him, his opinion is the end, the ultimate. So, when you will ask him, “What is the most valuable?” He will not keep silent. He will be ready with an answer. He will say, “This,” or “this,” or “this,” or “that” is the most valuable. So the inner gentleman has dispatched his recommendation. Now, what do you want to do with it?
You very well know what the quality of his being is. It does not exist by himself. You very well know what the quality of his opinions is. Do you want to trust him? There is no guarantee at all that “that” which he takes to be valuable today, would be considered valuable by him tomorrow as well. The proof is all the choices and judgement made by him so far, has he ever proved to be stable? Has he ever proved to be reliable?
But he very neatly couches his fickleness under the deceitful name of improvement. He will not say that my judgements have been false. He will say, “I have been improving. “He will say, “Earlier, I knew only this much. So, I decided one way. Then my information base broadened and I thought a little more; so I decided some other way.”
L1: And then you are convinced.
AP: And then you are convinced. The fellow is sincere, you say. You say, “This gentleman is my well-wisher. And not only well-wisher, he is sincere and hard-working. The proof is he keeps on accumulating information; he is always at work. And as he gathers more and more information, he has the humility to change his previous judgments. He does not insist.” You take that as a token of his sincerity. You do not see this as a symbol of his falseness.
We do not see that what he once loved, today he doesn’t want to cast a second glance at. We do not see that “that” which he once abhorred, is today silently acceptable to him. We do not see at all his stands come from situations.
So he sends in his recommendation. He says, “This is what is important, valuable.” You accept it. And then what is likely to happen? The fellow will change his recommendation sooner than later. Right? He will just come up and say, “You know! I am correcting myself. This is a better recommendation, you see!” But will that advice be of much help to you? Between the first and the second recommendation, there may be a gap of let’s say, three months. And these three months you have spent living according to the first recommendation. When he modifies his opinions, will he also return you also the three months? Would he? The gentleman works on knowledge, he is a thinker.
Let’s take a very crude example! You are a man looking forward to make a critical decision. Let’s say pursuing a professional career or choosing a life partner. This inner judge sends you his advice. He says, “Choose this stream of work or choose that particular man or women.” Now you are engaged; emotionally in. Even legally committed. After six months, this fellow tells you, “No! You know what, I made a mistake. There was a small calculation error. Where there was a plus sign, I erroneously used a minus sign. So it was a bit of a mistake. I want to revise my recommendation. It’s not “Pramila”; it’s “Urmila”.” But now, “Pramila” is very much in your home. The fellow has changed his advice. What will you do with Pramila now?
You have changed your city, you have move to some other place to work in that new organization. You now have a past. You now have an investment. You now are emotionally connected. The last three months or six months, cannot just be reversed; cannot just be deleted. Or even if you delete them or reverse them, the fact is that they were six months of your one precious life. And the fellow now stands in front of you, unapologetically and says, “Sorry mate! I made an error. It was not “this”, it was “this”.” It was like a doctor who has performed a heart surgery upon you and then six months later, remorselessly he stands in front of you and says, “You know what dude! I left the scissors inside. Do you feel something “in here”?”
Now even if he performs the second surgery for free, whose heart is at stake?
Do you know how badly shredded your heart is?
Do you know how often you have trusted this judge master and how often he has let you down?
Have you no other one to live with? Have you nobody else to rely upon?
Look at your heart! You have always been entrusting it to the wrong surgeon. See how he has deceived you! See how he has loaded you with all the wrong decisions, all the wrong choices, and the fruits and results of those wrong choices.
Daily we are bearing the results of our own false deeds. Nobody suffers, but for his actions. And behind every action that we make, there is somebody who is building the actor, somebody who is advising the actor. We say, “We are asking ourselves before acting.” We say, “We are thinking before act.” Whether you say you are asking yourself, whether you say you are contemplating, whether you say you are introspecting, and even if you say you are meditating, essentially you are doing the same thing. You are entrusting yourself to that inner judge.
Some people call it “The conscience”, some people call it “the mind.” But whatever it is, it is located inside of you. And hardly ever do we pause and look at it sharply to discover that it is false, that it is a phantom, that it is a mere appearance and that it has no authority to decide. But we keep making decisions.
If we discover that those decisions have been very misplaced, then we live in guilt and frustration. And if we do not discover that our decisions have been misplaced, then we live in a melancholy befuddlement; looking like idiots at the horizon and not even knowing why life is riddled with so much of pain. We keep blaming the stars, we keep blaming the universe; we never look at ourselves and see how we have been acting, how we have been living?
Now I ask you that you are about to make–in your own words–the most important decisions of your life and you are asking, “What is the most valuable?” You are not asking which brand of pencil to buy. You are not asking which restaurant to have your dinner in tonight? You are not asking the address of the nearest juice shop? You are asking, “What is the most valuable?” You really want to again let this inner judge decide? Do you?
You want to entrust on him again? You are so addicted to your own suffering?
L2: What to do then?
AP: If you have nothing else to drink, would you quench your thirst with poison?
L3: But we trust that inner judge so much, that there is no other option.
AP: (Smilingly) really, is there no other option?
L4: Sir, it is difficult for ordinary people to differentiate between the judge and the “me”.
AP: You call it “me”, you call it the judge, you call it the “inner voice,” are they any different? You may even call it the “voice of God.” As long as it is arising from within, as long as it is something that you can listen to, as long as it is a “voice,” is it not just the same thing? Yes?
Is it not just the same thing? An ordinary man would say, “It is my decision.” A thinking man would say, “It is my introspection.” A spiritual man would say, “It is the voice of my inner God.” Are they really any different? Are they?
L5: It is mostly just a guess. Either we remain undecided, or we go with the instinct that comes upon.
L6: Although, it is a thief, but is pretending to be God.
L5: The language that we understand is this decision. May be what we should rely upon is may be, speaking to us. But we are not able to understand because we are so used to decide by feelings or thoughts. So, we do not understand the language. May be, it is totally a different language that we understand. While, I was reading, I was thinking, ‘Why we have to judge? Dogs never judge, nobody (animals) ever judge. We humans only have to judge.’
AP: Why do we have to judge?
L5: I don’t know.
AP: Why do we have to judge?
L6: To get the best result.
AP: To get the best result. How do you know that without judgment, you do not get the best result?
L6: Sir, because we are born and brought up in the same scenario.
AP: If you know this much, then why do you again keep judging?
L5: Sir, not just this, but you have to analyze the situations.
AP: How do you know that analysis gave you that which cannot be surpassed by not analyzing?
L6: Sir, even if we decide to not analyze, we only decide to not analyze. So, anyway we are deciding. Even if we see that deciding is false, then also we decide. So, we are kind in a loop, like it is some other dimension that the real thing is there and we are struck here.
L7: Are you saying that you disregard the cerebral hemisphere, the whole memory thing, the whole spinal cord and the…?
AP: How do you know that they are any good? How do you know that they exist to serve as the basis of living? How do you know that your cerebral spine, the cerebral cord is to serve as the ground of the living? Well! It is something in the body, all right! How do you know that it has to be the basis on which you live?
All right! We just spent fifteen minutes talking about the inadequacy of this judge. But we still feel compel to stay with him because if you want to get rid of him, we need to have an alternative. And quite a few of us are right now busy trying to find out a replacement for this judge. And how do you judge a replacement?
Listeners: with the same judge.
AP: So you don’t trust the judge and you are asking the judge to “judge” a replacement for him. It’s like having a corrupt judge in the court and you want to dismiss him and you are saying we will dismiss you but before that you must nominate your successor. You want to dismiss him and you want to trust him to nominate your successor?
Is it not enough to see that this is not working and if it is working, it is working in a very-very shady way?
L7: So, we will have to transcend it.
AP: Let the judge be there. There are so many people in the world. If you don’t have to abide by their judgment, do you go and shoot them? Must you go and shoot them?
L7: Internal judge has to be killed.
AP: Let him be there. There are so many things internally. They keep doing their stuff. Why must you invest yourself in chasing them, killing them, burying them?
L7: The problem is that the judge works for some task, for drawing a map, it works perfect. But it fails in relationship. Psychological aspect, it fails. But in real aspect, it is fine. So judge is not totally wrong.
AP: Yes! But the judge hardly ever wants to confine himself to material task. The inner judge says that ‘I am so good. Why must I be limited to lineal task? Why must you entrust me with only the secondary and tertiary kind of jobs? Give me the primary job. Give me the job of deciding your life; nothing less than that suites my stature.’ And even when you say that inner judge does well in material pursuits, is a pursuit ever material?
Even if you are going to buy material potatoes, is there not an essential, psychological dimension to it? Are potatoes ever just potatoes? Is a wall ever just a wall? Is a man ever just a man? Is a letter ever just a letter? Is food ever just food? Is money ever just money?
So the inner judge, even when he is working in the material domain is actually always working on something higher. Trying to take within its ambit something that it is not equipped to work upon, something that it is not equipped to judge. We must look at why there is this tremendous need to judge? As long as there is the need to judge, probably we will have to fall back upon a judge.
Why is there such a powerful need to have a judgment before life can be lived? Why is so important to live a duplicate life? What do I mean by a duplicate life?
We live life as a replica of the judgment that has already been prepared. What we call as living, is just an execution; an execution of the blueprint that has been prepared for us by the judge.
Like you raise a house. The house is raised after the…
L: Plan is ready.
AP: The blueprint, the plan is ready. So in that sense, just like the house, our life is always second hand. It is not originating afresh. And our assertion is that just as the house first of all requires a plan, similarly, actions and living first of all require an idea, a judgment, a thought, a conclusion, some advice as to how to go about it. As long as you would require that advice, an adviser would always make himself necessary. As long as you require a plan before action, you would always require the services of a planner. And then it wouldn’t matter how rotten the planner is, and how inadequate the adviser is? When you feel that you are dying of illness, then even if the doctor is a quack, you have no option but to rush to him.
That is why when I said that if you are dying of thirst, would you take a poison? You couldn’t convincingly say “no”. Because a state may come that you may be so very thirsty, that you will be compelled to drink anything.
L8: Or you will die anyway.
AP: You will die anyway.
L9: Like someone is in an ocean, and he is thirsty and he drinks salty water…
AP: He drinks saline water. Or if you are on an island and there is nobody to talk to and there is just one other person, you will find yourself compel to socialize you then. There is no other alternative.
So as long as life is to be lived, as per a judgment, you would require somebody to help you with advises, with the judgments. How necessary is it really to live as per an idea? Remember that we are investigating the question, ‘How to come upon the valuable?’ I have changed the wordings a little. You said, “How to judge the valuable?” I said, “How to come upon the valuable?”
So that exploration has brought us to this point where we are asking how necessary is it to be assured of a plan before action? How necessary is it? I am asking, you must…
How necessary is it to be convinced of a plan before you act? In other words, how necessary is to predict tomorrow?
L4: Sir, this fear of not knowing is so trembling that we hold on to anything. It is like marrying a girl who is not suitable but known rather than marrying an unknown girl.
L6: Sir basically, it is fear of uncertainty.
L2: Sir, fear of uncertainty and not knowing is so trembling. Although we know that sometimes good things come to our life which we don’t know. But we cannot trust that without our planning, good things are going to come to our life.
AP: Is there something in our past, is there something in our experience and is there something anywhere that proves that the unknown is really fearsome?
AP: Don’t be so quick to say no. Because you are so quick to acknowledge, then that would question the whole foundation of living. You are quick repartee puts a question mark on the whole way in which we exists. If there is no need to be afraid of the unknown, then what is this whole discussion about the judge, about certainty, security, future, planning…?
L5: There is the fear of the unknown.
AP: Yes! Of course there is the fear. I am asking, “What is the basis of that fear?” How many times has the unknown murdered you? How many times the unknown has run away with your valuables? What grievous harm has the unknown caused you?
L6: Sir, it has caused a lot of harms to our ancestors.
L7: I also want to say that unknown means abrupt change. And nobody likes abrupt change. Mind wants to prepare itself.
AP: I understand that we do not like abrupt change. My question is a little different. My question is, ‘Is our welfare the same thing as our liking?’ When a kid is given a vaccine shot, he doesn’t like it. But his welfare might be contained in it. So you may not like abrupt change, you may not like what existence throws at you, but does that mean that what is coming your way is something that would harm you?
L4: Not always.
AP: It wouldn’t always harm you, just as that which you welcome and accept doesn’t always benefit you. That which you know, that which you are familiar with, does it always benefit you? It may benefit, it may harm. Similarly, that which is unknown doesn’t always injure you. It may benefit, it may harm. Then what is this special status accorded to the unknown? Why this overpowering fear of the unknown? And hence why the need to have judgment before action?
L6: Sir, we even go the unknown with judgment. Suppose I don’t like my job. And I am thinking about leaving it. And there is unknown factor that what will happen if I leave my job. But the thing is I am myself deciding it. So the same fear is there. My decision may be wrong; it has been in the past. I may logically decide that the unknown is not harmful. But that is also my decision.
AP: Dear, I have a small thing there. Even logically, even intellectually, do we really see, if the logic and intellect are the only faculties available to us? Are we using even those faculties fully? So I am not yet talking of an understanding that transcends logic. I just want to stay at the level of the intellect. Even intellectually, do we fully agree that the unknown is not essentially or compulsorily a threat? It has to sink in. We have to see that.
The unknown may throw up certain surprises and those surprises sometimes may be harmful but tell me is that also not the case with that which you welcome and expect and lay out red carpet for.
L: Sometimes, what happens is that you follow the logic, and think this is right but you got to watch. Like this is something new. You should try it out, come what may. Let’s go through it.
AP: I am asking you look at all that which you at this moment find precious in your life. Precious not because the judge says so, precious because you have actually found it to be precious. How many of those things came into your life as per your planning?
Let life be the ground of your experiment. Look at the small group of people that you really value. Value not because they are with you due to social convention or some other obligation; people with whom you can really be one with; people with whom your mind really resonate. Did they enter your life as per some plan? Think of your favorite restaurant, how did you stumble upon it? The best place you have been to? The best sites you have encountered? I am talking of natural sites. The most uplifting moments you have had? All of them remember, falls in the zone of the unknown. Has the unknown really been so unfair or cruel, is it out to harm you?
L: Sometimes, it is very uncomfortable.
AP: Sometimes, even the known is so uncomfortable. You know your wife, don’t you?
L: We should always choose unknown.
AP: I am not asking that. I just want to explore the basis of this partial behavior towards the unknown. Because if you want to explore the judge, then we must also explore why there is the need for the judgment? The need for the judgment comes from the fear of unknown.
L: We have resistance to the unknown.
AP: I am asking, “Why does that exist in the first place?” It cannot be removed before you see that it is useless or baseless?
These sessions, you have been coming here, and if you have been a little regular, you would agree that every time, there are few new faces. Some of the best contributions come from those who are really unknown to us. Don’t they? Even today, do you know the names of everybody here? So many of us are unknown to others and still things are proceeding smoothly. Look at it.
If there is a word called “intimate,” this gathering is as intimate as possible because we are discussing the most intimate affairs of life. Are we not? Living, acting, deciding, loving, and all of that is happening in the pious company of unknown people. Strangers! You may not actually see some of these faces ever after today. It’s possible. And yet in this moment, we are as one as can be possible. Is the unknown really such devil? If the unknown is the devil, then this is the devil’s workshop!
L: It’s not a devil. But if we have an open mind, but we are looking for something so known is likely to give us what we are looking for and unknown does no guarantee that you will get what you are looking for.
AP: Attitude is a small word, but still in want of a better word, let’s see. There is some kind of an attitude towards life. I would rather have “that” which is little, which is small, which is inadequate, but is certain. And then be open to that which is uncertain, which is beyond me, whose dimensions are unknown, whose face is unclear, but who potentially promises the sky.
It’s a way of living, it’s a way of seeing. Is it not? What do I want? That assured “little” or that “tremendous one” which is so tremendous that it cannot be a part of my sureness because my sureness cannot be bigger than me. And if I am talking of the tremendous, how can I be assured of it?
Do you see why the tremendous would always remain something uncertain in our frame of reference? You can be certain of the little, the small. You can never be certain of the ways of existence. It’s a tremendous net.
L: But in the known area, I can do something. I know that most of the things don’t happen because of my doing but I have a stake there. I can do. When it is unknown, I cannot do anything. So we want to act, we want to feel like we have the control.
AP: Are you really so fond of “doing”? Did you always do your homework? You are talking of doing as something that is always present. Do you always do that which you yourself know to be right? Is doing, something that really appeals to you so much?
You are saying, in the zone of the known, doer-ship is possible. So we love the zone of the known. But then, is doing or doer-ship is something really that you are so fond of? Why do you want to do? I am not going into the ethics of doing. I want to question whether you really want to question or something? The fact of living is that if you can get something without doing, which is always preferable to doing something and then getting the result. If something is available just like that, free of cost, as a gift, would you prefer to do something to earn it? Would you prefer to do something to get the air to breathe? Then what is this thing about doing?
The statement that you just made rest on the assumption that doing is our first love. Is doing really your first love? Had “doing” really been your first love, then you wouldn’t have been scolded so often for not doing. Remember your school teachers, remembers your boss, remember your wife. So “doing” is really not something that you are so keen about. What then really it is?
L: Not doing.
AP: If you don’t have to do, what do you want the judgment for? If you wouldn’t do the judgment, if you wouldn’t act on the judgment, if you wouldn’t execute the judgment, if you don’t want to do, what do you want the judgment for?
We have certain assumptions. We don’t want to have better assumptions. We don’t want to have better statements that cancel or nullify our existing statements. We already have a lot of brains. We don’t want to have superior brains. We want to go into our existing assumptions and see whether they are grounded in factuality?
You all are so certain that we must judge before we act; that we must look before we leap. I want to ask how that helps. I want to ask whether that has helped so far. I want to ask how your life would have been had everything happened as per your planning?
Think of the faces of your kids you love so much. Are there faces as per your planning? Would you want their faces to be any different? Tell me. Think of your dog or kitten or the tree in your courtyard. Has it come up as per the advice of your inner judge? Is it not beautiful without the advice; without the judgment? Has it not happened ever that one morning you wake up to find unexpected rains, or unexpected fog? When you went to sleep, there were no clouds; when you went to sleep, there was no haze. And you wake up in the morning at 6 am, and you find it’s pouring. Is it bad? It is beautiful. Is it not?
You don’t like surprises. Then why you are so keen on giving surprise gifts to your loved ones? Why don’t you let things happen as per their judgment? Why do you want to harass them with surprises? Yes?
I am not saying that everything that happens without your planning would always be liked by you. I am just inviting you to wonder whether so much that makes life worth living has “just” come, without preparations, without advises, without knowledge, without any advance intimations.
Can you go into that moment when you open your eyes in the morning and you see it’s raining? And rains were “just” not expected. How does the heart beat at that moment? Yes? The inner judge, mind you would have never counseled the rains.
So the “valuable?” The valuable. Let’s not go too far from the valuable. How does one then come upon the valuable? If judgement is not needed, and if judgment cannot take us there, how does one come upon it?
L: By dropping judgement…
AP: That’s a good judgment.
It’s a difficult thing you know, to come upon the valuable without judging. One can say, “I would judge”; one can equally say, “I wouldn’t judge.” But then how to proceed without judging? And also without “not judging?” Whether you judge, and whether you don’t judge, you are still judging.
What is this valuable?
L: Something that spontaneous and naturally flows into your life.
AP: I really don’t know. You see, I haven’t rehearsed this talk. I just had no idea how it would flow. You have to assist me. How does one come upon the valuable? I am as clueless as you are; if you are clueless at all.
L: If you don’t judge, then nothing is valuable or everything is valuable; or everything is just what it is.
AP: What happens to the word “valuable” then?
L: It is just a word. It’s a social convention that “this” is valuable. Society has told you that “this” is valuable. But if you are ready for the unknown, then everything is valuable.
AP: What do we do with this discussion then? The word is gone. The judge is gone; the concept of “value” is gone. What are we here for? What are we doing?
L: Listening to you.
AP: But I don’t have much to say. I have traveled this far with you and I am now staring at an ocean. What do I do? If you push me any further, I will sink. What do we do? Judgment is always one thing against the other. Right v/s wrong; doing v/s not doing; picking v/s not picking; acting v/s not acting; black v/s white.
So value is always in context of something that is not valuable. If you are judging the valuable, you will have to declare something as “non-valuable.” How do you know it has no value? You are again depending on knowledge. And if you are depending on knowledge, you would again have to depend on the judge. If the knowledge is valuable, then judge is very valuable because the judge proceeds solely on knowledge. And if knowledge is valuable, then the unknown will continue to be terrible. If you are to not to discard the unknown, if you are to deal evenly and fairly with the unknown-we are not even talking of being biased towards the unknown-we are just being talking of being even.
The known is all right. let the unknown be at least equally all right. No bias either way. If the unknown is not especially horrible, then knowledge has no special status. Then the judge is gone. Then who will judge the valuable? Who will decide that something is not valuable? There survives no one to say that there is something bad. Equally, there survives no one to say that something is good.
‘Is it bad?’
‘It must be good then?’
‘Did I say that?’
We never say that it is good. To say that it is good is equally the work of the judge of saying that it is bad. To say that it is good, is to be compelled to say that it is bad; just a little while later.
Is there anything that you have thought to be good, and as later on not threatened to be bad? Time has a way of putting one face upon the other; and the next face may have no relation with the previous face. You look at the tree in full bloom. Is it any similar to the autumn tree? The bare bones the skeleton, the shaft and the twigs? And you have thought of the supple leaves, the full flowers, butterflies, the whole blossoming and it goes.
Does existence really give us any space to call anything as anything? Let alone “good” and let alone “bad.” Is there space even to call a thing by its name? Is there space to call a thing as a thing? Even a thing isn’t even a thing, when an event isn’t even an event; when a person isn’t even an isolated, discrete entity. Whom are you calling as valuable? Whom are you calling as superior? Whom are you calling as significant? Where is the space for naming? Where is the space? Either there is the thing or your immediate relation to the thing; or there is the space, or the image of the thing, or the judge, or all the stories.
What does this leave us with? What do you take away? Is there a conclusion? Do you have a better assumption now? Do you have a more polished, more scholarly judge now? Has the inner self, the inner judge gain further in knowledge and confidence? Will he return saying that now he is even more qualified to judge?
Yes? Would he?
That’s his habit. You tell him he is false. He adds that to his knowledge. You tell him, he doesn’t exist. He adds that to his existence. You tell him that he operates only on memory; he adds that to his memory. How is he going to return tonight? More full, inflated, sure of himself, more eager to interfere, to advice, or would he return with a polite admission that it’s not the way he thought it was; that he is unnecessarily poking his nose; that fear can take away the much but never the essential; that the unknown may harm but the bigger harm is the fear of the unknown.
We all fear loss. If the known has given us fear, can any loss be bigger? Known appears attractive because it gives you something; it adds to you. If it has added fear to you, then it would have been better had we suffer loses? Acting is not the same as execution. One can act with the help of thought. And surely, and more importantly, one can also act without the help of thought.
To not to live in fear is to not to be afraid of thought and also not to be afraid of not thinking. When you are not afraid of not thinking, then you can let all thoughts and there opposites come to you. And that is called breadth of thought; that is called an inclusive mind. Contradictions don’t threaten it because it doesn’t identify with any end. We do not let those thought come to us which run contrary to our opinions; to our established stands. It is because we are identified with thinking, thinking “this” or thinking the opposite of “this”. When you are all right with not thinking, then thought is no more a menace.
Situated at your center of not thinking, you are comfortable with any kind of thought. Now, no thought is especially valuable. Now, no thought suggests to you what is valuable. Now no thought appears especially threatening. You can let all of them come. They come without being tremendously important.
You know the fun of thinking hard? Thinking so hard that you are as honest as possible in admitting the whole rainbow of thoughts. And then you walk away from thoughts. Then, only then you discover that “What is life?” All the movements, and still non-movement; and hence no movement is a threat. The entire sky and stills your home. So the sky is not a threat.
What do you value now? The left is not a threat, the right is not a threat, the flight is not a threat, the glide is not a threat, the ascendance, the decadence, the effort, the rest, and none of them is a threat. The sky is the sky and yet there is the home. What do you now call an alien place? And hence what do you value? What appears so fearsome now that you seek century in the valuable?
Where is that strange place that would compel you to now to go back to home? The sky is there and yet the home is there. What would you now call as the journey? What would you now call as the destination? What would you wait over the other?
If you are really flying, is there the fear in the flying?
If you are really thinking, is there fear in the thinking; even if you are thinking about fear?
If you are really alive, would life be any different than this moment; than this session? Would your face change? But the sky again become threatening?
If the unknown is not a stranger, are you listening to me or to yourself? If the unknown is all right, does it matter whether you understand what you are listening to? Will it matter if you totally forget all this? Is it harmful?
What good does memory serve? Can memory ever bring closeness? What fun is it to put somebody in your thoughts and memories if you cannot see him in your heart?
You want memory because if you cannot remember, the fellow does not exist for you. For you, the very definition, of existence, of somebody being alive, for you, is his presence in your memories. I am asking you is it any fun to be alive? What if you totally let go of yourself and the concept of life and then see whether you have been wronged?
What you call as life is just an obedience of the orders issued by this “judge.” The Moment you start seeing that the judge is a poor prankster; you would also start feeling as if that which appeared like “life” has gone away. The whole control, the whole purposelessness, the whole purpose-fullness would appear to be sapping away – Just doing, just acting, just living, not arriving, not obtaining, not fulfilling, not proving, no validation, just like this would all appear so lifeless.
Legs walking on their own, not needing your command, your control, the hands working, the mouth eating, the tongue talking, the whole system, the entire universe operating. You would feel almost like a machine. And you would say, ‘This is not life.’ But is it any fun to be alive? Try not being alive. After a while the notion that this is called, “not being alive” would peter out because all notions of life, of “not life,” of good, of not-good, of propriety, of impropriety, are provided by that judge. When the judge is gone, then there is no one to keep insisting that this is not life.
Remember, it is only the judge that keeps proving to you that the life you are living is the only life possible. When he goes, he goes away cursing, abusing, threatening, that “that” which you are now going to enter into is not life at all. But after he has gone away sufficiently, when the distance between you and him is large, then you stop hearing his threat. Then the notion that this is not life would no more be heavy upon you. You would just be flying without any notion.
So what is the judge saying?
L: It’s gone.
AP: The judge is always hungry of power. It is not in his habits to not proclaim a judgment on anything he come across. He would surely be saying something. Don’t be harsh on him. Just ask him?
“Beta! Do you really know? I honor your advises, but do you really know?” Then tell him it doesn’t matter whether you know or not because there is no need to know. If you do not know, that is neither better nor worse than knowing.
Knowing is all right. Not knowing is equally all right. Living all together is a different matter. There are some who think they know, there are some who think they do not know, and then there are some who live. Live with knowledge, live without knowledge; live with knowledge and without knowledge.
Before talking of the valuable, have we come too far away? So, what is valuable?
Isn’t that cool? “Who bothers?” Yes?
That’s a double rummy. The judge is gone and the valuable is also gone. All the while, we were after the judge but the judge has taken away the valuable. Now we are free. Free from the judge and also free from the valuable. Free!
L: Why freedom is needed?
AP: Freedom is freedom from any need; including the need for freedom.
To say that you are free is to say that “you are.” Free means nothing. If free means anything, then “free” is not yet free of that thing. So to say, ‘one is free’ is to say that…
L: One is nothing.
AP: Just one is; or one is nothing; one and the same thing. There are some lovers of nothingness; there are some lovers of freedom. The lovers of freedom would want to say that freedom is everything. So they would say, ‘One is everything.’ Just as others say ‘one is nothing.’
It’s all right. One is free to paint anything on an open sky. Call it nothing, everything, something, this, that, whatever.
So, Riddhima Ji (one of the listeners) what is valuable?
What is valuable?
L: Whatever we see is valuable.
AP: And what you don’t see?
So, the judge is saying only that is valuable which is brought in front of me as evidence.
‘I am a very liberal judge, I value everything as long as it is in front of me and I can see it as evidence.’
Ah! Old, fat judge. Be cautious of him.
He is very-very old; as old as time.
What is valuable?
L: To be able to be nothing.
AP: And what if you are unable to be noting? Too bad!
L: Judge has to be there to regard something as valuable.
What do we do with this question, then? ‘What is valuable?’
If judge has to be there to be answer this question; what do we do with this question then; “What is valuable?”
What is valuable?
L: Judging and value go together.
AP: Yes. So, what is valuable?
L: Value is judging.
AP: Yes, so what is valuable?
L: What you are able to give to others; living.
AP: Dr. Sahab, what is valuable?
Why can’t all of you just say shut up to me?
I am waiting and waiting and waiting.
Life is raw. It doesn’t really oblige you to be polite with your shut ups. Is it really important to…?
It is one good answer to several, several questions.
L: Sir, now I understand why Jain maharishi used to say something irrelevant to some questions.
But I also want to say that I don’t understand your question. It was not bothering me.
AP: Oh! You do understand. You know that the question was trivial.
L: The question is trivial. But what do I have to do with it? Let the question be.
AP: Why let it be? It’s not just letting it exist by itself? It is bothering you. It’s pestering you. It’s bugging.
You see the judge is very respectable, very honorable. It takes guts to say.
L: Shut up!
AP: Still you are just whimpering. Piyush Ji gave me that question and I am asking all of you, “What is valuable?”
Piyush: Shut Up!
No! Too caught in morality. Your honor can’t be insulted. The judge is an authority. Its bad manners! If it’s bad manners, then continue answering.
“What is valuable?”
Come on! What is valuable? You respect too many things, just too much.
Come on! You must learn to be disdainful. There are just too many things that are sitting as holy commandments.
Do you see what holds you by your neck? Do you see why you can’t breathe? Do you see why you keep returning to the old trap? Do you see why you fear that the same old life will begin after the session because you just have too much respect for too many rotten things?
Too many institutions, too many people, too many ways of living, too many percepts, too much stuff that should have become redundant by now is still hanging on because you needlessly respect it. It’s not even respect. It’s an abuse of the word. It’s domination. It’s subjugation.
Do you see how difficult it is to say “shut up” that appears important, holy, bias? Do you see that? It is not really the question that you respect because there is hardly anything that we respect in objectivity. We respect rotten stuff because it is backed by power. You very well know that it is rotten but because it is backed by power, you fear harm.
Do you see how superficial it is? Do you see it doesn’t matter whether the question is deep or shallow? Our response to the question always comes from a superficial center. An authority may ask the most irrelevant question, and still the question would be honored. Authority may provide the most baseless answer; still the answer would be honored. That judge represents our subjugation to all authorities, because all authorities come together to constitute that judge. No authority exists outside of us. All authorities are mental. All authorities sit in the mind. Together, they build that judge. That’s why it is so difficult for us to shoo away the judge. Too shoo away the judge would be to rebel against the total structure of our slavery.
You see, we are nice people. We are not commanded by guns, we are not commanded by brute force. Usually, we are not man handled. We are commanded through the domination of our mind. The inner judge is the one who dominates our mind. All the forces outside, who have a stake in dominating us come together, to form that judge. That judge will always keep constructing questions that it may play with. That judge wants to stay relevant.
So it will keep asking these questions. “What should be my next action, what is GOD, how do I live, how do I decide on this crucial matter, which city to live in, where to travel to, which God to worship, how much money do I need, should I be friend with that person?” That judge will always keep you engaged in questions, because questions is what makes that judge relevant, because job of that judge is to come up with answers. If answers are important, then questions will have to be important. The judge will keep making questions important for you.
If there a difference in the words “important” and “valuable”? Aren’t they the same? So, what is valuable?
What is valuable is just a ploy of the judge to remain employed. Don’t you see that? He may ask, “what is renunciation?’ or he may ask “what is emancipation?” or he may ask something in the realm of physics or advanced science or space technology. He keeps throwing stuffs that make you feel that you need him.
He keeps making you feel dependent, needy.
“Shut ups” don’t need to be very loud. Why let the judge spoils our taste? Can there be a gentle, polite, brush away? Could somebody demonstrate?
Make sure you flush the judge!
How do you say “shut up!” without letting the shut up become so loud that it ends up disturbing you? How do you say that?
AP: Loudly? I don’t know the effect it will have upon the judge, but you would be disturbed if you are too loud.
The judge has taught us to take questions seriously.
How do you say “shut up!” without even saying, without letting the “shut up!” become another inner vibration?
All “will, do that, this that” is a matter of planning and judgment. Be here. All the time we are talking about the judge being obsessed with the future and again you are talking in terms of the future. The judge is displaying how he will get rid of the judge. “I will do that.”
L: Sir, one more thing: ‘I’ and ‘judge’ are not two different beings. “I am” the judge. That is why it is so difficult to get rid of the judge.
AP: Yes, that’s why I said, “Is it too difficult to not leave?” You see leaving the judge appears like death because “I” and the “judge” appear to be one. You must go through the fun of not leaving. Let the judge take away the “I” with it. That’s what he threatens. If I go away, then I will take the “I” with me.
‘All right! You are pushing me out. But if you push me out, then I will take away the “I” with me.’
Let him take away the “I”. You learnt to live without life. Now without the “I”, without being too involved, how will you say “Shut up” to this threat? Dismiss it! Come on! Brush it off!
Contemptuously, without too much of a considerations, as one…
L: Without being involved, who will say “shut up”?
AP: But you are involved. Now say shut up. You are involved at least with this question. So don’t assume too much. That’s arrogance. Yes? Come on! Now that you are involved, say shut up to your involvement. Come on! There is always that inner thing that is inviting you to be involved. Don’t you see that? Does that inner thing ever let you just sit? It always be involved in this or that or that, and the involvement always means judgment.
Now how do you say “shut up” to all these invitations of involvement?
L: Without involvement.
L: Just being aware here and now.
AP: Don’t say. Do that; do that right now. This is not a theory class. Do that and see that it is possible. Otherwise, you will be walking back with a hollow yet inflated confidence. You would be walking back with more words and more concepts in your kitty. The judge would have gained a promotion. Now it is difficult, right? Had it been just about answering, it would have been easier. Now it’s about doing right now. Doing what? Involved.
Say shut up without involvement. Like a dying man’s last breath. It is a breath yet it is on a verge of disassociation; the last one. Only as much engagement as is needed to say shut up; only as much of a life is left to inhale the last breath. Only that much of involvement. You have to say shut up and you also do not have to be the one who is involved in saying shut up.
(A listener says “Shut up”)
AP: Ah! You would survive the shut up to see whether or not he has shut up. Say shut up and walk away. Is it possible? And saying shut up and walking away have to be the one and the same thing, instantaneous, concurrent.
Shut up and walk away.
Don’t stay there to see the result of what you have done. Otherwise, you have survived. You are feeling it is possible. Yet something within you is telling you that it is dangerous. If you learn this, then something valuable would be threatened.
I am giving you something that will save your phone bills. This is the easiest way to abhor those calls. A quick, nice, smooth…you have to say that.
(Another listener says “Shut up!”)
AP: Your shut up is not dismissive enough. It is rather inviting. The judge would start stalking too.
L: Ignoring the judge is better option than saying shut up?
AP: If it is loud enough, then it is suppressive. This shut up has to be like the disappearing sound of Om. The last sounds before silence dawns. The last breath before death. This shut up is the contemporary equivalent of “Om”. You start with a word and you end in…?
(Speaker chants Om)
AP: A point comes when you do not know whether you are saying something or not saying at all. So this shut up is quite the same as ignoring. You are saying and yet you are not saying. It’s the last breath. Mind you! It’s the last breath.
“You are breathing or are you not?”
“Difficult to say.”
“You are saying or are you not?”
“Difficult to say.”
Now say shut up. It has to be so subtle, so smooth. If you do not say shut up, then you are involved, if you say hut up too loudly, then you are again involved.
L: Shut up!
AP: Too heavy.
(The same listener again says shut up.)
AP: Again heavy!
It’s a very meticulous art. You have to say almost without saying. The words have to be ultra-fine. The judge thrives on resistance as much as he thrives on obedience. You are not resisting him. Ignorance should not become a proxy for resistance. Ignoring him cannot become the same as resisting him.
Be with this!
It is called the bridge. You are not obeying. You are not resisting wither. Obedience and resistance both are a confirmation of the power of the judge. Neither obeying nor resisting. Just dismissing. Just being somewhere else. Just not being present in the same domain, in the same dimension.
Even before you step out of this room, you are going to have enough to say shut up to. See whether you are up to it. Anyway, it doesn’t matter whether or not you are up to.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session video: Shut Up || Acharya Prashant (2017)
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