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Question: Sir, what was your thinking when you were preparing for IIT and IIM, and what was your thinking when you were leaving IIT and IIM?
Acharya Prashant: Sit. What’s your name?
AP: Deepak, sit.
Deepak is asking, “What were you thinking when you were preparing for IIT-IIM or sales services and then he is asking what you were thinking when you were leaving them?”
It’s not the same man who prepared as the man who left. We are a flux. We are changing constantly and that is life. Heraclitus, the great Greek philosopher said, ‘You don’t step into the same river twice.’
Man is like a river – flowing constantly, changing constantly; flowing towards the sea, the ocean, to dissolve there, disappear there. The one who is 15 years old and preparing for IIT-JEE, has one kinds of thought in mind. He is a child who is conditioned by the situation at home, by the fact that he has born in the family of bureaucrats, by the fact he thinks that the only way to live a meaningful life, the only way to contribute is through the government machinery. And if you want to be an IAS then you first must be IIT because he saw that the IIT’ans were making through IAS top rankers list. So he says alright to IAS via IIT. That’s why he prepared for IIT.
And then the time changes. The teenager is no more a teenager. In the process of preparation itself, he sees what is meant by a centralized government? What is the truth of bureaucracy? And he does get selected and he spends a couple of months in the training academy. And he sees how things operate there and sees that wherever there is centralized government, there would be a lack of freedom. And by this time he is already 22 and he says, “No, I am young. I cannot spend my life in a system that will constantly dictate how I am to be.”
So, he quits. But you know this question is not of such great importance to you except for one thing. It doesn’t matter where you are. Your entire history has brought you to a point. That history doesn’t matter.
In your awareness, in your deep understanding, what is right, is right.
Yes, I had invested a lot of time in pursuing my B.Tech degree and I had invested time in preparing for civil service exam and I invested time in doing my MBA also. But that doesn’t mean that my past becomes so heavy upon me that I live just as a slave to it, that I must be an engineer because I have engineering degree, that I must work as a manager because I am MBA from Ahmedabad or I must be a bureaucrat because I cleared civil service exam. No, past doesn’t matter.
If at a particular point something sees right to you, go ahead and do it. Don’t be a captive to your history. Don’t say that now that I have invested so much in it, how can I leave it? These are sunk costs.
You go to watch a movie. Right? You made a decision to watch a movie. And, you go inside and you discover in first one hour that movie is crap. Now there are two options. One, you can say, “I have already invested three hundred in ticket and one hour in the movie so I will invest one more hour. The other option is, “I have only invested three hundred rupees and one hour, why should I waste another hour?”
And whether you go by first choice or the second one, that decides the entire destiny of your life.
Do you see these two approaches? First approach says, “I have already invested three hundred rupees and one hour so let me spend another hour.” The Second one says, “I still can save one hour and I have invested only three hundred, why am I investing more into something that does not deserve it?”
Are we together?
Nothing is permanent. You need not be committed to anything except your own consciousness.
Watch the session: The one who entered IIT-IIM wasn’t the one who left || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2014) The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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