Should one strive for fame and popularity? || Acharya Prashant (2014)


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Question: Is it important to do something big in your life or more important is to do something big in any small work that you do?

Acharya Prashant: What’s your name?

Listener: Abhinav Gupta.

AP: Sit Abhinav. Is it important to do something big in life or is it preferable to do better in something small that you pick up? Abhinav, I need to understand your question. What do you mean by something big in life?

L: Something big in life means that if someone is Sachin Tendulkar, everyone needs to have same identity as Sachin Tendulkar or anyone can be…

AP: What do you mean by Sachin Tendulkar?

L: Sachin Tendulkar means that he has a big identity as a cricketer.

AP: Who gave that identity?

L: sir, we gave the identity…

AP: So, something big means recognition by all people?

L: Yes sir, is it every time important that…

AP: A lot of people recognize you. Okay. Second part then? Small and big?

L: Sir, the second part is that anything we do like if a person is coaching in cricket academy and does better in that. So, is it important that he feels that, ‘No, I should have been Sachin Tendulkar’? If I am…

AP: So, by approach you mean someone who is not recognized by many people.

L: Yes sir.

AP: So the question boils downs to asking that is it important to have a fame and lot of popularity in the field that is recognized by many people. Or is it better to do well in a limited area where not many people know you. That is the question? Alright, sit. Good.

By rephrasing the question we have come very close to the solution. Have we not? Who is the man who wants popularity and what will happen to him if popularity doesn’t come? And what is the cost of popularity? Think of it. We started our session by saying that we are afraid of others. And we also become popular among?

L: Others

AP: Why should I crave for recognition from somebody else? Remember, the one who will give me recognition, sanction, will act on his own values. He will appreciate only that which he thinks, is appreciable. If everybody thinks that ‘black’ is appreciable then what will I need to do to get their appreciation? I need to become black, wear black, demonstrate black, right? Is that not so? To get popularity and fame among people you have to do what the people like, right? Is that not so? So who is the master and who is the slave?

L: Others are the master.

AP: When you are popular, you think you are the hero. But you have forgotten that only because what you are doing is what others want you to do. The day you do something else, you will not remain popular. Others want an actor to do certain kinds of roles, right? And he keeps doing those kinds of roles. He remains superstar. The day he says, “I will not do these kinds of roles. I would rather do something else.” What will happen to him? Nobody comes to watch his movies. Who is the master then, the audience or the actor? Who is the master?

L:  The Audience.

AP: It is another matter that I do something which is emanating from my own core and then few people happen to like it. Just incidentally. I didn’t want them to like it. But they looked at it, they happened to look at it and they liked it. Then it is all right. But if I act with the intention to pleasing the masses then I have already become slave of the masses. Have I not?

Remember, the common characteristics of masses is mediocrity. And to become popular among masses, you have to fall to mediocrity. Without becoming mediocre, it is impossible to become popular.

Excellence never becomes very popular.

You have heard a lot of very mediocre, even cheap writers but how many of you heard ‘Lao Tzu’, let lone, read him. Excellence never become popular. Those of you who are running after popularity must know that you can popular only by coming down to the level of the lowest common denominator. Then you will popular. Do everything that masses like.

Simultaneously two movies were released. There was that movie called ‘Dabang’. I was there in a multiplex. On two adjacent screens, these two movies were being shown. One was ‘Dabang’ and the other was ‘Ship of theseus’. And I looked at the queues in front of two halls. Daabang was over sold and nobody was entering Ship of theseus. Now this movie, Ship of theseus is an excellent movie but it cannot become popular. If you want to become popular, you will only need to to item numbers. You want to do item numbers all your life. That’s what you want to spend your life doing? Cheap thrills. You will become very popular.

First of all,

Popularity means becoming a slave to others and secondly popularity means becoming a slave to others who are very mediocre. Not only are you a slave, you are a slave to an idiot. How does that sound? 

First of all, I am a slave and I am slave to thousands. Secondly, I am a slave to idiots. Mediocre people. How does that sounds?

A batch mate of mine has entered politics and rising steadily up. Now, IITan. I once heard him speak to a formidable gathering and the content that he was speaking was so trivial. After that I called him and said, “What have you been speaking? Do you really believe in this?” He said, “I can only speak what they what me to speak. One doesn’t get votes by saying the right thing. One gets votes by saying what audience wants to hear.” He said, “To come close to them, I have to fall to their level.” I said, “No, you are mistaken. There is another way. To come close to them, you can help them rise to your own level.” That too is possible. He said, “That takes too much of efforts.” No.

Following is always easier, right? Going up against the gravity is always a little more difficult. What do you think, the followers follow the leader? No, the leader follows the followers. And then the leader becomes very popular, very recognized. If the people are craving for economic growth then leader will come and say, “I will give you economic growth.” And you get the votes. If the people are craving for revenge against a neighboring country and the leader will come and say, “Give me votes and I will destroy neighboring country.” And he will become popular and get votes.

Who is following whom? Look closely at it. Who is following whom? Is the leader is being followed or is the leader actually following?

Listeners: The leader is following.

AP: Don’t go after popularity. Popularity means looking at yourself through the eyes of others. How do I look at myself? Through numbers. How many people know me? And they are already moving you in that direction. So many of you count your Facebook likes. Just as the leader counts his votes, you count your Facebook likes, “How many people are with me? “

Popularity means I do not have an internal locus of control. I am constantly looking at others, trying to please them. No. You have your own life to live. You live in your own mind. Be sure of that.

If a few people come to recognize you just by chance, it is alright but that can not become a primary motive. You do what you must do.

You do what you must do. You do that which brings peace to you. And let me tell you, when you are doing ‘that’, which stems from your peace and which brings peace then a few people will come to you, few people will recognize you but those will be real people.

What do you want, a thousand idiots surrounding you or five real friends with you? What do you want?

L: Five real friends

AP: Just have five people around you that is preferable, far better but let those five be authentic people. And authentic people come only to authentic people.

An authentic man can never be attracted towards a fake person. That is the reward of being real. When you are real, not only you enjoy being with yourself but you also find that your environment is full of the best that world can offer.

Getting it?

Big or small, popular-unpopular, recognized-unrecognized – forget these things. Who told you something is big and something is small?

You see I was here, the week before last. One of your batch mates asked me, “Sir, you have such educational qualifications. You cleared every possible entrance exam that can be cleared. Why are you not sitting in some top position in some foreign country, why are you here with us?”

It does not matter. It does not matter what the world thinks about your position. You live with yourself and that all matters. You would be making some very important decisions in the next few years.

Do not make those decisions considering that how they would be perceived by society or friends. Do not make those decision considering what the convention has been. Look afresh at them.Don’t go by the traditional definitions of good-bad, right-wrong, big-small, acceptable-unacceptable. What comes from your intelligence, only that is acceptable. Everything else is totally unacceptable.


Watch the session: Acharya Prashant:Should one strive for fame and popularity? The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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