How to really help someone? || Acharya Prashant (2016)

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Acharya Prashant: The question is, if one wants to help, how does one go about helping? How does one create the right conditions for the other? Good, practical question.

I have often and repeatedly said, that to help the other, you have to be a nobody. Now, that sounds quite theoretical and abstract. What is meant by this statement that, to help the other you have to be a nobody? It means, that you have to be a someone, a no one, who has no choices or preferences of his own, except the preference to love. Except the desire to be loving, all other desires are now gone. Or at least all other desires are now secondary. The primary desire is just love. All other desires are subservient to it now. Which means that I am now not really bothered about what I am doing, as long as it is serving the purpose of loving.

I don’t have any preferences, choices, left now. I won’t say that I will do this work only my way. Then, how will I do this work? Which way will I do this work? Now, I will do this work your way. If I am nobody then I get all the freedom to act as per your wishes. Are you getting it?

In trying to help the other, often a big barrier is the helper himself. Because the helper says, “I will help, but only in this particular way.” This particular way which is the way according to my ideology. “I want to help you by helping you behave as per my wishes.” Now that’s a barrier. To help someone, you have to be a no one, which means that your own likes and dislikes relegate to the background. Now you look at the other. Now you look at the other’s conditioned mind.

Obviously the other is conditioned, obviously the other is trapped, that is why he needs help? So, you look closely at the mind of the one you intend to help. And you say, “I have no preferences. Openly, with a clean slate, I will see, how this person can be helped. I have no ideology. I am not approaching this person with a preset agenda. Instead, I am seeing, that if this person is conditioned, what is the contour of the conditioning. What is the whole landscape of the city that he has built inside his mind? What are the patterns of his or her conditioning? And to liberate her, I will recognize and use those patterns.” Now, in using those patterns, the barrier is your own patterns. Because you say, that if I use those patterns then I am doing something wrong something immoral. Or at least I am doing something that I do not stand for, that does not correspond to? My ideals.

The real helper is a man without ideals. The real helper is free to help. That is what is meant by being without ideals. He does not say, I will help in this particular way. He says “I will help in a way that is practical. I will help in a way that is useful. I will not help in a way that just makes me feel grand about myself. I will not say that I am standing on that high podium and from there, in a condescending way, I look at you and I say, now you do what I command you to do. I will see what will work in your case, what is practical in your case. And I am not going to check whether what is practical has been sanctioned by religious commandments or social morals. Whether the commandments permit it or not, whether the society takes it as right or wrong, whether my own experience agrees with it or not, still I will go into it because I have no preferences of my own, my only desire is to love. My only desire is your welfare. And if my desire is your welfare, I am prepared to stoop down. I am not going to pull you up to my level because you are not yet ready for it. Instead, I will come down to your level to help. I am prepared to drop my grandstanding.”

And that is the mistake, the arrogant lover often makes. The arrogant lover says, “I love you, so you must come to me. I love you and I am taller and higher than you, so you must rise up to me.” The real lover says “I have no preferences, I can be anywhere, and it doesn’t matter to me, where I am. But it matters to you where you are, you will not leave your position. It doesn’t matter to me, where I am I can easily leave my position so I will come down to your level. In fact, now, saying that I will come down is also a statement of arrogance. I am just coming close to you. I won’t even say that I am coming down to you, I am coming close to you. I am coming close to you so that I can offer my help to you, my hand to you.”

“I know very well, that you are fixated on your ego, which is your position, and you will not leave that. And if I just keep wishing that one day you will come to me, then it is not going to happen. You will never come to me. So, I will come to you. Maybe, when I come down to you, that will help you come up to me.” And then down and up, both are gone. Are we getting this?

Please see that often there is a lot of self-interest and pride and arrogance contained in helping, and that is why the help does not succeed. You are only left with wounded pride. You are only left with a self-ascribed license to say that you know I did my best to help, still, the person did not receive my help. Leave what the other person is doing, to himself. Whether he receives it or not, is another matter. First of all, observe honestly whether you have done everything to help. And you know, the most difficult thing in helping, is to drop the pride of being a helper.

That’s a great pride, “I am the helper, so why should I come down to you. I am a helper, why should I bend? I will remain in the heavens. And from the heavens, I will keep scolding you, imploring you, cajoling you, or whatever, to rise. But the one on the Earth has forgotten her wings, she will not fly. You say you have wings, right? You are the helper. You say, “You have wings.” Use your wings, come down. Come down to her level. That’s humanity, basic humanity.

Come down from your enlightened heights. Do not keep sitting at the top of the mountains. The top of the mountain is a place of pride. You can sit there, and keep cursing the entire world. You can keep cursing from there, that you know, sitting here, I am inviting everybody. But nobody is taking my invitation. If you really want to invite them, go where they are. If you really want to help someone, kindly take care, and be sensitive, to understand his or her mind. Act, as per his needs, not your preferences. The mother does not give to the baby, what tastes good to her. She gives to the baby, what the baby needs.

Do you know what the other needs? That cannot be known through books. That can be known only through a loving and sensitive relationship. Yes?

Listener: I actually see, that I am sitting high on a podium, and my love is not that sensitive love. It comes from deep pride. I discover that there is a fear. I earned my own freedom in a way, that is so dear to me, that there is a fear that I would get sucked into that wall again. It’s not knowing yourself fully that if I just yield and give in, I will be gone.

AP: No, you will be not. I assure that you won’t be. You know, when you enter those walls again, to help, then you are no more the same person.

There was a Siddhartha Gautam, who left the palace, and the city, and the civilization, to go to the jungles. And there was a Buddha, who again returned to the fold of civilization. He won’t be gone, he won’t be destroyed. And kindly do not think that enlightenment is an event post which you get the license to go back to the world. No.

Going back to the world is a part of the Buddha’s Buddhahood. It is a continuous movement. In fact, you sit on that high podium, because you want to defend something because your own freedom is dear to you. I assure you, that that freedom will gain fullness only when it is put to test, only when it is challenged. In that daily challenge, in that daily testing, that freedom gets real nourishment, not merely ideological or intellectual.

Sitting outside the arena, you can keep imagining intellectually that you are free. Sit, not just there, jump into the arena. And if you have jumped, from the right center, with faith, in order to help someone, then, continue to have faith. You may not be perfect, and nobody is. But with a surrender to perfection, when you enter the battle, even, while being poorly equipped; then someone else fights on your behalf. So do not wait for the day, when you will be fully liberated. You will never be fully liberated, sitting in isolation. Liberation is not something that you gain outside of yourself, outside of the relationship. Kindly, get this myth out of your head. You will not get it by breaking, by severing your bonds with the world. Yes, a little bit of solitude is necessary, but that is not the same as staying afar.

L: But, Sir, absolute freedom, only can be defined when you stay apart from all this.

AP: No. Not at all. Staying apart can never be in the physical sense.

L: Mentally?

AP: What do you mean by staying apart, mentally? Staying apart mentally is a subtle thing. It only means that you are not being corrupted by that which you are trying to cure. That the doctor himself is not catching the virus that he is trying to treat. Only that is what is meant by freedom. What kind of health you have if you are still so very afraid of the virus?

To have health means, that my immunity is so strong that now I can, face all kinds of pathogens.

Instead, if you say that no no no, everything should be sanitized, and I would stay away from the real world because I am afraid that pathogens, bacteria, and such things will destroy my health, it only means that you have no confidence, no trust in your health. You must have a deep trust, that even if you enter the grind of daily life, still daily life will not destroy you. Staying outside, staying isolated is no solution. And when you enter daily life, because you want to help, then you cannot impose your, ideals.

Remember, that you have returned, just for the sake of the other. Not for your own sake. So, now, you will let things happen, as per the other’s wish. You will remain as a constant companion, guiding, very subtly. Very very subtly.

Yes, please?

L: If the person you are trying to help, you think is wrong. And you will have to become a Karna, or Krishna, the path you have to take…

AP: You see, this is what is meant by moral high standing. The person that I am trying to correct is wrong. And the moment you say this, that the person that I am trying to correct is wrong, it is guaranteed that he will stay the way he is. In fact, he will strengthen his position. Precisely because you are constantly telling him, you are wrong. Nobody likes to be told that he is wrong.

If you really like to help, one thing that you must never feel or say is that I am right and you are wrong. That is the best way, of not helping. Nobody actively wishes himself ill luck. Nobody. Whatever is the state of a person, that person is in that state because he somehow thought that that state would help him. Is there anybody who wants to remain in suffering actively, consciously? No.

There might be a deep tendency, but it will be a deeply hidden tendency. Hidden from the person himself. So, what do you mean by wrong?

He is suffering and you are calling him wrong. Is that the language of love? Are you getting this? Please.

If you are still dealing, in the language of right and wrong, then you are just being violent towards the other.

L: But there are some ethics that need to be followed.

AP: What do you love more? The one you want to help, or these ethics?

L: I will have to decide.

AP: Yes, please decide. The lover has no ethics. The lover has no ideals. Otherwise, you can keep your ethics and talk to them, live with them, walk with them, sleep with them, kiss them. Ethics.

“Your” ethics, right? What does the other have to do with it? The other is living in a self-manufactured world. That world does not recognize ‘your’ ethics. Your ethics would not be applicable there, they would be irrelevant there. Using your ethics, you will never be able to help the other one. To help the other one, you have to enter the other’s world. And in that world, your ethics mean very little.

L: You have to compromise.

AP: It is not a compromise. When you are with a little kid and he says that you become my horse. And you, willingly kneel down on all fours, and you have the baby ride on your back. Are you compromising? Is that the word that you use? Is that a compromise?

Lovers, cajoling each other, are slapping and stroking each other in love. Do you call that a humiliation, a compromise, an insult? Yes?

A mystic is singing, and he is referring to God as “tu”, not “aap”, not “tum”, but “tu”. Will God say that his status is being compromised? Love talks an entirely different language than ego. There, words like compromise, have no meaning. What you give away, willingly, is not a compromise. It is your joy.

But yes, in this, obviously, you cannot give up on that which started you in the first place. What started you in the first place, was an unconditional love towards the other which is self-secure, which is not worrying about one’s own welfare.

That great sense of inner security is something that you must never compromise on. On everything else, you can compromise. When you are helping the other, there is only this one thing, that must be never be violated. Everything else can be violated if need be. That one thing is your own inner devotion, your own inner self-sufficiency, and security. Only when you know that you are not going to be tainted, you can even jump into a muddy pond, or even into a sewer. That inner confidence, that I cannot be tainted, that must never go. Only when it is intact, that you would be able to jump into even a cesspool.

On everything else, please compromise. Except for the center, compromise on everything else. And that will not be called as a compromise.

Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant: How to really help someone? The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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