Question: Sir, Do love and Compassion play a role in the process of awakening?
Acharya Prashant: Love and Compassion are not instruments. Love and Compassion are not stuff that can be used as a means or as a method. Awakening, Love, and Compassion are all synonyms. They are three different words only because we talk of them in different contexts. It is like one thing being looked at from different sights in different moods from different perspectives.
Essentially, all three of them are pure Emptiness. What we call as Awakening is not really an awakening. To awaken in the normal sense of the word means to become Conscious. To awaken in the normal sense of the world means to have a mind that is now ‘active’. You start saying that now you can think, analyze, see, determine, conclude and compare, that is what you do when you are awake; in the common usage of the word.
Real awakening is actually more like going to sleep. I repeat real awakening is actually more like going to sleep. You have become empty to all that which use to happen during normal awakening. Let’s examine what happens during normal periods of waking consciousness. What is that keeps happening, what is it that keeps happening when you are walking on the road? What is it that keeps happening when you are talking to somebody or working in the office or waiting at the station, or shopping?
Listener: Senses are open.
AP: Senses are open, and the world makes itself felt. The world makes itself felt as important; in fact, the world makes itself felt as the only reality. Am I right?
When you are driving, do you say, the truck coming in front of you is an illusionary thing? Do you say, “The truck is false?” When you are driving, let’s say at 70 miles an hour. And here the truck is approaching you, would you say, “False, it doesn’t exist. It’s a game of the senses. It’s just a dualistic mirage. Let me pass my awareness right through it. “
Do you say that?
Where do all the teachings of the gurus disappear then? If the world is illusory if the world is a dream, why don’t you go right through the truck? Then none of these teachings help us, right? Then we realize that we are not pure consciousness; we are the material body. Or, are we not? I suppose we have a lot of people here who have been through trucks. They don’t quite agree. I am an ordinary man. I avoid trucks; I take them to be real. What do you take them to be?
Somehow the spiritual ones does not like to talk of trucks. But to me, spirituality is hypocrisy, if it cannot explain the behaviors of the truck and truck drivers. To me, truck drivers are the greatest puzzle on the phase of this earth. What kind of spirituality it is that cannot talk of roads, potholes and truck drivers? Where do all the fantasies and concepts vanish when that massive thing is coming, wobbling at you? And the great artist is sitting at the wheel after three pegs of…; that is normal consciousness.
The world forces the mind to take itself as real. If you don’t take the world as real, if you don’t accord it the utmost importance, then you face extinction. Then you will be no more. So, normal consciousness is all about taking reality as something out there. Normal consciousness is about assuming the skin as the dividing line between the world and you; that is normal consciousness. Outside the skin, it is the other. Inside the skin, it is the me.
Now, when this happens, then only the material is taken as the reality, which is alright. The truck deserves to be taken as real. Have you ever tried to move a truck wheel? Sometimes, in gyms, they keep the wheels of trucks and you are trying to move it, you realize that it is not a phenomenon, that it is not a wisp of imagination, it exists.
In normal consciousness, only the trucks and its wheels exist, only the gross and the vulgar exists, only the material exists. Or, in other words, whatever is not material does not exist. If you can see it, it exists. If you can detect it using your senses, it exists. What is it that you cannot detect using your senses? What is it that can never be proven using the senses and the mind; never be seen, never be touched, and never be heard? Bring it more down to the earth.
Anybody who has ever smelt Freedom? Anybody who has ever seen Love? Anybody who has ever tasted Joy? Anybody who has ever held the Truth in his hands? So, these are a few little things that do not belong to the same category as the truck. The truck can be seen, heard, felt. Love, Truth, joy, Freedom, Simplicity, Innocence, they cannot be tasted, touched, heard, seen or analyzed.
So, if you believe the world to be material, if you believe the material to be the reality then your punishment would be that your life would be devoid of all that which is not material. And incidentally, all that which is valuable in life is not material. Trucks are material, Love is not material; if you take reality to be material then you are denying love and that’s a great punishment. Is it not? Is it or is it not?
Listener: It is.
AP: It is. So that is normal consciousness to take the material as reality. Awakening is to be empty of this consciousness. Awakening is to be empty of the belief that of prime importance that the trucks and truck drivers. Awakening is to realize that the truck that is coming to me, yes, of course, I have to avoid a collision there, but still, something is more important than the truck, than my safety, than the collision; something far more important in that. And, if that which is of primary importance is at stake, I may even decide to ramp my vehicle into the truck. That real thing which can neither be touched, heard, analyzed, thought of, smelt is of such great value that I will not hesitate to sacrifice my life for that; this is Awakening.
The Awakened one actually looks like sleeping to the worldly mind. Because, if you are the normal waking one, then you give utmost importance to trucks. Then awakened one may see the truck and yet not give first importance to it. Now, what you give such a call to a man, he is moving and he is watching the truck coming to him. He is not blind, his senses are perfect, and he can see the truck coming. He very well knows the effect of that impact of the truck on the body and yet he is prepared to risk a collision, for the sake of something else and something else is imperceptible and intangible. Now, what would you as a common worldly man call such a man?
You would call him mad. You may go and say, “Are you asleep?” Won’t you? You may go and say, “Are you sleep-walking.” So, the awakened one actually looks asleep to the sleeping one; that is awakening.
This same emptiness which expresses itself as lack of knowledge, when we talk of awakening, expresses itself as lack of miscellaneous attractions when it comes to Love. In Love, again you are drawn only towards certain nothingness. Ordinarily, we are drawing to this and that. And whenever one is drawn to this and that, the result is disappointment.
Real Love is about being fully drawn, fully drawn, to what? To nothing. I am totally committed to what? To nothing in particular. Yes, my commitment is absolute, but if you would ask me, “What is it that I am committed to?” I would not be able to tell. I am not committed to a man, I am not committed to a book, I am not committed to an ideology, I am not committed to my personality by the opinions, I am not committed to any idea of a God, yet I am fully committed. And that is Love. Are you getting it?
Similarly, what we usually called as compassion is just pity. Pity arises when you have a particular personal relationship with the other one; where in some way you are identified with the other one. Compassion arises when you are empty of any relationship with the other one yet you are connected in some ineffable way. If you ask me, “Why do I feel like helping him? I will have no answer to give.” That is Compassion.
If you ask me, “Why do I want to help him?” And, I say, “Because he is my labor, or because he is my son, or because he is my loved ones, or because he belongs to my country, or because he belongs to my religion then this is just identified attachment which sometimes expresses itself as pity. Do we see the difference between pity and compassion?
If you are trying to help someone that you have a relationship with, that you have an interest in with whom you have a certain attachment and identification. If you are feeling bad about his conditions, if you are partaking in his sorrow then this is petty. Bu,t when a great help arises from you in spite of you have no ostensible connection with the other one, when you are helping without any reason then that is compassion.
If reason exists behind your help then this is just a very reasonable and hence a selfish help. For all reason belong to the petty self. If you will investigate most of the instances in which we try to help someone, the help is always for a reason. “Oh! It’s my pet dog so I need to take it to the vet; my daughter, so I need to take her to the school.”
You can always find a cause as to why you are trying to be helpful. If ever you find a cause behind your help, rest assured it is not yet that but moments do come. It does happen in life when you just want to give, give without reason, help without expectation, it’s an overflowing. You have so much that you cannot rest without giving it to somebody. That is compassion.
The normal worldly mind looks at you and says, “oh! Why are you doing all this? Why do you keep giving so much? Surely, you have some self-interest. Surely, you are demanding and expecting something. Surely, at some point, you will ask something from us. A reaching out, a helping, a holding of hands that happens for no reason. Since it has no reason, so, it will appear awkward to others. Since it cannot be explained so it will appear like madness to others.
Sometimes, even to yourself; a change of mood and you’ll ask to yourself, “Am I not just acting Madly? Hey, what am I getting out of it? What am I making out of it?” And, if somebody comes and whisper in your ears, what is in it for you? And you would suddenly say, “Yes, what is in it for me?” And you find that in it, there is…?
Listener: There is something for us?
AP: There is nothing for you. When you act, act even though there is nothing in it for you; that great nothingness is compassion; that great nothingness is awakening; that great nothingness is love. What we call as ‘something’ is mind stuff and hence all the suffering of mankind.
Be unreasonable. Act without reason. Let something far bigger than you, possess you, overpower you, and act through you. What is that thing going to be?
AP: Nothing. But it effects upon you so tremendous that it would become everything for you. So you can even call it everything, nothing and everything; just the same. Kindly do not be lost in spiritual jargon. Love, compassion, kindness, mindfulness, awareness, pure-consciousness, pure-self, Akaar-ukaar-makar, three states, five sheets, fourth foundations, eight limbs; do not get lost in this maze there is nothing here. Truth is ‘simple’. When you have ‘nothing’ that is Truth. When the mind is empty of all concepts, believes, this and that including all spiritual jargons; including all talk of pure-self and the beauty of consciousness and the wonderment of bliss, when none of that is in your mind, that is the Truth. When you are absolutely empty, when you are not even thinking of God, when in the name of God there is just nothing then that is it.
Do not take all these words as separate. Self, God, Awareness, Pure-consciousness, Samadhi, Turiya, Guru – they are all one. If you bring in too many words you are just creating confusion for yourself, you are just giving mind more toys to play with; you are just giving an erratic machine more fuel.
Simplify it, it is very easy to make things complex. To be spiritual is to see the simple reality even in all complexity. The worldly mind respects complexity, the spiritual mind loves simplicity. And, if it is the Truth, it is simple; as simple as a naked child. direct, forthright, not cunning, not manipulative, not hidden, not scheming, blunt, obvious, present, straight, here, not something to be attained, not something to be known, not a secret, not a mystery, not a puzzle, not a code.
Have you ever looked into the eyes of a child, do you think there is a puzzle there? You must have a very complex mind if you see a puzzle there. That’s the Truth; there is nothing there. When it is nothing there then that is called innocence. When it is something there that is called cleverness, that is the difference between cleverness and wisdom. In wisdom, there is nothing in your eyes, empty. In cleverness, there is a lot there.
Ever seen a clever face? How does it look? How does his face look? Like a face of an idiot, or, the face of a sage, both are one. A sage is not sage if it does not look like an idiot, if you are not compelled to call the sage an idiot, believe me, he is no sage. A sage who talks very wisely, is always correct, right, and proper. He is a very ‘cultivated sage’. He is a manufactured sage, coming from the assembly line, probably branded as well and packed nicely.
The real sage is a ‘wild flower’, untouched by man’s hands, untouched by fertilizers and pesticides, arising straight out of the heart of the earth.
Keep it simple. The questions that are going to come now keep it direct straightforward. Spiritual jargon never helped anybody. Never, never, never, believe me. Since years, I have been getting people who have been with this master and that master. Have read all the possible spiritual literature and have only received high sounding answers.
This morning a lady came to me and said, “You know, I have been going to this particular guru, a very famous one, and whenever I asked him about my immediate condition, my marriage, my joblessness, my fear, my security; he just tell me, “Believe that you are pure-consciousness. You are not the mind, you are not the body. If you can drop the mind then no change is needed then you will be alright wherever you are.”
And she said, “I have been hearing all these fancy stuff, but it does not help me.” Can you tell me something which is real, which is grounded, which is actionable, not some wonderful concepts hanging in the sky, not some distilled heaven, not something to imagine, but something to live.
The spiritual one lives truly. He does not think of himself as this and that. He has no business thinking. He lives truly, directly.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: When you are helping without reason, it is compassion
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