Your ideals will always limit you || Acharya Prashant (2014)

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L1: Acharya Ji, my question is on the applicability of idealism that is practicality of idealism. Basically, an idealism and practical approach both are separate, It cannot be together. But if some people try to bring idealism in the practical life. It’s always like to creates a problem. Like we all are on and off face the problem which becomes a prison for saying the Truth.

So, what my question is does idealism that applies to the practical world does it create the issue and problem that was meant to solve the issue and the problem?

Acharya Prashant: Good! Pranay?

Pranay has asked the question the gist of which is that following ideals often lands one into trouble. What to do when the situation is like this? What are the Ideals?

L2: Ideals are ethics. Just as my Life is there and there is no conflict in between me and my favorite personalities and I keep on following him and practicing him.

AP: Can you simplify it a little more? I don’t know what the ideals are. You need to educate me. What are the ideals?

L2: Which are right things.

AP: What is the right thing?

L2: Which doesn’t land us into the problem.

AP: How do you know that it is right to express your hands like this? You just did that. How do you know that it is right to look that way? You just did that. How do you know? Can you have an ideal for every situation? And life is moments and remember a moment is not a second. A moment is infinitesimally smaller than a second. And for every moment you need some kind of a response right? Some kind of a right response. Can you have an ideal to guide you?

What is an ideal answer to the question that I am posing? How do I know? How do I know that it is ideal for me to ask you this question? How do you know that it is ideal of you to listen attentively?

Ideals sound like a well-meaning word but what are they? What are the ideals?

Alright! Let me try something and tell me whether it’s okay. I am saying ideals are some kind of predetermined response to a situation. When the situation is like this you respond like this. X comes to you and your output is Y. That is an ideal, right? Input X output Y. Is that an ideal? Is that not what an ideal is?

My question is does Life give you Xes or does life give you X1, X2, X3…… till infinity and A1, A2, A3….. till infinity and B1, B2, B3 till infinity? Is not every situation new? Then how will you use these well-meaning ideals to come to a response to the situations? Can ideals be helpful?

L3: Or our satisfaction will….

AP: Yes, what you are calling a satisfaction is actually a kind of laziness. I don’t need to be conscious. I already have a ready-made response in form of ideals. So that I can lazily just pick that up. I need not put in the effort of really knowing what the situation is and the hence what the right response would be because the right response would be as fresh as a situation itself. And every situation is a fresh situation. Is it not? Have you come to this moment ever before? This is a fresh moment, right? And if this is a fresh moment. It demands a fresh response from you right?

L: Yes.

AP: Now, can this response come from an ideal, Pranav? If a fresh response is needed and ideals are always dated coming from somewhere in the past then how can ideals be helpful?

I understand ideals are meant to support you. Ideals are meant to make life easier but can they be helpful?

L1: Acharya Ji, ideals are like they are dated us but they are also timeless. And speaking Truth was good in the past itself or Truth in today.

AP: Pranay, how do you know what the Truth is? Will the ideal tell you the Truth?

L2: Acharya Ji, ideals are like those who keep us in positivity in the society.

AP: Give me one ideal then, give me one ideal that is constantly applicable. Give me just one ideal. That you can just apply. Come to the situation, apply the ideal. Mechanically, show me.

L4: Acharya Ji, we know that the Bhagwat Gita contains all the select lines.

AP: How do you know?

L2: Acharya Ji, there is one ideal “being respectful to…..”

AP: What is Respect? Will the ideal tell you what is Respect? And how do you know what does it means to show Respect? Touching somebody’s feet, greeting him, saluting him. How do you know what is the right behavior at a moment? Will the ideal tell you that?

L: Smile on a person’s face.

AP: Is that always alright? When you are in the front of corpse in a showk sabha(burial) will you smile on the person’s face? Is that your way of showing Respect? How do you know will the ideal teach you that?

L: Acharya Ji, so basically what we are talking about Truth so if a person says the Truth, is that not necessary even his own version of the Truth.

AP: And his own version is worthless. Because ultimately if it has to be my own version then why am I being even the ideal? Just tell me, do your own version? Ultimately if it is boiling down to doing my own thing then why must there be an ideal at all? And there is a great freedom, Pranay by the way in doing that your own thing. Just that your own thing must arise out of own realization and attentiveness. If ultimately, Ideals says, “Speak the Truth” And what is the Truth? That depends on you. Ideals say, “Be loving, show respect.” And what is Love and Respect depends on you, does that not? So ultimately it depends on? You. So, come directly to yourself. Why bring ideals in between? Come directly to yourself.

Why can’t my response to a situation arise directly of my out of my intelligence? Why do I need an ideal? Why do I need an ideal to show me the way? Why do you need to give me ideals? Don’t I have the power to understand? And can’t my action come out of my own power? Why do I need the support of an ideal? Why?

L: Acharya Ji, whenever we talk about the Ideals, it is always our excuse and frustration in our failure. For example, In India, cheating is a very common thing. If a student get poor score because he didn’t cheat in an examination. Then why he doesn’t get clarity about his dishonesty?

AP: Is an ideal about a particular kind of behavior? Because remember if a behavior X is alright in this situation, in another situation X compliment will be alright. So, how can there be an ideal behavior?

I’m guaranteeing you what you are calling as copying will be very alright in some other situation. Not saying anything is alright in one situation and saying, speaking with your full might is alright in another situation. How can there be an ideal

War is good, Peace is equally good. And if you say I would never go to war because I’m an idealistic man and non-violence is my ideal then you are missing the point. Every ideal will confine you to a particular course of action. And remember,

every course of action and its opposite course of action both are alright in a different situation. So, how can there be an ideal response? 

L: Acharya Ji, then what about the core values?

AP: What can be the core value? Can a particular code of conduct an ideal be a core value? We often think so right? In name of core values, we have been carrying ideals of all kind. Ideals coming from society, from religion, from family, from the country. These are not core values. Know what the core values are, really existential core values?

Your very fundamental core value is ‘Clarity’ except that there is no core values.

Do you understand ‘Clarity?’

When there is no haziness, no fogginess, nothing dirty the open sky. No fog there, only ‘Clarity.’ And often the fog is of ideals.

Ideals obfuscate ‘clarity.’ So, anybody who will have ideals as core values will find that he is missing out on clarity. That clarity has also been given the name of ‘emptiness.’ Emptiness because it is clear, clear of everything. It is empty. That is the only core value.

A little ahead that core value takes the shape of a few other core values. They are called Truth, Joy, Love, Freedom.

L: That means Ideals always programs us.

AP: Obviously, wonderful very good. Because ideals will always limit you. You are communist now you are limited, you have a particular structure of thought and you cannot go beyond it. Ideal communism, ideal capitalism, ideal fundamentalism, ideal Ramrajya, ideal Islamic state. I can’t go beyond it and you know what comes out of it. You know what these people are doing in Iraq and Syria in the name of the Islamic state. Ideal that ideal caliphate, Ideals. More blood has spilled in name of ideals than anything else. I have one ideal, you have another ideal come let’s fight.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Your ideals will always limit you The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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