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Questioner: Should one start early to achieve or excel in life?
Acharya Prashant: Siddharth, you don’t need to agree with me. You only need to understand what is being said. Agreement and disagreement come out from your conditioning. I am not looking for that. I am asking for your intelligence, so that you can understand what is here. And after understanding, you are totally free to reject it.
Who taught you that one must achieve in life?
The very foundation of what you are saying is that life must be an achievement. What you are saying is there must be targets and goals and life is a process of attaining them. Where are your goals coming from?
Don’t you see the entire process of conditioning that is behind it?
Do you see what is being said?
What is being said is, there must be a goal, there must be an effort in attaining that goal and to attain that goal one must start early. That is the line of argument that is being given. I want you to understand the basis of it.
The fundamental assumption is that life is nothing but an achievement, but mind you, all achievement is in the future. You have been told that life is something that is divided between success and failure. Do you really think that this is your own understanding?
This comes to you from education, media, family, society. Since childhood you have been goaded to attain this, attain that, X percentage, Y percentage, clearing the JEE, getting a job and how has that process proceeded?
Through greed and fear.
If you attain something, there will be an external reward. If you do not attain it, there would be an external disincentive. So, what is happening?
A goal is being set from the outside. A reward is coming from the outside. All disincentive is coming from the outside.
Is there any bit of you in all this?
But because it is happening over a long period of time, you have started thinking, in the delusion that these are my goals that I must attain and to attain them I must prepare.
Are these your goals at all?
The goals are coming as a result of your conditioning, and all conditioning is nothing but a lack of understanding. All conditioning is making somebody a slave. So, it is like this, that I am a slave and I want to make the slave do a lot of things. So, I condition him thoroughly and I condition him so deeply that he starts believing that what he is doing is his own desire.
The slave starts believing that what he is doing is his own desire whereas what he is doing is only what he has been programmed to do. It’s like a computer starting to believe that it is functioning on its own. No, it is not functioning on its own. It has been programmed to function in a certain way.
And if the computer gets up and argues that, ‘Well Sir, I have certain goals to achieve, certain things to excel in, so I look towards the future’. And the one who has programmed him is standing by and smiling at the success of his programming.
I just invite you to look at your own minds and thought processes. Every goal is a desire, you understand that? How many of our goals are really ours? There would be so many amongst us who are sitting here purely because somebody else wanted them to pursue engineering. There would be so many here who need a particular kind of job because somebody else expects them to get that kind of job. There would be so many here who would be pursuing MBA after engineering purely because there are a couple of MBAs in their family. How many of your goals are yours? You can understand that only when you become attentive to the processes of your mind and when become attentive to the processes of your mind, of all that which happens in this moment, and in this moment you find there are no goals.
It is alright once you have understood what you are doing, after that if you want to pursue it with all the vigor, effort and planning you are most welcome.
Firstly, for your own sake, see what you are pursuing. Is it really yours? For a five-year-old kid, it is understandable, he has not yet developed the physical framework in which intelligence can prosper, but you are around 18 years, 20 years old. If you claim that you do not understand what is happening in your life, then you must understand.
It’s high time you understand because it is you who has to live your life, not the one who is conditioning you, not the one who is influencing you. You and your intelligence, that’s it, nothing else. These are not two things but one.
~ Acharya Prashant speaking at KEC, Ghaziabad on 24th August 2012
Watch Full Discourse: Acharya Prashant on Gurdjieff: Man is a machine The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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