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Question: Acharya Ji, is it a right decision to dedicate one’s whole life to the pursuit of something unknown?
Also, kindly throw light on how should we choose something in life.
Acharya Prashant Ji: Whatever you are doing, there has to be honesty in that. What is important is: you cannot say one thing, and do another thing.
If you look at the great scientific discoveries and inventions, the scientist or the explorer would be busy in his chosen area of pursuit, having disregarded everything else.
Columbus set out for India. And you very well know for how long a period was he on the seas. And he was not reaching anywhere. Certainly, he was not reaching India, because he was not even headed towards India.
Now, in that period if you would have gone to him, and looked at him: the food material, the ration, as well as the motivation, all were in short supply. You would have said that this fellow is a fool, he has left everything. In fact, he has left the entire continent for the sake of nothing. Not only that, he is going in the wrong direction as well. But look at what he got. He got America.
He got America, because, what he was doing was not a pretense. He was doing it sincerely. At times there were rebellions on his little ship, people even thought of killing Columbus. They said that let us get rid of this man, throw him in water, and return.
But he persevered.
It doesn’t matter what you are chasing.
Be very-very sincere.
You must know that you are committed to it.
And you must be very-very assured that you are not blindly chasing something. You understand that, that which you are looking for, is important.
Discovering an entire continent, is important. Finding a new sea-route to India, was important. So, if this fellow feels that there is something very important that he must discover, let him get into it. Let him plunge into it.
The only condition is: if you are doing it, do it fully.
Do it completely, do it honestly.
If you have left behind one kind of life, if you have left behind one kind of job, at least do the other job honestly, diligently.
Work really hard.
You have all the right to make a choice. But if you make a choice, and don’t do justice to it, then that is very bad.
In fact, correction of choices only happen, when first of all, you have fully tried out what you are doing.
You choose something. Now, unless you dedicate yourself fully to it, how will you know whether your choice is correct? May be your choice is incorrect. But if you are not trying out your chosen area in a complete sense, you would always be left with the hope that – ‘Something is still left to be tried out. So let me stay put. Let me not opt out’.
Once you make a choice, plunge fully into it.
Commit yourself completely.
And then, only then, if your choice is misplaced, you will come to know that you need to change something.
You know why people continue with even wrong choices for very long in their life? Because they don’t do justice to their right choices, and even to their wrong choices.
If you are choosing a particular way, go down fully. Cover a lot of distance. And that will tell you, whether the way, the path, the road, that road that you have chosen, is right or not. If you choose particular road, and don’t go far on it, how will you know whether the road is right or wrong?
So when you say that you are making a choice, commit yourself to the choice, so that if the choice is wrong you can quickly change it. Otherwise, you might find that you are spending the entire life-time just being in the wrong profession, with the wrong people, with the wrong thoughts, with the wrong ideologies, with the wrong habits.
Test, test and Test!
That scientific rigour must be there. That spirit of inquiry is essential to the youth. Ask, and test. Laziness – you probably have enough time for that, once you are ninety. This is the time for some real hard work. Hard work that involves the muscles, and hard work that involves the brain.
Did you get this?
Even if we have made a wrong choice, like Columbus did, he had chosen a wrong path, had he not? The navigational path that he opted for, would have never brought him to India. Or it would have brought him to India only after covering the entire earth, because he was going in exactly the opposite direction.
From Europe, instead of coming eastwards, he was actually traveling westwards. But even if he was travelling westwards, he at least had confidence, that he was doing something worthy. Have that confidence. And that confidence can only come by serious questioning and examination. It cannot just come from belief. It cannot just come from a kind of superstition.
You must never be afraid of questioning others,
and also never be afraid of questioning oneself.
The second part is tougher.
It is easy to ask questions to others, at least it is relatively easy. Questioning oneself hurts the ego. But that’s one must practice.
Question yourself: ‘What am I doing?’ Initially, there might be confusion. But this confusion will lead to clarity. Is it not better to be initially confused, than to have false clarity? So, afford a little confusion, that will give you a lot of clarity. And a young man, and a young woman, has to make lot of decisions. Some of those decisions have consequences for the entire life. Therefore, you must have clarity.
I have seen very-very bright people, from the best institutions in the country and in the world, just get lost because they made some awful decisions, and persisted with them.
The best of the country, the best of the world, even they need to continue questioning themselves.
That alone leads to continuous correction, and continuous light.
Watch the session video: Be sincere with even your wrong choices || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2019) The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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