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Question: A man and a nail had a conversation. The nail said, “I have often wondered during my years sticking here in this panel, what my fate is to be.” The man said, “Latent in your situation may be – a tearing out with pliers, a burning of the wood, the rotting of the plank, and so many things.”
Said the nail, “I should have known better than to ask such foolish questions. Nobody can foresee the future, let alone a variety of them. All so unlikely.” So the nail waited until someone else came along, someone who would talk intelligently and not threaten him.
Acharya Ji, while I was reading the story I related myself with the nail who is stuck in this situation. What does this story mean?
Acharya Prashant Ji: Self-deception, our refusal to accept the futility of our ways.
As long as you are a nail, as long as you have made yourself into a nail, as long as you look at yourself as a ‘nail’, which is again to say that as long as you are a nail, what else is your future? What else is your future?
The future is pre-scripted, the future is pre-determined. A nail can have no future other than what the man told her of.
“The wood would rot, and that’s your future.”
“Pliers would pull you out, and that’s your future.”
That’s what you have lived as, and therefore your future is already ascertained. It’s a dead end. You have shut down all the possibilities for yourself. The way you have been living, it is already assured what your future is going to be.
But the nail does not want to swallow the bitter facts of her life. So she says, “This man is so foolish. He is talking of unlikely things. I would rather wait for somebody else who comes to me and talks of things less unpleasant.”
If you have put yourself on a road that goes to Chennai and you are determined to not to leave that road, if you are tied to that road, committed to that road, wedded to that road, is it not certain where you are going to reach?
But when somebody tells you that in a few days time you would be at Chennai, you say, “No, no, no. My great fulfillment is in Kashmir. Why do you say that I would end up being in Chennai?” Because you are firmly on the road to Chennai. Every passing moment you are coming nearer to Chennai, you are not coming any nearer to Kashmir. But you do not want to hear that, like the nail.
That’s the story of our lives.
We know what we are doing, we know what we have made ourselves to be, yet we want to deny the consequences.
We keep waiting for a magic.
We keep believing that something suddenly would alter the scene.
Nothing is going to alter the scene. Even if a magic is to happen, would you allow it to happen? Even if the road to Chennai is blocked for some reason, you will discover a detour, you will discover an alternate path because you are committed.
And very innocently, very childishly you will keep asking passersby, “When will I reach Kashmir? When exactly would the paradise be there?” And if one of them, like the man in the story, is brazen enough to tell you, “Dear Ma’m, you are heading in quite the opposite direction, you will retort like the nail – “Ah! Such a foolish one.”
We all are going down very-very well set paths.Therefore, our destinies are going to be no different from the millions and billions who have already walked down those same paths.
Are you getting it?
But we want to feel that we are special. We want to feel that the same road that took billions to their ruin would take us to bliss. Is that going to happen? If you look at the life-story of your mother, it overlaps seventy to eighty percent with your life-story till now. Obviously you will meet the same fate as your mother.
But you don’t want to admit that.
You say, “No, no, no. I will have the glorious future.” Exactly how? Exactly how? Walking down the same lane, how will you come to a new destination?
Look at the life-cycle of the normal human being.
Be born, get educated, get a job, get married, get a house, get a few luxuries, get a car. Deal with your kids, deal with your wife or husband, probably get divorced. Remarry, have a couple of more kids, get old. Die.
The holy eight-step process to death.
If four of these steps you have already taken, how will you avoid taking the next four? But you don’t want to believe that. You keep asserting – “No, no, no. Paradise, paradise is waiting for me.”
Question 2: So essentially what you are saying is that if we settle down with a certain situation, we are not going to reach anywhere else whatever we may think.
Acharya Prashant Ji:
If you are doing exactly what biology and society command you to do, then you will get exactly what biology and society want you to get.
There can be no aberration to the rule.
What does the biology want you to do and get? Biology just wants you to live just as the body that secures itself, secures the specie, and begets off-springs for the furtherance of the specie.
That’s all that biology wants from you.
And if you have been living as a biological being, you will get no more than what biology determines for you.
Mind you, biology has not determined Liberation for you.
Biology has only determined procreation for you.
Liberation is not biology’s objective, procreation is.
In fact if you actively procreate, you know what, you remain physically healthier.
It is proven now that if you keep having vigorous sex, the body keeps feeling better. Women who do not have kids are more prone to certain ailments – biology punishes. Biology says, “You are supposed to have kids. Why didn’t you have kids? So now who will have these diseases.” Biology does not want you to be liberated, it just wants you to have a litter.
Living as biology, that is what you will get – not Light, but litter. And you will probably live five years more. That’s true. We often say that the Yogi, or the Dhyani keeps a good body. No, it’s not always true. If you are getting bald, start having thumping sex, biology will reward you. Many of your diseases would go away.
That’s what biology wants you to do and get.
Equally, what does society want you to do and get? Even the society does not have the individual’s Liberation as it’s objective.
The society wants you to be a good, social citizen. Contribute to the social order, help in material welfare, maintain discipline. Be honored, get a few civilian awards, be known as a respectable person throughout the country. Contest elections, become a Prime Minister. Where is Liberation in all this? Where is Liberation in this?
So if you have lived so far as a biological-social being, you will get the biological-social returns. If you want something higher than those returns, then you better leave the track, then you better become an off-roader.
Leave the highway.
Questioner 2: Do we have to take a U-turn then?
Acharya Prashant Ji: Don’t take a U-turn, just get down the road. Even after taking a U-turn you are still on the same road.
Alok Ji (the questioner) is quite smart. Take a U-turn, and stay put on the highway.
Question 3: Acharya Ji, if we are not meant to live this way, then what is this life for? Do we have to preserve it for something?
Acharya Prashant Ji: For how long will you preserve it? It already has an expiry date, as if you can preserve it. What will you do by preserving it? Candles are not meant to be preserved. Preserve anything for too long, and it becomes useless. Does it not?
Acharya Prashant Ji: The body is already perishable. What do you want to do? Mummify it? Use it before it falls off.
You have limited time, and limited opportunity. It’s fun. It’s a very-very thrilling adventure. What would come first – death or Liberation? It’s actually a race against time – the whole Spiritual process.
It’s like competing with a train – racing with the train, running on the tracks with the train behind you. Win the race, or die.
But several of us are having a picnic on the railway track. We think life is there to have good food, good wine, celebration, keeping a good company, doing a bit yoga on the railway track.
How do you visualise it – yoga on the railway track, with the train trying to warn you with whistles and everything? It’s thumping towards you, and you are busy doing yoga!
Run, run, run. Baby run. Leave the asana (the yoga posture)!
Cities on the railway track, apartments on the railway track, beds on the railway track!
Questioner 1: But still we don’t have this realisation that time is so limited.
Acharya Prashant Ji: It’s not that we do not see that time is limited. If you have to catch a train, or a flight you very well do see that the time is limited. When others are dying in front of you, you do see that the time is limited. It is only yourself that you consider immortal, everything else is perishable.
“The train would leave, the flight would take off, but I would not die.”
You are young, but you still probably lived out one of the three days that you got. If your life, entire life was three days, one day is already gone. And that is when you are still very young.
How much do you feel you are left with? An infinity? One day gone, two days more. And that’s the utter maximum I am talking of.
You never know.
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: A pre-scripted, boring and dead future || Acharya Prashant, on Sufi Story (2019)
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