Repeated slips in the spiritual path? || Acharya Prashant, on Nitnem Sahib (2019)

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एह वसतु तजी नह जाई नित नित रखु उरि धारो ॥

Ėh vasaṯ ṯajī nah jāī niṯ niṯ rakẖ ur ḏẖāro.

This thing can never be forsaken; keep this always and forever in your mind.

Raag Mundaavanee, Fifth Mehl

Rahras Sahib, Nitnem (Guru Granth Sahib, Page 1429)

Question: Pranaam Acharya Ji. I feel that sometimes there is a peaceful quality in the plain life, and the desire for Truth is naturally present. However, at some point the changing states of mind start affecting me very strongly. The desire to go with them, overpowers the desire to see clearly.

In Nitnem it is has been advised to always keep the name of God in mind. How can the petty mind learn to respect God as something more than just a temporary relief among all the worldly temptations?

Acharya Prashant Ji: The verse that he has quoted says that God is not to be renounced. Keep him again and again for your life and Liberation.

It’s interesting.

Keep Him again and again in your life.

नित नित रखु उरि धारो
niṯ niṯ rakẖ ur ḏẖāro.
Keep this always and forever in your mind.

Here is the answer to you Ilmari (the questioner). You are not the first one who slips.

The Gurus knew very well that the tendency of the mind is to fall back. Doesn’t matter how many times you pick it up, it is designed to slip again. Therefore spiritual practice lies not in regretting the various falls, but in ensuring that no fall is permanent, that know fall is final.

Fall you will, and there should be no surprise in that.

You are designed, constituted to fall. And you don’t need to go into the details for that, just look at your body. You remember the mirror that I sent you? Look into that mirror. Look at you nose, your eyes, your skin. Does your skin ever experience anything from the inside? And your entire body is skin, is it not?

When you say, “My body,” what you really mean is the skin. Is there any part of your body not covered by skin? Look at the eyes, look at the ears, look at these fingers. Are they manufactured to hold the Truth? Are they?

Do you see these four fingers and this thumb? What is it for? (Acharya Ji, holding a glass in his hands) To hold things like this. Four on one side, one on the other side.

Your body is designed to hold the teacup, not the Truth.

Too bad.

If stuff were to be designed, it could have been designed otherwise as well. Right? But look at the damn design. The design itself is incapable of performing beyond itself. These eyes cannot even look at the physical heart, unless you get into an operation theatre or something. How will they look at the spiritual Heart. Or would they?

You know how difficult it is for the mind to look at itself. Start from realising that the eyes cannot even look at the brain, how will they then look at the mind. Your eyes cannot even look at the brain, how will then they even look at the mind. Brain is at least physical, the mind is abstract.

You cannot look at even all the parts of your external body, can you? Forget about looking at your liver and kidney, can you even look using your eyes at all the external parts of your body? You can’t. How will you then ever know where lust arises from, or the various physical excitements arise from?

So we are designed to be flawed.

Too bad.

It does not come easily to the mind to be self-reflective.

Therefore, the mind has to be trained and taught.

But it comes very easily even to the uneducated mind to gape and grope. Look at things outside, and then go for them.

But does it equally easily to the mind to turn inwards and be self-reflective?

That does not come.

We are designed that way.

Neither can the fingers hold the Truth, nor is the mind designed to seek the Truth.

Our physical structure is designed to just eat, breathe, climb up a tree, or climb up a skyscraper. Not much difference. Or is there?

An ape is climbing up a tree, and a civilised man, a PhD in Management is climbing up a skyscraper using the most advanced elevator. Is there really a difference? What is the ape going up for? Some food, some success. What is our doctorate going up for? Some success.

That’s what we are designed for.

And is the success designed for spiritual attainment when you are going up for skyscraper? It’s the same. So Ilmari (the questioner), now see something.

Just as prakriti (nature) has designed you to remain in it’s clutches. Similarly prakriti has designed you for one more thing. Listen carefully. It has designed you to operate on probabilities. It has designed you to not to try in a failing cause for too long.

First of all prakriti has designed you to fail in a spiritual cause. Secondly, it has also designed you to not to persist for too long in a difficult cause.

Man, animals, organisms all are designed to quit after a certain number of attempts. That is a pre-requisite for physical survival – try for a while. And if you don’t survive, quit. Otherwise you will die trying.

So prakriti has not only designed you to not to be spiritual, it has also designed you to quit your spiritual attempts, because you will fail. You will fail because prakriti has designed you to fail. And prakriti has also designed you to quit when you fail. So try for ten times, that much allowance is there. But eleventh time you are designed to quit and try somewhere else.

The ape tries for food in a particular area in the forest. And if he doesn’t get food in that particular area, what does he do? He doesn’t insist for too long. He is practical, he moves on. The tiger chases the prey, tries once, tries twice. And if the prey is too far, or too smart for it, it gives up. It says, “I will try somewhere else. Can’t waste all my time stalking someone.” Some morality you know.

(laughter)

So you are also designed to quit in your spiritual domain. That would be a bigger defeat. The first defeat is that we all are designed to be defeated. And the bigger defeat is, that we go by our design and quit our attempts towards victory. Now you want the small defeat or the bigger defeat?

The small defeat is inevitable. The bigger defeat is a choice.

I tell of both things.

I tell everybody that small defeats are inevitable, let them not mean too much.

If you are too disturbed by small defeats, you have had it. You won’t stay put for long.

You would be so embarrassed and so ashamed of yourself that you will quit.

So take the small defeats in your stride, let them not matter much.

Brush them aside.

Brush them aside so that the bigger defeat remains at bay.

What is the bigger defeat?

To stop trying altogether.

And remember, that prakriti has planned out even your bigger defeat. She has not merely planned out the small ones, she has planned out the bigger one as well. Small ones, you cannot avoid them. The big one, you can avoid it.

Stay put, take blows right on the chin.

It’s alright to have a bleeding nose than a bleeding Heart.

It’s a good thing you know.

Prakriti is all matter. So even if she hits and hurts you, all the hits and hurts can only be material because prakriti knows nothing beyond matter. Even if she hurts you, the hurt would be just material.

You can take it.

You anyway cannot hurt the Real thing because you do not know the Real thing. You are just material. So all you know is just material. C’mon, hit the material. That’s all that can be hit by you.

The world, the prakritik (material) world can at worst give you just material hits. At best it can endow you with material gifts, at worst it can take away just material stuff. You can take those hits, can’t you? After all you claim that you are a spiritual seeker, so the material does not mean much to you. Let prakriti disturb you materially, it’s okay.

And what does ‘material’ mean? Material means hormones, passions, emotions, thoughts. Prakriti will disturb your hormones, prakriti will disturb your emotions. All that is material. You will feel this way or that way. Strong emotions will arise. All that is just material. All that is just being robbed off your money. It’s a material loss, material disturbance. Don’t take that seriously. The Real thing has not been touched.

If she disturbs your emotions, keep standing.

Who is disturbed?

“Just the emotions are disturbed. I will do what is right. I will stay on the dharma course. I have to follow what is right. Emotions, they can do whatever they want to do. It doesn’t matter how I am feeling. What matters is what I must do.”

Ask yourself, “Had I not been feeling this way or that way, what would I have done?” You will get a very good answer. When you are faced with a dicey situation, ask yourself, “Had I not have these emotions, this way or that way, what would have I done?” And you will know what is the right thing to do.

This is a good way to come out of uncertainty.

Just ask this question: “Had there been no preoccupations, or prejudices, or emotions, or fears what would have I done?”

And then go ahead and do that.

Nothing else.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session video: Repeated slips in the spiritual path? || Acharya Prashant,on Nitnem Sahib (2019)

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