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Question: Pranaam Acharya Ji. My question is about suffering.
With your guidance I have to come to see that my life is nothing but a big lump of suffering. It includes the whole swing of pain and pleasure, attachment and aversion, and my role in them as the ‘I’.
Even so I still feel that there is the impenetrable armour of numbness towards myself. There is no authenticity in this realisation of suffering, there is no right action. It feels very dry.
I keep listening to you, and sometimes your words penetrate through that armour. But still again and again I choose to stay in the dirt. The situation seems hopeless but not hopeless in the sense of surrender, but rather in the sense of becoming cynical. Please explain how can I truly see nothing, when the instrument of seeing itself seems to be very polluted.
Thanks for your infinite patience.
Acharya Prashant Ji: Ilmari (the questioner), Love. Where is Love in all this? That’s your medicine. Generally that’s the panacea.
If not your own suffering moves you, then look at other’s suffering. You come from a country where suffering is at least not obvious. (The questioner comes from Finland).
Economic and Technological development is a great wheel. It hides so much. Probably that’s the reason why most of the Saints happen to be in parts of the world where suffering was rampant, where suffering was something that you could see right on the streets, where suffering was an unavoidable fact.
It sometimes so happens that men of compassion become victims of their self-neglect. There are people who become victim of self-aggrandization or self-centeredness, equally there are people who become victims of self-neglect. They just do not have the faculty to care too much about themselves.
Therefore if they are to go into their own suffering, and if they are to try to feel motivated by their own suffering, if they are to try for Liberation by using their own suffering as the reason, then they would fail. Because they just do not have the faculty to bother too much about themselves.
If it’s about themselves, they ignore. It happens. This too is ego. Just as self-centeredness is ego, self-neglect too is ego. It’s a beautiful version of ego, it’s probably one of the better versions of ego. But nevertheless, still ego.
And if it’s ego, it avoids the Truth.
All this that you have mentioned Ilmari(the questioner) is not working for you, nor is it going to work for you in the future probably. Love would work you.
If it’s not your won suffering that you bother about, look at others. But then in that part of the world, the suffering of others is not so obvious. So you will have to find a way. You will have to go deeper into somebody’s life. You will actually have to look for areas where people are willing to admit their suffering.
And why does it need to be about people as human beings? You very well know that human beings do not represent even 0.1% of all beings on this planet. And we are not talking of the universe. We are not even talking of this galaxy, we are not even talking of this solar system. We are talking of this tiny planet.
Even on this tiny planet human beings do not represent even 0.1% of all living beings.
Why don’t you work for living beings?
There is ample suffering, I assure you.
And your own little suffering can be alleviated only by partaking in the Liberation of others.
So if you see that you do not want to help yourself much, it is both bad news and good news. Your processes and your efforts are failing you. So don’t try, and let them fail fully. Your system tells you, “No I am not interested in getting rid of my personal suffering.” So you must tell your system, “Alright, if you don’t want to be rid suffering, so be it. I am now onwards going to turn even more unresponsive to you.”
Let the suffering be there.
Now pick up a great mission and proceed with it.
And don’t bother about whether or not you have any personal suffering.
May be that’s the medicine that your suffering has been asking for.
It wants to be forgotten.
It wants you to rise above your personal suffering.
It wants you to help others.
Do you see how ‘self-neglect’ and ‘self-centeredness’ go together? We said, “Both are ego.” We said, “One looks better than the other, but both are ego.”
In this entire text that you have sent me, you have mentioned how you do not feel motivated to drop your armour. You have said, “I choose to stay in the dirt.” You are saying, “My instrument of seeing, myself, is very polluted.” You have said, “I feel I have an impenetrable armour of numbness towards myself.”
Two things are very obvious for your description.
One – you are not able to do much to help yourself. Two – and this is where the problem lies. You are talking only of yourself. I will repeat. Two things are obvious for your description. One – you are not able to do much to help yourself. Two – in your entire description it is only yourself that you are talking about. Where are the others?
Your description itself suggests the prescription. And that’s the advantage with honest descriptions. Very soon they turn into prescriptions. So my prescription is – if the ‘I’ refuses to get sorted, why don’t you just ignore it? Why chase it stubbornly? Appears foolish.
How aesthetic does it look when a man is chasing his chicken, and the chicken is running all around refusing to be caught. And the man is distraught. Have you ever tried to run behind a hen, or a cock, or a chicken? Tried? How aesthetic and beautiful is the sight? And I am not talking of kids running behind these little birds. I am talking of grown-ups with all there spiritual sincerity, chasing chickens.
That’s how it looks, when a man says, “I am chasing the last rudiments of my ego but I am unable to catch them.” Ignore it, ignore it. That’s the way. Ignore it and move into something bigger, vaster.
“A little bit suffering is still there.”
Let it be there.i suffer so much, why must you not suffer? Who are you to not suffer? Why were you born? What if I start caring for my suffering? Not that I do not care for my suffering, but I do not let the chicken make me lose my weight. It does what it does, I just keep looking at it with the corner of my eye. And I do what I do.
This concept of ‘Individual Liberation’ is a great myth. I have repeated it innumerable times. It won’t happen this way. It cannot happen. I am just entertaining you when I say that you are a man of compassion who is a victim of his self-neglect. Let me return to my unpolished and uncivilised self.
You are just a victim good, old ego which is trying to somehow make it’s way out of the ten-storeyed burning building, and is saying, “I am stuck here, I am stuck here. How do I now move? Can’t see the stairs. Can’t see the firefighters. Where is the fire engine?”
And all that it is talking about is – ‘I’. “How do ‘I’ get out of this burning building?” There are others Ilmari. There are others. At least for you there are others. Are they not? Or do you live in perfect non-duality?
There are ‘others’.
And if there are others, help them.
For your own sake, help them.
Just be wisely selfish, and help them.
Watch the session video: If not for your own sake, then work for others || Acharya Prashant (2019) The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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