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Question: Acharya Ji, what is the significance of spiritual images?
Acharya Prashant Ji: Indira, do you see where this question is coming from? It is coming from the popular notion of Spirituality which has turned Spirituality into a body of exotic, unquestionable, esoteric knowledge, not as something that is raw, throbbing, not something that is palpable, that can be touched, that is direct.
Just search on Google ‘Spiritual images’, you may do this right now, and see what kind of images you get. Somebody is meditating in the transcendental universe with a ring around his head- this is Spirituality for you.
Questioner: Light falling from above.
Acharya Prashant Ji: Light from above.
(Acharya Ji referring to one of the images) Does this picture show that the fellow wants to buy a mobile phone tomorrow? This is not to be talked of in Spirituality, right? That the fellow is crazy after the latest model of mobile phone. You want to display him meditating atop some mountain, and some divine light is falling on him.
Do you know what is the popular notion of Spirituality and how it gets embedded in your mind? Tomorrow is Mahashivratri, and you will see a vulgar but spectacular display of how absolutely harmful notions are implanted in your mind. It would be very-very spectacular. It would be a blitzkrieg. It would be absolutely remarkable just for the optical value of it.
You know what I am talking of.
And then you are not supposed to talk of things like how you are jealous of your neighbour. That’s not supposed to be touched, you know. Let’s talk only of naad-brahm. Look at these images. There is not one image that has anything to do with real-life. Not one image.
Strange lights, clouds. Some woman with hair flying and arms extended, and looking up at the Sun. Some man with his brain bursting out into a mass of light. Some fellow sitting in some asana, and there is a series of light reflecting on his abdomen. It’s almost like the fashion industry.
You have all the fit models here. And there is a very clear dress-code. When it comes to spiritual images, I do not see any fat fellow. And they are all young as well.
This is crazy.
(Referring to the Satsang) Very soon they might declare that these conversations must be stopped being called as ‘spiritual’, because they actually don’t fit at all in the commonly accepted framework of Spirituality. They will say, “What you are talking of is just normal, mortal life. This is not Spirituality. Spirituality is when you talk of halos and shooting stars.”
And that helps you know. When that is Spirituality, far removed from life, then you can comfortably carry on with that which you take as ‘life’, because Spirituality is not supposed to impinge upon real-life. It is supposed to be ‘that’.
Question 2: So something like this is largely done by disabling the principle of ‘right and wrong’. Removing that everything will be made acceptable.
Acharya Prashant Ji: First of all, what is disabled is – the right to question. So when all that nonsense begins, it begins typically by saying, “Well you see the tradition has been…”, “Well you see the Yogic culture has been…”, “Well you see this is the way India looks at it…”
Now you are not supposed to interrupt then and there, and ask, “I am not prepared to take anything on face value. I am not prepared to let you continue your blabber, when it is founded in the statement that – this is the way things have been. Why have the things been this way? And I am not even certain whether things have been this way.”
Forget about having a factual proof, do you even have a scriptural proof? You just make something up, use that as the foundation of your words and actions, and then proceed to do anything which misleads a lot of people.
Question 3: Acharya Ji, what is the significance of having so many temples?
Acharya Prashant Ji:
Temple was the center of all high activity. Temple was not merely a place where you had an image or a deity established. It was a center of learning, it was the center of arts. All that which was high and noble in human activity, used to happen in the temple. Temple was seat of all that was best about human life and activity.
So you needed the temple.
You could even call it the high man’s club that was present in every human settlement.
Question 4: Acharya Ji, what is the significance of Shiva Linga?
Acharya Prashant Ji: Symbol. The word ‘linga‘ itself means – symbol, so that you remember the transcendental reality. You require something physical, material, to keep reminding you. The ‘Shiva Linga‘ was used as that symbol. And it was not merely the ‘Shiva Linga‘ that was used as a symbol. There were a thousand other symbols as well.
The symbol is of secondary importance.
That which the symbol points at, is primary.
So there have been various symbols at various points in time, at various places, for various people.
It depends on your personality and temperament what kind of symbol would work for you.
It has to be a practical thing.
Question 5: Acharya Ji, why are these symbols being worshipped?
Acharya Prashant Ji:
Worship the symbol as long as you remember very well what you are worshipping through the symbol.
After all worshipping an infinite sky is difficult and absurd.
So you will have to worship something that is more accessible, smaller, tangible.
So you choose something or the other to worship.
But you also have to constantly remember that it is really not the thing that is being worshipped, but something else through the thing.
Question 6: Acharya Ji, since Mahashivratri is coming, does the worship of Shiva has some relation with the night?
Acharya Prashant Ji: ‘Shiva’ is the Timeless Truth. Timeless Truth. What is night in the domain of timelessness? If ‘Shiva’ stands for the Timeless Truth, from where do day and night come? At what time?
So you are trying to say that the Timeless is related to a particular time in the clock? Isn’t that foolish?
Questioner 7: Acharya Ji, why are there some specific days to worship Shiva?
Acharya Prashant Ji:
Those days were meant to remind you that there is something beyond day and night. Instead, if you let the day itself be so very decorated and blown up, eulogised, then you are trying to suppress the reality and magnify the material pointer that was merely supposed to be a pointer to reality.
The book is so sacred that it has to be kept in a special glass-case, it has to be worshipped three times a day. It is so sacred that human fingers are not allowed to touch it. But of course you can sing and dance in front of it, and do abhishekam, and have large diyas and do a big arti. All sorts of sights and sounds.
In all of this, what have you done to the message of the book? At the end of all those celebrations, would the celebrants be closer to the essence of Shiva, the Timeless, space-less, essence of Shiva, the non-dual essence of Shiva?
That’s the only question that must be asked.
A sensual treat has been served, a grand feast organised with a huge monetary expense. Has it brought the audience to the non-dual essence of Shiva?
Watch the session video: Vulgar demonstrations in the name of spirituality || Acharya Prashant (2019) The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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