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Question: Every character around Roark looks insecure. Deep inside, I feel all the characters admire Roark, but are not willing to admit it.
My mind always looks for certainty. How can one live with uncertainty, and yet be contended?
(Howard Roark is the protagonist in Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’)
Acharya Prashant: Uncertainty is a fact of life. I did not know what question was coming my way, I did not know till the last minute. That’s called ‘uncertainty’.
How do I be certain of anything? To be alive is to be alive in uncertainty. You do not even know whether you would be alive the next moment. And if you would be alive the next moment, you do not know what would come your way.
So there is uncertainty.
The question is – For whom? For whom?
For the body there is a lot of uncertainty. It might just rain, and then your hair gets wet. “Ah! Uncertain weather. The hair couldn’t remain dry.” You do not know what kind of pathogens have already made their way to your insides and what kind of mischief they are creating there. The next medical report might declare that you have a terminal illness.
When you stand on a weighing machine, do you ever know your weight in advance?
Acharya Prashant: Aw! Shame! And we say that we are the body. If you are the body, how is it that you do not know your own weight? You are the body, right? You are not carrying the body.
(Holding a gadget in his hand) If I am carrying this, it is acceptable that I do not know the weight of this, because I am just carrying it. It is something foreign to me, it is something alien to me. I just picked it up. I just picked it up, so I am not supposed to know it’s weight. Am I supposed to? But if I say, “I am the body,” then I must know it’s weight.
So there is uncertainty for the body, by the mind. The mind gets affected by a lot of things, you do not what is going to happen next. Because you do not know what is going to happen next, so you do not know what the condition of mind would be the next hour.
An email, a telegram, any bit of information from here or there can completely change the weather within. Right? So there is uncertainty with respect to mind as well. The body has to live in uncertainty, the mind has to live in uncertainty. And that is unavoidable.
Do ‘you’ have to live in uncertainty?
Uncertainty refers to the whimsical patterns of prakriti (nature), uncertainty refers to the unpredictable waves of time. You do not know what they would bring with themselves.
Is it necessary to live attached to the body and identified with time? If it is necessary, then you will have to cope with uncertainty. And it would be a very bad experience. You will not be able to cope really.
Can you live as someone, something that no situation can touch? Can you?
Of course situations will touch your body, of course if you are slashed with knife the body will ooze blood, of course when you are asleep the state of consciousness would change. All these things will happen. But in spite of all these things, in the middle of all these things, is it possible to be untouched? If it is possible to be untouched, then you have great security, great certainty.
Then you cannot be ruffled.
Else you are at the mercy of the winds; anything can carry you away. You are at the mercy of the waves, you are at the mercy of the clouds, you are at the mercy of the whole world.
Anything can affect you.
The world creates you and destroys you, the world creates you and destroys you. Every moment, moment after moment – the body is being destroyed, the body is being created; the mind is being destroyed, the mind is being created. This is what is called as ‘rebirth’, ‘reincarnation’.
You do not know what the next shock from the world would be, you do not know what the next news would be, you do not know what the next wave would bring.
If you do not like this helpless state, then you will have to live as someone who is very surely unaffected.
It is possible, because the tendency to feel affected is a choice.
It is a deliberate choice.
If it is a choice to feel affected by the world, surely the choice can be reversed.
Surely one can also choose to not remain affected by the world.
The Upanishads put it so beautifully.
They say, “If you consider yourself to be in bondage, then you are in bondage. If you consider yourself free, you are free.”
It all depends on your deep-deep assessment of yourself.
It all depends on what you call yourself – your identity, your name, your being.
You could even call it a ‘Core belief’ – the ‘Core belief’.
Consider yourself ‘shakeable’, and everything will shake you up; consider yourself ‘unshakeable’ and see the magic.
Consider yourself ‘little’, and everything will be big enough to tease you; consider yourself ‘Immense’, and see whether the world can bully you.
But this thing that I am calling as ‘Core belief’, or ‘Core consideration’, has to actually be ‘Core’. It has to be utterly deep. If it is superficial, then it will be eroded away like top soil. It has to be really a ‘Core’ thing, so that everything that is there, layer after layer, layer after layer, on the top, in the middle, might be carried away, but not the ‘Core’.
One must have something that is non-negotiable.
One must have something that is not available to be discussed, talked of, deliberated, analysed, traded.
If such a thing is not there in your life, then you are at the mercy of the winds.
And winds – actually they do not have even mercy, let alone Compassion.
Are you getting it?
Hurt is not automatic.
Somewhere there is an admission from you that you are hurt, and that you would be hurt, and you would call yourself as ‘hurt’.
Don’t call yourself as ‘hurt’ and see what will happen.
Hurt is not an obligation, hurt is a choice.
Insecurity, fear, temptations, none of them are necessary, none of them are inevitable.
All of them are options.
You can take the option, or you can discard it.
The Spiritual One would not speak in the language of – “Such a thing happened to me,” because things do not happen to him. He always has a choice. And his choice is always in favour of the Truth. So either he will not say, “Such a thing happened to me,” or if he says, “Such a thing happened to me,” then by ‘me’, he is not referring to himself but to the body.
If he says, “Such a thing happened to me,” the truly Spiritual One, then rest assured that he is referring to the body. And therefore, even if he is saying, “Such a thing happened to me,” what he implies is that nothing has really happened to him.
Something has happened to the body, nothing has really happened to him.
Watch the session video: Living joyfully with uncertainty || Acharya Prashant (2019)
The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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