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~ Sri Raman Maharishi
Question: Acharya Ji, Pranaam! Please elaborate on the above, especially with regard to what it means that – only by experience can this state of ‘not wanting’ be achieved.
Acharya Prashant Ji: Like the entire path of Jnana Yoga, here again you have to proceed via the negativa. You have to understand that when Raman Maharshi is using the word ‘experience,’ he is using it to negate something, rather he is using it to negate experience itself.
He’s saying, “One must be free to do as one pleases and should not be served by others. ‘No want’ is the greatest bliss. It can be realized only by experience.”
Our experiences are all contingent on wants first of all. And secondly, our experiences, our wants, are all contingent on others. Our experiences are all desire led, and all our desires pertain to others. We seek happiness in others.
What is Maharshi saying then?
He is saying, “You have had umpteen experiences, innumerable experiences so far. And all of them relate to your wants, and all your wants relate to others and the world. What have your experiences given you so far? Look at them carefully.”
This is the process of negation, Neti neti (Neither this nor that).
When you see that wanting has really not given you that which you have been wanting via wanting, then you drop the entire emphasis on wanting.
This dropping of the emphasis has been called by Maharshi as, “‘No want’ is the greatest bliss.”
He says, “You may have a lot, you might be an emperor, but still, somebody who doesn’t want will be more blissful than you ever can be.”
This has to be born by your experience.
For that to happen, you must be first of all truthful towards yourself. You have to be really demanding, ambitious in a sense. You have to be someone who does not easily give in or compromise. You have to remember what you wanted when you started looking at the others. You don’t look at the others for no reason. There’s always a clear agenda when you relate to someone. It may not be known to you, but subconsciously it is always there.
What is it that you wanted when you entered into that relationship, a relationship with a person, a relationship with a thing, a relationship with a thought? What is it that you wanted? And then you ask yourself, in your experience with that thing, thought or person, did you really get what you wanted?
Now don’t kid yourself. Don’t try to console yourself. Be really rigorous, be really demanding.
Were you able to satisfy your craving? Did the association really give you that, which you expected from it? If it did not, then why do you want to repeat the same experience, or a version of the same experience, again and again? Negate it. Discount it. Blacklist it. Forbid it from attempting to be tried again.
This is just the path of reality.
This is neither austerity, nor sentimentality.
“If I am not getting what I really want from something, or somebody, or somewhere, then why must I repeat the self-same experience a thousand times over?” Makes sense? Makes sense? It does not make sense. That’s what, it is not sensible. Why walk down the same old road again and again, knowing very well that it meets a dead end? Is it sensible?
That’s what Raman Maharshi is saying here.
Why are you so intent on fooling yourself? You are not even making a new mistake! You are in a very lousy cycle, in which even your mistakes are repetitive. You are not even falling into a new trap. You are enclosed in a domain of such low intelligence, that you are being snared by the same stupid trap again and again.
Let your experience guide you.
And that is the only use of experience.
Not that experience can give you Intelligence, but experience can be used to intelligently discount a lot of things.
Experience will not give you something special, but experience can tell you what all is not special.
That’s the only use of experience.
Experience is to be used to negate, not to affirm.
Are we one?
Watch the session video: Each experience shows its own hollowness || Acharya Prashant, on Raman Maharishi (2019) The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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