If you go on wanting, how will you ever stop doing? || Acharya Prashant, on Raman Maharishi (2019)

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Somebody asks Raman Maharishi, “It is an established rule that so long as there is the least idea of ‘I am the doer’, self-knowledge cannot be attained. But is it possible for an aspirant who is a householder, to discharge his duties properly without this sense?”

Sri Raman Maharishi says:

“As there is no rule that action should depend upon a sense of being the doer, it is unnecessary to doubt whether any action will take place without a doer, or an act of doing.”

“Although the officer of a government treasury may appear, in the eyes of others, to be doing his duty attentively and responsibly all day long, he will be discharging his duties without attachment, thinking ‘I have no real connection with all this money’, and without a sense of involvement in his mind. In the same manner a wise householder may also discharge without attachment the various household duties which fall to his lot according to his past karma, like a tool in the hands of another.”

“Action and knowledge are not obstacles to each other.”

Question: Given that I am still struggling with attachments, how do I be a non-doer or practice being one. What should I do when I see myself getting perturbed as a householder, as an employee? A person who has to make decisions every moment, how do I practice being a non-doer and the method of self-enquiry, while taking those decisions?”

Acharya Prashant Ji: See, look at the example the Maharishi gives – an officer working in the government treasury, and therefore handling a lot of money. What is his relationship with that money? Why is the officer fit to be quoted as an example by the Maharishi? Because he does not intend to consume that money. He is dealing with it, but does not want to consume it. He has no hopes from it. He has no expectations.

Are you getting it?

He says, “Fine, I am dealing with it, but it is not going to go to my home. It is not going to end in my pocket. Not even one rupee out of this can be spent by me, on my own person.” That’s what.

Non-doership is intimately linked to what you intend to do with your actions – what is it that you want out of your actions, what is the intention behind all your actions.

The more you intend to act so that you may gratify yourself with consumption, the more deeply you will remain the doer, which is the false doer.

Get this.

The officer in the example does not intend to siphon off money. We hope so! He is Maharishi’s officer! He does not intend to take it all to his home and offer it to his wife. Or does he? And therefore, he can work all day in his quietude.

“This is work that I am doing, but I don’t want to take benefits out of it.”

It is another example which actually has its limits here. This fellow who is working in the treasury is working for the sake of salary, I suppose. So ultimately he will take home a certain sum. But like every example, this example too has a limited utility. If you stretch it too much, then it becomes ridiculous, ineffective.

Are you getting it?

That’s the way to go about life.

If you want to be a non-doer, ask yourself, keep asking yourself, “How much of what I am doing is intended for my personal consumption?”

The more you act with the desire to consume the fruit of your action, the more deeply entrenched you are in the mire of doership.

Doership is best detected in the fruits of the doing, your relationship with the fruits of the doing, because they are the most gross, they are the most easily detectable. Other things are subtle. Other things belong to the inside.

Because they cannot be objectively, materially seen so you can deliberately keep yourself in the dark. You can say, “No, my intentions are pure. You know, this work that I am doing with very pure intentions, is for the sake of the world, the society, or for the sake of the supreme Lord.”

All these things one can fool himself with.

But consumption is gross, consumption is very material. Consumption is such a glaring, solid proof in the face, that you cannot deny it, that you cannot lie in front of it.

The entire month you worked, telling yourself that your work is totally selfless, right? You can do that! We are very capable of deceiving ourselves. The entire month you worked. And what did you keep telling yourself? “I work in a spirit of pious charity! I am nothing but just a humble servant of the Lord, the Father!” And then, the month end you receive the paycheck.

If you want to know why you kept working for the thirty days, if you want to know why your kept slogging the thirty days, the most effective way is to see what you are doing with the paycheck.

What you are doing with the paycheck will very loudly demonstrate why you kept working the thirty days. It’s unmistakable. Irrefutable proof it is.

See what you do with the fruits of your labor.

What you do with your salary, that will tell you why you work. Or maybe it is not merely salary that you get, we consume psychic things as well. Maybe on the thirtieth day, your boss comes and praises you in front of the entire staff, and that really inflates you within. If it inflates you within, then you are consuming the praise. Aren’t you? And that will tell why you kept working the thirty days.

See what is it that you do with what you get out of your action.

That will tell you why you act at all, and therefore you will know who the actor is.

Once you know why the action is happening, you also know from where the action is happening.

The actor is now exposed.

Watch the session video: If you go on wanting, how will you ever stop doing? || Acharya Prashant, on Raman Maharishi (2019) The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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