An IIT – IIM education must widen your choices, not limit them|| Acharya Prashant (2012)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.


Questioner (An engineering student): Acharya Ji, what made you inclined towards Spirituality, after education from premier institutions like IIT-D and IIM-A?

Acharya Prashant Ji: A couple of decades ago, I was on that side, where you all are sitting now, in another engineering college, IIT-Delhi. We too used to take a lot of things lightly. We too would fool around in lot of sessions, tutorials, lab sessions. But we also knew what is not trivial, not casual.

Once in a while, such a thing happens, and then we should be awake to the happening.

We will be together.

So, one of the members of your organizing committee, immediately asked this question, when he met me. His question was: After IIT, after IIM, after Civil Services, and after a few years of successful corporate life, why this?

I said, “Let me first look at the anatomy of your question.” Your question pre-supposes, assumes, a couple of things. The first is: Education gives you a few specific directions to move in. And that is why, you are surprised, even shocked, that someone is breaching those directions, violating those directions.

Before we discuss the breach of violation, it is more important that we see whether education is supposed to be a liberating force, or a constraining force.

If you look at people, who are not educated, you will find them captivated, you will find them option-less. We could even say, ‘enslaved’. They can say, “Because we are not educated, because we did not have that kind of luck, or merit, so we are forced to take up, just these kind of jobs. Our spectrum of choices, is very narrow.” That is what a person with little luck, or ability, or understanding, would say.

Now, if you go into an institution of higher learning, even a couple of such institutions, and then you would say, “I cannot find the entire life open for me. I cannot see that all kinds of possibilities, and opportunities open up for me, irrespective of the direction they come from. Then what is the use of such education?”

Is education there to widen your choices, or is it there to constrain your already narrowed down choices?

If the purpose of education is to liberate, then why should you feel that after your educational degrees, you must follow a particular kind of script? Why must you move in only pre-determined directions?

The questioner is surprised at me taking a particular direction. I am surprised that why do you do, what you do.

A particular company arrives in campus, for campus placement. When I was a consultant, in corporate sector, then I would go for the campus hiring, to the best of institutions. And it would be quite amusing, as well as insightful to observe them.

So, four hundred students from fourth year, would have applied for the same job. And if you ask them , “Why have you applied for the same job?” half of them would directly say that this particular job is their dream job, and other half would indirectly imply this job is their dream job.

I would listen to them with patience, but at some point during the discussion, I would start laughing. I would ask them, “How is it possible that all four hundred of you, have the same dream. Is there any individuality, or are all of you, meant to follow the same current?”

Now, what is more surprising: that intelligent, empowered students, are all following the trend, or that a few break away? Breaking away should be the norm, breaking away should be the trend. Breaking away should not be the exception.

In fact, I should be the one, who should turn around, and ask the premier students, in the premier campuses, in the country and the world, “How is it possible, that after all your education, you constrain yourself to a narrow pattern of working and living? How is it not possible, that you branch out in all directions? How is it so, that an already chained life, becomes all the more chained, after going to an IIT, or an IIM?”

A fellow, who has not had the best of education, would say, “I can accept any job. I can start any kind of business, because I do not have any background in anything.” But I have seen, not only as a matter of principle, but actually practically, that unfortunately it so happens, that we become even more constrained, limited, in our decision-making, because we have been empowered with an elite degree.

That must not happen. That assumption is invalid.

If life has given you power, use it to blossom.

Use it branch out.

Use it to express all your creativity.

Do not feel pressurized.

Do not feel limited.

You are not obliged to follow the trend.

You must, first of all, try to gain maximum clarity, as to what is right. And then, the only remaining task, is to commit yourself wholeheartedly, to what is right.

Know what is right.

Do what is right.

Nothing else matters.

Most people do not know what is right. Obviously, they lead their lives in ignorance, in darkness – a drunken kind of living. And then, there are others. Others, who have the intellectual capacity, to know what is right. And it is absolutely tragic, that such people, in spite of knowing what is right, do not ‘do’ the right.

Now, this would be very impotent life.

One could have been forgiven, had one been totally in the dark. Had one not known at all, what to do. But, if you know, and still do not ‘do’, then your life itself is a punishment. You would be leading an incomplete, and compulsorily blind life.

A man, with eyes, who has been forced to act blind, his suffering is limitless.

So, please get the first assumption, out of your mind. If you will go into it, if you will question it, then it will be easy for you, to surmount it.

The second assumption that you have is that – somehow technical or managerial work, is superior, in it’s class and dimension, compared to Humanities, and specially compared to Wisdom and Spirituality. No, if such is the opinion that you carry, then this opinion is misplaced.

I understand why this opinion gets the better of us. It is because, whatever happens in the field of Science and Technology, is quite tangible, quite direct, quite measurable, and precise. Whereas, what happens in the field of mind, in the field of words, rather than numbers, is intangible. Often hazy.

But just because something is intangible, it does not mean that it is valueless. It only means that it’s value is subtle. Something may have a gross value, (referring to a bottle kept on the table, in front) this may have a gross value, but there are other things that have a subtle value. Things like Joy, things lie Understanding.

I can hold this bottle in my hand, I cannot hold understanding in your hand. You cannot hold love in your hand. You cannot hold clarity in your hand. Just because there are certain things, that are not material enough, to be formed, to be weighed, to be experienced through senses, it does not mean that they are valueless.

You are right now listening to me. Even ‘listening’ cannot be held like this bottle. But then, if you are listening, you very well know the value of listening.

All education, all civilization, all progress and advancement, is for welfare.

And what is ‘welfare’?

That which gives man peace.

Yes, material welfare does give man peace, and is quite important. But there is another more important, and dimensionally higher component of welfare, that needs to be addressed. As engineers, you work for welfare – others’ welfare, and your own welfare.

Spirituality too aims at welfare. And what spirituality can accomplish, the other fields of human endeavor, cannot.

So, it becomes obvious now, why one can move into the field of understanding life, if that can be called ‘a field’, at all. Life itself is the field, because it is a terrific field, because it is the most important field. Because that work is more important, than the work of an engineer, or a manager.

That does not belittle the work of the scientist. It’s only to say, that – the work of the scientist, is ultimately, to bring welfare and peace to man.

Science addresses only that, which is measurable, numerable, experiencable, perceivable through senses.

And there is a lot, that involves human welfare, but cannot be the material subject of any science, any technology, any mathematics.

That must be addressed, otherwise, science will remain blind.

Otherwise, the products of science, the entire area and produce of science, will be channelized, only towards devastation.


Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant, with students: An IIT – IIM education must widen your choices, not limit them


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How to know one’s calling in life?|| Acharya Prashant (2019)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here


Question: How can I understand my ‘calling’ in life?

Acharya Prashant Ji: What do you mean by ‘calling’?

The question is: How do I understand my ‘calling’? How do I decide what to do?

Do you mean in terms of profession, or career? Are you already not confused, about whether to do this or that? Are you asking from clean slate?

Questioner: I am confused.

Acharya Ji: If you are confused, that means you already attach importance to two or three options, right? And you are confused only because you cannot choose, from in-between those pptions. That is your confusion. Correct?

Questioner: Yes.

Acharya Ji: Right?

Questioner: Yes.

Acharya Ji: You are confused because you cannot choose between Wine, Vodka, Gin, or Whisky. And even when you want to ask regarding your calling, you want me help you, put your finger on one of the four bottles, right? Wine, Vodka, Gin, and Whisky.

That is the reason behind your confusion. What is the reason? You have these four options. Now where is the apple juice? Where is the apple juice? Unless you first remove these four, would apple juice ever figure in your mind? That is what is meant by – asking from a clean slate.

Whenever you ask a question, you already have a set of ready-made answers. All you want from this speaker to do, is to help you choose from A, B, C and D(Wine, Whisky, Gin, and Vodka). Now had these A, B, C, D  not been already there with you, you would have anyway not asked the question, because there would have been no confusion.

Instead of trying to know your genuine calling, just remove all the options that are there in your mind. Just remove them. Now, that appears so dangerous. You will say, “I am anyway not able to figure out when I have four options, how will I figure out, when I have zero options?” But that is the beauty of the game.

With four options, all you get is – confusion.

With zero options, all you get is – direction.

The solution to the confusion, that four options cause, is not a fifth option, not a sixth option. Not eight options. When four options are causing confusion, the solution will emerge, when you remove all four. Remove all four, and now you are free to know. Now, a decision will arise from your freedom. As long as these four options are available, there is no possibility of any kind of solution.

That is the thing with questions. They have preset answers, ready with them. The question already decides the scope of the answer. And when the question has pre-decided the scope of the answer, then the answer cannot dissolve the question. Then the answer is just a continuation of the question. And the question is a problem. So the answer then, is the continuation of the problem.

Remove all the options that you have.

See that you are just newly born.

See that you have no experiences.

See that you can decide on a totally clean slate.

That totally clean slate, is called ‘the Self’, or ‘the Atman’.

And now see what is possible for you.

Don’t imagine about it. Just keep all your existing priorities away, and then ask yourself, “Had these not been in my life, how would have my life gone?”And then you would know, what to do with your life.

As long as you keep deciding, from within your existing priorities,

you will only get that, which is anyway already existing in your life.

For a moment set aside all of this, and ask yourself, “Had all of this not been there, how would have I lived?” then you would know what calls. Then you will know the meaning of ‘calling’. Right?

A fellow comes to commit suicide. And you are on the other side of the counter. And he is asking you to choose between four kinds of poisons. Is there any real choice involved in this? Would you say, “I am helping him choose rightly?”

“I will give him the best kind of poison.”

Choice can happen, only when there are no choices.

Remove it from his mind, that he needs to be poisoned. And then see what is the fresh decision that arises. Then he will know how to live his life.

When you are shopping, for a car, may be what you actually need, is a bike, or a cycle. There is no point in asking for expert advice, to choose the best car.

The real thing that you want, may lie outside the domain of your choices,

the whole set of your choices.


Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity. Watch the video session: Acharya Prashant: How to know one’s calling in life?

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Acharya Prashant, with students: Will living without ego cause one to starve?

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Acharya Prashant: The question is how do I fill this stomach if I don’t have an ‘ego’?

Firstly, you must see that you are deeply afraid. You are deeply afraid that if you don’t follow the orders of this ‘other’, that that other could be society, friends, family, corporations, the entire trend of career making. You are deeply afraid that If you don’t follow ‘that’ then you will end up starving. You won’t have enough eat.

Now, is this fear yours?

Even, this fear has been instinct to your mind by ‘that’ other. Don’t you see how cunning that other is? He repeatedly tells you that unless you become my slave, you will starve. But is that the Truth?

Is that the Truth?

Would you really starve if you don’t toe the others line? If you don’t develop an ego, that is If you don’t develop a sense of ‘Self’ dependent upon the other. You won’t.

I Invite you to find out whether you would really starve. The world will always have enough for you to eat. You won’t starve but you may not be able to fulfill these ambitions.

The funny part is even the ambition has been given to you by outside. So there is nothing lost if you can’t fulfill it. You don’t lose anything at all if you don’t meet your ambitions. Remember, there will always be enough to meet your needs. And a free man will always find enough to meet his needs. Because his needs are always so small.

You don’t need too much but yes, your ambitions depend upon your subservience to the society.

Needs don’t make you a slave, ambitions make you a slave.

Read more

Acharya Prashant, with students: You are the mother of all importance

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Acharya Prashant: All your student life, you have been talking and studying about this and that. The languages, Science, Social Sciences – History, Geography, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry. Now, Technology.

But there is one entity that you have forgotten so much, that it is very difficult at this moment, to even remind you of that entity. That entity has never been in the domain of your education. You have studied about a lot of things, but there is one entity that you have never studied about. Never bothered to attend to.

What is that entity?

Listener: Personality.

AP: Personality?

You will get to study a lot of Personality.

In fact, you have been studying about nothing but ‘Personality’!

‘Personality’ by definition is nothing but what you gather from outside.

Read more

Acharya Prashant: Choosing the Right Profession

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Acharya Prashant: Kaustubh is saying he wants to be an IAS officer, and there is a huge burden of expectations and that is just draining away his life.

Kaustubh, do you want to be an IAS officer or is it out of expectations of others?

Please understand this: You are just beginning your second year of a B.Tech programme, have you really seen life? Do you really know what it means to be a bureaucrat? What makes you come to the conclusion that you must be an IAS officer?

If it is the expectations of others then you are condemning yourself to a lot of suffering.

You see, I was born in a family of bureaucrats, from both my mother’s and father’s side, and as providence would have it, I was a topper, topped the state, stood all India third rank. Read more

Artificial intelligence and Real intelligence

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First Question: In the age of artificial intelligence, where does man stand in front of machines?
Second question: What kind of personality development does man need?
Acharya Prashant: Computation and information technology has been, and is, evolving rapidly. Machines bring with them the benefits of efficiency, scalability and predictability. Everything that a computer system, a mechanical arrangement, can take care of will be sooner than later assigned to the machines. Which means that all pattern based jobs – work that involves repetition and adherence to procedures – will go to machines. This is happening, and will happen, not only in engineering and management fields, but in all fields of human activity.

Read more

Whatsoever tells you about the fundamentals of life comes in the purview of religion

The various religions are one of the major reasons why man’s search remains elusive; and when I say ‘religions’, I do not mean only organised religions. Whatsoever tells you about the fundamentals of life comes in the purview of religion.

So, if parents are trying to tell the kid about the importance of grades, about the importance of getting more marks – this is religious education. If peers are trying to tell a child, how absolutely critical it is to clear a competitive examination – this is religious indoctrination.

If a particular employer is motivating his employees to forget everything else and focus on sales targets, and he is saying, ‘Forget everything else, this is what you need to do!’ – This very much religious activity. This is religious activity because it is attempting to tell the listener that by undertaking this activity you will get That which you really want.

The man who is telling a woman that she should come with him and he will give her the highest happiness possible, is making a religious promise. He will never say — and romance hardly ever looks like religion, but the promise is essentially religious — he is promising God to her, he is saying, ‘Come to me, I will give you fulfilment! ’ It is another matter that he will never be able to keep his promise. All such promises get broken, all such affairs fail.

The shopping mall that is telling you that you can get enjoyment by visiting it is again making a religious claim.

All the institutions that the society has set up, that promise deliverance, completeness, satisfaction, a feeling of accomplishment, are all trying to do something religious. When there is so much of purported religious activity being attempted, it is obvious that getting lost would be the easiest thing to do.


~ Excerpts from the article, ‘What is Religion?

What kind of mind needs entertainment?

What kind of mind needs entertainment?

The restless, bored mind.

Now, what is important? To find a solution to the problem of entertainment or go to the root problem? ‘Why am I bored at all? Why do I need entertainment?

Obviously, I need entertainment! All the shopping malls are crowded in the weekends. Everybody needs entertainment. And why do people need entertainment? People need entertainment because they do soul sapping jobs throughout the week.

For five days I do something, I shouldn’t have done, so last two days I want to get away somewhere. They have those weekend getaways, weekend parties. What should I do in this situation? Entertain myself more or look closely at the boredom? For five days of the week I am being killed, last two days I want to drink a lot. What should I do? Drink more and more or avoid being killed? If your friends help you get more and more entertainment, are they really your friends?

If they are removed, chances are you will get the space to look clearly at the real problem.

You are stressed out because there is the possibility of the weekend. Why do I tolerate my Tuesdays and Wednesdays? It is because there is a Saturday and Sunday awaiting me. Remove Saturdays and Sundays and people will stop tolerating their Wednesdays and Thursdays. So Saturday and Sunday are the reason why all the torture of Thursday and Friday is tolerated. Remove Saturday and Sunday, and things will be alright. Nobody would then engage himself in such mindless work.


~ Excerpts from the article, ‘Friends, jobs and the need for entertainment

Read more on BOREDOM :Why is life not lively?

Where is the growth?

(Setting: Auditorium of a Business School. The speaker is addressing new joinees during their orientation program)

  • When you were in class six or seven, small, then they would say at home- read so that you get good marks. You must have a good position in your class – helps to tell the relatives and the neighbours – and when you would not study, you were shown a carrot: ‘you will get X if you study’.
  • And there were all these external forces of motivation and work. And then you came to class ten and you were told that in a job interview, they look at class tenth marks as well, so you must study.
  • And when you entered twelvth, you were told that this year is critical for your professional studies, entrance examinations, admissions, and so you studied.
  • And now what do you want to do? Extend that same stale story further? Add another boring chapter to it?
  • This script is so predictable. You have been a machine all your life, chasing numbers- marks, percentage, and you will chase a few numbers here as well. Then you will chase a salary – another number. And grow a professional network – another number. And then rise up rungs of the corporate ladder – another number. And have a family, and a nest, and so on. All on pre-decided lines. What a drag!
  • If the same story is being extended, then that class six kid, and this MBA student, are they different at all? Where is the growth? Where is the movement? Has any evolution been happening?
  • Are you really going ahead or is it the same script being enacted again and again? Different platforms, different theaters, but essentially the same script
  • At some point as a kid, at the next point as an adolescent, at the next point as a young man, at the next point as a professional, then as a husband, as a father…all roles being enacted by you but scripted by someone else. And you are acting, without knowing why there is action. Like a man sleepwalking.

Do you really know why you are here?

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Edited for clarity.

Read the post: Why are you listening to someone else? | Words Into Silence

Watch the session:Why are you listening to someone else? | YouTube

Love, Compromise, Magic, God….

Speaker: Fear, what about fear?

Listener 1:  What is fearlessness?

Speaker: No fear, simple, light, straight forward; no thought that something can go wrong.

Listener 2: It is something like karma (action)?

Speaker: Like?

Listener 2: Karma (action).

Speaker: Obviously. If you toss a ball, it will come down – cause and effect. In the world of material, there is always cause and effect, that is the law of karma (action). It is nothing but the law of material. If you throw something, it will move forward. Every cause will have an effect, that is the law of karma (action), but that law does not apply to conscious beings. Read more

Our education fills us up with external knowledge, leaving us ignorant of ourselves

Question: Sir, what made you to leave your corporate job, and start this whole different line of work?  

Speaker: There was a lot that was asking to be changed. Leaving the corporate was not really an objective. I wanted to do something, and if it could have been nicely done from within a corporate, I would rather have done that. In fact Advait is still a private limited company. So, it is not that I opted out of corporate, but as far as the mission is concerned…

You know there are things that people are doing; there are things that I could have done, but a lot of people could have done them as well as me. There were things that I could have done and somebody else could have done them in a better way but there was something that I saw, that I was seeing and that cause was really crying out, it needed to be taken up, but very few people were attending to it. So, (Smilingly) just opportunism. It is something important and somebody needs to take it up, so I said, “Why not me?”

Listener 1: Sir, would you like to elaborate on this topic a bit more?

Speaker: You see, all of you sitting over here, are quite knowledgeable people. Right? Even the reference made to us is, ‘Knowledge workers’. Right? That’s how we are referred to. ‘White-collar jobs’. So we know a lot, or at least a little.

Our knowledge is, in some areas, pretty detailed as well and it’s quite amazing, the extent to which human intelligence has gone and created this knowledge and other human beings have absorbed it and are putting it to use. Now, having known this much, is it not strange, what you read in newspapers? “Man quarreling with man, nation quarreling with nation, husband quarreling with wife, neighbor quarreling with neighbor, man quarreling with himself!”

When we find nobody else to engage, we are busy fighting ourselves. And we know so much.

Anu_KnowWe know so much. Yet basics of life – jealousy, possessiveness, insecurity, small happenings in our environment seem to shake us up. Does that happen or not? One piece of news regarding the market, or regarding the changing company policies, or regarding the changing environment within the organization and suddenly we feel as if the ground under our feet is slipping. Is that not so? And we have so much of knowledge! All of us! And there are people who have much more knowledge than us. The thing is, their situation too is just the same.

So, this interested me. I asked, “Why is knowledge, why is all our progress not helping us lead more secure and composed inner lives?” You know, you look at a illiterate man, then you look at somebody who could not go beyond class tenth, then you look at somebody who has done his B.Tech, and then at a post doctorate, and tell me, are they really, internally, any different?

It is equally probable that all of them might be suspicious of their wife, authoritarian towards their kids, aggressive towards their neighbor, jealous of their colleague; is it not equally likely? By doing a PhD, does the probability that you will be worried, does this probability decrease?

Chances are, it increases. So why is our knowledge not helping us be…. Ultimately we have to live with ourselves. Right? Why is our knowledge, not helping us, simply be more centered?

So this brought me to the question of – What kind of knowledge do we have?

The knowledge that we have all pertains to something external. We know about this, we know about that, we know about cooling technologies, all kind of electronics, optics, the world, Mars, other galaxies, we have collected so much knowledge about them but our education, in schools and colleges, and our training, as professionals in corporate, simply does not touch upon ourselves.

Anu_WithinYou know, we have been educated probably from some of the premier institutions and then our training has continued in the places that we have worked in, but somehow, nowhere have we being sensitized towards our own mind. Our education and training is such that, it never asks us to turn within with the result that even the most knowledgeable man, is actually so infantile, and immature. He may be forty years of age, he might be earning a lot, but in his psyche, he is still a baby; somebody who can have a nervous breakdown any time. Somebody who just can’t get along with his wife. Somebody who just can’t stop himself from competing, he competes with everybody. And he says that he is in a leadership position! He says, he is leading X number of people.

The fault does not lie with this man, the fault lies with the way we have been brought up, educated, and continuously trained.

So, full of knowledge about this and that, but largely ignorant of the self. Unfortunately, nobody lives with his knowledge. You live with that feeling in your mind. Don’t we?  We all know that. We know what I am talking about. Right? You know when you are not alright. And I know that nobody wants to feel not alright. Anybody here, who is interested in feeling not alright? Anybody here who likes that feeling when your legs are unnecessary shivering? And we all have experienced that, have we not? You have just appeared for an interview, and you are awaiting that call from HR, and that call comes, you recall that experience? Some of us might be having it pretty frequently. There are professional job hoppers.

You recall that experience? That call comes and how your fingers simply can’t stop their SHM (Simple Harmonic Motion). Now, what is the worth of your knowledge? What is its worth?

Yes, others might think that you are somebody. Given your knowledge, your experience, your professional advancement and probably your bank balance. But is all of that, of use to you, beyond a point? These were the questions that I was struggling with. And I thought these are important questions. And I could see that these are important things that not many people are really prepared to attend to. So I thought, well, let’s go into it.

I have been lucky that I have had many other people who have seen the importance of this over the years, who came to me, who joined me, assisted me in this journey and are still coming. And you would understand that this is not something which is a main-stream career option. So only those who really see the worth of this work, they come and join. Thankfully there are a few such people. You too are welcome. Devesh ji knows the address and the rest of it.

Look at this for an example. Had I been sitting here to talk about some technology, give me the name of a latest technology that people here might be interested in?

Listener 1: Cloud.

Speaker: So let’s say I am an expert in Cloud Computing, and I have come here to talk. A lot of us would have a lot of questions to ask, especially if we had only ten or fifteen minutes. Right? But when it comes to speaking about ourselves, we are simply lost. We don’t know what to say. And I understand our predicament, what I am saying might sound interesting to you, but what do we talk about? Yes, nice, right, alright, but what is in it to talk about?

There is a lot, incidentally, but this is such an unknown territory, our own mind is such an unknown territory to us. And in spite of seeing, getting a hint, at least, that there is something in it.

That’s the story with every walk of life, you know, I am sure many of us are friends here, with each other. Right? We talk about so many things, don’t we? But do we really talk about the Real? Not that we want to hide this. But there has been something in the way we have come up that we have become experts in remaining engrossed in the trivial. But when it comes to the Real, we become a little tongue tied. Don’t we?

It’s not something that is happening only in your relationship with me. Parents and kids, how authentic is their conversation? I need not talk about bosses and subordinates; that is not even supposed to be authentic. But what if, even a husband-wife conversation is rarely genuine? Rarely Real? Yes, we can talk about the furniture, we can talk about what is happening in the neighbor’s house, we can talk about the new restaurant down the road but do we really talk about that which matters? That, which matters. That which really keeps us off-center. Do we ever talk about it? We have been trained to slip it under the carpet. I thought why not bring the few skeleton out of the cupboard, just for fun.

Think of all the people you have been in touch with since years, and think of whether you have had a single genuine conversation with them. It is amusing, and at the same time, horrifying. Even the ability to look at each other directly in the eye! Have you seen people, who just really don’t want to have any eye contact? And it’s not their fault. It’s nobody’s fault. But somebody needs to do something about it. It’s a worthy cause, right? A few people must take it up. Should they not? What do you say?

I invite people. I say, “Let’s look at facts, let’s not talk dream stuff.” I say, “Look at all the mails that you have written in the past six months. Not the strictly professional ones. All the mails that you have written, to your friends, relatives, acquaintances,” I say, “Now, read them again. And read them very directly, very objectively, very honestly, and then tell me, how much of it is Real?”

Of course, I am not talking of mails relating to a sales pitch, or such stuff; they are not suppose to be Real. Are they? But what about the mails written to your friends, to cousins, even to parents? What is happening? We are intelligent people all of us, at least to the extent that intelligence is synonym of knowledge. We are quite intelligent. So, what’s going on?

I still don’t know, what’s going on. I am exploring, I mean, I no wise in that sense.

Ok, try this, a small experiment. A small experiment. Just walk up to somebody, not causally, walk up to somebody as if you really mean it; looking straight in his eyes, take his name or her name, and say, “I want to talk to you.” Not so melodramatically, but with sincerity, just with sincerity and you will only see scare in his eyes. “Oh my God! Is something Real going to come up?” As long as you are casual, and you just walk past people, tapping them on their shoulders, “Hi John, what’s up? How’s the hotdog?” The Yankee thing, as long as that is happening, we are friends.

But if you give the slightest hint to the other person, that you mean to open your heart up, instead of feeling gratified, he will feel terrified. Try this, its fun. Good fun. And after you see him trembling, tell him, “No I don’t mean anything, it’s casual”.

We are afraid of everything that is not really false. For the years, I have been surprised to see how much we are really afraid of intimacy, I am surprised because ostensibly we all says that we want intimacy, we want closeness with somebody. But when intimacy really beckons or knocks on our door, we retract. We don’t have the guts to embrace it. You must have seen such people, they are so insecure they can’t let anybody come close. Because somebody coming close is a threat to their entire mental structure. They’ll have to accommodate him, their structure will need to change. That structure, by the way, is also called as ego.

We are young people here, and I am not talking of physical intimacy. We understand that, right? So that’s what the whole game is about. Complex, challenging, but fun!

~Excerpts from a guest talk. Edited for clarity.

View the session at: Our education fills us up with external knowledge, leaving us ignorant of ourselves

Read more on this topic:

Article 1: How important is education of the self?

Article 2: Why is education not helping the world?

Article 3: Solve your mind, all your problems will be solved

Why you have come to this Campus? || Acharya Prashant (2012)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.


Speaker:  If somebody asks, “Tell me about yourself”, then how will you talk in the language of ‘We’? You see, this is what it is. I do not know myself and I claim to know everybody else as well.  It is already dangerous to claim self-knowledge, and I am claiming knowledge of others as well. Yes, so ‘I’…?

Listener 1: But Sir, I am not getting you actually.

Speaker: “I am not getting you”, right? Not “We are not getting you”. What did you say? “I am not getting you”. Correct? So, ‘I’! Yes?

Listener 1: Sir, I was saying, up to now, it was just a growth. But now I am here for development. Growth plus progress.

Speaker: Alright Sir. Now how do you differentiate between growth, progress and development?

Listener 1: Sir, according to me growth + progress = development.

Speaker: What is growth? What is progress? When you say X + Y = Z, you must first know ‘X’ and ‘Y’ in order to come to ‘Z’. What is growth? What is progress?

Listener 1: Growth is just increase in size and when some progress is included in that, it becomes development.

Speaker: When some…?

Listener 1: Progress is added to it.

Speaker: What is progress?

Listener 1: Progress means enhancing your views, observations and all the things.

Speaker: When you say increase in size, increase in whose size? Your body’s size. Is that what an educational institution is for? What do you mean by increase in size?

Listener 1: Sir, knowledge, mindset. It is a part of development.

Speaker: Growth. Let’s first focus on one thing. What do you mean by growth? We will then come to progress so that we can come to development. What is growth?

Listener 1: Simply as you have told that…

Speaker: Why should what I have told? I am nobody.

Listener 1: You were saying one thing…

Speaker: (Interrupting) You tell me, what do you mean by growth because it is your life, not mine. Right? It is your life. Not mine. So you tell me, what do you mean by growth.

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A life free of incompleteness and inferiority

Question: Sir, we have learned that we should not have ego, as it is conditioning. Ego arises because I feel incomplete within. But to fill this incompleteness is what I want in life. It gives me satisfaction in life. So, shouldn’t we be egoistic?

Speaker: What exactly is the logic? That we should be egoistic so that we continue feeling incomplete? Is that the argument?

Questioner: No sir. If ego is giving us completeness, shouldn’t we have an ego?

Speaker: It’s like saying that disease is giving me health. Is ego giving you completeness? Or is ego itself a continuous feeling of being unwell, of being incomplete and lacking and small and unworthy? How can a feeling of unworthiness give you worthiness? How can a feeling of incompleteness give you completeness?

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Work-Life Integration-2 || Acharya Prashant (2012)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.


Speaker: There is no question of failure unless I decide that failures constitute success. Now, for example – if you had come here thinking that spending an hour over here would be fruitful if I say a few kind of things, then you may find this event to be successful or failure against the benchmark that you have already set i.e. “my goal is to go there and gather this kind of information”.

Now you can say that “I have failed because I wanted this and this did not happen. I wanted ‘A’ and ‘A’ did not materialize”. But there may be another kind of individual present over here who did not come here out of expectations, who has just come here and is listening. Now there is no question of success or failure for that person.

Failure is only against the backdrop of a pre-existing desire. And none of your desires is yours. So, how can the failure be yours? Your problem is – your success is not yours; even failure is not yours. So, before you jump into these words- ‘my success’, ‘my failure’, ‘my goals’, ‘my ambition’, find out how much of ‘my’ is there in any of these. Find that out.

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In giving something more importance than the One, you are destroying that thing

Question: I feel that I am going on the right track in my life. But sometimes when I look at my family, it makes me distracted. When I think about this, there emerges a question mark. What to do?

Speaker: Be it family, or anything else that you consider important, there would be goodness and harmony, only when your priorities are in order. What do I mean by that?

If the family becomes your first priority, you can be assured that the family would come to ruin. If a person becomes your first priority, rest assured that you would destroy both – your relationship with that person and the person as well. If you go and mention to somebody that you keep remembering that person all the time, then it is guaranteed that you have a very unhealthy relationship with that person.

Those who make the family their first priority, would end up destroying the family. Those who make their work and career their first priority, would end up destroying their work and career. Those who make academics, and knowledge, and scholarship their first priority, would end up using that knowledge for destructive purposes.

The Truth has to be your first priority. When the Truth is your first priority, the Truth will set all your other priorities.

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To go for goals is gloom, to fantasise a future is frustration

Speaker: Shiv Prakash is asking when we fail to achieve our goals, we generally feel nervous; we feel down. A kind of gloom comes upon us. He is saying how to keep positive at that time? You are asking for the impossible. If you have been relentlessly chasing a goal, thinking that it is the most important thing in the world and if it does not turn out as you want it to turn out then it is impossible not to feel frustrated. You have yourself created the situation, the ground, for that.

You have declared to yourself that the most important thing in the world is this particular event and it must happen. And now if the event does not happen, which in most cases won’t because the universe is governed by multiple cause-effects, an entire vast infinite network of cause and effects. Out of these cause and effects, small and large events happen. They do not happen out of your or any other individual’s desire. So the results of any effort are unpredictable. In spite of your best efforts, you will often find that you do not get the desired result. And you will declare that a failure and you will feel very sad. I tried so hard and it did not happen. Read more

What is one’s ultimate goal in life?

Question: How do we understand our ultimate goal?Goalless

Speaker: Your ultimate goal is to come to goalessness.

As you are, you are bound to have goals. I cannot advice you to not to have goals. Because it is impossible for you. It is impractical for you. You will need goals. Given your constitution, your stage in life, the makeup of your mind, you will need goals. And if you must have a goal then the goal must be goalessness.

Till the time you have goals, keep telling yourself- “I am not yet done.” You have reached the goal when you forget everything about goals. You will have goals and if you must have goals then this is the goal to have- “Can I go beyond this goal? Can I really see what this goal is?”

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Why do we blame others for our mistakes?

Question: Why do we always want to blame something on others? Why is accountability so important?

Speaker: When you are able to blame others, then you are able to earn certain rights for yourself. Those rights cannot come to you, if you do not say, that others are in a position to harm you. Even the law agrees to killing in self-defense. You kill a man just like that, you will be jailed. But if you kill a man in self-defense, it is considered alright. So, you can label somebody an aggressor, an attacker and what right do you get? The right to kill him. Even when the police wants to stage these fake encounters, they do not say that, “We brought these people here to the jungle and just shot them.” What do they say? They say, “You know these people were shooting at us, so in self-defense we had to kill them”, Even the police needs some kind of an excuse to kill. Read more

The falseness of the so called ‘Power of Now’

Question: Sir, people these days emphasis on the idea of the ‘Power of now’. But you say that the present is different from the now. Please elaborate.

Speaker: This whole talk about the power of now is a great sham. It is deep materialism disguised as spirituality. The present is not the now. The now is a point in the stream of time. The now is that which is preceded and followed by the past and the future. The present is that in which the past, the now and the future, simultaneously co-exist. The now is a point in the stream; the present is the vast infinite land, in which that stream is flowing.

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Spirituality is not the renunciation of life; it is the art of living fully

Question: I am not sure about what to do in life. Whether I should go for a spiritual path and leave all material desires or do what everyone is doing. Divergence is always there in my mind. I am practicing meditations regularly, but it won’t clear my path. Secondly, how can only knowledge bring a change in me? Surely no one changes just by listening to talks?

Acharya Prashant: Why is it so that what you call as the ‘spiritual path’ must be equated with leaving something? Do you find any renunciation in existence? Do you find anything in existence that is bent upon giving up something, or dropping something? Read more