The real cause of human poverty || Acharya Prashant (2014)

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Question: Whenever I visit any temple, I see a lot of children begging on the roads, outside the temple. I give them some money, and also think, that what can I do for them. I often feel, that had they been literate, they would have not been begging like this.

If we are not literate, then what can we do to know ourselves?

Acharya Prashant Ji: First of all, the need for your normal, conventional education, and it’s relation to poverty.

Where does ‘poverty’ come from? Do you see anything in entire existence, that is poor, except human beings? There is the grass on the ground, is it ever poor? When there is rain, it is green. And when the Sun would be beating hard, the grass would just hide beneath the surface, with it’s roots intact, only to emerge back again in the rains. There is no poverty. It does not cry that – “I am short of resources.”

Birds, animals, trees – nothing is ever poor. Nobody needs to go out, fight, earn, save, secure the future. Not at least as much as human beings do. Nobody has as much knowledge, as human beings have, and yet it is only the human beings, that are dying of starvation, of poverty, of war, and of ten other things.

Hundreds of millions of human beings have died, because they did not receive enough food. You would have not heard of hundreds and millions of animals dying this way. They don’t.

So, where does poverty come from?

Poverty is not at all natural.

Poverty is just the dual opposite, rather the dual partner, of greed.

If a few humans are seen begging, it is not because there is something wrong with them. It is not because they did not go to schools and colleges. If you pay attention, it is really because, there are few handful of other humans, who have out of their greed, hoarded all the resources with them.

I do not know whether you are aware of this, but more than ninety-five percent of the world’s wealth, resides in the hands of less than 1%, or 2% individuals. When all the resources have been taken over, by just a few individuals, is it not obvious that starvation will be there, and rampant poverty will be there?

Trees and animals, and everything in nature, takes only as much as it really needs. Go to a jungle, and you would never find an obese animal, a fat animal, because no animal ever eats more than what it really needs. You will never find that a tree has saved, hoarded, for the next fifty years, for the next seven generations.

It is only human beings, that collect, hoard, and that they glorify as ‘savings’. And why is that so? Because there is deep security in the human mind.

Work has been done by economists, who studied the famines and food shortages. And they found out that, the food shortages are not really from the supply side. They are more from the side of distribution. Enough food is there, enough food is there. It is just not reaching everybody. Why is it not reaching everybody? Why is it not reaching everybody?

Similarly, is there really shortage of space for kids to study? No. Every kid can have space in the school, but the school will not admit the kid. The school has enough space, but the school won’t admit him. Why would the school not admit him? Because the school must take the fee.

And why must the school management take the fee? Because it has to pay somebody else. And why must somebody else be paid? So that somebody else may be paid. And ultimately, where is the money going? In the pockets of the few greedy, and insecure individuals.

It is because of these handful of people, that the entire world is suffering. But again, that does not mean, that we are apportioning the blame on somebody. Those handful of people, are able to exist and prosper, only because the remaining ninety-nine percent of the population supports them. Not only supports them, it actually respects them, worships them.

Your great corporate icons, you do not understand that it is they, who are responsible for your poverty. And remember, poverty is of two kinds – absolute, and relative.

Absolute poverty is when your basic needs are not being met. Absolutely, not many of us are poor, because our basic needs are being met. We have food, clothing, shelter. But, relatively, each one of us, is very-very poor. Each one of us, lives in a complex, that we have lesser money compared to somebody else. And that is why, there is this thirst to acquire more and more.

You look at the large buildings, and the great palaces that these people have raised. And what do you feel? I must also have this. This is called ‘relative poverty’. “Oh, I am so poor, compared to him.” Now, no animal is poor, compared to another animal. At least not in the degree, one human is compared to another human.

So, is poverty something, that existence gives you? Or, is poverty something that you bring upon yourself? is poverty something, that existence gave you, or is poverty something that society has given you?

Listeners: Society.

Acharya Ji: If existence were to be blamed, then ask yourself, “Why is nothing else so poor?” The rose is shining so majestically, without earning anything. The animals are leaping, and playing, so beautifully, without going to work. And, man is being told again and again, that unless you make a career, you will die of starvation.

We have not seen rabbits, and lions, and elephants, die of starvation, because they don’t wear a tie and go to offices. In fact, they are so healthy. They live their full, natural life. They don’t get heart-attacks. They don’t suffer from aids and cancer. They don’t have to go to psychologists to get treated for depression, unless they are in contact with human beings.

They don’t do MBAs, and they have no bank accounts. Yet they are all so happy. Look at the flowers in your campus, and look at your own face. Whose face looks happier? And why is your face so sad? And not only not is it sad today, it is going to be remain sad till death.

It is so rare, to find an really joyful man. And, it is equally rare, to find a sad flower. The flower may be this small, but it would still be laughing. And man, would be sitting in this large a car, he would still be sobbing that – “The car of the neighbor is bigger. That corporate honcho has a private jet, I only have a  Mercedes. I am so poor.”

So, who gives poverty to you?

Does existence give poverty to you?

It is the society that gives poverty to you. And even if, absolute poverty is eradicated, relative poverty would always exist.

Because that is the nature of our culture, of our education, of all training and conditioning.

Isn’t it ironical, the kids that you are talking of, are standing in front of a temple? And that temple must have been built, for a crore, or a five, or may be fifty. So, was there shortage of money? Money is there, but where is the money going? Where is the money going?

The kids are standing on the highway. Do you know how much does it cost, to build one kilometer of the highway? So, is there shortage of money?

Poverty is the companion of riches.

There cannot be riches, unless there is poverty.

Look at your corporate structures, for example. They are shareholders, then there is the CEO, and the COO. Then there are the managers. And then there are the workers. Come what may, the workers would always be getting, less than one percent share of the profit. Right? Who would always be getting a huge disproportionate share of the profit? The shareholders. Right?

So, the more this firm progresses, who will progress more and more.

Listeners: The shareholders.

Acharya Ji: Whose poverty will deepen more and more?

Listeners: The workers.

Acharya Ji: That is the nature of your economy. This fellow, the worker, will gain five rupees. This fellow, the shareholder, will gain five crore rupees. When he will gain five crore rupees, that five crore will be used to make things, even more expensive. You see, when there is somebody, who is prepared to pay fifty rupees, for a twenty rupee thing, what will happen to the price, of the twenty rupee thing?

You are there, and your neighbor is there. You are the worker, your neighbor, is the shareholder. In front of you two, is the seller. You can spend twenty rupees, but you cannot spend more than that. Your neighbor bought something, and the seller was selling it for twenty rupees. Now, your great neighbor, the share holder, comes out, and says, “I am prepared to pay fifty rupees for it.”

Now, what is the price of thing increased to?

Listeners: Fifty rupees.

Acharya Ji: Now, can you purchase it anymore?

Listeners: No.

Acharya Ji: Is this not artificial poverty? There was no poverty. But, poverty has been artificially created by somebody, who has an obscene sum of wealth.

You are alright with a bike. But then you see a four-wheeler, and the bike is not alright anymore. And then the poor ‘Alto’ sees a ‘Corolla’, and it becomes ashamed. Then the ‘Corolla’ sees a ‘BMW’, and then ‘BMW’ sees a Jet. And then ‘Jet’ sees a ‘Spacecraft’ to Mars.

(laughter)

And everybody becomes the poor.

Who suffers?

The poor kids in front of the temple.

Because everybody must have his pound of flesh, so the one who is the most vulnerable, will be left begging.

A day may come, when out of economic progress, these kids may have enough to feed their stomachs. But, remember, with this kind of a system, they will never have enough to feed their souls.


Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity. Watch the video session: Acharya Prashant, with students: The real cause of human poverty

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Market, Money, Food, and Liberation || Acharya Prashant (2019)

Market, Money, Food and Liberation

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Question: Acharya Ji, which are the industries I should invest my money in?

Acharya Prashant Ji: There are two industries those are not going to fail. First one, that thrives on kids. Second, that thrives on sickness. And the two are one. The school industry is never going to starve, and they will always make very big bucks. What else do we earn for? To pay to the schools. And the hospital industry is always going to prosper, and they will make very big bucks. What have we earned for? To pay to the hospitals.

You can avoid spending anywhere else, but these two places, you will not only spend, you will always overspend – kids education, and health.

And it should be obvious to you, that these both have to do, with your deepest vrittis (latent tendencies). We began this evening, talking of what this Prakriti rely on. It relies on continuation of this body, and procreation. This body should continue, and more bodies should keep coming. So, these two are also the two ways, to loot away your hard earned money.

I recently found out, the apparels of a fully grown-up man, are only as expensive as apparels of a two-month old. If you purchase something for yourself, for two-thousand rupees, and that thing is this big, size forty-four, rest assured, if you buy something for your infant who is one month old, that too will cost equally the same.

Look at the margins. And you will not be able to question it. It’s a matter of love, you know. Don’t you love your child? Can you question the fees that the schools charge you? It’s preposterous.

Listener: It’s a matter of pride now-a-days, to say that our kid’s fees is higher than the fees of your kid.

Acharya Ji: You are being looted in broad daylight, in the name of your kid’s fees. And you will accept it, even if you happen to be the intellectually strongest person in the world. The fellow is IQ 140, emerging from the best institute of the world, a post-graduate in Astrophysics. But the moment he gets a kid, he can be looted in broad daylight. And he won’t be able to resist it. Because he is hitting you, where it hurts the most.

You might be very, very smart, but you can still be looted, because now you have a kid. Same with the doctor. It doesn’t matter who you are. If he says, “Twenty lakhs,” twenty-lakhs is ‘twenty-lakhs’. You don’t argue with him.

It’s actually not the doctor, it’s the hospital. Just as it’s not the teacher, it’s the school. If the hospital says, “Twenty lakhs,” it is twenty lakhs. It’s all spiritual, if you can see.

This is what tells you, how Prakriti fails you. Man gets attached to continuation, and in the name of continuation, man is robbed-off the precious resources, that should have gone towards his liberation.

Your precious resources, that should have been invested towards your liberation, rather go towards your, continuation.

To hell with such continuation.

I don’t even have an insurance. I have no medi-claim. I am very clear, the day she comes and says, “I have to take you away,” I will say, “Why wait? I don’t even have to pack up. Come, let’s go! I am done.” I neither have life-insurance, nor medical insurance.

For my small medical needs, I have enough. And if a giant medical need comes up, I will not meet that need. I will not allow Prakriti, to rob me, of my real occupation.

My real work is not to save, for the furtherance of my physical life.

My real work is: this.

My real work is not to fill, and bloat my bank account, for the sake of my physical security, and physical continuation.

My real work is – liberation. My liberation, your liberation.

I must work for that.

Getting it?

Listener: There is no point in living on, if you cannot live for liberation.

Acharya ji: Wonderful! There is no point in living on, even for one day more, if liberation is no more possible, or if you have no desire for liberation. Kabir Saheb has put it so succinctly, in so many verses. “Jaa tan prem na sanchare, so tan jaan masaan. Jaise khaal luhaar kii, saans letu bin praan.” (If you do not have love for Him, then your body is just a graveyard. You are breathing, but you are really not alive).”

Life should either be a great rhapsody in love, or otherwise it is just a spell of irritating noise. Who wants to tolerate it? There is no valor, or pride, in continuing to live. Finish -off your work, and retire. Go away! Go to sleep. 

There is no great virtue in living for a hundred years, and living like a maggot. Turtles, crocodiles, they all live longer than men. So what? 

Question: Acharya Ji, does poor food habit become an obstacle in the path of liberation?

Acharya Ji: In general, you eat badly, only when only food starts becoming meaningful to you. The body knows it’s food. Does it not? Do you have to teach the cow to take grass, and not flesh? Do you see any animal species, that needs to be tutored on the topic of food? Monkeys, mosquitoes, they all know the kind of food that is right for them. Why does this question become pertinent for ‘man’? Because man identifies himself with, just about everything.

Man is different from mosquitoes, in the sense, that man has more heightened desire for liberation. So he searches for liberation, everywhere. Even in paani-puri, he searches for – liberation. In titillation of taste buds, he assumes liberation.

If paani-puri becomes liberation for you, then your kidney will complain. So, rather than regulating your food habits, you should rather ask the question: Who am I? Once you know, that you are the one who can never be satisfied through paani-puri, you will lose all fascination for paani-puri. You don’t need to be tutored on what to eat, and what not to eat. All that is largely useless. 

Why do you get attracted to mithai, or pizza?

Listener: Because of desire.

Acharya ji: And desire is really for?

Listener: Liberation.

Acharya ji: And that has to be realised. “That that which I really want, will not come to me, through mithai.” And then mithai will lose its charm.

Listener: That is known, but for now instant gratification is demanded.

Acharya ji: That you have to remember, at that moment. As you said that, one has to be constantly reminded. That is why ‘ing’ is needed. You will have to create mechanisms, that will keep constantly reminding you.

Have somebody by your side, who shouts into your ears, right when you are about to pop in the next puri. This is not That. That’s the mantra that you need. What?

Listeners: This is not That.

Acharya ji: This is not That. So, you will just spoil the body, and get nothing in return.

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

Watch the session:  Market, Money, Food, and Liberation || Acharya Prashant (2019)


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Man likes to be governed by morality rather than spirituality

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Question: In response to the broadcasts we do, I always keep getting moral stories – this is evident after this discussion that we just had. How come they remember the moral story only when I forward something to them?

Acharya Prashant: It’s a wonder – how man gets accustomed to using morality as a pole-star. You have your eyes, you have your mind, you can figure out your direction. There is some kind of inner laziness, some kind of a deep fear. We all have been terrified. We all have started believing that things can go wrong any time. I better be careful, I better take the beaten route. Read more

What is inspiration?

Question: How can inspiration be so effective that it changes life of a person?

Speaker: Person have no inspiration, they only have ‘expiration’. Do you know what inspiration is? That is “in spirit”, your very core; when it arises from there, only then it can be called an inspiration. In spirit! Are we ever inspired really? No. (Smilingly) We keep expiring. That is why a saint has said that “you die a thousand deaths before you physically die“, because we always expire. Inspiration means when you really know not when you have heard, read or thought about it and it has stopped at that.

The person is made up of the world. He cannot have inspiration. He has nothing actually that can take control of him and comfort him and relax him. He is always at the mercy of the outside buffeted by and in between a thousand forces.

Because a person is asking this question that is why the person is asking, how can inspiration be so much or whether inspiration can be so much? All this is the lexicon, the tongue of the person. In the wiring of the person there are only movements and processes and reaching and doubts so he will firstly ask whether and then he will ask how.

Inspiration is about being totally possessed. Inspiration is about giving your complete command to something that you are not. And when we are talking of completeness, then it cannot happen in doubt. Doubt means hundred percent cannot happen. Doubt means something will be reserved.

Inspiration is not for those who ask for why and how. Inspiration is when you drop all this mental veneer. And allow yourself to roam naked. Inspiration will not tell you what to do in your current circumstances.

Read more

How to deal with social pressure?

Question: Sometimes when I try to do the work which I really want to do, society opposes me. How can I get rid of all that?

Speaker: When you will really want to do something, then all opposition will be your fuel, the force that will be against you, will become your helper. Circumstances are just that, circumstances; thing that are on the outside. The decision to allow them to become all important is always yours. And remember you will never be found in circumstances that have nothing to do with your being. The louder you cry and complain about your circumstances, the louder rings the question, “Why are you in these circumstances”? The more you say that people around you are horrible, the more I want to ask you, “Why you are living with horrible people?” That makes you appear more horrible than those horrible people. Those people may be horrible because they do not even know that they are horrible. But you claim to be the wise one, why are you still found with them? And then you make a big show of it. And then you raise a hue and cry. You sing aloud of your providence. Read more

What is guilt?

Question: What is guilt? Does it facilitate, or hinder spiritual growth?

Speaker: We often use the term ‘spiritual growth’. It is alright if it is used loosely, just to indicate something. But it is not alright, if you mean ‘spiritual growth’, as actually the growth of some entity. There is no spiritual growth as such. ‘Spiritual growth’ only means ‘spiritual dissolution’. Nothing grows. All growth is that of the ego. Only the ego grows, accumulates, becomes larger. Read more

Why can’t I leave my comfort zone?

Question: When I look at what I am doing, and why I am doing it, honestly, it gives me fear. I don’t want to take action, because of the fear of the new.

Speaker: There is no fear of the new. There is only the fear of leaving the old. The old is giving you comforts, and it is as basic as that! It is so obvious, direct and ground level, that no explanation can be given or needed. It is the most gross thing that is there. It has to be obvious. Read more

Why do I keep repeating mistakes?

Question: Why do we keep repeating the same mistakes again and again?

Speaker: There must be some pleasure in repeating those mistakes. Otherwise, why would you want to do it again and again? It’s just for namesake that you are calling it a ‘mistake’. Actually, it is not a mistake at all for you. It is a pleasurable activity, may be even some kind of an accomplishment. Had it really been a mistake, would you have allowed it to be repeated?

It is just to keep a good social face, that we call it a ‘mistake’. “Dhokhe se ho gaya” (Happened by mistake). And now we are preparing for it to happen again.

(Sarcastically“Such a nice mistake. May I be mistaken again and again.”

Read more

Why can’t I change my behavior?

Question:I am distracted, both mentally and physically.The world pulls me in different directions. I chase this and that. I chase respect. I chase accomplishments. I chase women and sex as well. All this is a problem, because it interferes with my day-to-day comfort. The urge is so over-powering that it disrupts my daily patterns. How to deal with this? Read more

Whatever you choose will bring sorrow to you

nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo na medhayā, na bahunā śrutena:
yamevaiṣa vṛṇute, tena labhyas tasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanῡṁ svām.

                                     -(Katho Upanishad,  1.2, 23)

Translation: This Self cannot be attained by study of the Scriptures, nor by intellectual perception, nor by frequent hearing (of It). He whom the Self chooses, by him alone is It attained. To him the Self reveals Its true nature.

Speaker: The aatman cannot be attained by studies of Vedas, nor by intelligence, nor by much hearing. It is gained by him who chooses It alone. To him, this aatman reveals his true nature. So the question is, ‘Isn’t studying the scriptures also choosing it? What does it imply?’ When we say that it is gained by him who chooses it alone, what does it imply?

Whenever we choose, we choose in hope of something else, we never choose the thing itself. The thing is just a promissory note. When you say that you are choosing something, you are not choosing the thing, you are choosing a promise, a hope, you are choosing the thing as a medium to reach something else, so you never choose anything alone by itself. You choose an entire story, you choose a process, you choose a chain, a series that will probably, eventually lead you somewhere, or so you hope.

To choose It alone is to come to the end of choosing.

To come to the end of choosing is to come to the end of time, is to come to the end of ego itself. Have you ever chosen anything after which there would be no need to choose? Have you ever chosen anything that would be final? Ever? You choose in the hope of reaching ‘the final’. You never choose ‘the final’ itself, because ‘the final’ itself is probably not a ‘thing’ to be chosen. Are you getting it?

To choose it alone is to come to the end of choosing, and that ego cannot do, because the ego itself will not agree to its own annihilation. So who chooses It alone?

Whatever you will choose will just be a promise, a hope. You choose a man or a woman, what do you think, you are choosing the man or the woman? No, you are choosing something beyond the man or the woman, which unfortunately a man or a woman cannot give to you. That’s why all our choices fail, because what they promise, they never provide. What do you think; do you choose a nice piece of jewellery? No. It promises joy, but unfortunately, it never gives that, that’s why you need another piece and then the next one, and then the next.

Behind all our endeavors is a deep thrust to come to the end of endeavouring. Behind all our choices is a deep desire to come the end of choosing. In some sense, all that the ego wants is, its own end. The ego is actually suicidal; it’s just that it cannot commit suicide. It’s so afraid. The ego wants to come to an end because its existence only gives it suffering, so it does want to come to an end. But it doesn’t have the guts. It wants to disappear, but it can never choose to disappear. It can only choose a hope of disappearance, it can only hope the ultimate. And that is the reason why hope is such a deception. The ego uses hope to continue itself.

 ‘One day ‘I’ will come to the ultimate, so today ‘I’ can continue. One day the final will happen, so today ‘I’ can just live with the old pattern.’ It can never choose the ultimate. Very beautifully the Upanishad says that ‘your’ activities will never bring you to the aatman because you will never exercise that simple and direct choice.

(Speaking in Sanskrit) नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो, न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन. This Self cannot be attained by study of the Scriptures, nor by intellectual perception, nor by frequent hearing (of It). These are the activities that you do, and your ‘doing’ will never bring you to That, because all you are doing is just an escape from That. How can you come to that from which you are escaping? How can you come to the centre while moving to the circumference? So what is the solution that the Upanishad is showing?

The aatman is gained by him who chooses it alone. To him this aatman reveals its true nature.

Choose it alone, nothing else. No medium is required, no hope is required, no future is required, no middleman is required. What do I want? Joy, not joy through a man. This otherness, this intermediation is a problem. What do I want? Freedom, not freedom after two years. Freedom is unqualified and instant, right now.

When that choice comes to the ego, it retreats. The ego will never make that direct choice. It will keep clamouring for freedom, while never choosing freedom. What will it choose? It will choose different types of bondages that will supposedly lead to freedom. Rubbish, obviously rubbish!

What can you do then? Nothing. You are anyway choosing all the time. Just know that your choices are useless. It does not mean that you should exercise a different choice. Kindly do not interpret it to mean that. All you interpretations are anyway your choices. The Rishi is not asking us to choose differently. What is he telling us? ‘Whatever you will choose, you will only choose from escaping That which deserves to be chosen.’ So take your choices with a pinch of salt. Never think that you have made a great choice, that kind of compliment you can reserve for people who are changing their fifth girlfriend. ‘Oh! You have made a great choice this time around’, or for a woman who has brought a new sari, ‘Great choice’!

You should know that no choice is a great choice. The moment there is a choice, there is just rubbish. That does notrt mean that you should stop choosing, because ‘you’ will choose. I am speaking to the one who chooses. Right? I am not speaking to the great aatman. I am speaking to the one who chooses. To whom am I talking? The ego, and the ego will choose. So I am not asking you to not to choose, because you will choose. I am not asking you to choose differently, because whatever different choice you will make, that will anyway come from the one who is choosing. So I am saying none of that. All I am saying is that you will continue to choose, just know that your choices are useless, and then choose. Keep choosing, and be aware that all these choices are useless. Is this clear?

Listener 2: I have observed that whenever I choose to buy something, there is an initial excitement, there is a hope that the product will be good. But after the product arrives, that excitement vanishes away.

Speaker: Nobody ever sells you anything except hope. Realize this. Nobody ever sells you anything except hope, and that is why you need to be hopeless. (Everyone laughs). How else will the market survive then? A promise is what you buy. A fairness cream is not a skin treatment cream, it is the promise of love. Realize this. It is the promise of love. That’s what you buy. A promise of love!

Listener 2: So one should go for everything then?

Speaker: Yes, everything.

-Excerpts from a Clarity Session held at Advait Sthal. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Whatever you choose will bring sorrow to you

Article 1: Why do we choose to suffer silently?
Article 2: Whatever you choose for yourself will be poison
Article 3: Confusion arises from choice; choices from ignorance

Whose desires are you chasing?

Question: What is the proof that we are still evolving?

Speaker: Who says that it is not happening anymore? That process takes millions of years. There is enough proof. If you go hundred years back, the human brain has become larger. The overall size of the body has decreased because we have moved from an agrarian society to a society that is service-based, doing far more of intellectual work than mechanical work. Do you know what is happening? Across the world, babies are being born with bigger brain and smaller body. Evolution is at work all the time. Because your life span is only eighty to hundred years, you never see that. It takes place across centuries. You never see a monkey changing into man overnight. Read more

Money and growth will not fill your internal hollow

Acharya Prashant: A nice question has come to us. Our friend is saying that greed is making people work. If we remove greed from people’s life, they will not grow.  So I’m asking him, ‘What is growth?’ Read more

Want to be happy? Become sad!

Question: Are satisfaction and happiness same or different?

Speaker: They are the same as far as our life is concerned. Go into this. Both are related to achievement, both are related to the state of non-fulfillment because we are restless right now. ‘Why I am restless?’ Appreciate this. ‘What is the cause of all restlessness? When am I present? Am I present five minutes back? When am I present?’ Right now. ‘When am I living?’ Right now. Can some of you try to live in the past? Will someone attempt to be in the future? Read more

Freedom from ego is freedom from fear

Speaker: What to do when you encounter a person with lot of Ego? He has used two words: High ego, and bad ego. Lets understand this. When you use the term, ‘bad ego’ you necessarily mean that there is something called ‘good ego’ as well? Correct? Logical?

What is this Ego? And can it have these two varieties, good and bad? What is the Ego?

Listener 1: Ego is when you put yourself above someone, when you think yourself to be superior  than other.

Speaker: Is that the Ego? You are putting yourself above someone. What if you necessarily put yourself below someone? What if you are habituated to saying that I am the worst of all? Your conditioning and culture have told you, that when someone says that I am best of all, you immediately say that this fellow is egoistic. I am asking you, ‘What if someone says I am the worst of all’? Is this not a statement of ego?

A common misconception that many of us have is that ego is pride. You often equate ego with pride. Let us be very clear on that, ego is far more than pride. Ego is far more pervasive than pride. Ego is not merely pride. Ego expresses itself in a thousand ways other than pride. The ways of the ego are very settled, and they are to be seen everywhere. You do not keep expressing your pride every time. Your mind is not filled with thoughts of pride every time. But even the other thoughts that you carry, most often are thoughts of ego.

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Awakening begins with suffering

Speaker: The question is that why good people have to suffer the most? How many of you think that it is so or how many of you have seen this happening in your surroundings that good people suffer?

(Few in the audience raise their hands)

Alright, so there are few others besides her.

Kirti, man can exist, all of us can exist in three distinct states. The first state, the lowest state is that of a stone that has zero consciousness; absolutely no understanding of what is going on. It understands nothing, none at all. And it does not suffer at all. Are you getting it?
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The personality is not your essence

Question: Sir, how do I respond when someone asks me to describe my personality?

Speaker: This question is the gateway to the mind. Let us understand this.

Why must I ask this question? Because I am concerned with what others think of me. So, you see, you lost the battle at the outset itself. You are so bothered about what others would be thinking of you. Do not ask me that how should I respond when someone asks me to describe my personality. Instead, you should ask, ‘What is personality?’ That is sufficient.

Do you understand the difference between these two questions? The first part of the question, the way she has put it, is other-centric. ‘Sir, what should I tell him when he asks me about my personality?’ Forget about ‘him’! The more genuine question would be, ‘Sir, what is personality?’ If you know what is personality, then it is obvious that you can tell it to anybody when asked. But you see that’s the way we have lived; other-centered.

We do not really bother whether we know, even when we claim that we want to know. We want to know so that we can tell it to somebody. Look at the way you study. You don’t study because you want to know. You want to study so that you may write in examination paper, so that the examiner can read it. You study for the sake of others. You don’t ask this question because you want to understand the term ‘personality’. You ask this so that you can listen to this answer and quote it in front of somebody else. ‘Sir, how do I respond when somebody asks me that what is personality?’ Why is that ‘somebody’ so important for you? Your own understanding is far more important. If you understand, then of course you can tell it to anybody, if needed.

020815-1Why is it so important to you that what the examiner thinks of you? But that’s the only thing that is there. You don’t study out of love, you study out of fear. The examiner can fail me. That ‘somebody else’ may not approve of what I am writing. And then there is no life in that knowing.

So, first, we are inverting your question from the point of view of the self. The question now says, ‘What is personality?’ Now, what is personality? We have talked earlier that how we borrow our sense of self from outside, how we borrow our very identity of who we are from outside. The expression of all those identities is called ‘personality’. So, the personality is anyway a borrowed thing. Anybody who is interested in your personality is anyway not a wise fellow. It is like meeting somebody and becoming too interested in his clothes. This fellow is either a clothes merchant or a mad man. This fellow either runs a garment shop or is a lecher.

Personality is like your clothes, an outer covering, an outer layer that has come from the outside. Personality is not what you are, personality is what you wear. Wear, not in the sense of clothes. Wear, in the sense of putting upon yourself.

Personality is your external layer. Why must I be interested in your external layer? Why must anybody be interested in the external rather than the internal? A person who is interested in external has surely no eyes to look into internal, to look into what is essential. But that is the way we live. And that is the way we have been taught to live. We have been told that the man is judged by his appearance. We have been told that all that is, is by appearance. We have been told that ultimately what counts is success. We have been told that you must have it by hook or by crook. ‘Get it, wear it and display it.’ That’s the way we have been brought up. That’s the way we have been taught. So, personality has become very important in this blind world because this world has no eyes to look into the essential. All of you are young and you have life to live. How can you spend your life like a blind man?

You must know the essential, and the personality is not the essential. Are you getting it?

Personality is what you wear. Be more concerned with what you are. And what are we? Move a step behind. As far as we know ourselves, we are just thoughts. Be very-very mindful of your thoughts.

An obsession with personality means that I do not care about what is going on here in my mind, because it is not visible. Expressions are visible, my clothes are visible, facial colour is visible, words are visible, my way of walking is visible, but my thoughts are not visible. So, I won’t bother about them. That’s what an obsession with personality does. It makes you forget what is more important than your personality, the content of mind.

So, first thing: become more concerned with what is going on in your mind. We think that nobody knows what is going on here(pointing at the head), so we think that this mind is our kingdom. Anything goes. We think that we are thinking but nobody knows what we are thinking. ‘Let me think, let me roam around anywhere. Let me harbor any kind of thought, let me be worried, let me be lustful, let me do all that which is otherwise permissible to be done in action. If I kill someone then I will be arrested, but at least I can think of killing that person and derive pleasure out of it.’ Now, nobody can see the thoughts so its alright. Keep thinking about killing that person and that gives us a certain satisfaction.

Law surely cannot punish you for your thoughts but life and existence will surely punish you for your thoughts because all your thoughts become your mind itself. They cause a permanent change, a permanent deformation of the mind. Are you getting it?

Please have some sensitivity towards yourself and be much more bothered about what you are doing to yourself. Your thoughts punish you. Or we can say that to have thoughts is a punishment itself. You do not require any external agency to punish you. Look attentively at your beliefs. See how you have allowed yourself to borrow the idea of success from others, the meaning of career, and so on and so forth. These are the deep-seated beliefs in the mind. How come I have just borrowed and accepted the meaning of the word ‘life’? How come others have written a script for me and I have internalized that script? Be much more concerned about that.

Look at the contents of your mind, forget the personality.020815-2

‘How am I living my life? I sit just as the way others are living? Why is my life so predictable? Why am I afraid, desirous? Do I know love?’ Be much more concerned about these questions and when these are taken care of, then intelligence shines. That is the very function of intelligence. And in that intelligence, personality is automatically taken care of. An intelligent man will know by himself what is the right kind of clothing and appearance for an occasion. He will not need to be told. That is a very minor thing or secondary thing. Be concerned with what is major, what is primary.

I repeat: You are the content of your mind. Personality is just an appearance that you wear.

Be bothered with what you are, not what you wear.

– Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at:  Prashant Tripathi: The personality is not your essence

Article 1: Why do people find personality important

Article 2: Let personality be an expression of your essence

Article 3: What is a good personality

Freedom begins with a ‘No’

Speaker: Karan has asked that he is unable to say ‘No’ and that often lands him in trouble, gives him a lot of problems. Are there others who face this problem?

Listeners: Yes.

Speaker: Alright, so this question then comes from all of us. Let’s understand this question. I am unable to say ‘No’. Now why I am unable to say no? Obviously, there is some fear that holds me back. If I say ‘No’, then obviously such and such will feel offended, if I say ‘No’ something may happen, if I say ‘No’ I may lose a relationship, if I say ‘No’ the other person may harm me. Read more

An ambitious mind will remain in conflict

Speaker: The question can be broadly put as, ‘why is it so that our happiness comes at the cost of others?’ Why is it always a zero-sum game: if I win, you lose, if I am happy then you are sad? Why is it always like this?

This is the basis of the entire system in which you are living. What else is competition? Today all the systems that you have are in some way or the other based on competition.
The question essentially is, ‘can there be a way of living in which one’s joy is not dependent on the suffering of the other?’ Can there be a way of living harmoniously, such that there is no conflict, there is no win-lose situation? This is a very important question, because till the time there is this obsession with winning, winning essentially means defeating the other, till the time there is this obsession with winning, with achieving, we and the world will always remain in conflict. Are you getting this? Go into this along with me.

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Celebrate duality, that’s all that there is

Questioner: I have fear and greed, thus a life of duality. How long to live like this? Should I try to force a change?

Speaker: There is no other life and duality is wonderful. Duality is sacred. There is nothing reprehensible about duality. Can there be duality without the non-dual? Can there be duality? What lies at the source of all duality? It’s just that we do not see the imprint of the source upon all dualistic events and that is the only thing that is needed, duality will still exist. Without duality, how will we talk? Without duality, there is no Prashant and no Mudit otherwise, there is just the ocean, the beautiful ocean and nobody to watch the ocean.

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