Acharya Prashant, with students: How to be contented in life?


Acharya Prashant: Ishita asks, “What is contentment and why do we run behind it?”

Ishita we never run behind contentment. We run behind another thing called ‘satisfaction.’ Contentment is not a goal to be achieved. Contentment is right now. Contentment is our intrinsic fullness which opens up in the absence of any desire. When there is no desire, then you know everything is alright! That is contentment. That is intrinsic fullness, you don’t run after it to get it.

But yes there is another word. You know the dictionary would say these two are synonymous contentment and satisfaction. But in lives, these two are poles apart. Very-very different. We run after satisfaction. What do we say? We say that if we get that then we will be satisfied. That which you are after is always ahead. Always in future. Am I right?

Listener: Yes, sir.

AP: Do you ever say that in this moment if I get something I will be satisfied? Because if you say this moment, then by the time you say this moment this has already become a time. Become past. So, defacto you are always aspiring about the future. A hope into the future. If I get that then.

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Start where you are

Don’t you see all this is self-deception? You don’t have to start with a bang but what prevents you from investing half an hour from your daily routine? What? People get heart disease, people get obese, not because they are not exercising 24 hours, people get heart disease because they do not exercise even for half an hour. Don’t you see what that half an hour means? It means your life. And when I am saying heart, take it as a euphemism.

Start where you are, your start does not have to be according to your expectations, it does not have to be heroic, it does not have to be spectacular, it just has to be a start. Start and let things flow from there. You never know how many roads branch out from the first step.

But waiting for something grand, we never start out at all. Does that not happen? Waiting for that fabulous holiday, we do not allow the mind to experience a certain inner vacation at all. The entire year we remain tense in expectation of the year-end vacation. Why can’t you have your little vacations every day? What prevents you?

I don’t want to get to the extent of saying that every moment can be a vacation. It can be probably, but it would stretch your imagination. And you will experience a horrible pain that how can every moment be a vacation. But why can’t you have half an hour of vacation every day? We don’t even allow ourselves that much.

You don’t need knowledge to help kids, you need freedom from knowledge. This is knowledge that you need knowledge. Be free of this knowledge.

Read the complete article: Do you really need knowledge, power, and money to love?

Do you really need knowledge, power and money to love?

SR Generic_ English

Question: When I see any children in a slum or working in a construction site, I feel like to give them all the knowledge, or at least help them to study the basic things but then a thought came that you are still not in a condition to help anyone, first acquire knowledge and get placed so that you can financially support anyone.

Acharya Prashant: How much knowledge do you want to acquire? Let’s say, you invest all your life in acquiring knowledge, how much of that would you have by the end of your life? Let’s say all your current knowledge is 1 G.B and the remaining life is invested all in just adding to this database. How much would you have in your hundredth year? Give me a number.

L: 1 T.B.

AP: What about 10100 T.B? Is that kind of knowledge possible or not?

L: It is.

AP: Even if you have all the knowledge that you can have, how much would still be left to be known?

L: A lot more.

AP: Infinitely more. Do you want to wait to get knowledge? You’ll keep waiting because knowledge is endless.

L: But there is one more thing if I am not financially strong how can I help others?

AP: How much money do you want?

Don’t you see all these are the tricks of the mind to delay the right action? Don’t you see that the mind wants to be certain of something that it can never actually be certain of? Have you ever seen a man who is convinced of the fullness of his knowledge? Do the senses ever stop absorbing knowledge? Yes? Does a man really ever say that money is enough? He may give up, that is another thing, but does he ever become contended with money?

There are people who go into retirement, say that they want no more money. That is not the same as saying that money is contentment. These are numbers and no number is ever final. You will keep waiting.

The one, who starts, starts today itself because it is possible only today. You don’t have to start in a big way. You feel you are small, start in a small way. We talked of baby steps, right?

I was interviewing a student in a business school. So, I asked that student that why was he pursuing his business education. So, he said that he wants to go into the corporate life and want to quickly make money.

I asked him, “How quickly?” So, he said that within seven years he wants a particular amount of money so that he may retire and start an NGO of his own. I said, “Good, but why so?” He said, “So that he can take care of kids on the streets.” I just looked out of the window and there were slums right there, adjacent to the school.

A building, adjacent to that school, I am talking of a place in Greater Noida, was still being constructed and where there are the laborers, there are their kids as well. I said “They are right here and you are also here for two years. How many of them did you teach even for an hour?” He said that he didn’t.

I said “When they are right here, you had nothing for them, you didn’t extend your hand, you didn’t go out to teach them, do you really think that after 7 years you will do something greatly charitable to them? Whom are you cheating?

Don’t you see all this is self-deception? You don’t have to start with a bang but what prevents you from investing half an hour from your daily routine? What? People get heart disease, people get obese, not because they are not exercising 24 hours, people get heart disease because they do not exercise even for half an hour. Don’t you see what that half an hour means? It means your life. And when I am saying heart, take it as a euphemism.

Start where you are, your start does not have to be according to your expectations, it does not have to be heroic, it does not have to be spectacular, it just has to be a start. Start and let things flow from there. You never know how many roads branch out from the first step.

But waiting for something grand, we never start out at all. Does that not happen? Waiting for that fabulous holiday, we do not allow the mind to experience a certain inner vacation at all. The entire year we remain tense in expectation of the year-end vacation. Why can’t you have your little vacations every day? What prevents you?

I don’t want to get to the extent of saying that every moment can be a vacation. It can be probably, but it would stretch your imagination. And you will experience a horrible pain that how can every moment be a vacation. But why can’t you have half an hour of vacation every day? We don’t even allow ourselves that much.

You don’t need knowledge to help kids, you need freedom from knowledge. This is knowledge that you need knowledge. Be free of this knowledge.

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

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Do you really need knowledge, power and money to love?

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Pleasure is a forced concept

Question:  Both pain and pleasures are unreal. But why is pain more sought after than pleasure?

Acharya Prashant: Because pain gives the hope of pleasure, because pleasure is always a hope. And that hope is called pain.

You see, can you feel pain except in comparison with an imagined pleasure? You say that you are deficient in something. How do you know that you are deficient? How do you know that you are deficient except with an imagined fullness?

You have two units of a resource. You say, you know what, it is so less. How do you know it is less? Only by comparison of time with an imagined state in which you have ten units. That ten units you defined as pleasure. These two units, you defined as pain. Both of these have been put as quantities by the mind.  To go to ten units is to prepare to feel bad when you come down to two. To be at two is to keep crying till you have ten.

When you are at ten, you are shivering in apprehension that you may now fall to two. Look at the conditions of those who have the riches. They are so eager about protecting them. The fear that this may go away keeps assaulting them. So their hope lies in securing them what they already have.

And look at those who have two. Their desperation lies in having only two and then they live in ambition, the ambition of one day reaching up to ten. Ten does not give them security. Ten only gives them the additional responsibility of securing the ten that they have now got. They fully well know that time can take away this ten.  This ten does not belong to them. This ten is just accidental. Something may snatch it away. So even if you have ten, you still cannot have pleasure. Whereas, when you were at two, you said that ten will give me pleasure. Having come to ten, you find that ten cannot give you pleasure because the ten is temporary. Now what do you want to do? You want to secure ten. And no security is ever be permanent. You know that.

You very well know that all your attempts to secure something will fail. You cannot secure even your own body. How will you secure your riches? You do not know even whether the next breath would be there, How do you know whether the next moment all your stuff in the bank would be there?

That is why you keep still shivering. Both pain and pleasure are pain. Both pain and pleasure are suffering. It is not as if spirituality is about moving away from pain. Spirituality is about moving away from both pain and pleasure. And having returned to your innate fullness is the point of joy. That point where pain and pleasures are just visitors – they come, they go, I live in my house. The house is named joy.

L: So, pleasure is actually a concept.

AP: Of course!

L: It is not a reality.

AP: No, not at all.

L: It is a forced concept.

AP: Of course! Pleasure is a forced concept.

You know what! One of the biggest instruments of pleasure — you will be surprised to know this — even sex is just a concept.

All those things that you associate with pleasure, with pain, with hurt are all concepts that we have been indoctrinated into. Remove those concepts and then show me where is pleasure and where is pain? Then there is just life. Just life! Simple, total and joyful.

Read Complete Article: What is meant by living totally?

What is meant by living totally?


Acharya Prashant: The question is that both of these statements appear to be imperative.

First, “Whatever you do, do it totally.”

Second, “Whatever you do, you remain unaffected by the doing.”

How are these two to be put together? Is there a contradiction? If yes, how is to be reconciled? What is meant by doing something totally?

We need to go into this to understand this.

Usually, when we say that something is to be done totally, we equate that with an expanse in time, an expanse in energy, instead of investing five units of resources in it, I invested fifty units of resources because I wanted to do it totally. Instead of going one mile, I went all the way for ten miles because I wanted to do it totally. So we equate this total-ness with a stretch, with an expanse. In other words, what we say is “doing something totally” means going as far as our desire, our motivation wants us to go, right?

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Live to express Fullness, not to gain it

Om! Puurnnam-Adah ||

That is that, full, complete, ultimate.


Puurnnam-Idam ||

This is that, full, complete, ultimate.



Full expresses itself, as fullness.
Puurnnasya Puurnnam-Aadaaya ||

From full, all fullness arises.


Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate ||
And full, remains full. Full complete ultimate.
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||


So, is it not wonderful that ‘this’ and ‘that’ are being addressed together? The Rishi begins by saying, “‘this is full’ and ‘that is full’.” First of all it has to be understood that ‘this’ and ‘that’ cannot pertain to the beyond. ‘This’ and ‘that’ cannot pertain to anything outside the mind. What are ‘this’ and ‘that’ then?

‘This’ and ‘that’ are everything that the mind anyway daily experiences. In terms of matter, they are the thing and its absence. So there is a ball kept somewhere; ‘this’ is the ball, ‘that’ is the absence of the ball. In terms of time, their cause and effect. In terms of thought itself, they are what occupies the mind and what remains hidden. So ‘this’ and ‘that’ pertain to all pairs of duality. Read more

Thoughtlessness is a myth, think fully


Question: Sir, I heard a talk of yours on ‘thinking’. The talk of yours made me go back to thinking all that happened in life, and really, it is the right endeavor even.

Acharya Prashant: It cannot be an endeavour. The keyword is ‘fully’, when I say that you must think fully, the keyword is ‘fully’. Keyword is not ‘think’. I am saying: ‘Think fully’. The accent, the stress is on ‘fully’, not on ‘think’. Read more

The world can redeem itself only by placing the highest value on the Guru


Questioner: The question is: Who is a Guru? Is a Guru different from a Teacher right? Can a Guru bring together — Knowledge and spirituality in one domain? And what is this contradiction between Osho and J. Krishnamurti?

Acharya Prashant: See, there has to be something which makes you feel that there is a difference between a Teacher and a Guru. What is that thing? Because language and dictionary will tell you that these two words are almost synonymous: ‘Teacher and Guru’. Yet something within you tells you that they are not. Indeed there may be a huge difference; a dimensional difference between these two.

Teaching, in the way we know it, in the way it is used in contemporary society, is analogous to filling up the brain, guiding the intellect in a predetermined direction. Now it’s a very important function: to bring a child or a young student up to date, to the point where evolution has brought mankind is important. If a child has born today, he must know the languages that are prevalent today. He must know the sciences, he must know the traffic rules, he must know the political environment, he must know computers and electronics, he must know the way the various societies are built and are operated. Read more

How to cope with the loss of a loved one?


Question: Sir, when we lose a loved one in the form of a body, what happens actually is that the love remains intact but we lose that loved one in that physical form – the body. Please guide.

Acharya Prashant: There would anyway be so many thoughts, live in them. There would be a lot of sadness, live in that. What else can you do? What we call as ‘love’, is something directed towards a body, a human being. Now, that human being is no more, you obviously miss the person. It is a part of what you call as being human; so you will cry, cry a lot; you will miss, miss a lot! And all that is so beautiful, from that suffering, you come to Joy. Read more

Your wishes are not granted so that you may be granted your destiny

Are we born with destiny or choices? Why don’t things happen as per our wish?

Acharya Prashant: Is it not a great mercy that things don’t happen as per our wish? Do you really want existence to punish you by granting all your wishes?

Your wishes are not granted so that you may be granted your destiny.
Your destiny is realization; your destiny is Truth.

If you start living in your wishes, your desires, then how will you come to the Truth? Because, directly, you never wish for the Truth. You never desire Truth.
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Enlightenment is to feel free of the obligation to be enlightened


Question: Is life not ultimately a hall of mirrors?

Acharya Prashant: No, what is meant by that? There is somebody outside the hall who can see that all this is happening. Yes, you project your world, it’s possible to see that you are doing that. So, life is outside that hall as well; and real life is only outside that hall. That hall is such an illusion. Read more

In true Love, you forget the lover


Don’t tell all of their

They might
Count each other’s moles
That reside in the shy

Then keep that tally strictly
To themselves.

God and I
Have signed a contract
To be even more intimate than

Though a clause

Something about not drawing detailed maps
To all His beautiful


~ Hafiz

Shri Prashant: Lovers know each other. Lover of God knows God. Lovers don’t talk about that which is very intimate in public. They do not like to discuss all the core secrets with others. They do not like to tell of these things to anybody. These things have a certain sacredness. These things must remain untouched. They cannot be shared with the world. Oh, they are so sacred that they cannot be shared even with oneself. They are so sacred that you do not want to tell of them even to your own mind. If you put something in words and speak it out, then you are speaking out an entire word. Not making it public. You don’t let your intimacy become a public thing. Forget about words, if you even think about something, then you have at least let your mind know about that thing. Read more

The Whole gives rise to parts, yet is beyond them

Speaker: Parts change, the whole remains unchanged.

First of all, this whole, that is being talked of, is not a sum of the parts. Usually, when we refer to a whole, what we mean is, that there are the parts and when they are taken together, we get the whole.

In the existential sense, the whole is not the sum of the parts. The whole is from where all the parts emerge and yet the whole remains whole. Read more

Aloneness is the desire, destination, and death, of loneliness

“Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.
Solitude is the ally of sorrow as well as a companion of spiritual exaltation.”

-Kahlil Gibran (The Broken Wings)

Speaker: “Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.

Solitude is the ally of sorrow as well as a companion of spiritual exaltation.”

-Kahlil Gibran

(Referring to the questioner) So, what Sushmita is asking is, “How solitude is related to sorrow?” First thing. Second, she is saying is that what she understands from this quote is – solitude is related to aloneness.

‘Solitude’ here stands obviously not for Aloneness, but for the craving of the mind, to reach aloneness. In the sense that Khalil Gibran is talking about solitude here, solitude represents – loneliness. So, this presents us an opportunity to look into the relation between ‘loneliness’ and ‘aloneness’.

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Real confidence – Knowledge or Faith?

Speaker: So, it is a nice question to start with. Confidence is something that we want, right? We do not like to be unsure or hesitant. We do not like to be in a situation where we are not certain that we know. That brings us to the word, ‘knowledge’. And as Abhimanyu said, most of us believe that confidence comes from knowledge. So, how to maintain this confidence? By accumulating more and more knowledge. But will that help? Will that quench our need to feel confident at all times? This is broadly the issue that we must discuss.

What is confidence?

Confidence is the belief that I know, that I understand, that I am in control of things, that I can command, that I am on top of the situation. When you feel this way then you say that I am confident, right? That is confidence for us. But one has to remember that firstly knowledge is limited. We are going into the nature of knowledge.

What is knowledge? How does it function?

Firstly, knowledge with any entity is always limited. Even the sum total of all knowledge that mankind has or is ever going to have will not even be a tiny fraction of the total knowledge that can be possibly had. So, knowledge by its definition is limited. That is the first thing about knowledge. What is the first thing?

Listeners: It is limited. (All together)

Speaker: Howsoever much knowledge you have, it is always going to be limited. It may be all right when it comes to facing a particular examination based on a syllabus because even that syllabus is limited. So, limited syllabus and limited knowledge can counterbalance each other. But when it comes to life, is life limited? Is life limited by the boundaries of any syllabus? Is it? So, knowledge can help you face a structured examination. To an extent, it is helpful there. But knowledge is very inadequate when it comes to life because knowledge by definition is always going to be limited. It is an ever expanding domain. And when I say ever expanding, that brings me to the second thing about knowledge.

What is the second thing about knowledge?

The second thing about knowledge is the more you know the more you realize that you do not know. That ‘knowledge is limited’ is not known to those with limited knowledge. Understand this. It requires a really knowledgeable man to know that knowledge is limited. The ones who have little knowledge keep on thinking that they have all the knowledge. Socrates it was, and it requires a man of the measure of Socrates to say that ‘the only thing I know is that I do not know’. Remember, no man lesser than Socrates can say this. ‘The only thing that I know is that I do not know’ and how can he say this? Because he has a lot of knowledge.

So, the more knowledge expands the more it is able to see its own inadequacy. The lesser is the knowledge that you have, the more you feel cock sure. “Oh! I know everything”. The more you have a really bigoted belief, a really obstinate belief, in yourself, “Oh! I know”.

Mahavir had a very nice way of answering certain people. People would come and ask him all kinds of deep questions, questions about life, philosophy, the right action, the right thing to do, reality. They would ask him, “Does the world really exist in the way it appears to be”? He would say ‘probably’. They would ask him, “Does God exist”? He would say, ‘probably’. The next one would come and say, “Sir, does God not exist”? He would say, ‘probably’. Not on all occasions but with certain people as a means to bring them to realization. Syāt (Sanskrit: “may be”) ‘probably’.  And this came to be known as Syādvāda; ‘probably’. When you reach the height of a Mahavir then you realize that it is all just ‘probably’ or you can come to modern physics and go to Schrödinger. And what does he tell you?

Listeners: ‘Probably’ (In unison)

Speaker: ‘Probably’. Does the electron really exist where I think it is? Well Sir, ‘probably’. Depends on with what precision you want to measure its velocity. You want to be very precise about its velocity, then you will have to be less and less precise about its location. ‘Probably’. But only a Schrödinger can say that. You require to come to modern physics to realize that all modern physics deals in, probabilities. It does not deal in certainties. Be it Quantum Physics or be it Relativistic Mechanics, there is very little definitive about them. You have eigenvalues and eigenfunctions. You do not get definite answers that the ball is rolling at the speed of 2.2 m/s. ‘Probably’.

So, the more knowledge you get the more stumped you are because your knowledge is telling you that knowledge itself is limited. Knowledge itself is telling you that knowledge is limited. And a point comes when the philosopher or the saint or the scientist; all of them just stand          staring at a giant vacuum where there is nothing known. After all his knowledge, what does the physicist realize? He does not know anything. And that’s the moment when he has absolute clarity.

You know what is clarity?

To be clear of knowledge, to be empty. He has realized that all the knowledge that I have, that does not mean anything because that is really not true at all. I have been looking at the world, I have been talking about objects but I have been missing the subject. And I cannot look at the subject using the same faculty that was looking at the world, the objects. So what do I know? I know nothing. I know nothing. I have missed the subject. Are you getting it?

Now, we are faced with a peculiar situation. First, knowledge is limited. So, you cannot really face life with knowledge. We said you can face examinations with knowledge but you cannot face life with knowledge. Correct? Second, the more knowledge you gather, the more you realize that knowledge is insufficient and that knowledge does not mean anything. So, any confidence that is based on knowledge is always going to be bulldozed by life. Any confidence that is based on knowledge is always going to fall short when it comes to the real challenges of life.

You can do very well in an exam. Get 80%, 90%, 99%, as much percent as you want. But what will you do, all your life will you just keep writing examinations? A very poor life would that be. Wouldn’t it be? You have to live. Really live, right? And to really live you require something more than knowledge because confidence based on knowledge will not help you.

There is another confidence that is not based on knowledge. We are now preparing to enter that. We are now going to come to that. All knowledge is about the outside, right?  And the outside is infinite. That is why we said that in spite of whatever knowledge you gather, it would not even be a fraction of the immensity of the ocean of knowledge that is possible. All knowledge is external. It is an infinite expanse. But there is something about which you can be more sure, which is not infinitely away from you, which you do not have to gather, which is close to you, which is the thing that gathers knowledge and wants to feel satisfied by gathering knowledge. What is that thing? What is that thing within you that wants confidence? What is that thing within you that wants to gather knowledge? What is that thing within you that wants to feel satisfied by gaining knowledge? Can we give it a name? Just for talking. What is that thing within you?

Listeners: Sir, Ego; Fear; Knowledge; I.

Speaker: Give it any of these names. Each of this is as good as the other. I, ego, mind, that is the thing that is always wanting confidence and gathering knowledge, right? That is the thing that sometimes starts feeling a little sure and sometimes just falls apart. “Oh my God! I can’t do much. What is happening”?

That can be known. After all that is the thing that wants confidence, that can be known. That is the root that needs confidence that wants knowledge. That can be known, that can be understood. I can have no control over the world. Things move in a haphazard way. I cannot know what is happening on the road, I cannot know what is happening on a particular street in Argentina right now. What can I know? And the universe is infinite. What can I know? But I can surely know something that is closer to me. What is that?

This (pointing to the head) can be known. All the fear, the lack of confidence, where does it sit? Does it sit in Argentina? Does it sit in some other galaxy or does it sit here (again pointing to the head). You can have knowledge about Argentina. But is your fear residing in Argentina? Where is your fear residing?

Listeners: In the mind (All together)

Speaker: You can have a lot of knowledge about the universe but is your fear residing in the universe or is it residing here (pointing to the head)? Why not know this (mind) itself? There is another confidence that arises from knowing this (mind). I know this. Now, external situations can keep changing. Life can keep throwing its challenges. There may be victory or defeat. Somebody may ask me a question. I may know an answer and I may as well not know an answer. But whatever is the situation, this is my territory, the mind is my territory. This cannot get affected. This confidence does not depend upon knowledge. This second type of confidence does not depend on knowledge. This depends on another thing which let us call as Awareness.

For our purposes, when we say awareness, we will mean self-awareness, knowing oneself. From that, a real confidence comes. Now, the world cannot shake this confidence. And those of you, who often feel short of confidence, must pay deep attention to this. Those of you who experience fear, anxiety, or nervousness must pay special attention to this. You can have very little control over the world. You do not know what the next man will say to you. You do not know what is the next event life will show to you. Preparation will not make you ready to face life, because all preparation depends on some kind of knowledge. It will always fall short and you will be disappointed. You will keep wondering; why am I afraid all the time? Why do situations stump me? I prepare so much and yet when the opportunity comes I am found short. Why?

Know yourself. Know that the mind is hungry for something. Know that to be afraid of someone is to allow the external to take control of you. Know that the more you go towards one end of duality the more you are preparing to go towards the other end of duality. Observe your mind. Look at the patterns. And realise that when you are in a pattern it is so mechanical, and it is moving towards its predetermined end; like a pre-recorded movie. When you realise all this, then the world cannot take control of you. Someone comes and says something to you, and you smile, you say “Ah! that same old game”. You see something and the mind wants to go towards it, you again smile and you say “Ah! the same old pattern here”. In a particular situation you repeat what you have been always doing, you again smile and you say “Ah! the same game of conditioning”.  Are you getting it?

This confidence cannot be shaken by situations. This confidence is not limited. This is unlimited. This is infinite. Some people have called this inner confidence as Faith. This inner confidence that does not depend on knowledge; that depends on self-awareness; this has been called as Faith. Those who will depend on knowledge will be beaten by life, beaten black and blue. At some point in their preparation they will feel very sure, like a boxer feels sure, sometimes, before he enters the boxing ring. He has worked hard, he has rehearsed, practiced. And he enters the ring and the challenger is life itself. Then what happens to the boxer? Beaten and beaten and beaten and knocked out. And it is happening again and again and again, knocked out, knocked out, knocked out. That is the destiny of confidence based on knowledge.

ConfidenceHave an inner faith. Say “Whatever happens, I am alright”. Say that “I know the one who is afraid; he has been programmed to be afraid. Let him be afraid. I don’t want to be afraid”. Say that “I know this crowd, I know why they are moving like this, talking like this, being led in one common direction like this, I know them. I know, I realise this entire game. I realise this entire game, because their mind and my mind are the same. Because I know my mind so I know the mind of the entire universe. The machine is the same, the loading maybe different, the softwares maybe different but the machine is the same, ready to be programmed. So I know what is happening in the shopping mall. I know what is happening in the placement department. I know what is happening in politics. I know what is happening in families. I know what is happening in the movies. I can understand why the traffic moves like this”. The same old mind, stupid, prone to fear and greed. I can see what is happening “Ah! I can see”. This is called insight.

This is not knowledge. This is insight. I realise what is happening and why do I realise what is happening? Because I realise Myself. When I realise the patters of my mind, then I also realise the patterns of the world. I see two kids fighting and then I pick up the newspaper and I see that two nations are fighting and I realise that it is the same age-old tendency. Nothing different, we are violent. We are programmed to be violent. Kids fight and nations fight and when nations are fighting, they are no different than kids. And they are abusing each other and leveling allegations and all those things, just as kids do. Are you getting it?

Now, whatever be the situation in life, good, bad, whatever. It cannot shake you. Remember, I am not guaranteeing against bad situations alone. Usually, when you want confidence, you want an insurance against bad situations, right? You say that when bad situations come, then my confidence should not waver, correct? That when some terrible things happen, even then I should keep feeling confident. That is what we usually want. But when you realise yourself, then you don’t shake whether good things happen or bad things happen. When pleasing events will happen, then too you will realise that what is the point in feeling so happy about all this? If I feel happy when someone says that I am smart and handsome, then I’ll have to feel sad when someone says that I am ugly and idiotic. Are you getting it? Then nothing on the outside will be able to shake you up. It is that inner confidence. Things will keep happening on the outside and you will stand firm and stable like a rock within, like a mountain that cannot be shaken, a fortress that cannot be impregnated. Won’t that be beautiful?

And then you will be able to really relate to the world, then you will be able to really talk to somebody, then you will be able to really have a relationship as well with anybody, anything. Right now our relationships are all based on fear, insecurity, greed, what am I getting, what am I giving, such kind of calculations. Sometimes it is conscious, sometimes it is so unconscious that we don’t even know. But when you know that I cannot be harmed and also no one on the outside can give me something to benefit me, then you can really have a healthy relationship. Be it with an interviewer, be it with your friends, with a man on the road, with animals, birds, skies, family, anybody; really healthy relationships. Is it clear what I am trying to say?

There are two ways to walk into that interview room. One, “I have prepared so much that I will be able to answer any question”. Most probably what is going to happen to this candidate? “I have prepared so much; I can answer any question”. What is going to happen to this candidate? Life is unpredictable. Nobody is obliged to ask you questions that you have prepared. Life is unpredictable. The more you have prepared, the more you feel that the question must come from within the domain of preparation. The more you are prepared, the more you are predicting that the question will be from within the prepared material. Is that not so because you have prepared so much. The more you have prepared the more you are shattered when a new question comes. Do you understand this? And a new question will come because that is the nature of life. It is always fresh and always new. A new question will come, it will be absolutely new. You will have no idea about it, you would have never thought about it. A fresh situation will arise and you won’t know what to do. Because you haven’t prepared for it, you cannot prepare for it. It is impossible to prepare. This candidate will be beaten, knocked out.

And then there is another candidate, he is not averse to knowledge. He has knowledge, but at the same time he is not dependent on knowledge. What does he say? He says whatever happens let it happen. Why should I worry, why should I wonder? I did what I had to do, now let things come. Let things come. But one thing is certain, whatever will come, I will be still. Whatever be the situation I will not be shaken. Whichever direction the winds blow I will stand firm. I will not be greatly elated and excited if the other fellow says, “Wow! You are wonderful” and I will not be disappointed if he says, “Oh! You do not know anything”. I will maintain my composure, my equanimity under all circumstances. Now this second fellow may get selected or may not get selected, but one thing is certain, you will not find him with a miserable face. Do you understand this? You will not find him with a miserable face. Wouldn’t that be beautiful? And let me add something to it. Actually the probability of success is higher for the second fellow who may not have prepared so much but has the faith that whatever happens I am alright. I am not dependent on the world, whatever happens, it is OK.

This reminds me of a particular event from my student life. It was the year 1999-2000, I think. So my own civil services exam got over on 15th of November, then this common admission test to the various IIM’s, this used to be a paper pencil test not an online test, so it was scheduled for the 10th of December. Now till 15th of November I was busy with my civil services exams. I finished the exams, four five days I slept comfortably. And then I said fine, because I’ve filled up the form and it’s an interesting exam, there are these nice questions and puzzles. So let’s write that exam. I didn’t have too many stakes attached to that CAT. So I picked up those few books that you require and I started preparing and I joined a test series with my batch mates in IIT, that test series used to be conducted in IIT itself. So everybody who was writing that test was an IITian. So I would just go and write the test with them, it was a mock test. And whenever I would write that test my rank there would be somewhere in the middle. There were so many of them who were preparing since one year, two years also, minimum six months, eight months and they desperately wanted to go to the IIM’s. So they had worked very hard and they were all talented people, obviously. Some of them were prodigiously talented. So that is the way it was. Then came the 10th of December, so I went in, I wrote the paper, I realized that I had attempted fewer questions than I usually used to attempt. Before that particular year the CAT used to have around 180 questions and you had done well if you had attempted around 140 or 150. I could see that this year I had not attempted as many. So I thought maybe I have not done well. But ok, it is alright.  I came out and then what do I see there, people are crying, sobbing, weeping inconsolably. Somebody is tearing apart his shirt including some of those toppers who used to do so well in the mock tests. So I asked them, “What happened”? And they said, “Don’t ask us, we are devastated, the world has come to an end”. Why? They said the pattern changed. I said, “Really”? Now the fact was I didn’t even realise that the pattern had changed because I didn’t know what the previous pattern was. That was not really there in the mind. So I said, “Yes probably, it has changed. Yes. Then they said, “How much could you attempt”? I said, “I too have not done well, I mean just like you I also have not done well. I‘ve attempted only 113”. Then they started thumping their chests even more wildly. I said, “What happened”? They said, “We could not attempt even 100”. Now it was impossible. It was impossible. I knew some of them, they were really swift as far as IQ goes, and they were really up there, in fact higher than me. There is no doubt. And they had prepared really well. And that I tell you is exactly the reason why they failed. They had prepared so much, when you prepare so much and the pattern changes, then you crumble. And patterns will change. Life will not conform to any patterns.

Sometimes examinations do but even in examinations if the paper setter is wise enough, he will keep changing patterns. It is only a lazy university in which patterns do not change. It is only a very sloppy examiner, a very sloppy college and university where you get the same pattern year after year. Who wants to change? Look at the JEE for example. Do you ever see questions repeated? I do not know what the situation these days is but at least till my time there was no probability of a question being repeated. Life is like that. In fact life is even more unpredictable than that. There at least you know it will be only maths, physics and chemistry. Here it can be anything. You have prepared geography and the question is on biology. That is what life is. You have put on the best of your clothing and it rains. You never know what to do?

Life will make a mockery of all your preparations. I am not saying don’t prepare. What I am saying is let your confidence not be linked to preparation. Prepare but don’t feel confident because of preparation. Just feel confident for no reason. When you feel confident for no reason, that is called Faith. That is called Faith. But it requires guts. When you’re afraid then you want to cover up your fear with preparation. Have you seen this, noticed this? I am so afraid so I want to cover up my fear with preparation. I’ve seen people preparing and rehearsing. I love you. (Enacting of a lover preparing to propose) I love you. (Again enacting of a lover preparing to propose). Now, what is this? And when it comes to the occasion, what do they say? (Enacts as a confused lover who is unable to propose before his lover)


(Everyone laughs)

Speaker: What is the use of all your preparation? What is the point? Then you find that your throat has choked and you end up making a fool of yourself. Have you not seen people preparing? Have you not prepared for various things that should be left unprepared? You must ask yourself, have I left any space for spontaneity in my life? Have I left any space for spontaneity? Do you understand what spontaneity is? What is spontaneity? It just happens in the flow. Have I left any space for this? Or do I want things to be rehearsed, preplanned, scripted? If I have to plan for a vacation I will plan two months in advance. Do I just pick up my bike and leave? Have I ever done that? No, prepare well, take ten permissions. Then pack all your luggage nicely. Then conform that the hotels are alright. Then conform that the roads are there and some ocean has not taken them away. Conform that some aliens have not landed in that city. Make sure of everything. And then leave. And then you are called a wise man. See, he has made all the preparations.

Life makes fun of your preparations. Have you heard of this? “Man proposes, God disposes”. They say that God laughs most when man is making plans. That is His pet joke. See, that one is also preparing (pointing to a student in the audience).

(Everyone laughs)

And He is laughing all the time because you are preparing all the time. Mind you, I am not telling you to not to read or not to gain knowledge. I am just telling you that knowledge will do what knowledge can do. Knowledge cannot give you security against your inner hollow. You are trying to fill the wrong hole with the wrong object. If you are unsure and insecure about yourself, knowledge and preparation will not help you. And mostly you want to prepare because you are unsure about yourself. What must come from knowledge, let that come from knowledge. What must not come from knowledge, what must be spontaneous, let that be spontaneous. And you can be forgiven if you don’t have knowledge because we said right in the beginning that knowledge will always be limited. So you can be forgiven if you don’t have knowledge. But if don’t have that inner certainty then you cannot be forgiven.

Even in an interview you would be rejected most probably because you lack something here (pointing to the heart). Knowledge you may lack and that is not a big offense because knowledge can be gained. There was this famous fellow who said “Hire for character and train for skill”. He said skill can come, knowledge can come. We will give you training but what we are hiring is character. Have that. And character does not mean a particular way of behaving. Character really means that inner certainty. The thing called Faith. The thing called Self- awareness. That is character. Clear?

Sometimes people get selected just because they are smiling even after not being able to give five consecutive answers. Five consecutive questions and they do not know the answer and yet they are not shaken. And the interviewer says this is a man! What is he being hired for? His knowledge?

Question one.

Answer: I don’t know.

Question two.

Answer: I don’t know.

Question three.

Answer: I don’t know.

Question four.

Answer: I don’t know.

Question five.

Answer: I don’t know.

Is he feeling ashamed? No.

Is he feeling guilty? No. Is he looking now down at the earth, at his feet? No.

Is he feeling small? No.

Is he feeling arrogant? No.

This is a man. Now, that doesn’t mean that you start trying this trick.

(Everyone laughs)

And there are some who are rejected even after answering all the questions. Because even after answering their face is like (Speaker enacts a miserable face). Now, who wants to hire such a fellow? If I want knowledge, I will Google. If I want knowledge, I’ll hire an encyclopedia. He is full of knowledge but looking at his face in the morning in the office everyday will be a punishment. How can I hire you? And you ask him one question and he does not even know the limit of knowledge. He is going on and on and you are looking at him. But he has prepared so much. He must be able to get something out of the preparation. “Sir, one minute more, I know a little more”. Mr. Google, “Sir, there is another link on page eight”. Will you hire such a fellow?

Especially at your level, it is not knowledge that is important. And more and more the world is moving in a direction where memory devices, external devices will substitute for the memorization function of the brain. You will not need to remember much. A time will come very soon when you will have all the knowledge available in a small chip and your brain can be connected to that chip and that knowledge is available. You don’t need to memorize. Now, what is important in that kind of a world? Is memory and knowledge important? What is important? Creativity is important, spontaneity is important, faith is important. So ask yourself, do I have creativity? Do I have spontaneity? Do I have faith? That is your real asset. That is what will help you. Not memory, not knowledge, not that fake external confidence.

~ Excerpt from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Prashant Tripathi: Real confidence – Knowledge or Faith?

Read more articles on this topic: 

  1. A confidence independent of knowledge
  1. Knowing is more crucial than knowledge
  1. The difference between belief, fact and Faith

The material mind is condemned to suffer the pains of duality

पौर्णमास्यां यथा चन्द्र एक एवातिनिर्मलः।
तेन तत्सदृशं पश्येद्द्विधादृष्टिर्विपर्ययः।।

There is only one very clear moon on the full moon night.
One should perceive That (the Self) like the moon.
Seeing duality is perversion.

Avadhuta Gita (Chapter 2, Verse 21)

Speaker: This one is from The Avadhuta Gita.

It says, “There is only one very clear moon on the Full Moon night.  One should perceive the Self, like that moon. Seeing duality is perversion.”

The example that has been chosen to teach, is a very wise example. The moon is one, the moon is resplendent. But you never perceive the moon, as One. You keep on saying that the moon is waxing and waning, you keep on talking about the very kalas (different waxing and waning phases) of moon. You keep on saying, “This is Krishna Paksha (the period of the waning moon), this is Shukla Paksh (the period of the waxing moon).”

The moon is One, and whenever you will talk of the moon as anything except the Full Moon, then you will miss out on the brightness of the moon, because all faces of the moon, except the Full Moon face, lack in brilliance, compared to the Full Moon.

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Joy – absolute happiness – is possible

Question: Sir, what is happiness? And what is the relation between happiness and Joy?

Speaker:  Whatever pleases the mind, whatever the mind likes, is called happiness for the mind. Simple, whatever pleases the mind is happiness. Whatever means whatever, could be anything. There are no complexities in this. Whatever the mind likes, is its happiness.

Obviously the question of liking something, being attracted towards something, arises only when there is a feeling of incompletion. The greater is the feeling of incompletion the stronger is the like. The stronger is the like, the more happy we are. That is the entire game of liking and disliking. The more is your suffering, the deeper is your incompletion and the greater is the intensity of your likes. You will be a very passionate man. Eager to achieve happiness. Let us just call that as the ‘plane of duality’ in which the mind usually operates. Read more

The difference between belief, fact and Faith

Question: Trust is the foundation of all relations. Where does trust come from?

Speaker: Write down:

Belief – Imagination
Trust – Fact
Faith – Truth

All of these three words, belief, trust and Faith, pertain to ‘being’. They pertain to reality. Essentially all these three words are saying, ‘something is there’ or ‘something exists’ or ‘it exists’. Though when you say, “I believe this” Or “I trust this” or “I have Faith in this”, apparently you have an object to which the statement is directed. But really, you are talking about yourself and that remains hidden because that ‘I’ appears to be constant. You are saying, “I believe this”, “I trust this”, “I have Faith in this.” In all these three statements, because the ‘I’ is apparently the same, it appears as if you are talking only about some object that you are believing, trusting or having Faith in. But really, all these three statements pertain to the ‘I’. They pertain to what you know yourself as.

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Externally you may be comparable but Essentially you are beyond comparison

Question: Sir, why is comparison required for growth and what is the real meaning of comparison?

Speaker: Why is comparison required for growth and what is the real meaning of comparison. As we look at the world, all we see is things, objects, materials, and everything that we see with our eyes or think of with our mind has a definite shape, size and other characteristics. Right? It is limited. And whatever is limited, can be expressed as a number. Whatever you see around yourself can always be expressed as a number. Look around, you have this pillar.(Points out to a pillar in the room) This pillar will have a definite height, and a width, and a breath, and the color of the paint has a definite wavelength, right? And there is a definite strength of the pillar? And all of these things can be denoted through a number. Can they not be? You are sitting here and breathing and there is the air, and the air has a particular density, and the density can be expressed as a…?

Listeners: Number.  Read more

Can you see something more important than your tiredness?

Drum sound rises on the air, its throb, my heart. 

A voice inside the beat says,
“I know you’re tired, but come. This is the way.”

~ Rumi, The essentials of Rumi

Speaker: “I know you’re tired, but come. This is the way.” Apaar is saying, “After reading Rumi, a fear is rising. What if the way too is tiring? Then?”

When did Rumi assure you that the way is not tiring? In fact, all that Rumi is saying is, “You are already tired. That much is known.” You are prone, susceptible, vulnerable to tiredness. It is well-known. And somebody who is already tired is being invited to walk away. For sure, he will get only more tiredness. So there is no uncertainty.

You are asking, “What if the way too is tiring?” There is no doubt. Why are you feeling fifty-fifty? It is hundred percent certain, that only more tiredness is going to be there, only more tiredness. Rumi is honest. He won’t hide these things. He is saying, “It is tiring, obviously.”

But something more important than your weariness, your fatigue, something more compelling than your tiredness, would pull you. That thing has come in the shape of Rumi, for now. And that’s the whole beauty of it. Not tired, anybody would like to have a stroll. It is pleasurable. “I am not tired, and just have had dinner. Let’s go for a night walk.” There is nothing in that walk.

Walking 1But it becomes special when you are tired, and you have no reason to walk, yet you find yourself running. And you are not deceiving yourself; you are not hiding it from yourself that you are tired. “Yes, obviously I am tired. But there is something more important than this. I have to run.”

What is more important than this? Well, if there were a reason to walk, there could be a bigger reason to not to walk. Every reason can be defeated by a bigger reason, because reason always has its limits and boundaries. So whatever is done for a reason, can never be immense. It would always be petty. One reason would compel you to do something, another reason would come in your way, and tell you to not to do it.

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