The difference between realization and escapism?


Acharya Prashant: Escapism is – I am moving from city to village, from wife to mother, from job A to job B, from office to ashram, from object to object. Realization is from object to the core. In both, there is a movement involved, there is no doubt about it. And the movement sometimes is physical also. May or may not be physical, but it can be physical. So, there is a movement involved but if the movement is from one object to another object then you call it escapism. If behind the movement is something else, then it is not escapism. Is this clear? The difference between these two? Moving from tea to coffee is? Read more

What do you want, a thousand idiots surrounding you or five real friends with you?

Why should I crave for recognition from somebody else? Remember, the one who will give me recognition, sanction, will act on his own values. He will appreciate only that which he thinks, is appreciable. If everybody thinks that ‘black’ is appreciable then what will I need to do to get their appreciation? I need to become black, wear black, demonstrate black, right? Is that not so? To get popularity and fame among people you have to do what the people like, right? Is that not so? So who is the master and who is the slave?

Remember, the common characteristics of masses is mediocrity. And to become popular among masses, you have to fall to mediocrity. Without becoming mediocre, it is impossible to become popular.

Excellence never becomes very popular.

Popularity means becoming a slave to others and secondly popularity means becoming a slave to others who are very mediocre. Not only are you a slave, you are a slave to an idiot. How does that sound? 

Following is always easier, right? Going up against the gravity is always a little more difficult. What do you think, the followers follow the leader? No, the leader follows the followers.

Popularity means I do not have an internal locus of control. I am constantly looking at others, trying to please them.

You do what you must do. You do that which brings peace to you. And let me tell you, when you are doing ‘that’, which stems from your peace and which brings peace then a few people will come to you, few people will recognize you but those will be real people.

What do you want, a thousand idiots surrounding you or five real friends with you?What do you want?

An authentic man can never be attracted towards a fake person. That is the reward of being real. When you are real, not only you enjoy being with yourself but you also find that your environment is full of the best that world can offer.

Do not make those decisions considering that how they would be perceived by society or friends. Do not make those decision considering what the convention has been. Look afresh at them. Don’t go by the traditional definitions of good-bad, right-wrong, big-small, acceptable-unacceptable. What comes from your intelligence, only that is acceptable. Everything else is totally unacceptable.

Should one strive for fame and popularity?



Question: Is it important to do something big in your life or more important is to do something big in any small work that you do?

Acharya Prashant: What’s your name?

Listener: Abhinav Gupta.

AP: Sit Abhinav. Is it important to do something big in life or is it preferable to do better in something small that you pick up? Abhinav, I need to understand your question. What do you mean by something big in life?

L: Something big in life means that if someone is Sachin Tendulkar, everyone needs to have same identity as Sachin Tendulkar or anyone can be…

AP: What do you mean by Sachin Tendulkar?

L: Sachin Tendulkar means that he has a big identity as a cricketer.

AP: Who gave that identity?

L: sir, we gave the identity…

Read more

On Lao Tzu: The Real will never be something that you can be conscious of


 “When people see something as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.”
~ Lao Tzu

Question: Sir, we know this, as soon as the world regards something as beautiful, ugliness simultaneously becomes apparent. As soon as the world regards something as good, evil simultaneously becomes apparent. We see in media and television and everything that this is. We all are tuned into becoming one way or the other, without realizing the sacred text.

Acharya Prashant: You see that’s what Lao Tzu is saying.

He is saying, the moment man starts talking about beauty, ugliness has already crept in. Is beauty a concept of man’s mind? Can a man talk of beauty without contrasting it, comparing it, without having an environment of ugliness? The thing with the mind is that it operates in dualities. It cannot call something as good, without calling its opposite as bad. And hence, bad is necessary if you are to call anything as good.

It cannot call anything as white without having a background of black. It operates in pairs of dualistic opposites. Lao Tzu says, leave the essentials from your definitions—spare them! You start talking about love, only when love is receding.

Real love is when you do not even know that you are in love. 

If you are calling something as love, then you are calling it as love only because, it is subscribing to, matching with, confirming with your image of love. And often what starts mattering more to us is the image rather than the substance.

Real Silence is one when you do not even know that you are silent.

If you know that you are silent, this knowledge itself is noise. You see this? And hence, the real, the essential, would never be something that you can be conscious of.

You see this? And hence, the real, the essential, would never be something that you can be conscious of.

I have traveled across the country and one of the frequent questions that seekers ask is about enlightenment or that ancient quest for God. Now, people have an idea of enlightenment, an image of God. We are seeking the God experience; we turn everything into an image and an experience. We say this is what must happen to me if I am to feel enlightened. And of course, that which they are calling as enlightenment comes to them from the books that they have read, from well, the miscellaneous sources.

Spare the real.

The real will happen on its own.

It is already happening.

Take care of the peripherals. Let the mind be involved in the small matters of life.

When the mind starts thinking about the essential, then the mind reduces the essential to a mental concept.

In small matters of life, be as clever and calculative as you want to be; only in the small matters.

In everything that really matters, live by the heart—Do not calculate, do not be so clever; let innocence decide for you.

The good news is, you cannot differentiate between small matters or big matters. Either everything is small or everything is big. So, it pays to live by the heart. One of the posters here says, “No amount of knowledge about peace will give you peace.

It is a sorry situation that many of us have come to a point where knowledge of peace matters more to us than peace itself. Many of us are more contented with knowledge about love than love itself. Many of us want to talk more about joy, and oneness, and simplicity and freedom rather than being free and joyful.

Do you see the horror in this? And do you see how funny all this is? And do you also see how easy it is to get rid of all this?

You probably don’t. But it is in fact, easy.

L1: Sir, it is sorry that out of lakhs only one or two; I remember your poster that says – it is not the world but you who have woken up.

AP: Care not for lakhs; care not even for one or two. First of all, take care of yourself. People are asleep because everybody is too concerned about waking the other up. You know, we are all blissfully asleep, dreaming that we are trying to wake the other one up.

Take care of yourself first and in that, you will be able to help the world; to bring awakening and awareness to everybody. First of all, look closely at your own life, look at the facts of your life, see who you are and from there you will be able to help everybody. Even when you look at others, use that as a way to look at yourself.

We said, the man of mankind is one. If the other is violent, is that not the same violence that we exhibit?

L1: We also suffer.

AP: We also suffer. We also chase pleasure. We also experience sorrow. Right?

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

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant on Lao Tzu: The Real will never be something that you can be conscious of

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: You are a Lao Tzu when you don’t have a Lao Tzu as your ideal.

Article 2: Only light can illuminate others

Article 3: To go beyond yourself, come close to yourself

Editor’s Note: 

Books by Acharya Prashant are available on AMAZON:

You are a Lao Tzu when you don’t have a Lao Tzu as your ideal

Shri Prashant: The biggest damage that you do to others comes as very innocuous, unnoticeable, run-of-the-mill actions, like the street vendor selling his oily and stale food. It appears so very normal, does it not? Have you ever seen the street vendor, huh, selling his street food? Does he strike you as abnormal? They dot the streets. They are there after every fifty metres, are they not? When you look at them, do you jump with surprise? Do you say, “Oh my God! What an enemy of mankind!”? Does that happen? Read more

From chaos to zeroness – the ascending levels of conciousness

The highest virtue is not virtuous
Therefore it has virtue
The lowest virtue holds onto its virtue
Therefore it has no virtue
The highest benevolence acts without purpose
The highest righteousness acts with purpose
The highest ritual acts, but since no one cares, it raises its arms and use force

Therefore when The Way is lost there is virtue
When virtue is lost there is benevolence
When benevolence is lost there is righteousness
When righteousness is lost there are rituals
Rituals are end of fidelity and honesty and beginning of conclusion.

Lao Tzu, Tao-Te-Ching (Chapter – 38)

Speaker: There is ‘the way’, then ‘virtues’, then ‘benevolence’, then ‘righteousness’, then ‘rituals’, and then ‘confusion’. What are these? These are nothing but ‘levels of consciousness’, states of mind.

The mind that lives in absolute duality, sees only a multitude of objects, all around. For such a mind, for such a consciousness, there is the subject, and there is an abundance – a sea, a plethora of objects all around.  He looks around, and sees objects and objects. Who is he, is defined, by the object he is looking at, at that particular moment and place.

I am looking at a nice shirt. ‘Who am I?’ The one who covets that shirt. I am thinking of entertainment. ‘Who am I?’ The one who wants entertainment. There is something in the world, an object, that scares. ‘Who am I?’ The scared one. And I am nothing except the scared one. Tempted, I am nobody except the tempted one. So the object defines me, and objects are just too many; there is an entire ocean of objects.

Take these two together. We are talking about the lowermost stage of mind, we are talking about ‘the chaotic state of mind’, as Lao Tzu says. At the bottom there is just confusion, we are talking about that state.

So there are too many objects around, and with too many objects around, ‘who am I’? The subject defined by that object. So with an object, I feel only that object is supreme, nothing else is important, why? Because looking at that object, that object becomes my world.

Read more

Complete your action, and carry no expectation

“Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.”

― Lao Tzu

Question:  Lao Tzu says, “Do your work, then step back.”  What does he mean?

Speaker: We don’t step back. Do we? Like a salesman who has come to deliver goods to our house, we remain standing on the customer’s door steps. We don’t step back. We say, “We won’t step back till we get the payment.”

“I did something, now I want the result. How can I step back? Where is the fruit of my action? How can I step back? The circle is not yet complete, how can I step back? How can I step back?” We don’t step back.

We wait and wait, and this waiting creates time, this waiting creates future, this waiting is hope and expectations. And there is no suffering worse than hope. There is no torture, worse than, looking at future, in expectation.

Read more

To go beyond yourself, come close to yourself

Tao Te Ching

“If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial.

If you want to become straight, let yourself be crooked.

If you want to become full, let yourself be empty.

If you want to be reborn, let yourself die.

If you want to be given everything, give everything up”

Tao Te Ching (Chapter – 22)

Speaker: Lao Tzu says, “If you want of become whole, let yourself be partial”. The partial hates to call itself partial. The partial has a great belief, that it is the whole. The fragment survives on the belief, that it is total. The individual exists on the assumption, that it is separate. The partial will always call itself a unit, an independent complete and separate unit. And the more partial it is, the more unitary it will feel.

For the partial to humbly accept, that it is but partial; it must have a connection to wholeness. That is also the foundation of Bhakti. When you are in touch of the absolute then you come to know of your smallness. When you are in the touch with the innocent then you come to know about your crookedness. These two go together. Only in touch with the absolute, can you know your limitation. That is why humility and grandeur always go together. Only in touch of immensity, can there be humility.

 When the heart is in touch with immensity, the mind will have humility. Read more

Only light can illuminate others

The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

– Lao Tzu

Speaker: Nothing can be looked at in isolation. (Pointing at the photo of a candle) You have a flame on the cover page of that calendar there.There is that flame.Lao Tzu Flame What else do you see there? There is a book, there is light falling on the book, and there is space around the flame. Right? And there must be other candles as well. Right? Read more

How can enlightenment be one objective thing?

Question: Sir, how does a mind that is enlightened look at life? What happens to its thoughts? Does its wiring change in response to fear? Does it change its response to emotions?

Answer: Assuming sufficiently good understanding of the brain and sufficiently developed scientific processes, anything can surely be done with the brain. That involves all kinds of neural rearrangements and the rest of it. Read more

Beauty is to see beauty in beauty and ugly

True words are not beautiful. Beautiful words are not true. (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching)

Speaker: Lao Tzu says, “True words are not beautiful. Beautiful words are not true.”

What could he mean probably? “True words are not beautiful. Beautiful words are not true.” And I would also want to extend this to, “Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram (Truth, Godliness, Beauty)”.  The Upanishads say that only the ‘Truth’ is ‘Beautiful’. And here we have Lao Tzu saying, “True words are not beautiful and beautiful words are not true.” How do we reconcile the apparent contradiction?

Let’s look at beauty. What do we mean by beauty? Usually, when do you say that something is beautiful?

Listener 1: When it is pleasing to our senses. Read more