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

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

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

What is escaping?

Question: I see myself escaping in all possible ways. I have observed that reading too has become a tool for the mind, to escape seeing itself. I have been seeing this for the past three days.What should I do?

Speaker: Escaping in what way? What do you mean by ‘escaping’? What is ‘escaping’? What image do you have of escaping? Escaping to where? You are with an object A, you move to an object B. Is that an escape? You move from an object B, to an object C. Is that some kind of a return? Read more

What is unconditional freedom?

Question: Is there any difference between freedom and unconditional freedom?

Speaker: We live in bondage. What we call as our normal, usual, daily life, is a series of bonded movement in time. Our thinking, acting, even breathing is bondage. It is happening as per forces we have no understanding of, and hence no control over. And then suddenly, without our explicit demand, it so happens that this series, that this chain gets disrupted for a while, like a flash of lightning in dark sky, not lasting long, but having its distinct presence, an undeniable presence. It didn’t last, but it illuminated as long as it was there, and I can’t forget that it illuminated Read more

What is the meaning of intellect?

Question: Is spirituality easier or more probable for a sharp intellect?

Speaker: We do hear this sometimes that one requires a certain level of intellect even to be spiritual. That one needs the power to think and analyse, logically discern, so as to go deep into the spiritual truths. But to what extent is this factual, that we will have to investigate. Read more

How to know what is good for me?

Question: Is it necessary that I need be good in something that I like doing? Sometimes it may happen that I like something, but I can’t be good at it. So, what is best for me?

Speaker: There are two things you are talking of. One- liking something. Second- being good at it.

These are the two things on which your question rests. Right? “I like something”, that is the first one query. “Whether I am good at it”, that is the second. Right? Examine both of these.

What do you like? What does one like? See you are giving importance to both of these. Right? You are taking as ‘important’, something that you like. Right? “I like something and hence it is important for me.” This is the first important thing. Second important thing is- being good at what I like. “It is not sufficient to just like what I like. I must also excel in it. I should prove my performance. I should be able to act on what I like.” Right? It should be considered good, as per the standards of performance, considered acceptable by others and by me.
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Worldly man- Slave of Destiny

Question: Whatever we are doing in this life, whatever is happening in the universe, is this already defined by God, and we being mere players? Or is God nowhere in the picture?

Speaker: These are the two options that your mind has come up with. One- all is predestined, with we being the enactors of God’s pre-scripted will. Two- there is nothing pre-scripted, there is no God. Whatever is happening is happening out of the forces of the universe. Read more

Interests never arise from individuality

Speaker: What is the relation of interest and talent with individuality?

Interest and talent as we know them are just acquired personalities. What we normally call as interest, what we normally call as talent, are nothing but acquired states of mind. Born in India there is a great chance that you would be interested in Cricket. Born in Brazil you would not be interested in Cricket. There is nothing special about interest.
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The delusion called ‘Achievement’

Speaker: Do you really want to understand what this whole business of ‘achievement’ is? If you really want to understand, only then we can go into it. If you are into it superficially, out of an obligation, then you will not understand anything. So do you really want to understand this ?

Listeners: Yes, Sir.

Speaker: If you think this must be a very, very serious thing in which we are investing our entire life, this business of achievement, then it is very important to understand it. If you think this to be of that great importance, then only you will be able to understand. And if you think that there is nothing to do, life comes and goes, and if we waste one life then another life is waiting for us, then there is no point discussing all this. So are you really sincere about understanding ? Read more

Of Confidence, Falseness and the Idea of Perfection

Speaker: The question is, “How do I know whether I am confident or overconfident? One is considered positive, the other is considered negative.” I ask you again. How can I declare a quantity ‘x’ to be positive or negative if I do not know that quantity. I must know something about it in order to understand it as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Do I understand what is ‘negative’ or ‘positive’?Do I understand what this confidence thing is? You will go back to your home, most of you, after few hours. When you are with your parents, let us say with your mother, sitting in a very relaxed way, do you really require confidence to speak to her? Do you really require courage to speak to her? It’s a natural, smooth, free flow. You do not require any confidence. Right? But when you have to speak in front of an audience, when you are standing on the podium, then you require a lot of confidence. Right?
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Quantifying yourself leads to jealousy

Speaker: How should we get rid of jealousy and anger? By deleting the word, ‘we’ from this. Why could not you ask, “How should ‘I’ get rid of jealousy and anger?”

Listener 1: Yes, Sir.

Speaker: Why this plurality? Why does ‘me’ become ‘we’? That is why the jealousy and anger are there. See ‘M’ and it has been inverted. The letter ‘M’ in ‘Me’ when inverted becomes letter ‘W’ in ‘We’.

And then, the entire life becomes inverted. The absence of ‘I’ is the root of jealousy and anger. This ‘we’, is the cumulative mind, the collective mind, the social mind, the comparative mind that lives in ‘we’, that lives in a tribe. Jealousy cannot be there without ‘the other’.

Jealousy is born out of comparison. Jealousy is born from a mind in which many, many are living. To say that there are many, means that they are different entities. And to say that there are different entities, means you have already compared them. Can you say that ‘X’ is different from ‘Y’ without comparing ‘X’ and ‘Y’? ‘We’ means that different entities are present. And whenever there are different things, there would definitely be comparison and hence, jealousy. Read more

Why does the mind need role models?

Acharya Prashant: You are talking about role models. Let us see. What do you mean by a role model? Somebody you want to emulate, somebody you want to copy.

Listener: Sir, it can also be like that I like certain quality in that person. Read more

You have forgotten the key to yourself

Question: Sir, good afternoon. While I speak before you, I will try to choose my words very gracefully. Sir, I have many things in my life that keep me happy but it is life and we are not supposed to have everything. I have lacked something in my life that I can say as self motivation. How do I get self motivated?

Speaker: What you are really asking for is not motivation. So first of all let us make a little bit of semantic correction. 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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What is professionalism?

Question: What is the meaning of being a professional?

Speaker: What is professionalism all about? Is it just about serving your profession with excellence or is it something more than that? Whenever we hear this word ‘professional’, an image comes to the mind. Is professionalism that image?

Clearly there are two layers to this question.

One: Can professionalism be defined by a certain code of conduct, a certain personality, a certain way of carrying your self? That is the first part and that is how most of us know professionals to be. So this first layer is very important. Is professionalism about that?

Two: It is about the profession itself. If professionalism is all about being excellent, then the question is, ‘Being excellent in which profession?’
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There is nothing called ‘my success’

Questioner: Isn’t there something called an individual business effort, not conditioned by others? Is it not possible that a business or entrepreneurship effort could be free of society and based on one’s own mind? We are all students of social entrepreneurship.

Speaker: Is there something called business untouched by society? The real estate business, or pharmaceutical business, or the business of selling shoes or software — if one enters into these, with the ambition of success, then it is already a social phenomenon. Real estate is not significant. What is significant is that the individual is entering with a view to earn success. Remain with that: from where does your motion of success and failure come? If somebody wants to prove himself, don’t you see the mental game of success in his desire?

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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

A passionate life

Question: How do I explore my passion?

Speaker: I am sure this question is relevant to many others if not everybody. First of all this question has to be asked on a clean slate. Those of us who have already believed some external passion to be the real passion, they are not eligible to ask this question. Are you getting this? When you ask this question you are standing at a point where you do not know your real passion. Right? You are confused. You have come to know that whatever is known to you can be doubted. What to do with those who live in a deep belief that they already know their passion, or a belief that knowing that passion is not important at all? Read more

Why is it so difficult to trust?

Speaker: The question is, ‘Why do I find myself unable to trust?’

I could see that he was feeling a little awkward while raising this question, even a little apologetic. You feel that maybe there is something in wrong with you that you find yourself unable to trust but let me just tell you, you are a very honest being when you say that you can’t trust. 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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To be Young is to be Real

Speaker: To be young is not a physical age. Yes, there can be an 80 year old who is younger than you.

Listener: Sir, it is said that knowledge has no age.

Speaker: Whosoever has said that ‘knowledge is independent of age’ does not understand anything. Knowledge comes only with age because knowledge is an accumulation. So, knowledge is always dependent on time and age.

Listener: So, an old person can not study?

Speaker: An old person has already studied so much. He will not want to study because he will say that I already know.
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