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

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here

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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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.

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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

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Speaker: Gloss is what is perceivable to the senses. Gloss is your actions, your appearance, your voice, everything. Core is the essence from which all your actions arise. Core and Gloss are inseparable; they are not at all two different entities. I do not know how you are carrying the conception that there is a Core and there is Gloss. Core and Gloss are one, just as mind and body are one. Mind is to body is, what Core is to Gloss. We said that when the mind is afraid, the body starts shivering. Now, you cannot see the fear of the mind, but you can see the shivering of the body. That is the only difference between Core and Gloss. Read more