Suffering and Courage || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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Suffering and courage

Question: Acharya Ji, as you said that the realisation, the understanding, or seeing, frees us, as a spontaneous action. How does it arise? Whatever I understand, through my thinking, analysis, knowledge, I understand a bit. But that understanding, does not free me of my habits.

So, my question is: how is ‘my understanding’ is different from ‘the understanding’ that you are talking about? Is it also born out of knowledge?

Acharya Prashant Ji:

It is born out of suffering. There is no other transformative force. You do not need to transform, if you are not suffering. If you are already alright, do you need to change? So, all spirituality, springs from there.

Wisdom, and realisation, and understanding are needed, because man is not alright.

So, you have to come face-to-face, with the fact of your inner disquiet.

And that requires courage.

That requires a dedication to peace.

Why does it require courage? Because disquiet does not live within us, carrying the name of ‘disquiet’. ‘Disquiet’ lives within us, carrying very lovely, and sacred names. Names in which in which we have made a lot of investment. Therefore, to call disquiet as ‘disquiet’, is a courageous decision. It means mentally writing-off, a lot of your investments. Giving up on a lot of your assumed receivables.

Hence, courage is needed.

Disquiet hides within us, as love. And it requires courage to confront the fact, that that which you have been calling as ‘love’, is not love at all. It is just noise. And why does that require courage? I repeat, because in that so-called ‘love’, we have already invested a lot. So, when you acknowledge, that ‘love’ has not been love at all, you are mentally writing-off all the resources, that you have so-far invested in ‘love’.

And mind is greedy, it doesn’t want to easily write-off any money. Do we want to write-off things easily? We want to cling to hope. We want to keep hoping, that an investment will come good. That some money, that others owe to us, would be returned to us, sooner than later.

It requires courage, to firmly write something off. It requires courage to realise that hope is useless, that you have invested in the wrong places. And that by sticking to hope, you are only turning the condition worse.

Sometimes, the situations force us to confront the facts. Mostly, we do not allow the situations to go so bad, specially in the modern-age. There is so much money, and so much technology, and so much entertainment, one can remain gladly absorbed in one thing, or the other. Science and economics, and social security, all are there to serve us. So, they act as a buffer against sudden shocks of realisation.

All the security that we have built around us, acts as a shock-absorber. It doesn’t allow the shocks of reality to reach us. So we remain comfortably insulated. This gives us an even more allowance, to continue in our dream world.

We never face the full consequences of our actions. And even if we face them, we don’t face them in one go. We never get to see a big wound in the chest. Instead of the big wound, our security systems ensure, that we have hundred little cuts. Now, hundred little cuts can never all be seen together, in one go. So, we live under the delusion, that there is only a little bit of bleeding.

Had there been a single big wound on the chest, then we would have been forced to realise, the extent of our suffering. But, we don’t have that one big wound. We have arranged to turn that one big wound into, several small ones. And even those several small ones, don’t occur to us, parallely. They come to us in installments.

And that gives us enough allowance, to keep deceiving ourselves. And keep telling ourselves, that all is alright. It’s the credit-card age you see. If you don’t want to know, you will never come to know the full face of your indebtedness. You just keep paying the monthly dues. You will realise, that you are neck-deep in trouble.

One has to then sit down, and say, “I want to know. I want to know the facts of it. I want to know the Mathematics of it. Give me the right number. I really want to know how deep the trouble is. I can’t shy away from the facts any longer. I want to know what the thing is really like. I will ask the right questions. I must begin the right conversations. The facts must be exposed, even if they are highly inconvenient.”

But, this is the age of convenience you see. You can shy away from anything, that is not convenient.

Questioner: I don’t work towards it. I just get stuck. I realise that this is where I am. What should I do next then? I don’t get that courage, to let it go.

Acharya Ji:

Be in the company of somebody courageous.

Sometimes it happens, that a little initial push, is needed from the outside.

And then the power of your self-observation, is enough to keep propelling you.

If you are continuously in an environment, in the company of people, who would not move towards, or for the sake of realisation or liberation, then you too would find movement difficult.

But such difficulty, is only initial.

Once you move a little bit, then you will start finding the movement – natural, spontaneous.

To begin the movement, just seek a little help from outside. A little help. Not too much.

Don’t become dependent.

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Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Suffering and courage || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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What does it mean to be spiritual? || Acharya Prashant (2018)

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What does it mean to be spiritual

Question: Acharya Ji, what does it mean to be spiritual?

Acharya Prashant Ji: It merely means that you are not being stupid. Is it necessary that you must be at least be sometimes stupid? Is there such great attraction in stupidity?

If water and poison are kept in front of you, ten cups of water and ten cups of poison, and you have have to make ten choices, what does ‘spirituality’ mean? Ten out of ten times, I will pick water.

It is as simple as that.

Now, do you want to say, “Sometimes, you know for a change, we must pick poison. There is nothing absolute. And spirituality is just an incremental improvement upon worldliness”? No.

Spirituality means – make the right decision, every time.

Even if you pick poison once, it’s curtains for you. It’s like batting. How many times can you get out? Just once. Now would you say, “Must we never get bold out. You know, five out of six balls, I will play rightly. But, one ball per over, I want to see my stumps uprooted”?

You won’t get another over to face, my child. You have to play six out of six times, rightly. And even then, you can get beaten. Even when you are trying to be at your best, even when you play six balls rightly, still it is possible that you nick one, to the wicket-keeper.

Even the batsman, who has the intention to play all six rightly, can get out. And what will happen to the one, who has decided that one ball, per over, he will play a lose shot? What will happen to the batsman, who has already made up his mind, that one ball per over, he will play a lose shot? How long will he last?

Why must you ever pick the poison?

Make the right choice, every time.

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Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: What does it mean to be spiritual? || Acharya Prashant (2018)

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Why to listen to a Teacher? || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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Why to listen to a Teacher

Question: Acharya Ji, if I want to understand anything like – anger,or any other  emotion, first that I do is, that I search for your videos on these topics, and I listen to them, to understand. But, I am not sure that it is my original knowledge, or I am depending on you.

Acharya Prashant Ji: You can surf the internet, look at various definitions, look at the scriptures, look at all kinds of wisdom texts, to remove yourself.

Not to learn something, but to unlearn something.

So, when you say that you search for ‘anger’, on internet, is it that you are totally innocent of the word ‘anger’? Are you? You already have, big stories, about the word ‘anger’. Now, if you gain further knowledge, to cut through your pre-existing knowledge, then it is alright.

If there is something, that the internet can teach you about ‘anger’, that helps you, puncture your own concepts about ‘anger’, then it is wonderful. But, do not assume, that the internet, or books, or anybody, can really teach what ‘anger’ affirmatively is.

That you will have to see, on your own.

And that does not require much doing, because ‘anger’ is very close to us. And we are very suitably placed to look at ‘anger’. Are we not?

There is ‘anger’, and who am I? The angry one. So, who will know anger?

Questioner: Me.

Acharya Ji:

Of what use then, is wisdom literature?

It helps you remove, what you already know. It has a negative function.

And that is, it’s utility – that it has a negative function.

When I say, “Negative,” I do not mean – bad.

I mean – it has a cleansing effect.

When I say, “It has a negative function,” I mean – it negates. It reduces, it cleanses. It removes.

Removes what?

That which you are already occupied with.

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Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Why to listen to a Teacher? || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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Are earthly pleasures a hindrance to spiritual growth?|| Acharya Prashant (2019)

Are earthly pleasures a hindrance to spiritual growth

Question: On one hand, I want to spiritually grow towards enlightenment. But, at the same time, some side of me wants to have earthly freedom, experiences, like traveling. Even though, I know, that those things won’t bring me True Joy.

Are earthly pleasures a hindrance to spiritual growth?

Acharya Prashant Ji: (Addressing the questioner) Isa, there is no dissonance between Spiritual Joy, and earthly living. The one, who is not spiritually developed, may travel to all corners of the earth, but would still remain joyless.

So, what is the point in travelling?

There is, the wandering monk. Look at his Joy. There is the Fakir(Monk) who travels from place to place, village to village. Sometimes, from country to country. Traditionally, in India, Sadhus(Monk), would forbid themselves, from staying too long, at any one place. They would just keep travelling.

Buddha and Mahavir, the great ascetics, they traveled all their life. Even Guru Nanak made voyages, long distance travels – the east, to the south, to the west. That’s one kind of travelling, in which you are already full of Joy, and you are travelling to disseminate that Joy. You are travelling, so that, even others may have that Joy.

And the, there is the traveling tourist. The average traveler. What does travel give him? Some consolation. Some very feeble support, to enable him to carry on, his otherwise wretched life. Once a year, twice a year, he saves money to travel, and not much comes out of that travel, because he is not internally complete.

Even the earth, discloses it’s real treasures, only to the spiritually accomplished ones.

To the spiritually accomplished one, the earthly living itself, is heavenly.

And that would also tell you what is ‘hell’.

The one who is not spiritually accomplished, to him, the earth itself is ‘hell’.

So it is not as if, there are two different worlds, offering two different kind of joys. That is the mental model you are coming from. You are telling me, “There is the earthly joy, which is an inferior kind of joy, but still quite alluring. And then, there is a metaphysical, transcendental joy, spiritual joy. And the spiritual joy, is quite attractive, but it seems to come at the cost of earthly joy.

No. Wrong. That’s where you are mistaken.

The ‘Spiritual Joy’, does not come at the cost of earthly joy.

In fact, there is nothing called ‘Spiritual Joy’.

All joy is earthly, because all Joy is to the one, who is the product of the Earth.

No Man, no Joy.

If there is no Isa (the questioner), who is there to be joyful? And Isa, who is she? Someone who has arisen from the earth. Who are you? You are the soil, you are the water, you are the air, you are the sunlight. Without these, would there be any human being?

So, the one who is Joyful, is always an earthly one. Therefore, there is no distance, or distinction, between these two kinds of joy. In fact, if you create two dimensions of joys, then you do not know, either of these dimensions. Any of these dimensions.

It is a very common misconception, and we all need to get rid of it.

We feel that, to have spiritual joy, we have to give up earthly pleasures. And such stories have come to us, from various sources. They continue to keep coming to us. No, not at all true.

Spirituality is Wisdom.

Spirituality is deep Intelligence.

Spirituality is to give up the inferior, in the favor of superior.

That which you call as ‘earthly pleasure’, definitely has something, which is worth rejecting, worth dropping. Therefore, Spirituality, is to drop incomplete, costly, ephemeral pleasures, in favor of an ending pleasure called ‘Joy’.

Are you getting it?

You could even say that – ‘Spirituality is the art of absolute hedonism’.

The common man, he satisfies himself with bits and pieces. Some crumbs here, some crumbs there – of little bit of happiness, of little bit of pleasure. The monk, the spiritual seeker, he says, “Nothing doing. Not only I want happiness. I want happiness Absolute.” He is ambitious. He is very-very greedy, you know. Because he is very-very greedy, so he tells you to shun normal greed. Because he is absolutely greedy, so he tells you, “Do not be a little bit greedy.”

You think that he is against greed. He is not against greed. He is against everything, that is incomplete. So, he says, “If you have to be greedy, you must be not incompletely greedy, but absolutely greedy.”

Spirituality is Absolute greed. Spirituality says, “I do not want anything small. I want now, only the infinite Ultimate.”

See, what dimension of greed it is. Similarly, happiness and pleasure. Common man says, “Give me happiness. One hour a day, please.” What does the spiritual one say, “I want the total, unending, diminishing, eternal happiness.” And where does he want it? In some other world, some other planet, some other galaxy? Where exactly doe the spiritual seeker want that?

Listeners: On this earth.

Acharya Ji: On this earth. When does he want it – after seven hundred years, after death, in seventh life, in the eighteenth life? When exactly does he want it?

Listeners: Now.

Acharya Ji: After fifty years, when he turns seventy-five, and enters the last ashram of his life? Is that when he wants it?

Listeners: No. Now.

Acharya Ji: If Joy is absolute, would you want to postpone it? It would be so very alluring, that you won’t be able to postpone it. You would want it, right now.

That’s spirituality – to have the highest happiness, and have it right now.

Here.

The highest, right now, right here.

Getting it?

Now, do you want the earthly things? Are they still attractive?

If the earthly things are attractive, then that should tell you, that you have a faculty for attraction. If even, a little attracts you, it should tell you that you know how to get attracted. And if you know how to get attracted, then how would you feel in front of the Immense?

I repeat: if even the little attracts you so much, what would be your condition, in front of the Immense?

You would go bonkers.

That’s how the spiritual mind wants to live – in an absolute craziness.


Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity. Watch the video session: Are earthly pleasures a hindrance to spiritual growth? || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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How to test whether your wisdom is growing? || Acharya Prashant, on Yoga Vasishta (2017)

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How to test whether your wisdom is growing

All the arts acquired by men are lost by lack of practice, but this art of wisdom grows steadily once it rises.

~ Yoga Vashishth Sara

Chapter 1, Verse 13

Question: Acharya Ji, what is the litmus test to determine it’s wisdom rising, or new clothes on the old self? How to know whether I am on the right path of Spirituality?

Acharya Prashant Ji: It becomes very self-evident Shilpi (addressing the questioner). Forget about having new clothes on old-self, even the old-self is not permitted to remain as it is. Even that starts appearing foolish.

Assume that you now weigh 50 kgs, and three years back, you wore a lot of flab, and you weighed 80 kgs. How do you feel looking at those old photographs? Big, unshapely, fat woman, having a lot of unnecessary stuff. And you juxtapose these two photographs, the eighty kg one and the fifty kg one. How do you feel? Would you ever allow yourself, to go back to the 80 kg days?

That’s what a saint means, when he says, “This art of wisdom grows steadily once it rises.”

The very fact, that you have known what it means to be ‘foolish’, will not allow you to be foolish once again.

Foolishness is not merely a concept for you.

You have been through it.

Been there, done it.

“Yes, I know idiocy. I have been the most stupid one, and I don’t want to be there again.”

The growth of wisdom, is a parallel aversion towards stupidity. Not only personal stupidity, also the stupidity of the world. When you look at others, and you see them caught in the same tangles, as you once were, you quickly identify the situation. You say, “I know that.”

The moment you say, “I know that,” two parallel things happen. One – you are full of disdain towards what is happening currently with the other one, and you are full of gratitude that you could be rescued.

Are you getting it?

A fellow who knows what it means to experience drowning, and has been saved, ask him, “Would you want to go through that, ever again?” he will tell you what it means to be rescued.

No relation, no compassion, no identification, with the old self, remains possible anymore. Not only that, the change that has happened, keeps you vigilant, and keeps you open to receive more change.

You say, “If I were blind once, it is possible that my eyes are still not fully open. When I was blind, even in those days, I had a lot of belief in my vision. So, belief is such a danger. Even right now, I cannot allow myself, to believe too strongly.”

That keeps you open, that keeps you prepared to change. And that is how this verse is saying, “This wisdom keeps growing.” In the sense, that you keep open to change, you keep growing.

You keep growing, stupidity keeps reducing. 

Beauty is not merely a happening. Beauty is a a parallel fascination for the happening. Beauty is the love for the happening. Who wants to return to ugliness? Who can un-see,  what he has seen? Beauty is a very stubborn thing. It makes you resistant to ugliness. You can no more be welcoming, you can no more be tolerant.

You dis-identify so completely, that you are no more shy of talking of your old days. You talk of yourself of the old, as if you talk of another wisdom. That’s wisdom. You do not hide your shortcomings. You mention your faults aloud. And mentioning your faults aloud, you do not even say that now you are perfectly free of faults.

You say, “Some of them, might still have remained. One must always be alert towards cancer. Even when the tumor has been removed, it’s quite possible that a few cancerous cells are left behind. And then, there can be a re-lapse. Those few cancerous cells, can not only multiply, but move to different places of the body. And in fact, the whole organism.”

One remains alert, like a cancer survivor. One starts valuing his life, even more. This life is a gift now. “On my own, I had destroyed it. By virtue of grace, I got a new birth. I can’t squander it anymore. I can’t go back to my old ways.”

The more this feeling remains, the more this realisation remains, the more your life gains in beauty. The more your life gains in beauty, the more you despise ugliness. You cannot have a relation with ungodliness now. You can’t even force yourself.

It’s a dynamic departure. It is not some kind of marginal, incremental change. The rowing away, away, away, and gone. You are not wandering here and there, nearby.

Gone!


Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity. Watch the video session: How to test whether your wisdom is growing? || Acharya Prashant, on Yoga Vasishta (2017)

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One day, we will have such a Temple || Acharya Prashant (2019)

One day, we will have such a Temple

 

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Question: What is a ‘Temple’, and what purpose should it serve?

Acharya Prashant Ji: A ‘Temple’ must definitely, have elements, that elevate your consciousness.

Being at a place, being with elements, being with people, being with structures, being with sites, scenes, sounds, that remind you of the beyond, that take the lowly consciousness to a high point, where it becomes receptive to signals from the sky.

That’s a ‘Temple’.

Are you getting it?

So, a ‘Temple’, first of all, must have those elements. Secondly, wherever those elements are present, that place is a ‘Temple’, even if, you call it by some other name.

So look at the effect, the whole situation, the arrangement, the whole architecture is having on you. Is it taking you beyond, the mundane things that keep circulating in your mind?  If ‘yes’, then it deserves to be called, a ‘Temple’. If ‘no’, then it is just another place – entertaining probably, imposing probably, but not elevating.

The aspect of elevation, is central.

‘Temple’ is a place, where you are elevated.

If you are not being elevated, the place is not a ‘Temple’.

And, if you are being elevated, in some place, that place is most definitely a ‘Temple’.

Are you getting it?

So, ideally, today’s temples must be great centers of learning. Temples must be spiritual universities. A ‘Temple’ cannot be just a place, where there are some stone carvings, and such things. Real Education must have to be imparted in temples. That’s elevation of consciousness.

Temples have to be centers of, not only scriptures, they must also be centers where education is imparted in arts, and sciences. Because, unless you are scientific, it will be very difficult for you, in today’s age, to be really spiritual.

In fact, I have this vision. Vishranti (Monthly Spiritual retreat) was organised in Udaipur, in the month of February. I was with Anshu (one of the volunteers), on one night, till 2 a.m., and we saw a temple on a hill-top. And I said, that one day, it is possible, that we will raise a Real Temple. Not the one where we go, ring the bell, and get the prasad. Not a temple where all kinds of superstitions breed. But, a temple that would be a center of real scientific research, a place where fine arts find great expression. A place where human consciousness is refined, broadened, elevated, in all possible ways.

I remember, I said to him, “In a temple, there must be a center of contemporary studies, where one is taught about all the current worldly issues.”

A ‘Temple’ must really be a university, in purest sense of the world.

Great creativity, must arise out of a ‘Temple’.

A ‘Temple’ must be a place where great ideas must be discussed.

A ‘Temple’ must be a place of great conversations, and healthy debate.

Great scholars from all directions, and dimensions, must converge in the ‘Temple’.

When people go to a ‘Temple’, they must return enriched.

You are able to listen to a profound lecture, or to an animated debate. You come to know of things, that you anyway do not know. Economics is being discussed, geo-politics is being discussed. The recent, cutting-edge research and advancement, are being discussed. There are physicists, there are medical-researchers, there are geologists, there are cosmologists.

And, they all are present in the ‘Temple’.

That’s what a temple must really be like.

And, obviously, when I say that, the foundation of the temple, has to be mystical.

I am only talking, of those things, that are currently missing in temples. I must correct myself. Actually, mystics too, are currently missing in temples. So I must talk of them as well.

So when consciousness is raised, only then it becomes capable of transcending into the mystical dimension. Consciousness, under the burden, with all its shackles, cannot fly away, cannot gain freedom, from the worldly entanglements.

First of all, it must gain clarity, with respect to the world. When there is clarity and knowledge, with respect to the world, only then there is a possibility, of going beyond the world. So, a temple, must first of all, be a place of knowledge, then a place of learning, and then a place of mysticism. It has to be a composite thing.

One day, God willing, we will come up with such a ‘Temple’.

Let’s see.

How would it be, to find a lab of nuclear physics, in one quarter, and an aggregation of the world’s best dancers on the other side. Both in the same campus. How would it be?

Live long everybody, to see that day!

I hope, I also live long enough, to see that day.

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

Watch the session:  One day, we will have such a Temple || Acharya Prashant (2019)


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An IIT – IIM education must widen your choices, not limit them|| Acharya Prashant (2012)

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Questioner (An engineering student): Acharya Ji, what made you inclined towards Spirituality, after education from premier institutions like IIT-D and IIM-A?

Acharya Prashant Ji: A couple of decades ago, I was on that side, where you all are sitting now, in another engineering college, IIT-Delhi. We too used to take a lot of things lightly. We too would fool around in lot of sessions, tutorials, lab sessions. But we also knew what is not trivial, not casual.

Once in a while, such a thing happens, and then we should be awake to the happening.

We will be together.

So, one of the members of your organizing committee, immediately asked this question, when he met me. His question was: After IIT, after IIM, after Civil Services, and after a few years of successful corporate life, why this?

I said, “Let me first look at the anatomy of your question.” Your question pre-supposes, assumes, a couple of things. The first is: Education gives you a few specific directions to move in. And that is why, you are surprised, even shocked, that someone is breaching those directions, violating those directions.

Before we discuss the breach of violation, it is more important that we see whether education is supposed to be a liberating force, or a constraining force.

If you look at people, who are not educated, you will find them captivated, you will find them option-less. We could even say, ‘enslaved’. They can say, “Because we are not educated, because we did not have that kind of luck, or merit, so we are forced to take up, just these kind of jobs. Our spectrum of choices, is very narrow.” That is what a person with little luck, or ability, or understanding, would say.

Now, if you go into an institution of higher learning, even a couple of such institutions, and then you would say, “I cannot find the entire life open for me. I cannot see that all kinds of possibilities, and opportunities open up for me, irrespective of the direction they come from. Then what is the use of such education?”

Is education there to widen your choices, or is it there to constrain your already narrowed down choices?

If the purpose of education is to liberate, then why should you feel that after your educational degrees, you must follow a particular kind of script? Why must you move in only pre-determined directions?

The questioner is surprised at me taking a particular direction. I am surprised that why do you do, what you do.

A particular company arrives in campus, for campus placement. When I was a consultant, in corporate sector, then I would go for the campus hiring, to the best of institutions. And it would be quite amusing, as well as insightful to observe them.

So, four hundred students from fourth year, would have applied for the same job. And if you ask them , “Why have you applied for the same job?” half of them would directly say that this particular job is their dream job, and other half would indirectly imply this job is their dream job.

I would listen to them with patience, but at some point during the discussion, I would start laughing. I would ask them, “How is it possible that all four hundred of you, have the same dream. Is there any individuality, or are all of you, meant to follow the same current?”

Now, what is more surprising: that intelligent, empowered students, are all following the trend, or that a few break away? Breaking away should be the norm, breaking away should be the trend. Breaking away should not be the exception.

In fact, I should be the one, who should turn around, and ask the premier students, in the premier campuses, in the country and the world, “How is it possible, that after all your education, you constrain yourself to a narrow pattern of working and living? How is it not possible, that you branch out in all directions? How is it so, that an already chained life, becomes all the more chained, after going to an IIT, or an IIM?”

A fellow, who has not had the best of education, would say, “I can accept any job. I can start any kind of business, because I do not have any background in anything.” But I have seen, not only as a matter of principle, but actually practically, that unfortunately it so happens, that we become even more constrained, limited, in our decision-making, because we have been empowered with an elite degree.

That must not happen. That assumption is invalid.

If life has given you power, use it to blossom.

Use it branch out.

Use it to express all your creativity.

Do not feel pressurized.

Do not feel limited.

You are not obliged to follow the trend.

You must, first of all, try to gain maximum clarity, as to what is right. And then, the only remaining task, is to commit yourself wholeheartedly, to what is right.

Know what is right.

Do what is right.

Nothing else matters.

Most people do not know what is right. Obviously, they lead their lives in ignorance, in darkness – a drunken kind of living. And then, there are others. Others, who have the intellectual capacity, to know what is right. And it is absolutely tragic, that such people, in spite of knowing what is right, do not ‘do’ the right.

Now, this would be very impotent life.

One could have been forgiven, had one been totally in the dark. Had one not known at all, what to do. But, if you know, and still do not ‘do’, then your life itself is a punishment. You would be leading an incomplete, and compulsorily blind life.

A man, with eyes, who has been forced to act blind, his suffering is limitless.

So, please get the first assumption, out of your mind. If you will go into it, if you will question it, then it will be easy for you, to surmount it.

The second assumption that you have is that – somehow technical or managerial work, is superior, in it’s class and dimension, compared to Humanities, and specially compared to Wisdom and Spirituality. No, if such is the opinion that you carry, then this opinion is misplaced.

I understand why this opinion gets the better of us. It is because, whatever happens in the field of Science and Technology, is quite tangible, quite direct, quite measurable, and precise. Whereas, what happens in the field of mind, in the field of words, rather than numbers, is intangible. Often hazy.

But just because something is intangible, it does not mean that it is valueless. It only means that it’s value is subtle. Something may have a gross value, (referring to a bottle kept on the table, in front) this may have a gross value, but there are other things that have a subtle value. Things like Joy, things lie Understanding.

I can hold this bottle in my hand, I cannot hold understanding in your hand. You cannot hold love in your hand. You cannot hold clarity in your hand. Just because there are certain things, that are not material enough, to be formed, to be weighed, to be experienced through senses, it does not mean that they are valueless.

You are right now listening to me. Even ‘listening’ cannot be held like this bottle. But then, if you are listening, you very well know the value of listening.

All education, all civilization, all progress and advancement, is for welfare.

And what is ‘welfare’?

That which gives man peace.

Yes, material welfare does give man peace, and is quite important. But there is another more important, and dimensionally higher component of welfare, that needs to be addressed. As engineers, you work for welfare – others’ welfare, and your own welfare.

Spirituality too aims at welfare. And what spirituality can accomplish, the other fields of human endeavor, cannot.

So, it becomes obvious now, why one can move into the field of understanding life, if that can be called ‘a field’, at all. Life itself is the field, because it is a terrific field, because it is the most important field. Because that work is more important, than the work of an engineer, or a manager.

That does not belittle the work of the scientist. It’s only to say, that – the work of the scientist, is ultimately, to bring welfare and peace to man.

Science addresses only that, which is measurable, numerable, experiencable, perceivable through senses.

And there is a lot, that involves human welfare, but cannot be the material subject of any science, any technology, any mathematics.

That must be addressed, otherwise, science will remain blind.

Otherwise, the products of science, the entire area and produce of science, will be channelized, only towards devastation.


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

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant, with students: An IIT – IIM education must widen your choices, not limit them


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Is willpower really needed? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2013)

Is willpower really needed

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Question: Acharya Ji, how to improve willpower?

Acharya Prashant Ji: So, what has Aditya (the questioner) asked? “What can we do, to improve will power?” Right?

What is ‘willpower’, and why do we need it? What is ‘will power’?

Listener: To have determination.

Acharya Ji: To have determination. Determination, for what?

Listener: For our goal.

Acharya Ji: For our goal. To ‘do’ something. Right? To ‘do’ something. You need willpower in order that, something happens, that something gets done, right? Now, why does something, not get done? We often find that we are unable to act, to ‘do’.

Why are we unable to act, and ‘do’?

Listener 1: Because of fear.

Listener 2: Because of restrictions.

Acharya Ji: Fear. Restrictions.

If fear is there, if restrictions are there, and you give them importance, then obviously you cannot act. And when you cannot act, then you get up and say that you need willpower.

So, willpower is needed, only when you feel fear, only when you feel restrictions.

In order to overcome them, you need willpower. And that is what you are asking – “How can I enhance willpower?” What could be a better question?

Would it not be a better question: How not to be afraid? How not to be restricted?

Are you trying it, with me? We say, “We need willpower.” What if the willpower is actually not needed? What if you are fighting imaginary demons? You say, “You know, I require a lot of willpower, to enter that room, because in that room, there are ghosts, are there are demons?”

And as long as you believe, that there are ghosts, and there are demons, what will you require? Will power.  Willpower, motivation, somebody to give you courage. Somebody to pump you up. What if you come to see that there are no ghosts, and there are no demons? Would you still require willpower? Would you still require willpower?

(Pointing at one of the listeners) You are shaking your head, would you require willpower, to shake your head? You are again shaking your head, do you again require willpower? You are saying, “No, Sir,” do you require any willpower to say, “No, Sir”?

You just know, and out of that clarity, a simple action is happening. There is no willpower needed. But, if you are told that the fellow sitting in front of you, is a maniac, and the moment somebody shakes his head, nods his head, he shoots from the podium itself, then you will need a lot of willpower, to nod in ‘Yes’, or ‘No’. Right? Otherwise the action is simple. If you have to enter a room, you have to just step in. If you have to shake your head, you just shake it. A simple nod.

We need willpower, because we have created obstacles.

When we look into these obstacles, we find that they are only, as long as, we believe in them.

Then, you do not need willpower. Wisdom is enough.

Then, you do not need courage. Clarity is sufficient.

But, instead of asking for clarity, we often ask for courage. Now, courage is not needed, clarity is needed. Instead of asking for wisdom, we ask for will power. Will power is not needed, wisdom is enough.

If you are deeply afraid, and you believe that everybody will laugh at you, when you will ask a question, then you will need a lot of willpower. But if you are wise, and you say, “First of all, not many people are going to laugh. Secondly, even if somebody laughs, how does it matter to me?” then, will you still need will power?

You don’t need willpower. You need willpower, only as an antidote to fear. Where there is no fear, there is no need of willpower. So, don’t ask me, “How to enhance will power?” The more afraid you are, the more will power you need.

Is that not so?

Listeners: Yes, Sir.

Acharya Ji:

The more restricted you feel, the more willpower you need. Is that not so? Just open your eyes and see, that there is no restriction, except those, that you subscribe to, except those, that you willingly self-impose.

Then you will say, “Well, willpower! Who needs it?” When you are enjoying a particular sport, then you run around a lot. You expend a lot of energy. Do you need willpower? Do you need willpower?

Listeners: No.

Acharya Ji: But you will need a lot of willpower, if you are told to go jogging, and if you don’t enjoy jogging, then jogging even fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, you will say, “O my god, I am just dragging my feet. Give me some willpower.”

When you are really into something, when there is no fear, who asks for will power?

It is not needed.

Are you getting it?

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

Watch the session:  Is willpower really needed? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2013)


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Is it compassion to suffer with the suffering one? || Acharya Prashant (2019)

Is it compassion to suffer with the suffering one

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Question: Acharya ji, would it be an act of compassion, to suffer with the one who is already suffering?

Acharya Prashant ji: It depends totally on you. There can be no principles in this matter.

The one who is suffering, is suffering, because he is deluded.

Remember that suffering is always a choice.

The one who is suffering, because of delusion, he has chosen suffering. He must be having his reasons. Every one, who chooses anything, always has some reason to quote. The fellow who is suffering, surely must be having some reasons to offer. And now, you too start suffering with him. You too have a certain reason to offer. The reason is compassion.

What do you think, the other fellow, the one you intend to help, is an utter fool? He too has his reasons. You know what he is suffering for? If you will ask him, “What are you suffering for?”, he will say, “Love.” So, he is suffering for love, and you are suffering for compassion, and seeing the two of you suffer, a third one comes to rescue both of you. And what is he suffering for? Wisdom.  And then a fourth one? What’s his reason? Responsibility. And then a fifth one? We never suffer without reason. It’s just that our reasons are a bit stupid.

Nobody likes to be proven stupid in front of the mirror. We always find something, to justify ourselves.

If we are in sorrow, we would always have an excuse to offer.

Rare is the one who admits, that his sorrow is his own doing.

Very rare.

And this rare one, is the spiritually initiated one.

It might surprise you, but most of our suffering, is an effort towards goodness. Be good, do good. Be nice, help others.

Listener: So, to stop suffering, we must stop doing good to others?

Acharya ji: Examine what your goodness is all about. But, see how you come up with another display of the same tendency. You would remain stubbornly fixated to your definitions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. If pointed out that goodness is not working out for you, you would say, “Ah! Should I turn bad then?”

A drunkard is hobbling, and stuttering, when he is moving to the left. How would he move, when he moves to the right?

Listener: Same way.

Acharya ji: But you just don’t want to change your fundamental condition of drunkenness. You just want to change your direction. Yes! Instead of then stumbling towards the left, you would now be stumbling and falling towards the right. The hurt and the sorrow would remain the same, because the internal condition as remained the same.

‘Good’ or ‘bad’, how do they matter, if the one, deciding goodness, and badness, is not examining herself deeply and honestly enough. It is easy, and it is possible. And all of us, deserve it.

Here is a little bit of advice.

If you find that you are hitting against people, hitting against the poles, stumbling against stones, falling into ditches, have a bleeding knee and a bleeding nose, the entire being is bruised, don’t change direction.

A change of direction won’t help.

It is not the direction that has gone wrong.

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

Watch the session:  Is it compassion to suffer with the suffering one? || Acharya Prashant (2019)


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Acharya Prashant on ‘International Women’s Day’

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THE REVOLUTION MUST ARISE FROM THE WOMAN!

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As long as the woman keeps thinking that her body is an asset, there is no freedom for her.

As long as the woman keeps thinking that the freedom is about flaunting her body, there is no freedom for her.  

The woman is the more oppressed of the two genders and therefore, the revolution must arise from the woman. Read more

Acharya Prashant on Khalil Gibran: You know your real face, and your real home?

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“Your life, my friend,

is a residence far away from any other

residence and neighbours.

Your inner soul is a home far away from

other homes named after you.

If this residence is dark,

you cannot light it with your neighbour’s lamp;

If it is empty you cannot fill it

with the riches of your neighbour;

Were it in the middle of a desert, you could not move it to a

garden planted by someone else…

Your inner soul, my friend,

is surrounded with solitude and seclusion.

Were it not for this solitude and this seclusion

you would not be you and I would not be I.

If it were not for that solitude and seclusion,

I would, if I heard your voice, think myself to be speaking;

Yet, if I saw your face, I would imagine that I were looking into a mirror.”

~ Khalil Gibran

Acharya Prashant: Poets have a way, of presenting the Truth. The way helps. The way is beautiful. But as happens with all ways to the Truth, the way itself is a bit of a hindrance to the destination.

What Khalil Gibran is saying here, is essentially very straightforward. The inner seclusion and solitude that he is talking of, is nothing, but your calm, peaceful, silent, immovable, center.

Seated at that center, with the calmness, the immovability, of the center, vested in the mind as well; the mind gains intelligence, the mind gains discretion.

Read more

Understanding is awareness

You cannot become aware. Awareness is not something that you can achieve or becomes or reach. It is.

Even in the moment of your death, you can be still, composed, calm; that is what is meant by the inviolable certainty of awareness. That stillness is awareness.

Mathematics is knowledge; understanding is awareness.

Awareness is so total. Knowledge is always small, little. That is why those who live in knowledge never find peace. They keep hunting for more and more knowledge.

The illiterate tribal, in his own way, knows Love, that is awareness.

There is no road to awareness and there is nothing in between. All roads are in awareness.

Awareness proceeds very subliminally. Thought will not know awareness. You cannot keep an eye on awareness. You cannot watch awareness. You can only surrender to it. You can let it to do what it does, without making any, stupid attempts to rein it in.

Levels of consciousness are there. Levels of awareness are not there.

You suffer. All spirituality starts from that point. Why am I suffering? Is it necessary to suffer?

And mind you, awareness is not there in every being. Every being is there in awareness. What you call as every being, is a figment of consciousness.

Awareness cannot be there ‘in’ you because what you call as yourself and the world is just consciousness.



Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant on J. Krishnamurti Unbecoming unaware


 

Acharya Prashant on J. Krishnamurti Unbecoming unaware

Question: Acharya Ji, what does J. Krishnamurti mean when he says “Become deeply aware”. 

Acharya Prashant: It is said, become deeply aware.

Now, we already live in problems and challenges. We already live in incompleteness. We already live in the quest to achieve something, to become something. When it is said, become deeply aware, we add one more item, to our list of problems. And that item now is?

Listeners: Awareness.

AP: Awareness. Oh, there is so much to do and achieve and the next item is awareness. The words of a wise man must be read with wisdom, with empathy. One must be alert, whether, one is able to, cross over his personal ways of interpreting. Words might mislead. There is nothing called becoming aware.

Read it as – unbecoming unaware.

We have become unaware. Awareness is, over awareness, there is a shroud of illusionary unawareness. Over the innate awareness, there is a cloud of assumed unawareness. The aware core is shrouded by, assumed unawareness which has no substance. There is no fact in that unawareness. You just have to see that there is no fact, in your assertion, that there exists unawareness. So, you unbecome, unaware.

You cannot become aware. Awareness is not something that you can achieve or becomes or reach.

It is.

Are you getting it? Now, you see, how driven and tense you feel, when the problem of awareness confronts you? The problem of awareness. Awareness means, that in any given situation, even in the worst of situations, even in the most challenging of situations, you still have the capacity, the capability, the right, to understand. That is what is meant by saying that the awareness always is.

Read more

The wise one is not afraid of acting stupid

Spirituality is not about taking away your earthly nature from you. Yes, there is the sky in your heart, but the rest of you is just earth. Let the earth blossom. Do not be ashamed of your own flowers. And when you flower, then there would be relationship. When the earth blossoms then butterflies and birds come to you, and then there would be relationship. How can you say you are isolated? How can you say, “You are not affected?”

The sky in you is at least for you an abstraction. But the earth in you is your mind, your muscle, your flesh, your bone, your blood., let it take form. Let it flower. And when the butterflies come to the flower, please have a sensitive relationship. Then do not say that I’m not affected by the butterflies, I have no relationship with butterflies. Butterflies come here just to distract me. I’m a yogi, I do not look at butterflies. Love the butterflies. And if you do not know that, then learn that.

The sky contains all the butterflies. You have no right to renounce them. You have just no right to renounce them. When you see somebody suffering around you, you have no right to say that you remain untouched. In fact, such right is claimed only by those who are too afraid of being touched. Their aloneness is still very fragile. So, they think that if somebody touches it, it might be broken. So, they raise a boundary, a protective boundary around their aloneness.

They say, “No No No, I’m a renouncer. I’m a spiritual man. I’m a Sadhak, a Yogi. Do not touch me, otherwise, I will crumble.”

Are you so weak that you would crumble?

Are you so weak that you can’t even weep?

Are you so weak that you can’t even laugh?

Are you so stupid that you can’t even act stupid?

The wise one is not afraid of acting stupid. And only the stupid one feels obligated to keep acting wise all the time. You have no obligation to keep acting wise. You have all the rights to play the fool. You are so clean that you can allow yourself to be drenched in mud, and you’d still remain clean.

So, do not be afraid of the mud. You are insoluble and indivisible. The rains won’t dissolve you. So, go and enjoy the rains. Don’t be afraid of getting wet. And you are indispensable to the universe. So let yourself be put in risks. The universe cannot afford to let go of you. You will remain. You are the essence of all this. How will you go away? Have that confidence. You do not need to protect yourself because you are central to all this. I know this sound like an abstract statement. But just take it. Take it for a while. You do not need armors, defenses. Let Yourself be vulnerable. And you can be vulnerable only if you’re very very strong.

You must know that no wound can hurt you too deeply. Be prepared to take the wounds. Yes, of course, relationships have their highs and lows and relationships often tend to destroy people. Still, do not abhor relationships. Know that you cannot be destroyed. So, you can play. When you know how strong you are then you are not afraid of taking risks. And all of us are very very strong. Stronger than we can ever imagine. So don’t even imagine your strength. Whenever you would imagine you would come to a limitation. Just know that you are extremely strong so you don’t need precautions.



Read the complete article: Being one with the suffering of the world

How to stop admitting fear?

How to stop admitting fear?

By simply seeing what are the ways in which you let your life be governed by fear. Had fear been something sitting right in your core, then we could have talked of processes of liberation from fear. And there are so many processes in the market. But the fact is that the fear is lifeless on its own. Fear does not stick to you, you clutch fear. So, instead of asking “How to give up fear?”, ask “How do I invite and retain fear in my life?”

And that requires self-observation. Because fear is not something that happened once upon a time. Day in and day out we allow ourselves to live by fear and in fear. Every time you accept something that seeks to control you by tempting you, or by threatening you, you are admitting fear. And that happens daily. It happens in our homes, in our workplaces, in the markets. That’s how fear gains control over us.

Stop letting in fear.

You watch an advertisement on TV and that advertisement talks of situation after your death. The advertisement, let’s say wants to sell Insurance. Right? That advertisement is trying to control you through fear. They want a particular behavioral outcome from you by terrifying you. Now you let yourself be drawn towards that fear. Not only are you drawn towards that advertisement, you may actually go and buy that product. That’s how you admit fear in your life.

You are not quite a performer at your workplace. Your boss comes to you and says, “You know what, things do not look good for you in the next appraisal.” And you let this statement become meaningful to you, and that afternoon you work really hard. Don’t you see what you have done? You have admitted fear. But you’d not ask the right question. You’d say, “How to give up fear?”

What do you mean by giving up fear? You are letting in fear. You are inviting fear. Not inviting fear is sufficient. Don’t invite it and it’s gone. We invite fear. Don’t invite it, that’s all. You do not require an elaborate process to have freedom from fear.



Read the complete article: Do spirituality and wisdom lead to disorderly conduct?

Being one with the suffering of the world

 

21762214_1227353527370622_921021697824714700_nQuestion: I feel blessed to be a person who is already on another side. Religion doesn’t affect me. The job doesn’t affect me. The family doesn’t affect me. All the barriers, most of them don’t affect me. Only the one factor is the law of the land I live in, that affects me. I don’t treat it as a barrier for me. And I’m confused for many months, what next. Probably, I’ve got some answer to it. It will not be possible for me to explain it. But, the answer is love. Going back and giving them some guidance. I am really thankful to you.

Acharya Prashant: While it’s wonderful to not to be affected. It is even more beautiful, more humane to be affected once again. This might sound as if I am appending, inverting conventional spirituality. But, please listen to it.

To be wise, or spiritual does not mean that one becomes impervious or unrelated to the world. At one extreme is the mind that allows itself to be ruled by the world. At the other extreme is the mind that becomes insensitive to the world. And these two minds are the one. These two minds are just one. I’ll repeat this. On one extreme is the mind that is so worldly that the world rules over it. It follows the world’s trends, world’s interests, world’s religions, world’s traditions, world’s fashions. All the dictates of the world it follows. This is one extreme. Read more

Do spirituality and wisdom lead to disorderly conduct?

SR Generic_ EnglishListener: Acharya Ji, why do we keep acting on whim?

Acharya Prashant: What we call as whim is not our individual expression. The assumption behind your question is, there is a civilized social conduct and there is a personal whim. So, you are assuming that if the civilized social conduct is given up, then all that remains is the personal chaotic whim. Not really.

The civilized social conduct and the personal whim, they are one, because the person himself is the product of society, and then he furthers the same cycle that brought him up. There is something beyond both the social product and the person. There is something beyond both social order and individual whim. And that is the natural flow of living. Read more

The past, first of all, raises a future, then directs the mind to chase that future.

Without any self-inquiry, we claim that we are a product of our city, a product of our economic situations. And, when we say that, are we not using that statement just to hide our fear, just to remain what we are? You let yourself to be defined by your past, by your experiences, by your gender, by your religion, by your money, by your knowledge. And you will have to look at the future, the next big thing.

You will have something unended continue in your mind. You will have scores to settle. You will have an unfinished task. The past has no intentions ever of remaining a past. In fact, calling it as past is a mistake. You know what past means? Past means left behind. You say you have gone past something. The past is never left behind, you never go past it. If there is one thing which can never never be left behind, it is the past. It will continue. In fact, it will jump ahead of you. Not only will it stay with you, it would be running ahead of you.

It would be running ahead of you like a guide. A very deceptive guide. Nevertheless something, someone, that claims to be a guide. Most of us think that the past is there behind the back. No, the past is there in front of the eyes. Not only it is in front of the eyes, it is actually guiding the eyes, guiding the mind, guiding the feet. The past decides what our future would be like.

The past, first of all, raises a future, then directs the mind to chase that future. Is there anything that you think of, anything that you feel happy about, anything that you feel disappointed about that is not coming from your past? Are all our disappointments not cultivated disappointments. Had you not been told by the movies, by the novels, by family, by all the mythological stories, that this is something that you need to feel bad about, would you still have felt bad about such things?



Read the complete article: There is nothing called a new beginning

There is nothing called a new beginning

SR Generic_ English

L: Can we begin from Nowhere?

AP: Can we begin from Nowhere?

L: Yes.

AP: Actually you always begin from somewhere. If you begin from nowhere, you also show no movement and you also do not go anywhere. Nowhere is not a point of beginning. All beginning implies a change in state. All beginning implies that there was no movement and then there is a movement. This movement you call as beginning. One is not moving, then one moves. And this change in state one call as the beginning – I have just begun.

In Nowhere, in that nothingness that you are terming as nowhere, there is no beginning and hence no end. And that’s a great relief. Remember, whatever begins is definitely going to end. And whatever is going to end always carries expectations and fear with it. Hence, a beginning is not really such a nice thing to have. We keep on saying, “Let’s begin. Let’s start. Let’s change. Let’s reform. Let’s improve.” All of which are names for just the same thing. The thing is Activity, “Let’s do something.”

Are we all not fascinated by the idea of changing, doing, improving, moving, reaching, attaining, achieving? All of these involve beginnings. All of these involve an apparent change in state. What is remarkable however is that, what we call as the mind, its nature is to keep changing? More correctly put its tendency its habit is to keep changing. When the very habit is to keep changing, what is new about another change?

Read more

Understanding is freedom from thought.

Wisdom is not a thought.

Wisdom is to see the limit of thought.

Wisdom is to not to place needless trust upon thought.

Thought is a problem-solving mechanism. And if the problem is still continuing, how can there be understanding.

Understanding is freedom from thought.

Sure, the mind has the capability to think just as the mouth has the capability to eat. Will you keep eating? There are other organs of the body that have other capabilities. Will you keep walking? Will you keep mating?



Read the complete article: Does wisdom arise from thoughts?