Questioner: Why are most of the people concerned about their own problems. Why are they not concerned about the problems of humanity?
Acharya Prashant: One cannot look at this and that when there is so much happening in my own house. There is a civil war going on right where I am standing. How can I be bothered about this and that? How can I be bothered about how many animals are dying in the forests, how many species are being eliminated every day, how the global temperatures are rising due to climate change, how can I be concerned about them when I am locked in my petty issues?
Q: But there may be bigger issues.
AP: There might be the bigger issues, but for me the biggest issue is, ‘My wife is seeing somebody else these days.’ Because my ego is so petty.
Q: Why does the ego exist?
AP: Yes! Good. That’s the question you ask yourself, that why does the ego exist at all. Ask yourself that why does it exist at all. Till the time ego is there, you will have petty issues in your life. You will have only petty issues in your life.
Q: But this may be the case with only fifty percent of population. What about the rest fifty percent?
AP: Fifty percent is an impossibly large proportion. I am talking of point five percent. We don’t have even that many. Fifty percent would be God’s dream; God’s impossible dream. Even God cannot make fifty percent people realize the Truth! I am talking of one in five thousand.
L: We say that we should be the light bulb. We should be the ‘light unto himself…’
AP: ‘Shoulds’ don’t work in life. You might say that I should be a light bulb. Where is the light?
You are right. Wonderful! It is a very, very nice image to think of. But just thinking, will that suffice? I will be a light bulb. I will be a search light. It’s a beautiful thing to think of. But mere thinking would not do.
It is a good idea. But that’s what, just an idea. You know what, when the British attacked Lucknow, the city of Lucknow, the ruler there, Wajid Ali Shah, was busy playing chess. His generals stood in front of him and said, ‘Give us the orders to march. Give us the orders to face the British.’
The fellow said, ‘Wait. I cannot afford to lose this game.’ How can you fight the bigger battles of life when you are engrossed in the imaginary battles? How can you fight the bigger battles? The real problem, how can you look at it when imaginary ones are so heavy upon you? So what did the British do? When they captured the Nawab, they carried a procession of him through the streets of Lucknow, like a caged animal. So there was a vehicle on which his cage was kept, and that cage was provided with all the amenities, a very nice and soft mattress, pillows of the best kind and a huge chess square was kept for the Nawab. That’s our situation.
We are captured, we are in a jail but our chess piece is entertaining us. That’s the purpose of entertainment in life. So that we do not look at the jail we are in. You are in a jail but that chess board is so attractive, you are busy with your pawns and horses. ‘My horse is threatening your King.’ That’s the real thing. The world is collapsing around you, you can’t even see that. For you the greatest issue is, ‘Mr. Verma’s son got two marks more than my son.’
If this is the situation, then how can you be bothered that the glaciers are melting? How can you be bothered that the humanity is probably going to be eliminated in next few decades? How can you be bothered?
‘How are my hair looking?’ That’s the biggest issue for you.
‘What comment did he post on my Facebook status?’ That’s the greatest issue in your life.
How does it matter to you that there is so much of stockpile with man today that he can destroy the earth a thousand times? For you the greatest issue is, ‘Is this shade nice?’.
What kind of life do you want to live?
I am asking you this. I am repeating, I probably would not see you again. Do you want to live a life of that kind, where the issues in your life are like this? You know you visit one of these popular news sites. What are the greatest issues that they are telling you?
‘Ten wardrobe malfunctions that you did not see.’ Then you go and click there. That’s the heading; that’s the link: Ten wardrobe malfunctions that you did not see.
‘Ten biggest things you must know!‘
They are your real teachers. They are telling you ten things that you must know. Who are they to educate you? But you allow yourselves to be educated by them. And then they become the real issues in your life. ‘Oh! Ten things that I must know.’
Ten new fashion trends this summer. And girls quickly click, ‘So what is happening? Last time the in-colour was purple green, this time it is jasmine green. If you are wearing purple green, then you are so outdated, old. Go and buy jasmine green.’
Now she is comparing purple green and jasmine green. I don’t know how their eyes differentiate between these wavelengths. And there is the teacher who is trying to educate you about what are the real issues in life. ‘Ten fancy bikes worth having’.
So M.S. Dhoni is riding one, John Abraham is riding another, Robert Vadra is riding the third one, and you are looking at them. Wow! Your eyes are now glued to the screen!
These are the real issues in life. ‘Ten great things to do just after your marriage.’ He has already decided that marriage is great and that you must marry. You can’t even see that somebody is imposing his thoughts upon you. It is so subtle. It is so damn subtle that you can’t even see. ‘Ten kinds of new bridal makeup.’ The assumption is that you will definitely become a bride. You don’t even see that you are being educated. ‘Ten things never to reveal to your boss.’ You are being educated constantly.
These are the real issues. ‘Should I tell my wife about my ex? What to hide, what to disclose?’
Such a great issue. Now how does it matter that the Blue Whale is disappearing? The Blue Whale has no place in your consciousness. How does it matter that a few islands have already been lost, the rising ocean level has already submerged them. How does it matter? You are busy thinking about your wife and your ex. That’s the real issue.
‘How to have good sex at the workplace without being caught?‘
That’s the real issue!
Look at the way you people gossip. Ask yourselves honestly, ‘What are the issues that we keep gossiping about?’ Are you thinking about the disappearing female child? This place Harayana has a sex-ratio of close to 800 at birth. Mass female genocide is happening.
Do you ever talk to each other about this? What do you talk about? What do you talk about? What do you talk about when you meet somebody? ‘Hey, you look nice! How do I look?’ ‘I’m bunking the class, aren’t you?’
Tell me. Does it matter to you that the ground water has been so damn polluted specially in states like Punjab that there is one train which goes from Bhatinda to Bikaner which is called ‘Cancer Express’. Does it matter to you? Do you ever talk about that? And that is not too far from here. What do you talk about?
‘I’ll humiliate you‘ That’s what your mind is full of. The hills are being denuded. The rivers are just filthy streams now. Does that matter to you?
Do you know about the plight of the girl child? Have you paid any attention to it? But you will pay all your attention to all the rubbish that is there on the T.V. You will know everything about new movie releases. You will know every bit of damn gossip that is going around. Do you know what is going on in the Middle East? Do you know that Africa is burning?
‘Have you got your hair straightened? How much did you pay?’ Real issues! ‘Are are you going around with Varun these days?’ Such an important issue!
After this session when you go out, look at all your batch-mates and they are adults, mature adults. Look at the subjects of their discussions. See what they are talking about, just see and then have pity on them. Go to the canteen and see the kind of rubbish that’s going around.
Do you want to live that kind of life, where the real important issue is whether the maid will turn up today or not?
Jealousy, trivia, pettiness, that is what the life of the normal man is; absolutely wasted life. Do you want to live like that? We will probably not meet each other again, but I am leaving you all with this challenge. Do you want to live like this?
Try to be a little silent and see what is going around, and suddenly something will open up in the mind. Suddenly something will open up. You will not be the same person anymore. That canteen of yours is such a wonderful place. It’s a great observatory. Whenever I visit your campus, I sit there. I make it a point to sit there every time I come so that I know the kind of audience I am dealing with.
L : Sir, they will get settled. They will change.
AP: What do you mean by settled? This is the settlement. They will not go beyond this. Today they are gossiping, tomorrow they are gossiping, right on their deathbed they will be gossiping.
L : We shouldn’t lose hope.
AP: Had I lost hope, why would I be sitting in front of you? It is not hope. It is your real nature that I am invoking. I don’t have any hopes.
I am just asking you, ‘Is it necessary to live this way?’ There is something within you that has just come into life. It will die very soon. You will go back to the same crowd. In fact many of you will laugh at each other. You will tell each other that you know for that one hour somebody made a fool of us. Nidhi will be laughing, Rishabh will be laughing, probably Vineet will also laugh. And when I come back again to your campus to teach your juniors, the moment you see me, you will take a ‘U’ turn. ‘Oh my God! He is the same one. He did something in those two hours. We don’t want to face him.’ Yes, that happens. That’s what your seniors do. That’s exactly what your seniors do. The same seniors who had come and made great declarations that our lives have been changed, we have realized something, they now avoid meeting me.
If you want to be a part of the crowd, be a part just as these lights are a part of this room. They illuminate this room. If you are with them, be with them as an illuminating influence, not as a participant in their darkness.
-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at: Why is my mind caught in petty issues? | YouTube
Read more articles on this topic:
- What is ego?
- The only way to help the world is to leave the world alone
- Only a godless mind will be petty