Questioner: Sir, on one hand we say that real values are unshakable, they do not depend upon the vicissitudes of time, they do not come and go, they are there. On the other hand, you have said in one of your articles, ‘Give up your values‘. Why is there a contradiction?
Acharya Prashant: On one hand I say that values are there- firm, embedded, essential. On the other hand I also say, ‘Give them up’! How is it possible?
The real, the valuable, the really valuable is discovered by the mind only when it gives up that which is trivial. Mind lives in its own values. We will call them as ‘man-made values’.
See what mind values, see what it has been trained to value, see how it gets habituated and conditioned. Look around! What does the mind value? Look around the world and you will see what the mind values. Prestige, respect, power, position, money, greed, security, pleasure, acceptance, validation, physical arousal that is what the mind values. Right?
As long as the mind is valuing these, there is no question of coming upon that which is really valuable.
If you say, ‘I already know what is valuable in life.’ What is valuable in life for you? ‘The honour of my tribe, the respect of my family, the certificates that I gain from others, having a nice secure house, having some kind of bank-balance’, that is what most people say is valuable. Is that not so? If you ask them, “What do you value? What do you find important?”, this is what they will say that they find important. ‘Entertainment!’ Right?
Till the time you find all these important, your boxes are already ticked. There is no scope for enquiry, there is no scope of opening the gates of mind to the Truth. You have already decided!
‘The most important thing is to have a good life.‘ And what is that good life? That which TV commercials tell you- branded clothes, luxuries, working in a reputed organization, a fixed salary, and prospects of growing, whatever that means.‘ When the mind is cluttered with these values, then the real cannot come. Hence, it is important to say, ‘Give up these values.’ That is what that article says. ‘Give up your values’.
Why am I saying that give up your values? Because your values are artificial. Your values are all man-made values, not existential values. On the other hand, I am also saying that the real values cannot be shaken, they are your essence, that which is really important.
But that which remains right at the core, right at the center, is very subtle. Only with clarity does one reach there. What is that? What is that essential? What is that subtle? What are the real values?
When you empty the mind of all that which has been put into it, all its contents that have come over a process of time, only then you find that which is real, existential. What is that process of time? It can be divided into two halves:
One– the process after your physical birth. After physical birth what has happened? The mind has acquired lots of things from here and there.
Second– that which is seated in your D.N.A., and that content comes from an infinite stretch of time. Your D.N.A. contains the history of the entire universe.
So you are conditioned. Your mind is carrying contents in two ways: one, your DNA, the child is born conditioned, and second, after being physically born, he is conditioned even more. Social conditioning builds upon physical conditioning.
When the mind is cleared of all these contents, then what remains? Nothing!
You remove all that from yourself that you have obtained from others and from time and history. You remove all that and what remains? Nothing! That emptiness, that cleanliness, that clarity is the central thing, is the fundamental Truth. That nothingness, clean, empty. Empty of what? Empty of garbage. Pure and shining. Shining with what? Nothing! Just the shine.
That emptiness is the core value and it is not man-made. Remember!
You come upon it only after removing everything that is man-made. Once you remove all that which is man-made, you come upon that which is essential, non-man-made, and hence real.
That essential expresses itself in a few ways. That essential expresses itself through the mind, when the mind is not conditioned. When there is clarity, then that essential radiates its shine. Its ways are four-fold. What are those ways?
Truth, Joy, Love and Freedom.
These arise from inner emptiness; these arise from your clean core, a very clean heart. When I say, ‘heart’, hear it as ‘core’, ‘essence’, that is what I mean. When I say, ‘heart’, I mean the centre. It is not the biological organ.
So when the heart is clean, then the mind lives in truth, joy, freedom, love. And these are unshakable! Because these are not man-made.
Love is not man-made and if love is man-made, then it is a very superficial and worthless love. Freedom is not man-made, Truth is not man-made. Happiness is man-made, but Joy is not man-made.
Now can you see the distinction between these two types of values: man-made values and existential values? When I am saying, ‘Give up your values’, which values am I referring to?
Q : Man-made.
AP : When I am saying, ‘Values are essential, unshakable, unchangeable’, which values am I referring to?
Q : Existential.
And remember till the time you are attached to man-made values, you will never come to know the essential values and your life will be very poor. Very, very poor life! Joy-less! Truth-less! Love-less! Freedom-less!
Who wants such a life? Do you want that kind of a life?
-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.