Listener 1: Where do we draw the line between responsibility and love towards family members or relatives or friends? How do we know what is responsibility and what is really coming from the love? because of the conditioning, there is partiality involved, we see people with different ways.
L2: Conditions of love are selective! Totally selective.
L1: How do we know then?
Acharya Prashant: It is not knowing about whether our actions are right or wrong. You see, it is such a camouflaged ploy of the mind. The mind asks, ‘How do I know whether my actions are arising out of an acquired sense of responsibility or whether is it real love?’
The mind does not want to ask, ‘Am I right?’ The mind will ask, ‘Is my action right?’
Now, can right action, whether in responsibility or in love and both are beautiful words—love and responsibility, arise out of the wrong mind? Can it?
And out of a right mind, can wrong action arise?
All that then one needs to worry about, if that can be called ‘worrying’ at all is ‘Whether the mind is right?’ Then all the relationships will be right because now your first and most important relationship is right—the relationship between you and God; the relationship of the ego with the Self; the relationship of the mind with the ‘Source of the mind’.
If that relationship is right then this relationship, that relationship, all relationships will be right.
Why must we worry about particulars, why must we not directly go to the root?
What is a right mind? If the right action and the right relationship are born out of a right mind then what is a right mind? That is the only question worth pondering if at all.
The right mind is the surrendered mind.
The right mind is the one which does not think that its own decisions or conclusions or pursuits mean anything.
The right mind is not a mind which thinks, that ‘answers’ to questions can become ‘solutions’.
We demand answers to questions in the hope that these will act as solutions. The right mind knows that the questions arise from it and the answer too comes to it and is interpreted by it. And hence, questions and answers will not take it there.
But you just asked a question!
The right mind then knows that all questions and answers are meaningful and useful only in an environment of surrender. Then, it is the surrender that helps not the question and answer.
The Q&A is what seems to be happening on the surface but it is not that which is helping. What is really helping is the under-current and the under-current is of surrender. And if your questions are not arising from surrender and if your answers are not being received in surrender then will even the best of answers be useful?
And if the surrender is there and if the questions are arising from there then even a very pedestrian response, even a very ordinary response, even just a nod of the head can be the trigger which solves everything and that has happened.
You look at some of the conversations of the mystics with their disciples, and such absurd answers are given. And in the Zen way…
Someone comes and asks, ‘What is the Buddha?’ And the master says, ‘Cow dung!’ and the disciple is immediately enlightened.
Now did the cow dung enlightened the disciple? No! He was already there.
Whatever enlightenment means, what has happened, is that he was asking in such a deep surrender that even an absurd answer was no more absurd. He was listening with such love that even an absurd answer became something like a gift in love.
It is the place from where you are asking and the place from where you are listening that counts.
Later on, you can intellectualize the whole issue and say that, ‘No! No! The answer was not absurd. What the teacher really meant was that the spirit of the Buddha is contained in the spirit of the universe and hence is also present in the cow dung. So that is how the teacher was communicating the message’.
Sometimes they say that the Buddha is the three pounds of flax, sometimes they say this, sometimes they say that tree! Of course, there is no meaning behind all of this, you can, later on, impose meanings upon them but that would remain just a superimposition.
L: Just because it is an intellectual game.
AP: Intellectual game, and a dangerous intellectual game because you feel that there is something ‘in the answer’ that has helped. It is not something ‘in the answer’, it is something ‘in your heart’ that helps.
It is something in your listening that helps. Let the mind be surrendered then it will know the responsibility; then it will know love and it will also know that these two are not different.
It may then be responsible even without knowing that it is responsible. Then it will be loving even without consciously knowing that this is called love.
Is responsibility something that can be set within a definition?
Is love something that can be defined within a framework?
~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Love towards family, and real responsibility
Read more articles on this topic:
Article 1: Responsibility is the fruit of maturity
Article 2: Responsibility towards parents
Article 3: What is conditioning?
Books by Acharya Prashant are available on AMAZON: