Ambition – the burning need to achieve

Acharya Prashant: We want to look at ‘ambition’. So, as I enter, I see that we have been singing Kabir; Kabir talking about achievement, about ambition, about greed and desire and he seems to be taking a clear position, it’s unmistakable. Let us not leave it ambiguous, there is a sense of condemnation in what he is saying. And then there are others who would point to the virtues of ambition, who would say it:,”Ambition is the motivator of human progress that the heights that human civilization seems to be touching today have happened because of the desire to change”.

We have had a lot of this: “Ambition is ‘good’ versus ambition is ‘bad'” kind of a debate. We could approach it a little differently. We could ask ourselves – “What is ambition?”, instead of asking:”Is ambition ‘good’ ,or, is ambition ‘bad’?”, which is all quite childish, we could ask ourselves, “What is ambition?”.  But, as I proceed to take that line it occurs to me a lot has been said in that context as well.

All of us here are learned people, whom I suppose have an interest in the subtleties of life and they would have surely thought over this question: ‘What is ambition?’. So what do we do, we could take the same beaten path again, try to see ‘What is ambition’, go into it, the restlessness of the mind, the desire to reach somewhere and such things. Or, I am prompted to ask a more fundamental question, ‘Is ambition?’, not ‘Is ambition ‘good’ or is ambition ‘bad’?’ not even ‘What is ambition’? Simply-‘Is ambition?’.  When we say ambition what do we mean? Yes, what do we mean?

Listener 1: I want to do.

L2: The desire to achieve something.

AP: Want to do something, desire to achieve something.

L3: Something I have difficult to achieve.

AP: What to overcome a challenge. Yes please?

L4: Move towards reality, a desired reality which promises something more that what I have.

AP: Move towards a desire that promises more than what you have. So the word ambition is very closely related to change, whether you say desire or whether you say achievement. What you necessarily imply is that you want things to change. You could simply say that the mind is not contended with its present situation, and so it professes that it wants something else. That something else, you could call as a dream, a destination, a target, a utopia, a heaven or an enlightenment or whatever you want to call it.

But, we all seem to accept that we live with a constant urge to change, right?  In fact, our activities: big and small, daily, monthly and yearly, as individuals, as societies and as communities, they all seem to suggest very clearly that we are not quite satisfied with what is there and we want more or we want less.

What is certain, is that what is there is not quite alright; it needs to change, right? It could be something as small as the color of the walls of my house, or, the TV channel that I am watching, the job that I am in, the locality that I live in, or, it could be something that sounds much more magnificent. One could say: “I want to change the world; I want to leave a better earth for the next generation.”. What is common amongst all of these is that-‘We want to change.’

In fact, this change is what seems to be moving us, from morning – till night. We say we are not quite alright, our full potential has not yet been achieved, and for achievement and realization of that we must act. It is still not as good as it could have been so the situation needs to change.

I want to question that with you, ‘Is ambition?’ Do we really want to change? Yes, of course superficially, it really looks as if we are so keen for change-in matters big and small, personal and social, economic, political, religious. It really looks as if we are extremely keen to have a new face and also to see the new face of the world. We celebrate when the economy grows, we keep on talking of new horizons. So there is a lot of activity around this desire, but what is this desire really?

I suppose, we all could agree that, superficially,  does seem as if we want something and life is supposed to be a journey, a movement towards that thing.

But, this morning, I want us to look at that again, the mental model that we have is that we want something, and the purpose of human life is to move towards that thing, in all kind of ways. So, we want change. And, that is what also our education and the poets and the various systems around us seem to be suggesting us, advising us that you are not yet where you could have been, so keep moving, a better tomorrow waits for you-that kind of a life seems so inspirational, does it not? ‘A better tomorrow waits for you’. Let’s honestly ask them ‘do we really want a better tomorrow?’ Yes we claim that. Do we really want to change?

There is lot of activity that goes on-there is lot of strife, conflict, effort. It could easily appear that we are really very sincere in trying for our betterment.There have been revolutions so that man can live a better life; People have laid down their lives. And then there is science that seems to be doing so much, changing everything around us. But, is anything really changing?

We just talked of science. The scientist, the researcher who comes up with a new discovery or a new invention, has he moved closer to that destination that we all seem to coved? Yes, of course something has changed on the papers. Yes, of course something has changed as far as the material in his hand goes. A new theory, a new application, a new product has come up but has anything really changed? Has the scientist just come upon some facts or is there a truth that has nothing to do what he has been doing? Yes, he will say that: “I have discovered the truth regarding something”. But, is the truth permeating him?

Is it changing something  fundamental within him? Is it going down to his heart beat, to his breath? Is he a different man after the discovery? Or is it so that the discovery, the invention, all the effort comes so that real change doesn’t happen?

Are we desirous for change or are we utterly resistant towards change? And when I say I repeat that we all would admit that on the surface it surely looks as if we are very sincere towards changing, right? But the same question again-you are indeed making a lot of efforts but are those efforts intended to really, deeply and fundamentally change you or to guard you against changing? Yes, of course we want to change our clothes, we want to change our car but do we really want to change our mind stuff? Yes?

We want to modernize our armies and we want to bring about a change that way; yes, it’s a very modern army now, has changed, doesn’t look the same way it looks for 20 years back. But has the purpose of the army changed? Yes, you could be a very advanced nation state but has the very reason:’Why the nations, states exist, changed?’.

Yes, you could now be praying a different God or going to a different temple or church or mosque, but, has the reason behind your worship changed? Yes, now you could be with a different partner, a new man or a new woman, the name of a person has changed but has the very nature of the relationship changed? Are we looking for change or are we hell bent on blocking change?

Is not change knocking at our doors all the time? Is not life telling us continuously that the change is needed? Does not the river know how to correct its course? Does not the tree and the flower know in which direction to grow? Insects, planets, and the entire universe, nothing is out of order and if they deviate even the slightest extent; there is an auto-correction, existence corrects them. Surely, man too is reminded again and again that he must change incorrect. And, if everything in existence finds change so simple, normal, easy then why should changing be such a big deal for mankind?

Why should we be saying that I am devoting my life towards bringing about change when nothing in the universe is really intent upon changing? Why? Because it is changing all the time. Hence, it never goes so wrong, so misplaced that it needs a big correction. Then why  it is so that only man says that he has become so bad, so rotten and so corrupt that he needs a big revolutionary change?

I repeat what I am saying,”When you look around, you do not find stuff that has gone so bad that it is in need of a disastrous change and why does nothing in nature ever deviate so much from its nature?, Because it is very prepared to change-species evolve, and when their time is up, they disappear.” Planets follow a certain course, water knows when to evaporate. It’s changing, right? From the liquid state to the gaseous state and it changes without effort and without resistance. So nothing in existence seems to be crazy for changing.

Man says,”No…no…no.. things are not proper, the world is not yet right, and the responsibility is upon me to set the things right.” So, my question would be,”only that can be set right which has been firstly gone wrong, how is it so that he has gone so wrong?”And you have gone wrong when the universe is always suggesting to you to go right and to correct yourself. If you are going wrong even when everything around you is trying to act as an eye opener, what does it suggest? Do you want to change or do you want to resist change?

Look at the lives of the people around you or look at your own life.

Do not our daily forgetfulness, ingratitudes, sufferings, tensions-all tell us that what we think of as right and wonderful and worth preserving is not quite right.

If only we were not so adamant upon upholding our own opinions and beliefs against the simple facts of life, then it should be abundantly clear that we need to change today, right now, and changed simply. There is a lot that is rotten about us and around us, it needs to be discarding. The mind is crying aloud, the life is crying aloud and life is crying aloud-‘change’ and we too are crying aloud-‘change’.

Now, life is honest. I don’t think we need to debate that. Life is surely saying, ‘change’, and we are joining the chorus by saying, “yes change”. Yet, man does not fundamentally seem to change. Of course, as we said, superficially you can change something-the color of your T-shirt, how does it matter? And we change that so much, so frequently, that changing which would bring about no real change that we are too eager to change.

So, life is surely suggesting change, and we too are saying ‘change’, yet nothing changes. Must we not infer that somebody is not quite honest that there is something within us that deeply resists any kind of change, even though a thousand Buddhas have tried their heart out and there have been a great and turbulent revolution of all kinds. Man has tried everything-changing the outer, trying to change the inner via the outer, Russian revolution, the French revolution, this system, that system, a new religion, a new prophet,yet man has remained what he has been.

So, instead of talking about ambition, which seems more like a pseudo discussion,I would rather want to ask you why don’t you change? Everything that could be tried have been tried on you.You were singing Kabir before I came here; the man had a big heart. He kept saying, he kept saying, he kept saying. Have you changed? And if you say that you do want change yet you find yourself unable to change then I invite you to enquire, what is it within you that doesn’t allow you to change? What is this tremendous resistance to the truth?

On one hand you want to join the orchestra, the chorus of  life, as it tells you,”Correct, come to the center, normalize”. On the other hand you say, “no, not at all, I’ll die rather than change”. Yes, of course because you are insisting so much, so, let me come up with a few things here and there to placate you-let’s come up with a new dish tonight, let’s come up with a new world, let’s buy a new car, hey, did you watch that new release?. Whom are we fooling? Alright! I can’t buy a new car, let me change my tyres or let me change my steering cover or my underwear; whom are we fooling?

“My girlfriend stinks, I’ll change her and if I can’t change her, I’ll change her name”, have you seen how we change names of our related ones? We forget that life is not the place where diplomacy works. It seems that we are not only conditioned but have a terrible tendency to sustain the conditioning. Because had we been only conditioned and all the conditioning comes from outside, because had we been only conditioned then another kind of conditioning could have reversed conditioning? So, you could have said that my education taught me violence, so, another kind of education can teach me peace. And it would have all been so easy, had we just been conditioned.

Matters would not have been so pathetic. There is also something deeper within us, something that says, “I want to remain conditioned. Yes, of course you have all the freedom to change the type of conditioning but if you will attack, the very basis, the very ground of conditioning, then, I’ll come up with a horrible, vicious, ferocious resistance and a counter attack. Give me new kind of falseness, I am alright with that, don’t give me the truth.” What is it? I am curious, I want to know, I really don’t know. At least not as I sit in front of you. I don’t have idea at all, why don’t you change?

L5: Change is death, that is why we don’t want to change.

AP: Are you happy living this way and if you are happy living this way then why don’t you just continue living? Why do you insist that you want to change? On one hand we claim that we are so terrified of death, on the other hand we continuously want to bring an end the current state of affairs. If you want to bring an end the current state of affairs then surely you want to kill something, right? Then how do you say that you are afraid of the death?

L6: We have some fixed ideas of change, which should occur.

AP: And what happens when something more honest, more real, comes to you, talks to you, looks you, what happens then? The ‘known’ is something that doesn’t please you in your own words, right? In your words the ‘known’ is something that doesn’t please you and your actions prove that. Look at your restlessness. Are you happy with the known?

Are you happy entering the same car as the session will get over or would rather have a bigger and better or may be a Limousine or something? Would you discard it if it waits for you outside? Yes? Anybody who is happy with his present car, so happy that you would discard Limousine. Alright! You may be short of parking space, I understand. What if, it comes along with parking space?

If you say that you are afraid of the unknown, tell me, ‘Are you so happy with the known?And if you aren’t, why are you so sacred to change? What is this sick resistance?’.

I am not here to talk of ambition as a disease. I am, rather talking about the resistance as a disease. We are not ambitious at all. We are not at all ambitious. Had we been ambitious would we have been like this? Look at your face, are you ambitious? Yes, Kabir was ambitious and it looks quite odd when we sing Kabir with so little life, often mispronouncing and how does it sound when the same stuff comes out of Kabir’s mouth; can we even imagine?

Yes, so what is it? Man has been around for millions of years, yet, the tales that we read of the ancients’ sounds so similar to our own tales, don’t they? Somebody ran away with somebody’s wife to fight over land, somebody was hassling his son and trying to take commitment from him. Stories, thousands of years old, are still the stories that you can relate to, can you not?  Yes, then they might be communicating with the help of pigeons. You are talking over smartphones but aren’t you relaying the same messages, “darling I love you.” Has anything changed? Where is ambition? Ambition means change by definition. Where is the change?

Why are you so resistant? You have been pigeon, you remember that? You were an elephant fifteen thousand years back. You’ve seen all that, you have experienced everything. It is not as if there is something ‘new’ left to explore. What are you waiting for? And again this real change is not something that you have to bring about. We said life is continuously nudging you, imploring  you, very gently showing you the direction all the time. You do not need any great revolution.Why do you ignore? Ah! Ignoring is such a meek word, why do you bite back like a rabid dog?

Why such a great contempt to the Truth? You need to tell me. We have been together in this hall many times. Do you know how many times? A million times. Somebody has been speaking, somebody has been hearing, nobody has been listening, why? Why don’t you listen? Why not you really change? Do we firstly see? I want to get it out from your mouth, do we firstly see that we are conditioned? Yes?  Do we see that? We see that and you have to admit it, right? Do we see that?

Listeners: Yes.

AP: We see that?

Listeners: Yes.

AP: Allowed. Do we see that?

Listeners: Yes.

AP: Then why don’t you cast it off? Why do you require somebody to be sitting on this podium and talking these things of common sense to you? And why has it always been needed? A Krishna, A Jesus, A Buddha, A Kabir, any teacher-is he really needed? If you can see that the mind is polluted and corrupted, that things are not quite right, then why don’t you just simply, automatically do what must be done?

I am not here to talk about the truth; enough has been said about all that. I don’t want to bring to you something that you have no idea of, no taste of, no experience, no flavor of the beyond, the transcendental. I want to ask you don’t you already know so much? You may say, “No…No… I am an ignorant being, I am so humble, and I cannot claim that I know much”. Alright, do you know even a little? Of course you do, you just did admit that you know that you are conditioned, right? So you know at least to that extent. You know that you are conditioned. This much is clear to each one of us.

If we just look at our habits, our opinions, our prejudices, our various failings; it is very clear that the mind is in a grip of something, is it not? And if this much is clear then why you don’t simply keep it away, shrug it off? Why do you sustain it? Why do you support it? Why this lack of ambition?

To me,

Only a spiritual man is an ambitious man.

I don’t regard the corporate honchos and the presidents as ambitious at all. They have no ambition. Had they had any ambition,would they have their billions?

Real ambition is that which reaches its climax, its realization, its rectification. If you have ambition then you can’t have anything else. Because an ambition can only be for that which you really want. An ambition is not any worth its ‘A’ if it cannot materialize. It must get, it must have that passion that it really achieves just as the blades of grass achieves; such must be the passion. Such must be the passion, so simple.

What? Did you think that I am talking  motivational stuff? Only that much of passion is needed. The blade of grass is so alright. Why can’t we be alright?Why do we look so sick?

Even as I am speaking, are you changing? Are you allowing yourself even to listen? I am not asking for your support, I am just asking you to not to resist.

Your active cooperation is not needed. Whatever you do actively only spoils things.

So, kindly don’t give your active help. I am again asking you, ‘what it is within you? What kind of frozen system?’ Yes? And remember when I am saying ‘you’ I do not mean in a personal sense, I am referring you to the entire mankind. Mankind not of only today but of the entire past and of the future as well.

L7: Is this because of our genetic makeup?

AP: Are we so very unfortunate? Are we the condemned child of nature? Look at that tree outside, how it is basking in the sun. It does not even need to attend this talk, and here we are wondering whether we are genetically handicapped or something. I looked at dog and it didn’t have one of his legs. Coolly– it was lying in the sun– rather warmly. It didn’t seem to be cursing its luck. And we are asking, “you know whether something is wrong with our genes?” The dog has no conception of genes and it is alright. And we know so much about genetics and that knowledge is being used to curse ourselves further.

In daily matters of life, do we know what is proper? Often we do, right? When we don’t, then let’s not talk about it. One is not obliged to know everything. But when you do know, do you still live by what you know? When you know what needs to be done, do you give it everything that you have? Are you totally, simply and directly committed to it? Do you know anything called commitment? Once I know what is right I won’t budge. Not even the slightest of deviation is acceptable now.

Yes?

The birds know when to sleep, don’t they? Ever seen a bird, deviating, have you? And you are not so ignorant, you know a lot. You are at least as intelligent as the insect and that’s a lot.What is this willing alignment with the evil? Not of ignorance, willful deliberate alignment with the evil? What is this, I want to ask?

Nothing new can be said. It can only be repeated in more befitting, more relevant, more contextual, more timely ways; a thousand times, a million times it has already been said. A lot of time you have missed it. But, many times you have in fact heard it. Why do you reject it? Why must there be ‘Prophet after Prophet and Saint after Saint and Teacher after Teacher and book after book and scripture after scripture and talk after talk’, why? Why can’t we just simply understand? Why make heavy weather of what is absolutely simple?

Please examine your own life and your minds and ask yourself what happens in those moments when I am rejecting the truth? What exactly is happening in my mind? Please try to enquire. There is this moment when clarity is knocking and you are saying no. Please ask yourself what exactly happens? What is the mechanism? What is the entire structure of the resisting force? What happens, you are overpowered, you forget, what happens? Could somebody come up with some insights?

What exactly happens in that moment when you know that you are not doing what you must be doing, when you are deliberately siding with the evil? What happens in that moment? Don’t you feel like a thief? And, how do you live with  feeling like a thief? How could you manage to breath? What happens in that moment? We all pass through those moments; this moment is one of those moments. You know you must respond. Yet you are sitting with your tongue tied.

L8: Overpowered, and there is certain impotency which is covered with a face of potency. It is sure that it goes with the truth.

AP: So you realize that there is a certain impotency, right?

L8: I realize it now.

AP: In that moment, that realization is not only theoretical or verbal as it is right now. In that moment you are experiencing it and submitting to it. In that moment, you are kneeling down to it, right? So, in fact, in that moment you know that impotency very well.

L9: But, we cannot let it go because we are very deep into it.

AP: No, my question is different. I am not asking you to let it go or something. If you have realized it and validated it so clearly then why don’t you live as an impotent man? If you have certified your impotency with such sincerity that you feel that it is important to kneel down in front of it then live as an impotent man because now you certainly and honestly know that you are…..

Listeners: Impotent.

AP: So, why don’t you live like an impotent man. You are not saying just theoretically that you are impotent, right? You are living by it. That impotency is showing up in all your life decisions, right? Then why put up a brave phase? If you sincerely admit it and you not only admit it, you side with it, you support it that’s how you want to be. If that’s how you want to be then simply live as an impotent man, simply say I am so impotent and limp.

L8: Sir, potency as an ideal also exists in our mind then there is a problem, you are not potent enough to become potent.

AP: You have very well seen that, that ideal doesn’t apply to you and if that ideal has any significance for you then why do you allow yourself to be impotent. You say you have an ideal. If that ideal means anything to you then would you act in opposition to that ideal? What are we talking? On one hand we are saying we have a particular ideal. On the other hand the life that we live is in contrast to that ideal. The ideal is an imagination, the life that you are living is something that you have stamped as your reality. And, if you are so fine with it, if you are so fine with your impotency, then come out. why hide?

L8: I am not fine with it but it’s like the potent ‘you’ standing outside the door and you can see Him a little bit.

AP: What do you mean by ‘See Him a little bit?’ Have you ever experienced Him?

L8: At that moment, no, but feels like this is it.

AP: So, He is a dream. You have never been potent.

L8: However, we live in a hope that we can be potent some day.

AP: What do you mean by hope? When potency is something so unknown to you, how can you even hope for potency?

L8: So, even the potency that we talk about is just an imagination?

AP: Yes, and somebody said that you are very afraid of the unknown. Potency is unknown, so that something that you must be afraid of. How can you live in the hope of potency?

Listener 9: Because the unknown is known to somebody else.

AP: That somebody else is not known to you. That unknown might be known to somebody else but is that somebody else known to you?

L9: Yes, I at least think so.

AP: You just think of these things but impotency is something that you breathe everyday.

L10: It seems that I have  so much clinging  to the image of potency that I have that I only try to be that and all the energy is moving in that direction.

AP: Madam, my question is simple, ‘Impotency is our bone and our blood and we seem to really have no problem with it, because we support it every time a decision has to be made. ‘Every single time we stand in support of what we are calling as impotency right now, and remember when you support it then you don’t call it impotency, then you give very nice names. Then you call it love, duty, relationships, sincerity, commitment, religion, what else…. many other things, responsibility? Then you call it many other things; you support it. If you support it so wholeheartedly…..

L10: Sir, in fact it’s not even the whole hearted support, it’s like I am doing something and I know it’s not give me happiness that it’s not inner happiness and then I convince myself that, “see you have to do it, it’s okay, it’s okay”,  somehow to convince yourself . Okay let’s move on then and that’s how it goes and that’s how I have been taking my decisions.

AP: So, you have a casting vote right. You are the one who decides.

L11:  At one particular point of time I mean you just become ignorant. As time goes on you just become ignorant and you just keep on doing that ways.

L12: The voice is loud in your head and you are like shutting it off.

AP: So, obviously, there is something more powerful than that voice, I want to know what  is that?

L13: Our requirements.

AP: Are they so big? How much do you require? How much do you really require?

L13: That  small is also big for us because we need that and to achieve that we are doing all this.

AP: How much does that tree require? How much does the bird require? How much does anything in existence require? And, what is the price that you are paying for that which you say that you require?

L14:Sir, there is continuous propaganda from outside and it has been from childhood. It has been told that you … I have been given a concepts of potency like I should be cracking IIT or I should be doing this or doing that then mind is such a lazy organ that it doesn’t want to… propaganda is coming continuously it’s not resting … And I require real energy to fight all these voices.

AP: Do you know this much? And if you know this much then what are you doing with the propaganda? Why do you allow it to enter in your eyes, your ears, and your mind? Why do you allow it to enter? If you indeed do know this much?

L14: It does, really need courage. Mind is knocking, so many people are saying these things …

AP: So, you are not sure, right? You don’t know then. So I am not talking about all that. I am only talking about ‘that’, which you really know and yet not execute. If you are not sure then fine, we can excuse. Even if we are 1% unsure then we could say alright because I was not sure so I took a wrong decision. I am talking about matters in which we are in fact sure and yet we act in variance with what we know.

L15: Sir, when we have known certain things and acted upon being perfectly sure that okay this is what I want. Then comes external stimulus telling that you are going wrong. This is the pattern you are defined from it, you have been going wrong and when it comes from everywhere then it’s like same thing, the mind also start thinking that am I actually going wrong?

L16: Right now the problem is more to do with a security that will get from being along with people.

AP: Do you get any kind of security?

L16: There is no security.

AP: So, be clear. First of all, you said we get a particular security, then you are saying that there is no security; Is there security or is there no security with people? Is there, or is there not?

L16: Sir, mind is not sure.

AP: Then, we are not talking about it; then you are alright. When you do not know whether or not there is security, then you would surely want to act a little defensive. So, it’s alright. I am asking, ‘Is there something that you know with utmost certainty, is there anything? And if there is one such thing why don’t you act on it? Have you learnt anything? Is there anything we have surely learnt with total clarity where we can say the matter stands closed and I am 100% confident of it. Is there something?

L17: There is fear that given at that sort of contentment might make you complacent.

AP: No, does it make you complacent?

L17: It might.

AP: So, you are not sure about it.So, we cannot talk about it. It’s alright. If you are not sure about something then obviously you are justified in not taking a risk. We can excuse ourselves on that.

L18: We cannot be sure because if we go down to how we observe the reality that if you go down the way of measurement that there are basic laws of which actually threatening a way whatever we observe whatever the laws we create they are bound to have some imperfections.

AP: Sir, you are right, we cannot be sure. I am asking is there anything of which you can be sure? No, nothing, is that not a terrible thing to say? Do you exist? Are you sure of that? Are you thinking? Are you waiting to respond? Are you sure of all that? So there is something that you are sure of. Why don’t you start from there? And be honest at least with respect to that.

L19: Sir, sometimes we say that we are not sure although we are sure so just that the real change doesn’t happen. Just to directly not change.

AP: So, educate me, why don’t you want the real change?

L19: Sir, I am not able to live without that change, I am just suffocating.

AP: So do you want that change at all?

L19: Yes Sir, But…

AP: What is that but then?

L19: But… something that suddenly some fear comes.

AP: What is that fear?

L20: Fear is something…

AP: So you know about it? You need not speak further; you know something about that fear. You don’t know anything about that fear?

L20: It’s a crippling fear that just overpowers you.

AP: What does it say or does it not say anything?

L20: It says.

AP: What does it say?

L20: That it stands to lose something.

AP: What do you stand to lose? If it is coming to you so frequently surely you must be talking to it. What does it say?

L21:  I think that the idea of forgetfulness becomes more important like we decide at a moment that I will do it for sure and  then will get identify with something. And then I am reminded again and this is happening since my childhood. My father always tells me to study and I postpone it by saying that I will do. It blows away like bubble.

AP: So, you know this much. You look quite composed as you are saying this. So, may I believe that you know?

L21: This is what I can say about  and this idea is always clear in my thoughts.

AP: You know it or there is thought about it?

L22: What is the difference between knowing and thoughts?

AP: A Lot is different between the two. What do you want to say, you know, or is it a thought?

L22: I know.

AP: So, if you know, then where is the gap? Why don’t you act and live by this knowing?

L23: We are lethargic.

AP: So you know that you are lethargic. What are you doing about it?

L23: This knowing also exists lethargic.

AP: You know that as well.

L24: Sir, knowing and realization are different thing.

AP:  You realize that, alright. Is there anything that you realize? See, I am nobody to insist that you must realize, right? All I am asking is,’Is there anything that you realize? And if you do then why is that realization not changing the entire structure of falseness?’

L25: I think it’s a difference  of magnitude. The realization is not just right, bright enough to wipe out…

AP: Then, it is not realization. There is a thing called ‘an immature or raw-realization.’

L4: Realization is a blow, change, but then we are not able to…

AP: Aren’t you receiving those blows every hour? The entire thing is swollen out of receiving blows. Blow after blow, how many more do we need?

L21: Sir, it is that I am not ready to take the responsibility that when change comes.

AP: You know so much. See, such erudite words, ‘I am not willing to take the responsibility’. You can even teach a thousand people, why don’t you live by it?

L21: Sir, just the thought that, ‘Now comes the time when I have to step-up and take responsibility, it burdens me. As an okay you have to  act on it now.’

AP:Let’s go to that moment when the thing ceases the mind. What really happens then? Let’s go close to it and figure out what really happens then? The truth is calling. It is suggesting you so that you are acting, like, for want of a better world, whatever. So, you are being told that you are acting like…….and yet you are not doing, what must be done. What really happens?

L26: Past habits are so strong and we live on a hope that it can be changed.

AP: Why hasn’t it changed? Yes, we live on that hope that it can be changed but why hasn’t it changed?

L1: Because there is a power game in world.

L5: Past habits we have earned them through years. It is not easy to just get rid of them in one moment. It will require some time.

L6: There is a review that throw back there is something inside that says that there is something vigorous and discomforted that comes when you have to work, walk against the pattern that you have been following. We have seen that this is bad now and discomfort part starts.

AP: No, I understand, you feel that-this discomfort and such things and if the discomfort is very big upon you then I have nothing to say. But aren’t there moments when you know that you must bear the cost or pay the price.

L27:  I think we are not self-observing at that moment which we are talking of. So after it  passes, then we realize.

AP: That’s nice, very nice. So, we don’t know about that moment. So, I am unnecessarily asking you to look at that moment because we have no clue what happens in that moment. It just happens, right? It just happens.

L28: Are you talking about the first or the right response?

AP: We don’t know, it just happens. It’s like you have been robbed when you are sleeping. Now you can later on decorate with great names and descriptions. How does it matter? You can write an entire story around it but you are being robbed while sleeping. Later on you can make a movie, how does it matter?

L29: Sir, I think it is some subconscious Lethargy.

AP: Alright! You are not really sleeping, you are simply drowsy. How does it matter whether you call it sleep or subconscious lethargy?

L22: Sir, I think it’s not just drowsy, it’s like we are sitting and we are seeing that we are being robbed but we are not standing.

AP: So, while you are being robbed, you are also having a dream that you are being robbed. Does that mean that you know that you are been robbed?

L30: It just doesn’t happen that you know that it is going to be happened. It is not just that moment there is at least a good few moments when you know that now it is going to happen.

AP: If you know it is now going to be happening then you are taking the whole discussion back by half an hour. You are again saying that you know and it is still happening then I’ll again ask you, if you know and it still happens then what is that great force in front of  which you kneel down. You don’t know. Fact is, when it happens you have no clue.

L30: Sometimes when clarity comes and everything is clear….

AP: In that  moment, in that very moment when you are been robbed?

L30: No, I am actually saying when clarity comes…

AP: As not as a re-collection. Does the clarity ever strike you in that very moment when the action is to happen, when the decision is to be made?

L31: At that moment on that one instant of taking the right action we feel victorious. This is now our past action and our current pattern will not rob us. Now since everything is clear to us. Before that we are clear now that is in front of us, now we are out of that pattern.

AP: Which is a false victory, you’d admit, right? It is like not showing up for the game and dreaming that you have won the trophy. Your name is being called out, Naveen Garg please show up, it’s your game now and what’s Naveen Garg doing, snoring and dreaming that he already has the trophy in his hands. You are imagining that you have clarity and victory. Is the victory real? What kind of victory it is that is resulting in defeat?

L31: No, at that point it seems this thing are not clear to me so that’s why…..

AP: So, now I know.

L31: Yes.

AP: But when I say I know, the next moment, the action is not as per the knowing. Is it?

L31: That becomes a celebration time.

AP: So, now I can celebrate. Who bothers for acting, right? Is this a victory? Is this a victory? So, surely the victory was not real. So, it’s all happening when we don’t even know that it is happening, right? It is all happening when we don’t even know that it is happening. We are smart people. By way of metaphor we said that we are being robbed while asleep. But, literally we aren’t sleeping when the robbery takes place. What are we doing? Let’s say at this instance you are not doing what you must. At this instance what is it that you must be doing?

Listeners: Listening.

AP: Alright! So, let’s see something else is happening and that something else is resulting in the robbery, as they say broad day-light robbery. This is an example of that, see broad daylight and yet robbery is taking place. So what is happening? You are not asleep; your eyes are open in that sense. In that sense you are not asleep; so what is happening? Where are you? Where are you?

L27: Instantly attached to that thing that is taking place.

AP: So, if you are not listening then what are you doing?  Where are you? What are you doing?

L27: Some thought is gripping us.

AP: Some thought is gripping you. And what is that thought about. Is that thought saying everything is good and nice and okay? What is that thought saying?

L5: Something has to be attended to.

AP: Something has to be attended to. Something, in other words, need to change. Alright! Alright! Alright! That’s interesting. So, right when change is present, you are busy in thinking of change and in thinking of change what are you doing?

L5: Resisting the change.

AP: Resisting the change. ‘That’, which you really want is unavailable to you because you think of it so much.

The Truth will stand at an arm’s length and you will be dreaming of it. You’ll be dreaming how to get it from across the seas and where is it? You can open your arms and hug it. But you are busy with more important matters, what are those matters? All those matters pertain to the truth, to that which you really-really want, right? You don’t want to change to come to a more unfavourable state. Has anybody ever desired a change that makes him even more indisposed?

In simple words, we want betterment, don’t we? The betterment that we want is not something to chase, is not something to go after. The birds, the road, the traffic, the people around us, the sunlight, the moons, the buildings, the river, everything is constantly telling us the direction of change. But, you are busy planning for change. You are busy thinking of it as if it were a remote matter. Man is the only one who wants ‘It’ and therefore man is the only one who doesn’t get it. Nothing else in existence wants it and so has it simply available.

Man is the only one who writes scriptures and hence man is the only one who is ignorant. You want it so desperately that you missed it. You want it so desperately that you keep resisting it. You love it so much that you want to kill it. So, don’t be so desperate, it comes on its own.

Real ambitiousness lies in being a little less ambitious.

When you are less ambitious, then that which you want, comes to you on its own.

It is continuously coming to you on its own. But, when you are ambitious then you close your doors. It’s like you are rushing towards the temple and God meets you on the way. Then what do you say, “Old man, older than time, make way, I have more important matters to attain to, there is the idol of God waiting for me.”

And I assure you,

God always meets you on the way, when you are going towards the temple or the mall or the office or anywhere. Change is not something so difficult that you must plunge yourself, heart and soul into it. It happens on its own.

The planets all do move around the sun. When the center is still, the planets move; change is happening on its own. None of them is trying and when you try, you only spoil things. Whatever is a cause of suffering in your life, has come out of your effort and intervention. Look into it, I challenge you, you’ll not find any bit of suffering that you have, that does not have a stamp of your contribution.

And I also invite you to see that

Whatever is delightful in your life has come to you not because of your effort.

If only you are  little less busy, you’ll find things happen on their own. If you are little less geared up to climb the rocks, you’ll find that you are already at the summit. The matter is very simple, we need not have talked so much about it. But because we are such gossip mongers so let’s have a few questions.

L25: When you talk about light for any desire how important does it actually to quantify?

AP: Quantify what? What do you want? Quantification comes three or four steps later. When you go to a shop and you want to buy some cloth. What is it that the first thing that you decide on? How much to buy or whether to buy? Quantification comes way later. First thing is the qualitative assessment-whether the thing is worth buying at all. If you find it worth buying then you say, “Alright give me four kilograms of these pulses.” But what is the first thing? You take the thing in your hands, you feel it, you try to come to close it, you figure out whether you really need it and whether what you need is this, right? And then you decide about the quantity.

Have you decided on the worth of the goal? Have you seen from where the goal comes and to whom, or, when you go to buy clothes you just say, “Alright, cut six meters.”?  What you do first? First of all, you look at everything and then you look at your budget, then you say, “Well, do I really want cloth?” Then, all that is qualitative not quantitative.

Do you really want what you are claiming that you want? Do you really want that? And if you really want that then live by your word. After getting that do not want anything else. And you have said that many a times probably in these very words-Darling I sincerely absolutely love you, you are my first and last love. And what happens after that. Why don’t you live by these words? You can’t, because you never really meant what you were saying. First, have clarity, is it really worth chasing? Is it really worth chasing?

All this while we have been saying that the chase does not bring you to the goal but the chase takes you away from the goal because the goal is very-very close to you. And here we are talking of quantifying, quantifying what? The distance is so small that it cannot be quantified. If you have to go a million miles then talking of number makes sense but if something is within an arm’s reach what is the point in quantifying and all? It is so close. Do you really want to make an arduous journey or something that is the heart’s proximity?

L5: Sir, mind is a diseased organ….

AP: If the mind is a diseased organ then why do you trust it so much?

L5: Sir, even if I am trying to see the clarity, I have to see it through mind only.

AP: If it is a diseased organ then whatever you see through it why can’t you just reject it? Then why do you trust this unfaithful servant so much? If I have a machine that continuously gives me a wrong reading, let’s say a thermometer, would I still use it and declare myself to be fit or feverish?

On one hand we come up in such humility and say,” You know the mind is a diseased organ.” And, what you do in the next moment? We act as per the advice of the mind. Yes, the mind is diseased, so, I reject whatever it says. Now let me see whether there is another way of living. May be I’ll discover that the mind is not so diseased. May be when I know that the mind is diseased, the disease evaporates.

L5: Then the mind prompts as if it is a realistic and  there is nothing other.

AP: When you do not know that all this is happening, when you are asleep then anything can happen. A snake could crawl over you. But start, by first asking what is it that allows me, rather binds me, compels me to allow snakes crawl over me even when I claim to be awake. And if I know a little of it, must I support it?

Alright! Silence, that’s a best thing. Thank you.


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

Watch the session: Ambition: The Burning Need to Achieve

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: What does it mean to be devoted to the Truth

Article 2: You are an accepted child of the Universe

Article 3: No need to work hard


Editor’s Note: 

Books by Acharya Prashant :

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/Acharya-Prashant
Flipkart: https://goo.gl/fS0zHf

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