Acharya Prashant (AP): A small particle of snow starts falling from a hillside. As it keeps rolling down the slope what does it gather?
Listener 1 (L1): More snow
AP: More snow. And ultimately it becomes quite big. So, if you ask, “Who is it that has become big?”
Has the first particle become big? No. Has the second particle become big? No.
It is just an accumulation of influences. In fact, the entire snow on the entire slope of the mountain is now being represented in the form of the snowball.
So, who are you?
You are a representation of the entire journey of mankind; the whole evolution.
Travelling, travelling, travelling — you have picked up so much.
And you are only that which you have picked up.
Is the snowball anything except that which it has picked up?
Is the snowball anything except that which it has picked up? So you are also that.
L2: I do not understand these things.
AP: Don’t go too far back, start from your immediate thing.
Some part of your genetic configuration comes from your father, some from your mother. Father took it from many other places; mother also took it from many other places.
So, to whom does it belong? To everybody.
Don’t you see that?
It is everybody who finds an expression in you. But the expression is partial.
But the expression is partial.
L2: In terms?
AP: In terms that the snowball cannot totally represent all the snow. It will only represent that which it has experienced. So, the expression is partial in that sense and that is why people differ. People differ because their evolutionary journeys have been different.
L3: This is a gathering; that is a gathering.
AP: You are a gathering. She is a gathering. I am a gathering.
L3: You don’t make efforts after being born in a human form. So, this effort is of the self? Whose effort is it?
AP: You see the difference between man and an animal has to be understood. Why have people continuously talked about the importance of human life (Manushya Janam)? You hear that so very often and that’s what, you are saying, confuses you.
Man thinks; man is conscious; man analyzes. Now, this analysis, this thought, this yearning to know and to be peaceful, to be relaxed in knowledge can work two ways:
Either it can make you understand your primal conditioning which is your animal nature, and liberate you from animal nature as well. We are all born animals; we are all born like puppies and kittens. Puppies and kittens remain what they are. They have no longing to be liberated, at least, no conscious longing to be liberated.
Liberated from what? Liberated from the cycle of birth and death, from wanting, not wanting, from experiencing, from suffering pain and pleasure – they are alright as they are – settled, contented. And that is not too bad a place to be in. You are alright with your limitations. You are alright as a dog. Man is not alright as man. Do you see this? And as his brain develops, as his age grows, he becomes even more restless.
You look at a human infant and you look at a puppy — not much difference. You look at a dog and you look at a man — a lot of difference. Man is not alright just being man. Man is a restlessness.
Now that can go in two dimensions, in two different ways:
One way is that he starts depending on thought for liberation. Now, thought — and wherever thought comes from which is the society — will become another layer on the mind. You were already an animal, now you also become a social being, a thinking being. You started thinking so that you can be liberated from your animalistic instincts. You did not like that you were a prisoner of lust, fear, insecurity; these are things that even an animal experiences, does it not?
You did not like all that. So that you may be liberated, you turned towards thought; you turned towards the order of thought which manifests itself as civilization, in social terms. So, you did all those things. But all those things, instead of liberating you from the animal, just became another beast on your mind. So, you were already the animal and now you are animal plus the new beast. And the new beast is ideas, thoughts, social conditioning, concepts, books, knowledge — this is man’s predicament. This is what usually happens.
But there is an alternative.
The second way is that man, instead of depending on thoughts, depends on something or somebody else and then thought remains just an instrument, a tool. Man is restless, he is bound to go to something; he is bound to depend on somebody. He can either depend on his own capacity, which is the capacity of the thinking mind or he could depend upon something beyond himself which is the Truth or God; which is the state of surrender. And if man surrenders, then instead of thought becoming another bondage, the same thought can liberate. The same thought can enable man to move not only into thoughtlessness but also into instinctlessness.
Thought when coming from the right point, when surrendered to That which is beyond thought takes you to that deep meditative point where not only are you free of thoughts – Vichaar, but also free of instincts – Vritti. And now you are liberated not only from the society but also from the animal. Are you getting it?
Now, you are the Buddha.
Man is born as dog and then becomes worse than dog. So, the dog is usually better than the man. Man is born as dog but progressively becomes worse than the dog — doubly conditioned. The dog is just physically conditioned, man becomes both physically and socially conditioned; worse than the dog.
But it is possible for the man to go beyond a dog. Dog will remain a dog – born a dog, died a dog. Man is born as dog but it is not necessary that he will die a dog. He can die a Buddha. In fact, only the Buddha dies. Others continue living as a dog. Their evolutionary journey continues. Now they are a dog, next they will be a cat, then they will be born as a human being and somebody will come and say, “Oh! It is such great fortune for them that they are now human beings.” It’s nothing.
The dog became the parrot; the parrot became the river; the river became the bacteria; the bacteria became the elephant; the elephant will someday become the man. Not only the elephant, you know, you are the elephant plus the jackal plus the whale plus the dust from Jupiter plus all the amoeba plus the plankton – everything – all rolled into one. And you can be freed of all that. That is in man to die to all that. The dog just keeps rolling on. The dog keeps rolling on, till it dies to its doghood. And that death is possible only when the dog ultimately becomes a man. Only man has the capacity to die. But usually, I repeat, man will fall below the dog; not be liberated from the dog.
Still, this birth as a man, this life as a human being is precious because at least, it is an opportunity. It is mostly an opportunity that is squandered. It is mostly a chance that goes waste but at least the chance exists. So, that is why the sages have talked so much about human birth, are you getting it?
L2: So, the opportunity is for the life itself? For whom is the opportunity?
AP: For you — the one who is asking the question. The one who is eager and restless to ask.
L1: That is my mind.
AP: That is ‘you’; not ‘my mind’. That is you.
L1: That is me, exactly. But that’s again a gathering!
AP: That’s again a gathering but this gathering is a very active gathering, soon it will produce a baby. It has a way of continuing into the future. It rolls on, it’s an evolutionary mega roller, has a great momentum, doesn’t want to stop. In many ways, it rolls on. To roll on is to have an influence on the future. You can have an influence on the future, if you produce a baby. You can have an influence on the future if you condition somebody. You can have an influence on the future if you leave your marks and stains on the earth. You can have an influence on the future if you create any ripples in the great ocean of consciousness. Now, you are leaving something behind which will carry forward in the future. So, that is how the whole journey continues.
We do not allow the whole thing to die, we always leave behind something, either a body or an idea or some effect, some influence. You know, like those idiots who go to temples and what do they do on the walls?
L3: They write their names…
AP: They etch their names. “Leave something behind.”
Where there is nothing, we want to leave a trace. That’s the whole mechanism is about —insecure; wanting to continue.
L4: Sir, it is a hundred percent privilege of man only to…
AP: It is not only a privilege, it is mostly a misfortune. Don’t be bloated up. To be born a man is mostly less of a privilege and more of a misfortune. Remember, a dog does never fall from its dog-level. Have you ever seen a totally corrupted dog, a vicious planning dog, a dog with a nuclear arsenal? Ever seen a dog?
To be born a man is mostly a great misfortune. However, still, it must be relished as the slim opportunity it offers. Only a Buddha takes that opportunity; one in a million.
For most people, to be born as man is to be doubly conditioned.
Only for Buddha, it means freedom from conditioning to be born as a man.
We are just being optimistic when we sing about the virtues of Manush Janam (human birth). Potentially, yes, to be born a human baby is wonderful, but only potentially!
You must observe both — the social man and the physical animal.
If you observe the social man truly, you will have immediate freedom from social conditioning.
And if you observe the physical animal closely, you will have immediate freedom from physical conditioning.
Having observed a dog and bitch playing the game of mating, of sexual union, you will know what your urges are all about. Then, all that which is corrupted in your sexual movements will vanish. When you will look at the movement, the endeavours of the bitch, when you will look at the desperation of the dog, then you will not be able to avoid seeing that both the dog and the bitch exist in you and your partner. Then, all your romantic notions about your love affair will simply vanish.
You look at the bitch taking care of the puppies, you see how ferocious she is when she is guarding the puppies, you also see that it is also cyclical, just some hormones rise within her and she feels like becoming a mother — nothing more to it. The season passes away; the urge too passes away. The puppies grow up, the bitch has nothing to do with the puppies. Have you not seen that?
It is all so prescripted — the female animal will want to become a mother, the baby will be born and there will be an attachment between the mother and the baby and then the season will pass away. And then she will again want to become a mother. Now, how can you take your own urge to become a mother seriously?
And now, even if you do become a mother, you will be a mother of a very different quality. Now, you would have gone beyond the dog. Now, you have gone past the bitch. Now you are really a mother. But that cannot happen unless you see, that what you usually call as sacred motherhood, it is just that — the very mechanical, biological game.
Observe animals, that will give you freedom from all that which is animal within you.
And observe society, that will give you freedom from all that which is social within you.
But even as you observe them, observe them from the point of Truth — that is the most important.
And if ever you have to choose between the social and the animal, what must you choose?
The animal. Because the social is doubly conditioned, the animal is at least just an animal. The best thing is to not choose at all or to choose only the Truth. But if ever you are faced with this choice that you must choose your bondage, now what must your bondage be, the social bondage or the animal bondage? Then go for the animal bondage. The animal bondage will be easier to break.
If you choose a partner because of social constraints, you are doomed. If you choose a partner because he or she appears attractive to you, appears handsome or fertile, this too is a curse but this is a smaller curse.
If your meeting with your partner is a social meeting — the social man is meeting the social woman — then it is a doubly doomed meeting. Better than this is the wild man meeting the wild woman without any social considerations. That too has its own bondage, but that is a weaker bondage, a smaller bondage. So better than meeting your man or woman socially, is to meet your man or woman like a wild animal.
And better than both of these is to meet not only man, not only woman but the whole universe in Love.
Not as a social being, not as an animal being but just as the Atman.
And then, as the Atman, do whatever you want to do. The Atman, anyway, never does anything.
The Atman, anyway, never does anything.
~Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Man is a restlessness
Book of Myths:
This is the most challenging book one can ever come across. It will questions all the popular beliefs one harbours. Never imposing itself on the reader, at the same time the book facilities a thorough enquiry of popular knowledge which is blindly accepted as an obvious fact. It demolishes our so called holy concepts.
If you are someone who has read anything on self-help or on spirituality this book is a must for cleaning of spiritual information.