Listener 1 (L1): Sir, I try to remind myself that I have to first start loving and respecting myself, then I think there’s a huge conflict because the moment I do love and respect myself then I am immediately reminded of thousand of things wrong with me. Then I think that there is so much I need to change in myself. How can I be perfect and beautiful?
Acharya Prashant (AP): You talked about three ways of relating to yourself: appreciating, loving and connecting. Let’s say here is this poster containing a quote. Even if you connect to it, sitting there you connect to it, yet, what remains between you and this quote? Do you become one with the quote in an attempt to connect with it?
When you appreciate it, then you also reserve the right to not to appreciate it. You chose to appreciate it but you could have chosen to not to appreciate it. So, who remains the master — You or the Poster?
With the Truth, one can neither have a relationship of connection nor admiration.
One can only surrender.
You cannot appreciate the Truth.
You can go ahead and appreciate some column in a magazine but to appreciate something is to still be the master; is to still be on top.
Today you are appreciating, tomorrow you’ll say, ‘I am not appreciating’ and even when you are appreciating, you are saying, ‘I am the one who is appreciating’. You must have connected to many things in your life, have you ever connected with anything so intimately that the connection is final, so final that it is like two miscible liquids meeting each other or salt dissolving in the sea or an embrace with the beloved which cannot be now separated?
It is never that way, right?
Whenever you connect to something or somebody, the connection is always temporal and it is going to be split in a while. Has any connection ever been resistant to time? Timeproof ? Has any connection ever been a proof to disruption? It is always vulnerable to split, is it not?
One does not relate to Truth and Beauty like that.
You know, the one who is trying to relate is the body-mind. The body-mind has read concepts, the body-mind has heard theoretically — just as you said in the beginning of your question — and the body-mind can only know concepts because it cannot go any beyond that. So, whenever it will think of the Truth, it would just be thinking of the Truth as a concept and trying to relate. With what? With Truth as an object. Now, when the body thinks of something, what else can it think of? It can only think of bodies.
Have you ever thought of something which is not limited and is not a body?
Have you ever thought of something which is not in time and space?
Even if you have the weirdest imagination, the object in your imagination will always be confined by time and space. So when you say that I am connecting to myself, this ‘I am’ that is connecting on one end and as well as the thing that you are connecting to on the other end — both are just body-mind. The body-mind here is projecting a body-mind Truth on the other end and is trying to have a connection.
First of all, that which you are connecting to is false. Truth is not an object. Second, one does not connect to the Truth, one does not go to the Truth as some kind of a reservoir of energy or inspiration. One dissolves in the truth, one disappears in the Truth, one is no more in the Truth, and that is a totally different relationship with the Truth. A relationship in which you go to die; it is not a relationship that you enter to prosper or to be inflated.
It will inevitably happen — that which you said — that one tries to connect with oneself as beautiful, admirable, as some kind of a perfection but very soon that attempt is defeated because the facts start tearing you in the face. What are the facts? “I am calling myself admirable but what did I just do? Oh! I spoiled the tea. I was making some tea and even the tea did not come off. Now, how admirable and perfect I can be if I cannot even make good tea!” Immediately the thought will come. You are admirable but the ‘you’ that now you are referring to is not you.
You are two.
The second one must worship the first one, and be dissolved in that, be surrendered to the that, and in some sense be enslaved to that. But the second one is very insecure. The second one will not surrender to the first one; instead, it will conceptualize the first one. The second one will try to have an image of the first one and then the second one just has himself pretending to be the first one. So then the second one, if it all it is worshipping, it is worshipping itself. It is not worshipping the first one instead it is worshipping itself.
Do you see this?
And when it will worship itself, it will be disappointed, why? Because it is separate from beauty and hence it considers itself different from the first one. Now, the second one is trying to worship itself and all that it will find is ugliness. It will be disappointed. Do you see why it repeatedly happens?
Do not correct to yourself; instead, just see what you are doing.
Surrender is about looking at one’s daily life which is not imaginary.
Do not try to think of an imaginary God.
Live in the facts.
See how you make tea; see how you teach someone; see how you go about doing your daily task; see how you drive; see how you enter into a relationship; see how you attend to a phone call; see how you meet a dog on the street; see what is your reaction to a tree or to a kid.
This will tell you about the second person in you because we mostly operate from the second personality. In knowing the second, we become free of the second one because knowing is impossible without the help of the first. The more you know the second one, the more it is certain that you are knowing, and knowing happens only here. Hence, the more you know the second one, the more you reach to the first one.
The second one can have information and knowledge but it can have no understanding. Knowing is understanding. When you know the second one then you have surely been functioning from the first one. So just knowing the second one is sufficient — which means paying attention to daily life, not indulging in meaningless spiritual pursue, not rushing here and there, not going to some temple, not reciting some shlokas or mantras, but just paying attention to how one deals with his customers or his patients or his relatives, how one responds to a defeat, how one responds to a victory, how one responds to a torn pair of trousers, how one responds to a toothache.
Just knowing this, will take you beyond all this.
And that is the real beauty, in that lies perfection.
L1: Sir, but how to know without judging?
AP: Continue to judge.
L1: So then, for example: I am scared of dogs and I become very uncomfortable when they are around but this very act of doing that immediately makes me judge myself that they are supposed to be such amazing creatures but I can’t even appreciate that.
AP: Two things are happening:
- One, you are afraid, and
- Second, you are also morally and socially conditioned to not to be afraid of pretty beings like dogs. As a kid, we all are taught that dogs and cats are cute beings and one should live in harmony with all nature surrounding us.
One just knows that.
“I have been spiteful, I have been detesting,” one just knows that. One doesn’t hide that. One says, “You know what I just did? I hurt that poor dog.” Now, one is simply expressing the fact, and if the fact continues beyond that — and having hurt the dog, now, I am feeling moral pangs of guilt and such things, one expresses that as well. “Now, I am experiencing guilt.” And because this game is on continuously, so this inner expression, this inner confession is also continuously on, which means it cannot take time, which means you have no time to ponder, which means that it has to be parallel to the event, which means that the event is going on and here parallel to the event, there is a reflection, there is an instantaneous realization, which is continuously going on.
So, hurting the dog — hurt the dog, feeling guilty — feeling guilty. And then time is rushing on, and something else then happens. And then there is something that is noticing all this, knowing all this. In knowing, there is no objective. In the second one, there are all judgments and objectives and you need not suppress them. Even if you suppress them, you’ll suppress with an objective. So here what is going on will remain. Let it remain. Just disown it. You stand with the second person in you, I am afraid of dogs — Yes I am afraid of dogs.
We have our friend, Joy (a volunteer) — he has this curious thing of referring to him, not in the first person.
“You know what Joy was really mean today.” And his name is Joy. “Joy was mean, right!”
Does that mean that he dislikes him due to his meanness? Probably yes, probably not — doesn’t matter. What matters is that he knew that he was mean. And this knowing is no special event because you anyway know that, you experience that. So, it is just about being honest and admitting.
L2: So, we can write a mental diary.
AP: Yes, you can do that, but in writing a diary you’ll lose your precious time. Since life is always on, so you have no time to register something in a diary. If you register something in a diary then you’ll lag behind.
Are you getting it?
Do not try to correct yourself.
There is no need to correct yourself.
Just know yourself.
And from this knowing, the best correction will come on its own.
Just know yourself.
You have no obligation to correct yourself because even if you correct yourself, you’ll correct yourself only according to a fabulous, contrived, imagined self-image. You’ll say, “I am A and I want to become B.” Now, how does A, being A, knows that B is wonderful! If A is someone who needs to be corrected, can A know that after correction, B will be good for him? A is a fool. How can then A predict a desirable state for itself? A is a fool. A is a fool that is why he needs to be corrected, otherwise what is the need for correction?
Do not have any image of what you must become.
Just know what you are.
And in that knowing, if there is any change to happen, it will happen.
The fact is — in knowing, the deepest change has already happened!
L3: Do we have to cultivate this as a habit?
AP: It is already there, just don’t suppress it. Don’t be afraid. This whole thing is not about bringing something new to you, this whole thing is just about saying “Don’t be afraid.” You already know everything. Why are you not admitting? Is honesty about going out and finding something new? Or is it about just admitting what you already know?
You already know everything that is essential.
Just live in it.
All of this will sound like a beautiful impracticality, a romantic impossibility, if you have no Faith.
If you will test this, using your mind on the scale of logic, then you’ll find all of this to be just fiction — nice to hear but impossible to live in.
To live in this, you require a certain Faith, some surrender.
At least take baby steps.
A small prayer in Sanskrit devoted to your intrinsic fullness. The fact that you are alright and lack nothing even if everything is taken away from you:
(Acharya Ji recites the prayer and the listeners follow)
ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते |
Om poornamadah poornamidam poornaat poornamudachyate
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ||
Poornasya poornamaadaaya poornamevaavashishṣyate
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ||
Om shaantih shaantih shaantih
~Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
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.