Listener: I have strong ego resistance and my ego resistance is health issues. Sometimes, I wake up at 4’O clock with this heavy migraine and today I woke up with this eye infection and these thing, they come and go.
So, I believe it is ego resistance to my meditation. If I stay in the body, if I stay in pain, I am not going to Satsang and meet somebody beautiful like you.
Acharya Prashant: I think it happens with almost everybody after the mind has been convinced, that resistance is unnecessary, then a tendency deeper than the conscious mind comes into play and that is the body. I don’t think one can do much about it. One has to live through it.
So, even when it is booming, one probably has to just carry on.
L: The ego knows me very well. My pain is physical pain. I am attached to that. If I see the mind, I can avoid it. ‘Okay! That’s the mind.’ That’s the mind, nothing. But, you know the pain. The attachment to the body, I guess.
AP: Ultimately, the ego is saying that I am not merely an idea. I am not some mental stuff, which means I am real. I make your knees wobble, I make your skin go red. So, that’s one way of ego to assert itself and prove that it is not merely fiction. There is a reality to it. The ego is saying, “Had I not been real, how would your eyes burn so much? The burning of the eyes proves that I am real.
So, in some sense the ego is real. Of course it is. One has to go through it, live through it. Yes, of course, the ego is entitled to do whatever it wants to do. Mornings are strange. Sometimes, you wake up feeling very light and sometimes you wake up feeling horrible for no reason. And it is not necessary that the reasons are physical. You may had the right diet, right exercise, not exposed yourself to the elements and still you may wake up with a pain here and there.
So, I think you are putting it just rightly. It is some kind of a final frontier.
L: Yes! I have recently a belief or convinced myself that the mind is either insane, stupid, not really necessary, and therefore whatever goes around in the mind, I can watch it, observe it. So, I got to that stage, but what about the body? What about the physical pain? So, again! May be, I need to observe it.
AP: Just observe it and if it becomes overwhelming to be observed, then groan over and cry and live through it.
And there will be occasions when it will make you groan and you know the trick is to ‘not to groan’ even while groaning. The trick is to not to be sad even while crying. Because the body has that power. Let us just admit. If the body starts paining terribly, then the body can make you dance to its tunes. The only thing is that even when you are going mad with the body, some part of you still retains that central sanity. Everything else might be going
L: Yes and I will call that as my core emptiness. Even when it’s painful, there is still a core emptiness. Someone is observing the pain anyways.
AP: And that does not mean that the pain will not be there. The Pain will be there but some point will be empty of pain. Pain will surely be there and every cell of the body might be experiencing that pain, but still there would be some little, subtle point, empty of pain.
L: Yes. Absolutely! And very strong, in my case, because I am practicing it.
AP: Very stubborn! It refuses to go into pain. So pain comes and tries to surrounds it and fails.
L: Yes! Right. So I just identify with that.
AP: That also means that one gets the total freedom to acknowledge pain. One need not suppress pain. One need not say that I am a spiritual being, so no pain for me. One then can, unabashedly, without feeling guilty or awkward, simply admit that – ‘Yes! I am in pain. That is why I am lying on the bed.’ One can then very simply, like an ordinary, normal, simple human being, just admit that yes, that is the case. One need not then pretend to be superhuman by saying that because I have been a spiritual practitioner, so no pain for me. That happens with many people.
L: Yes and that makes a resistance because the reality is different.
AP: That makes a resistance because the reality is different. So it is a kind of hypocrisy as well.
L: Okay! Right. This is what I do with the mind. I did not say that ‘Okay! My mind is pure and lets join jolly thoughts. But it is not disturbed” It comes and it goes.”
AP: Yes, and same with the mind. What is pain and excitement to the body is thoughts to the mind. So, just as one can uninhibitedly allow the body to experience pain, similarly one can allow the mind to experience thoughts, with no need to do away with thoughts, or to suppress them, or do anything about them. The mind is thought. Thoughts are the stuff of the mind. So, knowing that, seeing that, one does not interfere. One says, “What else will the mind do? Poor mind. Its central tendency is to go here and there and think.”
L: So, the body is the same.
AP: The body is the same.
L: Body is pleasure-pain?
AP: Body is pleasure-pain.
L: And if I am not accepting the pain, then it makes it worst.
AP: That’s make it even worst. Wonderful! Which makes me participant in the pleasure-pain business. I am not taking sides. I am saying-pleasure is all right and pain is not all right.
L: Yes. Absolutely. That’s what I do.
AP: One has to, you know, be a dispassionate watcher, or a referee or something.
L: Yes. That’s exactly what I do. I put myself down from getting attached or something.
AP: But, you know the trick in all this is, it is as much applicable to pleasure as it is to pain. So, just as one cannot try to suppress pain, similarly, one must not be in a hurry to
L: Get pleasure.
AP: To get pleasure, to amplify pleasure, or to prolong pleasure. So, pleasure anyway comes.
L: Yes! And I have seen this with some masters. They are in pleasure and ecstasy, but they are not so attached. But I get really attached to them. And if I don’t I get a little, disappointed.
AP: Yes! That’s the mark of a wise man. He will have no problems with pleasure, and he will have no grudge against pain. In fact, you will find him experiencing pleasure like any common man. There will just be a slight difference. The slight difference is that some point, some very sacred point will be untouched by pleasure. He will not be overwhelmed by pleasure. He will not be possessed by pleasure, which again does not mean that he will not value pleasure, he will not take part in pleasure.
L: No, I can see that he is in pleasure but he is not attached to it. It is phenomenal.
AP: You know, I have also seen people coming and saying, I had a teacher or there was this holy man, so-called “holy man”, and I found him in happiness, or I found him suffering in pain. Now, how could this be possible? So, there is this common notion, that if you are a wise man, someone who understands, someone who realizes…
L: I know a man who claims to be enlightened and performs physical miracles to cure people but he could not cure his own problem; he is a handicapped.
AP: Spirituality is not about performing physical miracles. It is about understanding that miracles are already going on. So, you don’t need any more miracles. Everything is already a miracle. So, you don’t need any more miracles. You don’t need to cure your legs, or heal your wounds or pluck out rabbits from air.
L: Yes right, I prayed to God everyday that please heal my body, please heal my body. But it did not work. I mean the condition started getting worst.
AP: You see, the very fact that you are breathing is already a miracle. Now if you want more miracles, then it will be ingratitude.
L: Thanks to God.
AP: Thanks to God for the simple fact that you can see. Otherwise, eyes are just flesh. Eyes cannot see on their own. It is some miracles behind the eyes that enables them to see. So, one cannot ask for more miracles. To ask for more miracles means that you are not contented with what you have. That is why miracles will never happen on demand, on the basis of explicit prayers.
L: But, miracles do happen for me? Like even in the rush hours I het the parking space.
AP: Yes! Of course, a calm mind is a miracle. A calm mind is a miracle and when the mind is calm, then even in the world sees things fall better in place. So, even a parking space is easier to be managed by a calm mind. It is a miracle.
L: So, I do have this experiences of miracles happening but not with this body that I am very attached to.
AP: That will remain. And you should just relish it.
L: Relish the pain.
AP: Relish the very fact of the body. You see if you do not relish it, it is such an awkward thing. You know, some skin, some flesh and some bones and you can even call it awkward. It’s just that you are habituated to look at human beings. Otherwise, why would this kind of geometrical structure, why would this kind of a physical architecture be any special? Anything worthy of being called as beautiful?
L: Well, it is just dust. When somebody dies, it is just a corpse.
AP: It is just a dust, just corpse. The body requires daily maintenance, daily cleansing, daily food and so much else, and you know, can’t even get its own nourishment. It has to go to some plant, or something to get its food. So, the body is like this. One lives with it, just as one lives with a nice dog or cat. They have their idiosyncrasies. Do you have a pet?
L: No. But I used to have a cat.
AP: Did the cat always behave as per your expectations?
L: No. Stupid!
AP: That’s how the body is. But still one likes cat. Still cats are cute.
L: And you can also hug them and they give you pleasure because you have some physical touch.
AP: But they also mess around.
L: And they carry diseases.
AP: They carry diseases. And they can break your brass ware. They can piss anywhere. So that’s how the body is. Like a pet cat but still beautiful. You don’t let go of the pet cat, right? You still take care of it.
L: And there is still pleasure, and the pain.
AP: There is still pleasure and the pain. And the pet that you love is an instrument of so much learning. Same is the body.
L: And, also every scripture says that pain-pleasure is the same. It’s the one coin. If you will have pleasure, you will have pain. If you will have pain, you will have pleasure.
AP: Yes, of course.
L: But, my ego does not like this one, the pain part. This is the trouble.
AP: This is not a trouble. It is simple – ‘The ego does not like pain’. Full stop. There is no trouble in it. ‘The ego dislikes pain.’ Full stop. ‘The ego likes pleasure.’ Full stop.
L: Okay! So what?
L: Okay! I am unaffected. The real ‘me’ is unaffected. The ego is just making a huge drama, out of nothing.
AP: And the ego is justified in doing that because that is the nature of the ego.
L: Yes! Fighting for its life.
AP: Let the ego do that and don’t even judge the ego. Don’t condemn it. Don’t say that ‘No. It is not proper.’ Because what else the poor ego will do?
A spiritual life is a very ordinary life. It is not as if we perform supernatural feats. You are sitting in the sun. It gets a little too hard and you walk into the shade. The same old pain-pleasure principle. You are sitting and reading and after a while, you feel like eating, you go and eat. You are walking in the night. After a while, you feel like sleeping, you go and sleep. And all of that is somewhere related to pain and pleasure. So, the spiritual mind has no problems with pain and pleasure.
When pain comes, he knows it is pain and when pleasure comes, he knows it’s pleasure. And he is absolutely nonchalant. He will cry in pain, he will laugh in pleasure. He will look so ordinary. And if you have an image of a spiritual one that he does not experience pain and pleasure, then you will be puzzled, because he will weep and cry and groan.
Apparently, he will be totally involved. Superficially, he will be totally involved. But some very, very subtle point, the point that you cannot even talk of, that subtle point will be beyond involvement. It will be so fulfilled in itself, that no pain and pleasure can effect it anymore.
L: Yes. So, ‘I have this and I know this.’
AP: But that point is not a superficial point. That point is not something of behaviour. At the behaviour level, at the sensory level, you will only see the expressions of pain or pleasure, of all kind of worldly experiences, and commensurate responses, which is all so nice, all so befitting, just like the soil, just like the wind, just like the butterfly…
L: Every stone is different.
AP: Every stone is different.
L: But, my physical conditions, they change very fast. Not like a doctor thing, where you go to and wait. I attend Satsangs and they are gone.
AP: In fact, one would prolong them by trying to do something about them. If one try to do something about them, one would unnecessarily give energy to them.
L: This is what I try to do. To try for some pill or something…
AP: Then you will end up giving some energy to them. So avoid that as much as possible.
L: Okay! What if its diarrhoea? (Listener laughs)
AP: Only as long as possible. When it becomes inevitable, obviously take a pill.
L: And have you also experienced these kind of things?
You know, only thing is one doesn’t block it. That’s the only requirement. Don’t block it, and it has so much to say, so much to tell and Life tell the same story again and again in new, original, delightful ways. The essence of the story is the same. But its retold, retold, and retold. And Life says- ‘I will keep narrating it to you till you get the message.’
L: So the ego has a program that goes running around?
AP: And it must be allowed to run that way. Anything that you do with the movement of the ego only creates more unfulfilled actions, only gives energy to the pre-existing restlessness. So, the movement should be left alone to run its course, get exhausted, burn itself down and disappear. Your participation only prolongs the whole cycle. But still, you may choose to participate. Nothing wrong with that either.
L: I participate in the pleasure part and run away from the pain.
AP: One doesn’t have a choice in that. If you participate in the pleasures, you will be compelled to participate in the pain as well.
L: So, I need to enjoy the pain?
AP: I don’t quite know what is meant to enjoying the pain because that is quite a paradox to the mind. I would rather more humbly put it- ‘Live through the pain’, because if pain is there and you are not really pretending, the fact is by definition, pain is something that one does not like. So calling it as an enjoyment or something to me is just a verbal cover up. Instead of that one simply says ‘Survive the pain, live through it, wear it, groan, gruntle…
AP: Complaint. Remiss if you would. And if you feel like, you may beat your hands to the walls, or shout at someone, do whatever you want to do. Pass through it.
The energy contained in the pain needs to be burned out. So you have no option but to really go through it.
L: Yes. The natural thing when pain comes is to moaning, or groaning…
AP: And not to act spiritual. Not try to act spiritual because that is just a pretence, like an animal. Have you seen an animal in pain?
L: Oh yes! They moan, groan…
AP: So, give yourself all the freedom to wail like a puppy and not to act too respectable. You must complaint to the entire world and act fussy, and demand attention, just like puppy does.
L: And this is what I do, when the pain comes, I try to hide it and all and I am embarrassed.
AP: We anyway do that. But no need to hide and feel embarrassed. No need to hide at all. There is nothing embarrassing about yelling in pain. One need not deliberately do that, but if the pain is so intense, then the yelling out is the part of the pain, part of the whole process. One need not cut it down. It’s an organic whole. It should be allowed to pass through completely.
L: Well, I got a sprain in my leg, and it starts paining a lot and I couldn’t walk and then everybody around me were helping me and I was enjoying that everybody is helping me.
AP: And even this enjoyment that everybody helps you is a kind of subtle trick of the ego for which the ego need not be condemned or censored. The ego is a child, a naughty child. It takes pleasure in all these things. You know somebody comes to help you and you allow yourself to take the pleasure, contained in getting that attention. And even while you are seeing that this pleasure is there and there is this entity within you which is hungry for pleasure and which is hungry for attention, you are all right with it, you are even sympathetic towards it. You are sympathetic towards that within you which is so hungry that it wants others appreciations, others help, others touch.
L: Just enjoy the show..?
AP: Just enjoy the show and don’t be too harsh on the happening.
L: Because it is coming and going?
AP: Comes and goes. And even if you are too harsh on something, what will happen? Has anything happen by being too harsh on something? And has anything happened by praising something very eloquently?
L: People don’t like it. I hide the ecstasies of pleasure.
AP: Did you see the teacher? He was the real teacher. He came and blessed us and went away. He gave us the best example of living through life. Hop around here and there. Get something to eat. If you can’t get something to eat, then pinch something, steal something, sink your teeth on something, manage a bite and when somebody abuses you and then run away. And then go to someone and act cute, and then feel nice when somebody lifts you up and all of that is life. This cuteness, this warmth, this nerve, this pinching, this stealing, this guilt, and this awkwardness, and all of that is life and one lives through it. Like a puppy.
(Listener laughs again)
L: Yes! It is a good example.
AP: I have rabbits that live with me and they go and bite into the books I have with me, they bite them. You know, they like the taste of the paper, and they spoil my bed and their droppings are there all around. So, what does one do? Sometimes, I get angry at them and at other times, I just pick them up and cuddle them and…body. That’s how the body is. And every day I have to provide them food, just as one provides the food to the body and every day I have to clear their poo, just as one clears with the body. And happens infrequently, I have seen a couple of them die as well. One day, this body too will die. I have seen their young ones take birth. This body too took birth one day. And one day, it will die.
L: And that’s why you need to accept the body as it is!
AP: And you know how it feels when the rabbit, you have been with since years, when it dies in front of you, it’s not a thing of detachment. You don’t act spiritual at that time. You cry. And there is no shame in cry. There is no shame at all in crying. In fact, there was one rabbit that I was really attached to. I am specifically using the word “attachment”. When he died, I cried for months. Even today, I feel guilty that I could have done more to save him. And that’s life or is life about escaping to some mountain peak and acting superhuman.
L: No! Coming to Rishikesh is enough. (Referring to the place where the session was happening)
AP: But you know! Here we have people who subject themselves to highest austerities and rigorous asceticism, and they sit there in zero temperatures with the minimal of clothing. Is life not already teaching us profusely, profoundly?
L: Yes. I had enough.
AP: The plate is full. The plate is already full.
This is that rabbit. (Showing the picture of the rabbit.)
L: Oh! Beautiful.
AP: She died in my arms three years back. She was such a sweetheart. She had a problem in her legs and she kept fighting and fighting. The doctor, the vet head suggested that she may be euthanized, but I refused. And daily she would live through pain and her wounds would be dressed, but she would still be so sprightly, so full of life and very loving and then she died, for no reason, suddenly. So that’s life. What should then one do? Go to a Veda, a Upanishad and recite mantras. No. One cries. Your tears are more sacred than Upanishadic chants.
L: Because we are moving through something.
AP: Yes, of course! Because that what is.
L: And that’s how the body reacts.
AP: That’s what is. That’s what you are. What is the point in chanting that you are the Atman and all that? You are the Atman personified. And the person must be laugh and cry and live.
L: But keeping that infinite space there?
AP: It is anyway there. One need not even talk about it.
L: So, spiritual practice is about remembering that I am divine?
AP: No. It is about not remembering unnecessary stuff. What is really imanent cannot be a subject of remembrance. The fact that you are the divine, is not to be remembered via the memory. It is far more subtle. Memory will not be able to store it. It will not be within the grasp of memory. So you cannot remember that you are the divine. One has to in fact forget everything regarding divinity and simply live in the most ordinary way. And when you have forgotten all the concepts about God, then you are living in a Godly way.
L: But, I have been doing that all my life and so I think I should progress?
AP: But how can you progress? If you are already what you are, where you are, what kind of progress is possible? The fact is in matters of real, there is such self-sufficiency, that progress is not possible at all. So the phrase, spiritual advancement is a misnomer. It is an oxymoron. There is nothing called spiritual progress. What the Atman is going to progress or something? Become more perfect?
L: No. Not possible.
AP: So, the Atman is what it is and the ego is what it is. And the only way the ego can be surrendered to the Atman is by being what it is. If you push around with the ego, you only give more energy and more distortion to it.
L: Yes. You are right. Feeding the ego by resistance.
AP: By resistance or by desires or by trying to give it a holy shape. You know “holy ego”. So the only way the ego comes to a point of wilful surrender is when it is allowed to run its course.
L: Allowed by whom?
AP: Allowed by the one who would resist.
L: So, what about the question ‘Who am I?’
AP: Does it come to you naturally?
AP: So don’t burden yourself with it.
This question ‘Who am I?’ can never come to one naturally because one is anyway full of so many answers to this question. The question arises only when the answer is apparently not known. If I know I am the body, I am a professional, or I am an Indian or I am a Christian, or I am a women, all these statements of identity, if they are already known then there is no way that the question ‘Who am I?’ is going to arise and it is good that it does not arise because if it arises then it would be another thing I hypocrisy, because you already know the answers and you are still asking the question. To ask a question, is it not obvious that first of all, he should not be full of answers.
So, rather than ‘Who am I?’ one may just limit herself to fully well experiencing ‘What one is living as?’ ‘What one is living as?’ Not ‘Who am I?’ But ‘I am’. Come directly to the answers, which were already there but you suppress them. WE suppress those answers. I may fully well know, let’s say ‘I am lustful’, or “greedy”, “envious” or “cunning”, do I acknowledge that? Especially when I am so-called “spiritual mind”? Will I ever acknowledge that I am “greedy” or “envious”? No. I don’t.
AP: Otherwise, my entire self-image of being spiritual will be spoiled.
So, far better than asking an imaginary question and coming to an imaginary silence is to experience the chaos within. All the conflict of identities, all the crowd, all the pleasure and pain associated with living in identities. There are teachers who suggest “Who am I?” and also suggest an answer. They say ask “Who am I?” and then experience the silence. The honest fact is whenever you will ask “Who am I?” you will experience a ruckus noise, not silence. But if the practitioners of this method are told to deliberately experience the silence then they would. Because that’s what their teachers have told them. And it would just be cultivated silence, an artificial silence of no value at all.
Silence is not something predetermined, premeditated. Silence is something that arises when the mind is clear of its preoccupations.
If the question “Who am I?” itself becomes a “preoccupation”, then where is the question of “Silence”?
So, don’t get involved in too many fancy tricks. Live like a puppy and that is sufficient.
L: You are a funny Guru.
AP: Sometimes there will be resistance by the ego, experience the resistance also. Sometimes there will be encouragement by the ego, experience that as well. This whole spectrum of “this” and “that”; that is life.
L: So, saying mantra is also the same thing? It fills your head. Does it work?
AP: No. By definition, it can’t. It consoles the spiritual quest, but who wants consolations? We want the real thing.
L: Who want consolations to life? It’s a substitute for life. So, instead of having life, we say “mantra”.
AP: Of course. No substitute can ever be a patch on life. A substitute is just a substitute.
L: It also causes pain, this mantra thing.
AP: It causes pain and it also causes obfuscation. It’s like trying to hide something. There is no need to hide anything. One can be shameless in these things. So much of it is just happening of the feeling of guilt and shame.
L: So, in your opinion the shift happens through acceptance?
AP: No shift is needed. Even the imagination that a change is needed rests on the assumption that there is something wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with the puppy. Do you really want to transform a puppy? Do you really want to enlighten a puppy?
AP: Do you really want a puppy who is reciting mantras and talking wise stuff?
L: No. Just cute.
AP: I want a stupid puppy.
The body is stupid and there is no doubt about it and…
L: And the ego is worse…
AP: And the ego is stupid, horrible and that’s why so delightful.
L: And lovable. We love the puppy more than we love the dog.
AP: Of course. Dogs, they become trained. They come to realize that what the master wants them to do. What the master doesn’t want them to do.
L: And the puppy is totally spontaneous.
AP: Totally spontaneous and on certain days, they can give you hell.
L: So, what is the thing with the “acceptance”?
Acceptance is a very natural thing and it is blocked only by ideals and concepts.
And many of those ideals are spiritual ideals. So spirituality then becomes harmful because spiritual ideals are just causing many people to block life.
L: I think it do like you say that I wanted to get perfect.
AP: And perfect in outwards sense, not inwardly perfect. Had you wanted things inwardly perfect, you would have seen that inwards, everything is already perfect.
L: Means divine.
AP: Yes, of course.
We want things perfect in a behavioural sense, in a way of appearance, in a way of movement, in a way of sensory articulations.
L: So, acceptance is the…
AP: You don’t even need to accept. What I am asking you is how can you reject it when the wall is there?
This wall is here. What do you mean by rejecting the wall?
L: Needs mantras. (Listener laughs)
AP: You can throw thousands mantras to this wall. It will remain.
L: Oh! Okay. You are right. My mother is 93 and she says everyday blesses me. She had to struck in a hospital and she says every day is blessing from God.
AP: Every breath. And if you are calling life an illusion, is it not some kind of an insult to God? If you are calling you fears, pain, your laughter an illusion is it not an insult to God?
L: Yes. We also hear that “It is not right. It should be different.”
AP: It should be different. As if you have better plans than God.
L: ‘I only want the pleasure but not the pain.’
Or I don’t want both, pleasure and pain. There are spiritual people who says we want none of them.
AP: Once, I asked someone, ‘Can you renounce two of your tooth?’ ‘Can you renounce your tongue?’
Why do you need a renunciation? Who is the renunciator?
Thanks you so much. You are so valuable to me and I just love your purity.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: The Myth of acceptance
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