Acharya Prashant: Mind of the so called ordinary Sansari (worldly man), is full of thoughts about obtaining power, prestige, comforts, money and such things. And often the mind of the so called spiritual seeker is filled with thoughts of obtaining liberation.
The concept of liberation is such that it stands with the concept of addition and subtraction, which is the law of mind, and stands against certain other concepts. For example it says that if you have to obtain enlightenment then you have to drop certain things.
Gaining enlightenment, dropping certain things, are said to go together. Gaining enlightenment and dropping certain things have one thing in common: gaining and dropping. What is often ignored is that gaining and dropping are very well within the purview of mind. The mind actually loses nothing, by adding another concept or by declaring another concept to be false.
The old concept was – money gives you happiness. The new concept is – enlightenment gives you the highest happiness. Now, kindly do not think that money has been dropped. Money was just a means to pursue some end. The mind has chanced upon some other way of pursuing that end, more effectively. What one man pursues through money, the other man pursues through enlightenment. What one man pursues through physical pleasure, the other man pursues through liberation. It is another matter that, in pursuing liberation, he is prepared to drop physical pleasure. It is another matter that in pursuing enlightenment, he is prepared to drop money.
But this dropping is not really dropping because it is involving, a greater filling up. And in any case, pluses and minuses, are something that the mind is very comfortable with. The old habit of arithmetic – drop this, get that, buy this, sell that.
Where there is neither an addition of Nirvana, nor removal of Samsara, where Samsara is not discriminated from Nirvana. ..
A truly liberated one, the Buddha, does not see Nirvana, as anything at all.
Please understand, what he sees. He sees Samsara to be empty. Deluded beings look at Samsara, and find it very meaningful. Meaningful in the sense that it is going to be a provider of something to them. A provider of meaning. Most people look at the Samsara, and find it substantial. It carries a weightage, right?
It promises, it threatens. And promise and threat, make the world very significant for the mind. So, for the deluded mind, the maximum that can be obtained, and whatever he can obtain, he can obtain only from the world, because for him only the world, Samsara exists. The maximum that can be obtained from the world, is, what the world seems to promise. The maximum security that he can have from the fear that the world gives, is the security that the world itself can give. His fears lie within the world, and his so called freedom from fear, also lies within the world. He will be afraid of one man, and he will be looking towards another man to give him freedom from that fear.
You are running hard because, somebody scares you. And you are running towards another man, who you think, would offer you protection. Both are within the world. And that is the life of the regular mortal.
The Buddha, sees the world to be empty. Empty in the sense that anything that the world seems to offer, is dependent on something else, within the world. If there is fear in the world, it is based on a promise that freedom from fear is within the world. You are fearing one man, and running towards another man to get security. The Buddha says, it is not possible.
In being afraid of one man, and in running towards another man, the same thing is happening. In fact you couldn’t have been afraid on one man, had you not known that there is security elsewhere. And the other man is offering you security, only against the fear that somebody else is threatening you with. Fear and security are going together hence both are meaningless. As the Buddha says, “Dependent on each other, originating together.”
The promise of security makes you feel, more fearful. And security itself has no meaning, if there is no fear. As the Buddha says, “Why raise an imaginary fear?”
I am raising this fear, it does not really exist. Fear is empty. The other side of duality, the second pole of duality, if I take that away, the first pole falls on its own. Pay attention to what what the Buddha says, “The World is empty.” This emptiness of the World itself is Nirvana. So, the World is Nirvana. This emptiness of the World itself, is Nirvana. No additions, no deletions, simple realization. “Where there is neither an addition of Nirvana, nor a removal of Samsara, there, what Samsara is discriminated from what Nirvana?” They cannot be discriminated. There is really no difference between them.
To know the Samsara, for what it is, is Nirvana. To know ‘you’ as ‘you’ is Nirvana. To know ‘me’ as ‘me’ is Nirvana. To know ‘you’ as ‘me’ and ‘me’ as ‘you’ is Nirvana. To know the substance and the emptiness of things, is Nirvana. When you know what a thing is, what an object is, are you adding something to the object, are you deleting something from the object?
To the Buddha the World itself is Nirvana.
That is why, a Buddha, realized man, or a Saint, has no ambitions of another World. He knows all Worlds are the same. And this ‘knowing’ is liberation. They are all the same and they are all devoid of significance.
No world can give you something beyond themselves. This is what is meant by saying that ‘all worlds are devoid of significance’. All Worlds offer you, only what they have. Unfortunately, for you, whatever the Worlds have, they have in pairs. Pairs of opposites. So, when you want liberation, they give you…Bondage. So, now you are bonded to liberation. You got liberation, alright, along with…Bondage. Because that is the nature of Worlds. To give you a pair. Never give you something solitary.
The Buddha alone, is solitary. He does not have a companion. In the World, everything comes with a partner. Want something, get something else.
L: When we are saying, “Buddha alone is solitary.” Buddha means, realized being. So, they are realized and non-realized beings in the World.
AP: The Buddha is not the man, that you see walking. You have just met Nagarjuna, and he might have told you that the Buddha is the Sky. In the sky, thousands of men and women walk. The Buddha is not something ‘of the world’. ‘Buddhahood’ shines in some beings at some points in time, but no being can be labeled as a Buddha. Why are you not a Buddha as you are asking this question? And that does not ensure that you will remain a Buddha when you go to take your dinner tonight. Surely then, that which I am referring to as the Buddha, is not the body that just spoke. Because much of that body will remain the same, a couple of hours later also.
Buddha is that very same emptiness that Nagarjuna is talking of. The Samsara is so beautiful, the Samsara is, of course it is, if you would say, it is not. The Samsara is… Empty. It is and it is…Empty.
Will he renounce the world? To renounce is to, make it significant.
Will he be attached to the World? To be attached to the World is to give it significance. Will he preach that the World does not exist? Oh, it does exist. And it is…Empty.
Will he preach that the World does exist? Then he will say, how can empty things exist?
The World IS, and IT IS EMPTY. The mind does not like the Buddha, it gives nothing to the mind to hold.
Sir, tell me one thing, “Is it? Or is it not?”
Sir, it surely IS ………………………………………Empty.
So, what am I attending to? We said, just reading the Doha (couplet), or the Shloka, is nothing, it has to be immediately relatable to Life. What am I attending to right now, to the Buddha or to the recording?
The question of ‘OR’ exists, within Samsara. ‘OR’ means, plus and minus, business. You will get only if you give. This is ‘OR’. You cannot have both. But really, when the mind ‘is’ in ‘it’. Then emptiness is not divided. You cannot divide zeroes. All emptinesses, go together. That is what is meant, when the Buddha says, that the Samsara and Nirvana are not different.
Attending to Nagarjuna, and attending to recording, are not different. They are one, and parallel, and simultaneous, and concurrent. And if you cannot attend to the recording, right in the moment when you are deeply with the Buddha, then you are not with the Buddha. How does it happen? How could you be talking of the Buddha Sky and yet be conscious of the recorder there. Who the hell is conscious? Who is talking? You assume as if these two are different things, coming from different sources. As if these are two different things, arising from different centers.
Consciousness, does not allow the mind to work at all. It allows it to over work, alright. It does not allow the mind to work. So, better, not to work through consciousness. Better, not to have your words come from consciousness. Better, not to remember the camera, in consciousness. Then how does one remember. One does not need to.
Does the sky need to remember, what all is within it? Because, it is all encompassing, all is within it. ‘Consciousness’ needs to remember, because consciousness is like this room. A few things will be within it, a few things will be outside, so you need to remember, what is within this room. The Sky, the Buddha, does not need to remember anything. Room is empty, what is to be remembered. All emptinesses are within the room.
Samsara and Nirvana are one.
But if you are obsessed with the Samsara, you will be obsessed with the recording. If you are obsessed with the Nirvana, you will be obsessed with the speaking on the Buddha. But if you know both of them to be one, then speaking and recording go together. And there is no distinction: together, parallel, simultaneous. If you cannot remember the two together, then you know neither of them.
I have heard you people say this many times, that when the World becomes too much upon us, then we forget God or Truth, or the scriptures. If that be the case, then you know neither the World, nor the Truth. Either both of them are together, in the thick of Worldly action, you must remember the Truth. In the thick of the Worldly action, when you know that this action is just an action, it signifies nothing; you know the Truth. When else, would you be with the Truth? When there is nothing to do?
But for most of us, Truth is a spare time activity. When there is nothing else to do, when we are free, when we will go to an exotic spiritual camp that is when you will remember the Truth. Right now, I am occupied in my mundane affairs, kindly do not disturb me. Right now, I am with my wife, do not disturb me. Right now, I am busy, in my job or my project and I am being buffeted from all sides, this is no time to talk of the Truth. You then are a very poor worker.
If you do not remember the Truth in the middle of your work, then not only are you a very poor seeker, you are an equally poor worker.
What does the Buddha say? The World is Empty.
When does he say that? When he has emerged out of the World? Is he standing at some point outside the Universe?
Standing ‘in’ time and space, the Mind is declaring time and space to be empty.
So, when you are talking of the Buddha, you are deeply immersed in spiritual discourse, do remember your dinner and your sandwich, and the money you are carrying in the pocket. Sounds strange…Almost irreligious. Because a religious man, we have been told, would be so immersed in the name of God, that they would forget everything about the Samsara. The Buddha is not saying that.
The Buddha is saying that even as you are talking of the Buddha, keep eating your sandwich.
Because, both, the Buddha and the sandwich are equally Empty.
If you can distinguish between the Buddha and the Sandwich, then the sandwich won’t taste good.
To know the real taste of the sandwich, know it to be as empty as the Buddha.
The Buddha is the sandwich.
Do not compartmentalize.
L: What do you exactly mean by this emptiness? Does it mean meaningless?
AP: Devoid of even, meaninglessness. Meaning has a meaning in your mind. Meaninglessness has a meaning in your mind. Emptiness means, devoid of meaning, and devoid of even meaninglessness.
A sandwich would make the mind feel better. It has no meaning, and it has no meaninglessness either. That is emptiness.
L: Why are we saying then, the sandwich IS?
AP: Of course, it is.
L: But it is empty.
AP: Don’t insult the sandwich.
L: We fear it, but it is empty. Problems are, but they are empty.
L: There is this quote here, that when you investigate the mind, you find out that there is nothing like it. Whatever you are thinking is your conditioning. So, does this also signify the emptiness of the mind?
AP: Emptiness of mind has no significance, neither does anything signify it. When it is empty, obviously it is empty of all significances as well. You are trying to add too much sauce to the sandwich, it will taste bad.
You must have a taste for blandness. Emptiness is a bland sandwich. It is. But it is not. To the tongue it has no taste. Yet it is.
L: Sir, we talk about, let the first be first. But that would not fit in here.
AP: It does. Let the First be first. And since there is nothing there except the first, hence the first is empty. If there is only one student in the class, what is the point of calling him first? Yet he is the First. Just realize that all students are empty, the classroom itself is empty. And what you are calling as first, is the only one student, which is the name you have given to emptiness.
When there is nobody in the class, yet there is somebody that somebody is?
So, those who have known, have said – there is somebody in the class. Who is that somebody? The all-pervading emptiness. The room has something. What is that something?
That Nothing, is first.
So, First of all you have to understand that there are no second, third, or fourth students. The count stops after One. So, the First be definitely be the First. See the emptiness of the two, three, four, five, six; there is nothing but the First. And then also see that the First fills up the entire class.
The First, is not a limited physical entity. That great, pervasive emptiness is what you call as the First. You will not be able to point out, that within the classroom, that one student is the First student. If you would look, you would not find anything.
You will not find anything, because you are looking for something specific. Hindus have always said, Brahm is Nirvishesh. When you will open the door and try to find a student, you will not find anybody. But if your eyes are not full of expectations, and then you would see, then you will say, “Surely, there is somebody within the room. Wonderful emptiness.” That wonderful emptiness is not just a negation. IT IS.
And since IT IS, it deserves to be called as the First. It is a First, after which there is no second. It is a First, which is indistinguishable from zero. So, you could call it Shoonyata. Or you could call it Ekoham. You mean the same.
One and Zero are One, and Zero. What is important to see is, there is no two. If you like round figures, prefer the Zero. If you like taut and straight, prefer the One, depends on your mood. But don’t go to foolish ducks like two.
L: Sir, the word ‘substance’ is used repeatedly. It said, that things of the World, lack any substance. White is dependent on Black and Black is dependent on White, their existence is purely relative, they lack any substance. They are nothing in themselves. So, what is ‘substance’? And does this emptiness have any substance?
AP: ‘Substance’, you already know. So it is too difficult to explain. You already know so much about something being substantial, that not much can be added to it. You look at a woman, you find her attractive and that is substance. You look at food, you find it inviting, that is substance. You have a point of view, about your situation, that is substance. You have respect for what fills up your mind, that is substance.
Are you prepared to give up your mind?
Prepared to give up your opinions, attractions, rules, all that, is what is ‘Substance’. What is important is, to see the substancelessness. Seeing these to be insubstantial, you realize what that significance was, that you were till now attaching to things, objects and people.
This whole matter that keeps circulating within you, that makes you what you are. That makes you behave a particular way, right now. That is making you sit, where you are sitting right now; that is making you ask this question, that is making you look at me, in the way you are looking at me, is ‘substance’. Do you see, all of you are not looking at me in the same way? Do you see, that it is not just a coincidence, the seats that you have occupied? All that, is substance. The substance of the Mind. Mind stuff. All this, is Mind stuff in action. You are asking, “What is substance?” This is substance.
But this cannot be understood by you, till you see its falseness. Substance will remain substantial till you see it to be insubstantial. It is extremely substantial, is it not? You can start crying, you can go into extreme emotions. If you are challenged right now, or broken right now, you can throw up such a show, and break into rage. That is ‘substance’. And even as you are displaying extreme sentimentality, your neighbor is saying, “Ah! this is just neurosis.” You will then be able to say that why is this guy giving so much weightage to something which is so insubstantial. But for that person, it is extremely substantial. This is substance.
And even while seeing what your neighbor calls as substance, is empty, you will not be able to see that what you call as your substance is equally false. You will be able to very easily advise your neighbor, “Why are you getting agitated so easily? It is insubstantial.” But look at what is driving your life. Look at what has become so important for you. Look at how the elephants in your life, are mice. Look at how you are treating ants as dinosaurs.
That is when you realize, nothing is substantial.
It is difficult, to not to ask for a little sauce. That is substance. The sauce and the sandwich, that is substance.
L: So, what is substantial for me is insubstantial for Nagarjuna, or Buddha. So, why declare it as a Truth, that all things are insubstantial?
AP: It is not that what is substantial for you is insubstantial for Nagarjuna. What is substantial for you is insubstantial even for the dog downstairs. Right? That is why it is insubstantial. What is substantial for the dog is insubstantial for you. He was trying to find something in the grass and eat it. I am sure you won’t like that for dinner, even with the sauce.
L: So, the fact that something is substantial for me and not for other, proves that it is not substantial.
AP: Who all are present in this room? You will name some 20-25 people. A bacteria here would name, thousands more. What do you mean by all? Even this all-ness depends on what you find substantial. Things are insubstantial because they are all so related to something that is a product of relativity. Whatever you say is relative to something that is related.
You look towards a man, and you say, come. You are pointing towards his body, right? And if his body doesn’t move, but all the bacteria on his body come to you, you won’t really like that. Would you?
It is like this you see. Don’t look so puzzled. You are running towards the market, to fetch some sauce. You actually know nothing about the sauce. But you have been told by your friend that the sauce tastes good. And somebody else told your friend that the sauce tastes good. Tired of running and bitten by a bug of doubt you just pause to question, “Whether the sauce is substantial?” So, you want to figure out what really is happening. You ask your friend, what ‘is’ the sauce. Please tell me something about the sauce. He says, “I will have to ask my friend.” And you know the rest of the story. Right? You will never come to know that if anybody has ever, absolutely tasted the sauce. In investigating, the assumed substance of a thing, you come to see it as insubstantial.
L: Can this investigation be not empirical? Can we not just taste the sauce and know eventually that it is insubstantial? Can the sauce itself not tell you that it is not substantial?
AP: The only barrier there is, that the entity that is tasting the sauce, has no way of empirical determination. You can call something hot or cold, depending only on your body temperature. Now whether you ask your friend or you ask your body, the answer you get is still relative. Where is absolute determinance?
Do you really trust your taste buds so much? If you seem to have cold, would you be able to taste anything? You are coughing and sneezing, how will you know the taste of sauce. Your tongue keeps changing, your tongue is a product of conditioning.
L: Is absolute determination, actually possible?
AP: What you will call as absolute determination will just be another exercise in relativity. That is why it has just been said to be empty. The moment there is absolute determination, it becomes another object. That is what you do with God, right? You have absolutely determined the immense. And then you give it a shape and a form.
So, the Buddha just said, empty. Empty.
L: Any object in the mind is an image and it is related to another image. So, nothing is absolute in the mind. Whatever I can think of, I can think of because of some image.
AP: In the mind, everything is relative. Million relationships, is the mind. No relationships, no mind.
L: But, this remark that all things are insubstantial, this remark is an absolutist remark.
AP: Had the insubstantial thing been absolute, then it would have been an absolutist remark. You are not able to distinguish between emptiness and absoluteness. You live by the mind, and in the mind, please remember that there is nothing absolute. Even when you say the word absolute, it is still relative. Give me some definition of the absolute?
L: Absolute is that which is not relative.
AP: So, take away relativity and show me where is absolute?
Buddha doesn’t fall in these traps. He will not accept relativity in another name. Anshu Sharma can call him Absolute Sharma, to the Buddha he will still remain empty.
So, just because you are calling something absolute, do not think that you have laid your hands on the absolute.
L: The moment we name something…
AP: The moment you have the faintest thought about something, it has become a thing, and all things are relative. Naming comes later. Before naming, there is an abstraction. Even at that abstraction stage, relativity has come.
L: So, when the saints talk of absoluteness, they are also talking, they are also naming.
AP: They are too talkative.
So, when they get tired of talking, they lapse into silence, and then you do not keep a record. That’s the travesty. The words of Kabir…Show me where you have recorded the Silence of Kabir. And then you think that Kabir expresses himself, in his words. The fact is that you have no mechanism to record anything except his words. You are like this camera again, what is this stupid thing recording? Words. Yes, but keep recording. Do you know, how much of me it has recorded till now?
L: Sir, what does it mean, is it that nothing is taken seriously?
AP: Nothing is taken seriously, only means that your seriousness lies elsewhere.
You are still giving weightage to seriousness. You are still serious about, if nothing else, then seriousness. So, you are saying, nothing is to be taken seriously. So, you are saying, seriousness is well, quite serious.
The Buddha will not say, nothing is to be taken seriously. He will say, even seriousness is not serious. So, take it seriously if it is needed. A little more sauce please. He will be very very particular about his sauce. You do not prepare the right sandwich for him and he might create a scene.
L: This reminds me of a story of Ramakrishna. Once he was giving a discourse, then he got up in the middle and went inside the kitchen…
AP: You never know, what he was doing in the kitchen. Nobody recorded that.
L: Sir, what is the difference between relativity and duality?
AP: Same. Just the same. It is just that, when you say relativity, then you miss out on the opposing aspect of all things relative. You can measure something, as relative to another thing, only when they are different. The greater the difference, the more sharp is the measurement. In other words, things need to be opposite, to be relative. When this opposing nature of things comes into focus then you call it duality.
L: What I thought was, that white and black have a dual relationship. But white and grey are relative.
AP: When you say grey, you refer to the blackness in the grey, with respect to the white. Grey is black plus white. When you are looking at white, with respect to grey, you are looking at the blackness in the grey, with respect to the white. It’s alright, you can dilute it a little. Anyway, even dilution is empty.
L: When you are able to see all relativity, you will become non-functional.
AP: Totally, non-functional. You will only see the sofa here. Where is me? I exist relative to this sofa. And you will not like to talk to the sofa, sounds a little dumb right? You are accepting a discourse from a dumb sofa set. People will tease you. Are you so dumb that now you are lectures from sofas?
Mind will cease to function.
L: Sir, in XXII.11 – “Empty should not be asserted, non-empty should not be asserted. Neither both, nor neither should be asserted. These expressions are used in a nominal sense.” What does this mean?
AP: When you talk too much about emptiness, you make it substantial. When you talk too much about non-emptiness, you again make it substantial. So, the Buddha, lets emptiness remain empty.
He will say, empty, and then go into silence.
You go to a person, every day in the morning, and you say, “You mean nothing to me. Our relationship is empty.” And you are doing this every morning. You are talking so much about the relationship being empty, that it is obvious that the person means a lot to you. Things are substantial.
When emptiness is really there. How will you talk about emptiness, how will you remember emptiness? I categorically deny, that I love you. I have called you to tell you that I have not been thinking of you. Or is it so, that I have been thinking so much of you that I won’t talk to you. The Buddha knows.
L: Sir, you have said that going close to the World is necessary. Because when you go close to the objects they reveal their Truth. They reveal to you that they are empty. So, the sauce that I am chasing without having any knowledge, any clarity about the sauce; so is it an imperative in the process that by hook or crook, I go and taste it.
AP: Just that, you won’t taste it. The taste has been implanted in you. So, if you want to know the fact of the sauce, you must look rather at the implanting, than at the sauce. The sauce would have meant nothing to you, had your friend not recommended it. Had your parents not praised it? From where did the sauce come into your life? On its own? Or through others, and situations? So, if you really want to know the sauce, you must know the others. Without the others, the sauce would not have been, in the first place.
L: Or it would have appeared as something else.
L: The closest example I can think of is sex. The way it arrives in our lives, is because of media, the sources, how we are oriented in our lives, etc…And all of these factors, they really dominate the moment, when we are having sex, lets say. So, you are right when you say, we are not able to taste it, and you will not be able to encounter the fact of the moment.
AP: Without the society, you would not be chasing the women, the way you do today, right? The society has taught you the various ways to chase. The avenues of chasing, as well as the limits of chasing. It has also taught you about the trendy positions of love-making. And these positions, the trends, keep changing. There was a time in Europe, when there was only one position. It was called the missionary position. These days, a few other positions are fashionable. Society tells you, how to chase, how to spice it up. How to feel ‘in’ with what is in vogue. And the body tells you that another body of opposite sex is needed. Without these two, telling you these things, what would have remained of your sex?
L: But some of it is still primordial, authentic. Not all is conditioned, right? Your body desires the opposite sex.
AP: What makes you think that primordial is authentic?
L: In that sense, nothing is authentic. Everything is empty.
AP: You know, you like to claim that sex is authentic because man has been having sex since the beginning of time. And there has been some or the other way of reproduction, right? Since the beginning of time, there has been some or the other way of excretion also. Why don’t you call it, authentic? If man, has been having sex since millions of years, he has been sweating and excreting since millions of years too. Why do you want to call only sex as authentic?
L: Because, you don’t feel any need to name the act of sweating as authentic. Because it has not been appropriated, tempered, to the extent sex has been.
AP: And you don’t want to call excreta authentic because, it doesn’t seem to play an important role in your pleasure, right? Let us talk to a pig now. Let us see whether your excreta is substantial for him or not? It might even be more substantial than sex. But you will not name your shit as substantial. It’s primordial.
Pigs too are primordial. I don’t know whether man came first or pigs came first. They seem to have come together.
L: Sir again this thought of ‘sex is primordial’, is coming from society. Because they say that it creates life.
AP: I don’t want to know if sustenance of life, is the actual motive, then how long can you live without sex and how long can you live without excreting?
What really sustains life?
AP: Why don’t you simply say, that there is something in the body which makes you feel that sex is substantial. Simple. How long can you go without sex? How long can you go without your call? Somebody was banging the door this morning, of the washroom.
I have not heard lovers banging doors. They bang each other, but not doors.
L: But this comparison is not valid. Because, society doesn’t stop you from excreting shit, but it does create a culture where it certainly stops you from having sex.
AP: If you start shitting in other people’s bedroom, then see, whether or not society will stop you.
There is such a great culture built around excreting. You may not have devoted one particular room to having sex, you may not have a room God’s, in your house, but you will surely have a devoted room for shitting. You may not give any other training to your kid, but mothers here know, what is the first training they need to give. Toilet training. Don’t you see how the society has entered your toilet?
What do you think, cameras are to be avoided only here and there. These days women are quite cautious. Let me see, whether in the bathroom there are any hidden cameras. Why does anyone need hidden cameras? Everything is anyway obvious. It has been predetermined, where you would place your legs. It has been predetermined, what you would use, to wipe yourself. Now why does one need a camera? All is already known. Just use your imagination a little bit, like the sauce, to fill up the sandwich, and everything is there.
L: Sir, there was this joke where a person who was fan of an Actress, wanted to make sure that she doesn’t shit. He had an image of her that she does not shit. We just want to have an image that we are just not a witty body that keeps on shitting.
AP: That is the difference. The Worldly man will say that the Buddha does not shit. The Buddha will only say, shit is empty. Great stories have been fabricated. Somebody says, Mahavir’s sweat used to have an aroma like incense, when he perspired the entire areas around him was full of this sweet smell. Why negate only the foul smell of sweating. Negate the sweetness of sweating as well. Just say, sweating is empty. Meaningless, does not mean anything, sweating is sweating. That is the best way to answer, you know.
What is sweating? Sweating.
Who are you? Me.
Or say, what is it? Nothing.
They are just the same.
L: Sir, what I am trying to say is, it is way more difficult for somebody to discover the emptiness, or the insubstantiality of sex, than it is to discover the emptiness of sweating or shit.
AP: Possibly, yes.
L: Because, with acts like sweating and excreting, the idea of substantiality does not arise. Even if it arises, it arises to the extent of daily habits. But much value has been accorded to sex. Much mental value.
AP: In most cases, yes, what you are saying is correct. But you see, what you are saying holds good, not with someone who is experiencing loose motions. You tell him sex is empty, he will say, “yes it is.”
You tell him, the toilet is not empty…
… He will boil up.
So, what you are saying is generally correct.
L: This one is an exception…
AP: This is not an exception, you see. Once you cross a certain age then sex is no more material for you. Shitting is. Because then you start wetting your pants. You are taking sex to be substantial, only relative to your own age. Had it been a 60 year old sitting here, he would have said, “Sex! It is not exciting at all. What stimulates me is poo.”
See, you spend around 30 years in sex, right? 15 – 45 yrs. And an equal span of time is spent wondering more about shitting. From 55 – 85 yrs of age. So, how can you say that one is more substantial than the other? It is just that we have a man in his twenties talking. Now you can see the emptiness of things. This so called same man, when he would be in his 70s, would be prepared to talk about the primordial and authentic thing called Shitting.
Because then it would be more relevant to him, related to his age.
L: My relative just had a surgery, he is about 75. He is now carrying a shit bag, for all excretions. So, when he talks with someone, the first important thing he talks of is that.
L: Even in our present culture, the advertisements of perfumes and deodorants, trying to hide the odor of the body. But in comparison to those, porn is more prevalent.
AP: They are more prevalent with respect to you. You are the one, who is consuming more of them. It is difficult for you to think, because you are looking at things standing where you are. You see, we had a couple of aged people in this camp, till yesterday. You know, when they had to come here, what did they enquire? They enquired, whether this place has western commodes. They were not enquiring whether this place is perfumed or has avenues for sex. They didn’t place any demands on this place, but that was the only thing they wanted to know. They asked if the place has western commodes because we cannot sit on the Indian version. There is a problem with their joints.
I am not asserting that these two things have been given the same importance by mankind. Of course you are right, if you look at popular culture, literature or such things, it is obvious that man has given sex far far more importance and weightage. But what I am saying is, that even the weightage is a relative weightage. There are other men, in other stages of life, who will not give the same weightage. And when you can realize that as a young man that what sex means to me today, shit will mean tomorrow, then sex is shitty.
That is what happened to the Buddha. As a young man he could see, he went out in his chariot, he saw old age, death. As a young man, he could see all those things, though he had been conditioned to see only attractions, beauty and sex. So, as a young man, if you can see old age, then you see the emptiness of both youth and old age. As an old age, seeing old age is no big deal. As a youth, seeing youth is again, no big deal. When you are a kid, you are clamoring after chocolates, when you are young, you are dying to get sex, middle aged, you want power and prestige. When old, all you want is to not to shit in your pants.
But being young, if you can see what it means to be old, then you have seen the emptiness of both. Then of course you know that what we call as young and what we call as old are relative to each other. Now you have seen the emptiness of both the ends of duality.
L: When I was a kid, my body would adapt to any situation. So, is it lack of compassion that makes me not see old age now? So, if I see someone old going, this thing goes in my mind, that I have been okay until now, and this will happen eventually. So, what is this ‘LOOKING’, ‘SEEING’ at old age that you are talking about?
AP: If the mind is not sick with bad habits, then it is easy for the mind to see. When you are too attached to yourself, then you cannot look at anything outside of yourself. I have some sweets in my pocket and I am impatient to somehow have those sweets. An old man might walking by and he might be struggling. The struggle might be a bit large on his face. He has no teeth left, but I have chocolates in my pocket. The old man cannot digest anything, but I have chocolates in my pocket.
Will I be able to look at the old man and find myself in the old man?
Will I be able to see that you are left with no teeth, no palette, and no taste buds after a point?
Will I be able to see that? I have sweets in my pocket.
I have my partner by my side in a car, it is midnight, and I am rushing to my home. I am excited, in a great hurry to have sex. And a couple of dogs are banging by the roadside, wallowing in the dirt and they are sick and diseased. And even as one dog is with the bitch, two others are barking. You can see, ‘if’ you notice, that you almost trampled them, they were so caught up in the act that they could hardly avoid your car. And if you stop for a few minutes more, you see that the first dog has been chased away by two other dogs and the bitch is now with some other dog. But will you stop, to watch all this.
You are totally aroused and so is your wife. You are rushing towards your bedroom. If you could drive at 200 miles an hour, you would have. You would not be able to see the same sexual activity happening by the roadside. But if, you are a wanderer, who has just come out of his room, not going anywhere, with no objective, not even an objective of having a cup of tea. He has just come out on the road at midnight. As wanderers love to do. He would have that freedom of mind to stop, and look at these dogs.
He will know, what sex is.
He can pause, he can look at the entire act, and he can see its emptiness. You would not be able to see its emptiness. You are so aroused, your mind is totally occupied, how will you see?
That wanderer is the Buddha. He can ‘see’.
L: Two things. Firstly, the scene happens, and it happens quite often. And I deliberately blocked it. Because after a point of time, you clearly see that this scene is a clear cut threat to your pleasure. So, after a point of time, you consciously block it, as I have done it. That’s point number one.
Point number two, how is it empty? There is pleasure in the act and that pleasure is the cause that the act is taking place.
Empty does not mean anything. Empty only means that what you take to be substantial, is no more appealing to you. Substance is appeal, substance is attraction, substance is emotion.
L: So, it’s possible that I might stop as a wanderer and see, and it might come up as very fulfilling to me. I might not conclude that it is empty.
AP: Why would you like to conclude right now?
L: Because right now it seems to me that …
AP: And if you are in the habit of concluding right now, would you not conclude then?
L: No, because just now I formed a concept, that as a wanderer if I move out at the nights and see the act happening, it is bound to end up in the way that, this act is empty. Might not happen, I might find it pleasurable, go home and call somebody and have sex.
AP: Of course, like the act, the example is also empty. The example is given, relative to the capacity of the listener to understand. Otherwise, the example means nothing. No example, ever means anything. The example is totally empty, and the world loses a lot, is misled a lot, by thinking that any example is substantial. All examples are given to somebody, in a certain context. So, the examples are all relative.
I gave her a particular example, she might have ‘seen’. You would not see probably. You would probably need another example.
L: Sir, it could be possible that animal sex is not pleasurable, something like excreting.
AP: You see, when you are watching those dogs, you do not need to think, whether it is pleasurable or not. Watching is sufficient. Just stand there and watch. You don’t need to conclude, what they are doing and what is the whole thing about this sexual activity. Just watch.
L: As you said, examples are empty. As you say emptiness, from where I stand, that seems to be an empty concept to me.
AP: It will necessarily be a concept till you yourself are the wanderer. When you ‘are’ the wanderer and when you ‘are’ looking at those dogs, then you see the insubstantial nature of what you thought to be substantial.
This negation, is emptiness.
Oh, I thought it was appealing, exciting and the most wonderful thing in the World.
And so much hype around sex is not physical at all, it is social. It has been built up. You are made to believe as if sex is indispensable. As if it is the elixir of life.
L: Anything that is going to happen, like old age, it will happen at some point in time. And that time is not now.
AP: When you look at a dead man, why do you shiver? Why don’t you tell yourself then, that this is not me, and even if I have to die, I will die 40 years later? Why do you start avoiding corpses? When you look at dead bodies, then you are immediately reminded of your own death. So, be honest.
Similarly when you look at old men, you ‘are’ actually reminded of your old age, but right now, in youth, there are several other attractions that you have. So, you suppress that realization. If a corpse can remind you of your eventual death, and death will come ‘after’ old age, then how is it possible that an old man will not remind you of your old age? They do. But you ignore them, just as you ignore the dogs fornicating by the wayside.
L: This thing is requiring too much attention…
AP: Yes, of course. Because looking at those things will take away the pleasure of the moment.
You know, I had a friend. He and his wife were visitors to the clarity sessions. He was a very spiritual man, so spiritual that he had put up photographs of Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, Krishnamurti and everybody else in his bedroom. One day I was at his place, and he said, “You know, every night I have to turn these photographs around.”
You are getting ready for the act, you don’t want to be reminded. Krishnamurti’s face, will remind you of something. You don’t want to be reminded. You are hopping around like an idiot, the carpenter curses you, your bed is broken every week. You are the one who is providing so much sustenance to the furniture industry.
Krishnamurti is looking at you and saying… Would have been better if he says something, the old bugger just looks at you. And keeps staring.
You can’t stand him. It’s like the dogs have entered your bedroom. With all their sickness and germs and pus. How will you have sex?
Nagarjuna is saying, ‘Samsara is Nirvana’. You know that you have known emptiness, when you can listen to me right in the middle of sex. In the middle of Samsara, if you can listen to the Gita. In the middle of sex, if you could be watching my video, instead of porn, then you have known Samsara to be Nirvana, and both to be empty.
That is the Buddha for you. What do you think? He forgets the Dhammapada, when he is busy in his day to day chores? And Ramakrishna was a married man. What do you think, he forgets Kali when he is with his wife? You are a Ramakrishna, when you can remember Kali, even when you are with your wife. And so many saints have sons and daughters. They have had sex, they have reproduced, what do you think, they had forgotten their teachings and words and God? Surely, they knew the emptiness of sex, even in the moment when they were in the middle of sex. That is when you have known Samsara to be Nirvana.
L: Sir, anything that is troubling me, should I try to see its emptiness?
AP: You don’t see emptiness by ‘trying’. You just see what things are. Emptiness is nothing. How will you see emptiness? You can look at the stars in the sky, but no one has actually looked at the sky. You look at objects. So, if you are carefully looking at objects, what you see is emptiness. And remember, you cannot see the emptiness of objects remaining what you are. When the object is truly seen to be empty, the subject also becomes empty.
L: It becomes a vicious circle. You want to know about yourself. You have to go close and observe the objects. And you cannot go close to the objects until and unless you have observed yourself.
AP: You are looking at objects, all the time. Just give yourself occasion to know them truly. It won’t need so much of effort and conceptualization. There ‘is’ the sick man there. You do not have to say that unless I know myself, how can I know sickness. Just as you say, ‘I’ am there, similarly you say, the sick man is there. For you, he ‘is’ there.
L: But I am not available to him. As in the case of the dogs, if I am rushing home, I am not available to observe the dogs. So, unless I am available to them, I won’t be able to observe.
AP: Be available.
L: Being myself, how can I be available?
AP: Just as you are available right now. Surely, watching the dog is easier than listening to me.
If you can listen to me, you can very well watch a dog. And there is a bitch as well.
L: Sir, would it be correct to say that I see only that which I am. You said that before observing the objects, first you have to be empty.
AP: I didn’t say that. You won’t become empty all of a sudden in isolation. I said that when you really observe the emptiness outside, you are empty then. Emptiness is not a pre-condition to observing. It’s not that, now I have gained emptiness, and now I will be able to watch the dog.
L: Sir, morality tells us that Rama and Kama, are separate and cannot co-exist. And because of which we form two separate compartments in our life. When we are pure, pristine, we have just taken a bath, we are praying. That Anshu. And that other Anshu who is masturbating in the washroom. So, two big, bold compartments. And you are saying that co existence is possible.
It is not only possible, it is necessary. You see you do not know Kama. What you know is some dirty, spoiled, sick version of social sexual activity. The touch of Rama, totally transforms Kama. So, Rama and Kama, do go together. But not that Kama, which you currently indulge in. With Rama, your current version of Kama will change. It will actually go down the drain, in the same washroom. If it doesn’t, use the flush.
It is not only the mind that needs hygiene. Everything needs to be clear, clean. Getting it?
When Rama and Kama do not go together, then you neither know Rama, nor Kama. That is why your Kama is so ugly. When you know Rama, how can your Kama be so much like rape? Look at the way people indulge in sex. They are either begging or raping. These are the only two ways of having sex. Or be indifferent. Or buy.
With Rama, this doesn’t happen. You go beyond begging and raping. You go beyond indifference and buying. Don’t think about it now, you won’t be able to form an image.
Trying to conceptualize, right? What kind of sex would that be?
L: Sir, Why do they say “Ram naam satya hai?”
AP: You want to have some corner, where to remember Rama. Physically you create that corner in the shape of a temple. And in time, in a temporal sense, you create that corner in terms of occasions. So, when there is a death, you want to talk of Rama. When there is a marriage, you want to talk of Rama. So, all these are just ways of creating corners.
L: Sir, I have seen a cremation ground, and there were Kabir Dohas written in bold letters all around.
AP: That makes it easier for you to justify why Kabir cannot be in your bedroom. Kabir is in cremation grounds, how can he be in my bedroom? And that is the reason why your well-wishers are so scared, when you talk of Kabir. Because that reminds them of cremation grounds. They have no acquaintance with Kabir, except the Kabir that they have seen in the cremation ground.
L: You said that the co-existence of Rama and Kama is necessary. The way things work out, it is ensured by the society that they don’t coexist. Because, you just said a few minutes ago that society defines the set of ways in which you should chase women or men. If you are simple, honest, just want to be what you are, if you are a spiritual man and don’t like to complicate stuff, then you won’t get kama. And if you are the opposite, if you have power, money, love for complications, if you are not straightforward and simple, then you will get it, very easily.
AP: Then you will get a cunning, crooked, power hungry woman, just like yourself. If you are simple, you will get a simple woman.
L: Simplicity is rare. So, all you see around is the opposite, and then you are the rare lot. Then you are ensured to become ‘that’ which is common, because being you, you won’t get it.
AP: If you are really rare, then you won’t really think about what you will get and what you will not.
L: You are not purely that…
You are not completely simple, you have traces of heterogeneity.
AP: That is quite common. To have traces of everything in you. There is nothing rare about it. The rare one does not have traces left upon him by this and that.
L: Recently, I have been experimenting a couple of things. I had very complicated relationships and I got pissed off. So, I have been doing some experiments, that whenever I initiate a conversation with a friend, I just gather some courage and I just say, whatever is there in the subconscious. And I have seen that if you can contextualize your words well, then some promise is there, a hope is there. But it is like if you bring things upfront, things which should come up in a relationship after 6 months, or a year, then you have to give this particular response. It is a very complicated loop. Is it not?
AP: You see, I am a drunkard. My entire circle consists of drunkards. And then, I narrate to them a scripture, praising sobriety. The virtues of having a calm, clear, and firm mind. And they don’t listen to me, because they are all drunkards. And why are they around me? Because, I am a drunkard.
And because, it is fashionable, or because I am curious, so as an experiment I have brought out an exotic scripture and I am quoting selected verses from it, that deal with the evil of drinking. And of course, these so called friends do not reciprocate my generosity. I narrate these beautiful grand verses and they ran away.
You cannot talk your mind with an enslaved woman. And you are talking to that enslaved woman, because you are an enslaved man. An enslaved man, who finds it fashionable to talk of freedom. She does not find it fashionable. She is not experimenting. You are. And till the time, you are what you are, you will only go to such woman. Who are slaves? Why will they listen to your rant on freedom?
And then you will say, see all my experiments are failing, this proves that I cannot get sex till I act cunning. You are already cunning. Are you willing to change yourself? You are going there and quoting the Buddha to her. You are not being the Buddha, is that not cunningness. You are going to a woman and quoting the Buddha, while remaining yourself. You have no intention to be the Buddha. Is that not cunningness?
And you are going to that woman, precisely because you are, who you are.
Had you changed, would you have gone to the same woman? Yes of course, the woman is cunning and enslaved, but why is she there is your life? Why is she there in your circle? For the same reason that drunkards are there, in a drunk man’s circle.
When you would truly change, then you would not need to go and experiment. All such experiments are bound to tell you that the world is an evil place, so you too must be even more evil.
The Buddha, does not need to prove his Buddhahood. He does not carry his own copy of Dhammapada along. He IS Buddhahood personified. He doesn’t experiment. Whatever he does, is coming from the right center. He doesn’t do it as a matter of experimenting.
Don’t just expose your subconscious, have a clean mind. Conscious, subconscious, unconscious, why talk of all these?
Simply, have a clean mind.
Simply, have a healthy consciousness. And then if these men and women are to remain in your life, they will remain and if they must not remain, they will anyway run away. The wrong person cannot anyway remain in the right man’s life for long. He or she will find some excuse to run away.
And the right woman would find some excuse to enter your life.
What is certain is, that the wrong one will drop. About the right one, there is no guarantee.
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L: Sometimes it seems that layers are being removed, but sometimes it seems that it is the same puzzle. How does it work?
AP: You are not doing anything. Whatever is being done is being done by me. The doctor is doing the surgery and after every ten minutes the patient is asking, how many stitches left? What are you doing with my small intestine? Are you sure you have read that manual?
Just keep silent and let it work.
Why ask such a question, how many layers are there in my heart?
L: Because I think, I am putting it back myself.
I have this doubt that you remove it, and I do something sneaky and put it back.
AP: I will anaesthetize you then.
That is the only way left. You will have to be operated upon in unconscious way.
Do not see what is happening as an effect of listening. If you start looking at that, then you will not be able to listen.
So, simply, stay put and Listen.
The effect will happen on its own.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: How to deal with emotional outbursts?
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