Acharya Prashant: The question is, “If I stay wild in the society, there would be repercussions; what to do?”
Who is thinking this? From where is this thought arising? Is this a thought coming from the unconditioned mind or is it the teaching of the society that is talking? You see, one fundamental thing about the mind must be understood. One state of mind can never know another state. It can imagine but never know. Being what we are, we try to imagine and project how would it be when we would change.
Suppose I am a constrained one. I am someone who has lived in boundations, restrains, limits, all his life. Now, who am I? I am the one who is conditioned to think in a limited way. Right? That’s what I am. And all of my thoughts are coming from the same source that gave me my limitations. So, that’s who I am.
Being what I am, I try to think, I try to imagine, how would it be, upon liberation. Now, someone who has been taught to like limits, what would he feel about freedom, limitlessness? What would he feel? I am this one. And this one, is a product of social circumstances, all the evolutionary conditioning. Being this one, I try to think about this one (the other one). Now, do I know this (other) one?
Being a limited mind, I try to speculate about limitlessness. Who is the one who is imagining, who is the one who is speculating?
Listener: The conditioned one.
AP: The conditioned one. And in the eyes of the conditioned one, what is freedom? If I have been trained to like slavery, then surely, what is it that I have been trained to dislike?
AP: Freedom. Right? So, being what I am, remaining what I am, what would be my concept of freedom?
Something, not very pleasant. Something, that threatens. Do you see this?
But we make this mistake so very often.
The mind is arrogant enough to believe, that remaining what it is, it can know other states as well. Including those states that are dimensionally different from the current state of the mind. What is the result of that?
The result of that is, we develop inner arguments against change. Because change appears threatening.
I have been taught to live, play, eat, survive, within the four walls of this hall. And it’s raining merrily outside. But I have never known rain, never known rain. What I have been told is, that the security and limits of this hall are wonderful and life is all about limits and security and protection of the four walls. Can I imagine, what it would be to drench in the rain? Can I imagine? And if I do, which we do; because we never accept our limits, we do imagine, what it would be like, to experience the rain. Now, that is something we have never known. But we still try to imagine, what rain would be like. And that imagination would never allow us to move into the rain.
Do you see this?
Why would that imagination never allow us? Because we have been trained to like the dryness of this hall. If you have been trained to like the dryness of this hall, then all your imaginations about water and wetness would be unfavorable. You cannot think nicely of what lies outside. Do you see this?
And that is one great barrier against change.
You talk of freedom to a limited being. To someone who has been trained to dislike freedom. And what does he do? He takes your words and imagines, what it would be like, upon being free. Now that imagination is not only false, it is actually prohibiting. First thing, you cannot imagine something that is beyond you. You can move into it. You can allow yourself to be dissolved into it. But you cannot imagine it, being what you are. You can surrender to it. But you cannot think, visualize or conceptualize it. We do that. Right?
We do that because we want to feel secure. We say, “Before I jump I must know, what it is like to fly.” Now you have never flown! So, the moment you try to visualize flying. You would be afraid. But we say that. Right? And so goes the popular adage also – Look before you leap. Think before you jump. These are misleading statements. They are of use only in those particular situations, where experience is repetitive, where you already know what is going to happen next.
In deep change, in spiritual progress, you are moving into the unknown. Remember, you are moving into the unknown. And if you are moving into the unknown, then you can have no preconception of what is going to happen next. And if you can have no preconception, then thinking about what is going to happen next would only deter you from changing.
And that is the reason why most people don’t change. They develop arguments. They say, “If we change, then such, and such thing will happen.” Even that might be factual to an extent. Yes, such and such thing may happen. But that expected outcome is horrible only to the person that you currently are. If you have changed, would that outcome still remain so daunting to you? Are you getting it?
Who is afraid of the change? Who is afraid of what would happen next? The one that you?
AP: Currently are. Now if you would have changed, then would you still be afraid? In this light, we must consider the question, the comment. The question was, if I grow wild then I would be censored by the society.
You might as well be. You might as well, be. But are you just expressing a fact, or is there fear hidden in this fact. When you are saying, if I grow wild, or if I let my inner wildness be expressed, then I would be censored by the society, are you just expressing a fact? Or are you expressing fear?
AP: Yes. Now, who is afraid? The wild one or the domesticated one?
L: Domesticated one.
AP: Now, this domesticated one is trying to think on behalf of the wild one.
The fact is, the day you grow wild, would you still be afraid? And if you won’t be afraid, would this question still occur to you? But remaining domesticated we try to project how it would be to live wildly. And this projection itself will prevent you from giving up your slavery, your domestication.
We try to act clever. Don’t we?
We try to say, “Let’s not act blindly, let’s not be foolish, let’s play a little safe. First of all, let’s try to see, what lies next. Let me be sure of the destination before I pull out of the house. Now, this destination is something you can never know in advance. Never, never. And it’s not your personal limitation that you cannot know. The destination, by its very nature, is unknowable. We are not talking about moving from Delhi to Lucknow. We are not even talking about intergalactic travel. We are talking of the mind moving beyond itself. And if the mind is moving beyond itself, then how can knowledge help you?
The words, ‘wild’ and ‘domesticated’, do not refer merely to states of mind. Domestication indeed is a state of mind. Wildness is not.
What is conveyed by ‘wildness’ in this discussion is your intrinsic nature? Your intrinsic nature that is not dependent on the vagaries of the mind. Your intrinsic nature that is not dictated by your upbringing and your education. That is wildness. We are not talking here of the wildness of the beast. We are not talking of the wildness of the jungle. We are talking about wildness only in the context of domestication. Wildness, as something, which is not domesticated. All domestication is brought about by others. In several ways. And only the domesticated one would call the free one as wild. And that is why you are using the term ‘wild’. The very selection of the word indicates your own location. The free one would be respectful towards another free one. The domesticated one, would call the free one as?
AP: Wild. In the eyes of the slave, the free man is a relegate. In the eyes of the slave, the free man is anarchic, disorderly.
So, do not try to speculate, what would happen next. Do not try to conclude so quickly. Have some faith, close your eyes and allow yourself to take, a blind leap. Your own calculations will never take you beyond yourself. You may calculate very hard, very very hard. You may go to the very boundaries of your cleverness, and yet you would remain within yourself, you would remain what you are. Stop having this unreal trust in yourself.
We take ourselves far too seriously. Don’t we?
We do not know what is going to happen the next moment, but we trust ourselves enough to project what would happen if the very configuration of the mind dissolves. You do not know, even the configuration as it exists now. What do you know about the situation, when the configuration would be no more there? I am saying, “You do not know it when it is there.” Anybody here who knows his or her mind, fully? You do not know about it when it is here, what do you know of what would happen when it is no more there?
But we still imagine. We have so much trust in our imagination. If you really are able to observe yourself, you must be surely coming to a point where you are fed up with a few things. If you are fed up with yourself, then you must stop trusting yourself with change. Because if you change, you will change only in ways and directions determined by you. And they are no good. They will keep you confined within yourself.
Letting change happen is a totally different thing compared to ‘changing’. All of us want change, right? There is nobody who is contented. But the issue is, we want change directed by, guided by, ourselves. We want to change as per our own wish. Don’t we. And if you are changing as per your own wish, what has changed? ‘The wish’ is still the master. Has the wish changed?
Real change, lets the changing one himself dissolve. Otherwise, the change would be peripheral. A few things will change, clothes will change, and behavior will change. But the core of your conditioning would remain same. I am pretty sure, you haven’t assembled here this morning, just to have cosmetic change. That we anyway keep having. We change clothes every day. Don’t we? We flip TV channels every day. Even relationships keep changing. So, surely, that cannot be the objective of genuine inquiry.
Alright, what next?
Is this a decent silence or a dignified one?
L: When you go wild, and you are in a society, the society doesn’t accept you. So, you become different. You feel lost…
AP: How do you know? Are you the wild one?
How do you know how the wild ones feel upon being rejected or ostracized by the society? How do you know how he feels? Maybe he laughs.
There are two of you, one, who is domesticated, the other who is wild. Society comes and tries to impose itself upon both. Would their responses be the same? One would be cowed down. One would tremble and give in. And the other? The other?
L: Just laugh and shake it off.
AP: How do you know? Are you the wild one?
But see. Images. Can’t even remain silent.
Must say something.
The only thing that you can say, the utmost that you can be sure of, is that the response of the free one will be qualitatively different from the unfree one. What that response would be, let’s not try to project.
You are afraid because you have been taught to be afraid. When you were born, were you afraid of the society? Do you know what you were doing when you were born? Do you know how respectful you were, towards social norms?
Ask the nurse or ask your mother. They will tell you, how respectful you were. They will tell you, how afraid you were, thinking of violating the great commandments. This, the one who is asking this question, the questioner, himself is a product of fear. And it the questioner is the product of fear, obviously, he would only project more and more fear. And if you are not afraid, why would you imagine situations involving fear?
Whenever you would imagine the way ahead, whenever you would imagine a future, you would only imagine as per your current state. So, by imagining, you are only allowing, or rather you are only forcing your current state to continue. That’s the paradox of cultivated change. The more ‘you’ want to change the more you remain the same.
L: How to go beyond the mind in that case?
AP: You see, again, if an answer comes… If an answer comes, would that answer be heard by the current one or the changed one?
So, the answer could be accepted and executed by?
L: The current one.
AP: The current one. Would the current one accept an answer beyond itself? So, the answer that the current one would accept and then execute would surely be an answer that is as small as the current position. So, would the answer help? Suppose I say, that the way to change, is to, is to what?
AP: That’s something that you would easily accept. Because we all are anyway greatly imitative beings. And that is why we are being so afraid. But suppose we say, that the way to change is to climb to the top of this building and shout from there. Or let’s say, jump from there. Would the current one accept that method?
So, the method that you accept, the method that you find convenient to you, is the method that is convenient to?
“YOU” and “your current state”.
Which means that no method can help, because you would only want such methods that are compatible with your current position. And if a way, a method, a process, is compatible with what you are, how will it take you, beyond yourself? It will only make you continue in your current state. And that is why, most of these methods that we apply, fail so miserably.
L: What is the ideal way then?
AP: How does, using a synonym change the intention? You call it a way, or a method, or a process or a procedure. Aren’t you asking for the same thing? In asking for the same thing, please see what we are doing. We are saying, “I am the one who will guide, choose, select, execute and become the agent of my own change.” Is this surrender? Is this surrender?
AP: To surrender is to have the faith and the guts to leave yourself to the will of existence.
L: Can this ‘I’ be defined? Is it the Mind, body or…
AP: The one who is speaking. The one who is speaking.
There is no great complication in this.
The thinker, the speaker, the analyzer, the interceptor. He is the ‘I’.
L: So, who should leave and what he should leave?
AP: We will do everything, but not stop doing. What do I do next?
Don’t you see that you are talking of doing? And in talking of doing, you are protecting the ‘I’, the ‘doer’. You are constantly asking about the deed and if you are the doer of the deed, then even if the deed changes, even if the action changes, what remains the same?
L: The doer
AP: The doer. Don’t you see that you are trying to protect the ego, the self? You are prepared to change your clothes, but not the one behind the clothes. How will it help?
(Smiles, looking at the questioner)
When you come to see the futility of change, inspired, caused, governed, executed, by you. Then the greatest change has already happened. All your life you had such trust in yourself.
L: Sir, when you said that in order to change you should have faith. Faith in what? Faith in myself? The moment I have faith in myself, what I want to change, is like, respecting what I am right now.
AP: Don’t you see that the second part of your statement assumes that you know the answer to the first part.
You said, what is faith? Faith in myself!
First of all, more important than the question is the assumption behind the question. The assumption behind the question is, that there must be an object of faith. You were prepared to ask me, what that object would be? But you are not at all prepared to ask, whether you need an object. Don’t you see that’s such a fallacy, there is a great arrogance in it?
You will let me talk about the object of faith. You will ask me, what do I have faith in. But you would never let me say, that faith need not have an object. Faith, must not have an object. And if faith has an object, the obvious corollary is that ‘you’ remain the subject. And the subject that is ‘you’, the ego, is again? Protected, preserved.
‘You’ are having faith in something, right? There is an object of faith. Where there is an object, obviously there would be a?
Subject as well. And who is that subject?
AP: So, you are saying, “I remain the same. I used to have faith in this, now Sir, if you guide me, I can have faith in this, or this, or that.” But irrespective of the object of my faith, I remain at the center as the? Subject. So, again, the ego is happy. Very happy.
Will our questions help us? Or is it more necessary to look at the questioner? And the questioner is his assumptions. We assume so much, we imagine so much.
L: We can’t help it actually.
AP: Yes. You are right. You can’t help it actually. You must let help come from elsewhere. Not try self-help at all.
This statement can work both ways. You can say, I can’t help it, and since I am the only source of help to myself, so it means that the matter cannot be helped. Full stop.
L: There is actually no need to stop imagination, or stopping the mind, this is what I feel. What is the need to stop? The mind is there to think.
AP: Yes, the mind is there to think and the mind is also there to suffer. All of this starts when you get fed up of your own thinking. And if you are still not fed up…
L: That’s not the right way of thinking?
AP: What is the right way of thinking?
AP: Is wisdom thought?
L: Understanding and wisdom
AP: Is wisdom thought? Is understanding thought?
AP: You thought a lot before answering?
AP: So, you have no understanding, then.
L: For what?
AP: Understanding again, has no object. Thought has an object. Wisdom is not a thought.
L: What is wisdom then?
AP: Is that a question then? If that is a question, then, first of all, there has to be an acceptance that one does not know wisdom. One only knows, his or her subjective assumptions and conclusions.
Wisdom is not a thought. Wisdom is to see the limit of thought. Wisdom is to not to place needless trust upon thought.
The thought is a problem-solving mechanism. And if the problem is still continuing, how can there be understanding? Understanding is freedom from thought. Sure, the mind has the capability to think. Just as the mouth has the capability to eat. Will you keep eating? There are other organs of the body that have other capabilities. Will you keep walking? Will you keep mating?
L: When there is a need you would do it.
AP: How do you know when there is a need?
How do you know, what is it that thought cannot give to you? How do you know, which need thought cannot fulfill? How do you know, where you must stop, so that another agency takes over from that point? How do you know, when thought should just bow its head down?
Alright. A fundamental clarification.
We have not gathered here as an assembly of thinkers. It is a significant thing to say because it means that what this speaker is saying, will not be very clear to you upon analysis, upon application of thought. And if there are people here, who are trying to parallelly sort me out, think me up, then they will be totally missing what is happening here.
If you can just please listen, then we will be connected. Then the whole thing will have a very different flavor. Maybe something that is beyond experience. But if you will try to conclude, to compare, to analyze, you will miss everything.
There are many here, who seem to have come for the first time. So, it’s necessary to ask this? Are there people who have found no need to think all this while? 15-20 minutes. Anybody here, who has been listening deeply? And hence, has been finding no need, to parallels keep thinking, or comparing, or integrating?
And parallelly there would be many who would not be free from the grind of the limited mind. They will be playing, catch up. They will hear, but not listen.
Feel secure enough to just listen. Listening does not mean obedience. Listening does not mean automatic acceptance. Listening does not mean subordination. So, you need not be afraid. Just listen.
Of one thing I assure you. There is very little thought in what I am saying. And if I can speak without thinking, it should not be very difficult for you to listen without thinking.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Fear of one’s inner wildness
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