Acharya Prashant: Opal is asking, “What is more important, personal life or professional life? We are often split between these two. “
Opal, life is indivisible. Life does not have two parts or twenty parts. Life is one. Machines have parts. Life has no parts. Just as you are one. Are you many? No, you are one. You try to become many. But, in spite of all your efforts, fundamentally you are one. Life too is one.
This distinction between personal life and professional life is a very artificial distinction. It’s a very stupid separation created by people who have no understanding. Anybody who has ever told you that personal life and professional life are separate and must be kept separate does not know life. Forget about professional life or personal life, he does not know life itself.
Never try to create this distinction. All is one. Do not try to wear masks. Do not say that now I have entered the office so I will be a different man and different life has begun and it is called professional life. Those who do that, divide themselves deeply and suffer. Every division is suffering.
Standing outside that room, were you are a different individual? Sitting in this room, can you become a different individual? Neither personal nor professional, life is life. And what is life? Realizing, being present. Not being stupid. Not being influenced. That is life.
You have said that there is often a clash between a personal and professional. You are underestimating the extent of the clash. The clash is not only between personal and professional. In the professional, there are still many many divisions. Call them A1, A2, A3 …A5, A6, and they are all clashing with each other. Similarly, in the personal, there are a thousand divisions, and they are all clashing with each other, B1, B2, B3, …
What do you think, your personal life is undivided? No. Are you not one person in front of father and mother, and another person in front of friends? Don’t you wear one mask in front of your boyfriend and girlfriend and another mask in front of relatives? Is that not so? Is that distinction only between personal and professional life?
No. We are divided and divided and divided and there is no end to division.
In the office, you are claiming as if professional life is one. Are you not a different person in front of the boss, and a different person in front of the guard who sits in front of the office? Are you the same in front of all your colleagues? No, we are divided. We only live in masks. Situations change and our masks change. And every mask brings more and more suffering, more and more load within.
Don’t be divided. Remain one, authentic and Real. Why do you need to show a false face? Why do you need to hide yourself? Why are you so afraid? Why do you become a different man the moment you receive a call from your mother? This moment you are sitting here and some of you are so deeply immersed, but if your phone starts ringing, the expression on your face will completely change. And your expression on your face will be one expression if mother calls and another expression if the wife calls. All these expressions are just masks. None of them are real. They are your various false personalities. And each of these personalities is taking its toll.
If you are unhappy, if you find yourself bored, if you can pay attention, the reason is only this. You are what you are. Don’t give it a name. Don’t label it. Don’t define yourself according to a situation. Don’t define yourself according to relationships. Don’t define yourself according to your gender, or date of birth, or age, or educational qualification. Whenever you will do all that, you’ll find you are under the obligation to keep on switching faces. And that is such a burden.
No mask is alive. You have such a life to live, and an authentic face. Why do you want to deal in masks? Can a mask ever smile? You have smiling masks, but is even a smiling mask really smiling? You never smile. You’ve never really known joy. All you know is the mask of smiling. You very well know that when you meet someone in the morning you say “Hi, such a nice day,” and you smile. Is there any authenticity in that smile?
You meet someone, and you go down to touch his or her feet. Is there any love in that expression? Real love? Without the burden of relationship would you have still done that? Ask yourselves.
Do you really look at people as what they are, or you look at them, as how they are related to you? If you look at them according to how they are related to you, then what are you doing, and why are you hell-bent on spoiling the one life given to you?
Another example of masks. Don’t you feel happy when someone says, “You are looking great?” Don’t you feel a little nervous when people say “Ah! This type of haircut. This type of dress. What are you wearing today?” Don’t you become cautious? If that is so, then you will always wear an expression, and a dress, and a mindset, and a behavior, just to match the environment. And that is called being divided.
That environment can take many names, many shapes, and many forms. That environment can be called being with friends, that environment can be called being in a movie hall, that environment can be called being in front of the boss. Wherever you are, a character will be acting. And the real actor would be absent. You only know characters. You do not know who you are.
You only have been playing roles. Roles whose scripts have been written by somebody else. When you enter an office, somebody else writes the script, “You are in office, this is the way of behavior.” When you are in front of father, this is the way of behavior. In front of mother, this is the way of behavior. The script has already been written. Like puppets, you just follow the script. Puppets dance around so much, and puppets are seen to be laughing, and jumping, and talking a lot. But, is any puppet ever alive? Will any puppet ever experience joy?
L: Sir, an alone person involve himself deeply into a particular work without being affected by the surrounding. Isn’t that being insensitive to the people around and ignoring them?
AP: What is meant by aloneness? Aloneness means, ‘this alone is real, nothing else matters. Aloneness means, there are no two parts. Aloneness means, oneness. So, if you are here sitting right now, aloneness means that you have one task alone, no two tasks, and one task alone. And what is that task? To be here. And when you are here, and with me, and listening, are you being insensitive to me? Only in aloneness, is there sensitivity.
A man who is not alone will be a very cruel man, very violent man, very divided man. He will not know how to respond.
Aloneness does not mean that I am lost in my own thoughts. Please.
Aloneness means my mind is not divided, my mind is one, alone, single, unfragmented.
So, I’m speaking to you, assume that I start thinking about what’s happening in my office, I start thinking of what is happening in Lebanon, I start thinking of what is happening to my pet dog, would I be then sensitive towards you? To be really connected to you I need to be alone here. Only in aloneness is real relationship possible. Getting it?
L: Sir, like we have learned in the last lecture, that whenever we are awake, then whatever we do is right. And whenever we are asleep, then whatever we do is wrong. So how can a person realize whether he is awake or asleep?
AP: How can a person realize whether he is awake or asleep? He’s asking that Sir, you said that whatever you do in your wakefulness is right, and whatever you do in drowsiness that is wrong, how can I know whether I’m awake or asleep? Simple. If you are awake, you’ll be joyful. If you are not awake, you would suffer. Every disease that the mind has is the product of drowsiness. The moment you find that the mind is confused, tell yourself “I’m not awake”. The moment you find that the mind is distracted, know for sure that you’re not awake. The moment you experience loneliness and boredom, tell yourself that I’m drunk.
The very sign of being asleep, the very sign of being intoxicated is that you will suffer. And these are the forms of suffering — boredom, ambition, greed, uneasiness, restlessness, dependence, a distracted mind, clinging to others, aimless thought. The moment these happen, just tell yourself “I am not awake”. Simple.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Balancing personal and professional life?
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