Question: Acharya Ji, how does one look at this life, observe himself and yet not get involved with that which he is observing?
Acharya Prashant: If one is really observing, then the distance is natural. When you will observe your life, what will you see? You will see that everything that appears so important today is no more important tomorrow. You will see that nothing stays. Coming and going is the nature of all things. If you are honest in your observation, you will also see that there is nothing called a permanent self.
The one who was looking at things five years back, or two years back, or even two weeks or two hours back, is no more the one who is looking at things right now. And when you will see all this, when there will be honesty in observation, then obviously it will become very difficult for you to forcibly maintain a stickiness with the objects of observation.
You stick to something only when you find some kind of solace there, peace there, assurance there. One sticks to something only in the expectation of finding a support there. But when you really observe the nature of things, Universe, and even your own inner self, you see that there is nothing worth relying there. There is really nothing you can expect to get permanent support from. And that automatically creates a distance. The question that you asked, assumed that observation and detachment are mutually exclusive, or at least difficult to practice together.
The fact is that real observation comes naturally along with detachment. So, they are not separate or contradictory or difficult to be taken together. In fact, if — as I said — observation has sincerity and honesty, if you are not predetermined to conclude, then observation itself will lead to detachment.
Question 2: Acharya Ji, how does one keep oneself from concluding?
Acharya Ji: Just as all things come and go, conclusions also come and go. One looks at a room from a keyhole, and one gets a little, finite, contained glimpse. And one has a tendency to conclude because conclusion has an assurance of security, conclusion helps one believe that he knows. So, one wants to conclude quickly because one does not want to remain in uncertainty. But, the moment the keyhole widens, the moment you get another opportunity to have a relook at the room, you find that what you had been concluding, needs to be modified, or even totally changed.
So, like everything that rises and falls in the mind, conclusions also rise and fall. Now, how can one take his conclusions seriously?
Conclusions have a way of popping up and one must not suppress the mind’s tendency to conclude. At the same time, one must not be identified with the conclusions. Let the conclusions be there as some sort of a temporary phenomenon. Waves keep on rising and falling. Conclusions too must keep on coming and going. One must not have a permanent association with any particular conclusion. One must be prepared to modify his conclusions all the time. And that can happen only when you know the flimsiness of all the conclusions and all mental knowledge.
Just see that and when the conclusions come to you, then use them as a temporary method, as a temporary utility. You see, in the local sense, and in the contained and temporal sense, it is useful to have conclusions. In the day to day business of life, conclusions are inevitable. The only thing is that one must not become rigid about his conclusion. One must be prepared to modify his conclusions in the light of facts, all the time.
And one must know that no conclusion is the final conclusion. The final conclusion would be akin to the truth. Unless one reaches that finality, that Silence, that Nothingness, all conclusions prior to that are just intermediaries, milestones, one cannot stop at them.
If conclusions arise, let them come. In fact, one has no option other than just letting things be. Just don’t have anything as a substitute for Truth. The leaf is there, the car is there, the building is there, men are there, women are there, and kids are there, and the entire world is there and the conclusions are there and it’s a flow. None of that is a substitute for the eternity, the permanence, the total stability of Truth.
Let the expectations be there and in the limited sense, continue to work towards the fulfillment of your limited expectations. But, all the time, deeply, within, you must remember that all expectations are little things. If they are little things, then their fulfillment means little and their frustration, their defeat, their non-fulfillment also means little. And they will pass away anyway. But till the time they are not passing away, till the time they are holding their sway, till the time they are riding your mind, do not fight them.
It is unnecessary to fight expectations, or desires, or conclusions, or any of the mental games. Don’t fight them, let them be there, but, know all the time. That you must seriously, sincerely know that all of this is just a passing phenomenon.
Question 3: Acharya Ji, how does one deal with anxiety?
Acharya Ji: Be with the anxiety, don’t fight the anxiety. You know what, anxiety too has a certain deep joy contained in it. If you do not know anxiety, then you do not know life. So, when anxiety arrives, welcome as one welcomes any guest who is about to leave in a day or two.
A guest arrives and you know that he would be there only for a couple of days, right. So, you welcome him in, you serve him with all your means. Anxiety is one of your guests. So are pleasure, and delight, and hope, and sadness.
Question 4: Acharya Ji, so there are no other methods to do that? You just let it be?
Acharya Ji: Yes, of course, all methods too come and go. So, methods too are mental things, are they not? Do you retain any of your methods after you go to sleep when your mode of consciousness changes? So, methods too are just one of those mental toys. One plays with them, and then leaves them aside, the things you take too seriously.
Nobody ever survived to take anything too seriously for too long. You see, the Universe is a wide open space. It’s like an infinite playground. One has all the liberty to be here, to play here, to do here, to try all kinds of antics and acrobatics. One is fully equipped, allowed and licensed. It’s just that one must know that none of that is a substitute for the real thing. When anything becomes too important for you, that is when you really get disturbed from within. Don’t mind. Just don’t mind whatever is happening and keep playing the game.
And if you do mind, then let it be. You will play, and if you will play then sometimes you will meet defeat, sometimes you will be frustrated at your performance, sometimes you will suddenly have delightful moments, all of that is welcome. None of that is to be specially promoted, none of that is to be especially suppressed.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Honest Observation is detachment itself
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