L: Sir, why is it that we cannot suppress the nature’s call but we keep on suppressing our expressions for lifetime. Is it that the body has a separate consciousness that cannot be held on?
AP: No, we suppress all that as well. It is just that in the physical system there are certain things that are designed to be totally involuntary. And it’s a great mercy, a relief, that they are involuntary. The heart beats without our consent. We experience fatigue without our consent. Sleep comes and demands relaxation without our consent. We start feeling hungry without our consent. Oh, we may decide not to have food for a while, but hunger expresses itself without our consent.
So many things happen without our consent. And it’s alright. In the body also, wherever our consent is required, wherever our response is voluntary, there we badly interfere with the body. There our norms of right and wrong, they take total precedence over what the body is demanding. That is why I said that it’s a relief that certain things simply do not wait for our approval. If our approval were required, then probably we will never allow ourselves to sweat. Right? Even if that were to have a totally deleterious impact on the body. Even if that were to mean that the temperature of our body will keep rising, still we won’t allow ourselves to sweat.
And there are certain hundred other things associated with the body that our morality is so ashamed of that we’d simply not let that happen. Man is the only creature that has imposed norms upon the body. The only creature who thinks that he’s so intelligent that he will be able to decide whether this system is alright or not. He thinks he can mess with it in the name of improving it.
The human condition is such that if it were in our hands, then hard working and ambitious people would simply not allow sleep to come. They would say that we are still working, If twenty-four hours are given to us, why waste even two hours in sleeping? And there are certain section of the society so very prude that probably women would not allow their periods to come, this is something ugly and something to be ashamed of, why let this happen? Are you getting this?
Man imposes himself firstly on himself and then upon the entire world. If man is cruel and violent toward the entire existent, it is firstly because he’s cruel, violent, and restrictive towards himself. If man resists everything, and when I say ‘man’ I mean mankind, which includes women if man restricts everything that happens around him, there’d be hardly any unconditional acceptance, just filters of progressing resistance. It is because first of all, he’s very very resistant towards himself.
The one thing that we all share as brothers and sisters in mankind, is that none of us unconditionally accepts himself or herself. We all have a certain grudge towards ourselves. Why are we not something else? Why are we not this way or that way? A feeling of not yet being there. A feeling of imperfection, incompleteness, inferiority not only keeps haunting us but actually becomes our driver. If you look at your actions over the last one day or last one year, as long as you can remember, you will be amazed to see how much, how many of your actions are driven by this urge to better yourself. And there is hardly any action that comes from a feeling of already being alright.
You want a better job, why? So that you may be better. “I’m not yet alright. I’d find out something outside of myself that will help me become alright. Want to change my house, want to get married, want to travel abroad, want to have a holiday, want to study more – all in this quest towards betterment. And how do I decide that I’ve indeed become better? The more I am able to conform to the standards that were doled out to me, the more I feel that I’m a better one now.
How exactly do you know that if you live in a bigger house you are a better one? How exactly do you know that? Did you always know that? Were you born with that knowledge as a kid? How exactly do you know that if more people respect you then you are a better one? How do you know that?
At some point in time it was implanted in our minds that the measure of our self worth is the respect that others accord to us. So, based on foreign criteria we keep giving weightage to all that which is foreign. If we just circulate a sheet here and if we ask “What would help you improve your lives?” And the atmosphere is sanitized of any spiritual influence. You are asked to honestly write down what do you think would help you grow better. There would be hardly anybody who would leave the sheet blank. We all have ideas about our improvement. Have we not? We all have those ideas.
I’m asking, where did those ideas come from?
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: The tragedy that is man
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