Question: “My understanding is that the right battle is the one fought not for self but for others. Is my understanding right? Please elaborate more on right battles. Is it so that most of the battles we fight day to day are wrong battles?”
Acharya Prashant: You may fight for others. But, who are these others? Do you fight for every other? You feed your own cat. You are fighting for your cat. Now is it really the same as fighting for others. You are protecting your cow. You milk her. You have a vested interest there. Would you say that your motive is charitable? Would you say that you are doing it because you are a world lover, your altruism knows no bounds? But we do that don’t we? We feed the cow because we want to milk the cow and later on we tell the cow that we have been very charitable towards her. Don’t we?
Have you not seen parents do this to their kids? “We raised you, we fed you, we taught you.” You can visualize the same being done to a cow. You would never quote “We milked you.” You would only say, “We fed you, we protected you.” What about the milking? What about the expectation of the milking? If one is really doing something genuinely for others, there are no conditions attached. There never are any fine prints. Neither are there conditions attached in the beginning nor are there conditions attached in the action. You will be prepared to do anything. And anything means anything.
You can love someone so much that you can lay down your own life for that person. And you can love someone so much that you can be prepared to kill that person. Anything means anything.
Kindly get over this notion that we live for others. That is the privilege granted only to a Buddha. Living for others happen only to the one who has nothing personal to live for. If you have a lot that is personal in your life, personal time, personal freedom, personal money, personal thoughts, personal relationships, personal choices, as long as you have all this personal stuff in your life, you will live only for this stuff.
You have a personal family. You fight for that family. You do a lot for that family. Does that mean you are doing anything for others? Your self-interest, your conditioning is related to the ones you are striving for.
Yes, you are right. Your suspicion is not pointless. You are asking, “Are our day-to-day battles wrong?” Most of them are. What was the definition of a wrong battle? That starts from incompleteness. We fight to win, we fight to gain, we fight to conquer, we fight to get. Hence, our battles are wrong.” If I win, I would be richer by so much. If I win, I would be bigger by so much.” Obviously, the battle is wrong. Equally, parallelly, without any change in the intention, it can be said, “If I win, my daughter would be bigger by so much. If I win, my son would be richer by so much, if I win, my wife would be happier by so much.” Same thing, just the same thing.
If your wife is happier, she makes you happy. Ultimately we are trying for your own personal self. If your son is richer, you feel that the riches would, or at least, some kind of gratefulness would come to you. It is this gratification that you are after. Even if your son does not give you a single paisa, you still feel gratified, saying what, “My son – he is earning so much, and you know what, I’m independent enough to not accept a single paisa from him. That is the tradition of our honored clan. We raise sons but we do not demand anything from them.”
Being what we are it is hardly possible for us to do anything for others. Let us never weigh the other down with stories of our unconditional help or love. That does not happen with us. We are trying to make the other feel guilty for something he has never done. And we are trying to make ourselves feel inflated, superior, for something that we have never given. This is bad. Simply bad.
To give really fully, to give really unconditionally, have a huge heart. Really huge heart. If you are giving just to your son or daughter, you can be a big giver and still a very mean person. There are millions of mean fathers who keep on bestowing fortunes upon their offsprings. Are there not?
They give so much, millions and billions, but are they really giving? So, you can be a big giver, but still, you would remain very mean if you are giving with strings attached if you are giving conditionally. Real giving happens only when it is a joy for you to give. It is strange, please understand.
We say that real giving happens when the giver is at peace. That is what traditionally is said. But something beyond that, something even more than that can happen. If you are really a true giver, you can even start feeling restless if you cannot give. It is not merely that you are so much in peace that you are giving. Even your own peace can get disturbed if you do not get to give. Hence, giving is a favor that you are getting from the one to whom you are giving.
It has been a tradition in India that when you donate, you bow down to the one you are donating to, for this reason. He has done you a favor by accepting your donation, otherwise you would have remained restless. Rahim was not only a saint poet; he was a fairly well to do person. He was one of the nine gems of Akbar’s court. He had decent money. And it is said that once every year he would give away most of what he had, and he would simply become free of possessions.
Now, it was noticed that when he would be giving away things, he would simply keep his head bowed down, not even raise his eyes to look at the face of the person he was giving to. Somebody asked him, “What are you doing? Don’t you want to know whom you are benefiting.” He said, “I feel ashamed in giving.” The fellow said, “Why?” He said, “Because, I am just giving away that which has come to me. It is not really mine. But all the credit is coming to me. That’s what makes me feel ashamed. The very motivation to donate comes from Him.”
Without His intervention, you couldn’t have given away. If you had your personal way, you would have just kept accumulating. The very fact that you are able to have the strength to donate, to give, means that somebody else is at work. Who is at work? He is at work. And if it is His work, why is the person taking the credit. So, he said, “I just prefer to keep looking at the earth.”
Only in your total inner fullness can you really give, can you really do something for the other. And that is the right battle. The right battle says, “I am all right, yet I am picking up a battle.” That is very unknown in our life. When you feel alright, what do you do, you retire to your secluded sanctuary. You say, “Now that things are okay, I am going away and hiding in my cozy cave. Let nobody disturb me.” The way of the warrior, the real warrior, is different. He fights, precisely because he is okay.
When we are okay, what do we do? When we are okay then its curtains. Pull the curtains, switch on the AC, and put up a board ‘Do not disturb’. “I am okay, hence do not disturb.” The real warrior says, “Now that I am okay, it’s time to poke my nose.”
But, before you poke your nose, chop off your head.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Only a Buddha can really help others
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