Student: Sir, what is an Ideal?
Acharya Prashant: You tell me. What is Idealism?
S: It is a prescription by the society in regard to how we should be.
AP: For an idealism to exist there must be an ideal and for an ideal, there should be an idea. Let’s see what is an idea, an imagination is. To imagine something new, you must first know what is. And to know what is, one must be awake. Otherwise, imagination is absurd; it is just a dream. But if I am awake, I can’t be imagining. If I am imagining, I can’t be in the present. When we are thinking, we are out of touch with Reality. Reality is what is right now. Reality is not a thought of the mind. Either I can be directly in touch with this moment, or I can be thinking. So idealism is imagination.
S: Why do people want ideals?
AP: Because people are dissatisfied with the present. If I am present here; if I understand this moment, won’t I have a spontaneous response? For example, if there is a fire in this room, do you require an ideal to know what is the best thing to do? People have created ideal as a substitute for understanding what the current moment is. And so are all ideals, like planning, setting targets or any thought relating to future. You all are great idealists. You don’t know, you are following a set pattern that has been given to you.
If I understand this moment, deeply understand what is right now, then I have infinite possibilities. For example, if I am a die-hard communist, can I really take any action out of an understanding ? Or am I bound to act as a communist? Intelligence or Communism? Idealism will hamper my action because I don’t want to keep all possibilities open to me. This is so because either I am not courageous or I am not open. So I need one course of action. Hence Idealism must be demolished. We are intelligent human beings who can understand. Idealism is against intelligence. All intelligent men have defied ideals.
S: It is an ideal that we should not kill people. What would you say about it?
AP: There will be times when killing is appropriate. What else is Bhagavad Gita saying?
S: Sir, What about speaking the truth?
AP: Do you really know what Truth is? How can you speak the truth, if you don’t know the Truth? What is your truth except a mere repetition of facts? In the name of truth, you only express your opinion about the truth. Truth is a situation vested in a person. There is no objective truth. When I stand clear of my thoughts, dogmas, prejudices and pre-conceived notions, only then I can see the truth.
S: Religion gives us ideals like reading Quran 5 times a day.
AP: You are not talking of Religion; you are talking of a dogma of religion, a set of prescribed activities. Talking of religion, you see, the most repeated words in The Sermon on the Mount are ‘But I say unto you‘.There were 10 commandments that Moses had prescribed. Jesus takes up each one of these and puts all of them to the test of ‘But I say unto you’…meaning that each of these commandments is limited and violable. Just see the reality, understand it; where is idealism in all this? That alone is the basic obligation of a human being, to use one’s intelligence and understand.
S: Sir, what about God?
AP: Do you really think that believing something without knowing is good for you?
S: Sir but we feel God’s presence sometimes.
AP: (sarcastically)If you really feel God, then would you be the way you are? Your feeling is also a thought which has been borrowed. This God too is a concept of yours.
S: Sir but God is something which is unknown?
AP: Is the fact that God can’t be known your own personal truth or is it again a borrowed thought? Have you really understood on your own that God is beyond logic and understanding? If you are accepting or rejecting a hypothesis, do it yourself. If in your Maths exam there is a question in your exam that asks you to prove L.H.S. = R.H.S, what would you do? Would you just write in your paper that ‘I believe it is so’? I believe that LHS=RHS, and hence there is no need to prove !
S: Sir, you are talking about two opposites-sciences and spirituality, your example doesn’t fit in the area of science.
AP: Who is the one, who talks about science?
AP: Who is the one talking of Spirituality?
AP: You being one, how can the understanding be fragmented? How is it possible that the same individual who explores life and iron ore on the moon, chooses not to step out of his house on a Lunar eclipse! All such rubbish is caused by the fragmented individual who has compartmentalised Science and Spirituality in two different minds.
S: Sir, you are talking about a Utopian world.
AP: Is this world, your world, a Utopia? Or am I talking about a Utopian world? I am the one talking of reality and you have been continuously talking about your dreams and imaginations. The world of goal, planning, targets is a Utopia. We are living day in and day out in a Utopia.
S: Sir, you are saying that we have borrowed everything from outside, is it possible for me to be intelligent, to be able to accept or reject on my own?
AP: By virtue of being a human, you are intelligent. You are talking like a man who has all the riches in his pocket but has been made to forget that he is wealthy.
S: (Mockingly) Sir you really think we are intelligent?
AP: Your conditioning has made you believe that you are a slave. The way you are brought up in your family, your education system, society—all have made you believe that you are a slave. Just see what it has come to! You are asking me whether I really think that you are intelligent and you are laughing! You are laughing at yourself ! You deride yourself and take pleasure in it ! You giggle so incredibly at my suggestion that you may be intelligent.(sudden silence)
Please understand that the way you are right now, you are not intelligent. Look at the chaos in the street, look at the mad crowd, look at the sheer obligation you enter this class with! Is that intelligence?
Can a person who is asleep, know that the other person is awake? Even to say that somebody is intelligent, you must be intelligent yourself. You are talking in this manner, “suppose somebody is intelligent”..What is this supposition? You know intelligence only when you yourself are.
There are two ‘I’s- One of them is your self-concept and the other is what you really are. Of course, we can’t explore it in just 20 minutes, or with a person in front of yourself as an authority. This must be done individually, with a tremendous sense of Self-love.
S: Is it not my intelligence to follow ideals sometimes?
AP: Sometimes ? How many times? How many times have you been intelligent? Whenever intelligence dawns upon you, it will show you something that you don’t want to see. That‘s why society has established guilt inside you. That’s why your ‘sometimes’ is so rare.
S: Me coming to this session, is it not intelligence?
AP: No. Intelligence comes out of understanding. Intelligence is not a thought. Everyone is caught in thought and conflict. Intelligence happens in the absence of thought. In thoughtless observation, things are known. The moment you borrow a concept, you also borrow the belief in the concept. If you are attentive, whatever comes to you is intelligence. Did you come here out of your understanding? Then you would have been free. Understanding is freedom. But you come at my behest, and you will go when I will close the session. And in between coming and going, you listen to me mechanically. Some of you are resisting me, some of you are gaping at me in sheer awe, some are coolly indifferent to the proceedings, and some are simply asleep. Where is intelligence in all of this?
Dated: March 12, 2012
Place: Session at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi
The fan is on as usual. He is beneath a thin blanket. It’s 3 at night. There’s always a 3 at night. He sees it daily. Today he went to bed at 10. But he woke up to see the 3. He feels cold. The fan regulator is set at 3. He wants to make it 2. If he does that, he would feel uncomfortable beneath the blanket. He can’t put the blanket away. It would feel a little cold then. He huddles himself in a bundle. The touch of his body feels warm and he closes his eyes. Continue reading
Question: Sir, can the situation change? Suppose a person realizes that the whole problem is because faith is missing! Can it be regained? Can a person who does have faith, get it? How can one develop that faith within oneself?
Acharya Prashant: Adita,
You have asked:
“Suppose a person realizes that the whole problem is because that faith is missing. Can it be regained? Can a person who does have faith, get it?How can one develop that faith within oneself?”
Don’t you see that the air is perfect for you to breathe?
Don’t you see that you have been given a life without showing any deservedness?
Don’t you see that you can understand what is written?
Ask, “Then why do you show frequent signs of distrust?”
Ego will say, “Because I am the age-old habit of stupidity and suspicion. But surely, I want to trust. Nothing calms me down more deeply than trusting the system. My ultimate wish is to trust so deeply that I donot have to worry anymore. Just that, in inattention, I feel that trusting is harmful and suspicion is needed.”
“Do you ever want to feel that way- suspicious, insecure, stupid?”
“Then remain attentive, and remain in trust. This trust is called faith.”
Question: Sir, Ashtavakra Gita ch. 13 verse 3: “Recognising that in reality no action is ever committed, I live as I please, just doing what presents itself to be done.”
(kṛtaṁ kimapi naiva syād iti saṁcintya tattvataḥ yadā yatkartumāyāti tat kṛtvāse yathāsukham)
Detail: “However , continues Janak whenever he is goaded to act in the world outside due to the pressure of his PRARABDHA, he does it willingly as an agent of the Lord, the Self.”
Question: I just want to say that many times in a day we all think the same thing that we all want to become free. I mean free from all relations, am I right? My question is, we all think that we should have the understanding of individuality, freedom of thoughts, attachment and at the same time my religion says that in the holy books of Quran, it is mentioned that Allah says to worship me. Believe in me. If you want something then ask me, I’ll give you. But then, this is contradictory, this means that we are bounded.
Do we firstly need to understand what is religion or is it fine to go on talking about individuality, attachment and freedom etc?
Acharya Prashant: Freedom and bondage are not in the world, situations, other people, relations, or in religious practices, or in holy books.
Both freedom and bondage exist in the human mind.
If my mind is in bondage, I can never experience freedom even if I am given the best of external situations.
So, do not look at others, situations, or religions. Just look at your own mind.
If the mind is greedy, it will use relationships and religion just to fulfill its own greed.
If the mind is afraid, it will create a God who protects and is merciful.
If the mind is insecure, it will create institutionalised relationships where there can be hope of permanent security.
If the mind is full of desires, it will use prayers just to ask for more and more.
You talked of religion. Religion is a very simple and meaningful word. Religion just means living in awareness.
Religion just means that I will not lead a stupid life of imaginations and conditioned reactions.
Religion means ‘I am Intelligent’. That’s all that religion is.
So you see, even religion is dependent upon you. You donot become religious by following an external commandment, or a holy book. You become truly religious only when you live in the joy of your OWN intelligence.
Q: Yes, I agree. Moreover, in my religion, one worships Allah 5 times in a day and it is a must for everyone. This is a condition on us. Then how can one be free of condition?
From your statement: If mind is greedy then we create God; it means there is no God.
AP: What we call as truth is not the truth, but that does not mean that there is no truth.
What we call as love is not love, but that does not mean that there is no love.
What we call as freedom is not freedom, but that does not means that there is no freedom.
The God that we have imagined for ourselves is surely just an unreal imagination coming from the human mind.
But does that mean that there is nothing sacred, nothing divine, nothing beyond the world?
God is that which gives the mind the power to understand, but which Itself cannot be understood by the mind. The very existence of the mind proves that there is something beyond the mind. That is God.
You get all your thoughts from outside, but do you also get the power to think from outside? That itself is God.
God is a simple beyondness.
God is not a person, not a power, not a deity, not a law, not anything that the mind can think of.
God is just the fundamental base of the mind.
God is humility.
God is, when the mind knows that it is so limited. God is, when the mind bows down in gratitude.
You get your conditioning from the world and the past, but does the world and the past also give you intelligence? That is God.
When the mind surrenders itself to the intelligence beyond itself, then you are a real faithful. Then you have known God.
An intelligent mind is a religious mind. A religious mind is a humble mind.
Of course, you can see that religion does not much to do with following certain practices or commandments.
However,these commandments, practices etc sometimes do have a practical use. For example, praying 5 times a day means the mind is reminded 5 times a day to surrender to intelligence.
And why only 5 times? A truly religious mind prays every single moment.
Q: I am not agreeing with your statements, sorry. I am a religious person, your every statement is contradicting my thoughts and religion. I am in a very bad situation. Don’t know what to think.
AP: There is nothing called ‘my religion’. There are no two religions. Religion is just one, just as Truth is just one.
Can there be two truths? Then how can there be multiple religions?
You can have multiple imaginations and beliefs, however.
And that one Religion has no name, just as ‘God’ really has no name, no form, no place.
Q: I think to know the truth, firstly, I should know completely about the religion. Why are there many religion instead of one? Good discussion with you Sir. Getting some clarity.
AP: There are many names. Not many religions. Names are what are causing all the confusion. Learn to look beyond the names. It is so simple.
Q: I will, Sir.
“While doing your duty, let me tell you, never bring in any of the attitudes of the outer self.
Anger, hate, jealousy, attachment, all pertain to the outer self.”
Acharya Prashant: A similar verse from Gita was raised this Wednesday as well. Krishna, the renegade, seems to be junking all traditional values. Non-violence, democracy, individuality, family, lawfulness- he would have none of these.