Acharya Prashant, with students: Will living without ego cause one to starve?

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Acharya Prashant: The question is how do I fill this stomach if I don’t have an ‘ego’?

Firstly, you must see that you are deeply afraid. You are deeply afraid that if you don’t follow the orders of this ‘other’, that that other could be society, friends, family, corporations, the entire trend of career making. You are deeply afraid that If you don’t follow ‘that’ then you will end up starving. You won’t have enough eat.

Now, is this fear yours?

Even, this fear has been instinct to your mind by ‘that’ other. Don’t you see how cunning that other is? He repeatedly tells you that unless you become my slave, you will starve. But is that the Truth?

Is that the Truth?

Would you really starve if you don’t toe the others line? If you don’t develop an ego, that is If you don’t develop a sense of ‘Self’ dependent upon the other. You won’t.

I Invite you to find out whether you would really starve. The world will always have enough for you to eat. You won’t starve but you may not be able to fulfill these ambitions.

The funny part is even the ambition has been given to you by outside. So there is nothing lost if you can’t fulfill it. You don’t lose anything at all if you don’t meet your ambitions. Remember, there will always be enough to meet your needs. And a free man will always find enough to meet his needs. Because his needs are always so small.

You don’t need too much but yes, your ambitions depend upon your subservience to the society.

Needs don’t make you a slave, ambitions make you a slave.

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Acharya Prashant with Students: The real use of ambition

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Questioner: Why are we running when we don’t have anything to achieve in life?

Acharya Prashant: Ofcourse, when you don’t have to achieve anything in life then you don’t run; but are you that person who doesn’t have to achieve anything? The one who doesn’t have to achieve anything, ofcoursem doesn’t run; but are are you that person who doesn’t have to achieve anything?

You aren’t, so you are running.

Q: But what is the use of having ambitions in life?

AP: The use of having ambitions in life is that they prevent you from looking at your current state, you see there is that quotation that, ‘I might be lying in the gutter but still I am looking at the stars’, that’s what ambition is.

I am not doing anything about the gutter and stink that I am in, I am preoccupied looking at the stars; ambition takes you away from the present, that’s the use of ambition.

The use of ambition is: It takes you away from the present moment; it takes you into a dream future; it helps you avoid effort, if I live in the present then I have to be acutely aware of my situations right now, and I’ll have to act right now, ambition is a dream that helps me comfortably avoid the present.

Ambition is a plan about the future, something you want to happen in the future, and it is a beautiful thing, beautiful device, tool of the cunning mind is to be ambitious.

Q: Sir, but ambition helps us to act in the present because we know that we have something to achieve in the future so we act in the present moment to get that…

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Acharya Prashant: The purpose of life is to come to purposelessness

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Question: What is the purpose of human life?

Acharya Prashant: See, we ask this question assuming that there is a purpose.

We ask this question assuming just as everything about us is purposeful so life must also be purposeful. Is there any validity to that assumption?

Purpose means a finality, it means an end. But if we begin right from where we are, then we always feel a purpose, don’t we?

Because we feel a purpose, so we want to know what is the right purpose. Correct?

That is our situation.

None of us is ever without a purpose, we may be confused about the purpose — and that is another matter — but a purpose or bag of purpose is always present. The challenge then is not knowing about whether there must be purpose, the challenge we face is determining the right purpose from many that we imagine.

What about freedom from this confusion?

What about not having to choose at all?

Maybe, that is the purpose of the life. Maybe, all our purposes, this entire bag is an unnecessary load, hence, maybe the purpose of the life is to come to purposelessness.

Of course, that is not something that we can absorb here from the speaker. We all carry purpose, maybe, it is far more important to see the limitations of those purposes. The very recurring cycle, the infinite loop those purposes are. Does any purpose ever end fully? Or does it simply makes way for another purpose? Have you ever had a goal which was the final one? Have you ever had a purpose the fulfilment of which will bring all the purposes to an end?

Yes?

Have you ever had a destination beyond which you would not need to travel?

Now that invalidates the very definition of purpose.

Purpose by itself means something which when attained would give us a sense of completion, fulfillment. You would say that the purpose has been fulfilled. But where is the fulfillment? In fact, the more you go on conquering purposes, the more purposeful you feel; because more your confidence grows that purposes can give you something.

You feel that you have not achieved that something yet, and your next conclusion is purposeness is not giving me something, so let’s try hard enough; it is not as if the very premise, the very assumption is flawed, it is just that I am lacking in effort so let me put in little more efforts; let me set the next goal even further.

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Acharya Prashant, with students: You are the mother of all importance

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Acharya Prashant: All your student life, you have been talking and studying about this and that. The languages, Science, Social Sciences – History, Geography, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry. Now, Technology.

But there is one entity that you have forgotten so much, that it is very difficult at this moment, to even remind you of that entity. That entity has never been in the domain of your education. You have studied about a lot of things, but there is one entity that you have never studied about. Never bothered to attend to.

What is that entity?

Listener: Personality.

AP: Personality?

You will get to study a lot of Personality.

In fact, you have been studying about nothing but ‘Personality’!

‘Personality’ by definition is nothing but what you gather from outside.

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Acharya Prashant, with Students: Should one start early to achieve in life?

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Questioner: Should one start early to achieve or excel in life?

Acharya Prashant: Siddharth, you don’t need to agree with me. You only need to understand what is being said. Agreement and disagreement come out from your conditioning. I am not looking for that. I am asking for your intelligence, so that you can understand what is here. And after understanding, you are totally free to reject it.

Who taught you that one must achieve in life?

The very foundation of what you are saying is that life must be an achievement. What you are saying is there must be targets and goals and life is a process of attaining them. Where are your goals coming from?

Don’t you see the entire process of conditioning that is behind it?

Do you see what is being said?

What is being said is, there must be a goal, there must be an effort in attaining that goal and to attain that goal one must start early. That is the line of argument that is being given. I want you to understand the basis of it.

The fundamental assumption is that life is nothing but an achievement, but mind you, all achievement is in the future. You have been told that life is something that is divided between success and failure. Do you really think that this is your own understanding?

No.

This comes to you from education, media, family, society. Since childhood you have been goaded to attain this, attain that, X percentage, Y percentage, clearing the JEE, getting a job and how has that process proceeded?

Through greed and fear.

If you attain something, there will be an external reward. If you do not attain it, there would be an external disincentive. So, what is happening?

A goal is being set from the outside. A reward is coming from the outside. All disincentive is coming from the outside.

Is there any bit of you in all this?

But because it is happening over a long period of time, you have started thinking, in the delusion that these are my goals that I must attain and to attain them I must prepare.

Are these your goals at all?

The goals are coming as a result of your conditioning, and all conditioning is nothing but a lack of understanding. All conditioning is making somebody a slave. So, it is like this, that I am a slave and I want to make the slave do a lot of things. So, I condition him thoroughly and I condition him so deeply that he starts believing that what he is doing is his own desire.

The slave starts believing that what he is doing is his own desire whereas what he is doing is only what he has been programmed to do. It’s like a computer starting to believe that it is functioning on its own. No, it is not functioning on its own. It has been programmed to function in a certain way.

And if the computer gets up and argues that, ‘Well Sir, I have certain goals to achieve, certain things to excel in, so I look towards the future’. And the one who has programmed him is standing by and smiling at the success of his programming.

I just invite you to look at your own minds and thought processes. Every goal is a desire, you understand that? How many of our goals are really ours? There would be so many amongst us who are sitting here purely because somebody else wanted them to pursue engineering. There would be so many here who need a particular kind of job because somebody else expects them to get that kind of job. There would be so many here who would be pursuing MBA after engineering purely because there are a couple of MBAs in their family. How many of your goals are yours? You can understand that only when you become attentive to the processes of your mind and when become attentive to the processes of your mind, of all that which happens in this moment, and in this moment you find there are no goals.

It is alright once you have understood what you are doing, after that if you want to pursue it with all the vigor, effort and planning you are most welcome.

Firstly, for your own sake, see what you are pursuing. Is it really yours? For a five-year-old kid, it is understandable, he has not yet developed the physical framework in which intelligence can prosper, but you are around 18 years, 20 years old. If you claim that you do not understand what is happening in your life, then you must understand.

It’s high time you understand because it is you who has to live your life, not the one who is conditioning you, not the one who is influencing you. You and your intelligence, that’s it, nothing else. These are not two things but one.

~ Acharya Prashant speaking at KEC, Ghaziabad on 24th August 2012


Excerpts from a Shabda-Yoga Session. Edited for Clarity.

Watch Full Discourse: Acharya Prashant on Gurdjieff: Man is a machine

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Acharya Prashant: Ambition and anger

Acharya Prashant: What is your name?

Listener: Kshitij Aggarwal.

AP: The question asked by Kshitij is why do needs often dominate ambition?

And he surely thinks that it is quite unfortunate that needs to start dominating ambitions. The reason is simple, he probably gives a lower priority to needs and higher priority to ambitions because he thinks that the ambitions are his. He has kept ambitions very close to himself. He believes that they are his own.

So, he deeply wants the ambitions to be fulfilled. But finds that instead, something else has to be done, first of all, we will understand this conflict. And we all face this conflict, this conflict is not only in Kshitij’s mind, this conflict in the mind of every single one of us. But we are all confused, we rarely know, what to do. There are always one or more options in front of us, and we are unable to see clearly which one is suitable. Right?

This happens not only once in six months, at the time of admissions or at the time of choosing a job, it keeps happening daily, day in and day out. What is this conflict? you will have to understand.

Kshitij,

Our mind is dominated by ‘external influences’ which we have so far called is the development of ‘Ego.’

Our mind is not our mind, our mind is a collection of all external influences.

Our mind is divided into many many segments and many parts, and there are so many different forces that are controlling these separate parts. So, one part is being controlled by parents, one part is being dominated by media, one part is being dominated by society, one part by peers, one by corporations, one by thoughts of career, one by XYZ, and very very large number of parts.

Now, these different parts are your different masters. It’s like a person is tied to fifty different ropes being pulled by fifty different people in fifty different directions. Will that person be able to move towards any definite direction, any one direction.

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Just grows

Whatever you think you are, is one identity that you are carrying. And that identity can have no possibility of any Love. So, forget it that there can be any ‘self- love’! No self-love is possible. ‘Self -love’ is an oxymoron.

The Great man is not a Great man. That Great man has to be Great, every passing moment inattention.

The Great man, retains his understanding of himself, as somebody who is different from his concepts. He does not get identified with his thoughts.

A cancerous cell is very very ambitious! It multiplies like hell. That’s ambition. A normal healthy cell, does not grow out of ambition. It just grows. Just grows.

Growth is your very nature. It happens spontaneously out of understanding. It does not require ambition. You don’t need to be ambitious in order to grow.

There is no target, no ambitionThis is Self-love.



Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant: Self-love, and difference between self and the Self