Tag Archives: Contentment

What is desireless action? || Acharya Prashant (2019)

What is desireless action

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Question: Acharya Ji, how will I get motivation to do some work, if I am not attached to the result of the work?

Acharya Prashant Ji: When you come to this hall, you are probably prompted by some desire, aren’t you?

Listener: Yes.

Acharya Ji: There are desires, there are calculations, there are pluses and minuses, you probably weigh the pros and cons. All those things are there. Sometimes there is a nagging question you want to get rid of, therefore you come. That’s how the thing mostly starts. That’s how the thing mostly starts. So this ‘sakaam karma’(the desire-oriented action). Your movement in this hall is motivated by a desire.

You want something, therefore you ‘do’.

This is the common ‘sakaam karma’.

You ‘do’ because you want.

So, the action is a means of fulfilling the desire.

This is normal ‘sakaam karma’.

That’s how things are at Twelve Noon. You are sitting ready to fire your questions. You have a purpose in being here. What is the purpose? – ‘I want my questions answered.’ You have a definite purpose. That’s Twelve noon.

Now, how is it like at 1:30 p.m.? You came with a question, but the question has not reached here. You do not even intend to ask the question anymore. At Twelve Noon, when you were listening, you were listening with an objective. What was the objective? The resolution of the query. And how are you listening at 1:30 p.m.? You are ‘just’ listening. You are ‘just’ listening.

Something is still happening. But the objective is lost. Now the ‘happening’ itself is very juicy. Now the ‘happening’ is not means towards an end. Now the means itself has merged with the end. It is as if, the means has moved into the end, or the end has come to the means to bless it.

Now there is no distinction. Now you are not saying that let the others’ questions be answered fast, so that the speaker may take up my question. Hence now, there is no gap. Hence now, there is no waiting for the result. Hence now, time has stopped for you.

This is ‘nishkaam karma(desireless action)’ – the ‘doing’ is not for some objective outside of itself.

The ‘doing’ itself is the objective.

What do you work for? You work for satisfaction. Call it ‘deep contentment’. Right? You work, for the sake of that. And therefore, work is never very satisfying, because work to you is not the last thing. Work is just a middleman, for the sake of a result. Therefore, work is just a necessary evil for you.

Had it been possible, you would have removed the work, the process, the time interval, from between, and you would have said, “Is it possible to come directly to the result?” And that is why man wants to keep gaining in efficiency.

Man wants to keep gaining in efficiency.

Do you see what is this continuous movement towards more and more efficient processes, machines and systems? It is because man works for a purpose. It is because, the work, and the time invested in work, is itself, not very likable. So man says, “Minimize the work, and maximize the result.”

‘Nishkaam karma(desireless action)’ means – work is life.

Work is life, anyway.

Even when you ‘think’, you are not working, you are actually working. So, no point fooling oneself, with the effort to minimize work.

Even when you ‘think’, you are having leisure, you ‘are’ actually working.

Therefore, why not work in a way, that transcends work.

That is ‘nishkaam karma’.

Work cannot be avoided. Life is work.

You are working, even when you are sleeping. You are working, even when you think, you are relaxing. Why not choose work, with such deep discretion, that work does not remain a load that you have to reduce, work no more remains something that you want to outsource?

Why not come to a situation, where you are no longer seeking happiness, in the reduction of work? Have you seen how the common man celebrates, when his work burden is reduced? That is ‘sakaam karma’.

Have you seen how students like to achieve results, without working? Were it possible to achieve hundred percent marks, without laboring at all, students would have been the happiest? Because as a student, or as a worker, you find no joy in the process. For you, joy is a destination, mostly. For most people. That is ‘sakaam karma’.

Now, we will come to the more horrifying part of it. Whenever, work is a means to an end, ‘the end’ is never really achieved. Ha! We are beaten both ways. First of all, we expended a lot of time, trying to reach – an end. And even if we somehow manage to reach that end, what do we discover? – ‘Is this where I wanted to reach?’ And then you proceed towards, other destination. And that is what is called, ‘the vicious cycle’.

So, those who work towards ‘an end’, find that they are defeated both in the work, as well as in the end. Double defeat. And those who work, without ‘an end’, those who work, because the work itself is service, devotion, they win doubly. First of all, work is celebration. Secondly, work is the end. So, you are celebrating your way to the success. 

You are dancing towards victory. You are not dancing ‘towards’ victory, you are dancing, ‘in’ victory. You are continuously victorious, and you are continuously celebrating.

Any takers?

And compare this to the picture of the one who is striving, toiling, fighting, with the dream of some distant success in his eyes. Remember that the success that he dreams of, is merely his concept. It is an image, because he has not yet come to it. Therefore, the success that he is talking of, is merely an image.

When you come to it, you find that it simply does not match your expectations. Double defeat! First of all, you are striving, toiling, and making life hell for yourself. Though with the pride, with the vanity, that you are a fighter. That you are a warrior. You will have that satisfaction.

So, it may keep egging you on, for a very long time. Probably, even for the entire lifetime.

Listener 1: So, it is all about the journey, and not the destination?

Acharya Ji: The destination is everything, but the destination cannot be distant. The destination has to be the first step in the journey. It is not as if, it is only about the journey, and not the destination. Obviously, the destination comes first. The journey begins, upon reaching the destination.

So, reach the destination first, and then keep traveling. Destinations, upon destinations. Do not travel as if the destination is elusive, and faraway.

Listener 2: Acharya Ji, how to make my work devotion?

Acharya Ji: The work has to be worthy of devotion, first of all. Therefore, choose your work very, very carefully, everyday.

Listener 2: Is it a matter of discretion?

Acharya Ji: Obviously, it is a matter of discretion. Obviously.

It is not ‘the work’, it is the destination that is commanding the work.

It is the destination that is commanding the work.

So, what is ‘the work’ that you are talking of? – That’s what you must look at.

The destination has to be absolutely compelling.

So very compelling, that you cannot even entertain the ‘thought’, that is is distant.

If you want something really desperately, do you want it five years hence, or right now?

Listener 2: Right now.

Acharya Ji: The destination has to be that very attractive. Not only attractive, it has to be that very indispensable.


Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session:  What is desireless action? || Acharya Prashant (2019)


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Acharya Prashant, with students: How to be contented in life?

T22

Acharya Prashant: Ishita asks, “What is contentment and why do we run behind it?”

Ishita we never run behind contentment. We run behind another thing called ‘satisfaction.’ Contentment is not a goal to be achieved. Contentment is right now. Contentment is our intrinsic fullness which opens up in the absence of any desire. When there is no desire, then you know everything is alright! That is contentment. That is intrinsic fullness, you don’t run after it to get it.

But yes there is another word. You know the dictionary would say these two are synonymous contentment and satisfaction. But in lives, these two are poles apart. Very-very different. We run after satisfaction. What do we say? We say that if we get that then we will be satisfied. That which you are after is always ahead. Always in future. Am I right?

Listener: Yes, sir.

AP: Do you ever say that in this moment if I get something I will be satisfied? Because if you say this moment, then by the time you say this moment this has already become a time. Become past. So, defacto you are always aspiring about the future. A hope into the future. If I get that then.

Continue reading

Identify with God

When Jesus is acting and he is doing, then it is not arising from a motivation to serve his own personalhood. He has already arrived. He is home. He does not want to go anywhere or reach or become better. He is now merely doing. He is not aspiring. He is the doer, not someone who wants to be transformed through the doing.

 

When you just do then you have the right to call yourself the doer.

 

You are not discontented, your tendencies are discontented.

 

Fear is subjugating you. Fear has dominated you to the extent that it has stolen your identity. So in spite of you not being the doer, fear being the doer, you identify with the doer because you’re identified with the fear. You are not getting mad in lust, it’s your deep latent sleeping tendencies that are so lustful.

 

But because you in your ignorance, in your childish cleverness fight the truth, so you have no option but to identify with lust. And when you identify with lust, the doing of lust becomes your doing.

 

Very often you have to pay the price in spite of you not being the culprit.

 

What does it mean to identify with God? It means to identify with completeness.

Identify with God.

 

Give yourself up, and if you cannot do that then submit yourself as you are to the truth, that’s what the devotee does.

He says accept me as I am, O Lord! I’ve given myself totally to you. Good or bad I’m yours.

I’ll not even try to improve myself. I’ll not even try to correct myself.

I’ve lost all doership. Even to improve myself I must be left with a modicum of doership. I have no doership left at all.

If I am evil, cunning, ugly, deceptive, I’m giving myself to you. You take care of me. I’m nobody to improve myself.



Read the complete article: On Jesus Christ and Sage Ashtavakra: Don’t accompany the thief!

On Jesus Christ and Sage Ashtavakra: Don’t accompany the thief!

 

Poster 5

The thought ‘I am the doer’ is the bite of the poisonous snake.

To know ‘I do nothing’ is the wisdom of faith. Be joyful.

Ashtavakra Gita

(Chapter 1, VERSE 8)

Acharya Prashant: Ashtavakra Gita has been quoted.

“The thought ‘I am the doer’ is the bite of the poisonous snake. To know ‘I do nothing’ is the wisdom of faith. Be joyful.”

Ashtavakra Gita (Chapter 1, VERSE 8)

The question says “The Ashtavakra here is saying that doership is sin. But Jesus says ‘Let me do it. I’m the doer’. So why is there this contradiction? ”

Obviously there can be no contradiction. If Ashtavakra is saying that doership is sin, and Jesus is saying that He’s the doer, then obviously Ashtavakra and Jesus are not talking about the same entity. When Ashtavakra says doership is sin, he’s saying let not the ego act. Only the ego is interested in claiming doership. Only the ego is interested in creating and maintaining a divide in which one part can do something to the other.

The doership of the ego is always an exercise in fear, incompleteness and exploitation. Therefore, Ashtavakra is saying that doership is sin. When Jesus says in many place, on multiple occasions that He is the doer or the knower, he’s not talking as a limited person. He is not talking because the talking would gratify him, inflate him, magnify him, or help him become something. His doing is no doership at all because the common doership that we see is always the doership of fear and faithlessness.

When Jesus is acting and he is doing, then it is not arising from a motivation to serve his own personalhood. He has already arrived. He is home. He does not want to go anywhere or reach or become better. He is now merely doing. He is not aspiring. He is the doer, not someone who wants to be transformed through the doing.

Continue reading

Conceive the child only in love

Slide1

 

Question: Why is it important for a kid to be conceived in love?

Acharya Prashant: Because, when the kid is conceived in love, then you will not want to possess the kid. When the kid is not conceived in love, then you would want to own the kid. For the sake of the kid, conceive the kid only in love.

You see, what is happening. When you conceive the kid in love, then love is sufficient. Now you do not want returns from the kid. Now, you are not hungry anymore. The moment of love was sufficient. The love itself was sufficient.

Now you will not say that something is left unfinished and this kid is now responsible for finishing that. Now the kid is just a gift. Now the kid is not an organized activity. Now the kid is not an investment. Now the kid is not the output of your plan. If there was a plan, the plan was love. Continue reading

How to get rid of addictions?

 

Slide2

Question: How to get rid of addictions like smoking, overeating?

Acharya Prashant: Do you overeat when you are sleeping? Do you feel an urge to smoke when you are sleeping? Do you feel an urge to smoke, even when you are deep in relaxation? When do you feel like smoking?

Listener: I have been drinking and it started when I was feeling depressed. But later on, drinking became a habit. Then you drink because you are happy, you drink because you are sad, you drink because nothing is happening, out of boredom.

AP: Yes, but I still want to go into that.

Do you still drink when you are sleeping? Do you drink in your deep moment of contentment? You said, you drink when you are happy, you drink when you are sad. Don’t you see, both of these are moments of excitement? Do you feel like smoking, when you are utterly peaceful? Does that happen? Continue reading

What is Zen? A clean plate

Slide5

A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered this monastery. I beg you to teach me.”

Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?”

The monk replied, “I have.”

“Then,” said Joshu, “Go and wash your bowl.”

At that moment the monk was enlightened.

AP: Nothing except this is needed. Go and clean your plate, go and wash your utensils. Go and clean the dishes, that’s all is needed. What else is Zen? A clean slate. What else is Zen? A clean plate. You must be totally done with it. If you are done with eating, why is your plate still carrying food? Even if it is traces of food. You must be totally done with it. That complete closure is Zen.

We live lives of continuity where the past keeps carrying itself forward. Zen, is a total dissociation, every moment. Every moment is complete in itself, leaves no residue behind. I have no obsession with the past because the past is, complete and closed. I have nothing to give to the future because right now, I have no fear. I am not living in incompleteness. There is nothing that would get rolled over to the future.

A dirty plate is a dirty mind. It is carrying traces. It is carrying stuff from somewhere else. Go clean the plate. And since this happens to be the one and only thing, hence it is more surprise that the monk gets instantly enlightened. After all, what remains after this? If your plate is clean, if your mind is clean, what is left to be done? What is left to be done?

But this is one thing that is so straight-forward and yet does not happen. Filling up the plate is so easy, emptying the plate is so difficult. Fifteen readings, wonderful! I’ll have a good time. My already overloaded mind would get further overloaded! So I feel attracted, enthused, fifteen readings, nice! But the moment, the teacher strikes, and content in your mind starts getting off-loaded, you shiver and try to run away. Gathering knowledge is so pleasant, right? It makes the ego feel bloated, inflated and bigger. But cleaning the mind, making it lighter, unburdening it, unloading it comes like a threat. “Oh something in me is getting reduced. I am under attack! My notions are getting shaken up!” That’s what Zen is all about, a total shake up! Such a shakeup that clears away all the rubbish. Have you had your dinner?

Listener 1: Yes.

AP: (Smilingly) are the plates clean?

Listener 2: How to complete the stuff?

AP: How does stuff remain incomplete? We said there are these three ways in which stuff remains incomplete. What are these three ways? Planning, effort, expectations.

Listener 2: Basically fear?

AP: (Nods in consent)

Listener 2: And satisfaction also deals with this?

AP: (Nods in consent) Contentment is the word.

Listener 2: If these three words are there…

AP: Even now you are saying that if these three are there then contentment is there. That’s not the way. When contentment is there then these three are not there! When contentment is there, what is the point in expecting? When contentment is there, what is the point in planning? Contentment comes first. Contentment is Buddha nature, contentment is Atman.

Listener 2: Like you said just now. So what should be the quality of this moment? When we go to bed then memories of this moment doesn’t flash or the images of this must not be there…?

AP: No great quality is needed here. All that is needed is that you do not come here carrying a dirty plate. Do not bring the remnants of your dinner to this room. If you’ve had your dinner then everything about the dinner should be left clean and outside. But what do we do? The dinner carries forward to this room. And then you feel sleepy! Do you get it? No special quality is needed. All that is needed that you come here clean, come clean!

Listener 3: Sir, one thing that is coming in mind is that in these eleven-twelve stories, each one of them, people were like they got enlightened from such a short story. But I am reading so many stories and practically that part is not coming in me. So what is it that is being left in me?

AP: First of all these are not history. These are not historical stories. When it is said that someone got instantly enlightened, at just a small gesture of the Guru. What is meant is that potentially every word of the monk, the teacher, the Guru, is potent enough to tell you everything, provided you are ready to listen. If you are ready to listen then any single word is enough to give you everything. That is what is meant by saying that in this small way, he got enlightened! In this ordinary symbol, he got?

Listeners: (In unison) Enlightened.

AP: In saying this, what is being said is, do not expect great things. Pay attention to the small things that are happening right now. To every small indication of the teacher. To every ordinary word that is coming to you. And if you can give yourself totally to it, then you are home. No great words, no greater words are going to ever come to you. What is coming to you is the final thing. Nothing higher than this can be said or has ever been said. Still, if it doesn’t bring you there, the reason is just that you keep on expecting something even grander, even more miraculous.

Zen is not about giving you grandeur on miracles. In Zen, things like these happen. Somebody asks, “What is the Buddha nature?” Somebody says, “Oh! Look at that tree.” And the fellow gets enlightened. No great answers! Somebody asks, “Which of these is the best piece in your shop?” and the shopkeeper replies, “All the pieces in my shop are best pieces.” And the fellow gets enlightened. So in the ordinary events of life, and in the ordinary replies of the teacher, lies the potential to give you the highest that you have ever demanded, provided you do not keep on dreaming that something bigger than this can still happen. Nothing bigger than this will ever happen! This is That! The ultimate! What more can be said? And if this does not suffice, nothing else would ever do. If this does not bring you there then nothing else ever would.

Kyogen said, “Zen is like a monk

Hanging by his teeth in a tree over a precipice.

His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb,

And under the tree another man asks him,

“Why did Bodhidharma come to China from India?”

If the man in the tree does not answer, he misses the question

And if he answers, he falls and loses his life,

Now what shall he do?”

AP: For us, there is either an action or the opposite of that action, right? For us, whenever we are faced with choices, it is always about either doing this or doing that. Either yes or no, either right or left. A pair of opposites. But whether we do this or whether we do that, one thing is certain that we, do! That we remain the doer. Kyogen says, “Please understand Zen. Zen is not about doing ‘this’ and Zen is neither about doing the opposite of ‘this’.” Because whether you do this or whether you do that, whether you say yes or whether you say no, in either case, you miss, you lose.

Zen is about forsaking both, yes and no, together. And that is forsaken when you are not the doer at all. Zen is about letting the happening happen. Zen is about not bringing your own personal self in between. Action that is not preceded by planning, not involved with effort, and not followed by expectations. That is Zen.

In our case, all three are present. Before the action, there is plan. During the action there is effort. And after the action there is expectation. Zen is about not having any of these. No planning before action, no effort during action and no expectation after action. Which essentially means that there is no role left for the actor.  What would he do? These are the three things that the actor could have done, and if all three are struck out, what would he do? So, Zen gives us beautiful, energetic action, sans the actor.



-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant on Zen: What is Zen? A clean plate

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