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?


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: How to earn more money?


Acharya Prashant: (Reading a question) One may have good knowledge, but he might not be having a satisfactory job or salary. What to do in such a situation?

You see, as long as knowledge to you is a means of earning a higher salary, you will have to realize the limitations of knowledge. Higher salary does not come merely on the heels of higher or deeper knowledge. This is assuming that you have already set a goal. And the goal is to get a high salary. I am going by your goal. You want to get a high salary.

If you want to get a high salary, you must know what all factors drive salaries. It is just not dependent, merely on your knowledge. It is a function of many many variables. And even those variables are variable.

Today, high salary might be a function of x, y, and z. And tomorrow, high salary might be a function of s, t, and u. So, variable variables are there. You just can’t know.

Yes, you can catch hold of one variable, and put all energy into it. But that may not necessarily help. The car might be in neutral, and you are pushing the accelerator, would that help? You would only burn more and more fuel, and the engine would get heated up. You are trying to push just one variable, and you are not seeing that the other variables are all? Choked. They will not let you progress.

So, you have two options now. Either you go out and determine all the variables that drive salary. And when you determine all the variables, you must remember that the variables themselves are? Variable. So, that which is driving salary today, might not be what would drive salary? Tomorrow. And that which is driving salary in one place, might not be what drives salary in another place, another room, another building, another company.

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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?


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.


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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Don’t imagine solutions

Answers are not there. Only questions are there. Understand the question and that is it. This question-answer format has been given to you by the society only. That there is something like a question and then there is something like an answer. No. Only Inquiry exists and resolution of inquiry exists. There is nothing like ‘answer’ in that.

Don’t imagine solutions. Don’t imagine that if I do like this, then that would happen. Do it first.

This is what you need to observe. While walking, roaming, eating, whatever is happening, just observe that and you will understand! Truth is not far. Just that is what you have to see.

As a boss, if I am sucking Life out of my employees’ life, is that not violence all the more.

Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant: Ask till you drop the mask


Acharya Prashant: Ask till you drop the mask

Acharya Prashant: Ask absurd questions. People would say, he has gone mad. But, ask absurd questions.
Why should something like a ‘home’ exist? Have you ever asked this question? You go back home everyday, have you ever asked this? Why should anything like a home exist? I mean, why can’t we just be, wherever we are! Why do we always need to go somewhere in the evening? Why can’t I just be? You are there, I am there. And we are enjoying. We are here the whole night, spend the rest of the day, and we will leave when we feel like, then we will go another place. The whole world belongs to us! What is this concept of a home?

Ever thought? Ask. This is called Inquiry. What is this game about Mummy-Papa? One male, one female, sitting together in a home. What exactly is going on? And these people are supposed to be special. And the whole of religion, and the whole of society, and everything telling me that I must respect, Love them. What exactly is going on? Let me understand it, let me understand it. What is this thing called siblings? What are brothers and sisters? What is this thing called society? What is this thing called religion? What does one mean by religion? What is this thing called a normal life?

What is this thing called progress and growth? That one must progress in life! What is this thing called progress? Have you ever asked yourself, about this thing called progress? Papa, why do you keep chanting, progress, progress? What is meant by progress? A little more money? Why do you need more money? What would you do with it? Are you using all the money that you have? You are using only ten percent of the money you have, rest all is in the banks! So, what will you do with more progress? First, finish the money that is there in the banks! I already have so much, first let me finish it up. What happened to the money in the bank? Is it all finished?

These are absurd questions but ask them. Understand, how the minds of the people function.

When you see the roads in the mornings, full of traffic; Ask, what is this going on? Where are these people going? Why? Look at their faces! People are coming back home in the evening time, in traffic, look at their faces. Ask them, is this what life and work are supposed to be? That they have made faces like that! People who are returning back around 7.30 – 8pm, have you ever focused on their faces, expressions? They are driving a car, there is peak traffic hour, and they are stuck in long traffic jams! Have you ever looked at their faces? Look. Look closely, inattention. And ask yourself, is this what I am preparing myself for? I am paying fees in Lakhs so that my life becomes rubbish like this? I am paying to get assaulted?

Listener: Acharya Ji, asking questions, will we be getting the correct answers?


Answers are not there. Only questions are there. Understand the question and that is it.

This question-answer format has been given to you by the society only. That there is something like a question and then there is something like an answer. No. Only Inquiry exists and resolution of inquiry exists. There is nothing like ‘answer’ in that.

L: But when we will inquire, won’t we be thinking?

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The greatest dependence is psychological dependence

Before you talk of the future, shouldn’t you first understand what you are doing right now?

In your moments of deepest enjoyment, have you ever thought of the future? Tell me?

To look towards future, one would have to take his attention away from the present, right?

Your goals cannot be bigger than your awareness. Goals will just be within the circumference of what you know.

Life is the present moment, there is nothing else. If you are free right now, there is no need to become enslaved the next moment. Why do you want to pretend that we are slaves? You are not! You are free this moment!

And remember, financial dependence is not a great dependence. Even physical dependence may not be a great dependence. The greatest dependence is psychological dependence.

Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant: On plans and goal-setting