Acharya Prashant: How to remain grateful?

 

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Questioner: Acharya Ji, Pranam.

In one of your videos, you said that you should be thankful if things are happening in your life in a fast-forward mode. Please shed some light over it.

Acharya Prashant: First of all, this attitude is putting a condition upon grace and gratitude. Grace is not only when things are in a fast-forward mode, Grace is also when you are not allowing anything to move forward at all. A gratitude is not something that you reserve for special fast-forward occasions, if you do that, it is great arrogance not gratitude, you are saying that I will be grateful only when life comes in fast-forward mode.

How do you know that it is fast-forward? Continue reading

You don’t have to do anything to improve yourself

But sitting here and simply expressing that you are not born with obligations, you don’t have to DO anything to improve yourself, let the game play out.

Things change, stuff happens, what appears not good, starts appearing good.

But in the middle of all these changes, you are still perfect!

You may gain weight, you may lose weight. How does that diminish or enhance your value, your core value, does it? And have you not seen people, who link their self-worth to their weight? And the weight is a number, just as your bank balance is a number. Right? Just as your graduation degrees are a number.

In middle of all your troubles and problems, kindly do not feel small because you are NOT! Never let anything diminish you, never let anything become too much for you.  

Even in the movement of your physical death, you must know the track, “Its OK. Am I to die the next minute? Can I take a nap before that? Fine, thank you. One hot cappuccino please.”



Read Article: You were born with clothes; learn to die naked.

You were born with clothes; learn to die naked

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Question: I really believed that I had all things that happened to me, that it was terrible. Oh! that I was so unlucky. Oh! everything happened to me. I really believed that, until.

But, I mean, I still cannot not feed my mind. But I am at a point that I see that it is all fantasy, that it’s my mind. So I hope that I already make some steps. I mean, I see. You know, I say it, or go to bed and it starts again.

I don’t believe it anymore, the mind. But how to handle it? I am still learning. But I am already that I say, “Oh my God! here he is. Oh, here he is. Here he is. That little language. But now the other steps. Ya?

AP: There are no other steps. If there are five steps, you need to remember all five. Do you want to take that much of burden? Really? You want to remember steps, just as you learn the alphabet, and mathematics, and geography, and science? Do you want to remember the steps as well?

Listener 1: No, let me say…no.

AP: Then just walk around like a girl. Why not?

Listener 1: Ya…here I am OK. Ya. Let’s enjoy…life.

AP: You are seriously considering being not serious. Right?

Listener 2: Ya ya…she is on the phase.

Listener 3: Please can you repeat it.

Listener 1: Sometimes I don’t understand it. Or I don’t…

AP: I said you are very seriously considering, being not serious.

Listener 1: Ya…

Listener 3: So, where are you? Very serious!

Listener 1: Ya.

Listener 3: Ya…ya…that is the strategy for me, that’s the improvement.

AP: You know, it is the most difficult thing for us to believe. Right? If I come here, I will sit on this chair and declare that life means obligations and responsibilities. And you must do this, and if you don’t do this, you will be fried in hell. Then you find it so credible! You say, “Yes…Yes…tell us more about it. Tell us the next thing we must do.”

Listener 2: Next step.

AP: Next step…yes, yes, yes. I need to learn…yes. Is that the whole package? Do I need to do more?

Listener 3: How many hours a day? (adding to Acharya ji’s questions)

AP: Ya

Listener 1: Yeah.

AP: But sitting here and simply expressing that you are not born with obligations, you don’t have to DO anything to improve yourself, let the game play out.

Things change, stuff happens, what appears not good, starts appearing good.

But in the middle of all these changes, you are still perfect!

You may gain weight, you may lose weight. How does that diminish or enhance your value, your core value, does it? And have you not seen people, who link their self-worth to their weight? And the weight is a number, just as your bank balance is a number. Right? Just as your graduation degrees are a number.

In middle of all your troubles and problems, kindly do not feel small because you are NOT! Never let anything diminish you, never let anything become too much for you.

Even in the movement of your physical death, you must know the tract, “Its OK. Am I to die the next minute? Can I take a nap before that? Fine, thank you.”

“One hot cappuccino, please.”

Listener 3: One last cup of coffee before I go…

AP: And why one say the last cup of coffee? That unnecessarily… you know… that…that…ya…..ah… yes, yes…yes.

Listener 3: Yeah…That’s right…

AP: That makes it so very…

Listener 2: Dramatic…

AP: Dramatic, then melodramatic rather

Listener 2: Before I go…

AP: Like if I had at shows.before I go… one last one… ya. Can I have one last kiss, please? You know… like you have… you know.

Ya…one cappuccino. And you say that with…all…your verve. And if he doesn’t serve it right… you actually curse him…you better…  What do you think, I am going to die?

Listener 3: Where is my cappuccino?

AP:  So you can get away with it..eh?

NOT let even death make you feel small.

Listener 1: Even death let you feel…?

AP: Small.

Listener 2: Make you feel small (Adding to Acharya ji).

AP:  Yes?

Listener 1: Thank You…yeah.

AP: You will consider it. OK.

Listener 3: Still considering…

AP: Considering…

Listener: Ya… I am  not saying. I mean…Yeah, they told me that was going to die very soon. And I felt nothing anymore, nothing. But now — I mean — I recuperate myself. But that is what is. You know when — also did — that take you all over then all of a sudden you feel nothing anymore.

AP: You felt nothing, right? Now throw away that nothing as well.

Listener 1: But now, better.

AP: You throw away that better as well. The sun rises, the sun sets. Are you obliged to feel anything about it? Are you obliged, even to feel nothing about it?

Listener 1: No.

AP: Let it be there. Ya… fine… ya. Yes…death is coming…so what? So what? What do you have to lose?

Listener 3: Even, how you think about this, is a thought.

AP: Thought. Yes, death is there. That tree is also there. So what? Death is there and you are stupid. Both are facts. Now tell me what to do? That’s what you must tell the doctor. Right?

Death is as much of a fact, only as much of a fact as your stupidity and my prettiness. Now tell me, what must I do? Yes? Fine! Yes…you have given me two months to live. Fine. Who knows the doctor himself might pass away for two months.

Listener 1: Yeah.

AP: Remember that you were born naked.

Listener 1: That we are born…?

AP: Naked

Listener 3: Ya…nice…nice

AP: Learn to die naked.

Listener 1: Oh! Yes. Without… this. You mean …without this.

AP: In fact you must die more naked than you were born

Listener 1: Oh! how beautiful. That is beautiful what you say!

AP: We all are beautiful. Very very beautiful.

Listener 1: Oh..ya. Thank You.

AP: And let’s not make a big thing of this – thank yous’ and gratitudes’. I mean the wind blows and it pleases all of us. Does it not? So do the seagulls, the ocean.

We need not say an elaborate thank you to them. It is their nature to please…right? Yes? There is nothing extraordinary about what they give us. Do you go to the sun and thank him every day?

Listener 1: Today?

AP: The sun, you need to thank the sun every day for giving you?

Listener 4: Ya ya…I do. And it’s for some years. Every time when I am going to bed. Thank you.

AP: You know that’s just another myth that you must be full of this thoughtful gratitude…

Listener 1: Ya…gratitude…ya.

AP: The sun is you. You and the sun are together.

Now, whom are you thanking

You need not thank even God!

When we thank this way, as we have been taught to, you know what you are saying? You are saying, “You know,I was not qualified to receive your grace, dear sun…and thank you.”

Listener 1: So you say,  we just thank the God?

AP: You don’t even need to thank God.

Listener 1: Oh…oh…also not.

AP: Did you send an application to God, to be born?

Listener  4: She doesn’t remember. (Laughter) So…

AP: You don’t need to thank even God. If you live with a smile, that is the only and the biggest thank you that you can send to the entire existence.

Live well.

Live rightly.

Live in love.

That is the only gratitude you can express.

Otherwise, you keep on saying, “Thank you, thank you.” You know people come here, people sit here and there are bigger gatherings that I address, and people express their gratitude in such a profound and overflowing manner. And the next day, on the streets, they are miserable again. What is the worth of such gratitude?

In fact,

You have expressed your gratitude really, if you live as you are this moment –

carefree

light

childlike

If you can live this way, that would be the only expression of your gratitude. Otherwise, you need not express gratitude in words.

Prayer is not something you do with folded hands, “Oh lord, thank you for giving me my daily bread.” What rubbish. Are you telling him, he has an option to not to give you bread? Are you telling him that his love is to be doubted? When you really love someone, do you thank him for every small thing?

You must take God for granted, totally.

Listener 1: Oh really!

AP: You thank him or not thank him, he is anyway providing you with your breath. Now, what do you mean by thanking him?

Listener 2: You create a distance.

AP: You create a distance. You unnecessarily break away from him.

Breathe properly.

Live rightly.

Let the mind be surrendered, devoted…

Let the mind be at peace.

That is the only gratitude that you can offer.

Take care of you.

Listener 1: But I realize, the western culture is to thank everybody. You know if he only does something for me, Peter, I say, “Oh! thank you Peter. Oh! so nice, thank you so much.” Ah! that’s the western culture. Thank you. A little bit more, I go on my knees, “Thank you.” It is the western culture.  But, because we are afraid, because if I don’t thank him, next time…

Listener 3: He might not do it next time…

Listener 1: Exactly! And I thank my dear husband the whole day, “Oh, thank you. Are you there again to cook for me?” So, by today…yup… stop! (Laughter)

AP: No, seriously, only yesterday also, Kundan was saying that, all this really does not look good. This business of thanking elaborately and thanking for every small thing and pleasing and saying perfect, excellent and all that. I am not saying that it’s about one culture versus the other. I am not looking at it from the eyes of an Easterner. It simply looks so artificial.

Listener 1: Yes…

AP: You know, he does something for me, he must do it. Not for me, for himself. He loves me, that’s why he does it. Now, why must I thank him?

By ‘thanking’ him, I am only pushing him away from me. I do so much for everybody and I don’t even remember it and when you come and thank, it’s kind of…

Listener 1: Beautiful.

AP: Not beautiful. Not beautiful at all!

Listener 1: No.

AP: It is, in fact, an insult, you know.

Listener 1: I know, I understand.

AP: It is an insult. It is almost as if you kiss someone and he says, “Thank you.” What is going on?

How do you feel if after sleeping with someone, having intense, passionate sex, the fellow gets up and says, “You know what? Thank you so much. And to materialize his gratitude, he offers you twenty Euros. How really would you feel?

Listener 3: Oh my god!

AP: How? How would you feel? Seriously. What is going on?



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

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: You were born with clothes; learn to die naked



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Why do I feel lost? Why does nothing appeal?

himalaya1Question: Why do I feel lost?

Acharya Prashant: Because, you are asking this question.

We ‘think’ that we are lost, equally, we ‘think’ that we are not lost. The same place from where the thought, the perception of being lost, or not lost arises, that place is the same place from where this question arises.

There sits someone who firstly, thinks himself to be so knowledgeable that he can pass a judgement upon his situation. He thinks that he knows who he is and what is his situation is, and his location. He declares, announces, sometimes he says, “I am fine”, sometimes he says, “I am not fine”, sometimes he says “I am lost”, sometimes he says “I am home.” Are any of these judgments or questions or announcements valid, in absence of mental activity? Continue reading

Faith is freedom from fear in the middle of fear

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Listener: “Fear can be answered only with Faith” (A quote by Acharya prashant) What does this mean? And what is ‘Faith’

AP:

Faith is to be certain without reason.

Usually, when you are sure of something, confident of something, it is because of a reason. You have some previous experience, or you have somebody to trust; now you feel safe and secure and sure. Walking into a new room, into a totally new place; if you are not afraid it would be because you have had previous experiences of the kind or because you trust something or somebody. May be you trust your strength; may be your trust the builder or the owner of the room. There is always a reason when we feel safe, secure or good.

Now there is a danger in that. What is the danger? If we feel safe, secure, good, all right, for a reason, then we will not feel safe, secure, good, alright if..? If that reason is withdrawn or taken away. And reasons are supports. Reasons are events, and happening or people. They come and go. Continue reading

Gratitude and Surrender

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Acharya Prashant: Among the Indian saints, in the whole galaxy of the saints of the World, Kabir is delightfully special. It is said that he was born a Hindu, but because he was born of a widow, so out of social shame the mother went and kept the baby Kabir by the side of Ganga in Varanasi. A Muslim couple, Neeru and Neema, found the baby by the side of the river and picked him up, raised him. They initiated him into their family profession, which was weaving. Kabir, thus grew up in a Muslim family. Folklore says, he did not study much. He was fortunate to have a Guru, and was initiated by the Guru.

All his life, he lived simply as a weaver. The whole day he would weave, in the evening he would sell his stuff, and even as he would keep weaving, he would keep talking to people. He wrote nothing. All that we have as Kabir’s works, were actually collected after him. In fact it is said that he was illiterate. That may not be true. But what is certain is that he himself was never interested in writing. Kabir was there in the Varanasi of 14th century India, a hotbed of both Hindu and Muslim orthodoxy. And his courage and genius, lies in the fact that he unabashedly attacked both Hindu and Muslim traditions. Continue reading

Acharya Prashant on Zen: To love somebody, love like a nobody

 

If you love, love openly


Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practising meditation with a certain Zen master.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her.

One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.

Eshun did not reply. 

The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose, addressing the one who had written to her, she said. “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”

AP: We all got the text, right?

We all have heard it. It’s just about acknowledging, is it not? The whole life, the whole game of suffering, the whole thirst for spiritual attainment, is that not all about acknowledging?

You see, there can be only two things:

Either you say that you don’t have it and you go after it and that is the way of attainment—You don’t have it, you are going after it so you ought to attain.

The other is, you have it and all you can do is acknowledge. If you already have it then there is no question of attainment. So now what is left to do? Still, there is something left to do. What is that? You don’t have to maintain it. It can’t be lost. It’s there, still, there is something that the mind is must yet do. What is that?

You have a diamond. One situation is that you feel that the diamond is lost, you dropped it out somewhere and you go out to attain it, that is the way of attainment. The other is that the diamond is still there in the house, it’s right in front of your eyes, now what is left to do? You don’t have to attain it.

Listeners: Gratitude

AP: Yes, that is just acknowledgement, open acknowledgement. That is saying “Yes, I do have it.” Otherwise, in spite of having it you don’t have it, mind you. Acknowledge that you do have it. This whole koan is about the immense importance of acknowledgement. We don’t have to find, we don’t have to realize, we don’t have to attain, we just have to say Yes I have it. This internal agreement, this internal declaration, this loud declaration — Yes I have it, is the only thing that matters.

L1: Sir, what comes to my mind immediately is that I have realized that I am not allowed to say ‘Yes I have it’ because then I am named to be an egomaniac. I mean, I do not find myself enough daring to say that— Yes I have it.  

AP: The spiritual one is the most arrogant one. He not only says that- I have it, he goes to the extent of saying that – I am it. You remember the cataclysmic declaration of the Upanishads? I AM THAT Aham Brahmasmi. I am that and I am no short of God.

L1: Sir but I find it very difficult to acknowledge it to myself that I am THAT or I have it. There is a punisher inside me to say: Hey Raka, who are you to say this?

AP: You know what, we say we want Joy but we can’t even acknowledge our happiness! We say we want total freedom, but we cannot acknowledge even limited freedom. We say we want metaphysical love, the final union but we can’t even acknowledge even love to a mortal body!

That’s what this koan specifically said:  You have it obviously. We don’t have any doubt about you having it but whatever you have will remain dormant, will remain not useful to you till you come out with it. You have to speak out loudly. And whenever you speak out loudly, it will have to be a declaration to the world because you yourself, the one who is hearing through the ears too is just the world, a product of the world, which means you have to acknowledge.

If you don’t find anybody else to acknowledge then acknowledge it at least to yourself. You cannot carry out clandestine affairs. If you think that you can keep it buried, if you can pretend, masqurade or lead a double life then it is not possible. You have to live one life, one life in which you’ve made it known that where your heart is. You have to know, the entire world has to know where your heart lies. That’s what the lady in koan is saying.

She is not saying that she doubts whether he loves her because being a monk herself she very well knows that there is nobody who does not love. Love is our nature. Love is the essential thirst of the mind. So, if a male monk comes to her and says: I love you, then there is nothing surprising about it. Obviously, he would love her because we are full of love. But she says that love finds no expression, love provides no relief instead love becomes a medium of suffering just because love remains unexpressed. That also takes us to the very way and the purpose of living.

The purpose of living cannot be attainment; then it has to be just expression. We do not live to attain the Self instead we live to express the Self. And love is something that is intimately related to the Self. If you can’t express your love — and expression of love is obviously not merely verbal. It has to show up in everything that you do. It has to be talking through your breath — and if it is not expressing itself then in spite of it being there, it would be useless for you.

Kabir has a beautiful one on this, he says-

‘hargat mera saiyaan, suni sej na koye
‘Balhari wa ghat ki, jis ghat parghat hoye’

Hargat mera saiyaan, suni sej na koye:

The lord is there in everybody, conscious-unconscious, small-big, irrespective of the properties of that body the god is there in everybody.

Balhari wa ghat ki, jis ghat parghat hoye:

But I bow down to that particular body in which He finds expression.

Obviously, the lord is everywhere but that One is special in which he finds expression. Otherwise, he keeps sleeping here. He is very much there in everything, entire universe is nothing but the lord but Kabir says that he has a special reverence for one in which the lord finds expression. Now again that’s not an exactly precise thing to say because the lord has never denied himself the permission to express. It’s you who must decide to express the lord. The lord is not blocking himself, you are the one blocking the lord. You have to decide that you will unblock him, that you will express, acknowledge, open the gate and declare.

L2: Sir, I have seen that the child is being conditioned from the very beginning.

AP: Yes, but at the same time I would say that when I say acknowledgement to declaration that does not mean bragging the tongue, that does not mean announcing anything or getting it published in the newspapers. It’s about living it. Expression means living it. Every thought is an expression, every action is an expression. So when we say we must express the Self or we must come out with our love, that means we have to live that way. Otherwise, if it’s just about enunciating it through words, it’s then very cheap. Anybody can go to the market and just get drunk and then stand on a rooftop and declare that- I love you or I love god or I am God.

L3: It is always this sureness that is missing, somewhere I know I have it but when it comes to declaring then I feel that no, may be  it is not 100 percent.

AP: That declaration itself will be the sureness. There can be no sureness sans there is a declaration. You are shying of the declaration, waiting for sureness but the sureness won’t come till you declare it.

L3: Similarly, exactly what’s when embracing someone, like my loved one is standing in front of me and if there is nobody around then I am okay with an embrace but when there are others present then it is difficult for me to have the same embrace as it would be without the presence of the others. So you are saying the same for this also.

AP: Obviously. Don’t you see that you are not embracing and giving power to that within you which is doubting that you must embrace?

Just go and embrace.

And if you repeatedly find that you can’t embrace then at least don’t claim that you have it.

Love, realization, these are things that roar aloud. They are extremely intimate yet their expression is out there to the world, in the world. On one hand, they are things of the core, of the heart yet if it is there, then there is no way you can hide them.

Kabir has also said- ‘Even if you hide it with all your might yet your eyes would reveal it because they would cry’.

How will you stop your tears? He says these are not things that you can ever prevent from getting expressed. So don’t even try.

L3: There’s this very strong tendency that when you know you love but you don’t want to share it with people and you don’t want to let others know that you love.

AP: Will they be able to harm or is it just so that you are afraid of other people? Is there something that they can do to reduce what you have, if not, then why you must be shy of expressing it? And I am not saying that you must express in order to tell others; I am saying that you just express. You do not prevent the expression. The acknowledgement is natural, don’t block it.

I am not saying that you must go to the market wearing a shirt that says- I love God or that you must began each conversation by declaring that I am Brahm or that if you are in love with a woman then you must put a sign on your rooftop or have a tattoo somewhere on your body, I am not saying that. But when it does speak through your eyes, through your actions, through everything you do, through your very being then why must you be afraid and block it? It does speak, does it not? Your very glance changes, the way you walk changes, your choices change, your decisions change. It really speaks out through you. It’s there for the entire world to see.

Then why must you be afraid?

L3: We have been always taught that it’s a private thing.

AP: It is a private thing. I do not deny that. It’s a thing of the heart. But the heart has a fondness for expressing itself. Why must you block that expression?

Pay attention to this, it is a important thing:

By blocking the expression you are blocking the thing itself.

You are not only blocking the expression of the heart;
you are blocking the heart itself.

You don’t allow it to be express and it’s gone.

What do you think the seed wants to be expressed. If you block the expression of the seed, would the seed survive for long? The seed is in the soil and craving to be expressed and every time it’s about to express itself, you block it. What would happen to the seed? The seed would die. Fortunately, for us, the seed inside our heart never really dies but you can push it deeper into dormancy. It cannot die but you can still push it deeper down the earth.

And that’s not really good for you.

See, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that you must go out and necessarily kiss in the public or make out in the public. I am not talking about juvenile declarations of that kind. You know what I am saying, right? I am saying – Be true. When it is there then why must you live a double life. That is hypocrisy. Don’t do that.

Kabir has another one on this. He compares the crow and the flamingo (white bird that stands in the water on one leg). It appears almost meditating and suddenly, the beak goes in and out comes the fish. Kabir says, look at that bird, the skin (appearence) is white and the mind is all black. He appears to be meditating but in reality, he is just aiming to kill.

He says-

“Ta sau to kauwa bhala, tan-man ek hi rang”

He says that the crow is far better because it has same appearance and mind, because it looks black and always looking to aim and kill, at least, there is honesty to that extent that it is just displaying that what it is like within. It’s a way of saying. He is actually laying emphasis on being one from inside and outside. What you feel, what you really think, what your deepest conviction is you must be expressing that. Even if that means that you appear all black, and black here signifies let’s say vices nothing else.

Really, we don’t miss anything else. What is lacking is just the acknowledgement. We don’t want to admit to ourselves that we have it. This admission, this final admission that there is no need to run around, we have it – I am that, it is here, because you know if you admit this then the ego suffers, then the ego is left with no job. Nothing to do and the ego hates it. The ego says that how can I remain unemployed.

Give me work and the moment you acknowledge that it is here then what would you be left with? Nothing, just enjoyment, just fun.

L1: Acknowledgement kills the ego.

AP: Yes, acknowledgement kills the ego. But on the contrary, acknowledgement looks so much like ego. The fact is that we label it as ego. That’s the hindrance.


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

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: To love somebody, love like a nobody