Tag Archives: Within

Suffer, but suffer rightly || Acharya Prashant (2018)

Suffer, but suffer rightly

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Question: Is suffering necessary to reach the Truth? Once I have identified pain and fear, or something like this, where I know that it is creating unpleasant situation or suffering for me, what are the next ways for me to be this….peaceful. What is next?

Acharya Prashant Ji:

A lot of suffering is just unnecessary. If it is unnecessary, give it up. A part of it is necessary. If it is necessary, go through it.

We can see the next question coming. What is the next question?

Listener: How do we know which part of the suffering is necessary, and which part is unnecessary?

Acharya ji: How do we know which part of the suffering is necessary, and which part is unnecessary?

You see, you move about like a drunkard on the road, and get hit or keep hitting, and abuse and get abused, and blow up your money, and all of that has a suffering component attached to it. That is unnecessary. Even if you suffer for a thousand years, you won’t be spiritually elevated. Right?

If you get cursed by a thousand men, for a thousand years, it won’t elevate your spiritual status, even a  little. So that kind of suffering is totally foolish, just give it up. You don’t need to suffer. Ego finds a perverse pleasure, even in suffering.

People meet me, and so many of them say that all the great Yogis and Rishis(Sages), they suffered so much, and that is why they arrived at greatness. To this, I said that, not everybody who suffers, arrives at greatness. There has to be a particular quality, even in suffering. Not all suffering is necessary. Most of human suffering, is totally unnecessary. Give it up!

A monk met me once, I was in Dharamshala at that time. Had a very long conversation with him, he had come to visit. It’s a cold place, Dharamshala. And the fellow would be, always, in just one piece of cloth. I said to him, “Why are you doing this to yourself?” He replied, “Suffering is necessary.” I asked him, “Are you sure that this kind of suffering will lead you somewhere?”

But he was very determined. He was a senior monk, and he had done that all his life. It was very difficult for him to accept that all the suffering that he had accumulated, rather earned over his lifetime, is needless. It’s needless!

Technology is good. Science has provided man with medicine. All that is not just hot air, all that is meaningful. If you are having a great headache, don’t tell me that your peace won’t be disturbed. If modern medicine can help you get rid of physical disorders at least, that helps. No point quoting again and again, that you are the Atman, and nothing but the Atman, so no migraine, or no headache affects you.

Those who have headaches and migraines, know that these do affect. Keeping the migraine upon you, and saying that suffering helps, and suffering cleanses and purifies, is non-sensical. Give it up!

And then there is legitimate, and genuine suffering, that comes to you, in the process of self-realisation. You will have to go through it.

I will give an example. You think of yourself as a very worthy man. You think of yourself as an honest man. You think of yourself as a loving father, or a loving son, or a loving husband. Or you think of yourself as devoted wife, or a caring mother, or a loving daughter. Something.

The more you open your eyes in the spiritual sense, the more you realise, that you have been exploiting others, just every bit, as much as others have been exploiting everybody else. And then, it is not pleasant to come up on this realisation.

One suffers.

What I am saying is, that awareness brings suffering, in it’s wake. You cannot wake up, and not suffer. this is what I am calling as ‘genuine suffering’. And many people prefer not to wake up, just because they want to avoid the genuine suffering as well.

And, I assure you, what you call as ‘self-realisation’, is never going to be pleasant.

It’s not going to be blissful or something. It’s always a bit of a heartbreak.

One sees the futility of one’s life.

One sees that how tremendously misled, one has been. And all that hits the ego.

One gets hurt.

It is never pleasant to get hurt.

But one has to pass through that. One has to let that suffering come, and one has stand very vulnerable to it. One has to bow her head down. One has to say, “I see that I have been not only blind, but I have been needlessly blind. All my life, I have just deceived myself.” One’s self-esteem falls into pieces. One has to be prepared for all that. And all that, I said, entails suffering.

You will not reach Truth, with your ego intact.

Listener: To realise one thing, like somebody realises in one instance, I take ten-eleven instances, and then also I get half the part of it. It happens often. How do I reduce this gap, or time? Why do I need to get hurt so much, that I lose everything, and then only I realise?

Acharya ji: Love yourself more. Love yourself more. We have been taught to hate ourselves. We have been taught to hate ourselves, and therefore, love the world.

When you look at a nice shirt, what do you say? “Let me wear this shirt, this shirt will add value to me.” So, what do you hate, and what do you love? You despise yourself. You say, “I am of inferior value.” You think of even a shirt, that can add value to you, don’t you? And therefore, when you find people wearing expensive shirts, you look upto them.

We have been taught to look down upon ourselves.

Love yourself. Respect yourself.

And then you will not accept hurt.

And then, you will not be prone to inviting hurt.

We do not have basic, simple, innocent, self-love. We keep inviting hurt, and equally we are afraid of hurt.

Loving yourself is very different from improving yourself, or adding value to yourself. In fact, they are opposite in a sense. Understand this. I hope you don’t misinterpret me. By loving yourself, I do not mean that you should wear the best saree – “Because I am loving myself so much, so I am gifting myself the best saree.” No, no, no!

Loving yourself means, that you look upto yourself, and respect yourself, already as you are. You tell yourself, that it is not the world that will add value to me. The value resides within.”

O! The value does not reside, even in this structure of flesh and bones. It is somewhere else that the value resides. The value resides in neither in this(the flesh), or in this(the mind), nor in all that(the world outside). It is somewhere else that the value resides. And that somewhere else, is not a distant point. That somewhere else is, in here(the heart). And if it is in here, I love myself. Why do I love myself? Because that valuable one is, right in here.

Listeners: Within.

Acharya ji: I love myself because, this structure itself is the abode of the valuable one. I do not love the structure. The structure will fall into pieces. The structure might get killed tomorrow, who knows?

That is self-love! Love yourself a lot.

Listener: It seems too far.

Acharya ji: It is not too far. It is your natural state. It seems far, only because you have come too far from yourself. So return!

And returning is easier than coming so far. Just don’t remain too dependent on this and that.

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

Watch the session:  Suffer, but suffer rightly || Acharya Prashant (2018)


Editor’s Note: To receive regular updates on WhatsApp regarding wisdom articles by Acharya Ji and to get an opportunity to connect to him directly, click here

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The secret of the disciple and the master

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Acharya Prashant (AP): The master and the disciple, they exist at two levels that are related, yet different.

Let us understand them.

At the most fundamental level which you could call as the real level, there is only the disciple, just as in the world, there is only the mind. And this disciple, this mind is characterised by its restlessness. Its defining property is that it moves. It’s not still; it wants, desires, strives, achieves, desires again. That mind alone is the disciple. And that which the mind so desperately wants, yet consciously knows nothing of, is the destination. That which mind wants is the destination.  Continue reading

Self-Realisation is not the ending of the struggles, it is the ending of the struggler

Question: Is self-realisation for everyone? Many people would choose to live a life of illusion, take comfort in that. Do we really need to wake them up? And of course, the struggles of life don’t end even after self-realisation.

Speaker: It is something like that of a mountain bus driver – he has his challenges, of which passengers know nothing about.

Self-realisation is not the cessation of struggles. Self-realisation is the ending of the struggler. Self-realisation is not the cessation of troubles, it is the ending of the struggler.

Continue reading

In remembering anything remember what you are forgetting

Question: Sir, when you say, “Remember the One,” I can make sense of it right now. But when I go home, the same statement becomes very dry. If I go home and remember – ‘Remember the One’, it doesn’t mean the same thing, as it means now. So, is there any point in really remembering this sentence, or writing it down?

Speaker: ‘Remembering’ or ‘forgetting’ are meaningful words only with respect to the Moon (the mind), not with respect to the Sun (the Source). The Moon must remember, and the moon forgets, right? We are talking of the mind. What is it that we are asking the mind to remember? We are asking that it must remember its essence. Now, what is it that is to be remembered?

We are saying, “Remember your foundation and your being.” That is what I said. “Remember your foundation and your being.” Now is there anything apart from this? You have talked about the foundation and you have also talked about the structure. You have talked about the soul and you have talked about the body; the foundation and the being.

We are saying, “Remember it.” But it is already there, it is not really to be remembered. It is already there, it is not really to be remembered. But then wise men have always talked of remembering, remembering, remembering – Surati. Why have they talked of it? And then what does ‘constant remembrance mean?

The mind, as it is, has the faculty of memory, memory and knowledge that it acquires through senses. And it has intellect, intellect that accords value and importance to the knowledge that has been acquired. And the mind looks outwards at objects. That is from where it gathers information, the appearance of objects and then it has an intellect that accords importance to those impressions and appearances.

It accords importance to those impressions, and remembers them according to the importance granted to them. We are talking of the mind. Your eyes look at something, the appearance comes to the mind, and then memory and intellect combine to give value and importance to that appearance. And if a high value is given, then you remember it. You say, “It is of critical importance.” You remember it.

RemembranceWhen you remember that to which the intellect gives importance, that is when you forget That to which existence gives importance. When you remember that to which you give importance, then you forget that which is really important. When man-made values become important, then existential values are forgotten.

It is not really a question of remembering the Truth; it is really a question of not remembering the false. You remember the false all the time. Your senses keep on gathering appearances, incessantly. Your senses are like wild creatures, you have no harmony with them. You have never made peace with them. They do not serve you at all; they punish you.

And your intellect too is unrefined. All the wild material that your wild senses bring to you, your wild intellect attaches importance to it. So all this becomes important. When all this becomes important, then how will you remember the really important?

You say that you go home and forget. What do you mean by ‘home’? It is a physical location. You mean a collection of objects, right? ‘Home’ is a collection of objects: some things, some people, some memories. Why should that become important to your mind? Why? “These are just appearances, how can I take them seriously?”

Take an example, we have been discussing, and the elderly gentleman had to move for some reason. And we have some veterans sitting here, and I could see how when the gentleman was moving across the room, your eyes were following him. Now, you are remembering, what? The object and its movement. Your eyes had become glued to the object.

See how your eyes move. See how even when this session is going on, your eyes are so wild. And when you are looking at this and that, then it becomes important. And you remember all that. When you remember what is not important that is called ‘forgetting the important’. Otherwise the important is not an object to be remembered, it is your life-breath. You do not need to remember it, it is the beating of your heart. You do not need to remember it. You do not need to remember it.

People talk of remembering God; that is actually stupid. What do you mean by ‘remembering God’? One can only remember something that is separate from him. There is no real need to remember God. God is your heartbeat; you don’t need to remember him.

What you need, is non-remembrance. What you need, is forgetfulness towards the world. What you need, is to ignore all this that happens around.  Ignore all this, not in the sense that it is not happening, but in the sense that it cannot be taken seriously, in the sense that it is not important. And remember, you just developed this habit, this ugly habit, of giving importance to this, that, all the petty and immaterial stuff. It is just a bad habit that you developed. It is just a conditioning.

Since childhood, you have been told that this is important and that is important. And you were born with a body that was already conditioned to consider a few things, a few material things as important. Added to the conditioning of the body, there was the conditioning given by the family and society. The result is this perverted habit of considering everything as important.

Look at how you read the newspaper; look at how you watch the television. Whatever is coming to you, you keep absorbing it. You keep looking at it, you just don’t get up and walk away. You allow the appearances to enter your mind. And not only do the appearances enter by themselves, the appearances enter with the message, with the code that – ‘we are important’.

Have you noticed this? Never does a news item just say that it is a news item. It also contains a justification as to why it is important. And you allow that item to enter you. You allow all the propaganda of this stupid world to enter you. And then that becomes important.

What is spirituality? It would not be wrong to say that – spirituality means a healthy indifference to the world. Remember, I am talking of a healthy indifference. To not to be touched, to remain uncorrupted – that is what is spirituality. That is what is ‘the essence of wisdom’.

You may go home or go anywhere. As a human body, you have to be somewhere, right? Located in time and space. There would be the dance of appearances and objects all around you. Are you wise enough to know how important it is? No, you do not know that. So you give it extreme importance.

You get excited by a four percent salary rise. You get excited if the Sensex takes a three hundred point jump. You get excited if your marks increase by two percent. All these things become matters of life and death to you. You get unnerved if you hear that your daughter is going around with somebody. You become nervous if you hear that the neighbour is buying a bigger car.

The servant brought grocery, and you are now suspicious that there may be a fudging of ten rupees, and you take it so seriously. Have you ever seen people negotiating in the vegetable markets? That is the world. If you want to understand the world, go to a vegetable market, and look at people negotiating. See how intensely and passionately they negotiate for two and a half rupees.

And these are well-to-do people, gentlemen and women coming from affluent families, reasonably well-to-do families. A car and a chauffeur might be waiting for them. And she wants to negotiate right up to the bone. “Can you reduce the price by three more rupees? Instead of thirty-three rupees, may I just pay thirty rupees?” Now, look at her face at that moment when she is intensely negotiating. Look at her face. What does she remember? She remembers only one thing – three rupees. Now when you remember these three rupees with such determination and passion, how will you remember the Truth? The three rupees is all that matters to you right now.

I have advised you earlier, and I am advising you again, take it as mantra – whenever something becomes important to you, ask yourself, “What am I forgetting?” Anything, that ‘something’ could be anything.

Whenever you find yourself being too deeply engaged with anything, ask yourself, “In being engaged with this, in remembering this, what am I forgetting?” And you will find that the object of remembrance will be diverse – sometimes you will be remembering money, sometimes reputation, sometimes future, sometimes security, sometimes attraction, attachment. You would be remembering a thousand things, but there would be only one, that you would be forgetting – the One.

You remember a thousand things, but whatever you remember, makes you forget just one thing – the One. The One. That is what you forget. You might be watching T.V. in a very engrossed way, what are you forgetting? The One. You may be quarreling very intensely, what are you forgetting? The One. You may be deeply engaged in pleasures of the body, what are you forgetting at this instant? The One. You may be deeply overtaken by sorrow and suffering, you might be crying. You remember your sorrow, but what are you forgetting at this moment? The One.

There are a thousand objects, but all objects serve just one purpose – they make you forget the One. The One.

Go home, or go anywhere else, objects will be there. Don’t you have the wisdom to see that they are merely objects? “There are walls, there are things, there are people and there are ideas – these are objects. How can I be serious about them? How can I be serious about them? Alright, as a body I have to live amidst them, so I will maintain a particular level of dealing. But deeply within, its only One that I will remember. Only One. On the surface, I might keep dealing with the world, but deep within, my heart beats in remembrance of just One, just One” –  that’s the way to live. That’s the only way to live.

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

Watch the session at:  Prashant Tripathi: In remembering anything remember what you are forgetting.

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: Free from the clutches of the world, you remember God.

Article 2: Remember by Heart, and let the memory forget.

Article 3: Just remember that you forget.

When life lacks the Essential then it tries to compensate with exotic experiences

Learning-004

Question: Sir, suppose I go through an incident and I take it into my stride, and I learn something from it. So then that learning becomes my experience. But, in one of your discourses you have said that the only thing that keeps us from forgetting our past is trying to forget the past. So, how does one do both the things simultaneously that is let go of the past and gain experience from it?

Acharya Prashant: We’ll have to address the issues of ‘experience’ and ‘learning,’ and see how and whether they are related to each other. Normally, what do you think learning is?

Listener: Sir, anything fruitful that we can extract from any occurrence.

AP: So what do you mean by extracting something from an occurrence?

L1: To be able to know the dos and don’ts in advance in case a similar situation happens to us in the future.

AP: So you mean committing it to memory?

L1: Yes, Sir.

AP: So you have related memorization to learning. Is that not so?

L1: Yes, Sir.

AP: Learning is the ability to respond afresh to something, to respond free of experience. Pay attention to this. Normally, the mind is clouded with all kinds of experiences, memories, thoughts, a sense of the self, all these together create a world, and the ego sits at the centre of that world. It is from this kind of a mind that we respond to the happenings around us.

Learning means the clearing away of this world. When you say that you are learning something, it must not mean that you are covering yourself with more layers of experience. Learning means that you are able to uncover your innate ability to know and respond. That is learning. Now this goes against what we usually call as learning, our usual sense of the word. When we say learning, we mean gaining something, some data, information, knowledge, a method of responding.

Contrast it again. Learning means, “I went through a particular experience and in the light of attention, by the grace of Truth, I was able to see the various kinds of falsenesses contained in the whole process of experiencing. I was able to see how what appears is just a game that the mind of the subject plays, and I was able to see how my own reactions are another game that the mind of the subject plays.”

So, experience cannot reveal to you anything new. The very idea that one gains from experience rests on the assumption that one is intrinsically poor and experience will supply to him that which he is deficient in. Experience cannot teach you anything.

If you are not careful, experience will form a layer over your psyche. And what else is psyche? Layer upon layer of experience. But if you are careful – in the sense of being attentive – then the same experience will just reveal to you its own hollowness – that is the proper place of experience and attention in living. You would be undergoing some experience all the time. So you are talking to me, this is an experience; you came here, and that is an experience; you might have spoken to a few people around here, that was another experience. These experiences are not meant to provide or supply anything fundamental to you. But if you are going through these experiences wakefully, watchfully, attentively, then you will be able to see how each experience has the power to cloud your intellect – that is learning.

You do not learn from experience, you learn about the experience.

And what do you learn about the experience? That it really means nothing: “It means nothing really, but it appears to mean a lot.” And therein lies its hollowness, and its deception. Being nothing, it promises so much. Being hollow, it appears so substantial. That is how the sharp eye looks at experience.

I am repeating: this whole assumption, the paradigm that experience makes one richer, is inherently false. Experience does not bring any richness to your life. Richness of life is given to you by something very innate to you. Something that is your life-blood, it is already there with you. But when you are taught that experience will make you a bigger, a better man, that it will bring fulfilment to your life, then what do you do? Then you do that which this entire world around us is doing.

If you see, what is the common man doing? What is the entire life story of the common man? You will see that he is running after experience. He wants one experience after the other, and behind this ‘want’ is the premise that one experience, or a set of experiences, will be able to close that yawning gap in his heart. Is that not so?

L1: Yes, Sir.

AP: What are we doing, moment after moment, day after day, year after year? Gathering experiences and running after them, right? “Let me see how it feels to travel in that foreign country. Let me see how it feels to have dinner in that exquisite restaurant. Let me experience what it means to be physically close to that man or woman. Let me touch, let me smell, let me eat, let me travel, let me reach.”

One job after the other, one relationship after the other, one house after the other. What is the common man doing all the time? He is just gathering experiences, assuming that ultimately some experience will be the final one. But the very foundation of this running around is false.  You can run all your life and gather as many experiences as you want and for as long as you want, yet, if the mind is resting upon a flawed foundation, it will never gain peace.

Are you getting it?

L1: Yes, Sir.

AP: So, am I saying that one should avoid experiences? Am I saying that one should enclose himself in some kind of a silo and insulate himself from the world? No, I am not saying that. Experiences are anyway happening all the time. A while back, we said that since you have come here, you are having experiences. This discussion is an experience. Having tea with our friend here would have been an experience. Reaching up to this place would have been an experience. Life, every moment, anyway is an experience. And there is the experiencer.

The wise man does not expect too much from experiences. The wise man does not make experience the source of his learning. He knows that learning rests within. Experience has no positive role in enhancing learning. If anything, experience can obfuscate learning.

Pay attention to this because it runs contrary to conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom says that experience can enhance learning. I am saying that experience cannot enhance learning, experience can only obfuscate learning. It can cover it.

The reality, the Truth of things, of Being, is very simple and direct, and within. One does not need an external agency to provide it to you. But what you call as ‘external’ surely has the power, in all its complexity, to not to give you something, but to take away that which is already with you.

Totally give up this notion that those who are more experienced have advanced in any way in terms of intelligence.

Look at the people who have known much, are knowledgeable, experienced, of advanced age. Do you really see innocence and simplicity shining on their faces? Or do you see them rather bogged down under the weight of experience?

You look at most people who have crossed a particular age – forty, or sixty, or eighty – you look at their faces. Have they become more open to life, have they made themselves more vulnerable to life? When they look at the simple things around, do their eyes lit up with a wondrous question, an excitement, like a child when he sees an ordinary insect, like a moth or a kite? Do you see that happening with experienced people? Do you see that on their faces, in their eyes? Or do you see a dullness, a heaviness? Now with that dullness and heaviness, where is learning? Where is learning? How can you learn about anything if your experience is too much upon you?

Are you getting it?

Do not bother about experience. I am repeating: live simply and allow experiences to come to you. They are anyway coming to you. You hold no obligation or responsibility to run after experiences. Just don’t block them and that is sufficient. And the experienced man, it is quiet amusing, blocks experiences. Because that is what experiences teach him: all kinds of morality, all kinds of precaution. Now he knows what to experience and what not to experience. It is quite paradoxical in that sense that the experienced man is the least open to experiences.

Life is eager to give you more experiences than you can ask for. You do not have to worry about running hither-thither and having experiences. You look at young people, they are worrying all the time.

“Will I get a job of that nature?”

“Will I get a social security of that kind?”

“What if I do not get a girlfriend and I die single?” Do you see, what is this anxiety?

“What will happen to me?”

“Will I get that particular experience or not?”

Now, why are you so anxious? Is there anything in the entire universe that has to worry about the next day? That has to worry about what existence will bring to it? Nothing worries, and everything gets what it ought to get. Man is the only one who is so worried about whether or not he would attain fulfilment. I am repeating: experience blocks experience; and life showers experience upon you.

Let life flow through you. It will naturally, without your asking, bring to you so many and such diversity of experiences, which you could have never even thought of. You do not need to plan and you do not need to worry. Become one with life, have the faith that whatever will happen, will not destroy you. Remain open, remain prepared to being wounded a little, and then see how you are left breathless with experience. And that experience, which we are talking of, will be fresh.

When people commonly say that they want an experience of a particular kind, do they ever want a fresh experience? You can demand something from life only if you have already heard about it. Have you not?

“My friend has been earning so much money, so I too want that much money.” Now is there anything fresh about your demand for this experience? No, not really. You are seeing this happening all around you, so you too want it. “My cousin has been smoking a particular exotic variety of weed, I too want it.” Now, what is new about your demand? Anything new? “I want to become the president of the world.” It’s a stale wish. “I want to receive the highest honors that man can give to man.” Millions of people have wanted the same. “I want the most beautiful woman on my bed.” Come on, demand something new.

But that’s the kind of ‘experience’ that one can demand, or can you demand any new experience? Can there be any newness in the experience that you demand? Ever? Think of it.

L1: No, Sir.

AP: No! Fortunately, life has no respect for your demands. What life can give to you, is brand new. What life can give to you, is really fresh – so fresh that it knocks you down. You don’t know what to do with what you have been given. At most, you can demand a kitten, or a pup; life can give you a baby serpent on your bed. Now what to do with it? You never wanted it. You wanted a cute kitten. What have you been given? You wake up and what do you find? A baby snake. That’s what life can give you. Now that’s experience – to the extent that one man can think of it, right? You can even have the egg of an extinct dinosaur on your bed – I mean, let imagination run.

But you will never ask for it really. Life can give it to you, without your asking. But life will not give it to you if you are hell-bent upon just pups and kittens. Pups and kittens are so boring. Your brother has them, your mother has them, everybody has them. Are you getting it?

You demand such boring and dull and ordinary things from life, and then you complain that life is not providing them to you. What you don’t realize is that life has something really special in store for you, which is not coming to you because you are not open to it.

Life is knocking on your door with its wondrous gifts and like a sissy baby you are crying and wimping and complaining, “Why am I not being given the same thing that Tina in the neighborhood has been given!” That is all that you know – your comparison with Tina. Life is little bigger than Tina and infinitely more wise. Are you getting it?

Stop this infatuation with experience. You see the advertisement of a new product in the market and you want it. Somebody wants to sell a resort to you and he will say, “Come over and we have some kind of an adventure store. You can have games and parties and pools.” And you become excited. Some new food? “There are so many countries in the world – two hundred odd. Have you tried all the exotic cuisines? With all their exotic names?” And you feel so small and jealous when you come to learn that somebody is having food from Rwanda or Chile. “I am so impoverished. See, all that I have ever had is food from my petty house. And that lucky fellow is having exotic meals from Azerbaijan.”

When life lacks the essential then it tries to compensate for it through exotic experience. When life is brimming with the essential, overflowing with the essential, then the craving for extraordinary experience is no more there. Because the essential itself is the destination of all experience. Why do you demand experience? So that you can ultimately reach that point of supreme peace and fulfilment. And if that supreme peace and fulfilment is anyway available, then what will you do with experience?

And this ordinary availability, this simple abundance of life, to know it, to live in it, is learning. Nothing else is learning. You make your brain a store house of information – that is not called learning. To learn is to learn about the hollowness of experience and the fullness of your self – that is learning. Are you getting it?

That is the only thing that one can ever learn. Nothing else is there to be learnt. You go to some alien location and you memorize all the people that you met and all the places that you went to and all the food that you ate, and all the other pieces of data that can be had and you come back with it. You have no right to say that you have learnt anything. Yes, you have gained in knowledge. But knowledge itself is so poor, it never gains completion. Have you ever seen anybody gaining complete knowledge? Knowledge itself is condemned to remain incomplete and what is condemned to remain incomplete, how can it give completion to you? You are demanding health from sickness? You are demanding fulfilment from knowledge, which itself never becomes fulfilled?

So be very clear about what learning really is. Learning does not mean the acquisition of anything external. Learning means to see that whatever is external is just so hollow, just so needless. One learns about the only Truth that there is, and that is the Self. That is the only thing worth learning. That is the only substance that can be learnt about. All else is false.

L2: Sir, correct me when I go wrong: by understanding what is learning, we get to know that experiences are basically hollow, that they will come and go, and that one does not have to go chasing after them.

AP: In the moment of experience, if you can remain untempted by experience, that is learning.

Remember you are not being hostile towards experience; you are not even being indifferent towards experience. It’s just that you are not placing an unreasonable demand upon experience. You see, what do we do? Understand this. We all want a certain contentment, call it peace, call it joy, or call it love. Because we have lost the understanding of where this real substance could actually be found, we try to find it in the wrong places.

We are trying to get from experience what experience can never give you. For example, immortality. Nobody wants to die. One’s nature is to be, and not be extinct. Be. Be present. But the nature of the world is to come and go. Since we do not know where really to find immortality, we try to find immortality in material. We somehow try to find immortality in the body, in relationships, in mental security, in concepts about rebirth. Are you getting it?

So experience is alright. I repeat that we are not trying to look down upon experience. We are just saying that we should not expect that from experience which experience can anyway not provide. With all the effort that you can put behind experience, experience will never give you wisdom. Similarly, we know that all experience is material, is sensual. Similarly, you can go through the process of physical intimacy a million times, yet it will not give you love.

Now to expect experience to give you that which is beyond experience, is foolishness. So go through experience but let experience stay in its place. You should know that the essential will not be provided by experience. And remaining in this understanding is learning, is wisdom.  So we are saying: let life bring all kinds of experiences to us and we will happily and willingly go through them. We will not obstruct them. We will welcome them, but we will not think that these experiences are in any way, a substitute, a complement or a proxy to the essential.

Experience in no way can touch the essential. Experience whatever life has to give you but stay with the essential. Do not confuse these two. Experience is experience and essential is essential.


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

Watch the session: Prashant Tripathi: When life lacks the Essential then it tries to compensate with exotic experiences

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: Does experience give intelligence?

Article 2: The only way to clean yourself is to immerse in the ocean of the Self.

Article 3: The false promise of fulfillment through experience.

To help others you must be free of others

Question: Whatever I understand, I know it will vanish.

Speaker: So your question rests on an assumption that you ‘do’ understand something. Should I take it any further?

Even in our humility lies only arrogance. “Whatever I understand, it will vanish, and before it vanishes I want to give it to others. But people around me are not interested in all this, so I am improving very slowly.”

Who are these people around you? What is their nature? What do you consider yourself to be? If you are given a thousand years, will you have a perfect world? What do you mean by ‘a perfect world’? The world has its ways of operating. The individual that you are – divided from the world – will never be at absolute peace with the world. Otherwise there is going to be no separation at all. Otherwise, the world will disappear and the individual too will disappear. For you to write that the world is not a pleasing place, there has to be a ‘you’. For you to write that the world is a pleasing place, there again has to be a ‘you’; a ‘you’ separate from the world. This separation is anyway going to be there.

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Our education fills us up with external knowledge, leaving us ignorant of ourselves

Question: Sir, what made you to leave your corporate job, and start this whole different line of work?  

Speaker: There was a lot that was asking to be changed. Leaving the corporate was not really an objective. I wanted to do something, and if it could have been nicely done from within a corporate, I would rather have done that. In fact Advait is still a private limited company. So, it is not that I opted out of corporate, but as far as the mission is concerned…

You know there are things that people are doing; there are things that I could have done, but a lot of people could have done them as well as me. There were things that I could have done and somebody else could have done them in a better way but there was something that I saw, that I was seeing and that cause was really crying out, it needed to be taken up, but very few people were attending to it. So, (Smilingly) just opportunism. It is something important and somebody needs to take it up, so I said, “Why not me?”

Listener 1: Sir, would you like to elaborate on this topic a bit more?

Speaker: You see, all of you sitting over here, are quite knowledgeable people. Right? Even the reference made to us is, ‘Knowledge workers’. Right? That’s how we are referred to. ‘White-collar jobs’. So we know a lot, or at least a little.

Our knowledge is, in some areas, pretty detailed as well and it’s quite amazing, the extent to which human intelligence has gone and created this knowledge and other human beings have absorbed it and are putting it to use. Now, having known this much, is it not strange, what you read in newspapers? “Man quarreling with man, nation quarreling with nation, husband quarreling with wife, neighbor quarreling with neighbor, man quarreling with himself!”

When we find nobody else to engage, we are busy fighting ourselves. And we know so much.

Anu_KnowWe know so much. Yet basics of life – jealousy, possessiveness, insecurity, small happenings in our environment seem to shake us up. Does that happen or not? One piece of news regarding the market, or regarding the changing company policies, or regarding the changing environment within the organization and suddenly we feel as if the ground under our feet is slipping. Is that not so? And we have so much of knowledge! All of us! And there are people who have much more knowledge than us. The thing is, their situation too is just the same.

So, this interested me. I asked, “Why is knowledge, why is all our progress not helping us lead more secure and composed inner lives?” You know, you look at a illiterate man, then you look at somebody who could not go beyond class tenth, then you look at somebody who has done his B.Tech, and then at a post doctorate, and tell me, are they really, internally, any different?

It is equally probable that all of them might be suspicious of their wife, authoritarian towards their kids, aggressive towards their neighbor, jealous of their colleague; is it not equally likely? By doing a PhD, does the probability that you will be worried, does this probability decrease?

Chances are, it increases. So why is our knowledge not helping us be…. Ultimately we have to live with ourselves. Right? Why is our knowledge, not helping us, simply be more centered?

So this brought me to the question of – What kind of knowledge do we have?

The knowledge that we have all pertains to something external. We know about this, we know about that, we know about cooling technologies, all kind of electronics, optics, the world, Mars, other galaxies, we have collected so much knowledge about them but our education, in schools and colleges, and our training, as professionals in corporate, simply does not touch upon ourselves.

Anu_WithinYou know, we have been educated probably from some of the premier institutions and then our training has continued in the places that we have worked in, but somehow, nowhere have we being sensitized towards our own mind. Our education and training is such that, it never asks us to turn within with the result that even the most knowledgeable man, is actually so infantile, and immature. He may be forty years of age, he might be earning a lot, but in his psyche, he is still a baby; somebody who can have a nervous breakdown any time. Somebody who just can’t get along with his wife. Somebody who just can’t stop himself from competing, he competes with everybody. And he says that he is in a leadership position! He says, he is leading X number of people.

The fault does not lie with this man, the fault lies with the way we have been brought up, educated, and continuously trained.

So, full of knowledge about this and that, but largely ignorant of the self. Unfortunately, nobody lives with his knowledge. You live with that feeling in your mind. Don’t we?  We all know that. We know what I am talking about. Right? You know when you are not alright. And I know that nobody wants to feel not alright. Anybody here, who is interested in feeling not alright? Anybody here who likes that feeling when your legs are unnecessary shivering? And we all have experienced that, have we not? You have just appeared for an interview, and you are awaiting that call from HR, and that call comes, you recall that experience? Some of us might be having it pretty frequently. There are professional job hoppers.

You recall that experience? That call comes and how your fingers simply can’t stop their SHM (Simple Harmonic Motion). Now, what is the worth of your knowledge? What is its worth?

Yes, others might think that you are somebody. Given your knowledge, your experience, your professional advancement and probably your bank balance. But is all of that, of use to you, beyond a point? These were the questions that I was struggling with. And I thought these are important questions. And I could see that these are important things that not many people are really prepared to attend to. So I thought, well, let’s go into it.

I have been lucky that I have had many other people who have seen the importance of this over the years, who came to me, who joined me, assisted me in this journey and are still coming. And you would understand that this is not something which is a main-stream career option. So only those who really see the worth of this work, they come and join. Thankfully there are a few such people. You too are welcome. Devesh ji knows the address and the rest of it.

Look at this for an example. Had I been sitting here to talk about some technology, give me the name of a latest technology that people here might be interested in?

Listener 1: Cloud.

Speaker: So let’s say I am an expert in Cloud Computing, and I have come here to talk. A lot of us would have a lot of questions to ask, especially if we had only ten or fifteen minutes. Right? But when it comes to speaking about ourselves, we are simply lost. We don’t know what to say. And I understand our predicament, what I am saying might sound interesting to you, but what do we talk about? Yes, nice, right, alright, but what is in it to talk about?

There is a lot, incidentally, but this is such an unknown territory, our own mind is such an unknown territory to us. And in spite of seeing, getting a hint, at least, that there is something in it.

That’s the story with every walk of life, you know, I am sure many of us are friends here, with each other. Right? We talk about so many things, don’t we? But do we really talk about the Real? Not that we want to hide this. But there has been something in the way we have come up that we have become experts in remaining engrossed in the trivial. But when it comes to the Real, we become a little tongue tied. Don’t we?

It’s not something that is happening only in your relationship with me. Parents and kids, how authentic is their conversation? I need not talk about bosses and subordinates; that is not even supposed to be authentic. But what if, even a husband-wife conversation is rarely genuine? Rarely Real? Yes, we can talk about the furniture, we can talk about what is happening in the neighbor’s house, we can talk about the new restaurant down the road but do we really talk about that which matters? That, which matters. That which really keeps us off-center. Do we ever talk about it? We have been trained to slip it under the carpet. I thought why not bring the few skeleton out of the cupboard, just for fun.

Think of all the people you have been in touch with since years, and think of whether you have had a single genuine conversation with them. It is amusing, and at the same time, horrifying. Even the ability to look at each other directly in the eye! Have you seen people, who just really don’t want to have any eye contact? And it’s not their fault. It’s nobody’s fault. But somebody needs to do something about it. It’s a worthy cause, right? A few people must take it up. Should they not? What do you say?

I invite people. I say, “Let’s look at facts, let’s not talk dream stuff.” I say, “Look at all the mails that you have written in the past six months. Not the strictly professional ones. All the mails that you have written, to your friends, relatives, acquaintances,” I say, “Now, read them again. And read them very directly, very objectively, very honestly, and then tell me, how much of it is Real?”

Of course, I am not talking of mails relating to a sales pitch, or such stuff; they are not suppose to be Real. Are they? But what about the mails written to your friends, to cousins, even to parents? What is happening? We are intelligent people all of us, at least to the extent that intelligence is synonym of knowledge. We are quite intelligent. So, what’s going on?

I still don’t know, what’s going on. I am exploring, I mean, I no wise in that sense.

Ok, try this, a small experiment. A small experiment. Just walk up to somebody, not causally, walk up to somebody as if you really mean it; looking straight in his eyes, take his name or her name, and say, “I want to talk to you.” Not so melodramatically, but with sincerity, just with sincerity and you will only see scare in his eyes. “Oh my God! Is something Real going to come up?” As long as you are casual, and you just walk past people, tapping them on their shoulders, “Hi John, what’s up? How’s the hotdog?” The Yankee thing, as long as that is happening, we are friends.

But if you give the slightest hint to the other person, that you mean to open your heart up, instead of feeling gratified, he will feel terrified. Try this, its fun. Good fun. And after you see him trembling, tell him, “No I don’t mean anything, it’s casual”.

We are afraid of everything that is not really false. For the years, I have been surprised to see how much we are really afraid of intimacy, I am surprised because ostensibly we all says that we want intimacy, we want closeness with somebody. But when intimacy really beckons or knocks on our door, we retract. We don’t have the guts to embrace it. You must have seen such people, they are so insecure they can’t let anybody come close. Because somebody coming close is a threat to their entire mental structure. They’ll have to accommodate him, their structure will need to change. That structure, by the way, is also called as ego.

We are young people here, and I am not talking of physical intimacy. We understand that, right? So that’s what the whole game is about. Complex, challenging, but fun!

~Excerpts from a guest talk. Edited for clarity.

View the session at: Our education fills us up with external knowledge, leaving us ignorant of ourselves

Read more on this topic:

Article 1: How important is education of the self?

Article 2: Why is education not helping the world?

Article 3: Solve your mind, all your problems will be solved