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A basic Mantra - from my life || Acharya Prashant, at BITS Goa (2023)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
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Questioner (Q): Sir, first of all, I am extremely apologetic of being so inquisitive and asking you questions so repeatedly.

Acharya Prashant (AP): Ah…

Q: And sir, a few keywords have been introduced and discussed vividly in today's session: one being ambition, one being happiness, and the other being confidence. So sir, I can relate all these three words very closely and associate them with a Juggernaut of man like you.

For instance: sir you too are an alumni of the dream institutions like IIT and IIM, you have cracked the civil services examination as well, so somewhere in your life as well you must have been ambitious.

So sir, you took this path of becoming a spiritual revolutionary; was it the confidence that you had in your skill set which has transformed you from being a socially successful person into this revolutionary? Or was it the love for spiritualism that you had, which has transformed you and made you this Juggernaut of personality that we interact with today?

AP: See Juggernaut etc I do not know much of. I also did not have confidence in my skill set. It's just that there was a basic sincerity that if I see something as false I cannot continue to be a part of it. That's full stop.

There were a few things that appeared to me relatively truer, relatively better, so I started out with those things. And then as I continued moving; what appeared a bit true to me kept opening more and more gates of what was progressively lovelier, truer, better, higher.

So, there is no way my story is any different from yours. There is nobody sitting here who does not know of a few things as false, distasteful, abhorrent; right? You know of those things, correct? You know of those things. Don't you? Somebody in your family is corrupt and does not move an inch without bribes; you know of those things, right?

And you don't want that kind of a life, do you? In your family business there is a lot of tax evasion happening and you know that. And you don't want that kind of a life, do you? Your parents or somebody else in the family, or in the extended family, or in the neighborhood had an arranged marriage and the two are continuously fighting. And you don't want that to be your life, right? Or do you?

So, you all know of things that you do not want to happen to you. I'm trying to investigate whether we are similar or very different from each other. Are we similar? I knew of a few things that I didn't want to happen to me, a few things I didn't want to be a part of. You know of a lot of high paying corporates that produce just very unworthy goods or services, don't you know of them? But they'll pay you well. But you also know what they indulge in is just fizz. You know of them, right?

I knew of those things. So, with courage and also with some fear…yes, I did experience fear; I just struck off a few choices. I said, “This is not something I'm going to do, come what may.”

Are you getting it? Of all the things that are around you, of all the things that you can be part of, aren’t there things you should simply strike out, a lot of those things? Please do that. Say, “No, this is not something I'm ever going to do, irrespective of how the conditions are. No, not this; this is not acceptable.”

Then you are left with things that are relatively better, just relatively. They are better off, right? Be it career options, be it way of living, be it whatever; among those better things, see, what is it that you love the most. Also see, what is it that you can begin out with? And then start from there. Obviously, it will not be a perfect choice. The thing that you make your life, cannot be the final thing. Because it is not perfect. Because it is only relatively better than the rest of the things that you have canceled out. Are you getting it?

But once you do justice to whatever you see to be beautiful, you find that from there better and higher and more beautiful things keep coming to you. Obviously, along with their challenges. Right? And the prices that they extract from you. Be prepared to pay the price.

That which is beautiful cannot come free, it's as simple as that. If something is lowly, I drop it. If something is worth it, I love it; I pay for it. Is that too difficult a formula? That's what. Simple.

And You are Me. I knew of a few things that should not be accepted. Do you know of a few things that cannot be accepted? Please, raise your hand. Please…or is everything acceptable to you? (audience members raises their hands)

Right. So, you know of those things that cannot be accepted. But will you again raise your hands, if I ask you these things that should not be accepted have you definitely pushed them out of your life? Or are they still there, somewhere around lurking? Have you shut the door on those things? Ah…that's what you need to do and that's what you're not doing. Because you are trying to be risk-averse.

You are saying, “Well, it is not a good thing but let it be around. Just in emergency, maybe I'll need it. Why take a definite stand? Why run the risk?” That's what we say, right?

Learn to run the risk. Be a human being, be a proper human being. If something is not right, I discard it. I do not care for what will happen next. I just discard it. And I do not need to discard everything. I'll only discard that, which I know with fair certainty to be unacceptable. Are you getting it? If it is not okay, it's not okay. I'm not taking this path. Full stop.

Got into the civil services. But you know, the moment you begin your preparation and the moment you are in the academy, there is a gap of 2.5 to 3 years. It's a pretty long-winded process. You prepare for at least one, one and a half years. Then, the examination cycle itself lasts one entire year. And then they take a few more months to declare the result. And then a few more months to call you to the academy. And that's a lot of time when you are growing up; I was 21 then. So, the process itself, within the process itself I came to learn that this is not the thing.

But it's a tricky situation. Having made it, you learn that this is not the real thing. You wish you had known that before you began. You could have saved your two-three years. I was not that lucky. I began my preparations when I was 19; I didn't know much then. But the process of preparing for UPSC is such that it gives you a lot of knowledge. It raises your maturity levels as well. And it brings you in touch with a lot of fellow aspirants and the system. And you visit the Home Ministry and then you meet people, and you realize a few things of how it's going to turn out for you. And by the time I reached the academy, I could clearly see this is not what I wanted.

Now having seen that, honesty demands that I do not unsee. Now you have seen it, do not pretend to be blind. Now you have seen that this is not the road for you.

Why say that, “I have put in two-three years and there is so much investment…I've worked hard to reach here…Also this thing carries a lot of prestige etc, so how can I give it up now?” Irrespective of what kind of investment you have already put in it, irrespective of what kinds of gains you speculate to get out of it, if you see that the thing is not real; opt-out. Right then, right there. Are you getting it? Are you getting it?

Do not say, “But you know, I already spent so much time here.” If it's not for you, why spend more time there? You buy tickets for a bad movie and the movie is 2 hours and 45 minutes. It takes you one and a half hours to realize it's a bad movie and there is no hope. There is no hope that some surprise will spring after the recess; no, nothing. It's a bad movie. What to do? Say that, “I have invested Rs.500, and one and a half hours, and the cab amount, and the popcorn amount. I've invested so much, so I'll sit through the trauma of another one and a half hours”? Would you say that? A lot of people say that.

Irrespective of the cost you have already incurred, take it as sunk cost, it's gone. It cannot be recouped; but I will not invest into it any further. Are you getting it? What is right, must be done. What is not right, must not be done. It's as simple as that. Difficult? Difficult? Complicated? Mystical? Spiritual? You require to read a lot of wisdom literature and spiritual books to understand this much? I'm asking you, please.

It's as simple as this. You already know of the things that are not right. Drop them. You already know of a few things that are relatively better. Espouse them, embrace them, love them. And that does not mean that ‘that’ which you have accepted today is forever. That which you have accepted today is for today.

Tomorrow if you come across something even higher, relatively even better, choose that. That’s what is called as commitment to the Truth, rather than one particular thing. What am I committed to? The Truth and Beauty. I'm not committed to one particular thing. Keep moving on in life, never settle down. Never say this is it. Too difficult? Difficult?

Something funny happened today. My friend Dariaus is here, he wants me to come to the U.S. You know, just for a trip; he's inviting me. And today for the visa application he is filling in my Visa form and all that. I'm quite incompetent when it comes to these things. So, he says that the Visa requires me to declare the names of my previous bosses. So, there were three companies I worked in before Advait was founded. Funnily, I just couldn't remember the names of my bosses.

And he has been hounding me since a month or something, “Please, please, please. I cannot submit the application if you do not tell me the ones you reported to.” That's what is called commitment to the real boss. I remember only one boss, the other ones I just forget.

And that's the reason I had to drop out. They were trying to be my boss, they didn't deserve to be my bosses.

The one boss who is worthy of being remembered, I remember him. So, with a lot of effort and search on LinkedIn, we have managed to figure out two names. The third name is still elusive. And it's a giant MNC. We are talking of GE, that was my first job. Can't remember the name…an influential fellow. The latest is that I have finally discovered the surname, the name still eludes me. We'll do something, let's see. Can't write on the form ‘can't remember’. That would be a bit of a scandal. Are you getting it?

Irrespective of where you are, if the thing is not what your deepest heart beats for, come on, move on. There are no rules. Freedom is the rule. Too much? Too difficult? Thik nahi hai, nahi karna hai. Thik hai, jarur karna hai. (If it's not right, I won’t do it, if it's right, I will for sure do it.) That’s it. No helplessness, no majburi , no excuses.

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