Questioner: What is aloneness?
Acharya Prashant: Aloneness is not being free of others and living without others. Aloneness is to live without oneself. Aloneness does not have much to do with the so-called 'others', aloneness has everything to do with the one called ‘oneself’. Others appear many, appear outside but are just the projection of the one inside.
You are in a hall, surrounding you from all sides, a hall comprising of a million mirrors. Who is standing in the middle of the hall? You. But the eyes are so enamored by the million images in the million mirrors around you that you feel that you are surrounded by others. Those mirrors, those images are the world. Because they are many and because the mirrors are not very honest so you see multiple, varied, colorful, diverse images. An entire world full of distinctions looks at you and surrounds you from all sides. That world surrounds you from all sides only because you are at the center of that world.
You are the looker and you are the one being looked at. Now, what do you want freedom from? One of the mirrors, one of the images that appear a bit nasty, a bit discomforting, even horrible? And parallelly you remain attracted to, tied to, attached to a few other images that appear appealing and lovely. What do you want? Freedom from one of the mirrors, a few of the mirrors, a few of the images? Is that wise? Is that even possible? Is that your definition of aloneness?
Aloneness is not about gaining freedom from the mirrors; aloneness is about gaining freedom from the one looking back at you through those mirrors. Who is looking back at you through those mirrors? The one called the self. The little self, the one called oneself, the one called me or ‘I’.
'You' can never be alone, never. As long as you are there, the entire universe is there; how would aloneness be possible? Aloneness, therefore, is emptiness. Aloneness, therefore, is to be empty of yourself. Whenever you would tie to preserve yourself but get rid of the world, which often is the case, then instead of coming to aloneness you end up feeling lonely. Why? Because the one who has a desperate appetite to be with the world is still there but somehow for some time probably forcibly, the world has been made to hide for a while. The appetite is very much there, roaring and hungry but the food has been hidden, this is loneliness. You want to be with the world but using some trick you have distanced yourself from the world. This distance might succeed for a while but not for long. Very soon you would jump back at the world with renewed intensity and would cling to it harder than ever before. Aloneness is to get rid of the one who clings, not of the object he clings to. Because if you retain and maintain the one who is always so eager to cling, then he would not only find some new object to cling to but actually actively construct objects worth clinging to. If he cannot discover, he would invent. Are you getting it?
Wisdom does not aim at maintaining the duality between the world and oneself and somehow making that duality palatable. Wisdom is to see that as long as these two mischievous ones exist; you will not find peace. Wisdom is to see that as long as the embodied one is there, as long as you are in the physical form, these two are necessarily going to exist. Now that's a quandary. We said, as long as these two exist, you will not find peace and we also said that as long as you exist in the physical form, these two are necessarily going to exist.
So, is the human condition cursed to live peacelessly forever? Wisdom is to leave these two to their own ways and stay alone. "Let these two bake their own cake, I am alone. Let these two be engaged in their own childish businesses, I am alone." The question that you have asked Monika (name of the questioner), rests on the foundation of identification with one of them. Which one of these are you identifying with? There is a self, there is the world; in her question, which of these is she identifying with? The self; and therefore, the world. As long as you say that you are Monika, you have wedded yourself to the world. You cannot identify with the little self without giving yourself another object of identification. You cannot be Monika in isolation. If you are Monika, there is bound to exist someone in the world who gave you the name of Monika and he also currently calls you Monika.
The moment you say you are the little self; you are identified not only with the little self but actually with the entire world. So, hungry is the little self. We said it has a roaring appetite for association. So, the foundation of your question itself was identification. That won’t help. Therefore, I have to take my response away from the assumption you started out with. Let these two keep playing with each other - two naughty kids. Which two are we talking of? The little self and the world. Let these two engage with each other. What can this little nose do? Nothing, poke itself in other’s business. Let it do that. What are these mortal eyes anyway and always going to do? Keep gaping at the world as if it is something so delightful. Let the eyes do that. What else can the eyes do? The eyes are not going to sing a lovely song, or can they? Eyes are not going to smell the beautiful rose, or can they?
The eyes would only do what they are constructed, conditioned, you could say, manufactured to do. You stay where you must.
When the eyes do not want to look at your business, why do you want to look through the eyes at their business? Why do you poke your nose in the business of the nose? The business of the nose is to breathe. Why do you poke your nose in breathing and practice all kinds of breathing techniques? The nose knows how to breathe, but you poke yourself into the nose and then you construct a bad idiom and say that the nose pokes itself. Does the nose ever do that? No. You are the poker. Are you getting it?
Stay alone. The body and the world know how to interact with each other. They will mind their business; they do not even need you. When you are almost gone like in the state of sleep, even then the body and the world know how to deal with each other. Are you there then to regulate the affairs of the body? No, you are not there. But the world carries on and so does the body. Why are you so unnecessarily worried? Why have you taken upon yourself the responsibility to run the show? The show is running on its own; you stay where you must, that is aloneness.
The body would always be surrounded by the world, there is no need for you to be surrounded, that is aloneness. The mind would always think of a million things, there is no need for you to swim along in the current of those thoughts, that is aloneness. Aloneness is not about interfering in the business of the mind. Aloneness is not about trying to stop or regulate the flow of thoughts. If you start meddling in the business of the mind, then you are a participant and how can a participant in any business or any process ever be alone? Aloneness is to be alone and leave the world alone. The brain is a machine beautifully designed. The brain is a machine loaded with the software called intellect. The brain knows very well how to deal with whatever comes to it. Let the body, let the bodily organs, let the brain, memory, intellect, deal with the world; you stay where you must, that is aloneness. Are you getting it?
Q: Does this current ever end?
AP: For you, it can. For whom does the current exist in the first place? For whom does this current, this duality exist in the first place? Only for you. If you are not there who is there to talk of this current? One pole of duality talks of the other pole of the duality as if the other pole exists independently of itself. For whom does the south pole exist? The north pole. Is there a south pole possible without the north pole? It is only for you that the entire show exists. If you stay where you must, then the question of the existence of this drama becomes irrelevant. Then you won't feel the need to answer that question in a specific yes or no. The question won't be answered because the question won’t be asked. And that is called dissolution of the question. Right now, you are asking this question because you are a participant in the answer, because you have stakes in the answer. Do you ever ask a question without having stakes in the answer? You ask the question only when you have an interest in the answer. The drama vanishes not when the drama absolutely vanishes, but when your interest in the drama vanishes.
You must not ask, "Would the current continue forever?" You must ask, "For how long am I going to keep drowning in the current?"
When you have gone past the current when you are safely ashore, would you even talk of the current?
Spirituality is not the cessation of the drama; it is the cessation of your needless interest in the drama.
The drama may continue, the drama may not continue, who bothers to know!
Right now, do you bother to know what those dogs in the parking area are doing? They might be eating or just sleeping or whatever. ‘Whatever’, that's such a beautiful world, right? 'Whatever'. But if one of them happens to be your dog? "I am Parmeswari (name of the second questioner) and he is my dog." It’s not the dog-ness of the world that bothers you, it is the Parmeswari-ness of yourself that is bugging you. But we keep blaming the dogs.
Even the dogs know to bark, not at nothing. Have you ever seen a dog barking at nothing? Yes? If the world is the dog, the world needs something to bark at. You are that something. You disappear and the world would stop barking at you. If you are not there, can a dog bark at you? So, stop wondering about the dog.
Ask yourself whether you need to be present in front of the dog. And if you are present in front of the dog, then dogs will be dogs.