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Are you afraid for your future? || Acharya Prashant (2018)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, I have fear of my future, I don’t have a lot of money, not much material security. How to overcome this fear?

Acharya Prashant (AP): If you have none of these, then you do not have a future, what are you worried about? If you have no money, no wife or a very small family, very little material at your possession, then do you have a future? What is meant by the future? Something that carries forward from today into tomorrow. You have so little that is carrying forward. You don’t have any worries, what are you worried about? Those who have a lot, have to exist till tomorrow to protect what they have. They not only have stuff, they also have worries related to stuff. The one who has nothing, has nothing to care about, nothing to worry about. Or are you just worrying in imitation of others? "Because it is fashionable to worry, so let me worry as well." You are free, you are blessed.

Q: Okay, I liked what you said in the yellow pamphlet about a lot of our anxiety being due to imagination. So that was good.

AP: And even imagination requires stuff. You cannot imagine with nothing at the center. That which you are, the true self, is not a thing, is not material, so it cannot be at the center of imaginative worries or worried imagination. At the center of worries are things that can be lost to time. Future means time. If you have very little stuff that time can take away, then what are your worries founded on? Take care of today and that’s sufficient. Somebody is extremely happy with you. He has not saddled you with an unnecessary burden.

Usually, it's the other way around. People who have a lot, they come to me talking about how what they have is now clinging to them, which is the other way around, always. They are clinging to what they supposedly have. But they would say, “We have a lot and now there is a lot of clinging, and a lot of concern about security and future.” Rarely does it happen that someone comes and says, “I do not have much so I am worrying about the future.” You are taking totally needless worry upon yourself. Roam like a child upon the earth, wander free, fly without a bother. There’s nothing to hold you or chain you. You are blessed.

You remember that little story from “The Sermon on the Mount”? So, Jesus is walking with his bunch and they look at little lily flowers, and Jesus pauses, and he turns to the chaps and says, “You know what, these flowers, they have more splendor than the kingdom of Solomon.” And you know why they dance and smile and exuberate like this? Why? Because they worry not about tomorrow. The king has to take care of so much, how can he rest in peace? These flowers, they delight in their little present. And the fact of their life is that they won’t be there tomorrow. A flower is such a delicate thing. Everything that is beautiful is also delicate. What do you want to be, a rock that lasts through time? But it’s just a rock, not dancing, not smiling, not getting wet in the rains. Or a flower that lives a couple of hours, or a couple of days, or a couple of weeks and really lives. How do you want it to be? Your choice.

Q: I know that I have the power to just stop this imagination or shift, turn my attention to…

AP: You have the power to stop this imagination. My wonder is, how do you imagine when you really do not have even material stuff to found your imagination upon? If I have twenty cars, I have material stuff and my imagination will be built around that. I have something on which to weave my dreams. If you don’t have twenty cars, what are you imagining about? Others’ cars? You are worried about their future? The future of the planet Earth? The future of the species going extinct? What is it that bothers you?

Q: Are you asking me?

AP: Of course, because you are worried.

Q: I only want to say that my imagination is powerful, I can dream up, I can dream up...

AP: Yes, but you must question the center, the stuff of imagination. Does it really exist?

Q: How can we do that?

AP: By asking, “Does it really exist?"

You see, it was declared that the kingdom is being attacked by a hostile army. And the beggar got a cardiac arrest. He said, “Now all my riches would be plundered away.” That which you are imagining as threatened, does it really exist? The rule of thumb is – if it can be plundered away, if it can be threatened with destruction, it really does not exist. Question the existence of that which is in danger of slipping away into non-existence.

Q: Sir, but every material thing is in danger. If you have a car, it can go. If you have a house, it can go. If you have a wife, son, they all will go. So sir, what’s the point then.

AP: The point is – do you want to live in sorrow? The point is – do you want to lose your peace by considering foreign stuff as yours? You know it doesn’t belong to you. You know that it would be taken away. And yet you are getting associated and attached to it. At your own peril, you are inviting trouble. Don’t you love relaxation? Don’t you have something for your peace?

Q: Sir, but we do love enjoying those things also.

AP: Then you have to make a choice. Do you love the titillation of the moment and the long sorrow that follows it?

Q: Sir, the sorrow may follow or may not follow also.

AP: You have to decide. Is it there or not? And you have to be very forthright and honest about it. Spirituality is only for those who are fed up with their sorrow. If you are still uncertain about sorrow, then you need to experience more sorrow. That’s your punishment. Spirituality begins when you say, “Enough of it. I am not meant to be buffeted by waves of alternating pleasure and sorrow.” One has to be totally fed up. If still a green corner exists in your mind, if you still have uncertainty about whether or not you are living rightly, then you won’t be able to go through the exacting spiritual discipline that liberation demands. Then you will start and lose your way.

The question is, “Do you eat the bread that you have in front of you today, or today do you consume bread a week in advance?” How much can you eat today? And you require only as much as you want to eat today. If you have more food, you will have to just carry it along. It may even get stale, who knows? Getting it? Are we really worried about basic material sustenance? If that be the case, kindly go ahead and slog, work as hard as possible. But tell me please, honestly, are we worried about bread alone? Is it our basic physical want that torment us? No. The hunger, the thirst are not in the stomach, they are in the mind. If you were dealing with genuine poverty, poverty of the nature where even bread is deprived to the person, then I would say, “Fight for bread!” Because if you aren’t full in the stomach, then there is no way even this can happen (points to the gathering around him). As I speak to you, I have this glass in front of me (referring to the glass of tea kept on the table in front of him). If that were the case, that actual and absolute poverty was staring you in the face, then I would dismiss this gathering and say, “Let each of us first go and earn our morsels.” But that is not the case. Look around yourself. Man is not really starving—I repeat—in the stomach. Man is starving in the mind. In fact, man is the only species that is overweight and obese and is still thinking about food. Are you really deprived of bread? It's a question you must honestly ask. You know very well that you won’t starve. It is the mind that is not coming to rest.

We are psychologically at war with our neighbor. We want money, not just to consume but to defend ourselves against the world psychologically. That defense is not needed. You need money for mental aggrandizement. You need money to internally feel secure. You don’t need money merely to have bread. Maybe one percent, five percent, ten percent of your money goes towards your daily bread. But look at the kind of sums people accumulate. Is it just to eat and wear clothes and have a roof over the head? No, not at all. It is to compensate for the lack of Love and God in their life. People want money because they don’t have Love. People want more and more money because they don’t have God. And that is why this search is futile. Yes, of course, every animal, the dog on the street, the fish in the water, they all look for their daily meals. Man must also do that. But we aren’t really looking for meals. We are looking for something else through money. And that which we are looking for through money can never be obtained through money. That is why man keeps accumulating more and more money and is yet never satisfied. It's like wanting the sky and running very hard on the earth. You can run as hard as possible, you will never reach the sky. More money will never give you that which you really want through money.

You see, mankind as a whole today is more prosperous than it has been ever in its history. And I am not talking about only the developed countries. Except for a handful of places on the earth, nowhere is man starving. And man’s wealth as an aggregate is only growing continuously. We were never as well-fed as we are today. We never had as much social security as we have today. The quantum of material that man has today, he never never had before. And yet man is mentally starved.

Q: So I can say from my own experience, even just coming to India, in only in the last few days, I have been making progress in recognizing when my imagination is running. It's almost like taking what I thought was real and going, “No, that’s imaginary”. And I am happy about that.

AP: That happens when you love Joy a lot. You must love Joy so much that even a slight departure towards stress or tension should activate an inner alarm. All these imaginations that take you away from your natural joy, the moment they arise, you must start feeling restless. You must start feeling as if distanced from your own soul, as if you are getting divorced from your love. And then you must quickly return. You must say, “Ah, no, I don’t want this.” We must love ourselves a lot. Only then will we disallow our support to our own suffering. We support our suffering so much, how will anything else ever come to us?

Q: Don’t you think imagining leads to creation?

AP: No, not at all. Because you can imagine only within the stuff of the known. Your imagination can never go into the unknowable possibilities of life. Can you imagine yourself—if you are an English speaker—can you imagine yourself speaking Sanskrit?

Q: I could do that.

AP: You can’t. Tell me what are you imagining? What are you saying in Sanskrit?

Q: No what I am, I am thinking about imagining a plane. This is not…

AP: No, I am not talking of plane. I am saying, when you imagine, you imagine within the limitations of the known. Imaginations, intuitions, dreams – they all base themselves only upon that which is already known to you.

Q: But creativity is based on what is known.

AP: Creativity is a leap into the unknown. If it is based on the known, it is not creativity, it is merely a reconfiguration.

Q: Yes, it's a reconfiguration.

AP: And reconfigurations won’t help. Reconfiguration is like getting a new haircut, hairstyle. Will it change the interiors? Creativity is when a lot arises from nowhere. Creativity is when something springs up without a past.

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