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Be cautious of what attracts you
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
14 min
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Acharya Prashant: The Upanishad is saying, “Be very, very cautious of the one you take as your god. Be very, very cautious of the one you feel pulled towards. Be extremely cautious of the one you are attracted and attached to. You will become that. You have no option.”

When you feel attracted to a little kid, how do you behave? If you want to be with a kid, if the kid has become very lovely and very attractive to you, have you not found yourself behaving like a kid? You will become the one you are attracted to. If somehow it happens and be very attentive when you are trying to understand this, otherwise you will miss the point. If somehow it happens that you are greatly attracted towards an elephant, in a psychic way slowly you will become an elephant.

The Indian scriptures talk of the jiva, ‘the human being’ as analogous to the Bhringi Keet. It’s a mythical insect, Bhringi. It is said that the Bhringi insect assumes the name, shape and form of the object it feels attracted to, the object it keeps looking at. So, if Bhringi is looking very attentively at a blade of grass, Bhringi would more or less turn into a blade of grass. There are obviously in the factual world exists no such as insect but get the message right. You are no different from that which you take as the highest. Be very-very mindful of your gods.

If you feel attracted towards something or someone bodily, it will become a compulsion with you to assume a body. Think of it, you are attracted towards a body, now how will you approach that body if you are not a body? And your attraction obviously is not the love of the nameless, formless, selfless kind. Your attraction is of the consumptive kind. You want to be physically in near to the object of your attraction. So that you can enjoy it in a material way.

How will you enjoy the material if you are not material? Can immaterial existence interact with material stuff? But to really partake in pleasurable consumption, you will have to interact, and if you want to interact with the material, you will have to be material. Only a particular chemical can react with another chemical. Ever heard of a chemical reacting with nothing and yet the reaction happen? It’s not possible. Two things have to be there for something to happen between them. So, if you are pulled towards a thing, you have no option but to turn yourself into a thing and your fate is sealed.

Are you getting it?

Now, the situation of the jiva is such that even though his truth is immaterial yet he has his windows and options open to material information. Look at the one you call ‘the human-being’. His heart might have pure transcendental silence yet his bodily senses all open into the material universe. To put it more accurately, in the heart of the jiva sits the formless truth and yet the jiva walks around with a body as a body.

Are you getting it?

So, there is a great possibility of getting corrupted because you are being fed on material information continuously. Things are coming to you and entering your consciousness without a gap. Even when you are asleep, you dream only of things, and shapes, and bodies, and events. So, this jiva, the mind is at one end firmly anchored to the truth and that relationship cannot be severed. It is impossible for the mind to lose all relationship with the truth. That will exist; but at the other end, the mind is being continuously fed by the senses.

Take the mind as an expanse, an expanse spanning two poles; one of which is the silent truth and other end consists of the noisy, glitzy world. And this world is continuously entering the vessel of the mind filling it up, shaping it up and readying it for further consumption. So, the situation of the mind is like that of a person who is held to a tether by an unbreakable rope but he continuously keeps his back to the tether. The rope is unbreakable, the tethering point is called the truth, you cannot break away from it. The rope is unbreakable but elastic. You can stretch it as much as possible. You cannot break free of the truth but you can go away and almost infinite distance. You can come so far away from the truth that it would be almost equivalent to having broken away from the truth. The connecting cord would still exist but having been stretched greatly, it would have now turned into a thin sliver and almost imperceptible fibre though still unbreakable.

Are you getting it?

So, this human being has his back to the truth. What is he facing then? The world. That is what the Upanishad is saying. The truth is unavoidable. You are inexorably tethered to the truth but still exercising your freedom, you can choose to not look at the truth. You would be connected but in a very distant way, you would be connected but in a very love-less way. What would you become, had you decided to respond to the pull of your reality? You would have gone closer and closer to the pole of truth and your being and your life would have turned truer and truer. That would have been the change in you. Remember the principle, you become the one you look towards. You become the one you look up to. You become the one who occupies your mind. You become the one who occupies your time.

You have no option; you'll have to become that if you are to maintain that relationship. Because relationships can exist only between entities in the same dimension. If the greatest thing in your life somehow is a pillar, slowly you will find that you are turning into a pillar. Otherwise, how will you sustain that relationship? A conscious being cannot have a real relationship with the pillar. A conscious being can have a real relationship only with consciousness.

Are you getting it?

Be extremely careful of what you are conceiving as the highest. You cannot remain yourself even as the centre of your mind changes. What is meant by the centre of mind? Nothing abstract, that which fills up of your mind is the centre of your mind. Do you want to know what is the centre of your mind? Just see where you spend the entire day. That's the centre of your mind. Just see what occupies your thoughts. Just see what sits at the top of your priority list. That's the centre of your mind. Simple?

As your priority list changes, so do you. You want to know what your identity is, just look at your to-do list, that will tell you who you are. Not the formal one, not the one you maintain to cheat your boss; the real to-do list and you will know the real to-do list by knowing what your mind keeps busy with.

Are you getting it?

So, when there are several gods you are reverent to, then the world obviously will appear as diverse. Now you know why the jiva perceives diversity in this world in spite of being just the one truth. If the jiva is really the one indivisible truth, how come there are so many different things in the world and so many different people walking around? how does that happen? It happens because there is no single one that you conceive of as absolutely the highest. This is not intuitive to understand. You will have to stretch yourself. Pay attention.

There is this buffet. All kinds of delicacies are there. Imagine a person who is absolutely in love with just one particular dish. Is it too difficult to imagine that he will not even look at the other things? It can be imagined, right? He will look just at the one thing he is madly in love with, right? Will he perceive diversity? He will not. Now think of someone who just does not know what to put in his plate or there are many things there he almost equally likes. As we all do. Wherever there is a diverse and expensive spread, have you not found yourself wondering what to fill up your plate with? There is so much, there is Indian, there is continental, there is Mughlai, there is Thai, there is Chinese, there is Mexican. Oh! There, that side, there is Italian. How big is the plate? The mysterious ones keep the plate two sizes smaller than normal at such places. So, the plate is only this big (pointing towards his hand). You do not know even as you keep one thing on your plate, the other thing bacons and you cannot fill up your plate with one thing, you cannot let the plate of your consciousness be fully occupied with any single entity. Why? Because there is no single entity that you are absolutely devoted to.

So, even as you are with one thing, the other thing is calling. And if you give too much space to one thing, there is guilt rising within and a feeling of missing out. Oh! I just gave too much time and space to this one, I have just missed out on all the spicy stuff there. God! look at the queue on that table. Surely, I am missing out on the action. That's how the human being operates because the ones we are attracted to are not worthy of absolute love or devotion or dedication. Therefore, it becomes a compulsion on us to project a diverse and divided world. Had you had just one pole in your life, you would not have perceived diversity. Now that's the thing to be meditated on. Don't just start arguing against this.

Obviously, these eyes (pointing towards his eyes), they will always perceive diversity, don't try to argue that if you are hundred per cent devoted, will the eyes stop seeing diversity? Will the tree and the grass turn into one? Will the pillar and the roof merge into each other? Don't throw such questions to quickly. The entire spread will continue to exist as an objective reality but do you live in objective reality or do you live in your subjective world? Come on! you live in your subjective world. Objectively the world might exist, to you, it would not. To you, there would be just the one thing that matters to you. There would be just that one thing that matters to you because you are that, Soham. It matters to you because there is nothing else to matter to you. Because all else is matter.

Are you getting it?

So, that’s the situation of the jiva.

Two principles we touched upon- first, if your gods are material and bodily and carnal, so will be you. Secondly, diversity exists because, in your projected world, there is no single entity powerful enough to command all your devotion. You are never fully contented with one single thing. So, you have no option but to project this and that because you see you are hungry and thirsty in a psychic way. You live for the sake of contentment. You are desperately looking around for contentment. You don't get it here, so you move to the next place. You don't get it there you move to the next place; you move to the next place; you move to the next place and continuous movement has created this infinite universe. You get now why the universe is infinite? Because your thirst is infinite.

Assume the universe were finite, were the universe finite, how would you survive? Let’s say the universe had just space enough to contain only ten objects. We are assuming a finite universe with just enough space to hold ten objects. Ten objects besides you. You go to the first one, what do you get? You get dissatisfaction. You go to the second one, dissatisfaction. And soon you find that you are testing the tenth one and what do you get here as well?

Dissatisfaction. What will you do now? How will you live? You require an infinite number of objects just to survive, in a psychic way, in a psychic way so that you can console yourself that there is something else left to be tried. Had the universe not been infinite, how would your hope have survived for so long? For your false hope to survive, you'll have to project an infinitely large and false universe. Do you get this?

That's why the more your inner dissatisfaction grows, the more becomes the importance of diverse objects in your life and vice-versa, mind you. The more the prevalence and production and consumption of objects will grow, the more the dissatisfaction in your life will grow. Now, do you see why neurosis has become so pandemic in the last hundred years? Can you relate it to the exponential rise in man's ability to produce and consume objects? The more is our ability to produce and consume objects, the more terribly dissatisfied we grow within. And hence mental illness.

Remaining what man is if he would someday come to a point of technological attainment where he could colonize and exploit the entire universe that would be his last day? Because that would be the day the falseness of his hope-based existence would be brutally and undeniably be revealed to him. Now everything is available for consumption, no scope left for any future. There is nothing that you can keep suspended for the future. All are immediately available. Pick what you may and horror! you find that even this infinite abundance of choice fails to quench your thirst. You will collapse. Mind you, in a psychic way; in a bodily way, you may still continue to move about as most people do.

Were our bodies to reflect accurately and honestly, the state of our minds none of us would have been able to walk firmly even for a distance of ten metres. Our legs would have shown up as cut, wounded, bruised, fractured; the way exactly the way our mind is. Unfortunately for us, our bodies do not reflect the condition of our mind. The mind is in deep trauma; the mind is fractured and lacerated, cut upon cut and yet the body looks so healthy. The skin is glowing and that keeps us in the illusion that things are almost alright.

Are you getting this?

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