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Before you fight the flies, go take a bath || Acharya Prashant, on Vedanta (2021)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Acharya Prashant (AP): Always remember the one being spoken to. The one being spoken to is one in illusions. Therefore, when the one in illusions is told, “You must have clarity”, what is he really being told, practically being told? Shed your illusions.

Clarity is not a thing to be had and clarity is anyway not going to be available to one in illusions. Therefore, when the sages talk in an affirmative way, you must still decode it in the negativa. See what is false! Relentlessly. Ruthlessly. Drop it! Drop it right now. Don’t wait a second. How long do you want to keep poison on your tongue? Spit it out. Right now! Don’t think. The inner tendency to die unfulfilled is what is causing you to brood with poison on your tongue. It’s the death within at its conspiring worst and you’re saying, “No wait, I am thinking.” No. Spit it out.

When you proceed to unburden yourself of the false you find that the falseness shackling you is almost endless and then if you are sincere you ask yourself, “There are these thousand false things encircling me, occupying me, attached to me. What do I fight — these things, one by one, or should I rather look at my tendency to attract these things, my tendency to drop these things?”

So, the one who proceeds to get rid of falseness, if he is sincere, he will end up getting rid of himself because it is to you that all falseness is. Falseness does not exist in vacuum. If falseness has come to you it is because you wanted it, you invited it and you are keeping it, you are nourishing it. What’s the point in attacking that one particular piece of falseness then? Figure out what is it within you that remains actively enamoured of the unreal. You will drop one thing but if you will not drop your tendency, soon you will find yourself running after and sticking to another false thing.

If you had fallen into a container of sugar syrup and your arms are coated with the syrup, do you want to fight the flies, one by one? What do you want to do? What do you want to do? Go take a bath. That’s the entire spiritual process.

It’s not as if flies mean nothing but they do not mean much by themselves. They are outside but they exist to tell you something of your inside. So, it’s not as if you should not pay attention to the world around you, your relationships, your things, your stuff, your life but if you pay attention to all those things and continue to look outwards then you have not understood. When you look at stuff about you that’s needless and rotten and harmful, then use the presence of that stuff to learn something about yourself. Don’t get into the victim mode. Don’t start saying, “You know it’s the conditions around me, things around me, people around me that are inducing falseness in my life, bringing falseness to my life.” If that kind of an environment is present around you, you have to honestly interrogate yourself.

It’s an exciting exercise. The clock is ticking, you have to reach the core of the clock and make the ticking stop. If you do not reach the core of time and stop the tick-tick then your time will run out. Before your time runs out, you must run time out. It’s literally a race against time and only one of you two will survive. If time survives you are dead and if you are to live immortally then time will have to be vanquished. These should be very obvious questions — What is time? What is my relationship with time? What am I without time? But we are in such a hurry, we don’t pause to reflect. Forty times a day we look at the clock, not once do we look at time. Million times we would have asked, “What is the time?” Not once we have asked, “What is time?” If once, with all your sincerity you can ask, “What is time?”, the clock will start shivering.

Questioner (Q): Acharya ji, you said that we have limited time and we have to achieve the goal of a fulfilled life, so can there be a physical target saying that I have lived a fulfilled life or does that target also keeps shifting as and when we are moving towards it?

AP: Physical targets must be shadows of the real internal target. Would you remember this? Physical targets in themselves, by themselves, do not mean much if all that they beget you is some physicality.

Physical targets must be like going to a bookshop. Going to a bookshop is a very tangible thing. The road is material, the shop is material, the stuff made of paper is material but what does that beget you? If the book is nice, if the book is worthy, it will offer you something beyond the material. Right?

Our condition is such that physically we know nothing other than the material and all action necessarily is in the domain of the material. Thoughts will move. Hands will move. Legs will move. So even as this physical movement is happening, this physical movement must be subservient to, a harbinger of something beyond itself.

You go to a hospital. A hospital is a very tangible place. You go to a hospital to get something tangible from there? Do you do that? No. When you go there and if you are lucky, you get health. That building of brick and mortar gives you health. What if that building of brick and mortar were to give you just brick and mortar, then it’s not worth it or is it worth it? That’s how tangible targets must be.

You have to ask yourself, “The thing that I am targeting, is thingness all to that thing or is there something more to it?” If there is nothing more to the things in your life then those things mean nothing. There is a person in your life. On the tangible plane, the person is a body. What does that person mean to you? Body? Then not worth having in life. Or is the person offering you something beyond physicality? That’s what you have to ask. So, it’s a tricky balance. On one hand, nothing except the material can be targeted. Truth cannot be targeted. We are clear about that. Falsenesses can be targeted. Fine. Truth cannot be. Falsenesses can be targeted, in terms of shooting them down. So, whenever you will set out to target something that thing will necessarily be material. But even as you target the material you have to ask yourself — “What does that material stand for? What is that material an ambassador of? What is that material a gateway to?” And that’s the rule of thumb you can use to ascertain the worth of stuff and actions and people in your life. Ask yourself, “Is this thing or this person taking me beyond himself?”

Not getting it?

So, there is a person in your life. How do you know whether that person is the right one? You ask, “Is this person bringing me to himself, or is he taking me beyond himself?” A good person is one who reminds you of something beyond himself. You just look at that person and your consciousness gets a shock, a soothing shock, well most of the times, sometimes just a jolt. Because even as what stands in front of you is a mere shape of flesh and bone yet, unmistakably, there is something of the beyond there. You cannot miss that and if that is there, stay put. If that is not there, run! Getting it?

And that applies to just about everything in life. Everything. Make every tangible thing a messenger of Truth, and if there is something in your life that cannot be a messenger or reminder of Truth why keep it? Your food, your bedsheet, your clothes, and obviously your friends. Everything that’s around you must exist to take you far, far and far beyond otherwise, throw it away. Why does it exist?

At least do not have stuff that arrests your journey to the beyond. That’s the minimum you can do. If you find that having stuff that facilitates your movement to the beyond is too much, then the minimum that you can do is, do not have stuff that is sticky. Do not have stuff that enchants you or captivates you. Do not have fascinating things in life. Full stop. Because if you are fascinated, you are trapped. If you cannot have spiritual things then at least have simple things. At least those simple things will not arrest you, trap you. Best is to have everything set in a way that takes you ahead. Practically, that may not be possible so at least discard all the stuff that captivates you. Lead a simple life.

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