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Dealing with negative vibrations || Acharya Prashant, at BITS Pilani, Goa (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
22 min
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Questioner (Q): My question to you is about misconceptions. So, often in society, we see that there is a lot of misconception on religion and there is a lot of stupidity that goes on. We are taught so many things in the name of fear and we just accept it. Like right now I’ll give an example of festivals. We don’t care about what is the actual meaning of the festival. All it is to youngsters is about planning to go out on Holi, Diwali etc. Even when you talked about vibrations, I was having a conversation in which I heard that if you go out on a solar eclipse day, there are negative energies, negative vibrations. And I was like, what negative vibrations, transverse vibrations? What is that scientific term you are talking about?

So, there are so many misconceptions, so many stupidities in the society that goes on and sometimes I hear about stories where it resulted in violence, and I am disturbed by that. So, I wanted to ask that how we can avoid all these?

Acharya Prashant (AP): I think the first step must be to make science compulsory till class 12th. I really cringe when I hear somebody talking about positive negative vibrations and positive negative energies and such things. The thing is that this fellow didn’t take physics seriously even till class 10th. Otherwise, how can you talk of negative vibrations? What exactly does that mean? And from that comes the word ‘vibes’. Everybody is talking of vibrations, continuously.

“This fellow came in, and the moment he entered the room, I experienced negative vibrations.” What do you mean by that, negative vibrations? If there are vibrations, let there be an instrument to capture them, record them and tell me the intensity. There must be a wave form. I want to see that waveform on paper. And then I want to accord an equation to it. What vibrations? But there is an entire cult, huge cult of vibrations. What’s going on?

The problem is illiteracy at both levels, scientific and spiritual. We do not know science and we do not know spirituality. So, anything goes. But we have heard of these terms because they have become commonplace. The blessing of science is that it has given even the scientifically illiterate people the fruits of technology. You might not know science at all, yet the fruits of technology like the mobile phones are easily accessible to you. In fact, you might be someone who is contemptuous towards science, so many people are, aren’t they? For example, somebody would say, “Oh! Covid is just a hoax, the virus doesn’t exist at all.” Even if you display to him the entire structure of virus and say, “This is the virus,” he’ll say, “No, it does not exist.” Even this kind of a person will be happily roaming about with a mobile phone. If you have so much contempt towards science, why are you using the product of technology?

So, that’s the thing, you see, I keep emphasizing wherever I go including in campuses. When I came here, I just said, please keep inner education compulsory, have one course per semester or at least every odd semester. Otherwise, despite being scientifically literate, the fellow might still turn up superstitious and that’s possible. I have seen eminent scientists deeply superstitious, not just in ISRO but even in other agencies like NASA. Very eminent scientist, often of the status of a director, and the fellow is still superstitious. Why? Because he did not have inner education. You require both in tandem. You require science and you require spirituality. You require the outer education that Vedant calls as avidya and you require the inner education that Vedant calls as vidya . If you lack in either of them then you’ll be just roaming around in ignorance of all kinds. Of these two, obviously the inner ignorance is more fatal.

See, we just believe. The fundamental attitude is of belief, not enquiry. We don’t want to know. We just want to take in anything. That’s inner laziness. In spirituality, you call that’s tamsa . You just want to take in anything, and you don’t want to go into it. The spirit of exploration, enquiry, investigation is not there. It’s not a part of our culture as such. It’s not a part of most of the cultures. Even in the west, it’s not really very prominent.

So, when it comes to science, we believe in anything, and when it comes to spirituality, there also we believe in anything. We do not know a thing about the objective world, we also do not know a thing about our religions. So, we do not know why festivals exist. There might be very important reason why the institution of a festival has been wisely constructed, but that reason is lost on us. We have no idea at all, we just celebrate. So, Diwali is just about crackers, lights, sweets and gifts and such things. What actually does Diwali stands for, very few people know. When you do not know, how can you celebrate Diwali in its true spirit. The spirit is also gone. Any festival — you just had Bakri Eid and it has become to the vast majority of Muslims a day of slaughter. What is this? Are festivals about such things?

What is Holi? The day when you throw balloons at all kinds of people, especially girls. That’s Holi. What are we doing?

Christmas is all about consumerism, shopping. You go shopping. That’s Christmas. You shop right till New Year’s Eve.

These two are one — just as we do not know what is going on in the universe, we also do not know what is going on within us.

So, somebody comes up and says, “Oh, you see, this particular picture has been taken by NASA on Diwali night. It’s a picture showing the map of India on Diwali night and it goes viral on WhatsApp. Everybody is sharing it. And India is resplendent in that picture, lightened up. And those lights are visible six thousand kilometres up in space.” And we are so proud, “See, Nasa has sent us this pic. Entire India is illuminated.” And you have pics of Ramsetu . “See, NASA has again sent us this pic and Ramsetu is visible between India and Lanka.”

The level of scientific literacy is so low that ee tend to believe in just about anything. We believe in anything in the world, and we believe in anything in the inner world. So, if somebody tells you, “Inside, there are waves like that positive vibrations,” you’ll believe it. Somebody tells you, “Inside, there is some kind of ruh or soul and if you sleep with your mouth open it’s likely to escape, so you better keep things locked and tight over here (pointing at lips),” and you’ll believe it.

Take it from me, there are forty times more ridiculous kinds of beliefs circulating and people are very serious about them. And I won’t be amazed, unfortunately, if even a few in the audience here subscribe to those beliefs.

Q: Sir, I think the major reason for all of this is our media and what we are shown.

AP: There was no media a thousand years back, but you still thought that eclipses can mean evil to you. Was it the media’s doing? No. Who did it then?

You go to tribal societies, and they are mired in superstition. Are they victims of media work? They don’t have any access to media. Why are they still so terribly superstitious?

Please tell me then where does it come from? The real culprit is so close to you, you can’t put a finger on it.

Where does it come from? Superstition existed then; superstition exists now. Superstition exists in illiterate people, superstition exists in PhDs and scientists. Where does then superstition really comes from?

Superstition exists in the field of religion; superstition exists even in science. Superstition percolates every dimension of our being, our thought. Where does it come from?

Q: It comes from us.

AP: What do you mean by us?

Q: Our mind.

AP: What do you mean by the mind? It comes from the body. That’s the way our bodies are. It comes from our tissues, our cells, our DNA. That’s the way human beings genetically are. That’s where superstition comes from. Biologically, we are not created to really know. We are created to believe. Knowing is dangerous for the biological self, tell me why? Because a lot of things that please the biological self, show up their real and ugly face when you know. So, your prakritik nature, your biological nature is to not know and just to believe.

Knowing is dangerous. Have you experienced how dangerous knowledge can be? It can shatter your entire identity. Therefore, people prefer to live in ignorance.

Even if the option to understand and realise is available, they would rather not exercise that option. Once you know of your inner darkness, it is terrible and humiliating and also, then it puts a responsibility on you. If you know there is a lot of dirt inside, then you must become responsible to clean it up. Who wants to own that responsibility, who wants to put in that effort? It is far easier, comfortable to just let the dirt and the darkness remain and you can comfortably sleep. Are you getting it?

So, we are not designed to know. We are designed to remain ignorant, and belief assists ignorance. Just believe. Somebody has told you something, trust, believe, do not know. Now you know why knowing requires so much effort whereas believing comes so easy. Would you voluntarily want to do something that requires effort? Difficult. Right?

What would happen if there’s an option to go for something that’s so easy? You can sleep and it still gets done. And then there’s something that requires continuous work, diligence. How many people would choose the latter option? That’s the reason why knowledge is precious but difficult and wisdom is even rarer.

Knowledge is about knowing the outer world. Wisdom is about knowing the outer and the inner world. So, we must be very cautious of ourselves. Our real enemy sits within, here, in the body itself, in the DNA itself. We don’t need external enemies. We already have an in-house one. And you can’t really get rid of it. It’ll continue to sit next to you as long as you are embodied.

You see, we are in a difficult position. To be born is to be born in a difficult state. To be born is to be born along with an enemy. The two of you are born together, you and your enemy. You are consciousness and the very old primitive tendencies are your enemy, the body. But these two must co-exist. So, they are tied together; they are wedded together. It’s a difficult marriage that must last the entire life, a difficult marriage where the two are antagonists.

In spirituality, you call consciousness as purusha , the body as prakriti . The task of the purusha is to be with prakriti and yet not get allured — be with her and yet not allow her to dominate you.

Q: Following up a question to what you just answered, let’s get an example, let’s say, I am a seven-year-old kid who goes to school and learns something that is not superstitious. Let’s say my parents are superstitious. And when I come home, my parents say that what I learned at school was wrong and I must learn this superstitious thing. Now, according to me, my parents are more important to me because they have given me birth. So, while getting these two conflicting ideas, I may go to the wrong idea because that person was important to me. So, how do you remove this factor of importance of people and just get into the importance of ideas?

AP: You should utter the word ‘I’ or ‘me’ with great care because it’s quite possible that it is something alien that you have absorbed within is speaking as ‘I’. It is not really ‘I’, it’s not internal. It is actually external, alien. But in your subconscious state, in your sleep, you just happened to take it in. And now it has come in and is masquerading, pretending to be the I. So, when you say, “I believe that what my parents say is more important than what my teachers say,” that’s not what you believe in, that’s what you have been taught to believe in. So, don’t say, “It is my belief that parent’s word is more important.” Even this belief that parents are more important than books is coming from parents. What else would they tell you?

So, it’s not your belief that parents are sacrosanct, it’s a belief given to you by parents. What else do you expect them to do? So be careful what is really your own. That’s not your own. That’s a cultural belief, that’s a familial thing. And those cultural beliefs vary from land to land and from time to time, don’t they?

The kind of importance you give to parents in India is very different from what you give to them in the U.S., let’s say. The kind of importance you give to marriage is different from country to country, even community to community, age to age. So, how can it be something internal to you? It’s a function of time, culture, society, norms. It’s not yours. And that’s the freedom a young man should seek — to not be a victim of cultural norms, of what goes around. And that is true religiosity, that is true spirituality. True spirituality is not about beliefs. Beliefs are bondages. True spirituality is about freedom, freedom from one’s beliefs. Your commitment, your allegiance must be solely to the Truth, nothing else. I am not obliged to honour anything except the Truth.

You are not obliged. Rid yourself of all other obligations and promises. You are not obliged. Your only responsibility, your only commitment is towards the Truth. All else is dispensable. All else can be given up if it is proven to be untrue, including the things that you are taught to hold as sacred. Sacredness is not higher than truthfulness because only the Truth is sacred. If something that you hold as sacred is not the Truth or truthful, how exactly is it sacred in the first place? Only the truth is sacred. What is sacred? Something that you unconditionally honour. Something that you never want to breach, or violate or disrespect, right? That’s sacredness. Something that you take as beyond yourself, something that you take as transcending yourself, so you always bow down to it, that’s sacredness. Only the Truth is sacred. No belief, no relationship, no experience, nothing in life is sacred except the One, and if you can see that, and if you can practice that, then you will experience great freedom in life, which actually is your birthright but is denied to most of us unfortunately.

Q: So, when we say that we are free to believe what we want to believe, like from our side, if we have to believe the Truth and we are not obliged to anything…

AP: Wait, there’s a problem here. When you say that you are free to want anything or believe in anything, that’s not freedom at all. Freedom does not rush after wants or desires or beliefs. They are all one, they come from your darkness. Freedom questions everything because freedom wants to accept only the real. Freedom has a great distaste for fakeness. Do you want or like fake stuff — how many of you? To not like fakeness is freedom.

What if your desires themselves are fake? What is fake? That which is secondhanded. Somebody installs a desire in you. Why do you want to call it your desire? Please tell me.

A clever marketer comes here, for example, and in some cunning way starts advertising a new mobile phone to you without even explicitly saying that he is here to advertise. And because he is advertising his stuff, you develop a desire for it. That’s what advertising does. What happens when you watch an ad? You become desirous and then you call that desire as your desire. How’s it your desire, please tell me? So, how is it freedom to rush after an imported desire? Somebody has installed a desire in you and now you are investing your time and energy and life in fulfilling that desire. Is that a wise thing to do?

So, that’s not freedom, that’s bondage. Freedom is not about doing what you want to do. As young people please get that right out of your mind because that’s the popular notion of freedom young people love to have — I am free to do whatever I want to do. If you are free to do whatever you want to do then you are a terrible slave, not a free man because all desires are external impositions that you take in in your ignorance and do not realise they are external things. Desires come either from your body or from your sensual experience or a combination of the two. Are you getting it?

Food, for example — the fundamental urge arises from the body, but you might not accord it much weightage. And then somebody drinks a platter of something delicious in front of you and there is a tempting aroma. What do you find? You find desire rising with all its force, the two have combined. The basic urge was bodily, the body was saying, “I am hungry,” and then there was an external stimulus, the sight and the smell and the result was deep desire. That’s the anatomy of desire, that’s how it arises. Now, do you want to really call it your own? And food is a fundamental bodily thing. So, it’s alright if you have that desire but think of several other things. I said desire makes you a terrible slave, why? Because everybody knows how to excite you. If you have some money in your pocket and if I come and snatch it. I will be called a robber, you’d launch an FIR, right?

What if I just tempt you and you give that money to me? Now the transaction is legal and acceptable, but the same thing has happened. The robber has just grown clever. Instead of snatching it from you, he advertised something useless to you and you bought it, and you gave the money. It’s just robbery and you’re very happy that you have fulfilled your desire. No, it’s not your desire you have fulfilled, if anything, it was probably the robber’s desire you have fulfilled, have you not? It’s not your desire.

Whenever desire arises, ask yourself, “How is it mine?” It is either the body’s thing or the sense’s thing. When you are in a state to discount these two kinds of desires, the bodily one and the external, social one, then you’ll be faced with something very important. Once these two desires are discounted then you are left with your deepest pure original desire. And the wise ones have told us that the purpose of life is to fulfil that one deepest desire, not the thousand shallow miscellaneous ones. If you spend your life fulfilling various miscellaneous desires, that’s just wastage of life, but beneath the thousand shallow desires, the real one deep desire remains hidden. You never come to know of it. When you don’t come to know of it, there’s no possibility of fulfilling it.

First, keep the false desires aside so that you can see the real desire. And once you see the real desire, it’s so fascinating to try to fulfil it. That real desire is denoted by a better word. It’s called Love. It’s no more a desire then, it’s Love. And then what you get is a life spent in Love. Not love of the kind you watch on screens, but real Love, not love of the kind that necessarily includes a person mostly of the other gender. No. Love of the real kind, Love that brings life to life. That’s the kind of life you all deserve to live. But you’ll squander the opportunity if you think that you want to buy a t-shirt and that’s what you want, or you want to attend a rock concert and that’s what you want. All these are little things, petty desires. You can’t invest too much in them.

Q: Sir, I want to know how can we explore what’s inside of us. At the start of the session, you said that what sees through our eyes or what listens through these ears. So, how do we explore what that is? If we google this out, there are so many religions. They all have different methods of doing. So how do I know what’s right for me?

AP: Start by discounting, that’s the way. You will probably never come to know the perfect answer. But I said that you should be grateful if you can discount the gross imperfections. That’s the way. If you keep waiting for the perfect one or perfect thing or perfect answer, you will keep waiting. Don’t wait, start by rejecting, negating, discounting. Have the heart to disown and be detached. Keep things aside. The moment you honestly know that they are not what you must value, keep them aside.

Is all this sounding very dry? No, it’s not dry. It’s just that we have been trained in the wrong kind of juices. What I am talking of is actually something very lively, very exciting. It’s just that you need to experiment a bit, you need to try it out and you need to hold on for a while. There would be initial resistance. Don’t bow down to it. Stand firm for a while and then you’ll start seeing that this way of living in true freedom is actually very enticing. And once you get the taste of it, the hang of it, you’ll forget all about the usual juvenile stuff. You’ll laugh at it, you’ll not look at it, you’ll discard it. This is so enticing. You’ll need to begin, you’ll need to try things out.

Q: You said two things, one is the body and the other is consciousness. Body has a shape and we can feel it, but what about consciousness?

AP: Pure consciousness is formless, attributeless, nameless. The senses cannot perceive it, and the mind can not think of it, but our consciousness definitely has a shape. For example, if you are body-identified then your consciousness has the shape of the body. If I am greatly enamoured by this mug, then my consciousness takes almost the shape of this mug. I become this.

Have you seen, when you are very fascinated by something you lose sense of everything else and your entire mind is focused on that one thing itself? So, consciousness, as we have it, is an adulterated thing and is intertwined with one object or the other. But pure consciousness has no shape and that’s what its purity is all about — to be free of everything that has shape or form or name. That’s why it is called pure. Pure of shapes, norms, everything.

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