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Do not stick to sick surroundings || (2018)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
14 min
48 reads

Questioner: Ever since I started listening to you, things started revealing themselves to me. Mind’s race of getting somewhere, achieving something has settled now. My mind is not curious about spiritual concepts anymore. But what I observe now is a new pattern. My mind is not interested in doing anything. I thought it’s temporary, but it’s going on for over a month now.

Does this mean there will be no enthusiasm? No passion arising in this body? I have peace all the time because the mind is not distracted. It does not like to cling to the past or dream about the future. But this peace has no colors. It feels bland. Are these experiences just some dull colors painted by my mind on the canvas of consciousness? I sense a deep sorrowful state within this body, mind. There is no joy. Is this depression? I feel like doing nothing. I do things but don’t know who is doing and why. I feel dead inside. What is this, and how long can this go?

Acharya Prashant: As long as one is a patient, a sick one, the hospital is a suitable place. There is a congruence between the inner state and the outer environment. One is sick, so one is in a hospital. That is logical, that is the right order of things. But what would happen to the sick man, if he loses his sickness, and yet finds himself in the hospital? The sick man is no more sick, and yet, he is leading a lifestyle in which he is confined to the bed. To a routine that befits only sickness. He is still fettered in a lifestyle in which there is no challenge. There is only self-protection. There is no deep fun.

Such a lifestyle suits the sick man, is rather imperative for the sick man. You cannot let the sick man go to a football ground, it would not be helpful. It can even be calamitous. A cardiac patient playing soccer. The worst can happen. But if the heart is now all right, and strength is returning to the body, to the entire system, to the limbs, to the mind, and still the fellow is being told not to accept challenges, then it will be a very dreary situation. It may even be worse than sickness. It is bad enough to be sick, but worse than that is to not be sick and still be in a hospital.

Can you visualize? A healthy man leading his life in a hospital. I can understand when you say that you feel depressed. You had a particular state of mind and around that state of mind, you built a certain lifestyle. The entire purpose of that lifestyle is to keep protecting you. Because a sick man needs protection. So what do you offer to the sick man? Crutches? Medicines? Drips? Shots? Lots of medical devices to supervise, on him all the time? Ladies are visiting him but they are nurses. A lot of other people are also visiting him but they are all just coming to offer well wishes. They are not coming in to have any healthy discussion. They come in and just say “Get well soon.”

It’s an environment built around disease. It’s an environment built on the foundation of sickness. And that’s how the entire world lives. Go to the house of a sick man and you will find the entire house customized to his sickness. Don’t you find that? And we are saying sickness is bad enough but a bigger tragedy sometimes befalls. The bigger tragedy is called health.

The sick man, sometimes miraculously does regain health. But what is he doing even after regaining health? He is continuing to live in the same old house and that same old house reeks and stinks of the old sickness. The man is healthy, and the house is sick. And why is he continuing to live in the same old house? The force of inertia, habit of the past.

“I have always lived in this kind of a social structure. I’ve always lived this kind of a lifestyle. I’ve always been surrounded by these same people. I’ve always had this kind of a daily routine. Now how do I change it?” Friend, why are you not realizing that everything has changed within, and you are not allowing things to change with-out, outside.

So there is a deep asymmetry. There is a deep divide and incongruence. And now you will suffer more than when you were sick. I am repeating this. The suffering of a healthy man stuck in a sick environment is deeper than that of a sick man in an obviously sick environment. If you are regaining health, then it is your duty, rather your Dharma towards yourself to let your surroundings change. And if they do not seem to be changing by themselves, then you change them forcefully. Otherwise, you will feel suffocated.

Do you know the angst of the sportsperson who is, for a long period, not allowed to enter the field? He is always warming the bench, he’s an extra player. Let’s say the 12th man in cricket. Such provisions are there in most sports, are they not? There are a bunch of guys on the field and there are a few warming the benches. Now think of the one who is just warming the bench. He is well equipped to enter the field, but he’s not allowed to enter the field.

Such is your condition, you have now become equipped to enter the field like a player, like a warrior. But you are still carrying on with your old lifestyle. You are now a butterfly still finding itself in the cocoon. It was not very painful as you were just the little old larva. The larva and the cocoon go together. There is a symmetry. The butterfly and the cocoon do not go together. Ask yourself, why are you not ready to drop the cocoon?

I fully well see what you are saying. You are now like a man with strong thighs and calves muscles, powerful legs, who is not allowing himself to get up from the wheelchair. How will this man feel? With the Scriptures, he is exercising his legs every day. So the legs are gaining in power every day. Right nutrition, right massage. All kinds of right things are happening to the legs and now the legs are itching to hit the road. Now the legs are yelling “We want to run! We want to run!” But the old habit of wheelchair is not being given up. So you have now powerful thighs resting on a wheelchair. How would you feel?

Of course, life would appear dull and you would not feel like doing anything. When you say you don’t feel like doing anything, please see that you do not feel like doing anything that you have been so far doing. What do you mean by anything? Have you tried all the things possible in the world? No. You were doing a few things till now. And now you don’t feel interested in those particular things.

It is not all things that you dislike. You don’t feel interested only in those particular things that you have been doing till now, and that is obvious. That is natural. That is bound to happen because those things suited only a sick man. And you are not sick anymore. So how can you feel interested in those same things now? Those things will have to drop.

The man has grown healthy. Or rather, the child has become a man now. The inside has changed. How can the outside not change now? What is the man still insisting? He’s saying, “I’ll wear the same clothes that the child used to wear.” Obviously, there would be awkwardness, irritation. And you are saying, “I don’t want to wear clothes.” It is not clothes that you don’t want to wear. It is the old clothes that you don’t want to wear, and that is okay.

You must drop the old clothes. You must drop everything that is old about your relationships. About your work. About your world. About your diet. About your attitude. About your face. About your very personality. The entire being, I am saying the whole personality, it must change now. The entire personality must reflect your essence.

Let everything change. If you are not feeling interested in your old set of activities, it is an auspicious sign. Drop the old set and only then will there be space for the new and suitable things to enter your life. If you keep clinging to the old person and his attitude, and his thoughts, and his ways, and means, how would life change?

The beggar was living in a hut, and one day a joker came to the beggar. The joker, in his own stupid and funny ways, started digging inside the beggar‘s house. Ah, it was just a dilapidated hut. We can’t even call it a house. But the joker is stupid so he starts digging the floor of the beggar's hut. And what does he come up with? Gold and diamonds. The beggar has been helped to discover that there is gold right where he is. And now the beggar is rich. Suddenly he has discovered that he is rich, very rich.

But the old force of habit continues. The beggar is deeply attached to his old hut, and his old clothes, and his poor utensils, and his shabby cot. He has become very accustomed to all those old things. Now he is a rich man, a billionaire. But the billionaire continues to live in the hut. How would he feel?

Don’t you see a great dissonance? You are not the person of the past. You are not anymore what you were a year back. But you visit the same places, you go to the same office, you continue to move around in the same circles. And all those old things will obviously seem uninteresting to you now. In fact, had they not seemed uninteresting to you, then I would’ve questioned you. I would’ve said how is it that you are still finding interest in the old order, in the old people, in the old things, in the old places.

So it is but obvious that you are not interested in the old. What is not obvious is why you are still not allowing yourself to enter fearlessly into the new you. You will need to go buy new clothes. That’s your prescription. Go and get yourself new clothes. If you know what clothes mean. I am talking about the exterior aspects of life.

Sitting here, I have helped you rediscover your interiors. Now, you go and change the exteriors. Your entire day must change. The personality must reflect what you newly and truly are. Go get some new clothes. Go buy new shoes. Go get a new house. Go transform your relationships. The same attitudes, the same workplace won’t do. Even if you have to be at the same workplace, something has to drastically change. Don’t be like the pregnant woman who is refusing to give birth even in the eleventh month. How will she feel?

There is something in the interior that is not showing up in the exterior. And the interior is bulging and bulging. Outside, there is nothing. The woman may in fact even die. You are that woman. Pregnant with possibility. But not letting that possibility take concrete shape.

It’s your time to give birth. You have to give birth to a new life. You must eat differently, you must think differently. New ways of leisure have to be found. The entire worldview has to change. You have already been born again. Now, why are you continuing with the same body? Rebirth means a new body. Please go and get yourself not only new clothes but in fact, a new body. If you continue to be in the same old body, you will feel suffocated.

That’s the responsibility of the seekers of Truth. When Truth will come to you, it will come with a new world, a new universe. You cannot ask for Truth and reject the new universe. You cannot just die and refuse to be reborn. In India, we say that those who die and are not reborn, are either the Siddhas , whose cycle of birth and death is over now, or they are Pishach . What do you want to be, a Siddh or a Pret , a Pishach ?

Do you know who a Pishach is? Who dies but is not prepared to be reborn. So he keeps roaming about in a very anguished way. That’s how the folklore goes. But it’s instructive. If you are gone, if you are dead, either be fully gone, like the Buddha , or come back immediately, like an ordinary mortal. Now that the old has gone, don’t refuse rebirth to yourself.

You have asked about energy and enthusiasm. The energy that the old self used to experience was the energy of fear. And fear generates a lot of energy. This entire world has a lot of energy. The energy of this world is a testimony to the potential of fear. Fear can generate so much energy. People are so afraid, and therefore energetic. You never run as energetically and as fast as when you are being chased by a hound.

A barking hound behind your back arouses a lot of energy in you, or does it not? You may even set a new Olympic record. So energetic do you feel. Even with a fractured leg, you may start running. The energy of this world is the energy of fear. Or the energy of hope, which are the same thing.

But there is another quality of energy possible. Why do you discount that possibility? That energy is motiveless. That energy is called free energy, the energy of freedom. Not the energy of fear. And there is a beauty in that energy. How do you want to run? Like a child playing about, or like a man being chased by a hound? What kind of energy do you want? And there is, I said, beauty and innocence in that energy. But you have experienced the old kind of energy for a little too long. And you’re missing that energy.

That energy won’t return. The old self is gone. The old self has been extirpated by the Truth. Let the new kind of energy come to you and once this comes to you, you’ll forget everything about the old one. So, it’s Sunday, time to shop. Go get yourself new clothes, new shoes, a new life. Nothing short of that will suffice.

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