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Do you know the heart's deepest desire? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2015)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
21 min
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Question: Sir, what are dreams?

Speaker: All dreams are about something that is not there, or at least does not appear to be there, but the mind has an urge for it to be there.

“It is not there and I want it.”

Or, “I do not see it. I do not know whether it is there or not, but at least I do not see it, and I want it.” That is what I call as a ‘dream’.

We all have that urge, we all miss something. And what we miss, we want to get. So this much is common to every human being – there is something that one misses, there is a hollow, there is a gap, there is a need, a kind of vacancy waiting to be filled. But after this point, the commonality amongst all human beings stops.

After this point there are two possibilities.

The first one is: we take the dream, the missing, the need, the incompleteness at its face value, and we chase just the face of the dream.

For example, one chases a job, a large house, settling at a particular place, or fame, or a person. These are all objects of chase. So there is that internal demand to get something. And the something that we want gets objectified, or personified, in the shape of a house, or a car, or a man, or a woman, or a degree, or reputation, and we start chasing it. This is one possibility. And most of us take dreams at their face value. We say, “We are missing something. Life does not appear complete. There is surely an absence of something, and it demands fulfillment.”

We say, “I am missing something. And when a special person will come to my life, what I am missing from my life will be taken care of.”

“My dream is to become something. My dream is to achieve that designation. My dream is to raise a family with you. My dream is to become a billionaire. My dream is that at least a million people should know me.” There is an assumption here. The assumption is – this is my deepest need. Yes you did feel a need, but you are assuming something here, without enquiring properly. You are assuming that the objective face that the need has taken is in itself the need.

Let me ask you a question. Have you seen sometimes, and often, that when you are in a bad mood, it doesn’t matter who you are with, whosoever you are with, you get irritated? Sometimes you rub somebody the wrong way, for no reason at all. You are in a bad mood and somebody calls you up, you don’t pick up the call. Now are you angry over that person specifically? No. But what has happened is that your general sense of disquiet and frustration has found an object. It is just incidental that the fellow called up at that time, right? It’s good that you didn’t pick up the call. Had you picked up the call, you might have fought with him. Now does that mean it is that person that you dislike?

Similarly, when you are in a very good mood and you get a random call, you might answer it very sweetly, more nicely, more politely than usual, does it happen? Are you specifically happy with that person? You are not. It just happened that your general sense of euphoria got an object.

Same is the case with dreams. I am feeling restless. There is an internal hollow, a feeling of inadequacy, and I do not know what to do about it. Then I find that everybody is saying that getting that prestigious job. It is a good thing. So my general and deep sense of frustration latches on to that object. What is the object? The job.

I declare that my frustration will be taken care of, if I get that job. Now this is laziness. I have not gone deeply into my own mind. I have quickly announced a superficial solution.

Dreams, if not understood, only aggravate the restlessness they come from. First of all appreciate this: dreams arise from an internal restlessness. Dreams arise from a deep subconscious desire.

You want something, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if that want is not understood properly, then you end up chasing the wrong objects, assuming that those objects are all that you want. That was the first possibility that I mentioned.

The second possibility is: I look at my disquiet. I see how I want a few things, and then I go into them. I say, “No. The face of the dream is not sufficient. I want to understand the heart of the dream. What is it that I really want? Yes I want something. But what is it that I really want? Will that job suffice? Will that woman suffice? Will that amount of money suffice? Will settling abroad suffice? Even if I get all of these things, will I stop dreaming? I have a call from within, is that call about money? I am being driven towards something, am I being driven towards a man, or a woman, or reputation, or security, or gadgets, or a big house? Is that what my internal call is all about? I understand that the call is there, but should I just say that the call is just about achieving dreams?”

Dreams are a wonderful indicator. They tell you that something needs to be done. They tell you that not everything is alright. They tell you that certain movement needs to happen. But you need to exactly find out what is it that the dream really wants. Otherwise, the same dream that could have helped you move to quietness, and peace, and relaxation, would mislead you, as it misleads most people. Dreams are an important signal sent from the depth of your mind to the conscious mind. You need to interpret that signal properly.

Most people fail to decode that signal. I am talking about both kinds of dreams: the dreams that you have with closed eyes in the night, and the dreams that you have with the open eyes when you are awake. You need to properly interpret, decode your dreams.

When you dream of a car, please do not think that it is a car that you want. Yes you want something, that much is certain, because you are repeatedly dreaming of objects. You are dreaming of faraway lands, you are dreaming of happiness, you are dreaming of a utopia. So you want something, but what is it that you want? A huge bungalow, will that take care of restlessness? But that’s the way it appears, because all that you see while dreaming is that bungalow.

It is easy to be misled. It is easy to not to interpret properly. It is easy to think that it is just a woman that I want or a man that I want. It’s women that I see in my dreams, so let me chase the women. Your internal unrest is just taking the form of a person. It is not the person that you want. It is not the person that you dream of. Nobody has really ever dreamt of a person. A ‘person’ is not worthy of being dreamt of.

So, do chase your dreams. Kindly chase your dreams, but first realize that what is it that you really want. Otherwise it would be quite a bad deal. You chase something, you spend your life and energy after it, and at the end of the game you say, “Oh no! This is not what I wanted.” But now it is too late. You have spent all your time in chasing this thing. At the age of seventy, you are realizing that you didn’t want this. That would be horrible, won’t it be?

A hint : it appears that the objects of our dreams are different, but in some way all of us dream of the same One. Nobody has ever dreamt of anybody else. There is only One point that we all seek. That one point appears to our mind as different names, forms and shapes. Whenever you have desired, you have desired only One. Whenever you have dreamt, you have wanted only One. And it is easy to be misled, because that One appears in many forms.

Break the code. Don’t take your dreams at face value. Go deeply into them. See what your heart longs for. See what you are really wanting. See what would really get you fulfillment. Somebody is dropping hints. Somebody is sending you dreams. They are not without purpose. They are meant to guide you, but they can guide you only if you read them properly.

Listener 1: How can we dream without thinking of objects?

Speaker: Whenever you would dream, there always will be an object, because dreaming is a mental procedure, and mind can deal only with objects. So an object is bound to be there. But the intelligent woman goes beyond the object. She says, “Alright. It is the object that is appearing on the surface. The dream has the face of an object, but what is the essence of the dream? Let me figure that out.”

“I feel lonely, so I dream of a companion. Now surely I don’t want a companion who would exacerbate my loneliness. Or do I want such a companion? I don’t want a companion who would make me even more dependent. If the companion is another ‘person’ in flesh and blood, then he would have the same mortal weaknesses that I have. He too would have his dreams.”

Do you ever dream of anything less than perfection? Tell me. We are not talking of reasonable, calculated demands. We are talking of dreams. We are talking of what your Heart wants, really. Anybody here whose heart wants anything less than perfection, anything less than the ultimate? Anybody here who wants to settle for anything less than the maximum? You may have to make compromises, but that is another thing. A compromise is a compromise. Your mind may settle for a compromise, but what does your Heart want? Does it want a compromise? Does it want a negotiated settlement, an in between kind of place? Is that what you want, or you want the fullest that is possible, the fullest? Now if it is a person, can that person offer you the fullest?

For example, if you repeatedly dream of a person because you are lonely, then you must realize that the person is not really the solution. The dream is there to remind that you feel lonely. You already have some kind of a problem, which is loneliness. By running after that person, you will only add to the problem. The so-called solution is not a solution at all. It is an addition to the problem. The solution comes when the problem is understood.

“If I am getting this dream repeatedly, if I am thinking of a person repeatedly, with closed eyes or open eyes, then I need to understand that I need to take care of my loneliness.” That is the signal that the dream is dropping. Don’t misread that signal. Don’t start chasing a person. Start taking care of your loneliness.

A dream can send you away from yourself, or a dream, if understood rightly can help you comeback to yourself. With most people, dreams only mislead. We all have objects as our dreams. Ask yourself, “What is it behind the object that I want?” That which is behind that object, the object can never really provide that, because the object is limited and dreams never pertain to the limited.

“What is it behind the object? I dream of big cars all the time, it should not mean that I start purchasing cars, that I start making money so that one day I may have a garage full of exotic cars. The car is just a face of the dream. Why do I dream of cars? Let me decode it.”

Even a monkey knows that if a banana is in its hands, then the peel has to be removed, and the fruit has to be eaten. Or would you keep licking the peel? The face of the dream is not to be obsessed. Remove the peel. Go to the fruit. Go to the essence. “I dreamt that I was flying in the sky. Now what should that mean? Does it mean that I should enroll in a Para-jumping course?” Flying in the sky is an internal metaphor, it’s a hint. You have to understand that what is really meant by flying in the sky. It doesn’t mean that you take a flight to the States, and when you are over the Atlantic you say, “Yes, I have fulfilled my dream. I am flying.”

What is really meant by flying? Somebody is sending you signal. Somebody is telling you to fly. But what does ‘flying’ really mean? You have to figure that out. Are you getting it? Or somebody dreams of dancing, somebody dreams of a lot of money and influence. You don’t really want influence, you want something else. What do you want, that needs to be understood. Otherwise you will end up chasing just influence. I am assuring you; you never really want that which appears as the object in the dream. You never really want that which you desire in your waking state. For example, in your waking state if you desire to shop a lot, it is not shopping that you crave for. Your internal craving is for something else. Shopping will never fulfill that. You can keep shopping till you are bankrupt, and yet you will not come to rest.

“My dream is to build a business empire.” Dreams that you see with open eyes. Have you heard people say like this? “My dream is to build a grand empire.” Yes you desire to have a large business establishment, but that is not what you actually want. Had you actually wanted that, you would have had come to a full stop at some point. You can keep raising organization after organization, company after company, yet you will find that you are thirsty for more, equally thirsty, may be thirstier than you were at the beginning of your journey. You are mistaken, you don’t want this. You simply squandered your life.

For example, there is a restaurant that appears in your dreams, and in your dream you smell of wonderful dishes and flavors unheard of, and untasted. You enter that restaurant hungry, and wanting, and you come out of that restaurant after a while as hungry as before, as unfulfilled as before, but having paid the bills for eating, is that a good deal? That is the case with dreams and desires. They are like a restaurant that sends you back as hungry as you came in, but after extracting the bill amount.

What is the story of this world? Going to that restaurant again and again. It enters hungry, comes out hungry, and because it comes out hungry, it says, “Alright, enter again, and pay the bill again.” This happens again and again with those who don’t understand their dreams and desires, and just chase them, paying the price again and again, suffering the penalty again and again, and never getting satisfied, never reaching a point of contentment.

Dreams are wonderful. Do dream, but first understand that what is it that you want. Otherwise, it would be just a blind chase. Not good at all.

Listener 2: Sir, you said that chasing dreams at face value leaves us unfulfilled. Does it not mean that we should chase the ultimate?

Speaker: When it comes to the Ultimate, it can’t be an object of your chase. Only objects can be chased, only things can be chased. The more you get it, the more you become able to get more. As your ability to get more increases, you realize that what you have right now is not the end at all.

Another fundamental difference is that, when you chase a dream, you chase in suffering. You say, “Till I don’t have it, I need to keep working. Till I don’t have it, I can’t celebrate.” Have you not seen people celebrate after reaching milestones? What is funny is that often in that same party, in that celebration, they announce their next milestone. “So the turnover of my organization has hit 1000 crores. Cheers! We aim to hit 5000 crores in the next three years.” Here celebration is reserved for milestones.

Whereas, when you really want what you want, that which is missing, then the realization itself is the celebration. You don’t wait for something to occur, for something to come to you, because there is no point at which that thing comes to you. The realization itself is the celebration. There are no milestones there.

Listener 2: How can we know what we really want, and how to get it?

Speaker: First of all one has to be cautious; one has to be alert against the quick acceptance of the face of the dream. That is the first thing to do. A dream of a bank account or a dream of a woman, the first thing is to not to be quickly swayed away. Not to just feel, “O my god! She is the center of my universe. She is the highest that I ask for.” One has to guard against that. “No! Not this. But yes something is missing. Otherwise I couldn’t have desired, otherwise I couldn’t have dreamt, but not this. Something is missing, but not this. This is just a face, this is just the envelope.”

Something is missing when you receive a letter, do you stop at the envelope? You want to read the letter, right? So first of all, tear open the envelope. Don’t get attached to the envelope. The envelope has to be destroyed. One has to go beyond the face. When you keep rejecting the objects of your desire, and dreams, then slowly the tendency of the object to show themselves, to present themselves, reduces. Now you have come to a point where you know that things, or persons, or ideas, or thoughts, is not what you want. So what happens, that the chase after things, or persons, or ideas, or reputation, loses its energy.

“If I constantly believe that I want money, or reputation, or money, or a car, or a person, then my chase after these things remains powerful. But if I reject them and say, ‘No, this is not what I want,’ then my chase after these things starts losing energy. I start becoming calmer and calmer. The calmer I become, the less dreams I have. The calmer I become, the less is the need to reject those faces. The calmer I become, the less is the need to chase anything. May be my dream is getting realized just by rejecting the objects of the dream. May be this is all that the dream wanted. I don’t know may be.

Listener 3: Sir, what if I become more restless by rejecting the dreams of my desires?

Speaker: What is guaranteed is- restlessness is not taken care of by chasing the objects, that much is guaranteed. No one has ever come to a point where he can say that he has come to the maximum, by chasing the objects. So when that is guaranteed, there is no harm in at least trying an alternate way, at least as an experiment. Why not try it out. Maybe something new, something very novel, something unthinkable would result. Maybe, who knows?

Listener 3: Is it possible for a person to have no desires?

Speaker: No, not at all.

Listener 3: Desire leads to suffering.

Speaker: Desire leads to suffering, if the desire is not understood properly. I said to somebody once, “When illusion is understood, then illusion itself shines as reality .” An illusion is an illusion as long as you don’t understand it. Desire leads to suffering, and you are forgetting that desire arises from suffering as well. If you are alright, then the force of your dreams and desires would not be great. Yes, you would want to drink water. Yes, you would want to take a walk. Yes, you would want to buy some clothes to wear. But you won’t say that, “I have to become the richest woman in the world. If I don’t do that, I would rather commit suicide.” Ordering a Masala Dosa at a restaurant because you are hungry is not the same as changing a job every six months because you want more and more money.

Have desires. Because you are already suffering, desires are bound to be there. Because you are already displaced from your center, dreams and desires are bound to be there. But don’t feel bad or guilty about them. It is good that you have desires; it is good that you know that you are dreaming. It is good that you know that you are desire driven. Now understand the desires. Don’t get swayed by them, don’t look at them superficially.

Being what we are, desires are inevitable. I won’t even say that it is alright to desire. It is not possible to not to desire. You will desire, and you will have dreams. Just read your desires properly. Just interpret your dreams correctly.

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