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Don’t challenge Maya without being prepared || IIT Bombay (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, you often talk about the importance of time, and that is something that bothers me in the context of my career. I don’t know if I should continue in my current job or not. I took the job for very ordinary reasons: money and position in society. But those reasons no longer appeal to me, which is why I am finding it difficult to continue with the job. I know that I cannot continue there, but I am afraid of what the public opinion, I am afraid of what people would think of me. What should I do? Should I just continue with this job and find some purpose in it? I am losing a lot of time by being occupied in it the way I currently am.

Acharya Prashant (AP): When you are serious about victory, you do not strike at the enemy without being fully prepared. Those who just plunge themselves into battles without having checked their preparedness are the ones who don’t love victory too much.

Don’t underestimate Maya . There were reasons which got you into your current job—public opinion, money, prestige and all that. Have you so fully changed that these things won’t matter to you anymore at all? No. So, Maya smiles. Even as you contemplate your resignation and such things, she smiles. She knows that you are not fully prepared in the inner sense. So, you will resign and then regret the decision because you have just not thought of the consequences.

When you are to fight Maya , you have to use all your resources, especially thought. Think of what you are going to do next, and don’t overestimate yourself. Know that you still have a desire for social sanctions, money and such things. So, if you resign from here, have you prepared an adequate and a better option? Or do you just want to hop onto the road, become a job seeker, and later on curse spirituality?

And that happens with so many people. In a moment of excitement, in a spiritual fit, they put in their papers, and then their entire life they keep cursing all the spiritual teachers, books, and the entire spirituality itself: “Oh, I tried to be a rebel, a spiritual activist, and I did this, and see: I am facing the consequences even till date!”

So, be prepared for her recoil. She doesn’t let her prey escape so easily. Caught in the web of a corporate job, as you say, you are her prey. If you make a half-hearted attempt to escape, you will only hurt yourself. Such attempts should not be made at all till the moment you know that you will definitely succeed, or at least you have a very strong probability of success.

So, look for something that offers you a purposeful workplace where your job entails doing something more fulfilling, and also a place that offers you at least an average kind of decent money, because you are not a realized saint or something. A small paycheck will make you feel small, and then all spirituality will disappear. We have to be very practical in these things. So, figure it out before you take the leap.

Q: Sir, what bothers me is that time is running out and I am not able to concentrate on anything properly, not even my current job.

AP: I fully well understand there is something that is pushing you to quit your job. I appreciate that, but I also know the power of man’s inner tendencies. That is what I am calling as Maya . Today, because you have a decent paycheck, you are thinking of job-fulfillment, self-actualization and such things. It is because you already have decent money coming every month. The day that paycheck disappears, all your noble intentions will be at the risk of disappearance.

So, if you think time is running out, then act swiftly. Swiftly figure out a better alternative. But without having a better alternative, if you blindly jump into the unknown, chances are you will not be able to take the suffering and the consequences. I repeat, because this battle is important and because this battle must be won, therefore one must not make rash decisions.

If you want to hit a six, you don’t attempt that on every ball, do you? You wait to get settled, and you wait for the bowler to make mistakes, at least some mistake. So, you have all these things in your calculation, and then the moment comes when you lash out—that is, if you are serious about winning the match. If you just want to have two seconds of bravado, then you can do anything—dance at the ball, slog, miss, and clean-bowled.

I am not discouraging you; I just want you to be adequately prepared. Because in youthful idealism, one rushes into decisions without being able to sustain them. Whatever you do must be sustainable. So, take a little bit of time, prepare yourself well, figure out options, gather knowledge, do some research, so that the next place you go to is indeed better than the current one. If you just keep hopping without discretion, how do you know that the next place will not be equally bad or worse?

Q: Yes, I am getting your point. It’s just that I am not finding a valid reason to continue with the job right now. So, maybe I have to figure out what I have to do with the money.

AP: See, you are the best judge, obviously. If you think that you are in an inner position to just discard the money and other things right now, this moment, then put in your papers this moment. But mostly it doesn’t happen, so I am speaking from a generic point. I have seen a lot of youngsters make idealistic decisions and later regret them. I don’t want that to be repeated again. But if you feel you are prepared, then take the plunge. Bravo!

Q: For this thing I am prepared, but for the public opinion I have to prepare better.

AP: So, prepare yourself well. Do your inner exercises. There are two worlds, the inner and the outer, and Maya pervades both worlds, doesn’t she? Therefore, when it comes to finding supports or allies against Maya , you need allies in both of these worlds, the inner world and the outer world.

In the outer world, you need good company. In the outer world, you need the company of mirrors; you need institutions or people or books that reflect back to you your real face. That is one thing that Maya cannot stand—reality. She likes to see you deluded. Forget about the Truth, Maya cannot even stand facts. If you have someone in your life or something in your life that keeps on reflecting facts to you, it would help you greatly. Therefore, the power of saṃgati (company) or satsaṃgati (holy company) has been extolled in texts and tradition.

In the inner world, you need honesty and sensitivity. You need to be honest enough to acknowledge that you are not alright, that you are suffering, and that you are being deceived. This acknowledgement prevents you from siding with her. If you are clearly seeing that involvement in her game is giving you misery and hardships, then it becomes easier to quit her game.

These are the two things that you require: great company outside and great honesty inside.

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