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Enlightenment is to feel free of the obligation to be enlightened || Acharya Prashant (2016)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Questioner (Q): Is life not ultimately a hall of mirrors?

Acharya Prashant (AP): No, what is meant by that? There is somebody outside the hall who can see that all this is happening. Yes, you project your world, it’s possible to see that you are doing that. So, life is outside that hall as well; and real life is only outside that hall. That hall is such an illusion.

Q: I heard the other day, like: “The world is not what you think; the world is what you think it is.” Is it interesting?

AP: No. This is absolutely beautiful. Who’s the author?

Q: I heard it on Mooji or someone else, but he was quoting someone.

AP: Who was he quoting? Who is the author?

Q: I am not sure if he quoted Ramana Maharishi or Papaji. I am not sure, one of them.

Q: What’s the quote?

AP: “The world is not what you think it is; the world is just what you think it is.” I have distorted the quote a little.

Q: Yes, this ‘just’ brings a little more clarity.

AP: Yes, I have brought in the ‘just’ to clarify the quote.

Q: So, in terms of surrender, the passive side of it seems easier to accept. To accept things or maybe to let our desires come, without chasing them than to really live by surrender.

AP: No, you can chase your desires. You are free to chase your desires.

Q: So, how about if our actions are meant to come forth from surrender.

AP: No, you can surrender, and in surrender, chase your desires. You can chase your desires in a surrendered way, why can’t you?

Q: Can you clarify more, what you mean by surrender?

AP: There is no meaning in this. It is just that you are chasing the desire and yet the chase is not primarily important to you. You are chasing it with all the energy that you have and yet it is not very important. You are prepared to die for your desire and yet you do not think the desire is very important. That’s what I am saying. The desire is such an overpowering desire; you are fully committed to it, and yet there is something you are more committed to.

Q: Yes, I think that’s a hard one with surrender, in practical terms.

AP: No, it is not hard at all; it is hard only when you try to ‘think’ of it.

Q: It is a… Although we respect him or not, it is a good quotation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on ‘What is enlightenment?’ He says: ‘It’s to realize or accept or recognize that everything is perfect as it is, exactly.’ Then he was asked: ‘Then why you put so much effort to try and uplift the world?’ He said: ‘That’s part of the perfection.’

AP: One can go a step further and say, ‘Enlightenment is to feel free of the obligation to realize.’ You don’t even need to realize anything to call yourself enlightened or to be enlightened.

Q: I may have misquoted him.

AP: Even the obligation to realize or know, freedom from that is enlightenment. We say, ‘We do not know’, then we say, ‘When we know, we are enlightened.’ Fact is: Whether or not you know, you are already enlightened. So, you are free even of the obligation to be enlightened. And that absolute freedom – to not to be enlightened – is enlightenment.

Q: I remember Gita saying something similar, ‘No attachment to the fruit of action.’ So, action is done, or action will arise from a place of complete fulfillment. So there is no attachment to what you are actually doing. Whereas, when we are seeking or we are eating to taste something nice or whatever it may be, in life, it’s for that purpose, that’s that drive striving for that fulfillment. So, action can arise from a place of fulfillment, and then it’s just action. So, then what you are doing is Joy.

AP: There is a beautiful story that Osho was fond of telling. You would have heard of Tansen – the musician. He was one of the jewels in Akbar’s court. So, he was the most accomplished musician, and Akbar was fond of him. So, Akbar asked him that “You are the best one, there can be nobody as your peer. Now, who taught you all this? Who is your guru?” Tansen said, “My guru is still alive, he lives by the river.” So Akbar said that if you are so wonderful then I would want to meet your guru. Tansen said, ‘He won’t come to the court, you will have to go to him.’ So Akbar said, ‘Fine, you set up an appointment, I will go.’ He said, 'He doesn’t live by appointments; he won’t sing as per an appointed time. You will have to be somewhere and wait for him to sing.' Now, this was a little too much for the emperor but he agreed.

So, Tansen took him and they waited for long, without disturbing. The guru was living alone, by the river there was a small forest and these two kept waiting. And then after a while, it was night, and there was the moon and silence, this fellow starts singing and Akbar is mesmerized. He says, ‘I used to think that you are a wonderful singer, but your guru, he is a different dimension. You practice so much and he is just singing spontaneously, he doesn’t even seem to be practicing. How come there is so much difference in the quality?’

Tansen replied: ‘I sing as your employee, as a member of the court. I sing so that I get something. He sings because he already has something.’

That is the difference between action coming from fulfillment and action aiming towards fulfillment.

Whenever action will aim towards fulfillment, it will be crude and vulgar action. Not having that fine beauty and subtle quality.

Whenever the action will arise from a point of fulfillment, it will be beautiful.

Beautiful, even if it remains unacknowledged, unknown, or even a failure. The world calls Tansen a success, not his Guru.

It is possible to even chase desire, already feeling fulfilled. ‘I am already alright, now I want to chase desire.’

Q: Yes, because it’s just fun. Even if I don’t get it, it’s okay.

AP: No, I want to be fully in the game, if I don’t get it, I will cry. That’s the rule of the game: If I get it – I will celebrate and party; if I don’t get it – I will bang my head and I will cry. I won’t pretend that it is okay. If I am in the game then I must play it passionately. So I will try hard; and if I get it, I will celebrate; and if I don’t get, I will go into mourning. That is real, immersed action. I will really feel bad if I don’t get it. It’s not like that I will say “Oh I am indifferent.” If you are saying you are indifferent then that’s a humiliation. Then you are insulting the desire; you must respect the desire.

Q: But there is a risk, if you don’t have enough awareness then you can be caught up in the next desire… and then you can get lost.

AP: This risk is there only if you keep talking the language of ‘ifs’. The more you say that ‘if’ you don’t have enough awareness, you have surely said that you don’t have enough awareness. So, don’t even say that.

Faith is something that opens up only if when you go to it.

The more you believe in it, the more it becomes true for you; the less you believe in it, the less it remains visible.

So, you have to work with the absolute certainty that you are already Home. And now that you are already Home, you are free to wander. Go wherever you want to, but never begin with the assumption that you are Homeless.

Q: That’s true freedom of will.

Q: Also, what is free will?

AP: Free will is your own will, your own will arising from freedom.

Q: But is there a freedom if you are conditioned?

AP: Freedom will express itself only through conditioning. How else will freedom express itself? This body itself is conditioned. Freedom will not dance as F, R, E, E, D, O, M. Even the dance of freedom will depend on your two legs and your body and the gravitation. Freedom expresses itself through Prakriti (nature). That’s the danger with scriptures: If you do not read them from the right center, they will reflect all that is in your own mind – just like the hall of mirrors. You can easily quote the scriptures to mean exactly what you intend to say. So, even with a very misguided mind, you can still come up with the most beautiful of quotations.

Q: Something I read that illustrated or helped me understand, “If a pickpocket sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets.”

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