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Freedom can come only by deception || On Advait Vedanta (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Questioner: Acharya Ji, since the last few days I have been sharing my learnings with my parents. Every time I discuss something with them, I have to deliberately attack their conditioned mind to make them aware of their conditioning. I feel sorry for them and I find myself being cruel sometimes. How to get rid of this sense of cruelty and proceed further?

Acharya Prashant: I am not the right man to answer this. Yes, you obviously do feel that there is cruelty involved in this. The other fellow is happily living in his cocoon, in his bubble, and you, being driven by love or empathy or just the missionary spirit, want to puncture the bubble. This does involve inflicting a certain pain on the other, there is no doubt about it. Do it as much as you can.

When you can’t take it anymore, then call it a day. Stop the sermon, hug them, treat them with some sweets, and say, “No, no, no, all that I have said so far was all junk. Let’s talk of cute kittens and nice sweets and what’s happening in the daily soaps!” Comfort them. If they are still not comforted, as we said, search for the trending cat videos on YouTube; they are great to watch with family. A dog chasing a cat, a cat chasing a rat¸ cute kittens, baby monkeys—that’s what we call as happy family time, no? Everybody feels glad!

Must be raining these days. Have some pakoda, some chai of good desi milk—everybody likes it! See, now he (referring to someone in the audience) is smiling. Just five minutes back he was about to die! He has sensed that if the tea can be milk tea, then the pakodas are surely coming from desi ghee. Desi ghee is wonderful! He has been asking to go home since long, he is missing that.

That’s the way things stand. If I knew how to deal with them, I would have already disappeared by now. You have to inflict regulated pain; you have to melt the other’s conditioning, but with discretion. There is an obvious contradiction contained in trying to spiritually uplift your near ones. Please understand. Why are they near you in the first place? Because there is a relationship of body and self-interest, right? Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been near to you in the first place.

Why is the son near the mother? Because the relationship belongs to the womb, the body. The journey started with sex, went to the womb, then went to breastfeeding, then went to physical closeness with the infant, then went to raising the boy; and it has been all so very bodily, so the nearness itself is extremely bodily. The foundation of the relationship is the body.

So, based on that nearness, now you go to the mother and you say, “Mother, body-identification is false!” Now, what entitles you to say this to your mother? The bodily relationship. Otherwise, there would have been no mother, no son. You wouldn’t have been standing in front of that woman. The very reason why the woman is allowing you to stand in front of her and say something, is because there is a bodily relationship. And based on the body relationship, now you are telling her that the body is false. Obviously, she will be startled.

It’s scandalous! You are denying the very foundation that is enabling you to have the conversation. In that spiritual conversation, what are you doing? In that spiritual conversation, you are denying the very foundation that is enabling you to have that conversation. Now, what’s the poor lady to do? She can only gape at you and say, “What infection has hit you, my son? What are you talking?”

Similarly, the husband-wife thing. They have come together because of the body. If the husband were impotent, would there be a marriage? If the wife were not a woman at all, would there be a marriage? No wedding is possible if the man and the woman know in advance that they can’t have sex. Impose any other condition and the wedding can still take place, but this is the one condition that you cannot put: you cannot say there would be a marriage but no sex. Now the marriage cannot happen.

The relationship is very, very, very bodily, and that is why it’s always between a man and a woman, or mostly between a man and a woman—because it is bodily. Otherwise, you could have married a cow. Oh, even that would have been bodily! Okay, otherwise you could have married an electric pole—even that would have been bodily! And now the wife comes to the husband and says, “You know what, the body does not exist.” The husband will say, “Then you do not exist for me. Get lost!”

So, it’s always tricky, preaching to the ones who are related to you in a bodily way—very, very tricky. And it does involve a lot of discomfort and, as you said, a bit of cruelty as well. But that’s the only way, you know.

You know what, right now the problem might be that the husband is trying to preach to the wife and the wife is aghast, saying, “Oh, you married me as a body and now you are saying there is no body!” So, there is the problem. But there is also another dimension to the story. The only way the husband could have preached to that woman was by firstly looking at her as a body; otherwise, why would she have come to that man? That woman is totally a body in her own eyes. Would she ever go to a spiritual place on her own? What’s the only way to bring her to a spiritual place? To treat her as a body, to lure her body.

The husband will have to offer himself as a body to that woman, so that she first of all comes to the spiritual place. And once she has come, he will have to gradually start turning the screws; he will have to tell her, “You know, I kind of trapped you. The only way to bring you here was through the physical route; otherwise, you wouldn’t have been here in the first place. Now that you are here, let me divulge a little secret: neither you nor me are the body.”

Now, this is obviously a breach of contract. This is surely a breach of contract, but the contract needs to be breached. When a contract is breached, obviously there is some heartburn; it has to be managed, so manage it. You will be turned an ass of a son; your friends, your family members will say our great misfortune that we had him as a friend or as a son or as a husband or something. You will have to bear all the allegations and insults. You might even be dragged to the court. But there is no other way.

It is some kind of cheating, there is no doubt about it. And maybe you will have to pay the price for indulging in cheating. Pay the price—because cheating is actually happening, it actually is cheating. Your parents didn’t raise you to hear sermons from you; you are cheating them. The woman didn’t marry you to hear sermons from you; it is a thing of cheating if you marry someone and then tell her to become a nun. You say, “I am a monk, you become a nun.” She will say, “Why didn’t you disclose this at the right time?” So, there is a breach of trust involved here.

Pay the price, in cash, in kind. If you really want to proceed with what you are doing, compensate. You will have to come up with little tricks, some pretty consolations. After two hours of a grueling discussion, maybe you can watch some cheap TV serials with them. You know, fifty-fifty. Or if it’s your wife, after two hours of a heavy sermon, you can have half an hour of sex. That will keep her pacified. If sex is stopped altogether, she will run away!

I know what I am saying doesn’t sound spiritual at all, but you’re not hearing it from a professor; you’re hearing it from a practitioner. So, what I am saying has practical validity. I don’t know how it sounds to the purists. This is the only way you can proceed. You have to manage things till you can finally gather enough speed to take off. And I have agreed that this involves cheating or deception to an extent.

Nobody ever got freedom on his own accord. We are so specially constituted that freedom can come to us only by deception. If freedom doesn’t deceive us, we will avoid freedom. If freedom comes to you and honestly says “I am freedom”, what will you do? You will shut the doors on the face of freedom, won’t you?

So, freedom can come to you only with a little bit of deception. Therefore, spirituality and common ethics do not go together for long, which does not mean that spirituality is unethical; it means that spirituality is truly ethical. And true ethics do not correspond with common morality.

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