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How can one live without an identity or an ego? || Acharya Prashant (2016)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
37 min
108 reads

Question: To go beyond your past to get illuminated or whatever, you have to drop down your ego or your identity. But I am quite afraid of this because I am a psychologist and I know that identity is me and people without identity gets crazy. So, I am really afraid to do this step because I think then I will be nobody or I will be out of my mind or crazy. So for me, it is a kind of fear.

How can I leave myself, my identity, my ego? Is it possible to live without my ego?

Acharya Prashant : It’s a beautiful question to start this evening with. Could we all get the question? Clear to everybody.

So, while it is commonly, very infrequently said – it is an axiom in the spiritual world that one has to drop his identities. It is also equally a fact that when it really comes to dropping the identities or even thinking about that dropping, the mind experiences a certain fear. We want to take that up. What is meant by identities, fear elimination and what is this fear?

When I say I have an identity, we all together will go close to it because it is not only one man’s question, this question belongs to all of us, right, we all experience this. When we talk about an identity, what actually is it? On the ground, what actually is it?

Listener1: Memories, character.

Listener 2: A survival mechanism.

AP: Yes, all of that. But can we come even close to the moment, even closer to the fact? For example, if at this moment you have an identity, what would that mean?

L : Thought wave.

AP: Thought wave, right. And what would that thought wave say?

L: Just image or idea of what you think you are.

L: Identifications.

AP: Identifications. What would that say? Identification is a technical word. I want to get as close as to it as possible. I want to say that I don’t know any of these psychological or spiritual words. I know nothing of them. As a layman, as a bare layman, I want to understand what would happen if at this moment I am carrying identities?

L : Feeling me, I.

AP: Yes, so what would happen?

L: Feeling in control.

AP : Feeling in control. Yes, I would feel in control and then, what is happening? So, here we are sitting together and we are identified as a result of which there is this feeling of control, there is that thought wave, there is the identification and all of that.

L: Separateness.

AP: Separatedness.

From what?

L: Others.

AP: Others and from?

L2 : Source.

AP: And from everything. All right!

Let’s take a concrete example. One of the identities is that you could be entangled with-at this moment might be the identity of a…?

L: Person.

AP: Person. More concrete?

L: Gender.

AP: Gender.

‘I am a woman.’



‘So, I am a Christian or a Jew.’ Or?

‘I am a father or a mother.’ Or?

L : I am a traveler.

AP: ‘ I am a traveler,’ something. And with every identity comes, as somebody very nicely said, “Thought.” What would thought do to this moment? So, let’s have an experiment. So, the lady said something and if someone of us are thinking, what would happen to what she said?

Let’s say you are busy thinking, what would happen to what she said? She just said something and you are thinking. Now, what would happen?

L: Wouldn’t be able to hear.

AP: You wouldn’t hear, right? You wouldn’t hear. And even if you hear, what would happen to what you hear?

L: It would be filtered.

AP: Yes, wonderful. It would be filtered, it would be distorted, integrated and co-opted. It would be disfigured to fit into the existing pattern of the identity bound thought. There is a thought going on and the thought deals with the identity. Suppose the identity is, “I am a father” and suppose the man there said something about education. Now what he said about education has been said in a general, let’s say a spiritual context. But the man is thinking about his identity as a father. Or, let’s say the man is thinking in his identity as a father. He hears the word education; immediately he takes in education to mean…?

He is talking of spiritual education. He is sitting here as a papa, father. Immediately education would now mean…?

L: Go to school, get a job, and get a future.

AP: Right? He utters the word, let’s say-give me any word.

L: Responsibility.

AP: He says, Responsibility”, and by responsibility, he is probably meaning the responsibility of the ego towards the self. But here we have a father sitting. So, what would the father hear?

L: Responsibility towards kids. Like being a good father.

AP: He utters another word. Give me any word. He says “Terrorism.” What would the father hear?

L: Is my child safe in school?

AP : He has said terrorism and by terrorism, he is referring to a general, global problem. And what does the father hear?

‘Is my kid safe in school?’

Now having said terrorism, he moves on. And what is the father doing?

L: Worrying.

AP: Worrying about the kids; still stuck. So in identities, let me use the word, you are always a misfit. You are always lagging behind existence. You are always lagging behind the happening or trying to run ahead of it. The happening is ever so subtle. It gives you no chance to catch up. You are either with it or you are not with it. In Identities, you are never with it.

Now, what is meant by dropping of identities? Dropping of identities does not mean becoming a “nobody.” The moment you say “I will be a nobody,” that is akin to saying ‘I am dead.’ And that very thought itself will prevent the happening.

Dropping of identity simply means having the identity that is needed at that moment.

So all of us surely do have an identity right now. But that identity is a non-sticky identity. That identity would be no more after half an hour or after fifteen minutes and put in purely, even after two seconds.

L: Could it be called identity?

AP: I am calling the identity just so that this fear of “no identity” can be taken care of.

See, it is not as if you have no identity. You have an identity which is dynamic and since it is dynamic, it is not an identity. Yes, technically you are very right. It is not an identity because identity is supposed to persist. Identity is supposed to carry on. It is supposed to have a life; a longevity. But because the moment you utter that you have to drop everything and let yourself float free in space; that is so horrifying. Is that not?

You are told that you are not the body you are not the mind and immediately you feel like rebelling, “Then who am I?” You are told that you are the great “Aatman” and what is that? That is nothing. So what does all of this mean? Committing suicide? And that is a great barrier. Is that not a barrier?

No. Spirituality is surely a dissolution but it is also a great achievement. It is just that the dissolution is of all that we are familiar with and the achievement is of something that we probably do not consciously know. So it appears as if we are losing everything and gaining nothing. It appears a greatly loss-making transaction. You know it is a kind of transaction in which when you look at the cost side, you find everything. You find your identities gone; the world is gone, relationships gone, possessiveness is gone, possessions are gone, thoughts are gone, beliefs are gone, the body is gone, the mind is gone. So, all that is on the cost side.

‘This is the price that I am paying. “And what I am getting in return?”

You are told that you are getting an abstract principle in return. What is that principle? “Brahm.”

‘Aah! Can I eat it?’ No.

‘Can I touch it?’ No.

‘Can I smell it?’ No.

‘Can I wear it?’ No.

Now, that is quite incredulous.

You really want me to buy this? You are saying, “Give up everything. Give up the highest price possible.” The cost is infinite. And benefits?

Don’t talk of benefits you greedy fellow! By talking of benefits, you are only sustaining your ego. Right? That is the kind of argument that is meted out. And when you hear this argument, obviously you would be afraid. There is nothing abnormal about it. There is nothing insane about it. Hence, it is needed that we understand that the profit side is not blank. It is not that you lose your all identities. It is just that you gain an infinite number of identities. It is not that you become totally support less and groundless. It is just that you gain an infinite variety of supports.

You surely are somebody at this moment. It is not that you are nobody. But what you are is not going to stick to you. It is not going to demand a fruit from you. It is there and then it would be no more there because it would be replaced by something more befitting and suitable, like the water. You could either say it has no shape-water or air or any fluid. You could either say that they have no shape or you could either say that it takes the shape of the…?

L: R ecipient.

AP: Recipient; the container. And thereby it does have a shape. Now no shape is always going to be scary to the mind because the mind deals only in shapes, objects, things. It needs something to hold on to. Now you give it nothing and that is a sure short invitation to the mind to reject what you are offering.

If you are your friend, if you want your ego to come along with you; if you don’t want your ego to offer unnecessary resistance, then you should not pose it with questions and statements that it would find totally unpalatable. So, an infinite number of identities.

‘Who am I?’ Not nobody. I am “this” right now and then “that,” and then “that,” and then “that,”…

All and nothing. Not only nothing. All and nothing. All, hence nothing. Nothing, hence all.

Now does that still sounds scary?

L: Not that much.

AP: Not that much.

The spiritual man is not a renouncer of the world. Spirituality is not for free space. Spirituality is for the person. The person is in the world, at least in his eyes. At least in his own considerations, the person exists in the world. So, spirituality has to take care of the person and his concerns. It is not asking the person to just let go of everything. Please understand this.

You can never let go off everything in thought. Whenever you will say, now there is nothing. The mind, because it is accustomed to deal in objects will form an image of nothing also. So there is no use of saying that I am nobody. The mind will form an image of nobody.

Okay! Try to imagine what would you be like after you have dropped everything? Do you see that you can still try and form some kind of an image; even if a hazy image? You at least, feel like trying to have an image and that is what would happen.

When it said that you are “Shunyata” or “Aatman” or “Braham,” or “Anand” or “Mukti”, you do form images. And when images have to be formed, then why keep asserting that of which there can be no image? Right? So, keep the language suitable to the mind. Keep the language in a way that the mind would not automatically reject.

L: One of the greatest spiritual masters Shakyamuni Buddha, he took this language of nothingness.

AP: He took this language of nothingness in a particular context. Was he operated in a vacuum? Was he talking to people who had zero backgrounds? To whom was the Shakyamuni Buddha talking? Who were the people he was talking to? What was the situation of this country in fifth and sixth century B.C? I said we have to take care of the mind that is being talked to; whether it is our own mind or the mind of the person in front of us.

Gautam Buddha was talking to people who had great belief in the Aatman and they had such great belief that they had conflated the ego with the Aatman. Now to talk of the grandness of Aatman would have been same as talking of the grandness of the ego. If you are somebody who has equated ego with the Atman, and if I say ‘Aatman is great,’ then what do you hear? In your mind, you have equated ego with Aatman and I am saying the Aatman is the highest. Now, what are you hearing?

L: I am the highest.

AP : I am the highest. The ego is the highest. So that is the reason why in that context, the Buddha had to take the word diametrically opposed to the Aatman. He said, “Anatman” or “Anatta”. He was giving us a lesson in teaching. He was telling us a lesson in speaking-How to convince the other? And convincing the other can happen only when you first have been able to convince your own mind.

See, the mind can never be dissolved against its own wish. It has that freedom. Because it arises from a center of freedom, the mind retains its basic freedom to say, Yes or No to dissolution. You cannot force the mind to gain liberation. You cannot make enlightenment compulsory for a country.

‘All of you must be enlightened by the age of 22.’ ‘Otherwise, your voter id cards will be confiscated.’

‘Are you enlightened? Where is the permit? Where is the license?’

The mind has to be counseled. The mind has to be almost seduced.

L: It might give power to the mind.

AP: Yes, it might and that is why the master has to do very fine balancing act; a tightrope walk. You see it is like this: there is something, a large rock. Have you seen that large rocks have pre-existing cracks and fissures in them, very fine almost of the width of the hair? Have you seen? That is why when they break there is that zig-zag pattern that emerges. Now that zig-zag pattern is not random. It was pre-existing. Do you see what I am saying?

Have you seen glass shattering? You take glass plane and drop it on the floor. It breaks. It doesn’t break randomly. The pieces that you see were already existing in the glass. Those fissures were already present. The job of the teacher is to strike at a place where it would break and not strike at a place where it would recoil. The ego is there. If you strike at the right place, it would dissolve. If you strike at the wrong place, it would fight back, it would recoil, it would gain the very energy that you were trying to use to break it.

L: What do you mean by saying “place”?

AP: If you are asking me something, then you must use the right word to ask, for me to understand. If you are asking me something, then you would take care to choose the right word to ask. Similarly, if I am responding to you I must take care of the right words to respond. This is what is meant by choosing the right place. That is the essence of wisdom-

Choosing it rightly; the appropriate method; the appropriate action.

If that same thing falls in the hand of a novice, then instead of breaking the ego, it would empower the ego even more. The fear that you just expressed that it may embolden the mind; yes that would happen. That is why great statements like the Brahamvakyas of the Upanishads when they fall into the hands of such people who have not really known them, whose hearts are not aligned with those statements. When those statements fall in the hands of such people, then those statements become very dangerous. Because it must have a great quality-like that of a musical instrument. You have to hit it right, at the right time, at the right place with the right intensity, just as you do when you woo a man or women. Aren’t you careful then to say the right things? Because something important is at stake so you say the right things. You try to make sure that what you are saying or proposing is going to be accepted.

If you are really serious about healing the mind, then say it in a way that would be acceptable to the mind. Otherwise, you are just being cavalier. You know that word cavalier – unnecessary bravado. So, you catch word of someone and you say you know who you are? You are a nobody. Do you know that this person doesn’t exist? And you are pestering him, haranguing him. And God forbid what if you actually manage to convince him that he doesn’t exist. Now he is walking around telling everybody that he doesn’t exist. And you read somewhere or a teacher read somewhere that he is Braham. Now he is absolutely sure that he is Brahm and he is totally inflated now.

“Who am I? Braham.”

So, spiritual utterances must be dealt with total care and considerations. They can be very very dangerous. They will, just as our friend said – they will lead to an inner fear and if you use them on others, you will scare them away as well.

It often happens that you know a man comes and he hears something that I say and he is very pleased. And he comes again and again. His sense of being pleased keeps on increasing and then one day he returns totally heartbroken and why? He says, “Whatever I have heard from you, I have been trying to communicate it to my wife and today she left me. She is gone.”

Don’t try that. It is best when it rises directly from your heart even if it doesn’t sound very wise, very Brahmanical, very erudite, even if it sounds very simple and ordinary, yet it is deeply spiritual if it is coming right from your heart. And that is the essence of spirituality-

To not to live by the calculating mind, but to live from the innocent heart. That’s all!

L: To me, it sounds like using thoughts to deals with thoughts. So is this using thought; as a method to deal with thoughts until you have thoughts on a side and then disregarding thoughts themselves. It’s like getting the ego on a side and then saying, ‘You are nothing.’ Or is it different?

AP: No, it is different. It is quite different.

L: It is about living in the words and being innocent to what is happening.

AP: More of this. Let me exemplify.

If you have thoughts, then those thoughts always come from your experience; your beliefs, your past. A kid is standing in front of you, how do you communicate the essence to the kid? Would you use thought? Or, would you rather look at the kid, be loving with the kid and in being with the kid, you would know how to communicate. And that method of communication which is applicable and suitable for the kid cannot be found in any textbook. Textbooks can give general methods but no kid is general; no human being is general. Each of us is uniquely conditioned. Are we not?

So, each of us requires a special and unique treatment which no book can offer because no book is vast enough to contain methods suitable for every individual and in every different situation. So even though you are giving a statement to the kid and the statement you could say is similar to a thought. But that statement is not a product of thought.

You said, “Using thought to deal with thought.” No. Using attention to produce the right action. Not using thought to deal with thought. Because if you will use thought then what you will get is a thought which will be a misfit. You will be saying something to the kid which has previously been used with another kid. Now it might have been successful in case of that kid. But it may fall totally flat in case of this kid. Let me give another example.

The questions that are generally raised when I sit with people for discussions are no new questions. You know that! If you have attended a few talks or Satsangs, you very well know that there is just a narrow range of questions from where eighty percent of them come. Is that not so? If ten get raised in a session, seven or eight of them are more or less similar to what you would have heard elsewhere. Yes?

Now, what do I do? The moment this question comes, should I repeat an answer that I gave the previous evening? I assure you, this question that came, came the previous evening as well, in some other form, maybe. Now, what do I do? Should I repeat the answer? If I do repeat, would that answer carry any soul? Would you like it if I just keep playing the audio track again and again? So, even if the question is the same, the words must be different. And what would decide the suitable words for this occasion? Thought? No. Because I have no time to think. As you are asking me, do you see that I have time to think? Do you feel that I am thinking, before answering? All thought requires at least some time. Do I have that space available with me? It’s not available.

So, I can be afraid and hence fall back on security by using a previous and safe answer. That would be an injustice. That would make the session totally lifeless. Then we can’t even say that it is a live session. It is not live anymore. It is dead. You are getting what I am saying?

Not using thought, it is possible to operate from a thoughtless center and yet produce the action of the highest quality . It is possible to speak from a center of cleanliness, of nothingness, and yet come up with a two hour or ten-hour session.

One could speak from another center also. I could speak from a rehearsed or well-practiced center also but that would be so boring. Would that not be? Even more boring than this.

It is possible. It is very much possible.

L: I am very much sure that what you are saying is actually to befriend the mind and have your mind cooperate and so actually at this point in life it seems to me that my mind actually started loving this thing or I am fooling myself?

AP: Never talk about mind control and don’t be afraid of fooling yourself. We all say that the mind needs to be restored to the center. But we never ask, “Why did the mind, first of all,l escape away from the center?” There must have been some kind of dislike. Now, do you want to shackle the mind and forcefully drag it all the way back to the center? Or, would you rather send it a loving invitation to come back to the center? What do you want to do?

L: Send it an invitation.

AP: So, send the mind a loving invitation. At the center does not lie fear. At the center, have faith, lies, only relaxation.

L: If I make a decision to send a loving invitation, but since I have decided it, will it not be fear?

AP: Do you love through a decision? I am sure, very sure that we all know Love. Is love a decision?

L: No.

AP: Sending a loving invitation is not a decision. It is love itself. When you love, then your invitation is full of love and if you don’t love and your invitation is looking like love, then what do you call it? If somebody doesn’t really love you but is talking to you using words of love. Then what do you call it? Hypocrisy and deception. We are not talking of that. We are talking of actually seeing the futility of using enforcement.

We are talking of seeing that actually, you do love and when you do love, why stand against yourself? Who has been able to ever tame the mind? Show me, one man. Oh! People have tried. They have used all kind of methods which I can say are just violence. Whenever you are using the language of control, it is the language of violence; it is the language of separation. It is the language of colonization. Only those have succeeded who have given up this internal violence of trying to control yourself or trying to be in charge of your life, and that is love, and that is surrender, and that is faith. Is that not?

Would you rather split yourself against yourself and try to control one part of yourself? What is all this business of mind control? It is one part of the mind trying to control the other part. Who else wants to control? Does the Atman want to control? Only the mind wants to control. So you are saying mind will control the mind. Is that not an inner violence? And then you disguise that in fancy names. Whatever you call it, it doesn’t matter. Whether you call it Bhakti, whether you call it yoga, it is still violence.

L: How do you regard discipline then?

AP: Is discipline a thing of enforcement? Do we have discipline here right now? Do you see that we have an order here right now? Is this discipline an artificial or fabricated discipline? Is this discipline coming out of fear? Is this coming out of rules and regulations? Firstly, do we see that this is quite a disciplined gathering? Now, is this discipline like military discipline? Now, where is this discipline coming from? It is coming from your heart and my heart which are both one.

So, you don’t need discipline. The heart knows its own discipline. But in the name of discipline, all we have is an authoritative enslavement. Is that discipline?

L: I wanted to ask about Saadhna again. Because you talked about sending the loving invitation. I think Saadhna can be on both ways. But it depends on that, like it comes from inside, just like any practice – chanting, yoga. There is no goal. I do that because I want to transform myself.

AP : The real meaning of Saadhna is to dissolve that which stands between you and Love. I talked of sending a loving invitation to the mind. Now the invitation is always there because you are not the one who will send the invitation. The invitation is from the center. The invitation is from the heart. The invitation is from a permanently standing invitation. It is an open invitation. The mind could have come anytime. But the mind doesn’t come. So, there is surely something that blocks the mind from accepting that invitation.

Saadhna is about melting that wall which blocks. And hence Saadhna cannot be limited to a particular activity. And hence Saadhna cannot be a matter of discipline, because of the blockage, is the blockage in life itself. So, Saadhna has to be twenty-four hours, seven days a week. Right now, let’s say, I am calling you in love and there is something that blocks you. Now would you remove this blockage by going back to your room? When is the time and opportunity to fight the blockage? Come on!

L: Now.

AP: Now! So Saadhna has to be…?

L: Now.

AP: Or, would you wait for the right time for Saadhna that I practice my Saadhna between 7am and 9am in the morning? That is what my guru told me and I practice my Saadhna by doing this and that. Now the invitation is now, the blockage is now; the Saadhna is two days later. What are we talking about? The disease is now. Would the treatment take place at the next birth? Are you getting it, sir?

All the symptoms of the disease are visible only in the daily, ordinary living. The way you talk to the waiter in the restaurant, the way you deal with the shopkeeper; the way you throw your garbage, the way you talk to a man of a different ethnicity. That is when you come to see of your own internal resistance. Don’t you? How else will you come to know of yourself? Will you read of yourself in some book? Will some book tell you about yourself? You know yourself only through the direct facts of your daily life. Don’t you?

The way you pick up a mug, the way you eat your food, the way you rush towards the bath – that is how you see yourself. That is how you see all that which blocks you, all that which separates you. Your fears, your goals, your hopes, your baggage’s – everything is visible in the way you take the next step. The way you pick up the bottle of water, it’s all writ large there. Now tell me what is Saadhna?

What is Saadhna then? Does it mean a yoga mat?

L: It is needed in right now.

AP: Here! Here! This is Saadhna.

But if you have been convinced that your Saadhna will be next morning then you will miss this moment. And that is the reason why we keep missing this moment because we are complacent. We say what is the point in accepting the invitation right now? The real thing is going to happen tomorrow morning at 7am. Now the lover is calling right now and you are saying I will respond then. Now the moment is gone; the party is over. Then there is another invitation, and an another blockage. But you are not open to looking even at that because then you are dealing with an imaginary lover.

Are you getting this? What is discipline? What is Saadhna? What is it that you need to know? Do you need to know esoteric practices or do you need to know your life? Do you need to know why the stars are configured in some way or do you rather need to know why you purchase a kurta of a particular shape, size, color, texture, dimension?

Do you know all your life is contained in your choice of this kurta? Do you know that this is not a random decision? The total history of mankind converged in that moment when you were making that purchase. All the dinosaurs, all the kings, queens, wars, kingdoms, grouse, meteors, satellites, all your ancestors, all came together in that decision; in that moment when your card was being swiped.

Now if you could pay attention to that swipe, then you know everything.

(Looking at a listener) No? You would rather read a book. Would you? I have nothing against the book by the way. But even when you are reading a book, are you reading the one who is reading? Do read books, but also read the reader.

Never slip. Saadhna! Saadhna! Saadhna! Continuous Saadhna. Life is Love and life is Saadhna and all is parallel and concurrent and much the same.

L: In Saadhna, we observe. Do we have to ask ourselves why we do that or what do we feel when we do that or you just observe?

AP: Your observation begins with you. You say I am observing. So your total focus is on that which is being observed because you take this observer for granted. Your process begins with yourself, right? Suppose you are walking down this lane. You say now I am observing. So, this person is observing and that is your beginning point. No, the beginning point must be a little beyond; a little further back. You must be observing this person who is claiming to observe.

There is this shop that is displaying holy candles or whatever that means; holy candles are there of various sizes, shapes and they are claiming that they give you orgasmic pleasures; in whichever way. Now there is the person that is watching the candles. The observation does not start there. Observation means seeing that this person is interested in those candles.

L: But how to observe? To question why do I get interested?

AP: By taking yourself very-very casually, by not at all being serious about it.

L: So like nothing…

AP: Yes. So let’s say, my name is Mira.

‘Mira! Again those candles!’

When you are very-very casual about yourself, not at all worried, hassled, not at all serious or burdened, that is when witnessing occurs. Witnessing is your nature. Witnessing is nothing to be practiced or cultivated.

L: But sometimes I ask myself ‘why do I do that?’

‘Maybe because of my family and…

AP: That is because you are taking yourself seriously and trusting yourself that you are capable of observing. No!

You wouldn’t observe. You would be observed. You are not the subject who would observe. You are in a way the object that would be observed.

And that happens. I know these words are getting a little complicated but the matter is very simple. Just take yourself lightly and laugh at yourself. We all very well know what is going on.

L: But now I realize every time I was thinking I was observing myself. I might not be observing…

AP: That was just conceptualization; that was just information processing and that was all within the domain of the person. The person was not being observed. The person is not observed through any observer. The person is observed automatically. Witnessing is natural.

L: It happens.

AP: It happens. It just happens. You know very well. Are we not all aware of our inner conspiracies? Don’t we all know what is really going on? We may not accept, acknowledge it but don’t we all know; really? Tell me! Seriously!

L: Yes.

AP : That is witnessing.

But it becomes, really becomes witnessing when you are not serious, when you are not afraid when you can laugh at yourself and say, ‘See again! You love food so much that out of these ten shops, you are gazing only at those burgers.’

But if you are very serious about your respectability and your waist size and your commitments that you make to the dietician, then you will not acknowledge. Witnessing will not happen.

Witnessing is the ability to smile at yourself. Witnessing can happen only when you do not think that you are not too important or too big.

That is why some people refer to themselves not in the first person. Some of the so-called sages also would do that. Swami Ram had this practice. He would not say “I.” How would He say?

“See! They are again making fun of Ram.” He is referring to Himself and what is He saying? What is He saying? Swami Ram is referring to Himself and what is He saying?

“See! They are again making fun of Swami Ram.”

“See! Ram is again afraid.”

“See! These monkeys are again chasing Ram.”

He is not saying the monkeys are again chasing me. He is saying the monkeys are chasing Ram. Now this slight difference from yourself is witnessing; this slight distance from yourself.

‘Don’t take it personally’, that is witnessing. All that witnessing means is life is not to be taken personally. There is nothing personal out here. Don’t get hurt.

So, what’s your name?

L: Alex.

AP: ‘ Oh! Alex again failed.’

‘Oh! Alex again forgot.’

‘Oh! Alex again overslept.’

Simple! Now you can smile. But if you say (in tensed tone) ‘I again forgot,’ that appears like such a big crime.

‘Ah! Me the criminal; me the guilty one.’ Now the next time, I wouldn’t acknowledge because if there are guilt and crime, there is also punishment and I don’t want to be punished, and I don’t want to be punished.

When you say (in relaxed tone) ‘Alex did it,’ then let Alex suffer.


‘Ah! Alex did it, Alex would suffer. I will continue. I am relaxed.’

Now, do you see a similarity with Faith here? ‘Even if Alex is suffering, I am cool,’ and that is witnessing and that is faith and all is one.

L: There is a story with Swami Ram. When he went to Europe for the first time. He was wearing saffron and was also fair. So, the people started looking and started calling him a red monkey. In a few seconds, he too started dancing with them, ” Red Monkey, Red Monkey…”

AP: You see they were mocking him calling him a red monkey. He also started laughing and dancing calling himself a red monkey. So yes, indeed I am looking like a red monkey. Why not join you? Why resist you and put me unnecessarily in trouble? Why identify with this redness? Why identify with this face? I will also join the chorus.

‘Yes! Red monkey-red monkey.’

Incidentally when you do that, then the ones mocking you run away.

L: But if you start calling yourself like a certain person, then it would be very strange for the society.

AP: So, it is quite strange and I am still doing it.

Have a taste for being called an idiot. You must relish stupidities. Don’t be too bothered about looking intelligent. Why have you burdened yourself with this unnecessary obligation? It’s okay! ‘Who am I?’ The stupid one.

In India, saints have very casually said themselves moorakh (mad), daas, pagla, slave, idiot, everything, without any hesitation and that is the sweetness of love. When Kabir says that He is such a slave that He is now like a grass below the feet, there is such sweetness in it. And when Kabir says like He is like a grass below the feet; then Kabir is towering above our heads.

When you are prepared to laugh and say that you are an idiot, then intelligence is smiling through you. Now don’t cultivate that. Don’t make that a habit. It would be caught.

Spirituality is the art of divine stupidity. If you are afraid to be stupid, then spirituality is not for you. You can even strike out the word “divine” as redundant. Spirituality is simply the art of stupidity. You can keep striking out everything and then you will be left with just stupidity, which will be so beautiful.

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