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How to be in a peaceful state of mind? || Acharya Prashant (2016)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
13 min
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Questioner (Q1): Like suppose, if I am a normal guy working somewhere. If I say, ‘I don't have any questions, I don’t have any goal’; I don’t know where to go. I am not aware what is my desire, I don’t know what I am seeking.

Acharya Prashant (AP): Is it a matter of merely saying?

Q1: Acceptance is not there. It is ‘Are you mad or what?’

AP: Is it matter of merely saying? Does one really have no desires? Is it just about saying a few nice things? Hmm? Does one really have no desires? One has desires. One has conclusions. One also has ideas and ideals about where to go, what to do. In fact, one has very firm convictions. One starts from there, one does not start from an idealistic position. One starts from that which one is experiencing, that which one takes to be his immediate reality.

So I have desires, I have hopes, fears. I have all of these, I start from there. I see, what do I do to get rid of all these? I see, how I try to satiate them. And I also see, what comes out of all that? And then upon honest observation if it flashes, if one realizes that I really do not know; then that is an honest statement. Then that is not a mere verbalization, then it has some authenticity to it, purity to it. But it has to firstly come from a very real, a very detached observation. One has to see that attachments are there, insecurities are there, wants are there, hopes are there, pleasures are there.

And in middle of all this I am there; wanting more of something, wanting less of something, going here, going there, knocking on several doors, trying out so many things, bouncing around shop to shop, market to market, relationship to relationship, job to job, car to car, man to man, woman to woman, worlds to worlds, thoughts to thoughts, ideas to ideas, bodies to bodies. I have been going round and round, the circles have been ever-widening, some of the circles have been intersecting, others overlapping. And all of that has just created a profound mess.

And again this need not be taken as a ready-made conclusion that at the end of observation I must come to this conclusion that ‘all of this is a mess’. Let's proceed, let's see on our own. Hmm? Otherwise this too becomes a part of the conditioning, ‘The Buddha said life is suffering, and we went to a meeting in which this was reiterated.’

So even without really putting myself into it, even without passing through the fire of witnessing I just state a conclusion. And what conclusion is that? ‘Oh…it is all so chaotic.’ Now if it is indeed ‘all so chaotic’, would you continue with it the next morning? Once you really come to see that it is all a mess, would you really return to the same office? Would you really continue with the same patterns, lifestyle?

Q2: But at times it's a compulsion.

AP: Yes, one sees that the compulsion is a part of the chaos; the compulsion does nothing to clear the chaos, it only continues the chaos. And then one is no more taken in by the compulsion. Remember that compulsions work only on the type of person that you take yourself to be. If I bring in a magnet here, only the iron pieces around would feel the compulsion to be attracted, the wood won't be attracted. So if you have defined yourself as an iron nail then you will feel the compulsion to be drawn to magnets. Are you really that which you know yourself to be?

The moment you see that your idea of yourself may not be quite accurate, you also see that all that you take as bondage or compulsion or necessities are just self-announced, they are not really there. As long as you work in an office there is a compulsion to abide by its rules. Is there not?

Q2: Sir, if a person wants to really be free and enjoy the other life but he has to work for his family. That's the sort of compulsion.

AP: One goes deeper into it and figures out that is it for the family that one works? And what kind of relationship does one have with the family? One goes into it a little more genuinely, you know.

Q2: I give the example of my relative. He actually feels that at times when he has to be, you know, like mom can stay away. And in the office there is a lot of compulsion which actually pressures him.

AP: If he is pressurized in the office, what happens to the quality of life at home? One says that one is in the office for the sake of the mother, the wife, the kids; but if you are having a harrowing time in the office, what kind of a man would you be when you return from the office? Hmm? Relieved? Blissful? Cheerful and joyful? You have really been persecuted. How would you be when you come back? How would you be? Just the same mind that was there in the office.

What kind of relationship would you be able to have with those that you are apparently trying to serve by being in that office? You say you are in the office for the sake of somebody. And because you are in that office, your relationship with that somebody would be compromised. How wise is that?

One says I worked so hard for my kids. And because you work in a corrupt place—corrupt not in the sense of financial misdeeds, corrupt in the sense of not being centered; you work at a place that is really corrupted, what kind of kids would you bring up? You say I am working for the sake of kids; that work will ruin your kids. Do we see this? No, we don't. We believe we are quite smart, so we say, ‘No’. Don't you see that the….

Q1: Actually there seems to be the other way. Actually, honestly it does seem…we are saying that we do see it that way, that it is just a garb that’s there. But honestly, you don't feel a way out.

AP: No, there is no way out. You see, you cannot sit where you are sitting and conceptualize, imagine, or be convinced of an alternate way. If you are in a burning house, do you need to be convinced that outside the house there is pleasantness or there is an ocean? Do you need to be convinced? You just go out of that place. You do not bother what is there outside. If you are the one who looks for secure alternatives before leaving what you have, then you are still not quite fed up of what you have.

Q1: Exactly, that’s the thing. That’s the point.

AP: And if you are looking to secure the future in advance, before you quit what you are doing; then you will never quit what you are doing. The ones who quit are the ones who quit in simple faith. They say, ‘We do not know what would happen to us, we are quitting!’ And once you leave yourselves this way to God, to existence, then the best happens to you.

Q2: Sir, is it needed for a person to be 100% fed up before he takes….

AP: Yes, 100% fed up, and 100% unconcerned about the future.

Q2: Unconcerned.

AP: Unconcerned. Or you could say 100% faithful, that why do I need to bother?

Q1: As far as job is concerned, I am enjoying. It's nothing compulsive.

Q2: Due to various reasons.

Q1: So what I feel is the day when I feel the most happiest in the job, I will quit; I feel like that way. Everything is fine there, even I got a promotion, money wise there is no issue. Now I am feeling like that, you know. I'm feeling joyous, I'm feeling…even everything is very good in it; I mean taken care of, like in it…recognized also. Now that feeling is coming, that now it's time for me to see somewhere else. Is that something?

AP: Only you can tell.

Q1: I don’t know. I am not getting it. I feel like now it is more….

AP: Maybe she can tell! (laughter)

Q1: I wish to see something else.

AP: One has to find answer in the little things of life, in the very facts of life. The mind is a very pliant thing, it is quite gullible. It is made up of influences. The mind will just become what it sees, what it is surrounded with. Is my workplace working on greed? Working on targets? Or is my workplace based on Love? What is the kind of relationship I have with my colleagues? Relationship based on self-interest?

Oh…that self-interest can take very decorated names, but what is it really? Why am I being promoted? Because there is a certain affection within the team? Or so that I can contribute more to somebody's pockets? When one very genuinely looks at these things, then one sees what is becoming of one's mind by being in that environment. Are you getting it?

And you know, that can be really known only when you come out of there. People come here and look at the Dharmshala sky. And then they say, 'Oh! There are there so many stars?' You have to first leave Delhi, only then you see what you are missing. Only when you come out of that workplace, do you realize what you were missing and how much cloud and smoke and pollution was there. Being there you just keep sucking in the toxins. And you don't even know that it is contributing to a kind of poisonous formation within.

You go to Delhi, and very few people would complain that we don't see stars. When you come here then you realize. Somebody was saying yesterday, 'You can pluck them out of the sky, they appear so near! And so many!' And then somebody says, 'You know, you come here and you find: Oh…it's possible to breathe deeply.' And automatically it happens that your breath changes a little, the lungs feel like taking in more of the air. When you are there do your lungs complain? They don't. Because they have become acclimatized, they have become habitual to being tortured.

Only when you leave that rigmarole that… You know, I'm out of all that. So when I look at the morning traffic, a shiver runs down my spine. And the evening traffic as well. How can one go to the workplace daily and return daily, how? How is it possible? How? But for those who go, it's a part of the daily routine. They say, ‘It's normal. It's normal and we are living it.’ It's so normal. Q2: So, when a person can come out of this? Like you know, a person knows that this is you know, like I am being….

AP: More moments like these.

Q2: More moments or is it destined also?

AP: Yes, of course it's destined. The only thing is that destiny is timeless. So it can take centuries to materialize or it can happen in a second. Your destiny is so close to you that it doesn't wait for time. It's a paradoxical statement, please understand this. Peace is your destiny, everybody's destiny but that destiny is a timeless destiny. You do not reach there after ten years, you are there right now. And because you are there right now, hence this drama of not being there can continue endlessly.

You can keep believing endlessly for centuries, for millennia that you are not peaceful. And you can keep believing that, participate in that drama; only because you're already peaceful. So it doesn't quite help to say that you know everybody is destined to ultimately reach, so I too will reach. You will never reach. You will never reach, believe me. You'll never reach….

Q2: Sir, if a person says that ‘Let the right time come or let the…’.

AP: No right time ever comes. No right time ever comes because the right time is right now. Those who keep saying that the right time will come are just deceiving themselves. The right time is right now, that's the only right time. But one has to, you know…if you are asking how, there is no how really.

But this probably is an indication, more moments like these. The more you see that the stars are there, the more you dislike the smog then. Now when you go back and you find that, 'Ahhh…this, after that? Now it's a little unacceptable, unbearable. Otherwise, you know even prisoners develop a kind of attachment with their cells. It happens! There have been cases where prisoners have been let free and they have felt, you know, ‘Why am I being thrown out of my house. This is my…’

Q1: People actually committed suicide.

AP: Many cases. But again, let's not come to another set of conclusions. We already have too many conclusions. Just give yourself the opportunity to experience something alternate, to move out of your usual boundaries. Then maybe you would see that what you call as ‘normal life’ is just ‘bounded life’.

Q1: So how to live conclusion-less life?

AP: Too far to go, too much to ask. Instead, just see that right now there are too many conclusions. Instead of asking how to live conclusionlessly, far better to see that right now there are just too many conclusions. And those conclusions we never call as self-made, we call them as truths. We never call them even opinions, we call them facts. And that prevents them from getting challenged; challenged and defeated and dissolved.

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