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How to bring spontaneity to actions? || Acharya Prashant (2018)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
18 min
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Acharya Prashant (AP): Spontaneity and continuity are our nature, so they occur to us naturally. Fear impedes spontaneity and there cannot be fear unless you have lazily convinced yourself that you are dependent or set to lose much. It is a false conviction. It can occur to you only in lazy belief. If you can be a little more agile, if you can get up and move a little, if you can venture into those areas of your psyche that you take for granted and therefore casually ignore, then you will get a chance to re-examine your beliefs. Even before re-examination will come a knowledge of your beliefs.

We all operate through very subconscious beliefs. We act without knowing what the foundation, the fundamental driver or the very motive of the action is. We just act and because we have been acting like that since quite long, so we assume that the action is in place, that the action must be right, proper, etc. We do not know where our actions come from. We do not know where our thoughts come from. And without knowing, we take them as acceptable. We even give them the status of Truth.

You feel like rushing to a place, an impulse arises. You don't ask yourself from where is the impulse arising. What you see is that the same impulse has been present in you since long and that the world around you also appears governed by the same impulse. So, very lazily, you grant that impulse. Very lazily you allow yourself to be carried away by that impulse. A little activity is needed.

As I had said earlier, there is too much flab on the mind. It needs to be melt, cut down. You need to move. You need to ask questions. You need to ask uncomfortable questions. You need to ask new questions. You need to ask questions that others may not appear to be asking themselves. But if you are not asking those questions, then you will remain a prisoner to dead habit. And dead habit does not include spontaneity.

Dead habit comes from a lot of temporal accumulation of evolutionary residue. That evolutionary residue has helped you survive in a physical sense, but nothing more than that. You won't get the simple joy of life if you live from that residue, by that residue. Clearing that residue is perhaps easy, but first of all its huge existence has to be acknowledged. We are carrying loads of it. And just as a fat man becomes used to the physical load that he is carrying, so much so that it stops troubling him to an extent. He even starts calling the unnecessary weight as himself. A man might be carrying a lot of unnecessary weight on his arm, but if you touch that arm, he would not say that you are touching something unnecessary. He will say, “You are touching me.” So there develops an identification with the unnecessary. And all that impedes smooth action, all that just blocks spontaneity, a smooth immediacy. They become victims. Everything has to be probed. One has to look at himself quite sceptically.

Why did you just smile?

Where is the smile coming from?

Even simple matters such as these. But because they appear to be simple, so we just let them pass. We are not alert enough, agile enough to investigate. That investigation is extremely important—"Why do I do what I do?” And if you are not careful about small things, then even in the so-called big matters of life, you will just lazily be dictated by old habit.

Questioning is extremely necessary. There is nothing so sacred that it can't be questioned. And that which is really sacred is anyway not available to be questioned, so whatsoever is available to be questioned must be questioned. And don't feel offended if somebody else questions you. You feel offended when others question you precisely because you have never questioned yourself. Those who do not look honestly at themselves, those who do not want to seek their answers, feel bad when they are questioned by others. If you are questioned by others, feel grateful. But even that gratitude would come only when you see the need not to live in the dark.

Look at the masses. People are going to their offices, somebody is building a house, somebody is travelling abroad, somebody is trying for a job, somebody is in the maternity ward. How many of them are asking, “Why?”

In fact, all these things appear so very normal that ‘Why” does not arise. You have to ask, “What is happening and why is it happening?” Even more important than ‘Why’ is “What.” If you say, “Why is it happening?” you must first of all know what is happening. You must know what is happening. But we operate very mechanically. One picks up his car and drives off to the office. One buys an insurance policy, one takes an annual vacation, one organises a weekend get-together, one orders something to eat, one buys jewellery. The question, “What is happening?” doesn't arise, it has to arise. If it doesn't arise then you are operating against yourself, you will suffer.

Questioner (Q): In the process of spontaneous living, how can you be aware that we are operating from the centre and not from the ego, from the mind?

AP: Question what is happening. Question.

Attention reveals so much. It is the greatest method. Don't just casually take things for granted. Don't just say that “Ten people to my left and ten to the right are doing the same thing, so it must be done.” Be an outlier. Be a bit of an eccentric. Question the obvious. Question the normal. Question all the accepted modes.

Q: In Vishranthi you had given an example of the baggage. So is it like this that the baggage is to be gradually reduced or is there a way of dropping it?

AP: You see, first of all, you are just speculating about the baggage.

Do you really know the baggage? Knowing the baggage is not too different from dropping it. But if you want to talk about dropping it without first knowing it then you are just groping in the dark. You do not know what to drop and how big it is and how you are attached to that stuff. Theoretically you have been told that we carry a baggage and you are asking, “How to drop it?” What to drop?

Q: First we identify the baggage?

AP: The distance between realisation and freedom is very small, very, very small. You may even say that they are one. If you have realised it cannot take long to be free.

Q: How to handle anxiety?

AP: You see, anxiety is not a thing. Anxiety is a shadow. If you ask me, “How to handle a shadow?” I will say, “Whose shadow?” Anxiety is not a thing, it is a shadow.

How to handle shadow?

Q: Handle the thing.

AP: Handle the thing. Now, whose shadow is anxiety? That you have to tell me. Anxiety is an appearance. Anxiety is what comes to you as a result of an unnatural life.

So, should we talk of anxiety or should we talk of the thing that casts the dark shadow?

Q: The thing.

AP: The thing. Now, what is that thing?

Q: There is anxiety in everything. Just as today, it was told that the session would start at 10 in the morning, so I was awake at 5. I feared and was anxious that I might miss the session.

AP: It's bad. You cannot live like that.

Q: If I want to do something, I start planning about it. Its root was such that when I was a child, I was very slow and couldn't keep up with the pace with which people used to run. So slow that it might have irritate even you. My response is also not quick. After half an hour of being called, I reach here, that's how slow I am. Anyway, to counter this, planning became necessary. If I am given a task, I have to plan to complete it, like, I have to finish it in these many hours. While planning, it turned into anxiety and I didn't even realize when it became anxiety. And the planning became so much that while planning everything…

AP: I can see, I can see, what is happening.

Q: Just to keep up with the pace, it started in my childhood. And now my son is also like that. He is slow, so I am pressurising him in the same manner I was pressurised.

AP: Look at that ( pointing towards the trees ). There are trees of all shapes and sizes. Aren’t there? Even the colours vary, and then there is the grass. There is no obligation upon the grass to rise like a tree. The grass is alright as a grass. There is no need to match the pace.

Q: But you are useless if you are slow.

AP: Useless in whose eyes?

Q: There is no purpose in your life, right?

AP: For whom?

Q: Nobody will involve you in anything.

AP: Let them not. Let them not.

Q: When you are conducting this session, you tell me, would you entrust me with things if I were a part of the team?

AP: I will find a very, very suitable use for you.

The scooter has a tyre. The jumbo jet, too, has a tyre. It is not the fault of the scooter's tyre that it is designed in a particular way. But it is foolish of the one who tries to use the scooter tire in the jumbo jet. They all have their uses. I mean, look at the grass under your feet. Why do you feel that it is useless or something? And what is this entire concept of usefulness? To whom do you want to be useful?

Q: To the world around me.

AP: Seriously, are you so full of empathy when you are a bit cruel towards yourself? With all the harshness that you have towards yourself, how will you do good to the world?

Q: I have less agility.

AP: Less and more are comparative things, right? It’s okay, it’s okay.

Q: Should I not put effort into developing myself?

AP: You see, even physical nature has space for everything and respect for everything. Mountain brooks, they are so swift and agile. Glaciers, they languish. They are so slow as if they are frozen. What is the speed of a glacier?

How fast does it move? These Himalayan mountains, even they are in motion. They are rising every moment, every moment. They are gaining height at the rate of 4 inches per year. That is their pace. Now, must the mighty Himalayas be ashamed of themselves? Even the snail is a tortoise when compared to the pace of 4 inches per year. Look at them.

Most of the swiftness that you see in the world is a result of fear. If a big greyhound comes here, you would discover how swift you can be. And that is how most people come to their swiftness. Their swiftness is born out of fear.

I am not an advocate of slowness or tardiness. I am an advocate of being natural. You may run very fast, but where are you going? What is the point of going around in circles? All right. Circles with progressively increasing radii, but still, they are just circles. The small man has a small circle. The so-called big man has a big circle. But both of them are, nevertheless, just going around in circles. What is the point?

And even if you complete your circle faster than the others, over and over again, how does it help you? You must be a little more friendly towards yourself. You must ask yourself, is all this helping me? The concern for fastness comes from, in this time, the factory model of production. What do you want there? You want stuff that is bigger and that is faster. And you very well know that a lot of that is motivated by sheer greed.

Can a painter be fast? What if the painter is fast? Would you like to buy a fast painting? Would you? Can a cook be fast? We do not want him to be foolishly slow either. But do we want him to be fast? Mostly this thing about being fast is a thing about rushing. People rush in the name of swiftness. And that is why we are all rushed up and hurried.

Q: What you now mentioned as ‘foolishly’, how am I sure that I am not foolishly slow?

AP: Being foolishly slow is when something is possible within your natural capacity to be done at a certain rate, but because of sheer clumsiness and laziness and inertia, you decide not to do it. You very well know that you can do the meals by 8 pm, but you doze off. And then you wake up at 9.30. And then, the meals are served at 11 pm. No one is advocating that. But why do you want to rush up the whole thing? There is a bliss to be had in the process of creativity.

Why do you want to short-circuit the process?

Q: Why is it all becoming so hasty?

AP: Because you are trying to catch up with others. Be your best self. Don't try to catch up with others.

Ask yourself, “Am I being lazy?” And if you are being lazy, then surely do shrug off your laziness and hurry up. But if you are not being lazy, then there is no need to get nervous. Then continue at your inherent pace. There is just this one thing that you need to guard against—laziness. And if you are not being lazy, then there is no need to curse yourself or feel nervous or ashamed.

Just this one question—“Am I being dishonest? Am I being lazy? Am I dozing off? And if you are not dozing off, then don't be harsh upon yourself.

Q: Acharya Ji, how to listen to you? Should I make any effort for that?

AP: Just listen. Don't listen for the sake of something or with any objective. Just listen, motivelessly.

You should be extremely passive when listening. Extremely passive. As if you don't exist.

Q: Not even to understand?

AP: No, no, no.

No need to focus or concentrate. No need at all. Just go and collapse. Don't try to interpret or concentrate or focus or all those things that you do with books. You are not reading a book. Just be present. You may even get a disturbing feeling that you are not understanding anything. Let that feeling be there. The spiritual process is not the same as the process of accumulation of knowledge.

It's a different thing that happens when you are truly listening to a friend or a teacher. Just listen.

It is quite possible that you may not remember much after the session, but that doesn't matter. Just listen.

And then comes the time when you are back to your daily life, your daily choice. Then, you have to spring up. Then, you have to wake up. And then, you have to be extremely alert and focused towards that one thing that is happening.

So, these are two different modes. These are two very different modes. In front of the teacher, sit as if you are there to relax. Don't sit as if you are there to gather. Because gathering is a tension. And in tension, you will not be able to have spontaneity, have freedom, have relaxation. There is no understanding possible without relaxing. Only in relaxation does understanding spontaneously, causelessly happen. But when you are back to the grind of daily life, then you cannot afford to be loose. Then you have to be tight.

The seeker has to be tight to them. Then, he has to be vigilant. Then, he cannot just allow himself to be swayed away, taken away. The forceful flow of impulses and habits is always there and it can very easily carry you away. It's a very giant flow, like one of the mountainous rivers in this season. How are rivers in this season? Flowing with a great force. And if you enter them, you will be swept away. So, that is similar to the inner flow of tendencies. You won't even be able to bet an eyelid. Before you open your eyes, you are gone. So, when you are not in front of the teacher, then you have to be—"What’s going on? What’s going on?” ( showing alertness )

A point comes in the spiritual journey when you are able to afford to drop the vigilance. But that will require some time and practice. Then, in daily life, you can relax as you relax in front of the teacher. But right now, given your situation in daily life, be extremely vigilant, extremely vigilant.

Q: Acharya ji, how to jump out from this game of happiness and sadness?

AP: One can take pleasure in the game for a while. One can go down and feel bad and then one can come up and feel happy. But a point comes when one starts finding this game stupid. One says, “Why can’t I have something uninterrupted? Why can’t I have something that is not continuously threatened by the sea saw or dynamics? Why is it necessary for me to be down in order to experience being up?” And those who start seeing that happiness is not quite the heaven that one takes it to be want something beyond happiness. That something beyond happiness is called Joy. Joy is to not remain dependent on sadness for happiness. Joy is to not have intermittent pleasure, Joy is to beware there is freedom from both happiness and sorrow.

So, the game of happiness and sadness continues, the sea saw, and you are joyful in spite of how the game is unfolding. The game will definitely involve sometimes sadness and sometimes happiness, but you are alright in either condition. Through the full spectrum, the entire span of the movement of the sea saw, you are alright. Unconditionally you are alright. That is Joy.

But to come to Joy, you must firstly be fed up with the pursuit of happiness. The world we live in places a huge premium upon happiness. One has to see through the ignorance, one has to cut through the maze, one has to see how the social institutions, the market dynamics, all are designed to trap a human being in the name of happiness. You must remember that the goal of life is not happiness but Freedom—Freedom from both happiness and sadness.

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