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How to maintain peace and equanimity of mind?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
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Questioner (Q): Being in the world around you and still how do you maintain equanimity of mind so that the world doesn’t bother you? You can still keep your equanimity while things are going around you.

Acharya Prashant (AP): You are travelling up a hilly road- a serpentine, treacherous road. Sometimes there are hairpin bends, sometimes there are sudden disturbances, even potholes are there. The light too is not sufficient. But your car is in the safe hands of a driver you trust. You look outside the car and the scene is continuously changing. The sun is about to set. So it is falling directly on your face. And then the car takes a turn, and it is suddenly darker and there is no sun. Suddenly there is a steep climb and then the climb is not so steep. It is rocky and then there is a vast swath of land which is just trees. So what you are observing is continuously changing. Do all these changes bother you? Do you wish that there should be no changes?

Q: There is change. But because of the faith in the driver, it doesn’t bother.

AP: You know you are in safe hands. So now the changes are not a botheration. In fact, now the changes are a delight. You say, “I am enjoying the scenic beauty!” Don’t you? When you come to a place like this (Dharmashala), you may look around, do you see the same things? Do you? There is the vast, open, blue sky. The hills are dark and crowded with trees at one place. At other places, there are no trees at all and only expanses of snow. Is it not so? Do these changes threaten you? Do you wish that all trees, all landscapes must be the same?

A few days back it rained. I was told that there was a hailstorm or something. And in the afternoons, it is quite sunny. Do you wish that it all remains the same, uniformly clouded or alternately, uniformly sunny? Now, these changes are a part of the delight of living. Day and night; both are welcome. Snow and sun; both are welcome. Water and heat; both are welcome. Both are welcome only when you are in safe hands. If you are not in safe hands, then you divide. And then you say only one particular kind of thing is welcome. And now what is welcome? "Only that which will keep me safe. Now the world is divided into two parts. One part, which protects me unrestingly, and the other part which is inimical and hostile."

But when you know that you can not be harmed, then you let the change come to you. Then you do not lose your inner poise in front of changing conditions. This is equanimity. For equanimity, you require a very good driver, a totally dependable driver. Your car is not too good. Kabir used to talk of crossing the river on a Jarjar Nav (a totally dilapidated boat); a boat ready to fall apart at any point. And you know what he used to say? He used to say, “Only the river can take you across the river. Your boat can not take you across the river.” His pet phrase was: “Halke Halke tar gaye, boodhe jin sar bhar."

The river will carry you across if you are light. Now the river will become your boatman. You do not require a boatman. The river will become your boatman, the river will ferry you across if you are light. If you are light, you will not sink. But you will sink if you are heavy. So only the river itself can be your boatman, your dependable driver. No other driver is dependable. They will crash your car, they will sink your boat. And that is why you are so afraid because you have not left yourself to the river. Need I say more? Is the river a threat? Are the mountains a threat? As long as they are a threat, you will keep feeling threatened.

When you have great faith in existence, then whatever is offered to you is accepted with composure and delight. You accept even your resistance with delight. When in the universe, everything has its place then even your refusals have a place. But refuse without burden. Refuse without having a heavy mind, a crowded mind. Do not carry the burden of acting. Do not be bothered about what will happen if you act in one way versus the other way.

Let the action happen through you. Let the river become your boat. Your car needs no driver. Leave your car to the autopilot. Only He is most dependable. Now you need not worry whether you will reach the destination. You know that the destination is driving your car. How will you not reach the destination? How is it possible to miss the destination now? Let the absolute be your driver, your boatman, your guide, your dependable one. Now you can be totally unconcerned with what is going to happen to you. Have fun. Play around. Go and do whatever you want to. Want to stop the car, have fun with the birds for a while? Most welcome! Most welcome!

We face a problem now, “How to get rid of that who is acting as the driver?” I am prepared to have no driver and let the destination drive me, but I already have a driver. How to get rid of him? And he is a crazy driver. A mad, obnoxious, insecure driver. What to do with him? And he is so possessive about my car. He has been with this car since long. He is totally identified with the car. He won’t leave it.

If he won’t leave the car, then drop the car as well. Better to be without any car. You anyway do not need a boat, right? If you are stuck with the wrong driver, drop both the driver and the car. But do not proceed even an inch further.

Our driver is the Ego. It does not allow the Absolute to drive us. The Ego is so arrogant that it goes and sits on the throne, the sacred place, that is reserved only for the Beloved, only for God. It goes and usurps that place. It has no right to be there. But it tries to occupy that throne. Dethrone it! And if you can not, then at least disown it.

Q: Sir, how do we know that we are more egoistic or less egoistic?

AP: The more worried, anxious, the more thoughtful you are, the more burdened you are, the more is the proof that the ego is your driver. Jesus, it was, who said that a tree is known by its fruits. If you are ego-driven then your condition will tell about your driver. Look at your car- beaten, bruised, flat tires, honking from all the wrong places. Surely the driver is a very unskilled driver.

Can you observe your car? Your life is your car. Can you observe your life? If you observe your life, you will come to see the foolishness of the one who has been driving your life. Your life is battered and bruised. And that shows that the driver is an idiot.

The ego is the driver!

Hurts, wounds, memories, attachments, insecurities, hopes, dreams- these are the scars. These are the scars on the car. These are the scars on our psyche. If such is a situation of our psyche then surely the driver of this psyche can not be a good driver.

Have you seen how the past comes to haunt you? Have you seen how the future is always a concern? Have you seen how the world appears a dangerous place? This very need to preserve oneself? Do you see how it becomes an issue to take decisions? Even small decisions require so much consideration and thought. Do you see how we burden everything with expectations?

These are the scars, the wounds, and the bruises I am talking of. We don’t have a healthy psyche. We have a very distorted, unhealthy, a mind under seige, a mind at war, a mind that has suffered so much.

Q: (Reading one of Acharya Ji's Quotes) It says here that 'Success is to realize that failure is inevitable.'

AP: Failure is the inevitable finality of our ways. Yes! When you see that with this kind of a driver, all you have been getting is suffering and all you are getting is suffering. Then you give up on the driver and that is success.

Success is to realize that you have been failing. Wisdom is to realize that one has been an idiot. We do not want to accept the failures inherent and inevitable in our ways. We keep pretending as if everything is alright with us. And this pretention, this fakeness has become very deeply embedded. It almost appears real, like a body implant, when something is grafted deep within your body, it almost feels like the part of the body, you do not call it even artificial anymore. Do you?

Q: How to drop the car? How to let go of that car?

AP: You asked that yesterday as well (smiles).

Q: It is a process of change...

AP: No, that does not mean you must not ask it again.

Q: Letting go of the driver and the car is a process of change and that change doesn’t happen at once. It doesn’t happen because of the strong, long identification. You want to change, you know that this is not the right thing.

AP: When the car falls into an unnecessary hole, and it really hurts your back, then you do not ask, "How to get out of this car?" You just get out of that car. You keep asking “how to” only as long as you are undecided, only as long as you are not sure that you want to get out. Look at what is happening. Look at how that fellow is driving. Look at the kind of torture he is inflicting upon you. And then you will not ask, "How to stop all this and how to get out?" You will just stop and somehow get out. You will say, “I drop the driver, I drop the driver, I drop myself but kindly spare me. I do not want to be a part of this thing anymore. And if you want all my possessions to spare me, to leave me, you can have everything!” You must come to that point where you are so fed up of yourself that you are prepared to totally drop yourself. You say, “This is stupid. I can’t carry on with this.” And this stupidity, mind you, does not exist outside of yourself.

The driver is your own mind, your own ego. When you come to see how self-damaging it has been to continue in the way you have been continuing, then you stop. Then you not only change your ways, you just stop. You say, "Even if I take a different road, the driver will still remain the same. Even if I change my ways, the driver would still remain the same. It doesn’t matter what the road is. The driver is still the same. So I refuse to take even a new way. I am now not asking for any kind of improvement. I am not asking for betterment. I am just asking for a cessation, a full stop, a total ending, a dissolution." And in that ending, is an infinite and continuous beginning. Now you are free of the car. And hence now you can be one with the existence. In that kind of a car, even if it is most beautiful outside, even if the world is heavenly, would you be enjoying the heaven? Would you be?

The car is the hell. A hell in the middle of heaven. Once you are out of that hell, you find that it was always heavenly. It is just that you had confined yourself to a hell. So that ending, that cessation, is the ending of a personal hell. Out of your personal hell, you find that all is and always was heavenly.

Q: It’s a realization.

AP: It’s a realization that you were just in a self-inflicted, a self-created silo; a prison to which you yourself held the keys. You could have walked out anytime.

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