Acharya Prashant (AP) : The Ego wants to hedge its bets. Because it is born in insecurity and gains its sustenance from insecurity, therefore insecurity is its very life-stuff. Now look what happens, if insecurity is the life-stuff of the Ego then what kind of security will it seek? It becomes necessary for the Ego to seek false security. True security would be life-threatening to the Ego.
So, we find two processes always and concurrently at work in the domain of the Ego. One, the Ego says, "It feels insecure", so it is constantly seeking vistas of security, that's the first thing. And secondly, all the securities that the Ego arranges for itself are necessarily false; not by chance but by design, such is the nature of the Ego. On the one hand, it says, "I want security", on the other hand, it deliberately arranges only false security for itself.
Why false security? Because true security would be the end of the Ego. It tells itself, “Oh, I do not like the situation I am in, unsafe, insecure, I don’t like it. I want to be carefree, I want to be fearless.” On the other hand, it will purposefully avoid doing that which will give it true fearlessness. The position of the Ego is unenviable.
With insecurity, it is uncomfortable. Without insecurity, it is dead. That's what you get as the Ego, either discomfort or death. Choose! So obviously, you choose discomfort over death, right? What does that mean? That you consciously - to the extent the word consciously can be applied to the Ego - that you consciously arrange false comfort for yourself. You dare not tell yourself that you are arranging discomfort for yourself, that would make you appear a lunatic in your own eyes. So, what do you do? You convince yourself that you are arranging comfort and security and safety for yourself and you go out and fetch false versions of each of these, or false substitutes of each of these.
That's what we are doing as mankind, telling ourselves that we want to do good to ourselves. We can’t openly say, "We don’t want our welfare, we don’t want good to happen to us." So, we say, "We want good to happen to us", and then we arrange false goodness for ourselves. False goodness, which in the complete analysis is worse than actively harming oneself. How do we arrange false security? As we said, by hedging our bets. We say, "Let's have this to secure ourselves, let's have that to secure ourselves, let's have plan A B C D, let's have forty kinds of backups. If this thing won't turn out nice, then let me have something else ready." Getting it?
Now, what is happening in that process? What is happening is that you are never really committing yourself to one thing, which is bad but useful to the Ego. Useful, because it saves you the burden of firstly finding that one thing worth committing to. You see what's happening? You don’t have one friend you can rely upon, because that's very very expensive, very demanding in inner terms. Such friends won't come cheap. So, you don’t have that one friend. How do you compensate for that? By having ten friends. And none of those ten friends are worth committing to nor are they going to demand commitment. You can happily hang out, they are good for weekend jaunts, rave parties, the usual flings.
There does exist something worth committing to fully. You can give it any name, the Rishis called it ‘Brahman’. That’s the only way of living- commit yourself to one central thing and then negotiate all that comes, in its wake. One who has consciously closed all doors to himself, one who has burnt all bridges, one who has left no doors available to knock at. Such is the one who is worthy of being the subject of the Upanishads. Are you getting it?
Do you need to use the connector ‘and’ here? No. You don’t have to use ‘and’, actually, these go together. The moment you say, "There is someone who has taken absolute refuge in the absolute", it entails as a corollary that the fellow would have now come to an unshakable peace, that there would be something in the fellow's mind unavailable to disturbance.
You see what is happening, appreciate the nuances here. You forget everything except the One, and then you become the one that disseminates the One. You don’t have to sit and preach then. Your life becomes the education; your life becomes the message. And even if you do preach, your preaching is backed by the substance of your life, else words are cheap and commonplace, anybody can talk. The Upanishads belong to the public domain and there are hundreds of translations.
This is not a mere description of some seeker or teacher. The Upanishads are saying, this is the only way of living- fall in absolute love with something worth it and then live to bring that love to others.