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Learn to cheat the ego || Acharya Prashant (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
8 min
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Questioner: Pranam Acharya ji. Acharya ji, allow me to apologize for the abrupt question last time. I was a little afraid of writing another question. However, I do wish to write. Please talk about it—as I am an avid listener—on what you consider shall be good for me.

Here is my question. I think I am very possessive with things and I see myself rooted in habit. I procrastinate real work by thinking that the real happens on its own. I do give it opportunity, like reading, working in a good environment, in a good culture. I like my work, which is customer service for a travel community.

However, I am wary of live people. I like to remain aloof, uninvolved. It's good for some reasons and a bad excuse for many others. And right now, I feel I may be stand too much trapped in habits than I actually realize. Maybe I am just imagining my moments of freedom and aloneness. After a long wait, I have received the book by Gurdjieff, All and Everything, which I wish to start soon. Please talk about breaking habits and living a more aware life.

Acharya Prashant: Manmeet (questioner), habits will remain. As long as you are alive, habits will remain. You know, what is your most primitive habit? The breath, the heartbeat—these are the most primitive habits. They will remain.

Why did Prakṛti give habits to us? It gave habits so that certain things can happen without thought. It is for the sake of efficiency. Habits in Prakṛti are a time-saving measure. There are so many things that you do out of habit. If you do not do them out of habit, you will have to think over them, and that will waste your time. That is the logic of Prakṛti . Prakṛti says, "Because these things have to be anyway done, why mull over them? Why keep pondering? Why involve decision-making where there can be only one decision?"

So, Prakṛti has given you habits. She has given you habits so that you continue physically. But do look at the rationale of habits again—where there can be only one good decision, why spend time in taking decision? Let the decision be automatic. This automaticity is called habit. Do you see how the argument is shaping up?

I repeat, where there can be only one right decision, why think of the alternatives? That is habit. Be habituated. Habits are good if you know what that one right decision is. Then habits are what you call as thoughtlessness, or transcending thought, or nirvikalpatā , choicelessness. Be fully habituated.

If you do not have habit, what do you have? You have choice, right? If you do not have habit, then how do you operate? Then you operate using your consciousness, and the faculty of decision-making, by weighing the pros and cons, by looking at this alternative and that one, and then you come to a decision. That is what you call as normal decision-making.

In habit, there is no decision-making involved, right? You just do it. You just do it. So, habit is not the problem. The problem is that we are habituated for the wrong things. Habits should be where there is really only one right decision possible. In all those matters, be fully habituated.

In fact, if you are not habituated in those matters, then it’s a problem, because you will create alternatives for yourself where there must be no alternatives. You will start thinking of things that should not be thought of. Those routes, those ways will open up in front of you that lead only to misery and hell. Be habituated towards the Truth. Be habituated towards freedom. Be habituated towards keeping it simple and straight. Let these be your habits. Are you getting it?

You have talked of procrastination. It's a wonderful thing. Procrastinate all that which is nonsensical. Why am I saying you procrastinate it, why don't I say that you kill it? Because you cannot kill it. As long as the last cell in your body is alive, you cannot kill, totally kill the tendency to procrastinate. Every cell in your body knows procrastination. Don't you know that?

Every cell in the body fully well knows procrastination. If it does not know procrastination, you will not stay alive. You will not stay alive. The entire physical organism works on the principle of right timing. Everything has a right time. So, you have to wait for the right time. What else is that? Even if there is an urge to do something right now, you suspend it for the future. In some sense, that is procrastination. That is ingrained in the body.

So, use your tendency to procrastinate. Don't take it as an evil burden. It is useful, provided you know how to use it. Procrastinate the nonsense. The body too does that. It procrastinates all the nonsense. But in the lexicon of the body, what is nonsense? That which is a physical threat, only that is taken as nonsense. Because the body is physical, what is nonsensical in the language of the body? That which is a physical threat.

You are a bit beyond the body. You are consciousness—consciousness with an unfinished agenda. So, in your parlance, what is nonsensical? That which deviates you from your real agenda. What is your real agenda? To come to a standstill, to come to a conclusion, to come to an end, to come to a completion.

Procrastinate that. Procrastinate that because it will keep coming to you again and again. It's there in the system. It's there in the world. It's there in the body. It's there in the tendencies. It's there in all our conditioning. All nonsense keeps coming back to you even if you keep pushing it away again and again. You keep pushing it away, it will keep coming back to you.

What's the only solution then? To procrastinate it, " Kal aana (come tomorrow)." You cannot tell it, " Mat aana (don’t come)." You can only tell it, " Kal aana ." Procrastination is so useful. You have to learn to deal with yourself. Spirituality is the art of cheating the ego, you know. Unless you know how to cheat yourself, how can you be spiritual?

If you try to be honest with the ego, you will never be able to deal with the ego. The ego has to be deceived. You tell the ego, " Mat aana ," you are being honest, but you are being stupid. You tell it, " Kal aana ," you are being dishonest, but this will be effective. Learn to cheat yourself. Are you getting it?

If you are to be loyal to the Truth, you must learn how to be disloyal to yourself. If you are loyal to yourself, you cannot be loyal to the Truth. Pick your side.

How to break habits? By consciously developing useful habits. Learn to say an unconditional yes to the Truth, unconditional and instantaneous. That is a habit—unconditional, instantaneous.

It has happened. There was once a student who was given to sleeping a lot. And he would sleep with such abandonment that nothing could wake him up. So, the guru said, "Your only sadhana is, whenever I take your name, you have to immediately respond. It doesn't matter whether you are awake, asleep, conscious, or in coma. If I take your name, you have to immediately respond. That is your only sadhana ."

It is said the student took many, many years to master this one. But there did come a point when in the middle of the night, the guru would say, "Son," and the fellow would be in deep sleep, yet deeply aware, and he would immediately get up and say, "Yes, master." That was the only practice that was given to him, and he mastered it and succeeded.

And then the guru probably started having fun. He would whisper from a distance, "Son," and this fellow would be so alert, he would get up and say, "Yes, master." Done, you are free. You are free of yourself now.

I just cooked this one up, just now. Don't take this seriously, and don't start looking for this story in some Upanishad or something. It's just that if I say, “I cooked it up,” it becomes a little casual for you. So, I narrate it as if it is coming from some scriptural source. It is not. Most of what I say is not coming from any scriptural source.

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