It’s only words, and words are all I have To take your heart away. Talk in everlasting words And dedicate them all to me And I will give you all my life. I’m here if you should call to me.
~ Bulleh Shah
Questioner (Q): What is meant when it is said, “Talk in everlasting words and dedicate them all to me”?
Acharya Prashant (AP): Man comes and goes. Things come and go. Time flies away. Words are all like bubbles, appearing meaningful at one moment and with no substance the next. However, there is a particular quality of word that lasts, that beats time. “Talk in everlasting words and dedicate them all to me.” Words dedicated to the Truth never end, never go away. Those words become an Upanishad, a Gita. Those words are forever, then, remembered as couplets of Kabir or songs of a Rumi.
What is special about those words? Every single one of those words is present in the dictionary and has been used a million times before and a million times after. Then why do some words become everlasting? The answer is simple, and the answer lies in the lyrics that you have sent over to me.
Our actions, our words, our thoughts are all dedicated only to ourselves. And because we are bubble-like, so what is dedicated to us remains bubble-like. That which will be dedicated to the eternal shall be eternal, and that which is dedicated to the ephemeral shall have no life whatsoever. That is why when man looks back at the time he has spent, at the life he has lived, he only sees a chaotic mess and that too a hollow, insubstantial mess, appearing as much but having nothing, looking like something but containing nothing.
You ask a man, “What is the sum total of the entire life you have lived?” and he will be hard-pressed to answer. Hazy thoughts, images, ideas, conclusions will come to him, but nothing substantial, nothing reliable, nothing concrete. Ask him, “What is this life you have lived?” He won’t have a convincing answer. And it’s not about convincing the questioner; even he himself would not be convinced by the life he has lived.
And this fact could have been easily ignored, but for the reason that not only has he lived a hollow life, he also intends to build a future very much in the image of his past. The hollowness of the past is extremely prepared to be carried over to the future. Now, that’s scary. That’s scary—surf, foam, waves, and no ocean anywhere. Bubbles are nice to watch, but only when you are settled in your own security. When you know that you are not going to disappear the next moment like the bubble, then a bubble is fun to watch.
You are relaxing on a beach, and then you can watch the waves come and go. But waves are no fun, or are they? When a pistol is held to your head, when your very own existence is under a cloud, would you enjoy the momentary nature of everything? The momentary, fleeting nature of things, of the universe is joy to watch but only when you are secure in your immortality, in your eternity. A mind afraid, a mind threatened cannot relax as it watches things come and go. To this mind, it is not things that come and go; it is substantial stuff that comes as a hope and disappears as a disappointment.
You are relaxing in your balcony, it’s a sunny winter day, and from there you look down and watch the odd vehicle come and the odd vehicle go. It’s nice to watch, even poetic. It’s a winter day, the sun is out, you have had a bath, a warm cup of coffee is by your side, and now you can see the cars come and the trucks disappear in the distance. Now, compare this situation to that of one who is standing by the roadside to get some help. He is fervently waving at each passing vehicle; he wants to be picked up, he wants a lift. Now he cannot be a detached observer because he has something to do with the traffic. He sees that he is diseased, so he must reach the hospital; he wants the aid of one of the cars. He sees a car coming from afar; that car is hope, right? And he waves and he shouts, he yells for help. The car zooms past him. The dissolving figure of the car is disappointment. And even as this man is yelping and waving, there is another one who is enjoying the entire show from his balcony, sipping the coffee and enjoying the sun.
Things coming, things going are nice to watch only when you know that you won’t come and go. If you are someone who feels that your very own existence is threatened, then things coming and things going are a scare.
Whenever you have to do stuff to help yourself, the stuff will not carry the imprint of immortality, the stuff will not carry the fragrance of eternity. And that is not because there is something missing in the stuff; that is because you are looking at stuff from a position of incompleteness. Do it for your own sake, and the doing will merely be labor. And dedicate the doing to a cause much, much bigger than yourself, and the doing would be fun.
There is such great fun in leaving yourself behind and turning a servant to the Truth. It’s almost like Krishna advising Arjuna, “Talk in everlasting words and dedicate them all to Me— mām ekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja, sarva-dharmān parityajya .” And at numerous places in the Bhagavad Gita , he says, “Arjuna, you are not fighting for yourself, you are fighting for Me. As long as you fight for yourself, if you win, you suffer, and if you lose, you suffer. And when you fight for Me, then you are a victor even before the fight begins.”
You may utter great words, you may do big deeds—time will sweep them all away. Whereas, if you utter even nonsense in the service of Truth, that nonsense will be eternal. Death cannot touch it. Time cannot destroy it. Please understand why: because time can destroy only that which has a life in time, which exists in a stretch in time. And when you do something for yourself, it always has a stretch in time: you do it today and you expect a return, a reward in the future.
So, all your deeds done for yourself are always in time, whereas when you do something for the Truth, when you do something in the Truth, then what is done is its own reward. It is no more a stretch in time, it is no more a line; it is merely a point, and a point cannot be destroyed. You can destroy everything but never a point, because a point has no existence. You can destroy a line, a circle, a triangle, all kinds of figures in all kinds of dimensions, but you can never destroy a point. A point is another name for God. If you ask the saints, if you ask the rishis of the Upanishads, they will say the entire universe came forth from a point.
When you are doing something in God, then it is a point, not a stretch; it has no geometry, it has no shape, it has no elongation. You cannot say it exists here and it exists there; there is no question of any ‘and’. It begins and it ends, untouched by time. That is also what a Krishna would call as niṣkāma-karma . It’s done and it’s finished, which means done—it’s truly done. Done—it’s done with. Done, and it’s done away. That’s how it is everlasting, and that’s why I am saying even nonsense uttered in Truth is indestructible. Only that can be destroyed which is available to be destroyed. Only that can be destroyed which exists .
We exist, and we exist in time. We do not have any existence without time, so we can be destroyed. Anything done for our sake can be destroyed. Timelessness cannot be destroyed by time. That would be absurd. Today you did something for a reason and you felt happy. Tomorrow it might turn out that your reason was false, and then you will be forced to be sad, unhappy. So, time has destroyed what you felt. But when you do something for no reason, then time cannot stain it, blemish it, let alone destroy it. That’s what eternity is all about: acting in love, acting without self-interest, acting in service of something immense.
Man’s greatest fear is time, and this, then, is the only way to defeat your greatest fear. If you do not defeat that fear, then life is hell. The only way to defeat that fear, that hell is to live a life less dedicated to yourself.
You should have queried about the next two lines as well: “And I will give you all my life, I’m here if you should call to me.” It’s such a contradiction. The speaker a while back was saying, “Dedicate your words to me”; it appeared as if he’s asking for something, and now he is saying, “I will give you all my life, and I shall be there when you call for me.” What is this fellow, a giver or a taker? What is this fellow? Is he serving or lording?
“And I will give you all my life. I’m here if you should call to me.” It’s easy. Once you are speaking, living for That, then your personal existence is gone; now you belong to That, so it is obvious that you shall be taken care of. You were small, so you dedicated yourself to the large, to the immense. And if the immense is really immense, then you should have no reason to worry. You will be taken care of.
“I am here if you should call to me.” Your call is all that is needed; your dedication is all that is needed. And this dedication does not require a mind spiritually involved; really, this dedication only requires common sense. If you really love something, then you give it to the one who can take the best care of it, don’t you? So, if you really love yourself, you will hand yourself over to the one who can really take care of you. Common sense.
Instead, man prefers to act smart. Man prefers to believe that he is his own best caretaker, which he is not, obviously. Your life is the proof. Your decisions and your experiences are the proof. Look at your mind: it is wounded at a hundred places. That’s the quality of your own personal decision-making. Look at your thoughts: they are blemished with fear, suspicion, insecurity. That’s what happens when you become your own custodian.
Dedication, therefore, is less about selflessness and more about self-love. Be good to yourself. That’s what spirituality is about.
Q: “It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.” I know nothing more than words. I don’t even have the best of words like a Bulleh Shah. I am just a stubborn ego trying to know what love is. Please show us the meaning of love. Please bless us with devotion.
AP: The Guru is helpless in love. As long as you are a sthūla (gross) being, the body-mind system, all that would reach him is words. And the Guru is trying desperately to have something beyond words reach you. Whether or not the real thing, the thing beyond reaches you depends not on the Guru but on you.
Superficially, I am sending words to you. If you are superficial, all you will get is words. Deeply, I am sending silence to you; if you are deeply connected to me, you will relate to silence. It depends less on the Guru, more on you. Throughout history there have been so many who have received much from the teachers but all that they have received is mere words. The one who receives real company of the Guru is rare. Most people are satisfied with words, and they get only words.
You have said, “Please show us the meaning of love.” The meaning of love is two ways. Fundamentally, love is about reaching an unreachable place. When the ego tries to reach the Truth, that’s love. For the ego, the Truth is unreachable. And equally, when the Truth tries to reach the ego, it’s love because for the Truth to reach the ego is very, very difficult. You would have never wondered at that side of the story.
You see, we can look at things only from our own standpoint, our own perspective, and our perspective is that the Truth is a tough nut to crack. Reaching the Truth is an onerous task, but try seeing what happens when the Truth tries to reach out to you. All that your gross self can receive and acknowledge and recognize is words. And then the Truth cries, “It’s only words and words are all I have to take your heart away.”
Somebody is trying hard, extremely hard to communicate that through words which cannot be communicated through words. “It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.” And there is such great helplessness in trying to speak to the ego. I tell you, I experience that helplessness every day. You think that I don’t even mean a single word I say—“but it’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.” It’s extremely difficult for me to convince you, it’s extremely difficult for me to tell you whether I mean what I say.
Do you see what is happening here? Somebody is saying, “Don’t ever let me find you gone, because that would bring a tear to me.” For three months you have been with Adi Shankaracharya and, at the material level, all that you have received from him is words, right? It would be fair if you see him talking here: “It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.”
Q: There is a line that says, “The world has lost its glory; let’s start a brand-new story now, my love.” What’s this new story? Can any story ever be new?
AP: Why else does the teacher talk to you?—so that your old stories can come to an end and something beautiful, something new, something lively, something fearless, something lovely may start. And the teacher is saying here, “Let’s start a brand-new story now, my love.” The freshness in the new story is the Guru; the newness in the new story is the Guru; the trueness in the new story is the Guru; the fearlessness in the new story is the Guru; the clarity in the new story is the Guru.
So, the new story is with the Guru. Your old story was with a thousand entities; your new story is only with yourself, and that Real Self of yours is the Guru. So, your new story is with the Guru. But not if the Guru is an entity separate from yourself to you. If you turn the Guru into an entity separate from yourself, then there is no difference in beginning a story with the Guru and beginning a story with your brother, or sister, or husband, or wife, or boyfriend, or girlfriend, because when you begin a story with another person, the two of you still remain two.
And that’s the hallmark of all your old stories: they were all marked by twoness, separation. In the new story there can be no twoness; hence your new story cannot be with somebody outside of you. Your new story has to be with yourself, and your Real Self, I am saying, is another name for newness, freshness, clarity, eternity.
Yes, you have been terminating several stories along the way; yes, one relationship comes to an end and another begins; yes, one memory ends and another begins; yes, you move from one place to the other, one person to the other, one job to the other, one house to the other. But all those are fake endings; the journey has been the same. In the course of your journey, one step ends and the other begins—has anything really ended? The journey is the same, the traveler is the same, the motivation is the same, the confusion is the same, the fatigue is the same.
A brand-new story is not about changing something on the outside; a brand-new story is about your total transformation, rather dissolution. Only then it can be a new story. If you remain, then your new story will just be a continuation of your old story. So, it is apparently innocuous but actually quite threatening. When the One from the beyond invites you to start a brand-new story, He is actually inviting you to a new life, and you cannot have a new life without death.
“The world has lost its glory; let’s start a brand-new story now, my love.”
So, the world losing its glory, its importance, its charm is a prerequisite before a new story can begin. As long as the world appears charming, alluring, why would you terminate the existing stories? Spirituality is only for the super-observant, the super-intelligent, the ones who do not want to get duped any further, the ones who say that “We don’t want to participate in a game in which we are condemned to continuously lose.” The mediocre mind just cannot turn spiritual. Ātman is another name for intelligence; Ātman and bodha go together. Prajñānam Brahm .
You have to first of all realize and suffer and feel offended, feel humiliated that you have been a slave to the world, that you have been continuously cheated. Not even cheated—you have been robbed in broad daylight. Not even robbed—you have been fool enough to invite robbery. And then you can say, “The world has lost its glory.” If the glitters still amaze you, then the doors of Truth are not yet open to you.
Q: I neither understand the fakeness nor the depth hidden in words. If someone says, “Nice to meet you, let’s meet again sometime,” I start thinking that the person actually wants to meet me. Someone says, “You will get this contract,” and I believe in him. Such fake assurances are given by so many people to so many people, but I take such assurances for real, and then I am never prepared for the bad days. How to understand fakeness?
AP: You have said that you do not understand fakeness and depth, you cannot tell them apart. You are saying you do not know the false against the Truth. Understanding is not possible in a climate of expectation or laziness or greed or fear. Somebody tells you, you will get the contract, and you are very inclined to believe him. Why? Because there is a pleasure in believing that good news are coming. That’s the entire principle of hope. That’s why this world runs on hope. That’s why the world is duped by hope.
People tell you the contract is coming your way. Why don’t you ask, “Why do they never tell me that the contract is not coming my way?” Because looking at you, people know what you want to hear, they know that you want to hear that the contract is coming your way. You are carrying that desire, and desire is greed. They know your desire; therefore they are able to fool you.
Understanding is one’s nature. If understanding appears to be absent, it is because a lot more is needlessly present. Krishna tells Arjuna, “The Truth is covered just as fire is covered with smoke.” And what is it that covers the Truth? Kāma , desire. You have quoted as an example: “Nice to meet you. Let’s meet again sometime.” Why does that fellow not tell you straight away in your face, “I hate you and I would never want to meet you again”? Please enquire into that. It is because that fellow very well knows what you want to hear. You want to hear that you are likable. You want to hear that the relationship is not being snapped. You want to hear that the meeting has proceeded well. So, he gives you what you want; he fulfills your desire. And as Krishna says, “The Truth remains shrouded beneath desire.”
If you have ever been fooled, remember that it is not others who fooled you; it is your own desire that has fooled you. And we wear our desires on our sleeves; they are there for the entire world to see, and therefore the world uses our own desires to make a fool of us.
Man is intelligence personified. Alright, man is potentially intelligence personified. How is it possible that a man is ever turned into an idiot? How is it possible that the world ever manages to pull a fast one and rob you, deceive you? It is because man is only potentially intelligence personified. And there is a world of difference between man’s potential and man’s actuality. Potentially, man is nothing but intelligence. Actually, man is nothing but idiocy.
Look at the presence of desire in your day-to-day life, in your hour-to-hour life. I am not asking you to just condemn desire; I am just asking you to look at desire. Look at desire impartially. See what does desire want, see where does desire come from, and then it will not be possible, or at least easily possible, for the world to exploit you using your own desire.
Q: But if I desire for the contract, then why don’t I validate what they say about the contract? Why do I just believe them without a check?
AP: Because if you check, it may turn out that you are not getting the contract at all. Why check, why enquire if the enquiry can give you bad news? Why enquire if the enquiry can show you that which you do not want to see?
Look at this. The more desirous you are, the more averse you are to the incompletion of desire, aren’t you? The more crazily you want something, the more averse you are to the possibility of you not getting that thing. So, you want something, and you want it strongly, and the other one sees that. He sees that because you want it so strongly that the desire, the strength of desire, is apparent in your being, in your conduct, in your words, in your eyes. So, it’s easy for him to realize that you need to be lured, and he lures you. And you do not even want to enquire the possibility that that which you want might not be coming your way.
So, you remain in a fool’s paradise till the last moment, and at the last moment what you get is a shock. You continue to believe in your fancies till facts hit you hard. If facts hit you hard, then please realize that you are someone who is attached to something, you are someone who wants something quite feverishly. Otherwise, the shocks won’t come. It is possible.
There is another possibility: you didn’t want the contract crazily, but the other one, just due to the force of his habits, said, “You are getting the contract,” and you didn’t get the contract. You still won’t get a shock. The shock comes only if you have been holding something very dear to yourself. So, here you are believing that you have it, you have it, you have it, and suddenly you realize you don’t have it. Now, that’s called a shock. The presence of shock itself proves the severity of desire.
Otherwise, one takes things as they come. “Oh, I didn’t get the contract? Fine. The fellow told me, even promised me that the contract is mine. That didn’t happen, however, but it’s fine.” One doesn’t feel cheated. One doesn’t complain. “The weatherman said it’s going to rain today—it didn’t rain. It’s okay.” But if you are someone who had set high hopes on rain, then you will complain against the weather office. You will say, “These guys are willfully spreading rumors!”
Look at desire; that’s all.