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Liberation is supreme, that’s all || Acharya Prashant (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
14 min
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Questioner 1 (Q1): I have to apply a lot of effort to really know and understand things. Why is this so?

Acharya Prashant (AP): All effort is against something. All effort is conflict. Basically, you are saying that a conflict is raging in your mind. What is that conflict? Surely there are two halves of the mind. Surely one half is saying something is right and the other half is disagreeing; it’s saying, “No, this is wrong. Don’t do it.” What is the inner conflict about?

Q1: Maybe effort is there because I feel that I don’t know but I have to know, and I have learnt that there should be a…

AP: Effort necessarily means there are two parts of the mind. You cannot push against empty space and apply effort. Effort is applied only when there is resistance. So, there are a minimum of two needed for the word ‘effort’ to be relevant. What are these two? Surely there are two parts of your mind that are fighting.

Q1: I am not able to recognise that. There is an effort to know, but to know what, that I do not know.

AP: It cannot be so abstract. In fact, rather it is possible that to keep siding with one of these two you do not want to internally admit a few things.

You know of the Cherokee story, the two wolves within? They keep fighting, and which wolf wins? The one you favor. Now, if you already know that you are deliberately favoring the wrong wolf, then you will not want to admit to yourself which wolf you are favoring, because if you admit to yourself that you are favoring the wrong wolf, it would become very difficult for you to keep favoring the wrong wolf. So, you will say, “Oh, I do not know what this conflict is about. Oh, I do not know which wolf I am supporting.”

Try a little more honest clarity. It’s possible that you already know what the conflict is about, why it requires so much effort to side with one side of the conflict, and why one doesn’t want to really know what the conflict is about.

You said that the conflict disappears when you are with me. First of all, you rarely attend any session over the last six months; you would have hardly attended even one or two or three sessions. You are never seen in any session. Even when you were there as a volunteer in MDT, you hardly ever asked any questions. If one is actually desirous of honestly knowing what the nature of the inner conflict is, would he not ask questions? If you say that your conflict disappears when you come close to me, then why do you never come close to me? I never see you ever in any session.

So, obviously there is a lot of subterfuge going on within. You need to be more honest about it.

Q1: Because of this confusion, I don’t know what question to ask and…

AP: You do not know how to safely ask a question. That’s why you do not know how to ask a question. Rephrase your sentence. It’s not that you do not know how to ask a question; you are at a loss to know how to safely ask a question, because whenever you will ask a question, the result will be this—this that is going on right now; layers after layers will be peeled off. So, it’s better not to ask a question.

What kind of story are you weaving? “I remain in conflict; when I come to you the conflict ebbs down.” When exactly do you come to me? In six months, I have not seen his face, ever, and he says his conflict disappears when he comes over. Hello? La-la land. Unnecessary la-la land.

When somebody stops coming over, one thing I know for sure: he is indulging in something he knows is not right. If you have never come to me and hence do not come to me, it is understandable. But if you have been coming and then you stop coming, it means now there is something to hide. Figure out what.

Questioner 2 (Q2): I had a life of lust and greed. But after listening to you and meeting you, I have changed a lot. I have put in many efforts to put my life on the right path. But my old friends and relatives keep reminding me of my past. Should I leave them totally or keep going on the right path without bothering about them?

AP: These are the kind of questions that delight a teacher. Somebody is sincerely fighting a war. He is doing something, probably he is doing a lot, and in that he needs some clarity or support. Then one feels glad to invest himself in the cause of the questioner; then it’s almost like reaching out to a friend. The question has to emerge from your sincere effort. You have to be doing things; you have to be sincerely invested in something, and of course, you will face difficulties, challenges, and then you cite those challenges, and then there can be a discussion, a clarification, something.

For the spiritual seeker, there is definitely something right and definitely something wrong. So, the notion that there are no rights and wrongs is happily misleading. It will keep you happy, and it will keep you happily moving towards hell.

Who is the seeker? Someone who is in bondages, someone who is in trouble, someone who is suffering. And if you are the suffering one—as you are, you cannot deny it—then obviously, what is right? Do something that relieves your suffering, that cuts your bondages. What is wrong? To accept and decorate your bondages.

So, there is something right and there is something wrong, but what is right and what is wrong is not cast in stone. Ultimate freedom is the goal and that is what is right, which means that anything and everything that leads you towards that freedom is right. So, if you have people around you and you know best how to utilize them for the purpose of your freedom, do that; that is right.

The same instruments can be used to either keep you caged or set you free. The key is the same whether you want to lock or unlock. So far in your life you might have been using the key to lock yourself up. Now that you want freedom, that does not mean the key is to be thrown away; in fact, the key is even more precious now. You cannot say that “All that was a part of my past has to be rejected, so this key has to be rejected because it was a part of my past.” So, you use the key to lock yourself up, and then you throw away the key because, you know, it’s a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing. Use the same key to unlock yourself.

Use these fellows, all of them, but with a very, very different objective. And if they are not usable, don’t use them; there is no compulsion either to use them. What I want to emphasize upon is that doing away with the past does not mean that you don’t have to utilize constructively all that which the past has given you. You have memories, you have skills, you have knowledge, you have so many resources, you have relationships; use them, use them for the sacred purpose of your liberation. Why shy away?

The goal is so very compelling that anything can be done for the sake of it. You can even tie up with your enemies. Why not? The displeasure of tying up with enemies is nothing compared to the joy of attaining the goal. The goal is so very attractive that anything can be tolerated for the sake of it, including the company of fools. Why not? So, the fellow says, “Come over for beer”; join him one day. A few drops of beer won’t exactly plunge you in some inferno or submit you to hell; that won’t happen. But maybe you can do some good to that fellow over a bottle of beer; you don’t really have to consume the entire bottle. And make sure he pays for it!

We are not talking of religious morality here. Right and wrong in the spiritual sense are not similar to religious commandments—you are not supposed to drink beer, you are not supposed to be with women, you are not supposed to eat on Tuesdays, you are not supposed to speak past midnight. There are do’s and don’ts, rather there is only one do and one don’t: do your freedom, and don’t remain an idiot; do whatever it takes to be free, and don’t remain an idiot. These are the only spiritual commandments. Liberation is supreme; that’s all.

And again, it’s not that you have to really avoid women. Just avoid looking at everything as something to be consumed. What if your teacher here is a woman? Would you still avoid her? What if your teacher here is a young, attractive woman? Would you say, “No, no, nothing doing; I am going away”? And why is it not possible that the one on this seat could be a young, attractive woman, attractive in the physical sense? Why is it not possible?

It’s not men or women that you have to avoid; you have to avoid your carnal tendency to look at everything as if it is to be eaten and finished off—consume, consume and consume. Be it man or woman, they are capable of giving you delights of a much higher order than mere physical pleasure. If you use a woman just to get physical pleasure, that’s an under-utilization. You know, it’s like using a jumbo jet to go to the grocer’s shop, taxiing, never taking off, and covering a total distance of seventy-five meters; that’s what you are using a 747 for. A woman is that jumbo-jet. Be with her; a great flight is possible. If you just want to use her as meat, that is a gross misutilization.

Questioner 3 (Q3): I find it very difficult to make my father understand the changes that I am making in my life while on this path. I want to make him understand where I am coming from, but it’s not working out very well. What to do in this situation? How can I discuss these things with him?

AP: Somebody else would discuss it with him. You don’t have to do it all at once. There are certain tasks that are more difficult given your constitution, given your circumstances; you have to leave them to time. In this gathering, if there are two, three, or four who will find it very difficult to relate to me, I would firstly address the ones who are addressable, I would firstly teach the ones who are teachable, and the remaining ones, I would leave their matter to time. Not that I am leaving them; it’s just that a wise prioritization has to be done.

You have limited time and limited energy; your father is not prepared to listen to you. Why not invest that time and energy on somebody else who would rather listen to you? But we want to invest that energy, that time on our relatives and near ones because we are attached to them. You will come and say, “I want to do good; I have learned all these things of wisdom, all these spiritual principles, and I want to communicate them, but nobody listens to me.” So, I ask, who does not listen to you? “Oh, my husband does not listen to me; my wife does not listen to me; my son does not listen, my father does not listen.” If they do not listen to you, go and speak to your neighbor. Why do you…

Q2: Because they have done something wrong to us. That’s why we want to explain things to them and make them understand.

Q3: It’s not just about making him agree. I am also trying to see if there is some kind of fear hidden within me that is not letting me to come out and speak openly. I am trying to understand what is blocking me from sitting with him even for fifteen minutes and telling him very clearly that…

AP: So, see that and move on. They say that the great cannot be allowed to become the enemy of the good. If you cannot move a great rock, at least move some smaller stones and boulders. But if you keep pushing against a rock that is currently unmovable given your personal limitations and strengths, then all your effort would amount to nothing.

And often our close relatives are great rocks: they are movable, but it’s not you who can move them. They would surely listen, but to somebody else. To you they won’t listen. There is a past that blocks listening; they have seen you in different ways, in different scenarios; there are memories that will simply block them from accepting any teaching or wisdom from you. You cannot keep wasting your time and energy on them; outsource this work. Go to the neighboring house; the fellow there is facing the same problem, so swap your positions. You teach his father; he will teach your father. Now the work will be done, because the two fathers will never listen to their respective sons, but they will listen gladly to outsiders. So, swap positions; then it will happen.

Same with wives and husbands. Teach the other’s wife!

(Everybody laughs)

Nobody ever succeeded in teaching his own wife, rest assured, or her husband. Very difficult.

Never let this become a thing of the ego for you. “This fellow is not understanding, and I’ll make him understand. How dare you not understand?” This is the evangelist’s ego. Be cautious of it. If somebody is not yet ready to listen to you, move on. His time will come.

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