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Life is Consciousness alone || Mundaka Upanishad (2021)

Author Acharya Prashant

Acharya Prashant

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प्रणो ह्येष यः सर्वभूतैर्विभाति विजानन्विद्वान्भवते नातिवादी । आत्मक्रीड आत्मरतिः क्रियावानेष ब्रह्मविदां वरिष्ठः ॥

praṇo hyeṣa yaḥ sarvabhūtairvibhāti vijānanvidvānbhavate nātivādī ātmakrīḍa ātmaratiḥ kriyāvāneṣa brahmavidāṃ variṣṭhaḥ

This is the life in things that shines manifested by all these beings; a man of knowledge coming wholly to know this, draws back from creeds and too much disputings. In the Self his delight, at play in the Self, doing works; the best is he among the knowers of the Eternal.

~ Verse 3.1.4

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Acharya Prashant (AP): “This is the life in things that shines manifested by all these beings.”

The śloka (verse) says praṇa . Praṇa has been loosely translated as ‘life’ here.

“There is the life, praṇa , in things that shines manifested by all these beings; a man of knowledge coming wholly to know this, draws back from creeds and too much disputings.”

Again, the word in the śloka is vivād . It has been a bit inaccurately translated as disputings. Vivād in the spiritual context would stand for ‘loose utterances’. Vād is an utterance or a discussion; vivād is a distorted utterance or a discussion. It is not necessarily a disputing.

“In the Self his delight, at play in the Self, doing works; the best is he among the knowers of the Eternal.”

Alright, a lot of things says this particular verse. We will proceed step by step.

“This is the life in things that shines manifested by all these beings.”

First of all, we must converge upon the word ‘life’. What is life? We use the word ‘life’ very frequently and very loosely. What does life mean? And hence, what does it mean to be alive?

Life is consciousness alone. Only a conscious being can be called as living. And since levels, degrees of consciousness vary, therefore people, living beings, living creatures, must be rightfully said to be alive to different degrees. Not all people are equally alive, because not all people are equally conscious.

You are alive only to the extent you are conscious.

If you just look at the bodily functions, you might be deluded into thinking that two people who have similar heart rates, similar anatomical functions, and similar biological indicators are equally alive. No, they are not. In the true, existential sense, the degree of liveliness in you, the degree of life in you, is determined not by whether you are able to walk, eat, sleep, talk, think, converse, run; it is determined by the depth of your consciousness.

So, at the superficial level, at the biological level, you might be appearing very, very alive; yet it is quite possible that you are not living at all. Do you get this?

Now, this is not something social or legal. In the legal sense, in the social sense, if you are alive, you are alive; if you are not dead, you are alive; if you are breathing, you are alive. Not in the spiritual sense. In the spiritual sense, it is very much possible that you are breathing normally, and yet you are totally dead.

My teacher said, “ Ja ghat prem na sanchare, ta ghat jaan masaan; jaise khaal lohaar ki, saans letu bin praan (If one has not love for Truth, then know him to be dead. Like a blacksmith’s bellows, it breathes without life).”

Do you get this? It is quite possible that you are continuously breathing but have no life— saans letu bin praan . The breath is there but praṇa , life, is not there. Just as the iron smith has that particular sack of hide of animal skin, and using that sack he keeps pumping air, oxygen into the furnace. So, what happens to that skinny sack? It pulsates, almost in the same manner as a living person’s lungs do; yet it is totally dead, right? Just as your lungs take in air and then expel it out, similarly it must have been happening in Kabir Sahib’s times, that the lohaar , iron smith, was using this kind of a primitive thing to keep the fire going. That’s how most of us live— saans letu bin praan .

And how has he defined consciousness? Ja ghat prem na sanchare, ta ghat jaan masaan . To be conscious, really, is not merely to perceive things; to be conscious is to have love for the Truth. Ja ghat prem na sanchare . Ghat is body, the being, the person.

Is there love in you for the Highest, the Ultimate, the Real? Only then you are alive.

Consciousness is not just about being the subject of certain experiences. Merely participating in the subject-object duality does not render you conscious. Technically, that’s the definition of consciousness, right? I am conscious if I can see this wall, if I can hear your words; I am conscious if I can experience this table as I touch it.

But when the masters talk about consciousness, they say, “No, this is not consciousness. You are able to look at the wall, you are participating in worldly affairs—that does not make you conscious. You are conscious if you have love for Truth. Ja ghat prem na sanchare, ta ghat jaan masaan .

What does that mean, “ ta ghat jaan masaan * ”? That body should be taken as dead. * Masaan is shamasaan , graveyard. You belong to the graveyard if you do not have the love for the Truth. And you might be eating, walking, breathing, sleeping, doing all the things that a little living person is normally supposed to do, yet do not be deluded—you are dead. You are very much dead.

So, that is life. Never use the term ‘life’ casually, nor should you allow anybody to use the term ‘life’ casually. They say “life happens”, “life this, life that”, “in your life”—they are using life as some kind of a time span, a time span that belongs to the person. When they say “in your life”, what they mean is the forty or sixty years you are going to be biologically functional; they are calling it as life. No, that is not life. It is a very shallow and very primitive kind of understanding of life. Is this much clear?

So, what does the sage say here?

“This is the life in things that shines manifested by all these beings.”

Which life is being talked of here? Continuing from the previous verse: “This is the life in things”—the Truth, Brahman . Brahman is the life in things that gets manifested in every living being. Your consciousness is nothing but your love for Brahman itself. Now, it depends on you whether you want to express that love very clearly, openly and directly, or whether you want to act like a crooked lover.

What does the crooked lover do? The crooked lover goes to the beloved’s house and finds that the beloved is unavailable, given the way he, the lover, is. The beloved says, “Unless you improve yourself, I will remain unavailable to you. Not that I am acting pricey, it’s just that I cannot belong to you given the condition you have chosen for yourself. So, you improve your condition before the two of us can be in union.” That’s what the beloved says.

So, the beloved is not available. What does this lover, this suitor, do now? Outside the beloved’s house is roaming the beloved’s dog, so this bugger goes and starts hugging and kissing the dog. This is crooked love.

“Because I cannot have Brahman , so I will have Brahman * ’s pet dog, * Maya . Why can’t I have Brahman ? Because Brahman is an exaltation, Brahman is an ascension. You require to raise yourself to be capable, to be deserving of Brahman , and that requires effort and sacrifice. I don’t want any effort, I don’t want any sacrifice, so I go for the crooked, the cheaper route. And what is the cheaper route? Embrace Brahman * ’s bitch, * Maya , and say, ‘See, finally I have something that belongs to my beloved. What is that? This Maya !’” That is the way of the crooked lover.

This world is run by nothing but love. It’s just that most of the love that runs this world is crooked and warped, not straight but convoluted, distorted. In some sense, consciousness is nothing but love. All the energy that you have is nothing but love. It’s just that it remains misguided mostly. We do not go for the straight route; we do not go for the straight line that connects two points. Knowing fully well that the Truth, the destiny, Brahman , is unavoidable, we still go for roundabout ways. Even though we know that irrespective of how roundabout a way is, it has to end in *Brahman*—because there is no other destination possible—still we make our own lives more complex.

So, there is just consciousness that is manifested by all beings. And we said consciousness is love, that every sentient being is nothing but an expression of love towards its destiny, its final potentiality.

You have to ask yourself: Why don’t you want it? Why don’t you want it when you want it so much? Why don’t you want it right now when you want it so much? Why don’t you want it straight away when you want it so much?

You live for the sake of That.

You eat for the sake of That.

You weep, you cry for the sake of That.

You lie for the sake of That.

You cheat for the sake of That.

All that you do—good, bad, high, low, normal, abnormal—is for the sake of That.

So, why not keep things simple, then? What is the great fun in weaving knots?

“A man of knowledge coming wholly to know this, draws back from creeds and too much disputings.”

What does the man of knowledge avoid? The man of knowledge avoids action that leads to miscellaneous places. Suvād or saṃvād is an utterance that brings clarity and Truth to yourself and the other. That’s the mark of the right action: it brings clarity to yourself and the other.

The man of knowledge, the sage is saying here, avoids any action that does not bring clarity. That’s the litmus test. He is alert all the time: “This that I am thinking, this that I am saying, this is that I am doing—what is it going to lead to? If I am talking to someone, is it for the purpose of bringing clarity to the other, or is it for the sake of dominating the other?”

The moment he detects that his intention is to prove a point, to dominate the other, to bully or coarse the other, he simply withdraws. He says, “No, no, no. I am a traveler, and every action is a step; every uttered word is a step; every thought is a step. I am a traveler; I must step only in the direction of the destination. If I am stepping in any other miscellaneous direction, I am wasting time and energy. I won’t do that.” So he freezes, he retreats. In the middle of a heated discussion, it might just strike him: “What the hell am I doing all this for? Why must I be entangled in this debate?”

And then you might find that, in the middle of a sentence, he stops and withdraws, not caring even to finish that sentence. That’s the hallmark of honesty. “Now that I know, now, this moment, suddenly, that I realize that I am into it for egoistic purposes, I won’t continue for even half a second more. Until this point, unfortunately, I was misled; I did not remember, so I was being carried away by emotion, by passion, by Maya . But suddenly I have woken up.” You always wake up suddenly, right? You are asleep till now, and now you have woken up. “Now that I have woken up, I cannot pretend to still be in dreams; the dream is gone and I am back to sanity.”

The man of knowledge will just not waste his precious moments, his energy, his words. You will not find him just splurging himself away. And one common, rather necessary characteristic of the man of ignorance is that he dissipates himself a lot. You will find this person wasting himself away in a very regrettable way—dissipation, dissipation, and dissipation. Like a block of ice, a lump of frozen water in the sun, melting down, disappearing away; its substance, its life melting and meeting the soil and becoming mud; streaks of soiled water flowing in six different directions. Can you visualize?

This is the life of the dissipator. Parts of him keep randomly flowing away, wasting away in six different directions. At the end of each day, there is very little of him left, and very little comes from each day he spends as a living entity. If you ask him, “So, what comes out of this day that you have lived?” he will have no substantial answer. Something here, something there, bits and pieces, nothing concrete, because most of the day, most of the energy, most of the opportunity, has anyway been just squandered. Maybe the ice was made of distilled, pure water; what happens to the water once it melts and meets the soil? What happens? That’s how we waste ourselves.

The sage is saying: Whatever you are doing, thinking, planning, emoting, singing, ask yourself, is this That? And if it is not That, stop. Don’t wait to stop; stop. Stop then and there. Do not care even for politeness. As I had said, stop in the middle of a sentence; do not bother even to finish that sentence.

I used to watch a lot of movies, and I used to walk out of a lot of movies. Maybe it was my vṛtti , my tendency to try out movies; late night shows, 11, 11:30 p.m. when the hall would be practically empty. And then so many times, ten minutes, twenty minutes into the movie, I would decide to walk out. Once I know it is junk, what is the point? I have already made a mistake by entering this hall; how can I prolong this mistake by staying in the hall? Typically, I would walk out in the middle of a song and dance sequence; that’s what would conclusively suggest to me that I am at the wrong place.

Questions?

(Silence)

Is the entire audience so meditative or just asleep? In deep meditation there are no questions, also in deep sleep there are no questions.

Questioner (Q): So, when the man of knowledge finds himself in a situation not worth being in, he immediately stops and leaves it. It seems that one has to find oneself in such situations and just keep leaving them. This sounds like there is going to be constant conflict.

AP: That’s what life is all about, no? Your body is not going to accept defeat very easily. The body will keep doing its thing, and the body will do it very deceptively. When I say body, I mean the body-mind complex, body and the mind. You won’t always be on top of the body-mind thing. They will play their game, they will make their shrewd moves. You will be deceived quite often. Your job is to discard it all, shrug it off immediately the moment you see through their wickedness, the moment you realize the plot.

So yes, you are right. It is something you are going to constantly find yourself in, this kind of an interlocking, this kind of a game of chess that was guaranteed, scripted the day you were born as a human being. Life is, in one sense, you versus your body. It is a dialectical movement. There is you, the consciousness, versus you, the body. The direction your life takes depends on which of these two sides keeps prevailing. Mind you, it will always be the body making the first move, because the first move anyway was made by the body when you were born.

So, you would always be the defender; you would always be the one reacting to or responding to the shrewd moves of the body. Remember, when I say body, I mean body-mind. The body will make the first move, and the move will be unknown to you, very unpredictable. So, you will take your time realizing what your body is doing to you; you will take your time decoding what has just been communicated to you by your own physical-mental system. The shorter the time, the better. And if the realization can be spontaneous, then you have arrived.

What do I mean by spontaneous realization? The body makes its moves, and you are so alert, so present, so conscious that immediately you see through the moves of the body. You say, “Ah! I know this is what you are trying, baby. Sorry, I am not going to fall for it.”

That's the way it is, you know. You are the goalkeeper, you are the defender; she has all the penalty strokes. That’s what life is. She has no goalpost behind her; you have a huge goal post behind yourself. You need to successfully defend ten out of ten times, she needs to breach your defense just one out of ten times. If you are successful nine out of ten times, you have lost. If she has failed nine out of ten times, she has won.

To win you have to win ten out of ten times. To win she has to win just once. This is tapasya (austerity): to win ten out of ten times. And as the goalkeeper, as a defender, you are left just to respond; you do not know where the ball is going to come from and to which direction.

You look tense! (Smiles)

Q: So, this essentially means that the ideal of instantly recognising that you are in bondage has to always prevail.

AP: You have to be in love with recognition. You have to be in love with freedom. When you are in love with freedom, then the moment somebody tries to take it away, you respond with a jerk, right? Love gives you alertness. If you love something, then you might stay alert and awake the entire night to keep it secure, no? That’s what.

Love freedom, love Truth, love reality, so that when somebody is trying to take these away, when somebody is trying to encroach upon your sacred territory, you do not hesitate for a moment to spontaneously respond. Then there is fearlessness.

Love alone can make you fearless.

Q: A lot of times in the moment of decision-making, there comes a certain blankness.

AP: No, that blankness can only occupy space devoid of love. If love fills that space up, where is the opportunity for blankness to come and sit and squat? Because you leave the mental space vacant, blankness comes and occupies it. Don’t leave it vacant.

Q: Is that what love is, to not leave the mental space vacant?

AP: Yes, obviously. Because that space just cannot survive vacancy; something or the other is necessarily going to fill it up. Love is to fill it up with the highest possible to you.

The option of not having anything in mind is not available. A mind totally free of any stuff is the last thing to happen. It cannot be an immediate thing; it cannot happen today or tomorrow to you. Right now, you are in a situation where you will definitely have some stuff, some thought, some object in the mind. Love is to have the highest object in the mind. And when you have the highest object in the mind, you will not tolerate somebody substituting it with something inferior.

If this desk in front of me is totally free and you come and keep something on it, I am not going to resist. It is a free desk, it is an empty desk; the space here is available, so you came and kept something on it. I don’t have a great incentive to resist. But what if this table, this desk is full of great books that I love? You have the Upanishads here, you have the great saints here, you have the great philosophers there, and the surface is fully occupied. Now you come and you want to keep some trash on it—what will you necessarily have to do? You will have to remove some of my books, and now love will make me resist.

That is love, and that is the importance of keeping your mental space occupied with the highest possible. If your mental space is occupied by the highest possible, then you will definitely resist somebody trying to play a trick with you. But if it is free, then you can come and keep your rubbish here, I don’t have an incentive to react; the space was free, you kept your rubbish here.

Don’t leave your space, your plot vacant. It will be taken away. It will be occupied.

Q: And that has to be essentially all the time, right? And that’s the problem, because even if it is left vacant for five seconds, that five seconds expands.

AP: Yes, it is true. So, not much can be done then. It’s just that whether it is five seconds or five minutes, the moment you realize something untoward is happening, jam the brakes immediately. As long as you don’t realize, you are optionless, you are kind of asleep. You are asleep and a snake is crawling upon you—can’t do much. You don’t exist to resist, you are asleep. The moment you wake up, jerk the thing away. And I am using snakes here only symbolically. We have nothing against reptiles.

Q: How do we know that we are really discarding something and not merely acting to discard or thinking to discard?

AP: Whenever you would be discarding, the act of discarding, of rejection, is always going to be partial. Therefore, the act will need to be continuously repeated so that there is no need to enquire whether the rejection is total or partial—because it is definitely partial. I will tell you why.

A fly comes and sits on my arm here. I reject it, I discard it. Is the game over? Is she not ever going to return? No. Why? Because I discarded the fly and not my arm. So, irrespective of how strong your resistance is, Maya is going to return to attack you. Why? Because you exist to be attacked; because you yourself are the vulnerability she exploits.

Therefore, none of your victories are ever going to be complete and final and definitive. From your side it is going to be an endless war—an endless and defensive war, mind you. She is going to return again and again to attack you.

Therefore, you come to a very striking conclusion: the war can be won only when something is eliminated. What? The enemy? No, the defender. The attacker cannot be eliminated; therefore, to win the war you eliminate the defender. In other words, how will she score a goal if you remove the goal post? Where is the fly going to come and sit if there exists no body she can use to sit? This is called dissolution of the ego.

Maya attacks the ego. You cannot defeat Maya as long as you sustain the ego. Therefore, the only way to defeat Maya is to remove the weakness, the vulnerability called the self, the ego. Now Maya might come, but she will find nobody to exploit. Now the fly might come, but she will find nobody to sit upon. Now the attacker might strike the ball with great power, great skill, great speed, but the goal will still not be scored. Somebody burnt down the goal post; you keep hitting the ball, you won’t score anything.

The way of the worldly man is: bring a flyswatter or build technology in a way that catches all the insects and incinerates them. That’s the way of the worldly man. We are dealing in symbols, I hope you are getting them. The way of the spiritual man is: after struggling with the fly once, twice, thrice, ten times, he comes to a realization. The realization is: “As long as I exist, these flies will keep bugging me. I will have to go.”

Are we all together?

“In the Self his delight, at play in the Self, doing works; the best is he among the knowers of the Eternal.”

Beautiful lines. “In Self his delight.” I was just talking of falling in love with the highest; that's the only way you can avoid loving the lower ones. The śloka uses the word ‘ rati * ’, that the knower of the Self, the * Ātmajñāni , remains Ātmārata . You know, rati is also a word used for sexual union. It does not necessarily mean that, but it is also used for that. Whenever you are very fond of something, whenever you are immersed in something, that is a state of rati .

The knower of the Self plays in the Self. Ātmakrīḍa ātmaratiḥ. Beautiful. Love! He is so happy; he is enjoying the highest. Imagine: first of all, the highest; second, to be able to enjoy the highest. Can there be greater fortune? First of all, the one you are with is the highest. Secondly, you are not tolerating the highest, you are not somehow sacrificing yourself to the highest; you are in joy with the highest, you are playing with the highest. Ātmakrīḍa ātmaratiḥ . You are in love with the highest.

This alone is the essence of all spiritual teachings. Fall in love with the highest. Rise in love. Play with the highest. And if you are not in love with the highest, then all the unworthy things will keep attracting you—food, sex, sleep—just because you are so loveless.

Remember, this surface (pointing at the table) cannot be kept free and vacant; something is going to come and sit upon it. If not the highest, then obviously the lowest.

How do you know whether you are in love with the highest? Look at the ones you are in love with. Look at what occupies your life, your mind, your time, your personal space. Look at what you find attractive. Look at what you are in rati with. Look at the stuff of your fantasies—what do you fantasize? What is your highest desire? What is the content of your dreams? Ever thought about the Truth?

Now you know why your life is in such shambles: because your highest desire is of the lowest thing possible; your deepest desire is of the shallowest thing possible. Is that not so, sir? And life is a mess. *Ātmakrīḍa ātmaratiḥ*—and the fellow says, “Food, sex, and sleep.”

These were people from a different place altogether. I don’t know whether most of us even deserve to read them, seriously. Nobody taught them this, you know; it just occurred to them spontaneously. That’s the kind of honest and courageous lives they were leading. When you live the right life, then these things just spontaneously occur to you. And here are the most of us… Let alone these things naturally occurring to us, we struggle to comprehend them even when we are instructed, even when these things are told to us. Forget original creativity—we are incapable of even vicarious comprehension.

They were people from a different place. No, not from Mars or Jupiter. They were people leading, choosing to lead, very honest, very direct, very simple, very innocent lives, and this is the fruit of that choice. The Upanishads are the fruit of such right choices.

Even among the knowers of the Eternal, this one is the best: the one who keeps working while in love with the Truth. The one who is playing with the Truth even when he is working—such a person is highest even amongst the realized people. The distinction according to him is “ brahmavidāṃ variṣṭhaḥ * ”: even amongst the * brahmavid he is the senior one, the variśṭa one.

Playing with the Truth even as he performs his functions, in love with the Truth even as he engages in his work—this is the pinnacle of life. If you can do this, then you have done what you were born for.

Q: How do I know that I am aware? At best, my awareness is associating with what I think of as the highest, but that decision is made by me, the one lacking in awareness. I might be rejecting one deception only to fall for another.

AP: Yes, that is what you have to do. The fact that you can reject one trap to fall in another one is not merely a statement of your helplessness, it is also an expression of your power, provided you look at it rightly.

Yes, you move from one place to the other, you have just moved from one trap to the other. But why can’t you move from a lower trap to a higher trap? Or do you want to stay in the worst kind of trap using the excuse that any movement away from your particular, current trap would anyway lead you into another one? Don’t you see where the excuse is coming from and what the purpose of the excuse is?

“Acharya Ji, you said that words cannot contain the Truth. Therefore, I have decided to neither listen to you nor read the Upanishads, because anyway they too contain just words, you too speak just words. And didn’t you yourself say that the words cannot contain the Truth?”

Yes, that’s true, the ultimate Truth cannot be contained in any word. In that sense all words are false. Still, one word is different from the other one. All words are false, true; but even in the dimension of falseness there are variations, distinctions. Any place you go to is not your final home, that’s true; but why must you continue living in a jail? Why?

It is true that when time and space themselves are illusions, then any structure of brick and mortar is just illusory. Still, if you must live in a structure, why choose a jail over a temple? And when I say, “Choose a temple rather than a jail,” I do not mean that a temple is the eternal Truth. No, a temple is not the eternal Truth; still, a temple is better than a jail.

So, in your limited capacity, do the best you can. As they say sometimes, “Let the best not be the enemy of the better.” This is often a deception we use against ourselves. We say, “Because I cannot be the best, therefore I will not even be the better one. I will stay as I am.” Alright, maybe you cannot be the best in just one leap, but can’t you improve a little at least? Maybe in just one jump you cannot reach from the floor to the terrace, but can’t you climb the staircase step by step?

Depending on where you are, take the next step. Obviously, none of these steps is the equivalent of the sky, and if you want to use that kind of an argument, you can use that argument and you will succeed. You can say, “The next step that I am going to take, is that going to help me merge with the sky?” The answer will be no. And when the answer will be no, you can gladly allow yourself to stay where you are and not take any step ahead or further or higher. That’s just an inner conspiracy against oneself.

“Acharya Ji, I have been listening to you since five years now but I am still not enlightened. Therefore, I am not going to listen to you anymore.”

Are you better off or not? That’s the question you must ask.

So, remember that our undoing, our disaster is not that we do not manage to reach the highest point possible. No, that is not our tragedy. Our tragedy lies in something else. Our tragedy lies in not doing even that much which we can easily do.

Your tragedy is not that you could not score 100 out of 100 in mathematics. Your tragedy is that you were capable of scoring 80 at least, and you scored some 25. You are misrepresenting your problem when you say that your problem is that you could not score a neat, complete century. No, that is not your problem.

Your problem is not that you could not reach the highest point of consciousness. Your problem, your defeat lies in the fact that you never had the courage to be better than what you allowed yourself to remain as.

If you do not know what the highest is and therefore never reach the highest, there is no shame in it. Who knows the Truth? Who knows the infinite? Who knows the unthinkable? If you cannot attain That, it is hardly a matter of shame. But it is indeed a matter of shame when you did not have the courage, the diligence to do even that much which was easily possible.

It is not something to feel humiliated about when you are genuinely deluded and therefore make a wrong choice. The thing is pardonable. You genuinely did not know how to make a right choice, so you made the wrong one; fine. But you cannot be pardoned when you know what the right thing is and you still do not have the courage and the honesty to make the right choice and live the right choice.

So, we flatter ourselves, we needlessly pamper ourselves in a very biased way when we say, “Oh, my life is a mess because I never knew what the right thing to do was! Because I did not know the right routes, therefore I kept taking the wrong ones.” No, no no, that’s not your tragedy, that’s not what went wrong with you. What went wrong with you was totally different.

Your tragedy is that even when you knew what was right, you decided to do what was wrong. When you do not know what is right and therefore do not do what is right, you can be excused. But you cannot be excused when… I know I am repeating myself many a time, but it is needed because you too repeat your same actions, your same tendencies your entire life. If you can repeat forty thousand times, let me repeat at least four times.

Think of all the things that you know to be right—do you still do those things? Think of all the things you know to be patently wrong—do you still avoid those things? That’s where you are being defeated daily.

Do not say, “Oh Acharya Ji, Brahman is so elusive, and that’s my problem. I am not able to attain Brahman !” No, that is not your problem. The problem is that you are diabetic and you still keep rushing after sugar. And now you are talking of Brahman . Brahman is not your problem at all, because you are not at all in the position where you can even talk of Brahman . When you are not eligible to even talk of Brahman , how can Brahman -attainment be even a problem for you?

You are like the class four kid saying, “My problem is that my doctoral thesis is getting rejected.” Son, you are in class four. How can doctoral thesis be your problem? You are exaggerating your problem so that you can hide your real, little problem. Your real, little problem is that you have been given two little problems in multiplication and division, and you do not want to sit over them.

Instead of sitting over those two little sums, you are going here and there and saying, “You know, I think I will not apply for postdoc at Harvard now.” Postdoc at Harvard? And your reality is that you have been given that little question that says, “If seven bananas are for rupees ten, how many bananas can you buy for rupees seven?” That problem you cannot crack, and you are acting so distressed on the matter of postdoctorate.

That’s the thing about most of us: we are not big enough to have big problems. Our real problems are tremendously little. And they are so little, so mean, so petty that we are ashamed to talk of them. Therefore, we create illusionary problems and talk of them.

People come to discuss, you know, this is that, this is that… Usually I give myself forty minutes to speak with a person who comes to me. Out of these forty minutes, thirty minutes are spent just extracting the real problem from him, and the fellow will do his best, try very hard, to hide the real problem. And he will present some monstrous, spiritual, philosophical problem. “You know, I am depressed because I cannot reconcile Derrida with Madhvacharya.” And in the thirty-fifth minute it emerges that his real problem is that he has a crush on his maid and the wife has come to know of it. That’s the real problem—and he is talking of Madhvacharya and Ramanuja. He says, “I have a deep suspicion that Achintya Bheda Abheda is superior to both Advaita (non-dualism) and Dvaita (dualism)!”

It requires great skills, skills of a deep sea diver, to first of all mine the real problem. You could call me a deep sea diver or a miner—and I have to keep going down into the coals, down and down, and finally, not a diamond but a piece of shit emerges from there.

It is a privilege to have a big problem. Most of us are not privileged enough. Petty as we are, all we have is petty problems.

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