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No spiritual miracles suddenly happen || Acharya Prashant, in conversation (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Questioner (Q): Yes, so just again we haven't been able to talk about this conversation prior to this, but I’m sure you got a sense of it. What we like to do in this conversation is keep it very transparent and conversational. But what we like to believe is different about our conversation is that we like to dig deeper into the mind of great personalities like yours. Where we are not just asking about your life journey or not asking merely about information, but it's really getting into the crux of the name of this podcast which is ‘The Philosophy of Now’. Which we like to interpret as a life mantra that one meditates upon in the present moment. Something that keeps you together, not necessarily in your past or future but in your every present moment. But before we get to that we believe that we want to get through a journey of questions and eventually get to that conclusive question.

Why don’t we start with a general question about really understanding yourself? Where did your spiritual journey start? If you had to pinpoint an event or a time in your life where it really hit you hard. We sometimes say, maybe it’s not as drastic say Gautam Buddha or certain life-changing events like that, but if you could recall something like that.

Acharya Prashant (AP): You see, this is a very popular notion that something happens that triggers the spiritual journey. This is coming from a concept that we assume to be the truth and the concept is that ‘Normal worldly material life is different from spiritual life,’ that these are two separate compartments, so there has to be a bridge between them, a link between them. And if there is a bridge then one can be questioned about the event and the day, the date when one crossed over and that’s where you’re probably coming from. So, if I were living only a material life; when exactly did I cross the bridge or when did I exactly begin thinking of crossing over, at least?

But this mental model itself might be flawed, let’s enquire into it Spiritual life is anyway the foundation of worldly life. Would you ask a multi-storey building, ‘Which particular floor is connected to the foundation?’ It’s like asking, for the first four floors there was no relation to the foundation and suddenly something happened, a trigger came on the fifth one and then suddenly there was a relationship with the foundation. The fact is, right from the ground floor, right from the outset, right at the outset we are connected to the foundation. We may or may not very consciously know that. But even if we don't know that the connection is anyway there.

We have had desires since the moment of our birth. Every single desire is crying out for fulfilment, and what is that fulfilment? It’s a spiritual thing really and that's the reason why we have a continuous sequence of desires because no desire ever leads to absolute fulfilment. So, we have desire after desire after desire, and so, we are always spiritual, it's just that our spirituality remains clouded and the purpose of life is to clear the cloud to lift the cloud as much as possible and it is a continuous process. It's not as if things happen on one particular day. You alluded to the story of the Buddha when he saw a sick man, a dying man, an old man and he said, ‘Now I have chanced upon the truth of life and I do not want to partake anymore and I'm quitting.’ See, that’s a convenient story, it does not happen that way. The Buddha was for sure an enquirer for long, it's just that there is something called the ‘last straw on the camel's back’. But it's not the last straw that broke the back. It's an inferential fallacy to think that Buddha saw something and that triggered it. No, that didn't trigger something, the process was continuously going on.

Similarly, you have stuff in the Zen tradition where one fellow goes to a common woman dealing with cow dung and he looks at those cakes of cow dung and asks, ``What is this cow dung?” And the lady replies; “The Buddha.” The story says, in that moment the enquirer was enlightened and it sounds very strange. How is it possible that this kind of a reply that the cow dung is the Buddha can lead to the enlightenment of a Buddhist seeker? But that is what the Zen tradition says and there are several small stories and quance of this nature. That merely means that the seeker was already very ripe, the process of questioning, the urge to know was always there and then something happened and that led to him taking one more step towards the direction of realization.

So, it's not as if there was any particular moment in my life either. I do not remember any such thing. I do not know what is really special about me in my 44th year compared to my 24th or 14th year. I do not think there has been any discontinuity, any quantum leap of any kind. It's been a continuous journey, there is a journey, I definitely agree with that. There has been movement, maybe I have gained clarity but there has been nothing extraordinary or miraculous. You see, when you want to believe in miracles then you want to give up on your own responsibility, don't you? You want to say, ‘Something special happens and then the fellow benefits from that.’ The thing is, nothing special is going to happen. Life is there and life is ordinary for each one of us and it’s from this life that one has to come to the Truth and the heavens are not going to drop anything special for you or me, that's not going to happen. Even the avatars we have had, the Buddhas we have had, it's just convenient for us to believe and propagate that they were special people.

We all arise from this earth, bodily we are not very different from each other at all. We have to make the right choices and that can probably distinguish one person from the other, that's all. Those choices are a continuous affair; you have to make them on a day-to-day basis, so one cannot even in the case of choices say that one particular fellow made one particular distinguished choice and that changed his life. No.

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