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Not many, not one, not zero || On Mundaka Upanishad (2021)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
68 min
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गताः कलाः पञ्चदश प्रतिष्ठा देवाश्च सर्वे प्रतिदेवतासु । कर्माणि विज्ञानमयश्च आत्मा परेऽव्यये सर्वे एकीभवन्ति ॥

gatāḥ kalāḥ pañcadaśa pratiṣṭhā devāśca sarve pratidevatāsu karmāṇi vijñānamayaśca ātmā pare'vyaye sarve ekībhavanti

The fifteen parts return into their foundations, and all the gods pass into their proper godheads, works and the Self of Knowledge, all become one in the Supreme and Imperishable.

~ Verse 3.2.7

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Acharya Prashant (AP): “The fifteen parts return into their foundations, and all the gods pass into their proper godheads, works and the Self of Knowledge, all become one in the Supreme and Imperishable.”

So, what is the context? What are we referring to here? We are referring here to the ultimate state possible.

What is it that the mind finally wants? What is it that happens, rather stops happening once you are out of illusion and bondage? “The fifteen parts pass into the whole.” The śloka says kalā , pañcadaśa kalā , fifteen parts. ‘*Kalā*’ in Sanskrit means parts as well.

The Upanishads have to be read in the light of their context. The student has come, and the student is in illusion but eager; he does not know, but he wants to enquire. So, there is ignorance but with the spirit to enquire; there is darkness but with a movement towards illumination, and all that is being said by the seer is with a view to dispel false knowledge.

We have to remember that the Upanishads do not seek to bring the Truth to us. They proceed via negativa. Their method is of ruthless negation; they destroy the false. They expose what is hollow and weak and hence fit to be rejected.

So, what is it that gets rejected, destroyed, or comes to an end as you progress through your consciousness in an upward direction? “The fifteen parts return to the whole”—parts gain wholeness; the inner fragmentation reduces.

The number fifteen is not significant. I could go into where the fifteen kalās come from and all that, but that is not significant at all. It could have been fourteen, it could have been six, it could have been seventy thousand—doesn’t matter. Only three numbers actually exist in Vedanta: zero, one, and the rest of them.

So, when you are reading the Upanishads or the Bhagavad Gita, and you come across seven thousand, they all mean the same. What do they refer to? The manyness evident in our sensory experience.

I am speaking to you today, and there are fifty of us here today; this is a session in progress. And yesterday there were some eighty of us here, and the day before that three hundred plus. It’s the same from the point of view of Vedanta; Vedanta simply says many. Lao Tzu says the ten thousand things. He dismissed diversity with this one name: the ten thousand things. So, you ask him, “What is there in the mind?” He will either say nothing, or he will say ten thousand things. He won’t bother to count.

For us, eight is very different from eighteen. For the knower, eight is the same as eighteen. Therefore, he does not seek to reduce eighteen to eight; he seeks to reduce both eighteen and eight to one. What is that one? That’s not the final thing; that’s not the ultimate unity. That one is ego-tendency, the mother aham-vṛtti . All things arise from the one, and that one is not Brahman ; that one is the mother ego-tendency.

Nothing arises from Brahman . Brahman does not give birth or rise to anything. The Truth does not father the world; because of our ignorance, Truth itself appears as the world. The world is not different from the Truth, provided we have the eyes to perceive rightly.

So, all things boil down to just the one thing—what is that one thing? The perceiving entity, the ego-tendency. “I have the tendency to perceive, and because I have the tendency to perceive, sometimes I perceive eight, sometimes eighteen, sometimes eight thousand. All things are my own experience; all things are to me.”

Things exist. Don’t believe in the superficial objectivity. Ask, who is the subject to whom these things exist? Something great happened—immediately ask, to whom? This exists—for whom? Because nothing exists in isolation; nothing exists independently of the perceiver, the seer.

To think that something exists independent of everything is to give it the status of Truth, and that will lead to suffering.

If something exists, it exists for a particular somebody; otherwise, it does not. Therefore, the same thing is different things to different people, because there is nothing called a thing, there is just the experience of the thing.

And there is the mighty experiencer sitting within all of us intent on experiencing diversity. It cannot experience one thing. If there is just one thing, there can be no experience. If all is white, can you experience even white? Obviously, if all is white, you cannot experience red, green, blue, violet. So, that’s discounted. But if all is white, can you experience even white?

What is the color of this background? Brown. What if I wear brown? What will happen? Kamlesh (the cameraman) will not like it! Kamlesh will just not like it if I wear brown on a brown background. Why will he not like it? What does that mean?

To experience you require at least two. Brown and brown will lead to obfuscation of experience; you will not be able to experience anything. On top of that, if my entire face is brown, including the hair, the audience will actually not see anything; it will only see a certain brown-ness.

You can see a thing only when its opposite is available as a backdrop. Otherwise, perception cannot happen.

So, if you are the experiencer, it becomes a compulsion on you to experience diversity. There can be no experience sans diversity. You cannot experience happiness if you have not tasted sadness. There is no experience that is not dualistic. In other words, there is no non-dual experience.

So, the mother ego-tendency that says “I exist”, for its own survival, continuation, projects a huge diversity, and that diversity allows it to remain engaged, that diversity allows time to exist, because now you can change your subject. “This exists and that exists. Today I am related to him, tomorrow I am related to her.” What has come into being? Change, hence time.

If diversity is not there, time cannot be there. Time is, therefore, a compulsion upon the mother-experiencer, the one.

Wholeness is not oneness. That’s what differentiates Vedanta from the other philosophies. They stop at one, there has to be somebody at the top: “Alright, we can afford diversity at the bottom; we can have a lot of things on the earth. But let there sit some one particular controller on the clouds, in the sky.” They suffocate without the one.

Vedanta dismisses even the one. Vedanta says, “Even the one is fictitious. Because if all this that you see here is just dualistic—one thing exists only as a contrast to the other thing—then the mother of all these things too has to be fiction. If the seven thousand things are all fictitious, then the mother of those seven thousand things too is fictitious.”

Therefore, the one means nothing. One God, one *Īśvara*—none of that in Vedanta. Vedanta will never ask you to swear allegiance to “the One”. Just as you can think of eight and eighteen and eight thousand, you can equally think of one, can’t you?

So, eight, eighteen, eight thousand, and one—they are all objects in the mind. How can you call a mental object as beyond the mind? Therefore, the one is to be given no special cred; one is same as two. One cannot even exist without the second.

How about zero? Now, even with zero there is a bit of a problem. Zero is technically right if it means nothing at all, but the moment you say nothing, zero, śunya , again you create a mental image; a fiction rises, a story starts building up.

Therefore, Vedanta says, “Not many, not one, zero is risky, hence advaita (not two). Not many, because the many are just figments of my own inner compulsions; I see differences because I have a stake in differences. If I do not have a stake in differences, they don’t matter much to me.”

You must remember that whatever you see or experience has your own desire at its root. We just don’t see anything; if we are seeing, sensing, hearing, experiencing, perceiving, there is desire involved. Desire begins not only after the stimulus hits the senses, but actually, in a deeper way, desire causes the stimulus.

This much should be obvious, that if you look at a nice pair of jeans somewhere, it can arouse desire, right? So, this is self-evident, that stimulus provokes desire. But what we must also meditate on is that unless you have a latent desire, you will not even perceive a pair of jeans. And this is more difficult to grasp, but stay with this.

You will not come upon anything if it does not hold meaning for you. It will just not blip in your inner radar even if you factually come upon it. If something makes its presence felt in your inner world, it is because you were already prepared to have its presence felt inside you. If you are not prepared, the thing will not even exist for you; it will just come and leave as nothing.

Now, this has very deep implications. It means we are responsible. It means we cannot ever play the victim card. If stuff is happening, it is happening with some kind of a latent consent.

I know, we are walking into choppy waters with this, because next will be asked that if a fellow has a heinous crime committed on him, did there pre-exist a latent consent, and if it did, then how do we have courts of law? How do we hold somebody guilty? All these questions arise. We will get to them, but please consider this first of all.

We are not talking of events here; we are talking of suffering here, and suffering is always subjective. No external event can provoke a response of suffering from you if were not prepared for that event—prepared not in the sense of readiness, prepared in the sense of vulnerability.

If you were not vulnerable to that one thing, that thing couldn’t have elicited a response of suffering from you. It could have caused you damage in the physical sense. Maybe your money is robbed away, maybe your arm is hacked off—those things can surely happen without your consent. There is so much in the physical world that is just random. Suffering is not random.

Vedanta is a darśana of ultimate responsibility and therefore ultimate empowerment. You have the power to dictate your inner conditions. You are not a hapless thing being thrown around by random forces of chance. Things don’t happen to you; you are an equal participant, rather you are the progenitor. And if you are that, then why do you play the weakling? Why do you ask questions in such servitude? Why do we believe that we are victims of circumstances?

This was about the number fifteen. Be it fifteen, be it fifteen thousand, they are all in me, through me, from me. And this me that is projecting this great diversity has to ultimately dissolve into advaita . If it remains, the diversity will remain, and diversity will mean false choice, and that will mean I will never be at rest.

Now, what does the Rishi mean here when he says that the parts all return into the whole? Being fragmented is our suffering, and we all live in fragmented, that is, divided conditions.

We are not one. Just as the world outside is many, we are many, and not without reason. The manyness of the world creates many imprints on our minds, and those many imprints all operate from their own centers. The many things outside of us that we perceive become the many masters that rule us, and each of those masters has a certain province within us.

One part of us is controlled by the urge for profits; one part of us is controlled by the husband or the wife; one part of us is devoted to a particular ideology, “I am a socialist”; and these parts just cannot agree with each other. The relationship one has with his occupation just does not sit well with the relationship one has with his religious inclination.

But they all exist within us; they all exist within us and they quarrel with each other. We are the battleground. We are being slaughtered daily. We are not the same entity when situations change, and our changing existence is not an autonomous response to the change in circumstances. When circumstances change, we are forced into submissive and corresponding change.

These are two very different things. Circumstances keep changing all the time, right? One thing is: circumstances change, and I retain my autonomy. What is that autonomy called? Ātman . That remains; I don’t stray too far away from it. Circumstances change, and my response to them is one of freedom. I do change when circumstances change, but it’s not as if I am a slave to circumstances. That is one thing.

But that’s not the way most of us operate. When circumstances change, they beat us into changing as per their demand. When in front of the idol in the temple, we are one being; in front of the boss in the office, we are just another being. It’s not as if choice is being exercised; it is a compulsion.

This is called fragmentation. This is what is being referred to in the verse, the fifteen parts. We said it could have been fifteen thousand, because there do exist not fifteen but indeed fifteen thousand parts within us, and those parts are just not good. How do you feel being with the boss in the temple? Do you see the conflict?

It’s easy when you are in front of the boss and you are wearing a mask; it’s affordable when you are in front of the deity and wearing another mask. But life loves fun, life will create a situation when you are in front of the deity with the boss. Which mask will you wear now? Even if physically such a situation does not arise, internally such a situation always exists because we have just too many masters commanding us, holding our reins.

They have to all converge into one. And when they converge into one, the one just cannot stand; it dissolves, it goes away.

Do not have multiple masters. Do not be a slave to situations. Do not be thrown around by circumstances. That’s the message of Vedanta.

It’s not very skillful or clever of us to wear a thousand hats at a thousand different places, though we think so. In front of elders in the family, we live and behave one way; in front of somebody you are wooing, or your wife or your fiancé, you are just another personality, are you not? And when we do that, we think it’s very clever of us. “Look how I fooled both of them! Granny thinks I am such an obedient and ideal child, well-behaved, thinking nothing of the bad things in the world. And my girlfriend, in front of her I am the sexy stud!” And we think we have been able to manage both of them.

From this kind of thinking arise phrases like ‘work-life balance’ and such things. People think that their profession is one thing, their personal life is another thing, and there is no continuity. And when there is no continuity, there can be no harmony.

The one thing I have always advised those who are on the verge of choosing a career, or even those who are deep into their careers, is: Let there be no dissonance between who you are and what you do. Your work is who you are. Do not say that you work just for money and that your real life starts after work. How is it possible that you are a very affectionate and soft father to your kids, and you work in a firm that slaughters kids of animals to sell packaged meat? There would be a bloodbath within.

Let the deed reflect the doer, and let the doer reflect the Truth. In other words, the ego should follow the Truth. The ‘I’-sense, the ‘I’-identity should not be deeply attached to anything; it should simply be an enquirer, a seeker, a lover of Truth. And if you say you love the Truth, then let that reflect in your deeds.

Do not assume too many identities, and even the ones that you do assume, let them sit very lightly on your shoulders. No identity is your real identity.

Have a Truthful identity. And once you have that, if that is how you internally know yourself and think of yourself, then let that reflect in all that you do. Do not create fragments. It is because those fragments hurt us so badly that the Rishi is saying that in the state of liberation those fragments disappear. Had those fragments been good for us, there was no need for them to disappear; but they must go away.

Questioner (Q): You said that when there are options, choices, there can be no freedom. Earlier I used to think that I am free if I have choices, but Vedanta says that freedom can be only in choicelessness.

AP: And isn’t there great joy in being choiceless? You don’t have to struggle; you don’t have to be torn; you don’t have to keep brooding over this and that. Life becomes so easy: “There might be a thousand things, but I do not see them. I see only the one thing that is Truth, that is related to my identity of being Truthful. I see just that.”

It makes life so easy. Once you do not have the pull of a thousand choices acting upon you, think of the liberation you get. Else everything in the world is an opportunity, and nothing in the world suffices. Now, where does that put you? Everything is an opportunity, and no choice is good enough to be the final one—where does that put you? A rolling stone wandering from here to there—and wandering in frustration, in angst because whatever you have done has not been good enough. Why has it not been good enough? Not because the choice was wrong but because the choice existed.

If you want to be sure of something being good for you, being right for you, just see whether there are competing choices. One mark of the real thing is that it affords no competition; you would have nothing else in mind. People may come and threaten you, somebody may come and lure you; you will say, “No, but this is the one way I know. I know not in the sense of habit but in the sense of realization. You are offering me a thousand diverse roads to travel; I don’t even see them. They exist only for the ones who are tempted by them; I don’t even see them.”

Remember, even knowledge is not objective. If you have knowledge of something, it is because that thing first of all meant something to you. Otherwise, you won’t even have knowledge. And knowledge can be such a burden, no? You know of so many things and they are all going around in the head.

“I don’t even know. Why don’t I know? Because I don’t need to know. The deal is done. Why do I need to have so many options? Not that I am the proverbial frog in the well; just that I know very, very clearly.” The frog in the well has no choices out of ignorance, and spiritual choicelessness is out of total realization.

“I have known, and I have reached a finality; therefore, I am not considering options at all.” And that is the summit of life; that is where you want to reach; that is freedom from experiences. Otherwise, one will remain a sucker for experiences all his life. “I want to do this, next I want to do that, next I want to do that, this, this, this, this, this…”

Does the liberated man not do diverse and various things? He does, but he does not do them to satiate himself. He does everything being satiated, not wanting to be satiated. You get the difference? “Contentment I already have. Now, with my contentment I want to go there, reach there, attain this, discover that.”

What is the difference, then? The difference is: If you are going to a place to attain contentment, then success and failure will weigh too heavily on you because just too much is at stake. You need to succeed; contentment is at stake. So much is at stake—contentment is everything. “I need to succeed”—and if you need to succeed, you cannot play the game in freedom. When you are desperate for success, then you are frozen.

Whereas, when you are already content and then you want to achieve something, then you are actually taking it just like a game. And when you are taking it just like a game, there is so much joy, so much agility, so much maneuverability. There are just so many degrees of freedom that you get—why? Because now you are not afraid of failure.

“I am not afraid of failure because I have already succeeded. I am entering the game and I am already a winner. I am a winner even before the game starts. Now I will play with abandon. Now there would be a certain freedom from botheration, I would be carefree.”

And those who are too careful in life, they will know the importance of the word ‘carefree’. How many of you are bogged down by care in your life? A lot of us, right? We will give our right hands to be carefree. Care is thought, care is concern, care is just too much weight on the top floor (pointing at the head) . What happens to any structure that is top-heavy? Would you want to ride a top-heavy car?

We live very top-heavy lives, no? The center of gravity is almost here (pointing at the head) . When you are already contented, then the center of gravity is where it should be, not here but here (moves his hand from the head to the chest) .

Many young people here, and the youth especially relishes choices. If you are being forced into doing something, then it’s an improvement to have choices. You are being forced into marriage; your parents have seen a man for you and they are saying, “Go, wed this one. No choice! This one is final.” In such a situation it is alright to ask for choice. But how about a situation where you have some forty-one boyfriends all at once? Are you related to even one of them? Is there any love anywhere?

Now you know what choicelessness means. Choices are good to have only when you are being forced into one loveless channel. When somebody is exercising his tyranny upon you and saying, “No, your will, your opinion doesn’t matter, do what I say,” in such a situation it is a better thing, an improvement to have choices.

But then, you, the youth of today, are hardly subjected to such behavior by circumstances or your family. I don’t suppose today’s parents chase their kids with an ultimatum of one final choice; parents don’t do that. They hardly make decisions for their kids today, at least not in the urban areas. Instead, the malaise has appended itself: We have started believing that diversity in choices is a symbol or counter of our empowerment. We feel that the more choices we have, the more empowered we are. The truth is just the opposite.

Let choices exist externally. When they exist just outside of you, they are not even choices, they are just things. Internally, there should be not choices but clarity, and where there is clarity, you do not see too many things; you see just the one thing.

Therefore, a measure of your mental health is: Do you keep weighing options? Do too many things keep going around in your head? Are you frequently indecisive about what to pick?

One mark of the realized man is: his decisions come in a flash, once he has all the data that is. If decisions require data, obviously he will take time to gather the data. Once the facts are in front of him, the decision does not take time; he does not need to appoint an inner committee to ponder. He will ask for data, and the data is there, and he says, “This (makes a gesture indicating picking an option) . Done”—because he is not being internally ruled by competing desires. If he is desirous, he is desirous of just the Truth. He does not have multiple desires in ten different directions.

Remember, each of the choices that appeal to you correspond to a particular desire within you. Let’s say I like him, him, and him (pointing at various listeners) , and he is saying, “Well, it’s my birthday today, let’s spend the evening together”; the other one is saying, “I’m down today, come and console me”; the third one is saying, “I got some fantastic things, there is this special bundle of books. Come, let’s read together.” They are all related to me through competing desires. There is the desire within me to be a big brother to someone, there is a desire within me to be knowledgeable, there is a desire within me to have fun, and none of these three desires are desire for the Truth.

I am fragmented within, and the thousand parts within me become the thousand choices outside of me. Now, what happens? The desire for fun says, “There is the birthday party. Go there!” So, this choice becomes appealing. Do you see why this choice matters to me? Because I have a particular desire that corresponds to this choice; I have the desire for fun.

I have the desire to gain knowledge, so this fellow who says, “Come, let’s read together” becomes significant to me. And I have the desire to be moralistic, to be big-brotherly, to have the upper hand in the emotional sense, so this option, this choice becomes meaningful to me. He is saying, “Oh, I am down. Please come, your company will lift my mood,” and it’s a great opportunity to prove that I can be a good counselor, that I know emotion-management better than this chap.

A thousand things are important to us because we are a thousand people inside; we are not one. And being a thousand inside, having a crowd within is such a pain, is it not? You are nowhere. None of those thousand is you actually, and each of those thousand has a certain inclination; one of them wants dosa, the other one wants to travel to Mars. Now, how do these two become compatible? One is always crying, “Dosa! Dosa with spicy sambar!” The next one is thinking of cryogenic engines. Now, how does the cryogenic engine find any relationship with sambar?

One within you is a political animal deeply interested in politics; one within you is a gardener; one loves verses and bhajans from saints. Now, how is it possible that you cultivate both at the same time, political cunningness and saintly innocence? But we manage to do that, don’t we?

So, when you are first sitting here, and it’s the fifth day today, and in between a lot of us would have found time to exercise our political imagination—so many things are happening in politics everyday—and we go back having read the Upanishads and see what the prime minister is doing and how he is being encircled by the opposition and such things. How do we manage to have these two concurrently?

I am not saying one of them has to be dropped. I am saying all the relationships that we have with the world must come from a single center. Your political opinion has to have a consonance with your Upanishadic knowledge; else you are making them sit in two different rooms in your psyche, and this fragmentation will not let you breathe; you will be sitting here thinking of something else.

With one choice your energy is concentrated. And when your mind has so many options to feast on, all your energy is squandered on the feast. The ego is happy, and life is sad. The ego is happy that, you know, “I have this, I have that. I am so very well networked. If something bad happens to me, I have so many people to seek help from. I am a professional networker. Every day I wish happy birthday to at least three people. So, if something bad happens to me, help can potentially come from so many places.”

The thing is, when you are in such a situation, it’s already a bad thing happening to you. You are preparing for something bad happening to you by having this network of choices, but having this network of choices is already a bad thing happening to you. I do not know whether any of those contacts would be of help in the time of need—they might be, they might not be, I don’t know—but what I know for sure is that such a mind cannot be at peace, a mind that is rushing after security through diversity.

The rules of the inner world are very different from that of the outer world. In the outer world you say, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Hedge your bets. Diversify your portfolio”—that’s what you say in the outer world. In the inner world it’s just the opposite: there should be one and the one and the one, and you have to be absolutely invested in it, hundred percent investment in just the one. Inside, if you diversify your portfolio, you are ruined.

Put all your inner capital into Truth incorporated. Externally, then you will have all the freedom to invest at whatever place you like, and then you will always also have the guts to invest in outrageous ventures because you will not be afraid of loss. And when you are investing in outrageous ventures, miracles can happen. You may also lose whatever you have invested, but then you are not afraid of losing. You are not even dying to get miracles. It’s just that it is now seriously good fun. You can play. Think of it.

Winning and losing come much later. The tragedy is that most of us cannot even play. Our problem is not that we lose so much; our problem is that we do not even play. What’s worse, losing or not even playing? When you prepare so much to play, you cannot play. When you have the apparatus put meticulously in preparation of the play, to secure the play, then you cannot play; then all that you are doing is the arrangement.

“I am arranging, and I am arranging with such precision. Such precision! All my energy has gone into the arrangement; the real thing never happens. I have the security agencies in place, forty thousand fire extinguishers I have brought here; everything I have done to prepare for the party. I have informed the police, there is all the security and the bandobast, five different agencies are videographing the event, I went around and commissioned twenty different caterers—so much choice! Twenty different caterers I commissioned, I really spent a lot of time on it. I spent my entire life commissioning the security agencies, the photographer, the videographer, the caterer, the event manager. I forgot one little thing—the party.”

Everything has been neatly arranged for the party, and in making so many arrangements…

“I wanted to have backups, you know. If plan A fails, B has to be there, then C, then D. After Z, there is ZA, ZB, ZC…”

So, all those backups and choices and options, they all have to be in place. When you care for it so much, then that’s the only thing that you care for, and then care is what you live for. Party is gone. Everything is in place—except the party. Forty thousand fire extinguishers—and no fire! One thousand security guards, but with nothing precious enough to secure. Hurts, no?

You build a mansion and it is fiercely guarded. The only little problem is that in the mansion there is nothing worthy of being secured or guarded. So, the guards are all top-class—we will call them commandos! It’s just that it’s a void inside. What are you securing?

“But no, I have made all the arrangements, you see. Even if an intruder breaches the first ring of security, then there is a second ring, and then there is this, then there is this, and then there is this automated alarm that goes off and para-commandos from Jupiter land straightaway!”

So, layers, buffers, backups, options—all defending nothing. Nothing at all. Like a jewelry case being used to deliver trash. It had layers of packaging!

That’s the thing with choices. You have so many choices but the chooser is in such a bad state. What do you want to care more for, the choices or the chooser? Care for the chooser. The choices will fall in place. Who is the chooser? We are the chooser.

Care for who you are within. All choices are to you . All choices are for you . You change, and the choices that are visible to you will change. So many things that used to present themselves will no more present themselves; you will just forget that choice.

If something does not appeal to you, would you still call it a choice? It’s not even an option; it’s just a thing now because it doesn’t appeal. Why doesn’t it appeal anymore? Because I am no more the one who I was.

Care for the chooser. With the chooser remaining the same, having a plethora of choices is just self-deception. If you remain the same, none of your choices are going to help you. And we cultivate so many choices in the hope that at least one of them will be of some help. None of those choices will help you because you are looking in the wrong direction: you are looking at things. You have to look at the chooser, at yourself.

Q: When I talk to people on matters I think to be important, promoting veganism for example, I see that deep down there is desire within me, an ego-tendency with an aim to gain respect in the eyes of those I am talking to. When I see that, I feel like such a worthless person. Why should I promote service to the Truth and all that if I am myself not worthy of it?

AP: Why should you serve the Truth when you are a worthless person? You should serve the Truth exactly because you are a worthless person. How else will you become worthy? One becomes worthy by committing to the right thing. What else is the definition of worth, value?

Value is always in context of the evaluator, right? A thing holds value to you when that thing can raise your consciousness. Elevation of consciousness is the only real value addition; all else is just accessories. And only the pursuit of Truth can elevate your consciousness.

So, if you feel that inwardly you are at some lowly point, then it becomes even more important for you to chase the Truth. What does it mean to chase the Truth? Is the Truth hidden somewhere in some kind of a treasure hoard or something? What do we mean by chasing the Truth? Identifying the false and having the courage to drop it.

Chasing the Truth is not like a treasure hunt; it’s not like chasing a job or money or something else. Remember, Vedanta proceeds through Neti Neti (not this, not this), through negation. So, chasing the Truth means not chasing the false. Identify what is false in your life, what is deceptive in your life, and then, like a man, drop it.

What is the definition of falseness? That which is not what it appears to be is false. Does falseness lie in the thing? (Picks up a pen) I think this is a rocket launcher, and then you come and convince me that this is just a humble pen. So, should I vent my rage on the pen and destroy it because the pen was false and fooled me?

Does falseness lie in the thing, in the object that you perceive? I thought this is a rocket launcher. Who should be destroyed? This thing, or the desire-driven perceiver? I am fond of space travel, so even a pen appears like a rocket or something. My desire is skewing my vision, totally distorting it. Anything that I see is just not what I take it to be. Things are not to be blamed.

So, when we say chase the Truth, we mean: identify the false and drop it. What is to be dropped? The one within that just cannot see the reality of things. See how we are our own enemy. See how we create castles out of thin air, and when they collapse we curse the world. Most of the castles we build in life have no foundation at all—any wonder they collapse? But we are so fond of castles, we just build them.

“If I can’t have it, I can imagine it. I want a divine fairy in my life, so what do I do? I close in on the next door girl and declare her to be the divine fairy. And then I will say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and love is blind and such things. If I can’t have what I want, I will imagine it. That’s my state.”

That’s called dishonesty. That’s what is falseness, that’s what needs to be dropped. The girl next door might actually be a nice human being, but she is in no way the fairy of your dreams. However, if you can drop the fairy obsession, you might get a decent friend in her.

Dropping the false is not about playing morally superior and breaking up with all and sundry, saying, “I am on a mission to drop the false. After all, I am a spiritual person. AP told me to drop all falseness, so I am dropping my mother, my scooter, my hen, my pen—I am on a dropping spree! Everything has to be dropped.” Drop everything—but just do not drop the dropper. Nice!

Things are just things, people are just people. They are not the meanings that you assign to them. And remember, the meanings that you assign to them hardly arise from those things or people or objects; the meanings arise from your own desirous state. And when desires are not fulfilled, who do we blame? The objects.

But the object never really promised on its own that it’s the thing that you want. You kept telling the object, “You are my fairy!” In fact, the object was always a bit puzzled: “Fairy? Me? Really?” But then she accepted. I mean, it’s like a gift in love and sounds nice, no? Fairy! After a while, in her own eyes, she became the fairy.

Enquire, enquire; drop, drop. Drop what? Not the things in your life, but your perception of them. Just as there is nothing worthy of being attached to, equally and obviously there is nothing that deserves your hatred. And it’s obvious that attachment and hatred are close cousins.

You don’t have to be attached to anything; equally, you don’t have to despise anything. Just know what that thing really is, and then there is the right state of living. You can even call it love.

Now, don’t go home and start quarreling with your parents. “Mama and papa are false!” They are people. No object is false; an object is just an object. Know them for what they really are, and then you will be unable to hate or despise, just as you will be unable to be attached. Attachment will drop, and so will aversion.

Q: The ability to see that we are in the same situation as many others before us can save us from making the mistakes they have made. In this sense reducing diversity, reducing eight thousand to eight, is beneficial. Then why does Vedanta say that eight and eight thousand are not different?

AP: Because even the eight are just one. If you want to categorize, why create eight different categories? Even the eight are just one, so straightaway come to one. And being stuck at eight is just as bad as being stuck at eight thousand. How does it matter where you are stuck? You are stuck.

There are all these vehicles on the road. You can neatly classify them into eight categories, can’t you? All the vehicles on the road can be classified into eight categories. Now, which of these categories would you want to be run down under? They are all one. You are hit by one of those eight thousand vehicles—what happens to you? You are gone. You classify them into eight categories, the result is just the same. They are one, and all of them are to be avoided. Avoided in the sense of not inviting a collision.

See, we are all system-makers, and systems we do make. Having made systems, we think those systems are final. No, they are not final. You have to go beyond every inner system that you create. You can say people are of four kinds, and you can classify the entire eight hundred crore people of the world into four. It’s clever, but not very useful when it comes to liberation.

Q: How do I have the faith, strength and trust to let go of my identities and dissolve into one? In my everyday activities, how do I keep faith intact and avoid being carried away by the fragmented identities?

AP: You will have to allow something big to take possession of you. That’s the only way we can work rightly: by allowing ourselves to become servants to the right master. Sounds counterintuitive, right? We want freedom. If you want freedom, that’s possible only by having the right master. Huh? Slave to a master begets freedom? It does.

Because the mind cannot exist independently, ever. The mind will always require something to follow. What else are all desires? Your attempts at following something; that’s what every single desire is. You want to follow something—that’s a desire. When you are desirous you follow something, don’t you?

So, the mind is a born follower. You cannot straightaway tell the mind to become a non-follower. How to gain liberation or freedom, then? By following the right thing. And how do you follow the right thing? Stop following the wrong thing.

In fact, even if something great comes in your life, you will not be able to follow it unless you firstly make space by dropping the false. You cannot come to the camp without suspending a lot of your usual activities, can you?

The true and the false cannot coexist. The false will have to make space.

Allow something colossal to overpower you. Be steamrolled. Be bulldozed. Lose control of your life. Lose all this systemic sleeping, eating, rising, bathing. Let the Truth put you in total disorder and disarray, because our order is the order of the false; our lives are like very, very orderly jails. A jail or a slaughterhouse is a very orderly organization; they cannot operate without that order, can they?

Let the Truth destroy your inner order. Be prepared for a holy chaos, and drop this image that spiritual people live very regulated and systemic lives. Maybe that happens at an advanced stage. To begin with, you will have to invite disorder in life. Relish it. Let your mental landscape look like a cyclone-hit village. Picture it, send it to Nat Geo—you can make good of any situation!

But if you want to continue with your usual organized life and still want to drop fear and falseness and timidity, it’s not going to happen. “I want to sleep daily at 10 and 11 and, you know, I am a good boy, I get up at 6:30 sharp, and I must take my bath before 9 a.m.”—not going to happen that way.

The Truth is tremendous. You know what a tremor is? What is a tremor? Big vibration, seismic movement. Ever thought why the word ‘tremor’ has been associated with Truth? Because it’s like an earthquake.

When you let the Truth come to you, it flattens everything in your inner village. And that’s not such bad news because the foundations were weak, the walls were hollow; the thing could anyway have crashed on your head anytime. And even when it was not dropping on your head, it was keeping you constantly frightful.

All that is weak and foundationless, let the Truth destroy it in one go. Now there is space for the right beginning.

If you go back from here and resume your normal schedules, you have taken back nothing from the camp, nothing at all. This cannot adjust with your normal lives. You cannot say, “I will do all the same things, and before I go to bed I will watch AP on YouTube for half an hour.” It cannot work that way. You are reducing the Upanishads to something very small by making it coexist with something very small. You are making the elephant and the mouse dine at the same table. No, the elephant won’t feel nice and the mouse won’t feel comfortable.

Don’t make the Truth sit with the false. Don’t make the Upanishads a part of your everyday activity. If you are fed up of the way your life is running, get into the business of Truth.

The Truth enters life as a master. It can only be a master, nothing else. You cannot command the Truth. Whenever something extremely right, extremely worthy, extremely important enters your life, you will have to turn a slave to it. Otherwise, that thing will go out of your life.

Whenever something very, very valuable comes to your life, whether through invitation or coincidence, simply allow yourself to turn a slave to it. Otherwise, you will lose that thing, you will just lose it. It came to you, but you wanted to turn it into a companion, you wanted to treat it as an equal. You didn’t give it the respect and the place it deserved, you lost it.

Q: I see Indian comedians using satire, slander and sarcasm about this country all the time in their performances. Big companies, like Amazon and Netflix, are hiring content creators of this kind, and these comedians are shifting their work to the companies’ channels. They say that they use comedy to explore and adduce the problems of our country, but in reality their profession is just about making fun of subjects that shouldn’t really be laughed at. What do you have to say on this?

AP: See, that’s the cheapest thing to do, no? To make fun—that’s what so many people do. Putting in serious concerted effort to better the situations is not something everybody has the guts for. And because we are a frivolous audience, so frivolousness and flippancy sells with us.

At no point in the history of mankind was so much comic content available to us; at no point in the history of India were there so many comedians. You could take that as a proportion of the population or as a proportion of digital content creators. You will find that the share of comedians is steeply rising. Why is that so? Because that’s the easiest, the laziest route to take: scoff at somebody, taunt, make fun—especially when you know that there is going to be no reprisal.

If you know that there are going to be consequences, then making fun is not so cheap; a price has to be paid. So, pick a target that is not going to retaliate and keep poking fun, keep humiliating. This is just falseness at so many levels; there is ignorance in it, there is violence in it…

But I want to ask you something: Would these people continue with what they are doing if their tickets do not sell and their videos do not get views? They do this for a living, right? They are making money either from the tickets or from Amazon or Netflix or YouTube. Where is that money coming from? It’s coming from us. That’s the kind of content we enjoy.

What the fellow in question is saying is market-driven. Because there exists a big market for such content, so such content will be supplied. That brings us back to Vedanta. Unless you know what your reality is, you will be attracted to all kinds of nonsense; you will keep doing things that hurt others and hurt you.

A certain frivolousness is the very mark of this age—a certain lack of respect towards anything and everything, a complete absence of sacredness. Nothing is to be held as sacred; therefore, there is nothing to be serious about. And if you find something sacred, spit at it; in fact, hunt for everything that is blemishless, pure, holy and spotless, and then spit at it. That’s what generates the maximum laughs; that’s what is most fun. Turn the holy into a joke so that you can continue living your petty and ugly life—that’s the intention.

If you treat the sacred with respect, then you cannot continue being what you are. If you take something as high, sublime, worthy of respect, then how can you honestly still continue to lead a pathetic life? You will have to improve, you will have to rise.

So, what do you do? You destroy all the ideals. You become a self-declared iconoclast: “What do I do? I bring down the deities. Why? Because I do not want to rise up. I am such a lowly fellow, I do not even want to rise, so what do I do? I pull down the gods from the sky and bathe them in excreta”—and it sells because that’s what we all want.

This is the age of mass production. You have machines, you have technology, and technology is improving by the day. The fellow who is owning and running the machine, the corporation, the empire, out of his greed wants you to consume because the production of the machine is of no use if there is nobody to buy it and consume it.

And the rate of production is exponentially rising, is it not? The output of the factory is rising very steeply. Therefore, a market has to be created equally swiftly. And how do you create a market? By turning people into consumers.

“I am producing so much but people are not buying it—why? Because they do not need it. So, what do I do? I change their entire value system. I bring them to a lowly level of consciousness which tells them that the purpose of life is consumption. And when they are brought down to that low level of consciousness, all they will do is consume, and then my things will sell and I can make profits.”

How do you bring down their consciousness? By dissociating it from the sacred. That’s what comedy is doing: it’s destroying the sacred so that there is nothing holy, nothing worth worshiping left in your life. Nothing worth looking up to is left in your life; all that you have is profanity. You can laugh at anything. Upanishads you can laugh at; Rama and Shiva you can laugh at; everything is the butt of a joke. And especially if you treat something as important, it has to be turned into a joke.

The new chap enters the hostel and he is reciting some verses—make fun of him! Equally, a new boy enters the hostel and he is parroting some lowly rapper—nobody will make fun of him. Some illiterate rapper is acceptable, but if you are chanting religious verses, you will be mocked.

In fact, I don’t have the stats, but I suppose more than half of the so-called YouTubers are just comedians. Let’s call them jokers. An even more blatant version of this comedy is roast. Humiliate! If there are people who are sensitive to their values, hit them where it hurts the most; mock their values. Somebody respects his mother? Mock him. A rapist is acceptable, a devotee is not. When it comes to a rapist, you will say,”You know, let’s look at everybody as a human being. Why are we ostracizing this person? All are equal.” But a devotee cannot be forgiven. We will poke jokes into his heart till he succumbs.

There is a particular value system that is being sought to be imposed on everybody. If you subscribe to that value system, you will not be made fun of. And if you deviate from that system even by an inch, by a millimeter, life will be tough on you; you will be killed and the weapon will be laughter. He was laughed to death, he was joked and mocked to death—what kind of death? Not physical, obviously. The death of the value system.

What kind of value system is being preferred? The one that suits consumption. You don’t eat animals—you will be made fun of. You live an austere life—you will be made fun of. You do not belong to the mainstream—you will be made fun of. You love the nation—you will be made fun of.

In hegemony of the evil—why? Because we are prepared to tolerate it. Amazon or Netflix or YouTube do not pay these people from their own pocket. Amazon is not a charity. Where does Amazon get its bucks from? From you and me. Amazon gets it from us and then pays a part of that to them. Why do we subscribe? Why do we watch? Why don’t we boycott?

These people are not operating from any deep value system. They are not idealists, they do not even have an ideology; all that they want is money. For the sake of money they can sell anything—their nation, their god, their mother. Cut off their financial supply lines and they will be no more. They are not ideology-driven and, of course, they are not driven by the Truth. Let alone Truth, I am saying, they don’t even have idealism.

You are sitting here talking of these things; your own younger brother or sister might be a subscriber. Where do these people get their millions and millions of subscribers from? Please, tell me. That’s what runs their business. Those subscribers aren’t dropping from Mars; they are coming from our families. Why do you allow that to happen?

Your foundation is made to spend eighty percent of the donations it receives on just promotion and publicity. We are left with hardly anything. Everything is devoted to making these words reach people—why? Because you will not help these words reach others. Some nonsensical content and everybody is watching it, and if we want this to be watched, then we have to pay through our nose, because you will happily watch that content, share it and propagate it. This you will not watch.

And if by chance you happen to watch it, you will feel ashamed of sharing it. You will say, “You know, my friend circle, what will they think? I have ideals or something? They will say, ‘Oh my God, this chap, he talks of the Truth. He is infected! Please, don’t go close! Maintain social distancing! He is infected!’”

So, all that you send to the foundation goes back in just ensuring that more and more of you are watching the content that you watched to come to the foundation. That content didn’t reach you by chance; that content didn’t reach you organically. That content reached you because we cut down on all our other expenses to ensure that the content is reaching you. See, the thing is competitive; a fellow can watch only one video at a time, right? So, either he watches that trash, or he watches this.

You have made your choice, and that will decide your fate and the fate of this nation. The day you decided to turn absolutely worthless, junk people into superstars on Amazon and YouTube was the day you sealed the fate of this nation. Just go and check who are the top ten or twenty Indian YouTubers, and you will know what is happening—it’s not only happening, it’s being promoted.

Remember, the man who runs the factory, he wants this to happen; he is ensuring that this happens.

Q: If life goes on without much trouble and one does not suffer in an explicit way, the suffering seems to take on subtler forms and is hence harder to identify and drop. How should we approach situations like these?

AP: You have to test your mettle. Even if you are operating in a defective way, still you can keep operating if you are not entrusting yourself with something challenging. The bike is not serviced and the engine has many faults; still it can run at a speed of 40 km/h, still it can run for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. Now, challenge the bike to double its speed and run for a continuous hour; then you will realize that you need change.

If you do not bring challenges to your life, your defects, your flaws, your falsenesses will never be exposed. Let there be challenge.

One of the things in the Japanese manufacturing philosophy is JIT, ‘Just-in-Time’. Why do they do it? They say that inventory hides mistakes, we will not carry any inventory; everything has to be just in time. The process has to be lean enough, smart enough, and efficient enough.

For example, a video is to be published every day. I will not keep any inventory of videos ready to be published, because if that is there, and even if I miss producing videos on two days of the week, it will still not show up because I had buffer and I published from that buffer. So, I will not keep any buffer. No inventory—you produce everyday, you publish everyday. This is ‘Just-in-Time’. ‘Just-in-Time’-philosophy affords no flaws.

Similarly, keep no inventory. Let the challenge be huge. And when you are operating JIT, the entire production line can stop if you have messed up somewhere because you are not carrying any inventory. The assembly line is there, and if the supply gets disrupted at any point, the entire line will stop. So, the whole thing has to be flawless. To attain this flawlessness they said, “No inventory. Because if there is inventory, then we can afford flaws. We want to chase any defects in the process that exist. So, no inventory.”

No backups, no buffers, no security cushions—none at all. Because if they exist, they will hide your flaws. So, what do you do if you want to improve? You remove all cushions, all security, all inventory. You play barechested. You go for broke. It’s all or nothing.

Now, this sounds so intimidating. “But why run such risks? Why invite so much trouble?”

Truth comes riding on trouble. If you have a trouble-free life, you have a Truth-free life. No troubles, no Truth.

“The fifteen parts return into their foundations, and all the gods pass into their proper godheads, works and the Self of Knowledge, all become one in the Supreme and Imperishable.”

“All the gods pass into their proper godliness.” All the gods pass into godliness—what does that mean?

Every god that you know of represents a desire. God is the fulfilling agency with respect to a desire. “All the gods recede into their godliness” or “dissolve into their godliness” implies the summit of all desires, the culmination of all desires—the culmination, therefore the dissolution. The desire has reached the point it wanted to reach, therefore it is left with no object. “I desire no more. The desire is fulfilled.”

“All the gods dissolve” implies: all the desires dissolve. Wherever there is a desire, there has to be a god—a god with a small ‘g’, not god representing Truth but god representing one of the several figures we know of. Whenever there is a desire, there is a god. What is the god for? Fulfilling the desire. You could also use it to mean that wherever there is a desire, you will have to place a god on your head; somebody will become a lord on your head because there is a desire.

The moment you allow a desire to mean too much to you, you will have to allow a god to mean too much to you, and anybody can become your god then, depending on the desire. The desirous man has to be a slave; the desirous man cannot be free.

All the gods recede, and all become one, karma and the all-knowing Self, they all become one. All the actions, karma , are for the sake of results. The result has been achieved, karma is needed no more; karma will exist but is needed no more.

The gods are gone, effortful action is gone, desirous action is gone, all the inner fragments are gone. All that is left is Self, and after that there is the dance and play of the Self. Self is dancing in its own ways; Self is dancing sans any particular way—an incomprehensible, patternless dance, a dance not for the sake of benefit or recognition, just a dance. In that dance there are actions, there are movements, there are objects, there are relationships—all in contentment.

Q: In the beginning we talked about how we miss out on the party by trying to arrange things too much. I find myself doing that very often, and usually I have two extremes: either I want everything well arranged, or everything is just out of order. Neither of these extremes seems right. So, is there a balance to be sought and maintained? How to find it?

AP: The balance will exist, but it is not a man-made balance. The requirement will come from the challenge at hand, the project undertaken. Sometimes the project will require that things be allowed to stay in a mess because energies are to be diverted elsewhere; sometimes the challenge will require that everything be very orderly.

So, not your mind but the onerous task in front of the mind should decide the specifics. It should not be about your likes and dislikes; it has to be about what the project needs. The requirement, the mandate of the thing at hand, the job at hand, is the master. That will decide for you.

You might be a person who loves cleanliness, but there is something much more important to do right now—I am talking of physical cleanliness—this is not the moment to pick up the broom. So, even if you do not like the way the floor is currently right now, messed up, dirty, do not spend time in wiping it; the time has to be spent on something else necessitated by the challenge at hand, or the deep love, whichever way you want to look at it.

I do not relish speeding on the road; I want to hear the engine run really smooth. The sound of the engine revving too much is abrasive to my ears. What if I have a patient in the car? Will I allow my like and dislike to govern my speed? And I might be someone who enjoys speeding. What if I have an elderly person in the car who cannot take shocks?

It’s not your likes and dislikes that matter. Just see what is needed and do it. No second thoughts. “I didn’t do it because this was my thought and I was just not liking it”—no gibberish of this kind. It was done because it was needed. Full stop. No more words.

Q: If it depends on the task at hand, is sacrificing even the party necessary sometimes? Can the party still go on behind all that?

AP: The party is not a physical thing. I know what you are saying. Sometimes the party can be backstage; the party can even be at the books counter or the food stall. It’s not always in the front row in the audience. That row is for the ones who can afford to enjoy privilege. The real ones would not be found there.

The kings might continue to enjoy in their palaces; the states are being defended at the borders. The ones who are ensuring that the kings stay safe in the palaces would hardly ever be seen in the palaces; they are far too occupied with something very, very important to come and enjoy the soft, cozy beds and perfumed ambience and whatnot.

But what I am saying is conditional to that particular situation. Do not start using that as a means to always stay backstage. If some people have genuine tasks at hand and they miss the session, that’s wonderful. But then, most of you miss sessions not because you have genuine tasks at hand, but because you cannot tolerate the session. Even right now there are so many—I can count their names—who are missing, not because they are performing any important function outside, but because they just can’t bear to hear.

So, it’s a nuanced thing. Be careful.

Q: When I see something arising within me, I try to go deeper into what exactly is happening. But usually I just reach a dead-end of sorts: I arrive at an answer that comes from, for example, the scriptures. How to find an answer that comes from my own understanding?

AP: There is nothing called ‘my own answer’. This is a fallacy propagated by many teachers, that it is not truth unless it is your own truth, or that if you progress far enough or high enough in the spiritual direction, then you will start getting answers from an inner center. Rubbish.

If you meditate and what you find echoing in your mind is a verse from the Upanishads, do not say, “These are not my words.” Let those words become your own words. Do you understand the difference in approach?

You come upon something and you enquire into it, you think on it, you meditate on it, and you find a particular verse from the Upanishads coming as an answer. A particular situation comes to you as a question, and you find the Upanishad coming as an answer. Now, do not start saying, “Well, this is not my own answer; this is still a borrowed truth. I will wait for my own answer to emerge.” Let that answer become your answer.

And this is very, very different from copying or parroting. This is surrender. You have done the hard work. You are not just quoting or repeating a verse from the Upanishads. You looked at the situation, which was a problem to you, and you thought on it, you enquired, you explored, you went deep, you penetrated—and what do you get? You get a verse. You said, “The answer is here in the verse.”

Now, do not say, “This is a fake answer because it is somebody else’s answer. This is the Upanishadic answer, this is not my answer.” Now, make it your answer. Drop your false individuality. Do not say, “But I am different from this answer; this is not mine.” You disappear; let that answer become your answer.

How is this different from copying? You copy without understanding. Here, you have done all the hard work that is needed in the direction of understanding, and finally what you get is these few words. It’s not as if you wanted these few words to emerge as the answer, but they did, and they did because they deserve to emerge as the answer. Now that they have emerged, respect them and say, “This is the answer.”

It would indeed be very unlucky of you to come to the right answer and then reject it and move away, saying, “Oh, but this is not my answer.” If it is right, it has to be yours. That’s the way your logic should work. “If it is right, it has to be mine. How dare I say that ‘mine’ supersedes the Truth? If it is Truth, it has to be mine. I surrender. I will not hanker after ‘my Truth’. Instead, the Truth will be mine, not ‘my Truth’.”

When you say “my Truth”, then what are you placing first? ‘My’. Just say, “The Truth is there and I am following it, I am behind the Truth.”

Q: I am new to spirituality and I don’t know how I should proceed. I have started courses at my college which I am not very certain about. I feel that there was no clarity in choosing those courses, but now I am stuck with them. You have said that our real identity is atript caitanya , unfulfilled consciousness. How to understand this correctly in my situation?

AP: That’s what we are—the thirsty, desperate consciousness. When you say, “What should I do?” you have to ask, “What do I want? What is it that will be good for me? What must I want?” And the thing that is worthy of being wanted is the thing to do.

So, what do you want? Rather, what is worthy of being wanted? Put efforts towards identifying it. What is it that is not false, or at least not as false as the other things in life? Identify what is the least false of all, and for the while go with it. And then keep thinking, keep watching, keep observing, and you will come upon something that is even more true; then go for that.

That’s the way of life: keep rejecting what is the lowest about you.

It’s like this: Put everything in your life in a descending order of value. See what all is present in your life—what is present in your life? Whatever you think of, whatever is in your mind; that is said to be in your life, even if it is not physically there.

So, let’s say there are a hundred things in your life. Begin with the bottom five. See that you are associated with them for no good reason. See that you are cultivating false hopes from those things. Those things in themselves might not be bad at all.

Remember, we said that dropping the false is not about dropping that particular object, or at least not despising that particular object. Even if you have to let go of that object, you let go of that object admitting that it was your fault to have associated with that object in the first place.

So, identify the bottom five, let go of them, and that will give you the strength to do the same with the next five, and also that will create vacancy for five or ten better things to arrive in life. This is the way of continuous progress—continuous, incremental, never-ending.

Always keep space for correction. It doesn’t matter how you chose the course you are doing. Forget the past. Today, ask yourself, “What is it that I want from life? Will I get it through this? Maybe there are things I won’t get through this, maybe there are certain important things I will definitely get through this.”

So, know fully well who you are. You are a discontented consciousness. Be it the choice of a garment, or the choice of an academic course, the choice of a car to ride, the choice of a question to ask—all these things should be governed by who you are.

I am dissatisfied, I want to be satisfied. The jacket that I will wear should come from that perspective. It should not be a random decision, because all that I want is satisfaction—satisfaction not of the flimsy kind, satisfaction of my consciousness. So, whether I am choosing a camera to buy, or a chair to buy, or choosing a place to visit, the criteria will remain the same and one—what is the criteria? Will it bring contentment to my consciousness?

So, on this criteria evaluate the choice of your academic course. All else is secondary.

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