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Nothing is right or wrong, says today's pop spirituality! || Acharya Prashant,on Bhagavad Gita(2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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बुद्धेर्भेदं धृतेश्चैव गुणतस्त्रिविधं शृणु ।

प्रोच्यमानमशेषेण पृथक्त्वेन धनञ्जय ।। 18.29 ।।

buddher bhedaṁ dhṛiteśh chaiva guṇatas tri-vidhaṁ śhṛiṇu

prochyamānam aśheṣheṇa pṛithaktvena dhanañjaya

Hear thou the triple distinction of intellect and fortitude, according to the Gunas, as I declare them exhaustively and severally, O Dhananjaya.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 29

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प्रवृत्तिंच निवृत्तिं च कार्याकार्ये भयाभये ।

बन्धं मोक्षं च या वेत्तिबुद्धि: सा पार्थ सात्त्विकी ।। 18.30 ।।

pravṛittiṁ cha nivṛittiṁ cha kāryākārye bhayābhaye

bandhaṁ mokṣhaṁ cha yā vetti buddhiḥ sā pārtha sāttvikī

That which knows the paths of work and renunciation, right and wrong action, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation, that intellect, O Pārtha, is Satvik.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 30

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यया धर्ममधर्मं च कार्यं चाकार्यमेव च ।

अयथावत्प्रजानाति बुद्धि: सा पार्थ राजसी ।। 18.31 ।।

yayā dharmam adharmaṁ cha kāryaṁ chākāryam eva cha

ayathāvat prajānāti buddhiḥ sā pārtha rājasī

That which has a distorted apprehension of Dharma and its opposite and also of right action and its opposite, that intellect, O Pārtha, is Rājasika.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 31

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अधर्मं धर्ममिति या मन्यते तमसावृता ।

सर्वार्थान्विपरीतांश्च बुद्धि: सा पार्थ तामसी ।। 18.32 ।।

adharmaṁ dharmam iti yā manyate tamasāvṛitā

sarvārthān viparītānśh cha buddhiḥ sā pārtha tāmasī

That which, enveloped in darkness, regards Adharma as Dharma and views all things in a perverted light, that intellect, O Pārtha, is Tamasika.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 32

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Questioner (Q): Today’s pop spirituality says, "There is no right and wrong." They claim that everything is fine as it is, and it is one’s way of looking that is making things seem right and wrong.

However, here Shri Krishna specifically talks of knowing about right and wrong action for Sattvic intellect. What is it that pop spirituality is missing?

Acharya Prashant (AP): No, the pop spirituality isn’t missing something—it’s carrying a lot. It’s carrying a lot that it needs to drop and miss. What is it carrying? It is carrying the obligation to defend itself. Pop spirituality is carrying the responsibility to defend the ego, and that’s what makes it come up with outrageous and amusing claims and principles.

You see, as you said, there is a neo cult today that says, "There is nothing right or wrong." For whom? For whom? Come to your senses. Let’s talk life. Let’s talk facts. In every situation, isn’t there something right or wrong for you? Will you sip your pizza? Will you? Will you eat your drink? Will you chew your beer? Something as elementary as this too has rightness and wrongness associated with it. There is something appropriate, there is something inappropriate. If right and wrong is too loaded a word for you, isn’t there something appropriate in every situation and inappropriate too?

What is it that decides the appropriateness of something? Why don’t you want to eat your food in an inappropriate way? To make it clearer, why don’t you want to have inappropriate food in the first place? Hurts, pain, congestion, suffering, right? So, suffering is what decides the rightness and wrongness of even something as ordinary as food, correct? That’s how one has to choose for oneself. As long as you are prone to suffering, there is something right and there is something wrong for you.

What is right for you? That which will relieve you of your pre-existing suffering without adding much to it. Sometimes it is possible that to relieve you of the burden of your existing suffering, a little more well-directed suffering needs to be injected. Just a little more. Negligible compared to the great frozen mass of suffering you are already carrying. But that’s what decides the rightness of an action, right?

You have to ask yourself, "I’m already in bondage. I’m already anxious and desperate and what not. I’m a bundle of 40 kinds of neurosis walking together. I’m certainly not alright, and I owe at least this much honesty to myself. So, there is something right for me, and there is something wrong for me. That which would further aggravate my condition of suffering is that which is wrong for me, obviously."

So, when people say, “There is nothing right and there is nothing wrong,” you need to ask them, “For whom?” There are two people for whom there is nothing right and nothing wrong anymore. One, people who are physically dead; secondly, people who are spiritually dead or liberated. Once you are physically dead, there is nothing right or wrong for you. And once you are spiritually liberated, which is also called spiritual death, then again there is nothing right or nothing wrong for you, because now no action can hurt your ego, because now you have gone beyond the ego.

To suffer, you first need to be identified with the ego. Only the ego suffers. Hence, when you transcend the ego, the very possibility that you could be hurt or suffer vanishes. Hence, now nothing is right or wrong for you. Now things are just as they are. Now you don’t need to change anything. Now you don’t need to modify anything. Now you don’t need to target anything. Now you don’t need to be purposeful. But only when you have transcended the ego.

Only the liberated one has the right to say, “There is nothing right, nothing wrong,” because it’s a statement in the Absolute. And statements in the Absolute and of the Absolute must not be uttered by those who are still deeply living in the relative and dualistic domain. It doesn’t befit you; it will harm you badly. Certain things are not for you, not yet at least.

Let the sage say, “There is nothing right, nothing wrong.” Who are you to say that? Have you paid the price as fully and as honestly as the sage has? Then it’s quite unbecoming and a misdemeanor on your part to be boastfully talking like a sage. And 999 out of a 1000 people are not liberated—that’s an understatement obviously. You could say 999.99999. There can be no stats in this, but we know for ourselves.

If we look at the world around us, we could easily see, yes people are in bondage. And if people are in bondage, then there is something right for them and something wrong for them. What’s pop spirituality trying to do? It’s trying to convince you of something very imaginary. It is trying to convince you that you have a billion dollars, when actually you’re a pauper. It is trying to convince you that you have arrived, when the fact is that you have not even properly begun the journey.

And if you convince a beginner that he has already arrived, then you are inflicting upon him a delusion that will totally destroy his power and resolve to journey. This fellow who has just commenced his journey needs to be informed of the utter criticality of his journey. He needs to be told to shed some luggage, some baggage, some weight, and hurry up. He needs to be told to sleep a bit less and eat a bit less, and be more agile and speedy. Instead of that if you tell him and convince him that he has already arrived, are you doing him a favor? That’s what pop spirituality does. That’s, in fact, the center of pop spirituality—to convince that you are already alright, when you are not.

Somebody is going around saying, “Oh, I am Brahma,” somebody is happily brandishing that he has disappeared, somebody is proclaiming that he is absolute silence. Nobody is coming up and admitting that he is just a dirty bundle of egoistic tendencies. Just nobody! Because their teachers, their gurus are all busy minting money and followers convincing them that they are alright as they are—and that’s music to the ego's ears. That's exactly what the ego wants to hear.

“So, I’m okay as I am?”

“Yes you are, and I am certifying that. I'm the biggest guru! And why am I the biggest guru? Because this is what I certify. And people come flocking to me, ‘Sir, me too! Am I already alright?’ Oh yes, you are. You are perfect—Satchidananda Brahma! You're not even an ordinary Brahma—you’re hyper Brahma!”

“Sir, me?”

“Obviously you. And if you want to exceed your hyperness, you can come and donate a little more. You'll then be somebody who has transcended Brahma!”

“Sir, me! Look at me, sir! I am there in this corner, sir. I'm a wretched soul, I’m a criminal. I have been doing all kinds of obnoxious things and I am already planning my next murder!”

The guru doesn’t respond. And why doesn’t the guru respond?

“But I can’t hear you; you are perfect silence. You are mauna. There is nothing, there is just silence!”

(Astonishingly) He is a wretched murderer planning the next shootout.

“No, no, no! Only silence is the Truth. Even if you fire a gun, there will be no sound because only silence is there!”

“But sir, that fellow will bleed and die!”

“No, nobody dies, only the Truth is. All that lives and dies is anyway false.”

The court might now indict him and convict him, but the guru has granted him mauna, silence. So, for all the wretched ones, this pop spirituality is a great refuge. “You're already okay.”

Who wants to hear the truth, especially if it is bitter? The teacher and the students are co-conspirators, hand in glove, driven by the shared mutual agenda of upholding the ego and maintaining the status quo.

It’s a dirty game—watch out!

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