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Observation will fail without love || (2018)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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Questioner: Acharya Ji, is observation a function of self-knowledge?

Acharya Prashant: Observation is not a function of anything. Observation happens when grace strikes you. You cannot bring about observation. You are forced to observe, you are shelled-shocked into observation. You have to observe, something’s at stake you must observe. Self-knowledge and such things don’t help there. Just the immensity of the thing that is at stake, at function helps there.

Take a very mundane example, a very mundane example. Forget about the subtle observation of life and thought. Look at the gross observation of a ball, you are playing tennis, don’t you observe the ball? Don’t you? We aren’t even talking of watching thoughts in a subtle way, we are talking of watching a material object outside of your body. Why do you observe the ball? And you need to be spiritual for that? Are all the tennis players or football players or squash players or golf players spiritual? Why do they observe the ball? Something is at stake. You’ll be forced to watch.

You know, in squash when you serve, the opponent is often behind your line of sight. You serve from the box and with one foot in the box, you try to come close to the wall so that the serve has the maximum impact, and the opponent is standing in his half, behind the box, a little behind the box at least. So, he’s behind your line of sight, you can’t see. The ball has quickly gone to the opponent, but you are forced to watch the ball. Why are you forced to watch the ball? Because if you don’t watch the ball, you won’t know what your opponent is doing, you will be punished.

From behind you, your opponent can play any shot. This half, that half, drive, drop, anything. So, what do you do after serving? You turn back and you watch what your opponent is doing because something is at stake, not God is at stake but something that you consider important is at stake. Observation happens, it does not need this much of a theory. You need not be watching the ego, you need not say, "It is a process of self-purification and hence I must observe." Hell! You want to win the game. Watch the ball, don’t watch the ball you’ll keep looking at the wall, Sanjay (volunteer) will play a deceptive boast, you are gone.

Boast is a shot in the game of squash, in which the ball doesn’t directly travel to the wall. You have to watch the ball. Observation is a compulsion but when is it a compulsion? When you want something. When you want something that is related to the ball, you will have to necessarily watch the ball. Otherwise, you will lose the game. Suppose it happens that in the middle of the game you lose interest, will you still watch the ball equally ardently? Because observation requires a certain effort, it’s something that is a bit of tension and it’s tempting to take your eyes off the ball.

Those who play cricket know that. Coaches keep on saying, watch the ball till it goes past you. Keep on watching, keep on watching but it is very tempting to see the ball coming and swing the bat. But things can happen in the air, the ball can swing, after pitching the ball can seam, there can be a low bounce, there can be an exaggerated bounce, if you don’t watch, your swing will be counterproductive. But if you are tired as a batsman or if you are playing casually, then what do you keep? You keep swinging. You don’t particularly bother about watching the ball but if you are playing in a game that really matters and you feel that you are responsible as a batman and the situation is adverse. Four wickets down already for fifty.

What do you do? You watch, you watch, not only do you watch the ball coming to you, but you also watch the ball being left by you and flying away to the keeper's gloves. You are watching it till it has rested in the keeper’s gloves, you are watching. Why are you watching it? Because you are a religious man? No, because you want to save the game. There must be something that you must tremendously want. Is there something that you really want? That’s the difference between machines and consciousness.

I am asking this and don’t answer me casually. Take a second, pause, reflect. Do you really, honestly want something? Most of us don’t want anything. Casual wants are just wants, casual desires. To really want is to step into Love. You don’t really want, everything about us is negotiable. We want only till a point and beyond that, we give up, because it becomes too expensive, and we are shoppers. We have come to this world to purchase. You have come to this world to purchase; you cannot want anything beyond the point. Can you?

You will want with conditions attached; you will want with disclaimers, you will want with limits; you will say, "Yes the stuff is good but if, but if, but if... You are good, but if..." If you don’t want, you won’t observe. Observation requires something hot within. Something that scalds you from the inside. Most of us are very lukewarm beings. We have little desires and when they are not fulfilled, we concede defeat, and obviously, when desires are very little, it is easy to concede defeat, is it not?

You give me that chocolate, that little piece and I couldn’t get it, that little chocolate ball. Instead of giving it to me, he popped it into his own mouth. I could not get it. What would I do? Obviously, I won’t feel that the world has come to an end, I would move on, we move on and why do I move on? Because the chocolate is such a petty thing. We don’t have anything that is so great that is impossible to move on. We are a generation of move on-ers.

That’s the latest college degree, move on-ers, and we all are graduates and postgraduates, not physics honors, move on-ers. Move on! And why won’t you move on! Your desire had no Truth to it. Your desire had no fire to it. So, you concede defeat. "Awww, I lost it, never mind buddy, let’s have a couple of beers, and if you lost that one then here is the next one. Jim is gone, Jack is here, ding-dong." No observation is needed.

You know what, I have seen little kids watch their fathers go to work, I was that little kid. Rudrapur used to be not a very developed place then, a very serene place — flat, you see, with not much of development and I would stand and I would watch my father go to work on his scooter and he is going and going and now the scooter has turned into a weak blob and it’s going further away and finally it is reduced to just a point and I keep watching, watching, watching and my nanaji (maternal grandfather) would be coming to me once in six months, once in a year and it would be the biggest day in the life of the kid and those are not the days of emails or mobile phones.

The most I knew was the date on which he would arrive, and I would sit at the gate and keep watching the road for hours and hours and hours, this is the road that he would come and this was when I had factual information that he is to arrive. You know what was even crazier was that after he was gone I would still sit and watch the road. Facts told me that he’s not going to be on that road anytime soon, but I would still keep watching the road. Sometimes for two hours, sometimes standing on the terrace I would keep watching, disappear into the horizon and, and why?

If you would look at me then, this was meditation, the kid would be very quiet, very still, his face would be empty, and his eyes would be glued to the horizon — that was meditation and why was that? Because I wanted, because I wanted so I would just keep looking at the road. I knew he wasn’t going to come, and I would keep looking at the road.

Observation is not as cold and calculated as probably many of you think it is, observation is a thing of the heart. Without the flame, the intensity of love you cannot watch. Watching is not an academic affair. With a calm composed demeanor, with everything under control, you cannot observe. Observation is when things are out of control. If you can control, then you will control observation as well. Observation is when you are moved to control. Observation is when you are forced to observe. Observation is only when you cannot control the dissipative urge to not observe.

Observation is when all kinds of distractions are there, but you cannot control the urge to move towards the only one thing that is worthy of being seen. Everything else is rejected even though everything else keeps clamoring for admission, for recognition. You wouldn’t admit it, you probably want to admit all those things. The kite is colorful in the sky, two dogs are barking in the street, the kid’s little sister is pestering him for something, but the kid is watching the road and he cannot help it.

Observation will happen only when you cannot help observing. Observation will not be a choice; observation will be a compulsion. This is all so very cold, dead meat, where is the warmth of tears? Where is the craziness of love? If your eyes are not covered with tears, how will you observe? Observation does not happen with these eyes of flesh and blood. First of all, these eyes have to be blocked, tears are a good way, and then you begin to see.

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