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On choosing a profession, listening, and anger || On Vivekachudamani (2018)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
20 min
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Questioner (Q): If I deeply understand that the bliss of consciousness or Brahm is truly greater by manifolds, then what motivation would I have left to perform the mundane duties, like chasing worldly desires, wealth, etc.? I cannot just sit doing nothing, thinking that my kids will have an education and food on their plates; karma has to be performed.

I feel from my own experience that there is an inherent dichotomy between what I am and what I do. How do I reconcile the dichotomy so that my actions get aligned with Brahm ? To do something there has to be some sense of motivation, if not external at least intrinsic. The love for, let’s say, mathematics or rocket sciences etc., is that love wrong? Is passion not useful when it comes to the attempt of realizing Brahm ? Does realizing Brahm mean an altered state of consciousness?

There are too many swirling questions in the mind; I am like a cat on the wall, a man who is scared to try to realize Brahm , because I believe that that path will take me away from my family and my necessary duties. And on the other side, I am unable to be fully motivated in things like wealth because I know the futility of chasing them. Hence the dilemma, a perpetual toggle mode of existence, so to speak. How to get out of this mode is the answer I long for.

Acharya Prashant (AP): Too many concepts, too much knowledge about that which is beyond knowledge. This is what you believe in: one, that action is born only out of motivation; second, the one who seeks Brahm renounces the world and his responsibilities. You are surmising; there is just too much speculation. You are using your current and limited set of experiences to project what Brahm is like.

Till now, you have experienced that you do something, anything only when you have a motive, so you are speculating that there is nothing that can be done without a motive. What is a motive? A motive is something that rests in the future; a motive is a feeling that attainment of something will make you complete. That’s true. Most people, the vast swath of mankind, works from a point of incompleteness. People say, “I do not have this, so I must work to have this.” But how does that enable you or authorize you to conclude that the fulfilled one does not act at all? On the contrary, there is a great rhythm, a great flow, a non-violence, a beauty, a music in the actions of the fulfilled one.

It is a mere idea, a false and misleading image, that the fulfilled one will not act at all. In fact, the motivated mind needs to maintain this idea. This idea is necessary in order to maintain the very value and the very existence of motivation. Look at this. You very well know that movement is the order of life; you very well know that in Prakṛti movement is anyway happening all the time; you very well know that there is no life possible without movement, no universe possible without movement, and you tell yourself that movement can come only from motivation, and movement is life and motivation is incompleteness.

See what you are saying. You are saying movement comes only from motivation, and we very well know that movement is life, life in terms of mortal life, corporal life, Prakṛti . So, movement is life, and motivation, as we see it all around us, is incompleteness, unfulfillment. So, what you are effectively saying is, life is incompletion. What you are trying to assert is that there is nothing called life left in completion. You are saying that there is nothing called a complete life. Is that so?

If the complete ones don’t live, then who was the Shakyamuni Buddha? Who is Kabir? Who is Ashtavakra? Who is Nanak? Who is Meera? Who is Bulleh Shah? Who is Yajnavalkya? Who is Patanjali? Sure enough, they performed great actions, great deeds. What movement do the ordinary people of the world know? If you want to know what movement looks like, look at how Adi Shankaracharya moved two thousand miles on foot; that’s movement for you.

But see what you are trying to tell me. You are saying, “Without incompleteness, how will I perform any karma?” You are telling me that you need motivation so that there is food on your plate and on your kids’ plates. Did the sons of Krishna starve? Did the family of Nanak starve? What are we talking of? On the contrary, at the physical level, we find that the fulfilled ones, the spiritually fulfilled ones, are the ones most attractive physically and most successful in the worldly sense as well. They are the real conquerors of the world. Even kings bow down to them. Who can be a bigger winner?

And they do not have any motivation, in the common sense of the word, left. Without motivation, they display great movement, great victories, a great life. And here you are wondering what will happen if you realize Brahm . If we go by your tenets, then all those who have realized Brahm should have been paupers, enfeebled, emaciated, cut down to the bone, unknown, unheard of, ignored, disrespected, humiliated. Is that what you would say about a Buddha or a Krishna or a Lalleshwari or a Meera? Seriously?

I will tell you your difficulty. Your difficulty is that the feeble self finds it impossible to believe that there is life outside of itself. It keeps telling you, “If I go, then all action vanishes; if I go, then life itself goes.” That’s what the feeble and the arrogant self keeps telling and saying. It is a tactic for self-preservation, an old and a stupid tactic.

What are you trying to preserve? What do you think will be lost if you realize Brahm ? You are saying you will not be able to act, you will start lacking in motivation. Look at the quality of your action right now. Are you pleased with the way you live and act currently? Are you? This is what would be lost: that which you are displeased with. Action itself won’t be lost; the incompleteness in action would be lost. How is that scary? The man of Truth acts, and acts with great vigor.

You have said that you believe that the path of Truth will take you away from your family and your necessary duties. The path of Truth takes you away only from that which is unnecessary. Truth itself is necessary. Only the Truth is necessary. And when you are a servant of Truth, you obediently, assiduously do all that which is necessary. The man of Truth looks at the entire universe as his family. How will he, then, stop fulfilling his responsibilities? It’s just that right now you probably do not even know what your real responsibility is. The path of Brahm will educate you about your real responsibility, the very meaning of responsibility, and then you will be able to have the right relationship not only with your family but with entire existence.

Look at the way most parents are. They are trying to do their duties, and obviously most of their duties are concentrated towards their family and the welfare of their self. Do they succeed? Look at the people in the world; most of them had parents, most of them were brought up in a family, most have had some kind of education, and all parents would have thought that they are trying to give their kids the best, that they are trying to fulfill their responsibilities towards their kids. And what has become of those kids? Those kids are now grownups. Look around. Is this what you want to produce? Is this what you call as your responsibility?

Without Brahm , how will you know anything? And if you don’t know anything, how will you even know what your real responsibility is? In the name of doing good to your kids and to your family, you will keep on ruining them—and I am using that word quite deliberately: ruining them! Who can cause ruin to a child? Not strangers, not the larger world; the deepest ruin to a child is brought upon him by his parents in the name of duty and responsibility. And motivated parents bring up on greatly motivated ruin. You are an intelligent man. Don’t you see that happening all around you?—motivated parents dealing with their kids, trying to turn their kids into something, somebody.

It is a false, false belief; it is a belief that arrests man from moving towards peace—the belief that realizing Brahm is equal to forsaking the world. The man of Brahm does not give up the world; he gives up weaknesses. The man of Brahm does not forsake responsibilities; he only forsakes bondages.

The one who acts in order to do his duty is acting from a point of fear. He just wants to tick the boxes. The real doer acts from a point of love. The real parent does not act in order to fulfill his duties towards his kids; he acts because he loves. And love is not object-specific; love is a state of your mind in which you are perpetually moving towards the real thing. If the mind cannot love the real thing, how can the mind love the poor kids? If even the real thing is not attractive enough to compel the mind, how will the noisy kids be attractive enough?

You are asking me, is not at least some kind of passion spiritually sanctioned? You have quoted mathematics, rocket science, etc.; you are saying, not all passion is useless. Look at the rocket scientist, look at the mathematician, you are saying. It doesn’t matter whether one is a mathematician or a rocket scientist or a tea seller or a peanut seller, an electrician, a cobbler, a tailor, a player, a politician—it doesn’t matter. You may do anything; there is no need to quote two professions as higher callings. All professions are at the same level. The question is, who is entering into that profession? What is it that you are doing? Who is this ’you’? That’s the moot question.

The man of Brahm is not known by his preference towards some higher tasks. What tasks he chooses depends on the situations. Mythology has it that the Truth comes upon the earth in various forms. Look at all the avatars, the incarnations: they come in all shapes and sizes, and all kinds of professions they have. Even Brahm has no preference for any particular profession. You have had saints that were cobblers, merchants, kings, and good-for-nothings, wandering mendicants. Brahm does not choose one profession over the other. He just chooses Himself.

When the mind is rightly centered, then it knows what to choose. And depending on the situation, sometimes it chooses this, sometimes it chooses that, and whatever it chooses does not matter because the right choice has already been made—Truth has been chosen already. Now, after choosing Truth, choose whatever you want to choose.

If you are Krishna, sometimes you will choose to frolic with the ladies, sometimes you will choose to engage yourself in real politics, sometimes you will be a teacher educating Arjuna, sometimes you will be a flute player, sometimes you will be a cowherd. What profession is preferable? Would you say that Krishna the cowherd is inferior to Krishna the lover? Or would you say Krishna the politician is inferior to Krishna the Guru? Ha! Krishna is Krishna.

If you are born today, if Krishna were to come down today, don’t be surprised if you find him as a rocket scientist, and don’t be surprised if you find him as an unemployed youth. He could be anybody anywhere; it depends on the need of the situation. Yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata (When righteousness is on the decline, then I come). He sees where he is needed. He sees where Dharma requires him. And wherever Dharma calls him, he is found. If he is needed in a rocket lab, he would be found in a rocket lab. If he is needed in a kitchen, he would be found in a kitchen. Draupadi needs him, and he appears with a truckload of sāri ; so, he has the ability to do something with cloth merchants as well. Have you never wondered where he got that huge pile of cloth from? Surely, he had some dealing with the cloth merchants as well. So, don’t be surprised if someday you find Krishna in the clothes market. After all, if Draupadi is calling, then you will have to be found in the clothes market. “ Dharmasya glānir bhavati . Dharma is being harmed, so I am going there; abhyutthānam adharmasya . I know what I have to do.”

Why are you quoting two professions? The man of Truth could be anywhere, and he is nowhere because he has no need to be anywhere; he has no motivation to be anywhere. He is where he is called. You call him, and he is there. He has no task left for himself, but he still keeps doing everything—not for himself, but for Krishna or Draupadi. Sometimes for him, sometimes for her, sometimes for that, and sometimes for this. He keeps doing, he keeps doing, selflessly he keeps doing. In fact, he keeps doing incessantly. Your rocket scientist has limits to what he does; Krishna has no limits. Your rocket scientist is identified with one profession; Krishna is not identified with any profession. That’s the kind of freedom that the man of Brahm has.

It’s not Brahm that troubles you. It’s your ideas about Brahm that are causing so much confusion. Drop the ideas.

Q: How to know whether what you are saying right now is being understood by me? I fear that I might be interpreting wrongly with my mind.

AP: There is no need to doubt. You don’t need to suspect that you are interpreting me wrongly. Rest assured that you are obviously interpreting me wrongly. Why are you so doubtful? Remain fully certain. Not only you, but everybody who tries to interpret will get it wrong. I have said this so many times but you seem a newcomer, so I will say that again.

You see, mine is a different kind of university. Here the new ones are welcomed and the old ones are ragged. If you want to know what it means to be an old one and what it means to ragged, then you must to speak to her (referring to a listener who has been scolded frequently) . Recently I have heard she applied even for a TC (transfer certificate)! But you are a freshman, so welcome. And don’t worry about interpretations; just listen.

Just listen. The mind will keep interpreting; that’s the mind’s job. You just listen. If you could sit silently with me for two hours, I wouldn’t need to speak at all. I speak just because otherwise you wouldn’t sit with me. You are so very purpose-oriented, action-oriented that you will start feeling bored, irritated in five or ten minutes. You will say, “What nonsense is this? The man is sitting there, we are sitting here, and nothing is happening!” You are sold out to happenings, so I make something happen. What do I make happen? I sing a song, or I create some noise, or I tell a joke, or I welcome somebody, or I rag somebody, whatever. All that is just a device, a trope; you could even call it a red herring. The real thing is happening elsewhere, and it will keep happening; it is not dependent on your interpretations.

So, I don’t even bother whether you are interpreting rightly or wrongly. Just listen. How you interpret me depends on your language, your culture, your upbringing, your cultivation, your past. So, interpretations are frivolous, and interpretations are so very accidental. I may use a word that may have different meanings for a layman and a student of psychology, let’s say; and so many of the words that I use come from the field of psychology, or rather have been borrowed by the field of psychology as well. So, if I use those words and a student of psychology is listening to me, he will take them in his own particular way; but that’s not what I am saying.

What am I saying, then? I am saying nothing. I am just saying something to keep you engaged. I play the music while your house is being robbed. You must be kept involved, you see. Otherwise, you will come to know that something is happening there. No, I will not say that because you will become even more afraid. Today is the day of fear, it seems!

So, I play music while bounties and grace is being silently showered upon your house. If you are present in the house, you would prevent grace from doing what it must. So, I take you away; I take you kids away and engage you in a magic show, and now you are entertained, now you feel something important is going on where you are. It’s wrong, you are misplaced. The important thing is happening in your home. Grace is showering its riches in your home. But for grace to fill up your home, you have to be firstly taken away from your home. I take you away. That’s the function of my words—to take you away.

Q: We use anger as a weapon, and it’s a weakness too. How to stop anger from becoming a weakness, and why do we get angry?

AP: When desire is not fulfilled, then one gets angry. You know that. So, it’s not about anger, it’s about the quality of the desire. What is your desire about? What is the object of your desire? So, anger is related to desire, and desire is always about an object. Tell me, what do you want? If you want the right thing, wonderful. If you don’t want the right thing, awful.

It’s not about anger at all. Anger is a misplaced subject of discussion, and so much has been said about anger. People keep talking of therapies related to anger; people keep talking of anger as some kind of affliction: somebody gets angry, he is called psychotic. Is it about anger, or is it about what you want? What do you want? And remember that there is such a thing which, if wanted, leads to a total freedom from all desires and, therefore, anger.

There are things that you want and do not get; there are things that you want and you get. Usually, both these things lead to more wants. You wanted, you got; now you want more. You wanted, you did not get; you still want the same thing or more, or something different. You keep wanting, you keep wanting, you keep getting angry. And there does exist a thing which if seriously wanted is fully obtained. If it is fully obtained, it leads to the evaporation of anger. Even if it’s not obtained and one is moving towards it, anger starts getting subsided.

Want the right thing. And if you are wanting the right thing, you have all the freedom to be angry, because if you are wanting the right thing, then your anger would not last long. Such anger is auspicious.

So, I am not against anger; I am against the wrong center of anger, the wrong object of desire. Keep wanting the wrong things, and your anger would be perpetual. Want the right thing, and you will have an explosion of anger; your anger would be real. And slowly, gradually, you will find that you are becoming more and more peaceful, that anger has ceased appealing to you.

But that cannot happen through renunciation of anger. There are so many people asking, “How do we drop anger?” Anger cannot be dropped. Instead, you need to have a great and burning desire for the right object. It is not about dropping; it is about desiring. Desire the right things and feel angry when you do not get them. Nevertheless, keep desiring, keep desiring, and keep desiring the right one. Anger would rise, and then anger would keep getting feebler and feebler and feebler.

The right anger will not continue for too long. It will show a peak, an intense peak, and then will keep dissipating. The wrong kind of anger remains with you like a constant companion. It will never dare to show its full face, but you will just keep simmering. What is better, to simmer or to explode? You will keep simmering all your life; that is the permanent condition of mankind—everybody is angry. And if you do not believe, go to Twitter. Everybody is angry on Twitter. Is that not so? Everybody is polite on LinkedIn, and everybody is angry on Twitter. It’s strange!

We are very, very angry people. It is because we do not desire the right objects. Desire the right thing, and don’t worry about anger at all. If it comes, let it come. It can’t keep coming for long. In fact, I want that more people should have the right anger. If you have the right anger, then it’s an anger that would change the world for the better.

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