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On leaving behind money for one’s children, and other responsibilities
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
16 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, should one not leave money for his children? Is that not my responsibility towards my family?

Acharya Prashant (AP): By giving them X or Y tangible things, would you really be able to do them some good? You have a son, and that son becomes an aggregate of influences and a bundle of conditioning. What will he do with all the money that you leave behind for him? What will he do with that money?

Q: I cannot answer this.

AP: You must answer this. Unless your son has a clean mind, what will he do with whatever you leave behind for him? Yes?

Q: Maybe, do the same that we all had done.

AP: Use all your money for his own destruction. The more would be the money that you leave for him, the quicker would be his destruction. And if you have really been a loving father, would your son really be in a need of money? First of all, he would need very little money. Secondly, he would be empowered enough to earn on his own and probably give a little to you as well. If money is the gift that a father leaves behind for the son, then it’s a very petty gift – and in fact a dangerous gift. In fact, only a loveless father would think of primarily money to bequeath to the son.

You talked of responsibility. You relate to that woman in love or in responsibility? When you look at her, what are you reminded of? Love or responsibility? Is your wife a duty to you? She probably is. And that’s so tragic. It need not be like that. If your son is a duty to you, then both you and your son are locked in a mutually destructive relationship. I’m again asking you: the woman that you live with, eat with, sleep with—is she a duty to you? Is right action about fulfilling your duties, or does it come from another centre? And even if she’s a duty to you, how do you know what your right duty is? How do you know? How do you know what is the right action with respect to a person in a relationship at any given moment? How do you know how to act rightly?

If you can’t give intimacy to your son, would it pay to pay him a little more pocket money? Would it? If you have little love for your wife, would it pay to arrange for her security through another house, or more jewelry, or another car? I’m asking, just asking. I don’t know.

Q: The world we are referring constantly has an entirely different value structure. Or in case my father would refrain from being in intimate relationship with me. But if I would ask him this question, he would say that instead of intimacy, you’re getting the material; you’re getting money and you’re getting security in form of a house. So, it’s not that…

AP: You like it that way?

Q: No, of course, I don’t. So that’s what I’m saying: values are totally different.

AP: But must we live by thought-out values—by values that we have somehow plucked from somewhere, from thin air—or must we live by existential values? What is valuable—that which you think as valuable, or that which is valuable?

Q: Who are the conspirators who create these kinds of false values? Who are the conspirators? Are we to blame or…?

AP: Every victim is a conspirator, so it’s no point thinking about one, two, or ten conspirators. If you are afflicted by this disease, then you become a part of the conspiracy. The only way not to be on side of the conspirators is not to allow yourself to be afflicted.

Q: So, what is valuable?

AP: You tell me what is valuable.

Q: Sir, I love my daughter and I want her to be at peace in the future. So, I just want to give everything that will connect her to peace in the future. So, for this, I have to start repressing. She should be happy with her games, should enjoy the moments in present, I mean, just peace is the word selected… So this is the truth. I mean, truth, peace.

AP: Only thing is that to be utterly convinced that peace is the best that one’s daughter can have, one has to have a love for peace, a flavor for peace oneself. When I know that it is good for me, then I also know that it is good for my daughter. The situation is that most of us have no intimacy with peace; peace remains a word. A nice word—nevertheless just a word.

So, when it comes to blessing someone with peace, it appears alright as a concept, but not as a living reality. You feel kind of ashamed in telling your son or daughter that all that I have to give to you is peace; you feel your son would turn around and say, “Uh… And how much money? Peace is alright—let’s talk hard numbers. What about the moola? Yeah, peace is okay, yes… I’ve taken peace, thank you. Now let’s talk concrete.” That happens when you take this world too seriously. Here you don’t see peace being traded, do you? Here you don’t see love as the primary engine. That convinces us that peace and love cannot really be the primary centers from where one can live. Then they remain good as venerable concepts; then one talks of them a lot—especially on a Sunday afternoon—but does not abide by them. One talks, talks, talks—but lives not.

One feels ashamed, “Oh! It was Diwali and I couldn’t give anything to my wife!” Now why, why exactly are you ashamed? What kind of wife is she?

“Oh! Valentine’s day and I couldn’t even be present with her!” Huh? Why?

“My son… and I’m not leaving behind even a small house for him. It’s so shameful!” Why?

Have you not gone through these emotions? And don’t you feel puffed up when you’re able to present your wife with a car? You feel more of a husband; it compensates for the missing virility. If nothing else, the car is large. In movies, in novels, in popular imagination you have all that, right? She’s in a loving embrace with you, and you pull out that diamond pendant and… (with an expression of awe)

(Laughter)

And that completes the relationship. How exactly? And what the romantic novelists don’t tell you is that to get that pendant, you had to sell away your soul; you had to bear that toxic boss. That pendant does not just drop from the heavens; you sell your life to get it. And what kind of wife is that that cannot see that to give her a house or jewelry or a car, you’re paying with your flesh and blood?

Q: That is the point I was asking. Because in that story, that is of no worth at all; the fact that you had to sell your soul to buy that pendant is something so doable; it had to be done, it is that way. So, we are talking like meta-story…

AP: The total story. Is the total story not important? Do you live in pieces, or is your life a total, whole?

Q3: I think what he says is a little missing that we actually can't see the cost that goes with the…

AP: No, it’s not a question of not seeing the cost in somebody else’s life.

Q3: But in our life.

AP: Yes. So, are you sure you can’t see the cost? If you can’t see, then see. Even ‘not seeing’ is just a habit. See!

Q: When you ask what is that to be valued? Then the answer comes that Love and peace are to be valued. Firstly, Maybe I haven't tasted it, that's why…

AP: The more you claim that you’ve not tasted it, the more is your urge to taste it. Or is it not?

Q: Maybe you are right.

AP: What else are you trying for?

Q: I don’t know.

AP: You must know. You say you have no taste of peace.

Q: Maybe I should give value to peace and love.

AP: Fine, that is acceptable. But then, tell me what is it that you’re trying for constantly?

Q: I don't have clarity about it.

AP: Pay attention. Pay attention to your own efforts, to your own movements. You’ll recognize…

Q: Clarity is important?

AP: So, clarity is valuable? Clarity and peace are not different; they are the same thing. If you have it, then you have it; if you don’t have it, then you have frustration and seeking. In either case, you can’t say that you know nothing of it. You cannot ‘not know’ your nature. You cannot say that you get up in the morning and don’t feel fresh. What does sleep indicate to you? You like to not to think, at least for a while. Have you seen the face of a sleeping man? Innocent. And that is why you go to sleep every day: to come in touch with that innocence, that thoughtlessness. Would you say you don’t know?

Peace is your daily experience. Why do you like to hear music? Why do you like being loved? How many here who enjoy being hated? Would you say you don’t know your nature? If right now there is a thud somewhere in this room, how many of you would relish that? Would you say you don’t value this peace? And if you don’t value this peace, why would the thud shock you? It shocks you precisely because you like it the way it is right now: calm and silent. How is it possible that you do not know what you value?

Yes, when you think, then you can value a thousand things. But existence does not value your thoughts. You fall down from the chair, it doesn’t matter whether you are a great thinker, you would hit the earth with the same speed. Thoughts won’t insulate you. And even as you are falling to the earth, you can keep thinking about heaven and hell, and bliss, and achievements, and targets, and God, and knowledge, and ignorance—still you will hit the floor, the earth with the same speed. Existence has no respect for your thoughts.

Life is not the thought of life. Most of us live only in our thoughts.

“Done!” After thinking for half an hour, “Done!” No, seriously I have come across many such people—professional thinkers. First of all, they create great problems in thought. And then they think really deeply to conquer those problems. And then in their thoughts, they become winners. The trouble is, had there been just one of this kind, we would have fallen in line pretty soon. There are many of this kind. And they keep validating to each other. One thinker supports another one by offering him a medal or respect, "Oh he’s a great thinker!" So the tendency to keep thinking and keep living in thoughts gets reinforced.

There was one song, the fellow was singing, “I love you in my thoughts”. Most of us love really passionately in our thoughts. If we could somehow film what kind of a lover you are in your thoughts, it would be a super hit! A mega grosser!

Q: If thinking have become compulsive then where does the problem lie? In the physical domain, in the brain, or in the value, or both?

AP: Even the problem that you want to know—won’t you take it as just another thought? So now I think that I know the problem. Is a thought of the problem the same as encountering the problem? Theoretically, you might be told of this and that—is that the same as coming face to face with it? The only spiritual discipline is to come face to face with the facts; not deny them, not color them, not distort them to suit your convenience. Everything else would be a hypothesis, an assumption, a belief. For the person, facts are the only instruments available. Know your life, see what is going on. (Smilingly) Is that difficult?

We live in facts, don’t we? Sitting here is a fact. These words falling on your ears are a fact. The air from the machine and the buzz and the dripping of those drops, all of them are facts. Even the thoughts that are arising are facts. If that cannot tell you who you are, what else would? Or do we have some abstract, holy notions regarding our reality? “I am the direct descendant of God”—who is too busy thinking about the five rupees that he needs to collect from the chaiwala.

You are what you are right now. And there is no avoiding this.

Right now, you are with the chaiwala; that’s what you are. Right now, you are worried or anxious; that’s what you are.

You cannot maintain a self-image that is totally divorced from the facts of your living. In your self-image, in your thoughts, you are a respectable man—and see the way you live. In your thoughts you are a compassionate husband—and look at the way you live! Should there be some meeting point between your self-concept and the reality or not? Or can they exist as two isolated universes? "I am a doting father who spends no time with the son." I’m a doting father—here, this universe—who spends no time with the son—this universe. And we manage to carry these paradoxes parallelly, together. And this beats me. How does it not strike us that there is an obvious contradiction?

"I’m really committed employee—who loathes working." (Rolls eyes) Ok, right…

"I’m so very dedicated to the mission—that I do nothing at all."

"I’m such a brave soldier—that I run away from the battlefield." What?!

"I’m a really religious man—whose life is totally ungodly."

"I’m a hamburger-eating animal lover." Uh… okay. Fine. What’s more?

Q4: A vegan wearing a leather belt, leather shoes.

AP: Yeah. Because, you know, crocodiles are evil creatures! To be a vegan means to be compassionate towards little animals, not crocs! My leather belt is pure crocodile.

Q4: I don’t kill animals or eat them; I just wear them.

AP: I just wear them! Of course, of course… I didn’t kill him! Did I kill him? When I bought this belt, I’m sure he was already dead!

I respect my teacher so much— complete the sentence.

(Laughter)

Yes, Shubhankar? Did I doze off in the first five minutes? Yes, complete it!

Q2: I think about him a lot.

AP: I think about him a lot, of course! Just as one thinks about Morag the Monster.

Most of us are simple beings; not very avaricious, not very dominating, or possessive. It pains me to see that we are caught in cycles in races that will give us very little. There are a few, maybe 1%, 2% of the population who are so deeply diseased that they cannot help their quests; their ambition drives them. But here, this gathering, I don’t see most of us belonging to that category—no, we don’t belong there. Most of us are pretty simple and innocent beings. For no reason whatsoever have we joined unnecessary competitions, totally avoidable races.

Q3: If the intent is right, can the actions go wrong?

AP: No. But the intent can again, not be right as per your standards.

Right intention comes only from the right centre. Suffices to say not a social centre; not a shared centre.

Q3: Not a collective centre?

AP: Not a collective centre; not something that everybody else is doing. In fact, that too can be used as some kind of an indicator. If you find yourself involved in all the personal pursuits that everyone else does, chances are that you’re going wrong somewhere; that your centre is a borrowed centre; a shared centre. You’re not acting from within. It’s not guaranteed, but chances are there.

One can start off by taking an honest look at everything that one does in common with others. “Everyone else has these assets, I too must have them; everyone else lives in this particular way, I too must live; everyone else has these habits, this way of living, this lifestyle; I too must live this way.” Maybe that’s a good point to start with. “Do I really need all this, or is it just that because everybody else is in it, hence I too feel compelled?”

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