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On plans and goal-setting || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2012)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
11 min
67 reads

Question: Acharya Ji, we should have future plans also. What should set that in our minds that what we are going to be in future!

Acharya Prashant: Alright, that is a very sensible question. What’s your name?

Questioner: Aanchal.

AP: Right. Aanchal, suppose if one day, you give one of your friends a call. And say, tell me, which road goes to Chandigarh? How do I reach Chandigarh? And you are feverishly asking her. How do I reach Chandigarh, tell me, how do I reach Chandigarh? If your friend is sensible enough, what is the question she is going to ask you?

Listeners: Where are you, now?

AP: Where are you right now? To reach anywhere, shouldn’t you firstly know where are you right now? To talk about future, shouldn’t you firstly know what the present moment is? And if the present moment is known, is Chandigarh too far away?

Before you talk of the future, shouldn’t you first understand what you are doing right now?

And right now means exactly right now! Are you aware of how your thoughts are wending? Are you aware, from where are these questions arising? Are you even aware, why there is incessant thirst for the future?

In your moments of deepest enjoyment, have you ever thought of the future? Tell me?

Have you noticed? Have you been attentive to the fact that when is it that you really start thinking of the future?

When you are? Insecure. When you are insecure, and tense and anxious, that’s when your mind rushes to the future.

Are you attentive to this fact? Have you been attentive? It’s only out of lack of presence from the present, that a desire towards the future is born. The one who is doing right now, what he anyways wanted to do, would he have that much of time to look towards future? Because, the moment he would look towards his future, his attention will go away from the present. And the present is so beautiful that he doesn’t want to take his attention away from it.

To look towards future, one would have to take his attention away from the present, right?

L: Acharya Ji, we are told since childhood that our goals at least must be set. I am studying and along with studying I am understanding the concepts and that leads to my results. Because I am understanding! But then, still we need to have that goal to achieve. Is it a wrong thing to have an aim? If I am in Self-Love, then is it wrong to aim at the same time?

AP: No, let us not talk the language of right and wrong. We all are intelligent human beings, right? Right and wrong come from outside. We only talk the language of understanding. Intelligent understanding. What is it that we are doing and how are the things happening, correct? Just as you approach authentically questioning it, we approach it in the same way.


So, what is this process of setting goals and targets, let’s examine it.

I am putting a few statements in front of you, examine them. When you were 5 or 6 years old, all of you, you would have thought of becoming something in life. Every kid does. This is what I want to be when I grow up. And what were you thinking? Yes, what were you thinking?

I used to think that I will become Superman, who wears his underwear over his trousers. And I was absolutely fascinated by that rebellious attire of his.

(listeners laugh)

You would have also thought of becoming something, Mr. Universe, Miss. India, Mr. India, Astronaut, deep-sea-diver. Today, when you look at a kid’s ambitions and targets for his career, you laugh. Why do you laugh at it? Because his targets, his goals were coming from his ignorant mind. His mind did not know anything. Correct?

Have you really become too different from that kid? If you ask that kid, will he ever laugh at his goals? He will be very serious about them. No, I really want to become a Superman. No, I don’t want to be anything else in my life, I only want to be Miss. Universe. Very very serious.

Your goals cannot be bigger than your awareness. Goals will just be within the circumference of what you know.

How much do you know? Existence is a Universal set and you are a tiny set. Even to say tiny is an exaggeration. You are infinitesimally small. And you want to decide? You want to decide? Decide, what?

Second statement – Can you really make a goal that you already do not know of? All your goals, you claim are about the future. Alright? That’s what you claim? My goals lie in the future, there is something I want to attain in the future? But is it not the Truth of the matter, that all your goals come only from the past? Because you will only make the goals that you already know of. If you really don’t know of something, how can you ever form it as a goal?

L: Acharya Ji, something can just become a fascination?

AP: Even the fascination that you have is what you have been hearing in the past. Let’s look at your frequent fascinations, your dreams, and fantasies. Can you really fantasize or dream of something, of which you have no idea? All of you have dreams at night, right? Can you really dream of something which you really do not know of? Even to imagine something, it must have a basis in the past. You cannot have an imagination of which you have really really no experience in the past. You cannot have that imagination. Now, if the future is really future. Future, by its definition, is new . Future, by its definition, is new and fresh. Am I right? Future is not a replay of the past. Or, is the future a replay of the past? It can be?

But is future really a replay of the past? It cannot be!

Then why do you want to superimpose the past upon the future? Why do you want to superimpose the past upon the future? You said we have been told since the childhood! I want to ask you that when people tell you to worry about your future, are they really talking about ‘your’ future? Or are they talking about using their past as your future?

So, it is past, that is masquerading as the future. And that is really really sick. Is it not? What is new and fresh about Life, if past becomes the future again? Son, we got married in life, so when are ‘you’ getting married?

(audience laughs)

Now, it seems that they are talking about your future, but essentially they are talking about their own past. Do you see this? They are trying to make their past into your future. Now, is future your future or their past?

L: Their past.

AP: Is your future, ‘your’ future? Or even your past? I have been a very obedient child since childhood and I really want to be obedient in my life ahead too! You want to replay it? Are you a CD that ought to be replayed again and again? Or are you a living, healthy, organic, Life? And in Life, things cannot be predictable! Anybody trying to make it predictable is trying to kill Life. This timber (pointing towards the wooden table) is very predictable, it will not move from here. And it is very neatly polished. But will it ever give birth to flowers? Is it possible for it to breathe now?

What do you want to become? A tree in the wild? Or a timber in a decorated boardroom?


AP: If you are seeing it clearly, clearly, very clearly, that that is what you are becoming, then you are not becoming that. Only those who are not seeing that will become that. The one who sees that, gets rid of that, becomes free. Immediately becomes free.

L: In the scenario that we are living, we have to be a timber, we can’t be a wild tree.

AP: If you were really a timber, you would not be even able to say even that much. The very fact that you are able to say this much, means that you are not a timber. Why do you want to pretend you are a timber? If you are a living organic entity, get up, rise and become what you are!

L: It may be that in the present moment I am a living entity.


Life is the present moment, there is nothing else. If you are free right now, there is no need to become enslaved the next moment. Why do you want to pretend that we are slaves? You are not! You are free this moment!

L: Acharya Ji, whenever we present the facts towards your family about the way we want to live Life, they say you are not free, you are dependent on us right now. Our wishes are your wishes, and our thoughts are your desires. Could you please make us understand that how can an individual exist in the family if the family is again coming back to him and taking away his freedom!

AP: The family, when it asserts that you are dependent on us, is perfectly correct.

You are dependent, that is why they are able to say this!

Why are you dependent? It’s alright to be dependent when you are 3 years old. It’s alright to be dependent even when you are 13 years old. It is not alright to be dependent when you are an undergraduate student.

And remember, financial dependence is not a great dependence. Even physical dependence may not be a great dependence. The greatest dependence is psychological dependence.

Why are you dependent?

When I entered the IIT campus, that was in year 95. Close to IIT, there is this place, Kalu Sarai. And that is the hub of JEE coaching. And so many of us, from my hostel, we would go. And there was FIITJEE there. And bring in copies from there to check, to correct. Question papers and copies. They would conduct their tests, so they needed somebody to check their copies. And they used to pay 30 or 40 Rs per copy. It was a huge copy. Subjective type questions. Not the type of questions that JEE has, these days. It has been utterly watered down now. That used to be real JEE. Really tough questions. So, we used to get those and we would get 30-40 Rs for checking each copy. We did it. And we did it with thorough enjoyment!

Who is asking you to remain dependent?

And even if that means that there is going to be a certain degree of financial dependence, that can be understood. It is okay, it will go with time. But why should psychological dependence exist at all? And do you know what is psychological dependence?

I have no identity, except as a son or a daughter, or a brother, or a sister, or as somebody belonging to a particular clan, then there is a problem. Then there is a huge problem. And there is no point complaining about these things. That what should we do, we have been suppressed by so many around.

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