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Only for those dissatisfied with life || Acharya Prashant, with DU (2023)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
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Questioner (Q): Pranaam Acharya Ji. I wanted to ask, how do we identify the real purpose in life? Apart from the worldly things—like as son, I need to support my father, then I need to earn a livelihood and all such things.

You are doing the noble job like promoting Vedānta , which was also done by the Swami Vivekananda. How do we find our purpose in life?

Acharya Prashant (AP): What is the problem that you are facing? Is there a problem in the first place?

Q: Problem I am facing is to know the real purpose in life.

AP: No, no, no. That you are saying is something you desire. Spirituality is not there to fulfil your desires. If there is a pain point tell me. Is there a problem you are facing?

Q: You are working for some purpose. Similarly, I want to find out the ultimate purpose of my life.

AP: But you live through your days, right? So, you must be having some purpose already. You are a student, are you?

Q: Right sir.

AP: Right. So, you are living through your days, and you are not living through your days purposelessly.

Q: But I am considering it as a smaller goal.

AP: How do you know it's a small goal? How do you know it's a small goal?

Q: Small in the sense, like as you said that we as a person don't exist actually. This is all…

AP: That you heard from me just five minutes back. How have you been living through your days since so long? There surely is a purpose, right? What's wrong with those purposes that you have every day?

Q: That haunts me, I feel that I am stuck into this thing. Listening to your videos, I understand that whatever we think, wherever our mind goes that is to very limited things. Ultimate goal can be..

AP: So, what's the problem? What's the problem with having limited things as purpose?

Q: They get fulfilled and we seek for the next one.

AP: So, what's the problem with that?

Q: I don't find them too big to pursue all the time.

AP: So they are not big, they are small. What's the problem?

Q: As such, there is no problem.

AP: So, you are already good. Why needlessly think of, you know, show spoilers like Vivekananda and trouble yourself? Just because they have a big name, so one feels I should also have a big name and starts thinking of them; as if respectfully, but probably the objective is just emulation. If you are already okay in the life that you are leading, why think of an alternative?

Q: Sir, I do not know whether I like the life which I am leading. Whether I am okay with it, or I am..

AP: Return to the first question. What is your problem with the life that you are leading?

When you go to a doctor what does he ask you? Dard kahan ho raha hai? (where are you feeling the pain?). So, what is your problem? If you tell the doctor, “You know, I want to visit Switzerland,” the doctor will say, “You know, that's a desire. Where is the problem?”

A solution is not the same thing as desire fulfilment. Solution comes when you first of all identify a clear problem. What is the problem?

Q: So, if whatever I am doing that is absolutely fine, I should not seek for something very different?

AP: I don't know. You tell me, what is the problem?

Q: The problem it that..

AP: Okay, I will ask you a question. I will ask you a question. Let's say you have never heard of Vivekananda or other so-called great people, would you still have a problem? Right now, you are facing a problem because you see that there were people who took up noble missions and did this, did that; and compared to them, you find your life quite small, petty etc. So, by comparison you see a problem. Let's say nobody is available for comparison. Is there still a problem?

Q: No sir. What I wanted to know is that do we have any other purpose, other than doing whatever things we are doing?

AP: Son, the question of other purposes arises only when one has a problem in the current purposes. As you are living your life, you already have certain purposes. Now do you have a problem with your current purposes, first thing? You cannot say, “I am already alright and still I want to get alright.”

Do you have a problem? Have you identified your problem? Are you willing to disclose it?

Q: That's not what I am saying sir. Whatever thing I do, after some time I get the sense that this is not what I should be doing.

AP: That might as well be a moral compunction raising its head. You know, the solution is never too far; it's just that we don't even know the problem. The moment the problem is known, the solution is so near; but the ego refuses to acknowledge the real problems. The very fear is that the problem may not remain; and if the problem is gone, the self is gone.

Q: So, why do then one seek spirituality or go for the Vedānta marg (Vedānta way)?

AP: Most people seek it just as an entertainment. One is bored of so many things, so let's try our hand at this one as well.

Q: I think there may be some genuine people.

AP: Yeah, the genuine people have genuinely identified their problem. It's not so difficult to identify it. It is just that we imagine the consequences of identifying it and feel afraid. Figure out what problem would you face if you continue to live the same kind of life? Figure out what problems you are already facing if you continue to live the way you do. What is happening to you in your current ways?

Q: Sir, what I am doing currently, it has a certain purpose and it will get fulfilled after some time. I will then move on to the next goal and keep doing this my entire life. So, am I really meant for this?

AP: Who am I to tell you that? If you feel contended as you are currently going, obviously you will continue going that way. A change is needed only when the one within is troubled with the status quo—things as they are. Are you really troubled? And unless there is an acknowledgement of real trouble, there can be no change. Haan (Yes), there can be a lot of words, there can be years of discussions; but no change will happen. Change happens only when you clearly identify—"There is a problem, and I will have no more of it. I am done with living with this problem.”

Spirituality is not window-shopping. I am already happy with the clothes that I have. But I found something on the mannequin and I just enquire the price, just you know, to tell myself that there are other options available. You have to find yourself naked and shivering in the cold and then beg for clothes—that’s spirituality. You have to see, you are in a very, very bad shape; only then you will have the guts to embrace an alternative. Otherwise it's just entertainment. “Yeah, you know there are eighteen yogas available. Wow, wow! Eighteen! Eighteen alternatives I have.” Internally, you are already Yogastha —established in yoga. So, why will you choose any of those eighteen paths?

You have to see that internally there is deep Viyogā , separation—you are torn apart. If you do not see that, if you express your condition in this kind of lukewarm way—"I have certain purposes, they get fulfilled, then there will be some other purpose”—this frankly takes one nowhere. The ones who reach somewhere are the ones who acknowledge a deep, deep suffering inside. The ones who are well adjusted, well they can remain well adjusted.

So, my advice—figure out whether you really see anything terribly wrong in the way you are currently living. If you don't see anything greatly wrong with that, no problem, don't worry.

Q: I do find something's wrong. Something is terribly wrong, for example taking the how has life gone.

AP: So, what is it that you find terribly fundamentally wrong with the way you are living?

Q: I am not stable with one thing.

AP: So, what's terrible about that?

Q: I keep on changing the things. For example, I am from a engineering background. I did engineering and then taught in the engineering colleges and I quit. And then I started preparing for civil services; went through mains and then interview, but could not make it. And right now I am pursuing law.

AP: What's terrible about it?

Q: I am finding myself as a wanderer.

AP: What's terrible about wandering?

Q: There has to be rest to it.

AP: That's some kind of a heavenly mandate, there has to be rest? One day you will die, you will have enough rest.

Q: Nothing wrong with this? You don't find anything wrong in it?

AP: And that's what is wrong, that's what is terrible. Not that I mean to enforce an opinion upon you, it's just that I see you interested in change. And I know very well that change cannot happen unless there is terrible dissatisfaction. The kind of change you are looking for is not superficial, not incremental; you want fundamental change.

For fundamental change, there has to be an insight into the fundamentals. Things that appear normal to you currently, should start appearing very weird. Things that are acceptable today, should start appearing extremely distasteful. When that kind of a thing starts happening, only then there is change. Otherwise you can keep skimming on the surface of life, and that's no problem.

Q: Maybe that day is going to come soon. So, should I seek you again?

AP: I am available. Had I not been available, you won't have come to me. I was available to you even before this conversation, that availability made this conversation possible. So, I am anyway available. There is nobody who is not generally dissatisfied with life, but that general dissatisfaction does not help anybody. Please see. You find anybody perfectly contented? Nobody. People have their complaints, grudges, grouses—something is wrong here, something is wrong there. That little bit of average kind of dissatisfaction only helps to maintain things as they are. You are dissatisfied with your car, you provide it more maintenance; the car remains maintained.

You need to—I am repeating—see how the very fundamentals of life are botched up, and then something can happen. But don't force that upon yourself, don't try to make that forcibly, artificially happen.

Q: Sir, right from the childhood, we have been taught about the great people and have been told that you should be doing something very big or very different in life. So, those things have gone deep into the mind and now less things do not satisfy us. Where does it lead us to?

AP: See, big things happening to small people, leave them small even after the big event. The question is not whether big things are happening to you, the question is are you big? Are you big? So, the smallness within has to be encountered. Without that trying for big positions, big money, big power, big life; all that means nothing.

It is the inner encounters that we are very afraid of, and we are equally afraid of encountering that we avoid the encounters. So, we pretend to ourselves that we are available to the encounters; we are not. When the real deal is there, we just avoid it. When water comes to the boiling point, we take it off the heater and we certify ourselves as good people. “You see, I allowed it to come to 98-99.” Don't you see what is it that you didn't allow to happen? I am so sure I am not making much sense, but fine all right.

Q: I suppose I am not clear with myself.

AP: I will remain available.

Q: Thank you sir.

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