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Only the ego loves; only love kills the ego || Acharya Prashant (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
18 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, Pranam, “Love is an egocentric manifestation: The Essential Oneness of all life has no room for love.” ~Wei Wu Wei

Acharya Ji, kindly shed light on this quote. In my first camp, I asked ‘How to be loving’, without knowing what that word meant. Now, I know what my definition of love is: ‘Give me what I want'. As situations change, my love, too, disappears. It comes and goes according to the fulfilment or rejection of my demands. The cycle continues. Now, a little sensitivity has arisen towards people around me. Acharya Ji, please put some light on what I should do, so that I feel the same pain as I feel for myself whenever I do something selfishly. It's not right to expect or burden others to act according to my will.

Acharya Prashant (AP): So, two things: First, the quote, “Love is an ego-centric manifestation: The Essential Oneness of all life has no room for love.” And then she says, “What should I do so that I feel the same pain as I feel for others, whenever I do something selfishly?”

Love is an ego-centric manifestation. The Essential Oneness of all life, there is no love. So, what are we referring to here? We are talking of the usual, normal, ego-centric love. The author is simply saying that the ego cannot love. The ego can want, cling, extract, exploit, expect, hurt and get hurt, but the ego just cannot love.

The awakened one has no loving relationship of the kind the normal one has. You must let this come to you: If our relationships are full of love, then a Jesus, or a Krishna, or a Buddha has no loving relationship at all. And now you know, why the world is so afraid of spirituality. If our love is Love, then a Jesus knows no love. If our normal love is Love, then an awakened one is loveless. So, if you are related to someone in the normal course of love, then your awakening would appear very much like lovelessness to that person. Seen from the eyes of the layman, the awakened ones just cannot love.

What is ‘love' to the regular fellow? Have a special relationship with a few people—that is love, right? In fact, if the relationship is not special, then you just won't call it love. That is a very, very necessary characteristic: The relationship has to be ‘exclusive' and ‘special'. Do you understand exclusive? Exclusive implies “exclusion”. What is exclusion? You can have that kind of a relationship only with one or two chaps and not with everybody else. The world in general, the population in general, is excluded from the purview of that relationship. Therefore, it has to be personal.

Therefore, it has to be very private. Therefore, it has to be protected and hidden. It has to be given a place that other worldly relationships must not be given, only then, the common fellow would say that the relationship is of love. Do you see this?

Have one relationship that is over and above all your other relationships, and then, you will call it love, and protect that relationship and hide it. It must be, I repeat, exclusive .—Keep everybody else out. In fact, people will go to the extent of even hiding the contours of the relationship from the general world. This, they call as ‘being respectful to the relationship'. This only shows how ignorant and ego-centric they are. And further, it also shows how much suffering they are going to inflict upon their so-called loved one, or rather, are already continuously inflicting on the so-called loved one. The moment you have an exclusive relationship with someone, you have become a parasite on that person, and obviously, allowed the other person to become a parasite on you. But what to do?

That's how we are trained. That's how we are conditioned. Lovers talk in whispers after midnight. Lovers share things with each other that they would never share with others. It is considered a mark of intimacy if you can tell someone something that you would usually not disclose to others. If such attributes are present in your relationships, be warned! You are entering hell. Or rather, you are entering deeper into your already existing hell. An awakened one knows no relationship of such kind. There is no ‘special’ relationship in his case, because he is not. So, how can anybody be special for him? The converse is possible, he can be special for someone, and not for someone else.

The Buddha roamed through the countryside, all over North India. Not everybody concurred with the Buddha, not everybody came to him, not everybody joined his gang—I mean, the Sangha . But that does not mean that the Buddha had any preferences of his own. Yes, he might have had qualifying criteria, but they were objective, not subjective. He didn't have personal preferences. His preferences, if there were any, were very, very objective—universal. His compassion extended to all. It’s just that some would dare to receive it, and some would just screen themselves against the light of his compassion. If there is one thing that turns your life hell, it is a ‘personal relationship', a relationship in which you whisper to the other.

Do you know why you whisper to the other? Because, you want the world to not hear what you are saying to the other. Isn't it obvious? It's not that lovers are doing something to each other when they are whispering, it's just that they want to keep the rest of the world out. So, whispers. Those sweet little secrets; all the love letters bundled and safely kept buried in the trunk—Oh! I am referring to my age (jesting about the older generation) All right. All the deleted WhatsApp chats—chat and delete, chat and delete—so that nobody else might come to know. If you are in middle of such things, you are in middle of hell. It always appears attractive in the beginning, but if such are the signs, be very, very careful.

I could hardly ever understand how all the loving and doting moms had very little care or sympathy for all the food-less, cloth-less and shivering children in the vicinity. It was very incomprehensible. In fact, the irony would just not spare me, when I would see, that especially on weddings, people prefer to have animal flesh. It was extremely ironic! Extremely.

The two of you say that you are tying a knot in love, right? And that is being done over the slaughter of so many little lambs, and what not. And you might not otherwise, very frequently kill, but when it comes to a celebration, you almost always do. The bigger the celebration, the gorier the slaughter.

How is it that your love is strictly limited to a few people? And wait, it does not stop at the limits, the irony multiplies. A fellow would say that he loves his daughter or his son so much—I know of this case; this was a fellow in a government job, in the Public Works Department, responsible for roads and other infrastructure, public infrastructure. The fellow would loot on government money. Why? “I love my daughter so much, I have to collect for her dowry. My son has to become a doctor, and he is a veritable ass, so I must have half a crore to purchase a donation seat. At least fifty lakhs for the son, another fifty lakhs for the daughter,” I am talking of my times, “and another couple of fifty lakhs for the wife.”

And, where would all that money come from? From the funds that were earmarked for road construction and maintenance. That road was notorious for killing the youth. It was not a very prosperous road. And 20 years back, there were not so many four-wheelers, everybody would commute either on public transport, which was unreliable or on two-wheelers. Entire families would ride a bike to travel even a 100 kilometres; it was very common—husband, wife, two kids on a motorbike. And the road, that particular road I am referring to, was so bad, almost every week you'd hear news of, or even see, young people lying mangled on the road. Over a period of four or five years, no less than 100 or 200 young people would have lost their lives on that road. Why? So that a young boy and a young girl could be loved.

So, it is not just that you draw a limit, you are actually, actively hostile and inimical towards everybody outside those limits, so that you can serve somebody inside that limit. You have drawn a circle. Inside the circle there are just four people, outside the circle, there are 400. You would actively exploit the 400 so that you can feed and fatten the four inside the circle. That is what normal ego-centric love is like. “Slaughter the lamb, so that I can feed my kiddo some lamb soup. You see, my kiddo is running a little fever, so slaughter the lamb. Slaughter the lamb, please. My kiddo should get some lamb soup.”

We all want somebody special in our life, right? Please get rid of that desire, it will destroy your life, it is the cause of so much human suffering. Stop searching for somebody special; stop asking for love. It is the mark of evil to ask for love. It is quite counter-intuitive, you know. You will say, “But I am just asking for love, isn't that a pious thing? Thoda pyar chahiye (need some love).” No. That's the most evil demand. You are not merely asking for the impossible, you are asking for something that would turn you into something far worse than a mad animal. The very concept of ‘living in pairs’, ‘moving around in couples’, is simply evil. To have your name hyphenated with somebody's name is to dissociate yourself totally from yourself, and to dissociate yourself from God. As if one name was not burdensome enough, you take upon yourself another name.

And women, be especially warned! It was already bad enough that you were Rekha Singh, and then you become Rekha Singh Mukherjee. Maybe I am a bit outdated, that's not how it happens these days, right? These days, the way it goes is: Rahul and Sanjana come together and become Rahulanjana, correct? How cute! Can I please vomit on it? (mockingly) Man is so fond of pairs, he does not even leave his images of Gods as solitary. Even they must have consorts. So, Advait Shiva has been bundled with Parvati. How come? And it requires somebody as bold and authentic as a Kabir Sahab, to loudly declare, “Maya maha thagni hum jaani. Yogi ki Yogan ban baithi, Shiv ke Bhavan Bhavani. Panda ka pani ban baithi, aur Brahma ki Brahmani.”

[Translation: I have come to know the illusory power to be a great thug, Maya . For yogis, she is seated as the spiritual partner; for Shiva, the god of dissolution, she is the empress of the world. For the priest, she is seated as the idol of worship, and in places of a pilgrimage she manifests as the holy water; And for Brahma, she is his consort.]

That's what Wei Wu Wei is telling you: ‘Avoid this pairing and plugging-in business. Avoid feeling loveless all the time.’ A beggar's bowl can probably be filled up, but not the bottomless mind of a person, who is crying for love. You can sell yourself out, you will still not get love. Love of the kind, you determine for yourself.

Nevertheless, great Love is available to you, provided you bother to be humble enough to receive it. But that great Love is not of the kind you want and you indulge in. It's another species of Love. It's another universe of Love. You do not know it, so you ignore it, even detest it. But once you get a flavour of it, you will stop liking everything else. That's an assurance. Then, all this 'pairs' and ‘Joda' business will appear so foolhardy to you.

You are saying, “Acharya Ji, what should I do, so that I feel the same pain for others as I feel for myself?” As long as you are feeling pain for yourself, you will feel no pain for others; you are asking for the impossible. Feeling pain for yourself means you exist for yourself in a big way. If you exist for yourself in a big way, from where will you get the space to accommodate others? To feel something for others, you, first of all, have to be a little free of yourself. If you are so preoccupied with your own suffering, how will you care for others? Think of a nurse in a hospital who is screaming at her own illnesses, would you want such a nurse by your bedside? She might as well push you off the bed and use it for herself.

Compassion is a thing for the strong. Compassion is not for those who are wallowing in their own suffering; compassion is for those who have learnt to override their own suffering self. You cannot be compassionate towards others without first being detached towards yourself. The equation is obvious: if you feel a lot of suffering with respect to yourself, what is the world to you then? The giver of the suffering, right? Because you will anyway never admit that the suffering is your own doing.

So, if you are suffering, what is the world? The one who is making you suffer. Will you now be compassionate towards the world? If you are suffering, you would only be hostile towards the world, don't you see that? But when you are a little free of yourself, then you look at others, and you see that they are caught in the same traps as you were once. Now you realize a lot of things. The Jātaka tales are all about Buddha's previous births. He remembers how he once was and he also remembers how he once suffered. Because he remembers how he once suffered, so he knows you. Because he knows you, he can be of help to you. To be compassionate towards the other, you should have been like the other and must no longer be like the other. “Once I was like you, so I know you. But now, I am no more like you, so I can help you. So, I know you and I can help you.” “So, I know you and I can help you.” How do I know you? “I have memory; once I was like you. This body is the same as your body, it has passed through the same cycles. I see my own image in you. Yes, of course, as far as the body goes—I see you are very much like me. I know every bit of your suffering. But now, I am not suffering. I know your suffering, but I am not suffering. So, I can help you.” Both the conditions are necessary: You must know the other's condition, and you must be free of the other's condition. If either condition is not satisfied, there is no possibility of compassion.

Now you know why, in the Indian folklore, even Avatars are made to suffer—why Ram must lose Sita, why Krishna has to quit Vrindavan , why Jesus has to wear a crown of thorns. Providence ensures that they must know your suffering. If they do not know your suffering, they will not be able to help you. They must know what you go through. So, even the Prophets , the Messengers , the Avatars are made to suffer, so that they can empathize with you. Otherwise, what is the need? And, it's such a rare event, totally against probability, that a king would push out his eldest and most deserving son from the kingdom. That, too, when he is just about to be throned. Does that happen often? But then, somebody ensures that such a thing must happen to Ram. Otherwise, he is just having a fairytale life—born in a family of kings and princes, having the best of education, and now the fellow has a dream wife as well. So, providence interferes: “No, no, no. If you continue to have such a good run, you will become useless to mankind. So, now you must experience suffering. And no ordinary suffering must you experience, because the common lot of the world do not go through ordinary suffering. They go through heart-rending suffering. So, you too must have extraordinary suffering, Ram. 14 years! No less than that.14 years. Out!” And then, as if 14 years do not suffice, he has to face problems at every step. Demons and challenges of all kinds keep shadowing him. And then Surpanakha crosses him, and then her mighty brother. “Lo! You have to face none inferior than Ravan himself.” The challenges that Shri Ram faces, mirror the challenges that the ordinary folks face. In fact, his challenges are constructed to be much more severe than the challenges of the ordinary folk—fighting the mightiest ruler on the earth with an army of monkeys and other such exotic soldiers, a few bears, some deer, some squirrels, and they are facing great demons. I am pretty sure there were a few rabbits as well. Rabbits have not been given their due in history; we will correct that. Don't you see? One does require an army of rabbits if one wants to take up a mighty challenge. We are raising an entire battalion. The war is not far away. And you will see how this army helps us. It's already doing its bit (referring to the foundation) . Are you getting it? ‘Jake paanv na phati biwai, so kya jane peer parai’ If you never had, so much as a little cut on your leg, —though that's not what 'biwai' means, it's a particular ailment in which the skin of your leg starts cracking, heels particularly. The heels get dry and the skin cracks, and then you apply some wax and such things.

Jake paanv na phati biwai, so kya jane peer parai — If you never had so much as a dry foot, how will you be compassionate towards others? Add to that, if you are too bothered about your biwai (ailment), then you will care only for your own dawai (medicine).

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