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Past life karma, goal of life, and liberation || Acharya Prashant (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, do you believe in past life?

Acharya Prashant (AP): That is irrelevant. Will I find you after your death? Will even you find yourself after your death?

Q: I may be in a different body.

AP: In a different body, will you have the same psyche, the same identity? You are a ‘person’, and a person is driven by identities. Forget about having a new life after death, even in this life if I give you the option that your personality will be totally wiped out, your memory will be totally wiped out, your body will be totally changed, and you will be taken to a different place, a different planet, will you still say that you are ‘you’?

Even in this life, if your memory gets wiped out, do you remain what you are?

Q: Then why do you talk of ‘past life’, and ‘future life’?

AP: Even in this life, if somebody strokes your head with a hammer and your memory is totally gone, which means your identities are totally gone, you are as good as dead. You are no use to anybody then. You do not remain.

You have disappeared, because you are a man of identities, because you are a personality. You live in a personality, and once the personality is gone, once the ‘person’ is gone, you are no more.

‘Eternity’, and ‘Continuity’, is a word for those who do not live in the personality.

If you live in the personality, you need not wait even for your physical death, you are dying continuously. Even tomorrow you will not be who you are today, then how will you continue to be the same in your next birth?

Even today you are not what you were fifteen years back. Are you? Then how will you continue to remain two hundred years from today? But it is such a stupid thought, still very common. Do you feel one, or identified with the self that you were when you were ten years of age?

Go into this!

You, as you see yourself, were once ten years of age, right? Today do you find much in common with that ten-year-old kid? Today, in fact, ninety percent is not common with that ten-year-old kid. Right?

In the same lifetime, you are almost a totally different person. Are you not? Then how will you remain the same after death even if there is a rebirth? So what is the point in talking about this and that?

Q1: So, thirtieth birthday means, thirty years of death?

AP: Yes, nice. Good.

Q: Acharya Ji, we said that memories being wiped out is equivalent to the ‘person’ not being there. Now, this is a bit confusing as we talked about we not being the body.

AP: But, are you the Atman. I said that ‘Eternity’ and ‘Continuity’ are words applicable only to those who live as the Atman. Do you live as the Atman? If you live as the Atman, then you will not talk of this birth and the previous birth, because the Atman never really dies. So how can it take the next birth?

To take the next birth, something must firstly die. Atman is eternal, it does not die. How can it take a new birth?

Q4: Acharya Ji, many religions like Hinduism, Jainism, they talk of past lives and rebirth. You do not want to be consistent with them.

AP: What do you want?

Q4: I just want…

AP: Those who just want anything, do not get anything. Talk of one thing that you want, and then don’t talk of anything else.

Q3: I want the Truth.

AP: Yes.

So, Truth is – freedom from the false.

See what all is false in the way you currently live. Currently live!

Two things – ‘currently’, and ‘living’.

Go into your life, right now.

How do you spend your day?

Where do you eat?

Where do you earn your money from?

These are the questions that should bother you, not fancy intellectual questions.

Q4: Is it part of Spirituality, the worldly matters – what I do, and all that?

AP: What do you want to do with ‘Spirituality’ and ‘worldly matters’?

The one who is in trouble wants freedom from trouble. If the name of that Freedom is ‘Spirituality’, fine. If the name of that Freedom is ‘worldliness’, fine. What the person wants is – Freedom.

If I am thirsty, I want water, you want to call it ‘ jal ‘, ‘ ambu ‘, ‘ waari ‘ (synonyms of water in Hindi), anything, I do not mind. Give me that, which will quench my thirst. Full stop.

Q5: I have the same question related to thoughts. He said that thoughts increase the level of concentration. How can we manage that level of concentration?

AP: Goal.

Q5: How to magnify and amplify that goal?


Q2: I am not even asking about amplifying the goal. In the example that you gave, when we were playing football, you mentioned that there was a clear distinction, that each team knew where their goal post is.

In real life, there are ten goalposts being shown, and each one is trying to instruct that this is where you have to reach. Unfortunately, sometimes the goalposts look similar also, and one gets confused.

AP: Who is suffering?

Q2: I am suffering.

AP: So who will know, whether or not you are getting freedom?


Who is suffering?


It is like this – “I am thirsty. One guru tells me to put water in this hole (the ear), another guru tells me to put water in this hole (the mouth), another one talks about the other holes of the body.”

Who is thirsty? You are. Don’t you know when your thirst is going to be quenched? Why are you acting so ignorant? Don’t you contact with your own thirst, with your own suffering? Don’t you know when it is being quenched?

Q2: I have not even reached the level where my thirst is being quenched.

AP: At least you know when it is not being quenched. This much at least you know.

Q2: Yes.

AP: Next time, don’t put water in your ear. Reject the guru who teaches you to put water in your ear. At least this much you can do? Do this much.

Q2: But the problem is, I will give a parallel example to explain this. When one is thirsty, it is the water that one needs. When one gets a cool drink nearby, one is tempted to take it.

AP: Try it, immediately.

You are already thirty or forty years old, or maybe twenty-five. How many more trials do you need? Have you already not given everything a shot? Are soft drinks, or ice creams, or petroleum new things to you? You have already tried them a thousand times. Are you still not fed up?

If you are not fed up, give them one more chance, and then be absolutely fed up. But please, at some point, learn to be honest, learn to quit. Learn to honestly face the mirror and tell yourself, “I have been cheating myself all my life.”

If you don’t do that, there are a thousand kinds of fluids in the universe.

You will keep trying them endlessly.

Water is simple water – pure, direct.

I have no issues if you want to give various things, various methods, various means, various books, various teachers a chance. Please do that. But do that with all honesty. Having given the chance, ask yourself, “Is the thirst being quenched?” If ‘yes’, then stay put, then don’t budge at all. If ‘no’, then you have no business looking at that face ever again.

Man is a strange creature, you know. He develops a stake even in thirst. If you have conditioned yourself to find pleasure in thirst, in suffering, in non-sense, then…

Q5: Acharya Ji, what is the significance of sleep? What really happens in sleep? What is the spiritual significance of sleep?

AP: Are your problems in your sleep time, or are your problems related to your waking state? Just don’t be interested in miscellaneous knowledge, focus on the goal. Any kind of knowledge that does not lead you directly towards the goal is merely a burden. Disregard it.

If you have genuine problems, sleeping disorders, then talk to me about sleep. But if your problems are related to your life, stuff that you think of in your waking state – your relationships, your transactions – then why be interested in sleep?

I can speak for fifteen minutes on sleep, but that will not help you.

Be direct, be honest.

Q2: Acharya Ji, why is my mind constantly trying to become something?

AP: Everybody is trying that because nobody is contented with the current state.

The only problem is – you want to change, but you want the changed state to be a derivative of the current state, you want the changed state to be organically linked to your current state, which means that you really don’t want to give up your current state.

So, all ‘becoming’ fails.

All change is defeated.

It’s like just changing clothes that will not cure you of your lung cancer, it’s like wearing make-up that will not fundamentally cure your any skin disorder.

Change is wonderful.

When you want change, see what you really want.

Don’t change half-heartedly.

Change fully.

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