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Physical proximity does not mean closeness || On Advait Vedanta (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Questioner: Acharya Ji, I have noticed that people who have known me since childhood are now facing difficulties in understanding what I am doing. For instance, it took two years for me to convince my wife and relatives, etc. to even allow me to practice spirituality. Why do our close ones take so much time to understand us?

Acharya Prashant: Because they are close to you in an unspiritual way. So, they will take a lot of time, and you will have to live with this fact. Do not just say some person is close to you; complete the sentence, elaborate and clarify. How is he close to you? What do you mean by closeness? Closeness of what to what?

When you say close, you mean X is close to Y. When you say somebody is close to you, kindly elaborate, what is close to what? The closeness itself is quite material or coincidental or social or physical. They were close to you in a very, very unspiritual way. In the spiritual dimension, they were not close at all.

So, it is not that people who are close to you are taking time to understand you. If you want to express it honestly, the situation is like this: people who are spiritually very, very far from you are taking time to come close to you—and that is understandable, is it not? They were anyway very, very far from you, so they are taking time to come close to you.

Right now, am I closer to you or to this table? In purely the physical sense, I am close to the table. But if I start teaching to this table, will it understand? So, that’s how your question is. “Acharya Ji, I have been close to a table since two decades. I have been very, very close to the table. I live on the table, I eat on the table, I sleep on the table, I dance on the table. Wherever I go, I carry the table on my back. I have been very, very close to the table. But now I am teaching Gita to the table, and the table is not understanding!”

Sir, you have been close in the material sense. Your hand is resting on the table. There is no closeness between the hearts; there is no real essential closeness.

Two people can live in the same room for two thousand years without being essentially close to each other.

You live in a hostel room, and four lizards also live in that room, don’t they? That might be the case, you and the four lizzies! And you have been reciting the Upanishads daily since four years. Have the lizards understood? But you are saying, “You know, we were life partners, room partners, we shared our space. One day I found them sitting over the Gita. They were there inside even my washroom; they knew everything. They knew my body inside out. Sometimes they would feast from my plate as well. There was a great bonhomie between the five of us; we were family, me and the four lizards. But they are not understanding anything!”

What does physical closeness have to do with spiritual alignment or proximity? Of all the people who are sitting here, he (referring to someone in the front row) is the closest and he has been dozing. What does physical proximity have to do with understanding? Even physical proximity helps only when first of all there is ample consciousness at the other end; then you say, “Well, the flame of consciousness is burning in the other. Bring him physically close to me so that I can give more time, more attention.”

I can wear a hat all day long; that will not tell it what is inside the brain, or will it? If it will gather anything, it is just the oil. And that is why you sometimes find very befuddling, very ironical things happening. People who have been physically close to the teacher since long, you find that they have totally missed the teacher. And then you wonder, “But this fellow was physically so close to the teacher—how did he totally miss? He knows nothing. Even those who were thousands of miles away have gained so much. But this fellow? Zero gain.”

The reason is physical closeness. You were never really close; it was just table and hand, body to body, skin to skin. The heart never came close. So, what will you learn? Even right now, this is being broadcasted live to, I suppose, thousands if not hundreds, many people, and there are so many of you sitting here physically. Is it certain that those who are sitting physically close are getting more from this session compared to those who are watching it online, sitting hundred miles away or five thousand miles away? Is that a certainty?

I know for sure that many of you are not getting anything. It is very likely that the one who is benefiting the most from this session is not even present in this hall physically. Physical nearness is a blessing to the deserving one, he relishes it; and physical nearness is a great curse upon the undeserving one, because by being physically close the undeserving one gets the pride that he is anyways close. And there is no meter, no sensor to tell this undeserving person that you are not close.

There needs to be some kind of a proximity meter which should tell you exactly how close you are, and that proximity meter will surprise and shock many students of the teacher. They might be physically just two meters away from me, or from anybody who can teach, but actually they are ten thousand miles away—ten thousand miles away, yet bloated with the pride that they are close. And when they do not learn anything, they say, “We were so close, we still did not learn. The teacher must be shabby.”

You were never close, not now, not yesterday. You are only as close to the teacher as this hand is to this table. What will the table learn?

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