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Planning is good, but what are you planning for?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
39 reads

Questioner: I have listened to some of your talks where future planning has been treated as a form of insecurity. Although I am working now, there is no pension later on; so definitely, I need to plan the expenditure after my retirement. This makes me feel guilty that I don’t have the faith or the guts to walk on the path of truth. So is it that I am making a mistake by saving the money?

Acharya Prashant: The question is not that you are not planning, the question is what are you planning for? What are you planning for? Are you planning to take care of your usual expenses? That amounts to nothing. Or, are you trying to take care of your usual expenses so that you can dedicate yourself to something lofty? These are two very different things. I am saving for old age—Statement one, I am saving for old age so that I can take care of my expenses. Here the thing is, I need to provide food and other logistics to the soldiers. Not because they have stomachs, but because they have weapons. Feeding the stomachs means nothing but feeding the stomachs of those who are fighting for the right thing means everything. So, feed not their stomachs but their weapons. What are you planning for?

What you are planning for depends on the center that you are coming from. If your entire life is dedicated only to your own little comforts and insecurities and securities and this and that and trivia. Then you will plan for trivia. And, if you have something a bit bigger, probably something immense in your life then you will plan for that. And obviously, you cannot plan for the unthinkable one but you can plan for yourself at least. You may not be able to plan out the course of your journey but surely you know that you will be journeying for long. So you can plan to keep reasonable amounts of supplies with you. You understand the difference? I do not know from where this notion comes, that planning per se is wrong or spirituality unacceptable. What does spirituality have to do with declaring any one aspect of mental activity as right or wrong?

In spirituality the right center is right, and the wrong center is wrong. There is only one right and there is only one wrong. Whatever you, therefore, do from the right center is right including planning. Whatever you do from the wrong center is wrong including lack of planning. Just because you don’t plan, you don’t become a monk or a Saint. You might be a loafer or a drunkard of the worst kind, who does not even have the brains to plan. So, the mere absence of planning is no proof of spiritual upliftment. It may as well point towards mental degeneracy. You don’t even have the intellect to plan. You don’t have the discipline to plan therefore you are not planning. What’s spiritual about all of this? Planning requires subtle faculties of the mind. You have to look at resources, you have to look at inflows, you have to look at outflows, you have to peep into the future. Somebody whose brains are eaten out won’t be able to plan. So, remember this;

The very absence of one thing or the very presence of another thing is no guarantee of anything spiritual.

All I will always ask is, what is the place you are coming from? For what is this? What is your center? Ultimately what is it that you what? That's the difference between usual morality, social standards, and spirituality. That’s why spirituality is so fantastic and so dangerous. It is fantastic because it does not give you any rules and it is scary because it does not give you any rules.

Most people do require rules as crutches to live by. We sometimes complain that rules limit us, the rules are like boundaries or like bondages. That’s not the fact. If you take away the rules they would complain, because they live by rules. The average person, if he gets up one particular morning and has not been instructed to do something, will find himself quite uncomfortable as some people are on weekends. Because on the weekdays everything is rule-bound for you and somebody has set the rules, so you are okay. "I have to reach the office by such time, or I have to be in my shop at such time. I have to be back by such time."

We require boundaries and rules. The open sky appears tempting and inviting but is actually very scary to most people. "What do I do now with my life? I’ve just woken up. What do I do now?" By the way, that's the principal challenge in entrepreneurship. "What do I do now? I have just woken up! Nobody to guide me, nobody to impose anything on me and that’s such a problem. There is nobody to impose anything on me. No boss, what to do now?"

In spirituality, everything is allowed, provided it is coming from the Right place. Therefore, the common intellect often feels confounded. How come such a spiritual person is doing such a thing? He is doing such a thing because that’s the thing to be done from the Right place. And that’s why the biographies, the stories of the Saints are so distorted by the institutions, by the churches, priests, and folklore—the common public as well. Because the real lives of the really spiritual people contain so much that would be morally unacceptable to us. And we will say, "If he was a saint why was he doing all these things? Because all these things are needed to be done if you are a Saint." Only a Saint can do those things, the common man cannot. So, what do we do then? We delete those portions from their lives. Are you getting it?

So, there is no spiritual sanction, Plan. Plan with spiritual impunity. No God is going to punish you for planning. Yes, but if you live a Godless life that is a punishment in itself. Get the difference? A very good example is the Buddha himself, Shakyamuni Buddha. The level of organization and foresight and planning he displayed is utterly awesome. By standards of management theory, he was a very, very good manager. And there would have been no Buddhism around us had he not been such a great manager. Buddhism today is with us as much due to the management skills of Buddha as due to the soundness of his message.

But we emphasize only one thing, what? "Oh! He is Buddha, aura, and these things. All the Gods came, and they showered petals on him because he got enlightened." That’s not the way it happens. There is a lot of work involved there and you do not want to talk of it because work tires us, work scares us. So, we talk only of those things in which there is no work involved, right? Like sitting under a tree and suddenly getting enlightened. It’s a tough thing for tough people. You have to work really, really hard and not merely, internally, you have to work hard externally as well, with your limbs as well. It involves that as well and for long periods.

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