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Spirituality is the ability to live without escaping
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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Questioner (Q): We have just read about the Saints or people who are meditative and who stay in meditation for years or days. In what kind of state they are? Like, they are neither in joy or sorrow or...

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, anybody, who quits life to stay in one particular state for years is simply not worth talking about.

Q: Like Shiva, who is said to be in meditation only.

AP: Did Shiva come and say that?

Q: We have read about it.

AP: Somebody may have said that; people keep on saying ten things. There is no Shiva meditating anywhere. There is no Kailash, on top of which, Shiva sits. Shiva and Kailash are symbols. They are symbols pertaining to your own inner reality. Shiva does not meditate for years or centuries. There is nothing called entering meditation or practicing meditation. There is only life—life and its situations, and that's all that there is.

You may be a great meditator—if you do not know what to do when your house is on fire—then what is the point in living? Yesterday, we were at Nainital, and we were looking at the photo of a great Saint. And I asked Kundan (one of the volunteers), “Kundan, we have come here driving all the way from Mukteshwar, and now we will be traveling to Delhi. Tell me, this is a rainy night, and it's getting deep into the night now. The car gets a flat tire, and the road is deserted, would this Saint be able to take care of this situation?”

What is the point of all your meditation? Look at his shoulders—powerless, dilapidated. He can't even lift the jack. What is the point in his meditation? What do you mean by meditating for 3 years somewhere? Do you learn to live life by escaping from life? And this is what life is about. This is where your response is needed. I said, “Look at the books written by this saint. Where are life situations in those books? Where is job? Where is money? Where is love? Where is sex?”

This is what our lives are made up of, and the fellow is only talking about Parmatma (God). If you do not know how to change a tyre, would you say, “I am that” or “who am I?” and will that suffice? If you do not know how to cook food for yourself, if you do not know how to use a mobile phone, if you do not know how to live in this world, what meditation are you talking of? This is the only spirituality that there is: the ability to live; the ability to live without escaping.

Sitting in some secluded and protected ashram, all your life, with devotees providing the donations, with the staff taking care of all your physical needs, it is easy to sermonize. Go ahead, and really earn a rupee! Out on the streets, would you be able to earn even 10 rupees? And remember that those who are coming to offer you donations are giving you their hard-earned money. So don't talk of saints who know nothing of the world, and go and bury themselves in some ditch, or enclose themselves in some cave and meditate for years. To put it bluntly, it is just sickness.

Q: So we should live like animals? Like for example, just live, not to hang on to the past, or to overthink about the future. Is that what we should do?

AP: No animal makes this statement.

Q: But they don't plan.

AP: Figure out how animals live, then you will be able to learn and talk a lot. Right now, the situation is that you do not even know how we live, what is the point in discussing animals?

Q2: If I don't know how am I living, will I be able to figure it out?

AP: Yes, of course. In saying that ‘I do not know how I am living’, you have already figured out a great deal. Without figuring out anything, would you have been able to say that you do not know how you are living?

Q2: That may come out of ignorance also that ‘I don’t know’.

AP: If you are totally ignorant, could you be able to say anything? Ignorance means, ‘I do not know anything’, so will you know even this that you do not know how you are living? To admit that you do not know means that you have already seen that you do not know.

Q2: But had I been so capable, I wouldn’t have been in this situation?

AP: But you are. In spite of being capable, you are in this situation. Is that not stupid?

Q2: Can the stupid person cure himself?

AP: The stupid person is capable as well and that is why he is stupid. The stupid one is called stupid, because in spite of being capable, he is taking himself as ignorant. So the stupid one is the capable one. Had he not been capable, we wouldn't have called him stupid.

Q2: But if he is capable, why is he in such a mess?

AP: That you need to figure out. People have called it Māyā . It does not just live in words; it lives in your daily actions, lives, your means of livelihood, your daily decisions.

Where are you living? What are you working? Where do you go every day? All that is Māyā. What do you avoid? Where are you present? Where are you frequently absent from? That is Māyā.

Q: So what is the right way of—means, not the right way, but how should one live? Just for clarity's sake, I am asking. "How should one live?", that's my question.

AP: With the answer that I might give and also without the answer that I might give. If I give an answer, one lives with it; if I don't give an answer, one still lives with it. That is the way to live. You have it, live with it; you don't have it, live without it. In either case—live.

Q: You will live because the body will die as per its capacity only. You have no choice in dying also.

AP: Does the body really die as per its own will? When you are stuffing all the stuff into the machine, is it really going to die as per its own will? When you are driving as you do, will the body die as per it on will? Seriously?

Q: Not always but generally.

AP: Never. Forget about…

Q: It (body) has an expiry date.

AP: No—no—no—no—no—no, the body does not die as per its expiry date. The way we have built ourselves, we do not allow the body to die, and we also do not allow the body to live healthily. You can be on a ventilator for 2000 years and not die. What do you mean by expiry date? There is no expiry date now.

And also, there is nothing called a healthy body, living its healthy life. All that, which goes into the making of a ventilator is exactly what gives you cancer. The ventilator comes from the whole industrial setup. Sans that industrial setup, there is no ventilator. And that industrial setup is exactly what also gives you cancer, and the need to be on the ventilator. So forget about the body running its natural course. There is nothing called a natural course left in our lives.

Q: From Krishna's life what I've understood is when time is up then wind it up.

AP: You know what—Krishna was such a handsome, young man.

Q: What I have understood, I can only say; everybody has its own interpretation. But he did everything worldly. There was nothing he didn’t do, and still, he maintained that kind of resistance with that worldly matter thing. He didn’t get himself in doing. So that can be the right way of living.

AP: For whom?

Q: For us?

AP: For Krishna. And he didn't allow himself to be sucked into...

Q: That worldly matters.

AP: No. He was very much a man of the world, but he didn't allow himself to be sucked into social patterns. Being a man of the world and being a social man are two very different things. He wouldn’t go to a barbershop; his name was Keshav. He had long hair. He didn't say that, “The society asks me to get a haircut, so I will get the haircut.” And he was a prolific lover. And he would play the flute. And his princess was a girl in blood relation with him, an elder to him, and a very ordinary girl. And he loved the Yamuna. He loved the flute. He loved the girl; he loved a lot of girls.

That's Krishna, a man of this world but not a man of the social order. You want to emulate Krishna, emulate him fully; nothing wrong with emulation. Nothing wrong with anything full. And he was a fighter, and he fought without trepidation. Resourcelessly, he would challenge Kings—jolly good fellow. He was not looking to emulate someone, or was he?

There he is (pointing at the picture of Krishna on the wall); look at the certainty on his face, look at the calmness even as he blows the conch in the middle of the battle. He is not running away from the world. He is not saying that, “I am going to meditate now.” Anybody who has read about Krishna’s schedule of meditation? And his shoulders are not weak. And he does not have any need to give up clothes; he is dressed beautifully. Look at him, he won't say that, "I will just rid away all the clothes!"

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