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Stone covered in gold
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Acharya Prashant: Any kind of attainment whether physical or mental indicates the presence of a bonded one within. The full cannot attain. The limitless cannot add to itself anymore. Only the one with boundaries can aspire to attain. When there are boundaries, then there is scope for addition. When there is a limit, when there is finiteness, then there is a possibility of enhancement or increment.

What can you add to infinity? What will infinity further grow into? There is no possibility. Even the desire or resolve to have these things is bondage. Why is it a bondage? For the very same reason, that physical attainment or the desire for physical attainment is a bondage.

You are starting off from a point of incompletion. You are adding layers and layers to your core of incompletion, right? How do you think that the addition or superimposition of these layers changes the very core? It can hide the core, not change it.

You can take a stone and you can put layer upon layer of gold, and silver, and tungsten, and platinum on it. Ultimately, the piles and layers can combine to show up a great mass of precious and glittering metal. The mass has increased, the glitter has increased; has the core changed? What is it that lies still at the core? The stone. And why did the stone in the first-place attempt to put on these layers? Because of its stone-ness. The stone's success in managing to cover itself up with layers of precious stuff does not rid it of its stone-ness, rather reaffirms its stone-ness. Can you see that?

When you are feeling little or incomplete or hollow, then any attempt to cover up that hollowness just reinforces the power of that hollowness. In such cases, what must be the direction of the right action? Usually, the direction of action is external. Remaining as we are, we want to obtain, attain, put on things that will make us appear different to others and to ourselves. No, the right direction of action must be internal. If I am not all right with my stone-ness or ugliness or worthlessness, then what do I work on? My stone-ness, my worthlessness. No amount of fancy stuff that I conceal my reality with, will succeed in changing my reality to myself.

The world might be deceived for a while because the world looks at you from the outside and outside what is it that the world might see? Gold and silver and such things. You might manage in fooling the world. Where do you look at yourself from? From the inside. And if it’s the stone looking at gold, will the stone change into gold? Even if you have gathered a lot of gold, who is the one looking at gold? The stone. How did the gold change the stone?

In fact, the more the stone looks at gold, the more it develops in inferiority and the more it gets surveilled towards the gold. "I am stone, I am not gold. Will I allow the gold to be lost? I’ll remain so insecure. Gold obtained has now to be protected because who am I? I remain the stone. What is it that gives value and worth to my existence? Gold. I’ll have to dedicate myself to the gold."

"The gold is not a resource that I have. The gold is not there to serve me. I am at the service of gold. The gold has to sit and I have to work for gold." Because, honestly, you do know which of these two is more valuable? Stone or gold? Gold. If gold is more valuable, then obviously, stone has to work for gold. Why will gold work for stone? Now, you know why people work for money and riches? Because they know that money and riches are more precious than their own being. So, it’s a logical thing to do. The worthless one has to work for the stuff that is worthy. You know inside of yourself that you are a worthless being. Therefore, you keep serving gold.

Wherever you find gold, you bow down to it. Wherever you find gold, you want to add it to your life. Why? Because, internally, you are just a worthless piece of stone. Would have been all right, had all of this added up to something worthwhile. It doesn’t add up to anything. If you have a little gold, then you are a servant to a little gold. If you somehow manage to accumulate a lot of gold, then you are a servant to a lot of gold. Which means the more you accumulate, the bigger servant you are.

You are working hard to deepen your servility. You are working hard to fetch more masters to rule over you. How intelligent is that? Ask, do your resources exist for you? Or do you exist for your resources? Good, simple, fun, but creepily unsettling question to ask. Do they exist for you? Do you exist for them? Are you the owner of your house or the guard of your house? Are you inside your kurta or is your kurta all over you? "Technically, these two are the same questions." Really? No, not at all. Are you inside that kurta or is the kurta upon you?

You have all heard that story, right? Sufi’s story, Junaid’s, “Junaid and the Cow”. So, why should I narrate it if all of you already heard it? Somebody has to say that he hasn't.

(One person from the audience raises his hand indicating he hasn't heard the story)

(Laughingly) See, he knows nothing and he is still so proud.

So, Junaid is going somewhere with a few of his disciples. In front of Junaid is a man walking with the cow, and the man is holding the leash and the cow is behind him. So, Junaid says, “Wait, this is a moment to learn something.” He asks his disciples, “Who owns whom? Does the man own the cow? Does the man lead the cow? Or does the cow own and lead the man?” The disciple says, “Sir, it is evident. The man owns and leads the cow.” Junaid says, “No, had the answer been so simple, why would have I asked the question?” He says, “Fine, any of you carrying a knife or a scissor or something?” He gets one. You know, insolent as fakirs are, he jumps to the man and cuts the cord. The leash has been now cut and cows are experts at utilizing such moments. She just sprints away. It’s already quite comical, a sprinting cow. She sprints away and the man is running behind. Junaid asks his chaps, “Now, you tell me who leads whom?” Now you tell me.

The bondage of the cow was at least material. For the cow to be kept in bondage, a material leash was required. But the bondage of the man is so subtle, the cow is leading the man with nothing to leash the man with, except the man’s own mind, self, ego. That’s a question you must ask. Do I own my things or do my things own me? What am I without these things? Who’s on leash?

In some sense, spirituality is all about unleashing yourself, which is freedom from bondage. The leash is the bondage.

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