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Tempted by Campus Placements? || Acharya Prashant, at IIT-Delhi (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Questioner (Q): Pranam Acharya Ji, my question is regarding global warming. As you have talked in various videos that the root cause of global warming is nothing but more and more consumption. So, when we come to our final year, various companies come for placement opportunities, they offer us a lot of money and they pick up the best minds. Some of the people who don’t want to be part of this game, who want to, you know, work with the clean environment and don’t want to be part of this, they feel kind of, sometimes helpless because the enemy is getting bigger and bigger. It’s very hard for us.

Most of the time, we just go with the flow and most people think that’s okay. My question is: how we should hold ourselves so that we don’t get distracted from doing what is right, instead of just going with the flow?

Sir, my second question is, since being technical students, we don’t really get to know about Vedanta and Upanishads . How we can promote like ideologies that Vedanta teaches us?

Acharya Prashant (AP): You see, yes companies come to the campus, and they offer you fat cheques, and most of these companies are indeed involved in stuff that only exacerbates climate change, that’s true. There might be one odd exception, but mostly, the kind of goods and services most big corporations are providing are only worsening the state of climate change. So, you say you know that, and yet you feel a lot of pressure to go with the flow.

The pressure is not from the flow, the pressure is from our very old basic physical tendencies. Even the little kid is greedy. You may have fat offers here that make you shiver in your legs, but you go to another student, probably from an ordinary campus and if they are getting an ordinary offer, then that offer means much the same thing to them as your offers mean to you. It’s not that the package is so large that it has overwhelmed you.

We are born with the tendency to value our physicality much more than goodness. Money is something that appeals to our physicality. You join the company, right? You get the signing or joining bonus, you get your first salary, what do you do with it? You uplift your consciousness? Does your understanding deepen? Your field of love widens? You become a simpler individual? What happens when you start earning? What is it in your life that changes?

I am asking you, does your consciousness improve? Do you grow in compassion? Do you turn friendlier? Do you start understanding the world and life with more clarity? Does that happen? No, that does not happen, yet something changes. What changes? You go and buy better clothes, you go and get a car, you get a well-furnished apartment, or you take a chunk of that money and give it to your parents. Don’t you see all of these are in the domain of physicality?

‘I got good clothes for myself, I got for my body. I got a car that hosts my body. I took the money and gave it to my physical parents, who gave me this body. What an apartment! And I am now visiting better hotels and restaurants.’ What is food all about? The body and the taste. We are born like that, and every single creature or animal is born like that. Which animal have you seen valuing consciousness over physicality? No animal, right? And the closest example, if you want to understand your own condition, I said, is the human baby.

You teach something to the baby, you might find reluctance, you’ll almost definitely find reluctance. You give the baby something to eat, you’ll find instant acceptance—of course, the thing has to be tasty. You have to be pushed to go to the school. Nobody pushes you to come to the dining table, nobody pushes you to sleep. Have you ever set an alarm to fall asleep?

Please tell me. ‘I have set an alarm for 10 pm, so that I can fall asleep at 10 pm, does that happen?’ No, first of all, you don’t set an alarm tom fall asleep, secondly, even if you set the alarm to wake up, the sleep does not want you to wake up. That’s our physical constitution, that’s the way we are born. Are you getting it?

We cannot fight our cells, our DNA. It is there in our DNA. It is there in the DNA of every animal to value physicality a lot. However, homo-sapiens are unique in a sense. We are animalistic but we are not only animalistic. We are animals, but there is something in us, that transcends animals. We have consciousness that aspires for heights. It has a vague restlessness. It understands that merely satisfying the body cannot be the purpose of life. There has to be something higher, so it searches for answers.—'What is that?

What is that? What is that?’ Yes, there has to be something higher in life, merely earning money and threatening yourself, getting better food, better apartment, better cars, better prospects in marriage, better sex, that alone can not be life, there has to be something else, something higher to life.

Our consciousness is looking around to get the answers and to whom does it go, to get the answers? Only to the people it sees around. It goes to the parents, to the teachers and to the influences coming from media and there it asks, ‘Please tell me, what do I do in life, please tell me. I have a vague idea, I have an inkling that life has to be beyond the physical compulsions. But what is it that beyond physical compulsions? Please tell me.’ And what does our education system tell us?—'Well, beyond your physical compulsions is societal respect. Do all the things that will make the society respect you.’ Now a fat pay package is something that the society attaches value to.

So, you say fine and accept that as the purpose of life. It is another matter that, as we just explored, the fat pay package is nothing but an extension of our animalism.

Money can be used for the upliftment of the consciousness, but that’s not what we use it for, right?

Money basically means the body. So, this human consciousness, then gets very focused on doing all the things that society teaches it. We call that as civilization and we call that conditioning as culture and we think that our civilization and culture make us different from animals.

We do not realize that our cities are an extension of the jungle, and our culture is an extension of our animalistic tendencies that we are born with. And that’s the drama that gets played out everywhere, including in campuses. So, just as in jungle, you have various kinds of animals competing with each other for food, for trophy, for hunt or for sex, you find the same scenario being played out in more sophisticated and civilized way in corporate offices and academic campuses. There the animals are competing with each other to get the largest share of the kill. A zebra has just been hunted down, and hyenas and all kinds of other predators,— there are vultures, there are lions—they all want to have the biggest share. Equally in the camp we want to have the biggest offer.

The jungle is not distant from us, because the jungle is within us. We came out from the jungle, but jungle lives within us. Outside we feel there is no jungle, there is only concreate, but within there is just the jungle. A very sophisticated jungle, however.

Rare is the individual who understands this and says, ‘I am not born to live and die an animal. I cannot all those things that animals anyway do.’ Think of the entire life cycle of the average human being. Is he doing anything that animal do not do?

For us, having a good house of our own is such big priority. You look at any species, they all attach great importance to building their nest, or owning their cave or whatever, and they fight with each other for their territorial rights.—‘This is my place, how dare you come to this place!’ Even street dogs mark their zones. Have you seen them lifting their legs and marking their area? That’s what human beings too are doing.

It's just that to dogs, we are very condescending, we say, ‘Oh! These are street dogs.’ When the dogs mark their territory, how is that very different from the boundary walls of our homes? Please tell me. It’s just that animals do not have much of intellect, so they cannot plan too much for the future. We plan for the future as well. Are you getting it?

So, when you look at that mad rush, where people are saying, ‘Let the planet be reduced to ashes, let there be global warming, let there be climate change, let there be biodiversity extinction, I don’t care at all, I care only for my stomach, my conveniences and social approval,’ then you should realize it’s the ancient jungle you are seeing. Ancient jungle! Welcome to the difficult challenge of being human.

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