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That which you desperately seek is made distant by your seeking || Acharya Prashant, on Saint Rumi
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
20 min
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“If the beloved is everywhere, the lover is a veil. But when living itself becomes the friend, lovers disappear”


Acharya Prashant: It is popular, conventional, and sweet to talk of the Truth, the God as the beloved and the mind, or the ego as the lover. That has been the norm in various traditions. That is how a lot of poets have expressed themselves. And the mind delights in thinking that way.

Here we are being challenged to look again and look sharply at the lover. When you say that you are the lover, or the seeker, or the aspirant, what is it that you are saying? I repeat, the lover is the one who wants it. The seeker is the one who is seeking liberation. When you say that you are the lover, or the seeker, or the aspirant, what is it that you are saying?

We like to say that, don’t we? We like to say that we are fond of the Truth, we like to say that we want the Truth. We like to say how is it possible to reach or achieve God or Truth. And that sounds nice, that sounds nice as an intention. It sounds nice. Because morality says that we are trying to do something good, we are trying to reach God; it ought to be nice. But in having that as nice, something important is being missed. What is that?

If you are trying to reach a goal, what is it that is surely established?

That you are not yet there.

In trying to reach somewhere, you have not only said that you are trying, you have also said that you are not yet there. That is the premise one is beginning with, “I am not yet there, that is why I am seeking, that is why I am attempting, that is why the effort.” And when you start from a point of not being there, then that is what you are. That is what you are, “I am the one who is not there.”

I like to say that

In matters of the Essential, the first is the last, the beginning is the end.

If you start from that position, if you start by saying that you are not yet there and you want to reach there, then whatever you do, you do from the centre you started off with, and what is that centre, that is the centre of incompletion. That is the centre of distance. That is the centre of separation. “I am not yet there.”

It is impossible to reach somewhere; I am talking of the dimension of Truth. In that dimension it is impossible to reach. Either you are there already or you are not there at all. It is impossible to reach there. So

To reach the Truth one must begin by having faith that one is already there.

If one is really fond of the beloved, then one must begin with the realization that the beloved is already so close; there is no distance between the lover and the beloved.

If the beloved is distant, if the beloved is beautiful, charming, alluring, but standing out there somewhere, then on one hand you are establishing the beauty of the beloved, and at the same time on the other hand, you are establishing the distance that you have from the beloved, both will remain.

In maintaining the distance, you see what the ego has maintained? The ego has maintained itself. “I am the one who is trying to reach Truth, I am the one who is trying to attain liberation.” So ‘I’ remain. ‘I’ remain. A very subtle trick of the ego. ‘I’ remain. “I am the seeker, I am the one who wants love or freedom or salvation.”

“I” remain.

Rumi cautions us, he says, “The lover is the veil, the lover is the barrier, the lover is the obstruction, the lover is the deception.” If you talk of yourself too much as the sadhak (seeker), as the one who is trying, as the one who is making any sort of effort, then you are proving to yourself that you are not yet there. And in proving that you are yet not there, you are preserving your identities, your sense of self which is the ego, which is you.

So, that subtle are the tricks of ego. Even when it is claiming it is trying to reach God, it is actually doing nothing else than protecting itself, and that is the only thing the ego ever does. It is so insecure that it can only act in self defence.

Even the so called noblest motives of the ego are just intended at self preservation.

The ego may claim anything, but ultimately just wants its own continuation, nothing else.

“The lover is a veil.”

The one who is trying, attempting, reaching, is the one who is the real barrier. Unless all effort is dropped, the one who is making the effort, he cannot be dropped. And he is the only barrier.

The problem never rises outside of oneself. One is the real problem.

He further says that lovers disappear when living itself becomes the friend. Now I am not trying to go somewhere, pay attention to this, it is very subtle, unless you are very sharp, very attentive, the intelligence within you won’t awaken to receive what the speaker is saying. You will miss it.

In saying that you want to reach somewhere, what do you make as important? I am here, alright? You are here, I am here, and you want to reach there. Now what has become important for you? Answer this?

Yes, everybody needs to answer this.

We are here and if we are saying that we want to reach there and that ‘there’ is some kind of an ideal of God, or Love or Freedom or Joy or Bliss or… say what you may. Then what have you made important for yourself?

What have you made important for yourself?

Listener 1 : Reaching there.

AP : You are here and you want to reach there; now what has become important for you?

L2 : How to get there.

AP: Yes, but how to get there is a secondary question. First of all what is important is, ‘that’, the destination. ‘That’. If ‘that’ is important, immediately what has become unimportant? What is it that has become unimportant? Come on, you are here, you want to reach there, obviously your eyes are set there, that has become important, and what has consequentially become unimportant?


Now where are you eating, breathing, sleeping, buying, driving, swimming, walking, loving, dying, where is it, here or there? You are here, mind you, you are here. Where are you living?

(pointing to listeners) You can’t be passive participants with me. I am not a lecture giver. I will not keep feeding. You will have to walk along with me. Yes, where are you living?

L3 : Here.

AP : Here. So if ‘This’ is unimportant, what has become unimportant? What has become unimportant? By making ‘that’ important, you are making ‘this’ unimportant. And it is here that you are living. So if ‘this’ is unimportant, what is unimportant? (Concluding himself) Living itself, life itself is unimportant. So, your total concentration will be on ‘that’ and you will become oblivious to the immediate facts of your living. That is what happens to the seekers of higher Truth. Their minds become so set and concentrated upon some distant star that they totally forget the soil under their feet.

You want to become simple. You want to lose the ego. You want to attain Brahm . You want to slip into Nirvana . You want the A nand of M oksha . And all these are such wonderful and tempting images that now who bothers about the way you are walking, eating, sleeping, buying grocery, driving, talking to strangers, dealing with animals, tackling challenges, now who bothers about all that, right? The ego says, I am occupied in something big and special, and what is that something big and special? Come on, what is that something big and special? What is that something big and special that the ego is occupied with?

‘That’. That. God. Heaven.

And hence, who has the space to bother about the way I behave with my neighbour. And hence who has the space to bother about the fear in my mind. The more you want to reach somewhere, the more you ignore where you are.

But you are breathing here, this is your reality, this is your fact. In fact you are dreaming about ‘that’ while being here. Even to dream about that, you first have to be here. Had you not been here, you’d not have been dreaming about ‘that’. But the dream becomes so captivating, that the hard reality is totally lost upon us.

“Oh, I might be stingy, I might be indifferent towards the chaos in the streets, I may pay no attention to my relationship with the trees, with the river, with the silence, with the stars, with the night, with the streets, I may pay no attention to any of these, but I am one, pointed in my obsession with Samadhi . Samadhi I am determined to have.” And when that calf or that dog comes to me, my reflex is to shove it away or sometimes even hit it with a stone. But Samadhi I am determined to have. “I want peace and for that I meditate greatly. And because Samadhi is something so humongous, so other-worldly, that I am left with no space to look honestly at my relationship with myself. About that now I cannot bother. So living becomes ignored.

The poet here is telling us that when you are not chasing the distant, then living becomes a friend and the chaser disappears. Read those lines for yourself, what those two last lines say. Would somebody read them aloud?

Listener 4 : But when living itself becomes a friend, lovers disappear.

AP : (Repeating) But when living itself becomes a friend, lovers disappear. Which means that when you are living in facts, then the restlessness of the ego which manifests itself as the lover or the seeker or the chaser, it goes away. The facts are so full. The facts are so immediate. The stream of living, the stream of facts is so continuous that paying attention to it is sufficient, being immersed in it is sufficient. Now who has the time to desire salvation. Let salvation be for those who have nothing else to do. I am living, I am alive. And living is sufficient for me. Who wants Samadhi ?

Now this is Samadhi when you do not want Samadhi . Mind you,

You are in Samadhi when you have no desire for any kind of goal or liberation or salvation or Samadhi.

The more you are eager to reach Samadhi, or love, or unification, or dissolution, the more it is certain that you are condemning yourself to not to be there.

Get rid of the one within you, who tries, who schemes, who plans, who executes, who organises, who goes and enrols himself in some program of liberation. The moment that desire to attain some other world evaporates, you are firmly seated in the Truth. And then you laugh on realizing that the Truth was so close to you. So close to you that you are unable to catch it. Imagining that it is too far. That’s a beautiful paradox.

When something is too distant, obviously it cannot be touched. But if something is too close, even then it becomes difficult to touch it. If something is too difficult, then the mind is scared of it. Parallely if something is too easy, even then the mind does not want to accept it.

Because if it is so easy, then what credit do I get? If it is so easy, then what is left for me to do? There must be a problem, there must be a challenge.” The mind lives in problems. For the continuation and existence of the mind, problems are so necessary. It seeks to create problems. Because only when there are problems, will there be fear, and will there be someone to tackle the problems.

Now the mind can have an identity, separate from the world, “The world has a problem and I am the hero who is fighting those problems or I am the victim who is being assaulted by the problems.” Have you noticed these two ego states? You are either the hero who is fighting the problems or you are the victim who is being assaulted by problems.

In either case two things are common, one- the problem, second -you. Sometimes you are a hero and sometimes you are a victim and that keeps flipping. But what is constant is the world and you. The world full of problems, the hostile world, full of enemies and you, the poor one or you, the valiant one.

Getting it?

Mind makes God a problem. By keeping God away, it makes God a problem. Do you see this trick of the mind? It uses even God to sustain itself. It is such an ugly thing to do. You have made God into a problem. You come and ask, you sit here and ask, “Sir, how to reach God?” What a problem. Now if reaching god is a problem then certainly you, the valiant one, you the intelligent one, you the heroic one are required to tackle the problem. And then you also require some G uru or some shopkeeper to suggest the way to beat that problem. “You come, I’ll tell you how to attain M oksha in eight steps. It’s a three month course. And that’s the enrolment desk.”

Now unless there is a problem, how can a solution be sold? So if you want to sell something, first of all it is necessary to convince the other that there is a problem. The wise ones who loved us, in their compassion have always told there is no problem, there is no separation. What are you trying all these methods, techniques, tricks, acrobatics for? They are not needed. You are making a fool of yourselves by keeping Love, God, Truth, Essence, Core – distant.

That which you desperately seek is made distant by your seeking.

Stop seeking and you are there. Instead you have been told that you must seek intensely so that you get it. I assure you that the more intensely you seek, the more intensely you remain the seeker. There is pleasure in remaining the seeker, there is respectability in remaining the seeker. It depends on you, what do you want. The real thing, or the pleasure and respectability of remaining the aspirant.

What is it that you want?

Another funny thing – most of us do not want the real thing. A Famous Indian saint was visiting the west. And he was speaking on freedom. And the audience said we want to know more about freedom. And someone said you have just been theorising. Tell us really, how we can get freedom. He kept listening, he kept listening and then he suddenly said, “Alright, I am giving it to you right now. I am giving freedom. How many of you want it? Stand up. I am giving you freedom right now. You will be free of everything. Now stand up”. Now you very well know what happened, right. What happened? Not a single one stood up.

We want to be perpetual aspirants of freedom. When it actually comes to us, we shy away. There is fun in just prolonging the cycle of waiting. There is fun, hence in just prolonging the cycle of suffering.

Do you see now why suffering exists? In some way the mind finds it fun. Mind finds it fun because suffering sustains the mind. Suffering tells the mind, “you are suffering.” In that sense, the mind is able to say, “I am the one who is suffering. So ‘I’ get an identity. “I am the sufferer. I exist. I am.” Who? The sufferer.

If you take freedom instantly, then who are you? Nobody. You can’t even say, “I am free.” Because you are free even of saying that you are free. That is absolute freedom. Now, that is death for mind, mind won’t take it.

Drop effort. Drop everything that is mental. Drop your cleverness, your smartness, your organised activity. Drop your plans and schedules. The more you try and plan to reach the Truth, rest assured, the more you will keep trying and planning. No method ever succeeds. Truth is not a target. None of our cleverness ever succeeds. Only our innocence succeeds. Only our naked surrender succeeds. And all cleverness and all methods and all seeking is just to escape that naked surrender.

We don’t want to bow down this head. We want to say, “I am the one who attain Truth, through my effort, through my dedication.” It would be humiliating to say that the Truth was so immense that it couldn’t have come to me through anything that I did or I could do. Truth came to me on its own. I just stopped blocking it. That is a humiliation. Because we believe in the personality, we believe in the power of personal choice. We believe in attainment.

We honour our heroes, we honour our achievers. Don’t we? He achieved this, he was an inventor. He discovered something. We honour everybody who has tried. But in spirituality, the hero is the one who does not try. Kindly do not conflate the worldly domain with the spiritual one. The tools, tactics, methods and smartnesses that you apply there will not work here. There you can buy stuff, here you cannot come and buy liberation. There practice works, here practice won’t work. If somebody is telling you that you must practice more and more, then he is an idiot and making a bigger idiot of you.

Practice works when you want to acquire a skill. If you want to be a good swimmer, practice. If you want to perfect a dish, a recipe; practice. But Truth doesn’t come to you through practice. You can’t be a practitioner of Truth.

You can be practitioner of law or whatever.

Yes, what do you say?

Listener : Is it not another desire to not to desire? Is it not another skill or practice to not to want?

AP : very well put. Is it not a desire to not to desire? Is it not another skill or practice to not to want? No. Great that you’ve already covered half the distance. You have realised that trying to not to desire is just another desire. Which means that seeing the futility of desire is sufficient. Seeing, not desiring. You are not desiring to get rid of desire. The desire already exists. You are not adding to it.

You are not saying that I have ten desire and my eleventh desire is to drop these ten. You are saying there are these ten . What are they? What are they giving me? Where are they coming from? And mind you, these are not questions because the answers are anyway clear to you, you already know the answers. I keep on saying, “you only have to acknowledge the answers, they are already there with you.”

You very well know what your desires give you and where your desires come from. And when you see that, then the desire loses its energy. Once you become sensitive that the burning coal you are holding in your palm is eating out your flesh, it drops. And its dropping is not happening via a desire, you are not desiring to drop it, it drops. It drops on its own because you are seeing the damage it is causing you. You are not the dropper, you were the holder. Now the holder on seeing his stupidity is gone. The holder is gone, the dropping happens by itself.

Dropping requires no special action or doing or will or desire. I repeat. Anything that is really essential, or significant will not require your intervention. In the domain of Truth — as if some other domain exists, but still for the purpose of this conversation, I must qualify —

In the domain of Truth, anything that requires your action will always be a barrier. Even if it is your love, even if it is your deep desire for liberation, if it is yours then it is a barrier itself; a Problem.

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