Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, Ramana Maharshi talks about ‘transcending and turning inwards'. Who is transcending and who is turning inwards?
Acharya Prashant (AP): The Ego, the I tendency. Whatever advice is given, is always given to the “I” tendency. Because at the center of everything lies this “I” tendency that takes itself as a sufferer, that takes itself as a loner. No advice is ever given to anybody else. The ‘Atman’ does not need any advice neither do the materialistic elements.
Does the wall need your advice? You keep on preaching to the wall, of what use it is? And you keep preaching to the heart, of what use it is? The heart will not listen to you, the wall cannot listen to you. So, all advice is useful only to the Ego.
The Ego transcends. What does the Ego transcend? The Ego transcends its own inherent belief in its incompleteness. What is the defining statement of Ego? - I am suffering. There is no other statement that characterizes Ego so sharply. The one statement that Ego has is, “I am suffering, I need something.” Of course, you can translate it in various ways. You could say, “I am incomplete, I need something.” You could say, “I am lonely, I need something.” But that is the one thing that Ego keeps on repeating, “I am suffering, I am suffering.”
So, when the Maharshi says, “You must transcend”, he means the Ego must transcend its fundamental belief in its suffering. All spirituality is about that only. You come to see that your belief in suffering is needless. We all live as if suffering is mandatory for living. You examine your action in life, don’t you bring on suffering upon yourself? Please?
AP: Don’t you become uncomfortable if there are periods when you are not suffering? If you are suffering, you feel normal. If you are not suffering, you start suffering because you are not suffering. You start saying this is too good to be true. This cannot be.
What do you easily believe, bad news or news that everything is alright? Don’t you see that you are predisposed towards suffering? Our basic inclination is towards believing that the world is a bad, bad place and we are here to suffer.
If someone comes and tells you, "You know what, your neighbor is really a great man, he is a Mahatma". Would you believe him?
AP: He tells you, "You know what, he slapped you that day to transform you". Would you believe him? But if someone comes and tells you, “You know what, your neighbor is the most wicked man ever born and he is a thief.”
And if the Ego is identical with the statement, “I am suffering” then as soon as the statement, “I am suffering” disappears, the Ego also disappears. That is why we never allow ourselves to say that I am not suffering. The moment you say, “I am not suffering”, you are gone, the Ego is finished.
So, you will be very-very stubborn about sticking to your suffering. Joy eliminates you, that is why you refuse joy. Love eliminates you, that is why you refuse to love. Freedom eliminates our suffering, so we turn our back to suffering.