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The gap between understanding and action
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Acharya Prashant: The quote says - “Every thought I have imprisoned in an expression I must free by my deeds.”

What are the deeds? What is honest doing?

In honest doing realization guides thoughts, determination, and in that, determination instantaneously turns into action. The doer is realization. The real doer is a certain clarity. And because there is clarity so there is a smooth flow. One doesn’t have to stumble and ponder and consider and re-consider. What begins quickly reaches the end like a forceful stream. Streams with lesser force get lost in deserts, quagmires and have to face all kinds of anger, bends, distributions.

Realization and action must go together, realization being the beginning and action being the end. And in between realization and action, there is the possibility of much. There is the possibility of many happenings, much consuming away the momentum. All that happens between realization and action is nothing but an internal ploy to prevent the circle from gaining completion to prevent the stream from reaching the sea. And obviously, all that in-between-ness is possible only if realization is not complete.

Khalil Gibran is saying - “Every thought I have imprisoned in an expression I must free by my deeds." No expression can be a substitute to action. Even the most beautiful kind of expression is no substitute to the right action. You could say that the right action is the only right expression. Understanding expresses itself through action. And understanding knows no other expression. Words are a very poor substitute for the right action and that is what Gibran is talking of here. He says that which is understood claim for its final expression as action in life. The poet often lets his understanding become his words. To that extent, there is a flow but if the words remain mere words and do not turn into life then there is no freedom yet. The imprisonment continues. It is not at all sufficient to talk of the Truth, one has to live the Truth. The Truth must sit not merely on your tongue but in all parts of your body. Your hands must express it, your legs, your eyes, your ears. Not merely your tongue or your pen.

In fact, the frustration of the one who gives only half expression is greater than the frustration of the one who gives very little expression. Therefore, often poets are very sad people. The ordinary man has very little clarity and therefore, very little responsibility to express his clarity. But the poet has far greater clarity and consequently far greater responsibility as well. When the poet is not able to live what he has known then his punishment is severe. He enjoys a certain bliss as well. That bliss is when he is able to write, compose, sing. But having known that bliss he gets even more thirsty for complete joy. Total freedom. Effulgent ecstasy. And if that ecstasy doesn’t come he faces hell.

You must understand this very clearly. Those who have very little realization will also have very little suffering. This is quite strange because usually, we think that lack of understanding causes suffering. That must be put in context. If you have absolutely no understanding, you will have absolutely no suffering also.

Suffering begins with awakening and that is why often awakening is avoided because total sleep, deeply unconscious sleep is also a state of no suffering.

As you start waking up you start experiencing pain. And in total understanding again there is no suffering. There is no suffering in zero understanding and there is no suffering in total understanding. But there is a lot of suffering in between. It is of that suffering that Khalil Gibran is talking about.

As you listen to me, you are not someone with zero clarity. You already are awake and therefore, you already are in pain. There are only two ways left to remove that pain. Either go back to your primitive sleep or with determination move towards total awakening. The one who has not seen the Truth will also not miss it. But once you have had a glimpse of its beauty, the sheer magnificence, and splendor of the Truth, then to bear its absence is excruciating. Those who have not known any exalted states will be content with living in their ditches. But the ones who have had soaring flights will find it humiliating to again belong to the mud. Khalil Gibran’s own life is a case in point. His compositions tell of both euphoric joy and deep melancholy. The reason being that his life would often not match his words.

So Nimisha (Questioner), that which you have just quoted from Gibran is probably his own life experience. Anything short of total expression, anything short of life itself devoted to the Truth, not merely a part of life, not merely an hour of the day will keep the seeker in pain. And as the truth will keep getting clearer the pain will keep getting unbearable. Truth will, like a petulant child, keep asking the question, "If you love me why don’t you dance with me?” Truth will, like an innocent beloved, keep asking the question, “If you love me why don’t you live me?”

Live what you love, otherwise, the punishment is tremendous. Or if you are not prepared to drop your fears then stop loving, stop knowing. Give up all clarity. Take a U-turn, if you can. When you first come to know of that unspeakable beauty, when the ineffable first reveals itself to you then it is wonderful to sing of it. Then it is wonderful to run crazy, run amok, talking of it, shouting of it. But after a point just talking of it is not beautiful rather dis-graceful. You must know when you have crossed over from the beautiful to the dis-graceful. Initially, if you just compose hymns in praise of the divine beauty it means you are on the right path. You are saying all the right things. But if you just keep saying all the right things, it means you are your own block in the path.

One may begin with words but if one remains at words then one is guilty of deliberate infidelity.

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