Acharya Prashant is dedicated to building a brighter future for you
The misdirected craving for inner fulfillment becomes external attachment || Acharya Prashant (2015)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
28 min
196 reads

Question: In one of your videos you say that attachment is the result of space and time. But, often in a situation, if somebody talks to us politely or sweetly, we tend to want to spend more time with that person. On the contrary, if somebody abuses me or throws harsh words on me, I won’t like to sit with him even if he is close to me, even if I have spent lot of time with him. So how is it attachment in this case?

Speaker: See, attachment like everything else, is in the mind . When somebody is nice and polite to you, when somebody is not hurting you, you remember him. You remember him nicely . You will probably call him a ‘friend’. And when somebody is hurtful or abrasive, then too you remember him. Now, you probably remember him as a villain, as an enemy, as somebody to be avoided, right? But in either case, you do remember him. What is common between friends and enemies? You have thoughts about them. You remember both of them, right? You are not indifferent to either of them, and this is attachment. This is attachment.

What is the real meaning of attachment? Understand this.

Deep within us there is a desire to know ‘who we are’. We want to say, “I am” and then we stop there, awkwardly, we don’t know what to say, there is a blank. This ‘I am’ desperately wants to get attached to something, so that the sentence may be completed. Do you see that, this is a very awkward blank; ‘I am’, and then you can’t proceed any further. Attachment is the urge to fill in this blank ; so that the sentence may be completed.

Are you getting it?

So, with friends, ‘I am’ gets completed by saying, “I am the friend of ‘X’.” With enemies the ‘I am’ gets completed by saying, “I am the enemy of ‘Y’.” In either case, the ‘I am’ is getting attached. In either case, the ‘I am’ is getting attached. ‘I am’ needs an object to get attached to.

Attachment is a side-effect of your basic search for identity. Because, you do not know the Real answer, to the question, “ Who am I? ” hence, all you get is attachment. Attachment to ‘this’ and ‘that’.

Are you getting it?

The question arises, and the question demands an answer. The question demands an eventual dissolution. But the dissolution isn’t coming, so the ‘I am’ is like free radical. You know of free radicals in chemistry? Like a hydroxyl ion – OH– or like H3O+ _ they are always searching for something to get associated with. They are very unstable. You know of them, right? They cannot remain lonely. They want something to get associated with. Similar is our sense of ‘I am’. It cannot remain by itself. It needs company. And because it needs company, it gets attached to ‘something’. And that something can be anything. Whatever comes within the purview of mind-space, it will get attached to that. And mind-space is this world, which is space and time.

So, the more time you spend somewhere, the more is the probability of attachment. The more somebody is closer to you, physically, the more somebody is in the range of your sensual perception – something that your eyes can see and ears can hear – the more is the probability of attachment.

Why are we discussing all this?

So that we do not take the process of attachment seriously. So that we know that there is nothing real about it. So that we know that attachment, in fact, hides the real question. By getting attached, one avoids the real question. And the real question will not go away, just because you are avoiding it. You may find it uncomfortable; you don’t want to face it. But it doesn’t go away; it results in a kind of disquiet. It’s like a mental itch, you cannot rest, and you are always quibbling. Have you seen that? One can’t sit in peace. Have you seen this? That the eyes are always searching for something here and there. That the mind is searching for ‘this’ and ‘that’.

We keep looking for ‘this’ and ‘that’, we remain distracted, we cannot keep to ourselves and we do not realize, what is it that we are really searching for?

If one pays a little attention, it becomes obvious that there is something that we are missing and we are desperate to find it out. All this impatience, all this restlessness, all this haphazard movement of energy, and all this random search to reach somewhere; all this comes from that fundamental blankness, that void, the vacancy – ‘I am?’


So fill it with something. So fill it with some thing . It hurts, that blank. So fill it with something. Even if that something is not appropriate at all; fill it up, because that vacancy hurts. And it hurts all the time, so we want to fill it up all the time.

What do we fill it up with?

Some object. So, right now an object is needed, so some of you, for example, would look to see what is happening outside.

Do you know what you are doing? (Laughingly) You are gathering some object to fill in the blank.

Some object is needed, all the time, every moment. It could either be a sensual perception , so if somebody is visible then that person becomes that object. Or if no person is available, which sometimes happens, then we fill it up with thoughts . So, think of somebody. Either look at somebody or think of somebody. Either look at something or think of something. An object is needed.

Listener 1: But Sir, you said that the mind should not be filled with thoughts. Thoughts hinder intelligence. And you are saying that we should fill it with thoughts?

Speaker: Did I say, we should fill it up with thoughts? Did I say, we should fill it up with thoughts or did I describe what happens?

I am saying this is what happens. I am just describing our state. I am just describing our disease; a description of a disease is not a patronization of the disease. Your eyes are searching for something outwards and that is a disease. I am describing it; I am not commending it.

(Pointing towards his book of quotes) These small booklets that you are carrying, one of the things that they say is, “When the disease is unreal, then the diagnosis is the cure.”

If we just understand , that the mind is not at ease. Being not at ease is what I am calling as ‘dis-ease’. Ease is relaxation. We are unable to relax. This way or that way we want something. Relaxation doesn‘t come to us, and that’s disease.

When we realize that such is the dis-ease of the mind, then probably, a huge step towards curing it has been taken. Sometimes, just a description of disease is the cure.

Or is it not?

Listener 2: Sir, one of your quotes says that ‘Suffering is Sin’. But the human perception says that ‘those people, who are evil or have done something bad, generally suffer”. But there are innocent people in this world too and yet they suffer. Now what sin have they committed? Why do they have to suffer?

Speaker: A couple of days back, I asked a particularly ‘ suffering ’ person, “How do you get time to suffer? From where do you eke out this time? From where do you steal this time? There is so much else that could have been done in this time.”

First of all, you understand that suffering is mental, and everything mental requires time. Right? You require time to suffer. You cannot say that I am suffering, instantaneously. Suffering involves thought, emotions and all of them consume time. Don’t they? Can you suffer without time?

So when you are suffering, you are surely pulling out time from somewhere. From where are you pulling out time? That time could have gone to the Real . That time, could have been spent in a space of Joy . That time could have been spend in a pursuit that does not involve the ego . But because you are so much concerned with your own petty self, which is always hungry, it never feels satiated, so you suffer.

I am assuring that if at this moment I say to you- “Think about all your misfortunes, think about all the ways you have been hurt in your life, think about all that has been wrong in your past”, you will start suffering right now!

Some of you might actually be suffering right now; thinking of some event that happened yesterday morning. Now, from where are you taking out time to suffer? You are taking out time to suffer, from this Samvaad event. You could have listened, you could have been attentive. Instead you are choosing to suffer.

No one who suffers is innocent. An innocent man, by definition, cannot suffer.

An innocent man, by definition, cannot suffer. He is impervious to suffering, he does not have that faculty. Suffering is reserved for those who deserve to suffer. If somebody is suffering, it is never an unjust suffering. Kindly give up this notion that ‘innocents suffer’. Innocents cannot suffer and that is why they are innocent.

Do you know what the word ‘innocent’ means? “He is innocent of suffering.” By definition, he is innocent. He is innocent of suffering, he cannot suffer. Only the guilty ones suffer. That is why some wise man once said, that “ the reward of suffering is more suffering” . You suffer and you will be rewarded with more suffering. And the reward of Joy, is more Joy .

Listener 1: Sir, is there a difference between physical suffering and mental suffering? Suppose that there’s a person who has been wrongly convicted for a crime and has been sent to jail. Now Sir, by default, in jail he cannot be happy. He is physically suffering because physically he is in prison and according to your definition, mentally suffering too, because he is taking out time for that suffering. So, can you please elaborate on that?

Speaker: There has to be an ‘entity’ that suffers. There has to be an identification with that entity that suffers. Great works of literature have been written in jails. Do you think, they were written under a spell of suffering? And the people who suffer in jail, do you think their suffering is ameliorated when they come out of the jail? They are still suffering. The one who suffers in jail will suffer, out of jail as well. There is no end to their suffering and the one who does not ever suffer will not suffer even in jail . And as far as physical part of it goes, remember that pain and suffering are two different things. The athlete on the field is surely feeling the pain, a marathon runner at the thirty-fifth mile is surely feeling pain but is he suffering? Yes, tell me is he suffering?

Listener 1 : No Sir.

Speaker: Pain is easy, you can take it. It is suffering that is like a termite for the mind. It keeps eating us. And kindly do not think that one is suffering only when there are tears and sobs and emotional expressions. *We suffers so much that suffering becomes a permanent subconscious state with us. We are suffering even when we are laughing. Wherever there is lack of clarity, there is bound to be suffering. * Wherever there is conditioning , there is bound to be suffering. The man may look very jolly, the girl may look very chirpy but deep within, she is suffering all the time. You know of such cases, right? I am saying that we all are such cases, without exception. And it is because we are suffering, that we seek so many remedies like entertainment, like company, like excitement, like goals and targets, like occasional celebrations. They are all, just a proof of the suffering mind. ( Laughingly ) And we are not in jail, yet we are suffering.

Listener 3: Sir, as you said a person who suffers is obviously attached, that he always wants to fill in that blank- ‘I am’. The person who is innocent, is he ignorant of the blankness? Has he found the solution to the blank?

Speaker: Two situations are there, either he has found a solution or he has not been stained yet. You know what is meant by a solution? Something that dissolves. Dissolves all the rubbish, clears away all the rubbish. That is called a solution. The question is a stain, the question is a problem. A solution dissolves away the question . That is one situation and the other situation is: The question has not even arisen. That is why only two people are innocent, either a small kid – the question has not even arisen, the stain has not been put on the mind – or a wise man – the stain was there, but the stain has been dissolved away. Only these two people are innocent.

But the kid’s innocence is very temporary and fleeting; very soon it would be conditioned by the society. The wise man’s innocence is permanent. Now it is secure.

Listener 3: Sir, so do they get rid of the blank? Do they stop at the point ‘I am’ and then there is no blank?

Speaker: There is no blank. You could either say that there is no blank or you could say that they have known what to fill that blank with. They know what is really important . And nothing else can fill that blank. They know what is really important and they will not allow anything else to fill that blank . And that happens at every moment. For example, this poster fell down (indicating to poster that was hung on the wall and had fallen a few moments ago) and it created a little bit of noise and there was a flutter. And the senses could perceive it, the eye see could see, the ears could hear; all of us could do that right? But some of you knew what is important, so you were not perturbed at all. And there are a few of us who simply did not know what is important and it became something exciting for them. The entire attention went in that direction.

Life gives us demonstrations all the time, it keeps on telling us where we really stand; if only, we love ourselves enough to listen to life.

This was a stain and we allowed this to mark our minds. It created a dent in the consciousness. It created a mark on the mind. We allowed that. We allowed that because we did not know what is really really important. So anything petty, casual, trivial, stinking, unworthy, comes and sits in our mind and we allow it. So, “Who am I? The one who gets disturbed by a falling poster.”

That’s our answer to the question, “Who am I?”( Sarcastically ) That’s what happens, when you are not innocent. And then you suffer and again you suffer. Life gives demonstrations, all the time. You want another one to fall? I will make that happen on an opportune time.

Listener 4 : No, that’s ok Sir.

Speaker: Use that statement with caution. Nothing is ok, actually. Is anything really ok? In such situations, when a falling particle has control in our minds, can really anything be ok?

Listener 5: Sir, what is it that life really wants to teach us? We see good things and bad things around us. So, ultimately what does life wants to teach us? Good things or bad things?

Speaker: What are good things?

Listener 5: Good things are those which are related to ‘me’ and bad things are those to which keep on acting on my mind and I get attached to them. So, life really wants to teach us to stay away from these things or life wants to show us only good things?

Speaker: No, I am still not very clear about, what ‘good things’ are and what ‘bad things’ are.

Listener 1: Anything which makes me feel good or makes me feel relieved is ‘good’. And which does not make me feel good is ‘bad’. It changes from people to people.

Speaker: It changes from people to people, person to person. So, how does it change from person to person; that definition of good and bad?

Listener 5: Sir, it depends on their priorities.

Speaker: Priorities. And how do priorities changes from person to person?

Listener 1: As per their conditioning.

Speaker: Conditioning. So ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is conditioning.

Is life going to adhere to your codes of conditioning? You may think that touching somebody’s feet is wonderful. Will the sunlight increase when you hug somebody? Or do the winds stop blowing when you curse somebody? What does life have to do with your code of conduct ?

There is light in this room, right? Whether you kiss somebody or whether you kill somebody, the light won’t be affected. Light would keep falling, life is like this. Life is indifferent to your beliefs, values and conditioning.

You may celebrate Diwali or you may celebrate Christmas, the weather would remain what it has to or is the weather exceptionally fine, because today is Diwali? If it has to rain, it will rain. Life has nothing to do with your festivals or your sufferings . A great man may have died, but the birds are still chirping, or are they not? And it may be your wedding day, but if it has to rain, it rains? You will feel bad, “Oh my god, my party has been spoiled.”

What does life have to do with your ‘good’ and ‘bad’? What does life have to do with all this? Does the sun rise earlier on your special days, does that happen? Do the rivers start flowing more swiftly? (Laughingly) Do the stars twinkle brighter? Today you have found your love, are the stars twinkling a little brighter? The universe has nothing to do with you, neither has any form of life. You keep feeling small or big, depending on your state of mind, depending upon what the society has fed you with.

Listener 1: Sir, life actually is unconditional. So being an ideal human is aligning yourself with that. Right?

Speaker: Wonderful, very well said!

Listener 1: Sir, how can that happen? Mind does not actually believe that it’s practically possible. So, how is it possible to align yourself to life?

Speaker: You would have heard of Zen, a student once went to a Zen master and he asked him, “Master, how not to feel hot and cold?” The master said, “When it is hot, be hot, and when it is cold, be cold.”

When it is hot, be hot and when it is cold be cold, don’t resist. Don’t resist.

That is it. Be one with whatever there Is . Don’t resist it. Why do you resist it? You resist it, because you feel it is ‘bad’. And sometimes you assist it, you push it, you augment it, but why? Because you feel it is ‘good’. So, being young people, for example, sexual urges arise in you and if the occasion is not opportune, then you resist it, why? Because you have certain sense of morality. At the same time you may not feel like helping somebody, but you will push yourself to help that person; why? Because that’s what your sense of morality teaches you; that these are good things that must be done. So you would do it, even if your heart is not into it, right?

Listener 6: Sir, you said about hot and cold, but our body has defined that 24 degree Celsius is the most ideal temperature. Of course if it will go above forty and fifty, I need to resist that.

Speaker: You are a son of the earth; the earth will never give you something that you cannot tolerate. Remember, that you have not been thrown, as an alien on this planet; you have arisen from this soil, right? You are a part of this soil. The earth is your mother; it will not give you something that you cannot tolerate. It gives you oxygen and nitrogen in a particular proportion. It may change the proportion and then what will happen to you?

Listener 6: Adapt to change.

Speaker: Really? Try that. It takes millions of years to adapt.

Listener 6: Sir, but evolution happens.

Speaker: So, evolution happens at a pace that you can tolerate. Did the dinosaurs evolve? They got wiped out,because the pace of change was simply too, rapid for them. So, even when evolution is taking place, somebody is taking care of you. Somebody is saying, “Alright, let there be change, but let the change be at a suitable pace sothat the fellow doesn’t get extinct.” Are you getting it? Why do you feel that the universe is your enemy? Why? Why do think that you need to resist the forces of nature? Who taught you that the world is an evil place and that you must secure and defend yourselves all the time?That you need to take care of yourself otherwise bad things will happen to you.

The sun is coming to you. Do you understand that somebody is taking care of things? What if you don’t get the sun for one day? Do you understand that sunlight is the source of all energy on earth? All energy. The electricity that is flowing in high tension wires does not come from coal fired plants or hydroelectric projects, it actually comes from the sun. What if the sun was not there? And the One who has given the sun to you, is anyway taking care of you. You have come from the sun, how can sun be bad for you? You have come from this soil, how can the soil be bad for you? You have arisen from the oceans, how can the oceans be bad for you?

Somebody talked of evolution; evolutionary theory says that the first cells were in the oceans. Now how can the oceans be bad for you? How can the winds be bad for you? How? But you must resist yourself, right? You resist the world like anything and in resisting the world, you create a sense of self and that is the ego. In resisting the world you create a sense of individual self and that is the ego.

You do not like the animals. In fact when you want to abuse somebody, you say, “Don’t behave like animals.” You do not like naked nature. Be it the nature outside or be it your own naked nature, you do not like it. You do not like what your Heart tells you, you are mind driven.

Is it not stupid? This belief that we are orphans in this universe and there is nobody taking care of us. Had you really been orphans, how would you have been sitting here? Don’t you see everything is exactly appropriate for you? A little bit of atmospheric pressure and what will happen to your veins? What will happen? You will collapse. A little less atmospheric pressure and what will happen? You will erupt, there will be blood everywhere. But you don’t see that you are being taken care of and you are not being taken care of by the society . There is something else, a total power, a completeness of existence that is taking care of you. You do not see that your riches, your money, your degrees, your pedigree, your knowledge is not serving you. Something else is serving you. You do not see that you have not really come from your father and mother; you have come up from this soil. You do not see that. And that why, you are so afraid.

That is why there is always a need for protection. And a man who is always trying to protect himself, can that man be joyful? Tell me. If you are always trying to protect and secure yourself, can you be joyful?

Listener 1: No

Speaker: You are afraid. And see the numerous ways in which you try to secure yourself -financially, emotionally, physically, and socially. Are we not always in a pursuit of self-preservation, and self-continuation? Is that not, all that we want? To protect ourselves.

You need very little protection. *(Laughingly)*But your image needs a lot of protection.

You, the one that you are, you need very little protection . Believe me. But your dreams and your images need a lot of protection. And they are taking away all your time and energy and life.

Listener 1: Sir, is being sensitive towards things in life, it is considered bad? If somebody abuses me, it is very natural to hold grudges. But I have heard many a times that to improve any relation stop having grudges in life. So is it really bad to be sensitive?

Speaker: What is meant by sensitivity?

Listener 2: Sir, allowing every thought to enter your mind.

Listener 1: How easily you can be offended.

Listener 3: Which things we choose to get attached to.

Listener 1: How easily you respond to external influences.

Speaker: Is that the same as getting offended? When you have to respond to something, can you even respond appropriately, if you are already offended?

Listener 1: Sir, response may be good for you and may be bad for somebody. Depends on the conditions.

Speaker: No, it’s not a question of how the other one takes the response. It’s a question of from where is your response coming? Is it arising from hurt? If the response if arising from hurt, would you call it sensitivity? *(Laughingly)*Or would you call it a wound? Somebody touches your skin and you are able to feel that touch. Yes? And you have an open wound and somebody puts his finger on that and you squirm. You would call that sensitivity, really?

What is sensitivity?

Listener 3: Sir, do you mean to say that we are already suffering and external activities are making us more suffer?

Speaker: No, not yet, not yet, not yet. What I am asking is, surely sensitivity implies a response , right? If one is not responding at all, then you won’t really call him sensitive. Surely, sensitivity implies registering of what is happening. If somebody is not registering at all, you won’t call him sensitive. What I am asking is, where is the response coming from ? If the response is coming from your hurt, can it be called sensitivity? And can there be another point from where your response comes?

Alright, let’s take it in the way you started it. You talked of somebody abusing you. Now, somebody abuses you, you can either respond as somebody who has been hurt by the abuses or you can respond in another way. What is the other way?

Listener 1: Being calm.

Speaker: Can you artificially be calm? You said,“Being calm.”Can you just pretend to be calm? From where will that calmness come?

Listener 1: But I can pretend to be calm.

Speaker: And you pretend to be calm, but you already hurt . It’s just that you are not showing the hurt.

Listener: Sir, that means that I am not sensitive.

Speaker: No, no, that only means that the center is the same. The center is the hurt center. I am asking can there really be not a fake center, can there really be another center from where you respond to the abuse?

Listener: Yes.

Speaker: Yes. What could that be?

Listener 1: From the Heart.

Speaker: And what is that?

Listener 1: The brain is hurt and you respond with an equal stimuli that if you abuse me, I will abuse you.

Speaker: I will abuse you or I will hide somewhere or I go will weep or something . Or I will show who is the boss and I will hit you hard or something. Something, right? Depending on my conditioning. Or may even touch your feet, if you are my elder. Depending on my conditioning, so there is that one conditioned center from where you response can come. Can there be another center from where response can come?

Listener: Yes, the other one is the heart. It will respond in an original way.

Speaker: So, it is the center of understanding , right? It is the center of intelligence . Call it intelligence or call it the Heart, means the same. And that is sensitivity. To respond from the center of understanding. Not from the center of hurt. Not from the center of ego or expectations. Getting it?

To be sensitive does not mean that one is sentimental. Sensitivity and sentimentality are two very different things, do not confuse them. What happens is, if there is a man, who looks at the world and starts crying, you say, “Oh, he is a very sensitive man.” This is not sensitivity. This is just, sentimentality. And sentimentality is conditioning. And we know of many many sentimental people. But we hardly know anybody who is really sensitive.

To be really sensitive, is to be intelligent. To be really sensitive is to, listen to your Heart.

Have you benefited from Acharya Prashant's teachings?
Only through your contribution will this mission move forward.
Donate to spread the light
View All Articles