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The need to keep thinking of the past || (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Questioner: Acharya Ji, I have a question on ‘the mind rehearsing stuff’. Basically, my situation is like – Something happened decades back in the past, where I didn’t give the right response to a situation, and my Ego got hurt. My mind starts recreating the scenario, where I am giving the right responses. Such thinking is just wasting my life and time. I don’t want to live in such imaginations, but in the present reality. So, please guide me in achieving this.

Acharya Prashant: Hark back to the past or identify itself with the past, the reason is that the ‘I’ is looking for satisfaction and surely there is a little satisfaction that is to be derived from the past. The ‘I’ is looking for strength and security. If looking back at the past offers it a modicum of strength or security, then the ‘I’ will choose that option, and you cannot blame it.

Somebody is thirsty, really thirsty, and in that condition if he is being offered a little bit of water, just a little bit of water and that too impure water, the fellow might decide to take that option. Remember that he is thirsty. Should we then talk about the fellow’s thirst and blame him? No, even if you blame him, it won’t help because he is indeed thirsty.

Continuously pointing fingers at his thirst, or declaring him evil because he is thirsty, won’t help. Similarly, pointing fingers at the one who is providing that little bit of water, impure water, too, won’t help. The one who is providing that half relief, that false relief, is at least providing something; and if you are very thirsty, then that something is better than nothing.

You have to question – “Why there is no pure water anywhere?” And pure water cannot come from memory or aspirations. Pure water is something that you have to dig for, right now. It’s a fountain that springs only by dint of your determination, your work, your immersion in life.

When you are immersed in life, that great ocean called life, there is enough water, then there is no need to look for shallow and dirty reservoirs.

The past is one such shallow and dirty reservoir. First of all, there is not much it can offer, it’s just an image. Secondly, that which it offers is not factual. All memory is partial, and remaining in the purview of the mind, it also gets mixed and corrupted. So, first of all – partial, you can never have full memory of anything because you never know anything fully. Memory is partial. And once something goes to the memory, it does not remain what it really was, it gets distorted. You have to ask, why do you have to go back to the past and its memories? Surely, they hold some attraction that the present is not able to match.

Make life very very intense. Let life be deep so that it is possible for you to be immersed in it. You cannot get immersed in a rat hole. You cannot get immersed in a pothole on a road. Alright, roads there don’t have potholes, but you know India, right? So, you know what a pothole on a road means, not deep enough for anybody to get immersed; and if you do get immersed in a pothole on the road, the consequences can be disastrous.

That’s what life is for. Dig your own place and then dive deep into it. Then there will be no need, no memory, no inclination to rush backwards or forwards. That which you are into, will consume and occupy you so fully that you’ll have nothing left to spare for this and that.

I talked of satisfaction. It is not merely happy memories that offer us satisfaction, even nightmares, even memories of losses offer certain security to the Ego; and therefore, we stick to those memories. The Ego will stick to anything that provides it sustenance – a name, an identity.

So, when I stick to a hurtful memory, what am I doing or saying? I’m saying, “I am the one who suffered that tremendous loss 20 years back.” So, what is that tremendous loss doing? "It is enabling me to define myself right now in a very strong way"; because that loss was big, so now the definition has some weight. “I’m a survivor of such and such tragedy”, that’s how I define myself.

The Ego relishes it, the Ego obtains backhanded satisfaction even from memories of tragedies.

So one who is found frequently reminiscing of tragic events, is not really somebody to be pitied. The fellow is playing a game upon himself. The fellow is seeking the pleasure of satisfaction, even if shallow. But, because it is shallow, so it is never complete. One wants something more.

If you want something more, then engage yourself in that which is worthwhile. How to know what is worthwhile right now? That which shackles you, contains you, limits you, must be your project.

Life’s projects, first of all, have to be destructive, only then, later on, can one really be creative.

All creativity has to be preceded by negation and removal; and that must be the project to begin with – intense, deep, all-consuming project.

Get rid of all that within you that keeps you small and petty. Fight it as you would fight a murderer in front of you. A lot needs to be removed. A tremendous lot needs to be cleared away; and as all the toxic and life-sapping stuff starts clearing away from within and without, you will find that you are gaining in your timeless purity, innocence, and a certain creativity starts flowing through you, are you getting it?

Such creativity is not possible in the backdrop of, or on the foundation of, all the toxicity we have accumulated and even identified ourselves with. Clear that away; that must be your mega project. Once you are in the throes of this mega project, it will be such a tremendous challenge that you will have no time, no inclination left to time travel to the past. That’s the only solution.

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