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True love is another name for discretion || On Advait Vedanta (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
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“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”

~ Rumi

Questioner: Dear Acharya Ji, this poem from Rumi calls to me like never before. I feel I am just doing prudent planning at this point of my life. There is nothing in life that reflects anything of this poem, and yet it appeals to me so much. It feels like something from my wildest dreams, and the mind says, “I wish you could do what the poem says.” Can you please expose my conundrum in relation to this poem?

Acharya Prashant: You are right! Rumi is saying run away, forget safety, destroy your reputation, be notorious. You are taking it step by step, carefully planning. Sometimes it is cowardice to stay where you are. And sometimes when the urge to take the plunge is very powerful, then, in an interesting way, it requires a lot of guts to withhold the urge to plunge.

In different contexts, the need for security means different things. Somebody who is seeing security in the US, refusing to come over to India, would mean that the fellow is chasing security, fearing insecurity, those things. But someone who is feeling a strong urge to come over to India is already beyond the concerns of security. Had the concerns of security been so very important, then the urge to just come over could not have been so powerful. The urge is there, so the concern for security is already gone.

Now, your system is clamoring to leave your place and be here. In an interesting and inverted sense, you are now seeing some kind of higher security here. So, it does require guts to still stay put where you are. Now you are not staying there for reasons of greed or fear; now you are staying there for reasons of wisdom. The work that you are falling in love with requires that you physically join it only after reaching a certain stage, only after crossing a certain date.

Don’t you see that it is not a poem favoring security that you are sending to me? You are sending over to me a poem that is favoring a crazy plunge. So, you have already lost taste for safety, etc. Had you still had a taste for those things, why would you send this crazy poem to me? And you are saying this poem is calling out to you like never before.

So, do not unnecessarily be harsh upon yourself. Two people doing the same thing can actually mean vastly different things. Most people, most Indians who refuse to come back to India after they are well-settled in the US, do so because of concerns of fear, greed, comfort, safety, etc. But then there are those who are going beyond those little comforts; they are seeing some greater value in returning and plunging. Even they can sometimes be asked not to return. Not because the US is a comfortable place, but because it is not a matter of one person’s likes or dislikes or enlightenment or attainment; it is a matter of an integrated mission.

So, you join the field when the mission requires it. You come over to bat when the team demands it. You cannot say, “I am so eager to score runs for my team that I cannot sit back in the pavilion. Here is my bat, my sword, and I want to go out and just demolish the bowlers and send them off the park. I will open because I love my team. I’ll declare that I will open because I love my team.”

If you love your team, then do not appoint yourself the captain and the coach. Let the captain and the coach decide when you will come over to bat. It can be a bit frustrating to just keep pulling your heels even as you are brandishing your sword, but that’s part and parcel of being a part of a team. You are not a lone wolf, you are not a solitary missionary. If the work requires you to be at a particular place, stay there. If the work requires you to come over, come over. Let the work decide, let the captain decide.

Let this poem burn within you. But also do remember that I have repeatedly said that love without wisdom doesn’t go far. Love requires discretion. True love is another name for discretion. God and freedom and liberation are very alluring; they are so beautiful that they tempt, and in one’s crazy love for freedom, one can miss the way.

Therefore, even as you are tempted towards liberation, continue to hold your wisdom. These two have to be necessarily together—love and wisdom.

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