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Use this method to know your strengths and weaknesses || Acharya Prashant, at BITS Goa (2023)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
8 min
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Questioner (Q): I wanted to ask one last question before we close the session for today. My question was, I have always been taught, I've been brought up and told by my parents, by my friends, by relatives, by my elders that I should never voluntarily talk about my strengths and abilities to somebody else.

Now, as I'm observing my life right now, what has happened is, that has bled into other parts of my life where I am very unsure of myself before doing certain other things and I feel that is the reason for this. All this happens in the name of humility and I am scared of doing it because I have been conditioned in this way where I am not supposed to question these things unless somebody asks me about it. So, how do I get rid of this insecurity or of this imposter syndrome, where I feel I am the loser and even though I know I can do something, I am afraid of doing it?

Acharya Prashant (AP): In your dream you are a beggar, right? Should you be ashamed of it?

Q: No.

AP: In your dream you are a champion wrestler. Should you boast of your strength? It's not about being loud about your strengths, it's also not about focusing on your weaknesses, it's about realizing that what you call as your strengths are not strengths at all, and what you call as your weaknesses are not weaknesses at all, and also, what you call as your strengths and weaknesses are not yours at all. That's what humility is — to know oneself.

But the thing with our ignorant society is that it does not live in the truth, it lives in falseness and then covers up for its falseness by trying to be artificially humble about the false strengths. Are they strengths at all? Are there weaknesses at all? The definition of humility is not that you will be modest about your gains, your accomplishments, your strengths, your powers and whatnot. Real humility is self-knowledge and when you know yourself, you realize how small you are. That's humility.

How do you know something is your strength? I mean obviously, in your batch you must be one of the taller ones, right? How about visiting the American basketball team? Is your height your strength? Is your height your weakness? In one context, you say it's my strength, in another context, you are a dwarf, one and a half feet shorter than the shortest one in the team. In the highest context, your height is not your height at all. It is just coming from the jungle. Did you choose to be this high and what's there in it to be proud of? Have you earned this height? “No, I didn't earn my height, but I earned my muscles, I worked hard for them.” That which prompted you to develop these muscles, was it really yours or was it a social influence? If it was a social influence, then are your muscles yours at all? What are you proud of?

Real humility does not lie in being humble and modest about my strengths. It lies in keeping aside ‘my-ness’ itself. It is not mine; how can I be proud of it? It is not mine. Proud of your black hair? What are you proud of? How is it yours? You love to say “Well, my hair,” but is your hair really yours? Are they yours? They aren't and a friend here, Nirmal (showing a member who has lost his hair), should he be ashamed? What has he done? When the hair was there, it was not his. When the hair is not there, it is still not his. What should he be proud or ashamed of? Did he develop his hormones?

Women don't go bald, Nirmal does and he didn't especially request for the hormones that turn men into this, but we are proud of such things. “I'm proud of my beauty,” did you conduct some kind of beautification surgery, plastic surgery on your face? What have you done about it? What have you done? What are you proud of? It's not even your body. Did you choose your chromosomes, did you choose your DNA? What are you proud of? The same thing applies, in a bodily sense, to the brain as well — IQ 140. “I am proud of my IQ. So, I got into computer science at IIT Bombay,” what are you proud of? That IQ is genetic. What are you proud of? What have you done? Using that IQ if you do something fantastic, then you are probably entitled to be contented, still not proud. You're not qualified to be proud; you are qualified to be fulfilled. A girl comes up and says, “My beauty, my beauty,” I'm stereotyping a bit, but stay with it and then the fellow comes up and says, “My brain, my brain.” That's what he said in ‘Beauty and the Brains.’ The beauty, she has not earned; the brains he has not earned it. Why the hell are the two dancing? I do not know. What have you done? Born Caucasian, you will have bigger muscles. What have you done? What are you proud of?

Very difficult for India to do very well in athletics, even in soccer and difficult to blame Indians entirely for it. Look at the bodies, how will you compete with someone who is six feet six? Not that it is impossible and someday, obviously, being a nation of a hundred and fifty crore people, someday you will field a team in the FIFA World Cup and probably also win it. But still, the odds remain. Are you getting it? Is it yours? If it is not yours, I mean this is not mine, I'm proud of this plant, I'm ashamed of this one. Sir, neither of them is yours.

Now, it is easy to see that when things are outside your body, it is difficult to see that when the stuff is inside the body and inside the mind, it is not yours. Not your strength, not your weakness. What really is your strength then? Your real strength is when you see this, and your real weakness is when you do not see this. So, be humble, and see that none of this is yours; you are an outsider to all this. That, by the way, is also the essence of all spirituality — know yourself as not this.

Q: Acharya ji, thank you once again from the bottom of my heart, from the bottom of all of our hearts, for enlightening us with your passion and with your knowledge, for granting us your valuable time and I am extremely sure all of us have learned a thing or two from this session. And I'm sure a lot of our queries have been answered very, very thoroughly and very explicitly as well by Acharya Ji.

AP: I'm really in awe of your patience. When I was your age, it would have been very difficult for me to tolerate such a thing, and for what, two, two and a half hours, three hours, four hours? Champions, I couldn't have done that, I just hope this makes a beginning. I see great possibilities, wonderful opportunities here. The potential is unlimited. I am not saying this just as a formal closing note, please, I just have no taste for false kinds of formalities. I really see that. First of all, coming here is difficult and sitting through this is very, very difficult. Don't have a scale on which to express how much I wish you all to have a great, great life. So, you'll just have to take my word for it. I really want your best potential to be actualized. Thank you.

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