Questioner (Q): Yesterday, we were listening to Upanishads. We saw that the disciples were asking a lot of questions: Why are things happening around us and so on. I also get these questions a lot and have been getting these questions for a long time and never have I found a solution. You said yesterday, that you are never going to find a solution. I have an observation that when I am very busy in anything, whether it is a hobby or even office work or whatever it is, these kinds of questions don’t come up, because I just forget about them.
My question is, is staying busy a solution? Is that it? Is it all about keeping yourself so busy that these questions, they don’t even get time, they don't even bubble up?
Acharya Prashant (AP): Being busy is a double-edged sword. If you are busy with the right thing, nothing like it! But if you are busy with the wrong thing then you are damned. So, you have to be very careful before you immerse yourself in something. Immersion is not in itself a virtue. You have to find out what you are immersing yourself in. You could either immerse yourself in something that dissolves you, right? Like a lump of sugar in water. Or you could immerse yourself in something that will crystallize more of you around you, like a lump of sugar in a saturated solution of sugar.
So I understand the thing about being busy or remaining immersed is much in circulation these days, but one has to be very careful. That's the test- “Am I becoming more of myself or am I becoming less of myself? What am I allowing to occupy me?”
The wrong kind of immersion is like anesthesia, you will feel no worries because you are rendered unconscious. The wrong kind of busyness or immersion operates by lowering your consciousness. And when consciousness is lowered then pain reduces. The right kind of immersion operates by elevating your consciousness. When consciousness is elevated then there is a distance from pain, because pain exists only at the middle level of consciousness. If you rise above it then there is a distance between you and the pain. Not that the pain subsides but the pain subsides for you. You are away from it, no?
There is a great fire - close to it, feel the heat. You step back, you don’t feel the heat. Has the fire dwindled? Then why aren’t you feeling the heat as much? There is a distance now.
That's how elevation of consciousness works; that's the right kind of immersion. Most people are either scared or incapable of the right kind of immersion. Therefore, they would try all kinds of substance abuse and psychedelics and what not. That's a temporary relief, a temporary relief that returns with vengeance, to hit you and bite you. It hits you, bites you, and makes you more dependent on the disabling drug. That disabling drug need not be a chemical or weed. It could be something ostensibly as harmless as entertainment. “I love my Xbox” – and it is not illegal. But it is performing much the same function as banned narcotics.
If we were a conscious society then we would see that. Much of the gaming industry, why does it exist? You are losing the game of life, it's a convenient substitute to win a few cheap games on the screen, sometimes, even sports and obviously sex. But still, even the wrong kind of occupation or immersion can be useful to an extent; initially, not for long. It gives you a glimpse of what is possible. It gives you a tiny fleeting experience of distance from pain, a peaceful relief. It tells you that the noisy humdrum life is not really compulsory, there can be an inner silence. It's just that the inner silence, if it comes through false means, it would degrade you rather than elevate you.
So, it is good to immerse yourself but in the right thing, please.