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What do attachment and expectation do to love?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
8 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, the main two enemies on the path of love that always stop one from moving forward are attachment and expectation, and they both lead to suffering and it takes a lot of guts and effort to stand up and walk again on the path of love.

Acharya Prashant (AP): Is it really so difficult? Why have you come here? You haven’t come here to reinforce your attachments and expectations, have you? You very well know that when you come here, attachments will dissolve, expectations will be exposed. Right? But you have still come here, haven’t you? So, there is something bigger than the preservation of attachment and expectations, and that is why you are here. Your very presence here is the proof that you value something more than attachments and expectations. Right? So why aren’t you talking of that real thing? Why are you talking so much of A and E?

Had you really valued A and E more than the real thing, then you would have proven your inclination through your absence. Your absence from this place would have proved that you are determined to preserve your A and E. After all, this is not a place to cultivate A and E, is it? But you have arrived here, right? And in arriving here, you have overcome something. Now, why are you glorifying that which you have already overcome?

It’s like defeating somebody and then wondering aloud, "How overpowering the enemy is?" Hello! The enemy is lying broken and defeated at your feet. Why are you singing his paeans and thereby resurrecting him? In fact, if A and E get to hear that they have a big fan in this hall, then they will rise from the ashes. Like the boxer motivating his fallen opponent, “Come on, get up! Please!”

It’s been around an hour now, you have not only tolerated what has been said but probably also reveled in it. Right? If nothing else, then the last one hour is proof sufficient that there is something beyond the little insecurities, the attachments, the clingings, the cravings, the ego, and such things. So why must we unnecessarily stoke small fears?

Q: It’s a process of life…

AP: Is this not a process of life what is happening here? So why don’t you talk about this? And this is a common fallacy, to talk of spirituality as if it is outside life. Students would often ask, “Sir, this is good that which you are saying, but in real life…” and that would hit me. Hello? What do you mean by real life? Is this unreal? If this is real, then take A and E as small frivolous things. Things that just happen, that happens, and can be brushed aside.

A and E are evolutionary relics. They are not some evils determined to put you down. Both A and E have had a role, and still probably have some role in our evolutionary, physical survival. If the mother is not attached to the kid, and if the kid is not attached to the mother, the very survival of the kid would be jeopardized. So, A is necessary from the point of view of physical survival, that’s all. Not only is that all, that is probably also welcome.

Similarly, for mere physical sustenance, man needed to predict a few things. Prediction coupled with attachment becomes expectation. Forecasting of future coupled with attachment is called expectation. And you needed to forecast a few things. You needed to know when the mango tree is going to bear fruits. You needed to know when elephants normally come to drink water to the river. All those things, that information was needed for your physical survival. So, that’s okay.

One has to remember that they had some utility. And they still have some utility, and if you can see that from a clear mind that they still have some utility, continue to use them but don’t allow A and E to use you. When A and E stand in the way of a place like this, then just push them aside.

Every single fellow sitting here has come here in spite of A and E. So, we are privileged and licensed to talk of stuff higher in the hierarchy. Let nobody here say that he or she does not know how to conquer attachment. Had you not known how to conquer attachment, you would have neither arrived here nor survived here. The first few sentences would have been enough to scare you away.

This is stuff, this is Prakṛti, this is body. Stuff happens. One burps, one yawns. One feels sleepy, one feels hungry. Matters of the body. Similarly, one has attachment. Matters of the body. One has fever, one has lust. Things of the body. They are the same. You don’t need to even attach a moral tag to anything. Fever is just lust. Something happens to the body; the body gets heated up. Fine. Do you ever say that fever is evil? Similarly, even lust is not. It was an evolutionarily prerequisite.

Every animal needs lust because Prakṛti wants your tribe to multiply its DNA. So, in every species, or rather in almost every species, you find the male running after the female. It is neither good nor bad, it is just evolutionarily. It’s Prakṛti playing its old game. What is the poor dog to blame for? You can’t say that now the dog is going to be fried in hell, “See what he is doing in the middle of the road.” He is doing nothing. It is the body that is playing its old games, and these are millions of years old. Right?

You drink water. You have expectations. Fine, same. And these are all little things! Why to give them so much weightage? Don’t even give them so much weightage as to fight them. Do you fight thirst? It’s there. Are you apologetic ever about being sleepy? What can you do about it? Sleep is sleep. But yes, if sleep is to be overcome, then you overcome it. And these being things of the body, they will remain as long as the body is there. Kindly do not expect a life free of the so-called various sins. As long as the body is there, everything is going to remain. Everything is going to remain in the body, you can be free of those things.

If you are alive, would there be a single day when you will not feel thirsty? Thirst can come to you anytime. Similarly, till you are alive, there are going to be expectations. Expectations are a product of the brain. The brain is the body. But yes, if you do not get identified with the expectations, then those expectations do not get too much energy. They arise and then they subside on their own. However, no amount of subsiding can ever guarantee that no expectation is now going to further arise.

It doesn’t matter how long you have practiced austerity. It doesn’t matter what kind of a renunciate, or a Yogī, or a Sādhaka you have been. As long as the body is there, the possibility of an impulse, a Vritti (tendency), a tendency showing up is always there. What is the maximum you can do? You can know that it is a thing. It is a thing that chimpanzees also have. “It's a thing that I have because I am coming from far behind. I am very, very old. It’s the dust of time that I am carrying.” So, it’s there. Watch it, acknowledge it, and if you are in the mood, play with it, and then move on.

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/zVnA6sO3W0E&t=175s

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