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What does it mean to be superconscious? || XLRI (2021)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
62 reads

Questioner (Q): Sir, it is very difficult for an individual like me to achieve consciousness during my lifetime. Now, how practical and how difficult is it for me as an individual to even think about super consciousness when I find attaining even relatively higher consciousness difficult? I am not conscious even in my daily affairs. So, how to travel that journey from consciousness to super consciousness?

Acharya Prashant (AP): There is no solid line of distinction between consciousness and super consciousness. The word ‘super consciousness’ has been used by me, and has been traditionally used, just to emphasize the fact that it is possible to rise above ordinary consciousness.

So, consciousness has several levels and we all experience those levels in our daily life. Sometimes you are angry, and you very well know that you are not as conscious in that moment as, let’s say, when you are concentrating on something wonderful. You might be drunk, and you very well know that your consciousness is then drowned in liquor; it is not operating properly. So, it is just levels of consciousness, and you could say that the higher levels of consciousness, for the sake of emphasis, are being called as super consciousness.

Being a human being, you anyway will not feel easy if your consciousness is at its lower levels. What is meant by lower levels? Freedom is our nature; no creature in the world really enjoys bondages. Lower levels of consciousness are related to a state of mental slavery. The more heavily conditioned one is, the lower is his or her state of consciousness, and the more liberated one is internally, the higher is said to be the state of consciousness. And beyond a certain point—we do not know what that point is, there is no real formula to put your finger on that—one is entitled to say the fellow is superconscious, just as you sometimes say superman.

But again, all those supermen and superheroes, they have unbelievable powers and stuff that normal human beings cannot do. In the case of super consciousness, it is just the degree of internal cleansing or internal freedom that has increased. It’s not as if it is a different dimension; the difference is that of degree. If you start taking super consciousness as another dimension, then you make it inaccessible to yourself. You will say, “Well, it is something that belongs to another realm, another world, and maybe I am not entitled to be there.”

But it does not belong to another realm; it belongs right to the world you and I are in. As we keep on unchaining ourselves more and more, as we keep on allowing that inner revolution, as long as we keep allowing our inner discontentment to be expressed in the form of demolition of the walls that encage us, we are moving from consciousness to a higher degree of consciousness, which you can call as super consciousness.

And it is not a moral or a spiritual imperative; it is an inner demand. Who would like to be fettered, caged, or enslaved? Just nobody, but still almost all of us live that way, for two reasons: first, we are often ignorant of how the mind operates, what its nature is, and we keep assuming that the stuff of the mind is its own. We don’t realize that the stuff that the mind is carrying are external bondages imposed upon it. Our thoughts, for example, are not really our own; even our feelings are not our own. All this stuff is heavily conditioned. So, that is one reason—ignorance. And the second reason is fear. Even if you come to know that there is a state of slavery inside, it requires courage and sacrifice to stand up and pay the price. We don’t want to stand up, we fear. We do not want to pay the price, and that is the reason why this beautiful opportunity of life is often wasted.

Q: Do you think that the subject of superconscious leadership is an important subject that needs to be part of a business school curriculum?

AP: This should be the first thing that should be taught; this is the foundation of everything, you see. Because you can teach so many skills in business school, and you can give formulae and theory and models and cases, and one is loaded with knowledge. But who is the one who would apply that knowledge? Who is the one who would practice those skills, and towards what ends?

There are so many leadership courses—that lead towards what? I mean, even a pied piper is a leader. The question is, what must the others look up to you for, and what is really your intention in standing before others, talking to them, occupying their mind space, and influencing their lives? Why do you want to do that all? And in answering that question, you have to look at yourself. What is my relationship with the world? What is my relationship with these people I am calling as my followers? What will be the influence of my relationship, my several interactions with them?

And when you are clear of these questions, then your influence on the world in general is healthy. Otherwise, the majority of leaders in every sphere of life have been just mischief-makers, have they not? You know that. And in fact, it is far easier to relate to a set of followers using some mischief. You can probably connect easily to the point of slavery within the other because that is the point where comfort lies, that is the point where habit lies. And it is difficult to relate to the other telling the other of freedom, telling the other to stand up, pay the price, work hard, and take the blows.

Therefore, the majority of leaders and their listeners or followers are in a state of a bad relationship, because leaders hardly have the courage to tell the followers the truth, if at all they know the truth; and secondly, followers are not at all looking up to the leader to be told the truth. Both are in a shallow relationship where both are just entertaining each other; both have their very limited objectives that really help neither party.

So, that is the reason you have to differentiate a healthy relationship from that kind of a rut. So, we use the term ‘superconscious leadership’.

Q: Is there a relationship between superconscious leadership and spirituality?

AP: You see, between everything that is good in life and spirituality, there is bound to be a relationship. There can be nothing good in life without spirituality. So, if superconscious leadership is something that has goodness, then it is bound to be spiritual. But let not the word ‘spiritual’ evoke very traditional, conventional images in your mind. When I say the superconscious leader is bound to be spiritual, you need not think that he would enter a corporate office singing bhajans. Otherwise, usually, you equate spirituality with traditional religiosity. That is not the case.

Is it possible to be a great student without being spiritual? No. Is it possible to be a great politician without being spiritual? No. Is it possible to be a great judge sitting in the Supreme Court without being spiritual? No. Is it possible to be a great parent without being spiritual? Well, no. Is it possible to be anything good without being spiritual? Not at all, because you are at the center of everything that you do. If you are not alright, then how will your works, your actions, and your relationships be alright? Is it possible to be a good lover without being spiritual? No. A good mother? No. A good sister? No. Even a good scientist you cannot be if you are not spiritual.

Q: We see that, especially in the corporate world, post MBA, people run after money; that is the primary intention. So, there is an imbalance between spirituality and this kind of corporate rigor. How can we balance that?

AP: There is no need to balance. You can have as much money as is needed—but needed for what? That you must be clear about. If you have a great purpose in life and for that you want to earn money, please go ahead and earn more than your biggest imagination, no problem.

In what you have just asked is implicit an assumption that spirituality is indifferent towards money or even forbids earning money. That is not at all the case. Money is a resource. You use that resource towards something, right? Money is like a gas cylinder, let’s say. But if you don’t know what to cook and how to cook, and you accumulate forty-five gas cylinders in your kitchen, what are you doing? You are just inviting probably a huge explosion, aren’t you?

So, what are you cooking in the first place? Please, tell me. Before you accumulate those forty-five gas cylinders, what do you propose to cook? People do not know what to cook; all they have is a lot of LPG in their bank accounts. How will that help them? And to make things worse, even those gas cylinders are accumulated using very dubious ways, let’s say, in the black market, or you go and pinch a cylinder from your neighbor, or some poor rickshaw-puller is there on the road carrying five cylinders, and you slap him and take away the cylinders. And using all these things all your life, you have not even paid the cylinder tax; you have cheated on the government also, right? And you have accumulated all this stuff. Now, what will you do with all this?

Firstly, the means of accumulation made you very, very sick internally; you wasted your life accumulating that thing. Secondly, now that the stuff is indeed getting accumulated, you know nothing about food. You don’t know what is healthy for you, you don’t know what to cook, and you have nobody to serve your dishes to because you never had the time for meaningful relationships. So, even if you cook a lot with those cylinders, who do you share your meals with?

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