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When you feel inferior to your peers || Acharya Prashant, at SPIT Mumbai (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
11 min
60 reads

Questioner (Q): Good afternoon, sir. There are many instances where we feel that we are not the best in the room, or we feel inferior to our peers. So, my question is, is insecurity even any different from fear? And how can we deal with insecurities?

Acharya Prashant (AP): You guys surpass my expectations every time you pick up the mic. Is insecurity any different from fear? Anything more to that?

Q: For example, like how we perceive. For me, you are confident, you are successful, so I perceive you as somebody who is confident, who is fearless. But then there is a very high possibility that you might have certain insecurities. So, my question is, can we correlate insecurity with a certain kind of fear, or there are certain differences between fear and insecurity and how should we deal with it?

AP: But insecurity is much the same as fear, where do you draw the line?

Q: Like, for example, if a big animal is chasing you. That is when your body triggers the fear that he might eat you or he might attack you. So, you run away. That is one kind of fear but then insecurity is something which is internal.

AP: Okay, you’re talking of physical versus mental thing?

Q: Kind of.

AP: Even the mental insecurity you are talking of is largely physical. You see, for example, mentally you might be afraid that you might lose money or marks. As a student, you are afraid you might lose marks. As a grown-up one, you might think of losing money or, let’s say, prestige in society and that’s what makes you insecure. Ultimately, that is related to physical survival, mind you. Anything that you are afraid of ultimately boils down to physical insecurity, that’s all. It sounds strange but that’s how it is.

Q: And how to deal with it?

AP: By leaving the fear to itself. We began the discussion by trying to understand that we are two. One is the body, the other is the consciousness. Fear belongs to the domain of the body. Leave it to the domain of the body. Just keep it aside, ignore it, don’t fight it. You are not supposed to fight fear because even to fight fear you will have to enter the domain of the body. The moment you enter the domain of the body, you become the body. And the knowers have told us saying, “Aham dehasmi” is the fundamental problem. “I am the body,” the moment you say that even in order to fight fear, you have succumbed. Ostensibly, apparently, you are fighting fear, but for the sake of fighting fear, you have entered the domain of the body and in this way, you have been indirectly defeated. So, what do you have to do when fear arises — let it be. Fear is there, ignore it. What do you rather focus your attention on? Ignore fear and attend to consciousness. Focus on the task that your consciousness is suggesting to you.

So, fear is there, but there is something far bigger and more important than fear. What is that? Consciousness. And consciousness is telling you, “What else is more important, you attend to that.” You gave an example regarding the animal. The wild beast is coming at you. And you said you will run away. Not always, not always. You have a baby sister, like six months, one-year-old, all right. Or a niece or a nephew, small, and the wild beast is coming, will you run away? How many of you, how many of you will run away? You’ll first protect her, even if you run away, you will first pick her up and then run away. Am I right? And if somehow you cannot pick her up and run away, you will fight the beast, you’ll not run away. So, fear will be there obviously, but something more important than fear is there, what is that? Call it responsibility, call it love. Call it whatever. Fear, you have to remember, is biological. Fear, you have to remember, is to the body. Fear is not to you. Fear is a letter addressed to the body. Do you open others’ letters and read them? Do you do that? So, the letter has been delivered. The letter is coming from Mr Fear, and it is addressed to the body. So, what do you do with the letter? You keep it aside, and let the body read it. I won't read it. It’s not mine. Let fear be there. You do what you must. Let jealousy be there, you do what you must. Let fatigue and tiredness be there, you do what you must.

Let hunger be there, you do what you must. Let thirst be there, you do what you must. That’s what makes you a human being. Or will you succumb to hunger and thirst and fear and greed and insecurity, will you? Do you understand what I am saying? You don’t need willpower or motivation. You need the wisdom to ignore these things and, mind you, all your life there would be a little bit of these things that will always remain because they are there in the DNA. They are there in the evolutionary past. Jealousy will never hundred per cent absolutely go away. Some jealousy will remain, what do you do with it? Ignore and do the right thing. Hunger, it will remain till your last breath. Should hunger prevent you from doing the right thing? Or anger, or lust, or any other thing. They are there. Let them be there and acknowledge.

Obviously, I am very angry right now, but I’ll still do what is right. I’ll not allow anger to dominate me. Anger is there I will let it be there. It is to the body; it is not to me. And I am consciousness. Let it be there. Fear is there. What do you think, when I sit in front of you, I don’t face any of the bodily impulses? I do. As I sit here, some parts of my body might be aching a bit, the glasses here are clouded a bit. I might not be entirely comfortable with the chair. You sit here for two hours, and you start feeling a bit restless, don’t you? Think of the one who is sitting here for two hours and endlessly speaking and even as I said this, this fell down, you see, strange things happen. So, all these things are happening here, should I now allow this to affect my attention? No, this is something physical that just happened. Something physical meaning bodily. I cannot give it too much importance. I have to continue; I have to continue.

Think of a marathon runner, what is his body talking to him, “Stop, please stop, I am tired, I am tired.” Think of a Grand Slam player — fifth set, fifth hour and the player is Roger Federer who is some forty years of age. What is the body saying? Every single joint is complaining and praying please stop! What is he saying, “One more Grand Slam”. Who is saying one more Grand Slam?

Q: Consciousness.

AP: Consciousness must rule. The body must listen to the consciousness. The body is there to obey the commands of consciousness. Are you getting it?

Q: Yes, thank you. Sir, seeing how you have changed fields multiple times and still found success, how do we know what is the right decision at a given time and with the limited amount of information we have?

AP: You will never know perfectly; you just have to keep moving and always be polite and modest enough to change when you see that you need to change. You must never be rigid, and you must never, never commit yourself permanently to anything. Move endlessly and keep correcting yourself endlessly. Never get stuck to any one thing because it is impossible as normal mortal human beings, limited ones, to know what is absolutely perfect for you. At this stage, at this age, I still do not know what lies in the future and what is perfection, but what I know is that I will be honest enough to duly change when I realize that something better, something more important, something more deserving is there to be surrendered to, to be worshipped. I will rather go for that, that is what life is for — continuously change, continuously develop, continuously learn and be better. Learning is the purpose of life, and that learning, in the ultimate sense, is called liberation.

Q: Right now, on a path of self-improvement, when you try to talk to your friends, in such kind of demotivating environment where people ask, “Why are you doing this?” there is no sense in doing this. So, what should we do when we know that our peers aren’t going to support us?

AP: I am not getting it. You are living in a hostel?

Q: No, I am not living in a hostel.

AP: Are you talking about your friend circle?

Q: Yes.

AP: Friend circle, so what about the friend circle?

Q: The friend circle is not exactly supportive of you.

AP: In pursuit of?

Q: In pursuit of your own development.

AP: Your development.

Q: Yes, as in you want to do stuff, as in you want to get into meditation and then basically yogic practices and all, but still the world is like it's basically pitted against of you.

AP: See, this is not entirely right. Don’t we raise monuments to commemorate the greats? So, it's not as if the entire world is against you. The same world has worshipped the greats. Or do we worship the commoners? Do we? We don’t. So, please don’t believe that there is nobody to support you. The best among the best are there to help you and support you, they are with you.

Never feel lonely. It is just that accidentally, temporarily, for the time being, you might have people around who are not a quality bunch of friends. But that is not your destiny, you can move on. Also, even if you do not get the right companionship, the entire thing about spirituality is that it makes you strong from within, which means you become capable of being joyous alone. So, even if there is nobody to accompany you on the right path, “ Ekla chalo re,” (walk alone). That is what spirituality is all about. If you get the right partners, wonderful. And if you don’t get them, even more wonderful. Don’t hanker too much after friends. Move on the right path, you will get fellow travellers and they will be worthy friends. And one worthy friend is better than an unworthy crowd of a hundred. Is it not?

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