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Why do the wise call the Aatman, ‘the enjoyer’? || Acharya Prashant, on Kath Upanishad (2017)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Questioner (Q): Acharya ji, why do the wise call the atman, ‘the enjoyer’?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Enjoyer in the sense of the watcher, just as in a cinema hall you enjoy the show. How do you enjoy the show? By leaping into the screen? In the cinema hall, you enjoy the show. How do you enjoy it? By relaxing in your seat. That's what the atma does. It keeps relaxing in its seat.

Questioner (Q): We are enjoying our sufferings.

AP: Yes, yes. Don't you enjoy even tragic scenes on the screen? That's what the atma does. For the atma there is no tragedy. We talked of it yesterday, right? All suffering is false. So where is the question of tragedy? It reminds me of my college days. So, you know young students, how they are. Brash. Hard. Mocking at everything. Sentimental. That's the environment in hostels. Nobody likes sissies there. If you are a mama's boy, if you display a lot of emotions, then you become butt of a lot of jokes.

So it was an inter-hostel dramatics competition. And one of the hostels was trying to enact a sentimental play in which one of the characters was particularly sentimental. So with due respect, the student crowd tolerated that play and that expressive actor for some 1 minute 20 seconds. And then we all as part of the audience came into our own. Now this sentimental actor playing an even sentimental character is wailing, weeping, sobbing his heart out. And the more he is crying on the stage, the more is the audience laughing. Can you visualize? He is screaming with pain. And the public is going mad with laughter. People are rolling down the aisle.

And hearing a lot of commotion in the audience, he is thinking that he is being applauded. So he is beating his chest even more ferociously. And now the public has started throwing their clothes and stuff. After around 3 or 4 minutes of such rioting, the actor finally realised that something is wrong. That is how the atman probably watches us. That is why the Kathopanishad is saying that the atman enjoys. We are such stupid actors.

But it becomes obvious that the suffering that we are displaying on the stage is a false suffering. How can any intelligent watcher empathise with us? The more you cry, weep, shriek, the more the atma enjoys. That is why all the buddhas of the world have a great time. That is why the first thing he said was the world is suffering. What you missed seeing is his faint smile when he said that. Why else do you think he is smiling all the time? When the world is suffering, why else would he smile? Because even your suffering is so imperfect, fake, superficial.

The actor on the screen is beating his chest. And the audience too is beating their chests. That is how the atman enjoys. There is only compassion, but no mercy, no sympathy. A lot of empathy, but no sympathy. Only compassion, no mercy. Because he liked it.

Q: One guy came and he read his girlfriend and dumped him. He was expecting something, but he also started making jokes about him.

AP: Those were the nights when parties were assured. Somebody's girlfriend ditched him. Somebody got kicked in an interview. Now it is certain that somebody would be throwing a party in which the dumped one, the kicked one would be the chief guest. That is how the atma enjoys. I would even say that the atman is a little self-centered. Or should I go to the extent of calling it sadist?

You break your leg, you get that big white plaster and that becomes a canvas for all kinds of erotic expression. The fellow is sleeping and two or three would gather to vent out their heart and other organs on it. And he can't erase it. Plaster of Paris On that if you write something with a sketch pen, it is immortal now. And you carry that around.

That's what Christ has said. Those who do not have, shall find themselves robbed of even what they have, even the little that they have. And those who have, they shall be blessed with more. That's how the atma operates. Now do you think this is a sympathetic atman? It is not sympathetic, it is not socialist or communist. It does not believe in equal distribution. If you think that you don't have grace, even the little grace that you think you have shall be snatched away. Whereas if you feel blessed with grace, then you shall receive even more blessings. Complain and you lose even what you already have. Be grateful and you get more than what you are grateful for. Very peculiar atman. Very peculiar. It has no soft corner for sissies. Complaints don't work.

Q2: Sir in Bodhsthal, one day one’s parents came and one day we tolerated, second day we somehow managed, third day we started doing all kinds of vulgar activities so that they may run away. “What kind of an environment!”

AP: See how happy he is. This is atma. No regard for any kind of occasion. No regard even for the camera. Yes, that's all. Totally disregardful. Even contemptuous. Atman takes it as dirt. Even that which you think of as the holiest of holies. Atman in that sense desecrates. Spoils.

Atman has no regard for your temples, churches, mosques. Atman treats them as jokes. When you are being the most serious, the truth pokes fun at you. In fact, your seriousness is the biggest joke. Visualize it. You are sitting with all your seriousness and your graveyard-like face. With two or three dead bodies popping out from somewhere. And against your graveyard-like face is sitting an old man and a child. And both are dying of laughter. That is the atma.

When your highest sadness gets no response from the atman. Somebody has died. You are wailing. Ram, Ram satya hai . The atman is responding, murda bada mast hai . That is why saints have laughed at death. That is why in the Kathopanishad, Nachiketa returns with deathlessness. That is why there is the story of the three monks who lived together and laughed together. And when one of them died, he put all kinds of stuff under his clothes. Crackers and such things. So that when he was being burnt, everyone gets something to laugh at. That is the atman. Even death is a joke. Even death is not significant enough to make you heavy, to make you feel mortal, limited, contained. When the atman is immortal, how can you be sad at death? Time up folks!

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