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Why do we often require somebody’s company? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2015)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
21 min
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Acharya Prashant: Praveen is asking, “Why do we always require somebody’s company?”

Even when there is somebody who is lying on the side of the road, let’s say an accident victim waiting to be helped, we wonder whether we are the first one or the only one who would be getting involved. We think so many times before putting our foot forward. In such situations too, we require the company of somebody else, why?

Praveen, this is just one particular incident where it becomes obvious, that we are so dependent on others. Such incidents only exemplify, bring forth to light that we are very very dependent. But, such dependence is not limited to these kinds of incidents. Kindly, do not think that in other general, day to day matters of life, we act independently

The mind is dependent all the time. But that dependence is subtle, so it doesn’t become obvious. But it becomes very obvious in such matters – you want to really do something and yet are unable to gather courage for it because nobody else is doing it. And then it becomes obvious. You would be missing the point, if you think that these events are special. These events are not special. These events only represent, what the mind always is; not in particular instances, always.

Getting it?

Look at this: You enter this hall and if you find that everybody is sitting on the back benches, on the chairs at the end of the hall, the rear end. You would find it quite difficult to simply come and occupy a front seat, wont you? But if you enter an empty hall than, you won’t have problem sitting on any particular chair, right?

Do you see the comparison and what it brings out? You enter this hall and you find that everybody is sitting there, at the back, you will find it very difficult to sit all by yourself in the front, right? Even if the others do not say anything to you, and if they do not pass any comments, even if they are not at all bothered about you, yet it would become very difficult for you because, we are always looking for social sanction.

There is hardly anything within most of us, which is really independent. Even the slightest, smallest, most routine actions happen with an eye on what the others might be thinking or saying. Look at our choice of clothes. A very general matter but very few people buy clothes purely out of their consideration for themselves. Most of us wonder, how would I look in these clothes? Now, look to whom? Others. How would I look to others when I wear this? And it is such a stupid thing. The other who is looking at you surely knows that this is just a piece of clothing, a textile product; it’s not you. And yet you are so concerned.

If you were to speak to a crowd or let’s say come to this podium, your anxiety levels would be proportional to the number of students, the strength of the audience in this hall; others. What is the weight of the others? What is the mass and measure of the others? And if by any chance, the others are not kind to you, and just before you start speaking somebody makes a rude comment, or somebody just laughs or giggles, then you know how difficult it becomes for us, right?

Now, the fellow has not even heard you. You haven’t yet started speaking and he might be giggling out of his some personal occupation, may be his neighbor has just whispered a small joke to him. So, his smiles has nothing to do with you. But, the moment you see audience smiling, you start sweating. And remember you still haven’t uttered a word. So, you very well know that even if they are judging, they couldn’t be judging what you have come there to do, because you haven’t started doing that.

Every breath that we take, every word that we utter, every step that we take is a step steeped in slavery. We do not do anything independently, just anything. It’s impossible for us.

I was in campus, I would see one of my batch mates keenly interested in a girl, in the junior year. And all the symptoms of attraction, and occupation of mind and all that happens in those years, they were all there. And I was seeing it since a few weeks. So, one day I went to him and I said, “What’s going on? It’s all obvious now but tell to me, what’s going on?” He said, “No, nothing, nothing is going on.” I said, “Now, will you hide it from me and don’t you know that I know.”

He said, “I’m not very sure. So, let me just finalize it and then I will reveal everything. Pakka nahi hai (I’m not sure).” I said, “If it is love then, how can you not be sure about it? And if you are not sure about it than, surely it is not that.”

He said, “No, no. it is quite certain yet not fully certain. I’m trying to ascertain it.” I said, “I don’t know what you mean but, fine, go ahead.” He said, “Just a little bit of formalities left. Let me complete it.”

So, after 2-3 weeks one day he comes rushing, overflowing with happiness, bubbling. So I ask him, “Yes?” He says, “Now, I am fully sure. No doubts at all. Complete certainty.” I said, “How did that happen? Did some messenger from the heavens descend in the morning? Or you performed some litmus test or something? From where did you suddenly get so much of clarity?” He said, “No, no. I had actually sent just a few friends to her city and they have found out her caste, her sub caste, her economic status and gently we have also probed her parents and they are okay. And in between, I have been calling my parents as well, and I have found out what kind of demands they will have, including financial demands. And the girl’s family, I see, would be prepare to meet all those demands. So, now I am fully certain that I am mad in love. Now I know very well that we are made for each other. It is love at first sight. It is love without sight. Even before seeing her I knew that my soul has been thirsty only for this kind of a woman.”

They are, in your social language, happily married now and have a happy family; very very loving family. So dependent we are, we can’t even love freely. Even in love, we first have to look around to seek permission – seek permission of religion, of caste, of parents, society, the neighbor, the neighbor’s dog, everybody must agree and if they don’t agree than, we dare not go ahead. Such deep dependence.

Start by looking at small matters in daily life. If you want to just have a small walk in the night, do you really require to have somebody with you? And if you cannot walk by yourself then it’s not a small matter, it’s a symptom of a deep disease.

There were times when I was in college, when I would go to watch movies by myself; alone. It was no rule for me, I could go with friends as well. But if good company wasn’t available, I had no problems with simply going and watching a movie by myself. And people would wonder, “How can you do this?” Some would be actually horrified, “You watched a movie with nobody?”

What? Do you go to watch the movie or do you go to watch your neighbor? What do you mean by, “You watched the movie with nobody?” What will the somebody do? What will the somebody do, both of us are supposed to watch the movie right?

But how difficult it is for us, to even watch a movie by ourselves; terrifying, right? In a movie theater with nobody by your side, “Oh my God! such a loner, miserable condition; all alone.” Those who cannot do these small things, being with themselves, how will they do anything significant, meaningful by themselves? You cannot watch a movie by yourself, how will you take your life decisions by yourself? And there is work, and there is a life to be lived, and there are directions to be decided, and there is love, there is marriage; decisions upon decisions.

You cannot buy a shirt without considering what aunt is going to say, how will you chose a job without considering what aunt will say? Do you see that this is a condition of great helplessness? And it’s is not because you love aunt, that you are so dependent upon her.

When you are dependent upon somebody, it is violence, you could not be loving that person. There too the relationship is of hatred. No slave ever loves his master, how can you love somebody who has enslaved you? How can you love somebody who has taken away your freedom? So all around we are caught in a web of slavery. And a very peculiar aspect of this is that those from whom we seek sanction, they are not strangers — they are strangers as well — but mostly they are the people we claim to be intimate with.

Continue with the example of the podium. When you come here on the podium and you start trembling, do you realize who is it that you are afraid of? These are not strangers sitting here. These are people you know, and some of you might be having their best friends in this crowd and yet you find yourself shivering; trembling. That is the nature of our relationship.

The closer somebody is to me, the more dependent I’m on that person and hence, closeness is directly proportional to the violence in relationship.

You don’t feel bad when a stranger on the road says something to you, you do feel bad but you can kind of tolerate it. But when people within your circle make a comment upon you than, your self-worth is destroyed.

The world might be calling you a fatso, you can manage to ignore it. But your boyfriend comes and says, “You are becoming sphere like, rotund, you are gone, you collapse and you will start hating the fellow; the boyfriend is gone. From where did this hatred come? It does not come from nowhere, it was always there; it only got expressed.

You were always dependent on him and when you are dependent on somebody remember, I repeat you cannot love that fellow.

Love happens only in freedom. It is a very free bird, it does not like cages and freedom we know not.

So many of you gave these questions yesterday upon the forum, its good I have them in front of me. I know some of you won’t be able to speak here because there are now hundreds of you here, is that not so? After every Samvaad session, we have some of you stay back and then they open up, then they speak and I ask them, what happened in those 2 hrs? Why don’t you speak then? And all they can do is drop their heads.

Unnecessarily ashamed. We didn’t speak then because there were so many others present. Even in asking questions you are dependent on others. So you cannot speak because there are others and there are some who would speak precisely because there are others. If I speak right now, it’s a good opportunity to impress a large audience, so why am I speaking? Because there are others here.

We won’t be, we want to clearly say ‘I’. This ‘I’ has become very clouded, in fact it is nowhere to be seen. Our ‘I’ really does not exists, instead we have a fake ‘I’ which is just a collection of images from the world. We are so full of the world, that there is no ‘I’ness left within us. The world is dominating our mind, it has totally filled us up. It’s present in our very cell – the world; the world; the world. Our very sense of existence that ‘I am’ comes from the world. And that’s why Praveen, we are so dependent and so hungry for company.

We are hungry for company because we are what the world is giving to us. So, if the world becomes absent then there is a danger that we will no more be there. Who am I? Who am I? Bits and pieces collected from the world. So, take the world away and do I exist? I don’t. So, I always need company and I always need validation, sanction, approval.

But the thing is that if everything is coming from the world, then you anyway don’t exist. So, it’s such a poor attempt. It’s such a defeated attempt to live with an ‘I’ upon the world; to live as a function of all the forces and the voices and the faces around you. It’s such non-living, most people are non-living creatures. They don’t have a central crystal within them. They are just a little bit of here, a little bit of there, some kind of a pot puree, khichdi.

So, you interview somebody and the fellow would have written in his CV, I am proud of my leadership qualities. What’s your strength? “My leadership qualities.” And you ask him how do you know that you have leadership qualities and soon you would find him saying that, “Well my friends and everybody else has been telling me that I have good leadership qualities, that’s how I know I have leadership qualities.” Now, this is a leader, this is a leader who knows himself to be a leader because others told him that you are a leader. Now who is leading whom? Are you leading or are you being lead?

L: Lead.

AP: There is nothing about us that is our own. And that’s why we seek company. The man who has found even a trace of that ‘I’ness, will not be desperate for company. When he will have company, he would be alright and when he won’t have company, then too he would be alright. He won’t start feeling out of breath. Oh my god, half an hour to kill and nobody to talk to, give me my phone, where is Facebook? Or let me just call up someone and indulge in meaningless chatter. And why did I call, because I am so uncomfortable with myself.

You don’t like yourself, you are uncomfortable with yourself and you expect others to like you. You do not like your own company, right? You can’t live with yourself but you expect that others will like you. What kind of expectation is this?

The best relationships are not born out of loneliness. A healthy relationship is born out of a sense of completion. It is not a parasitic relationship. “I feel incomplete, you feel incomplete, so let’s come together and together we will feel complete.” As if two beggars coming together will become millionaire.

Imagine two beggars are begging each other, hoping to become millionaires. That’s how our relationships are.

A healthy relationship says, “I am related to you in my completeness. I am related to you precisely because there is something that I can now give, I am not begging” And then there is no violence in that relationship. And then things like possessiveness, jealousy, insecurity, they are not there. The man who longs for company would surely be possessive, jealous, insecure and the rest of it that goes along, the entire package.

We have been trained in a way, which has told us only of our short comings – sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. Since birth, we have only been told what we need to acquire. That’s what our teachers have been telling us, right? Now, you must learn this, “Students tomorrow you must prepare this chapter, now you are graduating to this class, now you are moving from bachelors to master program.” So, there is more and more to acquire. And acquisition means deficiency.

So in a way the system around us has been trying to help us, but in helping us it has been constantly telling us of our deficiency – “This is what you do not know? This is what you do not know? This is how you are inadequate?”

Nobody has ever told us of what we know. We have been told of what we do not have, but we have never been told of that which we have. We have been told a lot of what we need to acquire, but nobody told us of that which we do not need to acquire – That which is centrally important, that which not be acquired and which cannot be taken away. So, this mind is full of thoughts of acquiring, of the world because all acquiring happens from the world, you get from the world.

Mind is dominated by the world – completely full of the world, completely full of the world and completely full of a sense of short coming, “There is something missing; there is something missing; there is something missing and what is missing can be supplied by the world. So, let me have this person in my life, let me have more money in my life, let me have a few more degrees in my life, let me have a better job in my life, let me have a bigger car and a bigger house in my life, all these are companies.

Praveen, when you said that we always want a company; company is not limited to human beings. We want something in life, which may be a person or a thing, any object, we want it in life. We want it in life because we have been trained about all that which is missing. This is missing, that is missing, kindly get it otherwise you will remain incomplete. You need to find out, figure out, you are intelligent beings, ‘Do you really, desperately require all that you crave so much for?’ And what does that craving give you? Do you really feel good being dependent? Do you really enjoy suffering? Is frustration so necessary? Must we live like a thirsty fish, feeling bad and sad, with occasional bursts of hope in between?

And obviously,

When you don’t feel good about yourself, then you have a lot of hope. Hope is an indicator that things are terribly wrong.

When you see that this craze for being surrounded, this craze for company is just a heavy load on your head, then you want to give it up. Then you will say, “I don’t want any more of it, I am alright; I don’t want company.” When you look at the small things in life and you see what it has come to, then you don’t want things.

I was travelling with an old acquaintance, so he tells the driver — we were in the car — so he tells the driver, “Please switch on the radio.” Now, it’s my driver, so he knows a little about things, so he asks him, “What you want to hear, which particular lecture, what kind of music?” He said, “No no, just the radio, no CD, nothing, just the radio.” Driver says, “Alright sir which channel – an AM or FM?” He says, “Anything, just the radio.”

He says, “Sir, anything?” The driver had not heard anything like this from me ever. So, the man says, “Just anything, something should be on, I cannot tolerate silence, give me something, something should be on.”

Such is the depth of our disease. We cannot live in silence, we require something to be there. So, some idiotic radio jockey would be just blabbering something but that is alright. “Some sound is there and that sound is giving me comfort. Oh, I am not lonely, I am not lonely, somebody is there, somebody is saying something, something is going on.” Have you noticed this?

We require something to be on. And you need to be attentive to these small things. You go to houses and you finds sometimes the television is on for twenty hours a day. Now, the lady in the house is not even watching the TV, she is in the kitchen or busy with her miscellaneous chores, but the TV is?

L: On.

AP: On. You ask her, “What is there in the TV? Which particular channel, which program?” She won’t be able to tell. But if you switch off the TV, she will immediately say, “No, no switch it on, switch it on. Something must be going on, otherwise I feel fearful; silence kills me.”

A man or a woman, who cannot live in silence, is mentally diseased.

Do you understand disease? Dis Ease – a sense of dis ease, the one who is not comfortable.

Become attentive to these small things and then you will see that you do not need the world to be so heavy upon you.

In this realization, there is freedom from the world. Just be attentive to what you are doing twenty four hours a day; you are intelligent. The moment you are attentive, you are intelligent.


In intelligence, lies freedom.

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