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Why we set alarms and don't wake up? || Acharya Prashant, at Chanakya University (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Questioner (Q): Good afternoon, Sir. I want to know that when we decide something, how is it that the next moment or after some time, we deny it by ourselves. For example, I decide the previous night that I have to get up early in the morning, but when the alarm is ringing, I switch it off and go back to sleep. So, is it a dual personality or what is it?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Is it the first time this happened with you?

Q: No Sir, it’s constantly happening. Sometimes I get up, but sometimes I switch it off and sleep.

AP: Even when you were setting the alarm last night, you knew that the odds were against you, because it has happened again and again. The probability of you honestly getting up when the alarm rings is let’s say 0.1 or 0.2, right? 10 to 20 percent.

Mostly, it is likely that the alarm will ring and you will shut it down, “Let me sleep.” You know that in advance; you know that when you are awake; you know that when you have yet not fallen asleep, right?

Let’s say, at 10:00 pm in the night, you are setting an alarm for 5:00 am. Now, when the alarm would ring at 5:00 am, you would be drowsy, you would be half asleep, very reluctant to get up. That would be the condition of your consciousness at 5:00 am, right? And you know that in advance—you know how your insides are, you know your determination is weak. But at 10:00 pm, when you are setting the alarm, you are still wide awake, are you not? You are awake and you know that most probably this system is not going to work—“I will set the alarm, but I’ll still not get up.” What to do then?

Whatever is to be done is to be done at 10:00 pm, not at 5:00 am. At 5:00 am, you are in no position to do anything. The only movement when some choice can be exercised is at 10:00 pm, because you are still not unconscious. At 5:00 am, you are almost 100% unconscious. What will you do then? You are gone, finished, the opportunities lost. What to do at 10:00 pm? Set 5 alarms, empower somebody to hit you with a sandal or something, do the best that you can.

If you know your tendencies, why do you still blindly trust yourself and fall asleep? Why? And if you find that come what may, all arrangements are going to fail, you will still not get up; then don’t sleep at all. Why sleep? If getting up at 5:00 am is seriously important, if you will miss the flight if you don’t get up at 5:00 am; don’t sleep at all.

But you won’t sleep only when you have something worth loving so much that it does not allow you to sleep. The task at 5:00 am must be absolutely lovable, it must be so lovable that you do not fall asleep at all. Otherwise, a lukewarm kind of life is what we all get.

We are divided within—one part says, “No, there is some responsibility. So please get up at 5:00 am,” then there are five other parts within that know the uselessness of that responsibility and that are habituated to breaking their own vows that have gone back on their promises 200 times in the past, so they are habituated. “How does it matter? Make a promise, break it whether the promise is to others or to yourself.” All these parts exist within the mind.

The only thing that can overcome the dissipative force of all these parts is the power of love. And love is real only when you have something worthy enough to love; otherwise, even love will fail as it usually does.

So ask yourself, “What is it I want to get up at 5:00 am for? Is the cause genuine enough? Is the matter important enough?” And if the answer is a resounding and honest yes, “Yes, there indeed is definitely something very important I must get up at 5:00 am for,” then you will find that you indeed do get up even without an alarm. The mind knows.

Vedanta tells you that even when you are asleep, still the centre of you is awake, it knows everything. The proof is even when you are asleep, when somebody calls you by your name, you get up, don’t you? You are asleep and somebody calls you by your name, you will get up. That won’t happen if somebody else’s name is called out.

What’s your name?

Q: Aditi.

AP: Aditi. And somebody says, “Rajesh, Rajesh,” and you are sleeping, and with the same loudness the fellow is saying, “Rajesh,” you are unlikely to get up. But if he says, “Aditi, Aditi, Aditi,” three times, you will start getting up. So some part of you knows, even when you are asleep.

When the matter at hand is really important and you acknowledge its importance, you probably don’t even need an alarm. You will find that you will get up 10 minutes before 5 am on your own, even without an alarm.

So before you go to sleep at 10:00 pm, sit down for 10 minutes and ask yourself, “What will I do at 5:00 am? Is it important? Do I like it? Will I enjoy doing it?” And if the answers are clear yes, you will find the thing is easy for you. Otherwise, as we said, don’t sleep, just don’t sleep.

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