Questioner (Q): Sir, my question to you is that in a lot of your talks and even now, you redirect our focus towards ourselves as living beings. As living beings, all of us seek contentment and happiness. So my question to you is; how does one be content without being complacent? How does one achieve that? Contentment without being complacent.
Acharya Prashant (AP): See, complacency can be there only when you have just not bothered to inquire into the facts of your life. Otherwise, it is impossible to be smug and ultra-confident about your state. None of us, factually, are in a great state internally. It’s an unfortunate fact, but a fact is a fact. So there is sickness; there is incompleteness, there is dissatisfaction and there is psychosis and we are anxious and we are afraid.
When the placement season comes, then we are jittery. When the next fellow gets a higher pay package then we are jealous. We know all these things are there. Knowing all these things if we still certify ourselves to be internally healthy, then there is something very wrong with our compass of honesty.
Either that or we are so afraid that we just do not even want to enquire within, “Am I ok? Why did I just start trembling?” I mean, I am standing in front of that interview room, let's say it is a Daisy Rowe company and I suddenly find myself weak in the knees, and shaking in my trousers; why is that happening? It is a very real happening, it is actually physical. You can’t even say that, "It was inside, so I didn’t see it." It is there in the body. You cannot deny its presence. But having seen all that, if we still want to insist that we are happy and this and that, then there is a great problem.
Now coming to contentment; contentment is just the very last thing. At your stage in life, as a young person, you should have a lot of dissatisfaction. Because if you settle at the point you already are; inwardly, outwardly, within, without; then you would be settling at a very sub-optimal point, your potential is far higher. So there is no point talking of contentment at this stage because being what we are at this age and stage, we do not even know what contentment is. So, we are bound to misinterpret it.
So leave contentment for a later stage. At this point, rebel and rise. See what confines you, and do not accept it. Fight it out, and do not bother too much for the result. If you have given a good fight, then the word contentment can probably kick in. In the sense, “I did the utmost I could. Beyond this, it was not possible for me to do anything.” Honestly, I say that. “There is nothing that I held back, I gave the fight more than what I had.” Now you can probably be contended. But contended not in the sense that the fight is over, contended in the sense that now you are ready for the next and bigger fight, right? Final contentment is final deliverance, it is liberation actually. So do not talk about that.
When I talk to young people it is much more advisable that they look at things and they challenge them, they question them. Believe me, and need not actually believe me; you see these things with your own eyes. Much in the world today needs to be challenged and demolished. Do not be easily satisfied. Just do not be easily satisfied.
Q: Thank you Sir, and there is a follow-up question which I already had and you touched upon it about the outcome; not bothering about the outcome. However Sir, we are living in this outcome-driven world. Goal-oriented, outcome-driven world. So how does one achieve that detachment of giving their best while at the same time not focusing much on the results?
AP: No, it is not detachment really. I would say you have to be in love with your war, your action. If you are challenging something, if you have taken up an enormous project, be in love with it. I am not talking of detachment you see, I am talking of love here. Be in love with it and give it just about everything that you have.
For that, first of all, you require the work to be that enormous and that lovable. In anything that you enter, in anything that you take up; the quality of relationship must be so high that you are encouraged to, that you are left choiceless in that regard. You cannot hold yourself back. You will not say, “Now it is 6 p.m., so I must get up from my seat and leave”, or that, “In this task, I was supposed to contribute so much and no more”.
Give it all that you have and once you have given it all that you have, you will find that you will be left with very little time, space, or energy to bother about the result. See, bothering about the result is an energy-intensive affair. Is it not? You may take three hours just preparing for an exam, and then you may keep worrying about the result for thirty days. Worrying, brooding, thinking about the result. All these consume a lot of our lives.
Now, if you are worrying about the outcome, I would say, why do you have spare time at all? Why has this time, firstly not been utilized in the action itself? And if you say, "Well now the deed is done, well now I have spare time", then what about the next and the higher deed?
Why are you squandering away even one moment of this precious but limited life? How come you have the time? Right? So when one is madly in love, when one is intensely in action, then the outcome becomes immaterial. Not because one is indifferent or detached, no. It is not a case of detachment, it is a case of intense love. I gave everything that I had, now it is difficult to differentiate between defeat and victory.
You could say that one who could differentiate between these two, the one who could be affected by the outcome is left with nothing to be affected with. He held back nothing. He gave everything that he/she had.
Think of a six-hour Wimbledon final. Or a seven-hour match. We have had matches like that, right? The loser, believe me, does not really regret that match. I have read of champions, Grand Slam Champions, who when asked about their most unforgettable match, would not talk about their Grand Slam finals or semi-finals. They would talk about one match that they fought and lost.
Now, that is one match that they cannot forget. That is one match that brought life to them as never before because that was the thing that drained everything out of them. Finally, when the winning shot was played, neither side could differentiate between victory and defeat. As a spectator, you would mind who held the trophy, no? Only one of the two parties is now carrying the trophy.
So you would say, “Oh, well Nadal won and Federer lost”. But ask them who have just played a five-setter that extended upto six hours and seven hours. Ask them and they say, “Well, this is my most unforgettable match, I do not remember who won and who lost. That is something that I won’t remember, and the match I cannot forget”.
That’s the way to live life. Live it so intensely that in the end you are left with no energy to be concerned with the result. That does not mean that you will necessarily meet defeat. Sometimes there is victory, sometimes there is defeat. But that is not the point, the point is how you have played the game. Play it with all your might. It raises you like anything. It raises you to enter a bigger game, a higher game and that’s the game.