IIT Kharagpur: The false promise of pleasure

Acharya Prashant
6 min readMay 19, 2022

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): I find myself in a vicious cycle of wanting more and more pleasure all the time. How can I get out of it?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Get some real pleasure. Real pleasure has a quality to it, and when you have that quality then your hunger for quantity diminishes. If you keep looking for more and more pleasure, chances are you are not getting pleasure anywhere. Had you been getting it somewhere, you would have stopped at that point, right? Because you don’t get it anywhere, that is why you want it everywhere.

So, look for the right place where real pleasure can be had. For that, you will have to first of all test whether all these places that promise pleasure to you are of any avail. They promise, they attract, they also extract a lot, but do they really deliver? And maintain the faith that the real thing is not inaccessible. You are born to achieve the real thing and you can get it, but not if you remain attracted to, and engaged with all the little and false stuff. Then the little things will keep you forever away from the real deal.

Q: The reason I asked this question is that society promotes this mentality which says, for example, “Crack that exam and you will get pleasure after that, you will live in pleasure after that.” Someone might be aspiring to crack the UPSC, and he is taught that after he cracks it he will have cars and servants and all the possible pleasures available to himself. The thing is that when we are focusing on our work based on this promise, we don’t develop any plan on how to proceed after the initial achievement. We might succeed and still find ourselves lost afterward. We don’t know what to do after the initial achievement.

AP: People who write the JEE thinking that after the JEE there would only be an unmitigated pleasure or people who write the UPSC thinking that once you get your rank and are allotted a cadre, all you will have is power, pelf, privilege, servants, and all the things that you talked of — mostly these people anyway don’t get to enter the IITs or the civil services. With this kind of motivation, success is anyway hard to come by. Even if you do get success hoping for these things, very soon you will discover…