Spirituality is basic honesty
Question: I want to seek the Truth, for me service to the humanity is my means to serve the Truth. This is what excites me and am drawn towards. I have been attending Satsangs, and they say it is about dropping your identity and exploring who you are as the greatest. So, I am confused if I am avoiding the Truth by attachment to my passion.
Acharya Prashant: Let me put something very emphatically.
The distinction between spiritual life and worldly life is a false distinction. That which is called as Truth is not to be attained in isolation or abstraction. It is found in the middle of life, not in the middle of some special spiritual life, but in the middle of our everyday life.
What do you think, you can answer ‘who am I?’ by just sitting somewhere and chanting ‘who am I?’ and meditating using some method? ‘Who am I?’ is discovered only in the context of relationships. Only in the context of your relationship with the world, with your mind, with your thoughts.
Spirituality is not an isolated activity. You do not say that these are the things that I do and then the next thing that I am engaged in is, spirituality. If you do not do what you are doing, then how will you ever come to the facts of what you believe yourself to be.
You already are a lot, and that is your starting point, and you must start from there.
I often say that if you want to go very far then you must start from the very near. And if you say that I will have some kind of contempt towards that which is near and small and daily and routine and ordinary, then how will you ever go far.
‘Who am I?’, how does the inquiry start? Does the inquiry start in an affirmative way? The inquiry starts by first seeing, what you believe yourself to be? What are the ways in which you are already functioning? So, you must function, and not suppress your functioning. If you suppress your functioning, how will you discover what you have been functioning as?
There is something wrong with your car, and it makes noise the moment the speed exceeds 60. And you go to some Guru-Garage, and the Guru technician tells you, “No, no, no, the car must sit totally still and meditate on ‘who am I?’, only then the noise will go away.” The car must run, only then you will discover what the sound is all about. In fact the technician too, must let the car run and when the car is running, he should pay attention. When it is running, what is going on? He must observe, what is happening when it is running. Only when it runs do you discover what the mechanics of running are. But you say “no, it is a spiritual garage, and the car must know that it is nothing”. (laughter)
The car must run and when it would run then you would see how it is creaking, how the noises are there, how it is polluting itself and the others, how it is consuming a lot of fuel, how it is dangerous for both the driver and the pedestrian. Now, that doesn’t mean that you keep driving the car, it means that now you drive the car ‘attentively’. Now you drive the car, knowing fully well that there is something here, not already convinced that you know what’s wrong with the car, but just ‘attentive’ — attentive to every vibration, attentive to the dashboard, attentive to the sound from the engine, attentive to the temperature. Attentive to everything that the car offers by way of sensory experience. Are you getting it?
So, be fully immersed in whatever you are doing, and the relieving part is that we are already doing a lot. So, we don’t need to do anything extra, neither do we need to suppress what is going on. ‘Just see and acknowledge what is going on, nothing else is needed’. That’s why spirituality is so simple, you do not need great formulations or practices, you only need to be honest towards what is already going on, not initiate something new.
Are we all living vacuous lives? Are even five minutes really free in our life? Is not every bit, every part, every cell and tissue of our life, occupied with something? Doesn’t our canvas have colors splashed on it everywhere? We may dislike some of the colors, that is another matter, but is the canvas blank anywhere? Is it ever blank? So, when it is already full, that is very good. You just have to look at what you have been filling in. And that’s all. And that doesn’t mean you have to look at it as if you have been doing a great crime, “Oh my God, I have been a worldly man, see all of these are colors of blood, such a criminal I am.” No. These are colors, just know that they are there, and then you would know the right action.
And the right action, like the right identity, is so very fluid; keeps changing.
Spirituality is not morality, it is not a set of commandments, it is never instructive. It does not tell you, do this or do that. And if you are ever told that in the name of self-inquiry or spiritual progress, then just be very cautious, it must be somebody who doesn’t understand.
Your condition at this moment is the sum total and complete representation of all your life, not only this life of the past 30 or 50 years, but your entire evolutionary life as well. What you are, this moment is a total expression of the collective flow of the whole stream, the whole evolutionary process, for each of us. Now, why do we need to go elsewhere and read a book? Here is the book, our life is the book, so close and so unavoidable.
You cannot say you don’t feel like picking up a book today, you do pick yourself up from the bed every morning, don’t you? So, you are picking up your own book, just read it honestly. Just don’t lie to yourself — don’t call attachment as love, don’t call hatred as choice, don’t call fear as caution. Be honest in reading what you are reading. That is all that is needed.
Listener: Honesty sometimes can be a problem too. My mind puts something in the front and makes it hard to see it honestly. How can we see ourselves truly?
AP: It’s not difficult at all. You see, ultimately it would be always done through the mind. The source, the master, the one behind, might be anything, anybody, we do not know. It might be the pure self, the atman, we do not know, but what we surely know is that whatever will happen, will happen through the mind. So, if you are saying that honesty is something the mind is afraid of, then also do tell the mind the price that you pay for not being honest. Yes, being honest may come with its share of discomfort to you. But have you ever been sensitive to suffering that you bear when you are not honest to yourself.
If you are paying 100 Dollars for something and in comparison, if you have to pay 20 Dollars, which of these is a preferable cost? Twenty Dollars would appear too much only when oblivious of the fact that you are already paying 100. Yes, you are very right that when one says A as A, when one lives in the direct acknowledgement of the facts, then there might be certain discomforts. Then the going may get a little rough at times. But, tell me, by not acknowledging, by suppressing, by telling yourself that A is B, have you been profiting? Really?
When you tell the mind, thus, then the mind which is a profit seeker, says, “Yes, it is right, yes there is a price to be paid here, a cost to be born here, but that is a rather lesser cost, so I would bear it”; now it would be easy.
When you see laughing faces, do not just see the laughter. Also see the tears that are waiting to be shed. Look at the complete picture. Now you are being honest, and you are in a bit of trouble, and you see everybody around you making merry; and that makes you circumspect and also a little jealous. You feel, I chose honesty and I am in trouble, and all these people, they have chosen deception and they are all enjoying. Yes, they might be enjoying, but do you know the cost that they would bear for their enjoyment?
Look at the complete picture. Then you would feel, Yes I am making the right choice. “Dear mind, do you agree?” and the inner voice will say, “Yes, I do”. It is not a very intelligent voice you know. It needs all kinds of persuasions, counselling, comforts.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Spirituality is basic honesty
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Originally published at prashantadvait.com on April 2, 2017.