When you chase something, you will get its opposite as well

Acharya Prashant
17 min readMay 1

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

Drunks fear the police but the police are drunk too.

~ Rumi

Acharya Prashant (AP): We are prone to thinking that a ‘thing’ is cancelled or neutralized by its opposite and our superficial experience in the world supports this kind of thinking. When cold water is mixed with hot water what you get is water that is neither cold nor hot. When a force toward the left meets a force towards the right, what you get is equilibrium. So it is no wonder, that we think that the opposite of ‘something’ neutralizes it, finishes it, dissolves it.

If the day is hot, we wait for the night. We say, “The day is so hot, the night might bring us some relief.” And when the night comes, we are glad to say, “The night brought us relief from the heat of the day”.

For us, a ‘thing’ finds its end, its deliverance, its solution in its opposite. If the day troubles me, then my deliverance lies with the night. If white threatens me, then my succor lies with black. If going upwards, I find suffering then the correct way for me is to go downwards. That is the way of the Samsara (World). That is what our ‘normal’, everyday experience has taught us.

But the wise man looks attentively at the world. He asks, “Is really a ‘thing’ finished by its opposite?” He probes deeply into life and what he sees is that the deeper is the pain, the more is the search and the memory of pleasure. And the more is the pleasure, the more is the urge to consume the pleasure out of a fear of pain.

He sees that just as, the more a spring is stretched, the more it wants to return to its unstretched position, similarly, the more a thing is, the more its opposite is created.

He sees that you cannot have ‘something’, without parallelly creating its opposite. If you want to see pitch darkness, then you will need to have a background of white. Without a background of white, it will be impossible to have even black.

He sees that the opposite of a ‘thing’ does not neutralize it, instead enhances it.

Acharya Prashant