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Before you chase goals, become goal-less || Acharya Prashant, on Lalleshwari (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
25 min
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Impart not esoteric Truth to fools, Nor on molasses feed an ass. Do not sow seeds in sandy beds, Nor waste your oil on cakes of bran. -Lal Ded

Speaker: The question is, ‘Why is a compassionate saint speaking such words? They look more like coming from a result oriented mind.’

When you say, ‘Why is a compassionate saint speaking these words?’, who are you referring to? There is a Lal Ded that never took birth and will never die. There is a Lal Ded who is so expansive that space cannot contain her and there is a Lal Ded who surely took birth and who surely die. There is a Lal Ded who is limited in a body, there is a Lal Ded who is living, eating and breathing in achievement and there is nothing left for her to get. And there is a Lal Ded who must move around, go place to place, speak and dance. There is a Lal Ded who is pure silence and there is a Lal Ded who must deal in words. Who are you referring to? Who is the saint? When you say saint, what do you mean? What do you mean? Your query is that why is Lal Ded speaking in a language that looks result oriented?

She is saying:

Impart not esoteric Truth to fools,Do not feed sugar to an ass.Do not sow seeds in sandy beds,Nor waste your oil on cakes of bran.

First of all consider, what do you mean by a saint? The Lal Ded who is saying this is the one who is limited in a body, who speaks in words and who talks to the limited you. The real Lal Ded does not speak; she is unmoving in her silence. The one who has to speak will always speak in words, in language, in limitations; will refer to objects, will talk of space and time, will have future and will perish and die – Do not confuse the two.

The saint is not the body of the saint. The saint is not the words of the saint. The saint is that which you become, which you go back to when you attentively listen of the words of the saint. Who is Kabir? A man who lived some 600-700 years back and used to weave clothes. Eat-Sleep-Walk and then died one day. Is that what you mean when you say ‘Kabir’? No, Kabir is not that. Kabir is the essence from which all Kabirs are born. I am not saying Kabir is the essence of Kabir. I am saying Kabir is the essence from which all Kabirs are born. And a thousand Kabirs come and go. And a thousand Kabirs come and go all originating from that essence. That essence is the real Kabir.

Now you’re talking about being result oriented. The essence can never be result oriented but the expression is in the world. Expression is in space and time. The expression will have to speak the language of the world it belongs to. Can the bodily Lal Ded defy the Laws of Gravity? Can her body avoid aging? Can she avoid Death? Does she not experience hunger and thirst in her bodily form? Do not confuse the two – the essence and the expression. And we make a great confusion, we start attributing all the non-qualities of the essence to the manifestation.

Obviously at the centre Lal Ded has no goals or targets because at the centre lies the essence. There, there are obviously no results or goals or targets or anything left to achieve. But the Lal Ded in body will work, will dance, will speak, will talk of tomorrow and that’s what she must do. But what usually happens is that the one who is not in that state, either starts mixing the two or sometimes even inverts the order.

Who is Lal Ded? Someone who has no goals at the centre but freely dances in the world, on the periphery. And who is our common worldly man? Who would profess that he worships saints and because saints are not supposed to be result oriented so he will behave as if he has no results. And all behaviour as you know, is on the periphery. So, on the periphery he will show that he has no goals but just inside the periphery he would be full of targets; look at the contrast.

Lal Ded, a real saint has no goals at the centre. But lives freely and freely means completely attuned to the dance of existence, to the dance of the world; lives freely at the periphery. And the fake one? Because he has heard that goal-lessness is a supreme virtue. The fake one would act as if he has no goals and not only that he would display some kind of a pious disgust towards the goals. He will say, “Oh my god! This man has goals? Surely there is something unholy about him.” He will display a condescending attitude towards goals and targets on the periphery. But within he would be full of the need to achieve and get. Just below the surface there would be a hollow.

So, who is a saint? Do not confuse a saint with the physical expression of the essence. That is not the saint. The essence is the saint. A Buddha keeps walking and he is actively adding to the numbers of the community he founded. All the tie he is doing that. He is on the surface doing exactly what any of your number minded, goal-oriented people do. Going around, dedicating his life, adding to numbers. There is nothing else that he is doing. Even at the time of his death he is preaching and not all is he preaching. And not only is he preaching, he is making sure that the word goes around that the Buddha is about to pass away so that more and more people can come to him.

Just before he passed away there was a man who came to him and he said that I want to be ordained, I want to be included amongst your monks. Usually there was a probation period of four months; the Buddha would not allow direct entry into the sang. He said, “You know you join, you come and join.” And you might say, “Look at the greed of the man! Even when he is passing away he still wants to add to his numbers.” And the Buddha won’t deny that, he is adding to his numbers. He actually has a mission and he has dedicated his life completely to that mission.

But which Buddha are you referring to? The centre or the periphery? Center has no mission obviously but the periphery will have a mission, must have a mission otherwise it will rot! It will rot! The body is there to move, the muscles are there to pick up load. The legs are there to run, what else would you do with the legs? If you won’t run would you say, “No I’m space-less, timeless and I have nowhere to go. So let me just keep sitting” That’s what often been done in the name of spirituality and would do you get?

You get your so-called saints with their eighty inch tummies. Space is false so they don’t move at all. Why move? I’m already all-pervasive. I don’t have anywhere to go. And you have people who have simply dried themselves down –shrivelled. Why eat? I have no needs. And there are people who don’t take baths, who have dread locks. Have you seen holy men with matted hair? They don’t take bath because I’m already so holy, so clean and pious. I’m niranjan, spot-less, blemish-less. Why does blemish-less have to take a bath? Such stupidity.

The centre is blemish-less but your skin needs bath. Even if you say that your body is the temple of the Holy, don’t you clean the temple? If the body is nothing except the temple of the sacred. Won’t you clean the temple? What else will you do with material except treat it like material? Your birth might be Leela, the world might be Leela but then participate fully in the Leela. Leela not only means that the thing is false. If you just keep saying that Leela means that it is false then you’re not getting the point. Leela also means that this that appears to be the false is an expression of the Truest. How can you avoid it?

You are talking of results; coming back to the Buddha he was always talking in the language of numbers. He would have a count, how many monks are there now? How much areas to cover? Where to send them? You would say, “Such a calculative mind!” And he was calculating. And there are hundreds of examples of saints who have talked in such ways – results, numbers. Who have clearly said where to exert yourself and where not to . Who have laid down rules and procedures for their followers. Do not waste your time with such people because you would not get anything there.

In fact the story says that the Buddha was not ready to start preaching, he said that there was no point in preaching. When he said that there was no point in preaching what he meant was no result would come out of it. The Gods had to come and convince him that no some result will come from your speaking. And even the fact that he got convinced, depended on numbers. The Gods told him, “No the result will be there for some at least. So go ahead and try.” Then Buddha said, “Alright, if there is a result then I will try.”

How come result has become an unholy word? Whenever I have talked of goallessness I have said that live in the realisation that there is nothing wrong with you. Live in that deep realisation. Never think that you’re incomplete or inferior that something has to be added to you to make you compete. That is what I have been saying. But does that mean that you will not that or drink when you are hungry or thirsty? There is one level and there is another level. There is the centre and there is the periphery. Give to the centre what must be there in the centre and what must be at the periphery, must be the at the periphery. Have you forgotten that quote by Jesus?

Give to what, what is God’s. And give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s. All he meant was in the world be like the world.


You have had people who travelled their entire life. Why were they travelling, toiling and exerting so much? Why? Most recent example would be Vivekananda. What made him travel all the way to the US and those were not easy days and he didn’t even have money. He didn’t even have information. He reached the US at an opportune time. And before the event was to take place he actually had a few months to survive. He didn’t know the exact when he needed to reach there, information was not there. With great difficulty did he make do at that time. And he was talking of results, he did say, “If I I have just a handful of dedicated young people the face of the world can be changed.”

Is he not talking numbers? Is he not talking results? Results are important, numbers are important. It is a very delicate movement, I understand. For the mind to chase a number and yet be totally still at the centre that is why we feel troubled. In fact spirituality often becomes a refuge for those who have failed in chasing. So they will say, “Alright, to be spiritual means not to chase so we will not chase.” No it does not mean that. You have to have a mind which is powered by the Unmoving, which is powered by deep inner completeness. But that mind will participate fully in the affairs of the world driven by its sense of completeness! That looks a little incomprehensible to us, we will say, “If it is feeling complete, why will it participate in all this rubbish?” Just for fun! That is what is called Leela and understand that there is a difference between Maya and Leela.

In both you participate in the world, in Maya you participate in the world, in Leela too you participate in the world. But in Maya while participating you totally forget who you are. The world takes control of you, the word starts sitting at your centre and it starts dominating and ruling you; that is Maya. In Leela too you are participating in the world but while participating in the world you are being ruled by the world. At your centre sits the Ultimate, the Source. So then you are at the centre, you appear to be in the world but you’re really in the centre. That does not mean that you are not being truthful to the world. You are being totally truthful to the world.

In fact only by being well-centred in the Truth can you be truthful to the world. Understand this – the man who gives both his body and soul to the world, gives nothing to the world. He will never come to know the world and he may never be able to participate in the world fully. The man who gives both his body and soul to the world. But the man who gives his body to the world because the body is the world, the man who lets his mind be in the world because the mind is the world! Where else would the mind be? While ensuring that his essence remains untouched – he is the man who will fully participate in the world.

That is why Leela is not possible, Raas is not possible for the common and the ordinary man. Don’t you see the connection? The one from whom the Gita emanates is also the one who is able to dance fully, freely and beautifully on the banks of Yamuna. Don’t you see this? Unless you have Gita in your heart how will you dance on the banks of Yamuna? How will you be loving towards so many women? It is impossible. Does your common man have so much love? For women, for men, for animals, for friends and for everybody. Does your common man have so much love? Krishna has so much love and remember all this Love is directed towards the world. He is fully of the world. He is not going and hiding in some cave or in some dessert or in some jungle or on the top of a mountain. Krishna is not hiding; he has healthy relationships with the world. Peacocks, cows and even snakes. He calls and all the animals come.

He does not avoid anybody. Have you seen Krishna doing that? I’m a holy man I do not do this or that – have you seen him do this? He is complete participant in the game because as he says that even though I run the world yet I am untouched by the world. These are beautiful lines from the Gita. He says to Arjun that even as I run the world yet I retain my non-doership. Even while doing everything, I do not do anything. And that is the beauty and that is the subtle and delicate nature of truth that you have to understand. It’s not so gross that you could put it in the form of commandments, formulations that you should not have goals. It is a stupid statement that you should not have goals.

Who should not have goals? Identify the entity first! That’s why I started this discussion first, who is a saint? When you a saint must not have goals, then who is a saint? Who are you referring to? Have you seen how shrewdly Krishna fights the battle of Kurukshetra? Have you seen? He strategizes, he decides who would deploy where, he advises. He’s in fact even prepared to pick up the weapon; at one point he does. And when he sees that the final victory must come by hitting below the belt, he does not shy away from advising Bheem to do that. He says, “Fine, go ahead, do that.” In the world as per the needs of the world. This is also called the ability to respond.

I know what the situation is. I do not need rules. Do you understand this? I do not need any rules. Neither rules of war no rules of ethics and morality; I do not need any rules. I know what it is like so from that knowing will my response come.

But what I’m saying is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it is very – very easy to be co-opted by the cunning mind. So that is why I say that before you chase goals, become goalless. These words are only for the mind that is essentially goalless. Chase goals with all your mind but before chasing goals become very clean, empty of goals. So eat with all your might when your stomach is full. Would you remember this? Drink as much as you can after you know that you can never be thirsty. And then drink as much as you can but while drinking remember, you can never be thirsty. That remembrance must never be forgotten.

Chase all goals remembering that no goal means anything. Give them all that you have so that when you succeed you laugh and when you fail, you laugh all the more. That is the art of chasing goals.

We have come to participate in the competition. Why because we want to win? No, because we are already victorious. Yes we have come to participate in the competition. We will compete, we will compare, why? Because we are incomparable.

That sounds absurd but that’s what the Truth is – absurd to the logical mind.

Let’s compare, let’s compete and let’s run, let’s chase and let’s have targets why? Because we don’t have any targets. Why? Because we are incomparable.

India has suffered a lot because what belongs to the centre has been applied to the periphery. Do not committing the same old mistake. The centre is centre and the periphery is periphery. Beautiful words – Ahinsa, Aparigrh, Akaant – they belong to the centre. Do not pick them up from there and mindlessly apply them to the body, to the daily affairs. Ahinsa is not about getting beaten up regularly and not doing something about it. Ahinsa is a state of mind in which it is not divided, not divided away from its source that is Ahinsa.

When Krishna is advising Arjun to fight and kill, do you think he is being violent? Do you think he is being violent? Krishna epitomizes non-violence. It might seem, Oh my god! Very violent man, his advice lead to so many deaths. The one who is saying this understands neither the periphery nor the centre. And to top when we will see a man like Krishna fighting, we will call him a hypocrite. We will say, “See he’s violating all the commandments that the holy men must follow.”

The gurus of the Sikhs, they kept fighting. Do you think that they were fighting without strategy? Do you think they were fighting without applying mind? Do you think they were going on suicide missions? They were not afraid to die but at the same time they were not going on suicide missions. They had a plan; planning is good, wonderful when you have surrendered to That which is beyond planning. And that is why they could fight so ferociously and so fearlessly because they were fighting in surrender.Now this is very strange, fighting in surrender? Sir we thought fighting always implies lack of surrender. Sir we thought surrender means that I have stopped fighting. Yes obviously surrender means that you have stopped fighting. Stopped fighting what? You have stopped fighting existence, you have stopped fighting That. You have stopped fighting truth that is what surrender means. And when you stop fighting the Real then you become available to fight the unreal. So in surrender you fight like no-one else can. Do you understand this? When you stop fighting the Real then you become available to fight the Unreal.

So a surrendered man fights really – really hard. You’ll find it very difficult to match him. Do not attribute your laziness, clumsiness, lack of success to spirituality. because you do not succeed in anything, because you always fail to hit your target. So what do you say? “Oh! You know targets they are bad things.” Just because the world keeps making a fool of you, you want a lot of things but you do not achieve them, what do you say? “No – no I don’t want to achieve. It is not spiritual to achieve.”

What does it mean to be spiritual? To be beaten around? To be stupid? To lose wherever you go? To not to be do anything properly? Is that what is the meaning of spirituality? I kept trying and trying for years and nothing happened. So what did I say? “Well anything anyway never happens.” What great escape! You become an unstoppable force when you’re spiritual. When the spiritual man decides that this is something that he wants to do, nobody can stop him. When he says I want to get this, it is impossible that he won’t get it. And you keep trying and trying and never and never succeeding. So what to do you say? “You know success and failure, they are just illusions.”

Yes if success and failure are illusions then bread and butter are also illusions. Why do you go and eat bread and butter? If success and failure are illusions then money and clothes are also illusions. Why do you take money? Why do you wear clothes? There you will not say these are illusions. India has suffered badly. Our version of spirituality is a world negating version. Our version of spirituality is another worldly version. The real world lies somewhere else, here we are just to pass some time and after that we will go to the real world. You know obviously such versions are not spiritual at all. No version is spiritual.

Whenever there is a so-called religious gathering, what kind of people do you see gathering? All the losers, they assemble there. Somebody is getting beaten up by his wife so he’ll come. Somebody is fired from the job, nothing else to do so he will come. Somebody could not clear an entrance exam so he has a spare year at hand so he will come. Somebody has grown old, retired from the job, nothing else to do so he will come. All kinds of losers will assemble. So this what spirituality is? Because you are getting kicked around in the world so you declare yourself holy. Somebody wants to earn a lot of money but cannot earn any money so to console himself he will come. Somebody chased a girls for years and ultimately got dumped, he will come. And there would be others who would come for some sort of greed – Maybe I will get a promotion, maybe I will get a son – so they will come.

Is this a spiritual gathering? And is not the kind of gathering that you see in the name of religion? Is religion for the half – dead? Is religion for the stupid? Or is it for the highly intelligent? Is it for the lethargic, the diseased, the old and weary who can’t move an inch or is it for the young and the really energetic? The truly spiritual man is always a young man, at the centre. Remember this; note this. At the centre he sits like a yogi – Unmoving, unflappable and unflinching – and at the periphery there are only two thing that he knows. At the centre he is completely still, stillness is his nature. And the periphery there are only two things that he knows – fighting and loving.

He loves and he fights that’s the way he lives in the world. As a fighter and as a lover. Because both fighting and loving require a complete annihilation of ego – Deep fearlessness. If you’re not fearless, you cannot fight and if you’re not fearless, you cannot love. That’s the way he is at the centre – he is sitting like a Buddha in chin mudra, statue, can’t be moved, can’t be shaken and nothing can touch him. And in the world he is a fighter and a lover. And look at us, look at the so-called religious or spiritual people. They can’t fight, so afraid. How will they fight? And because they can’t fight they will say, “No-no we are non-violent people how can we fight?” When the occasion comes to fight, they run away or they hide or they find that their legs don’t move. Ask yourself have you been able to fight when the occasion has come to fight? You have just hidden and you have consoled yourself in the name of some principle. And he loves!

Ask yourself have you been able to love when the occasion for love comes again you do exactly the same thing – You run away. Loving and fighting have a lot in common. The man who cannot fight, cannot love. And the man who loves is never shy of fighting. Do not make a convenient a pot-pourie. In the world be hundred percent of the world, chase targets, chase goals but even as you chase goals remain goalless. And do feel ashamed when you find that you are unable to meet you goals because shame cannot harm you when there is light in your heart. Do look at the past and find out your mistakes, no past can harm you when you are in the Present. Do look towards the future and see what to do next when you are in the Present then you can play with the future, it’s alright. But remember the pre-condition you must be first in the Present. That’s why I said at a point that what I’m saying is dangerous. If you are not surrendered or if you are not attentive instead of Leela it will become Maya. Your ego will co-opt it.

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