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If all is One, what is the need of choices? || Acharya Prashant, on Vedanta (2021)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 मिनट
50 बार पढ़ा गया

Acharya Prashant (AP) All the diversities that you see are the world. And these diversities are what make the mind suffer and here the sages have picked up all the diversities and have said that all these diversities are actually one. The distinctions are merely apparent. Actually, there is an underlying unity, things appear different because that’s how your own biological system is constructed to perceive them. We are not designed to perceive oneness, we are designed to perceive only distinctions.

I can look at you because you appear different from the chair you are sitting on. If you look just like the chair you are sitting on, you will no more be perceptible. You can look at me because I appear different from the background there. If my colour, from head to toe, matches exactly the colour with the background, then I will no more be perceptible. You will no more be able to see me or experience me. In fact, I will have no more existence for you. So, I exist only as long as I am separate, distinct, different, separate. What is this world all about? This world is all about differences and distinctions. And the mind is forever caught in these distinctions and suffers.

“Is this right? Is that right? Is this nice? Is that nice? Do I go this way? Do I go that way?” Because ‘that’ way appears distinct from ‘this’ way. Because this thing ‘this’ thing is just not the same thing as ‘this’ thing going by our senses. There is no way we want to admit this (pen) thing is just the same as this (paper) thing. That’s what seers are attacking here. They are saying that for your practical day-to-day living it is all right if you see differences, it’s not merely all right, in fact, it is necessary.

If you see no difference between food and trash then probably you won’t survive for long. So for your day-to-day living, it is all right. But then, in your heart, at your core, you must know that all the distinctions are superfluous. The water and fire are one. And once you know that, that brings the mind to a final rest. Final rest where? Final rest nowhere. Please understand. If I distinguish between this pen and this paper then I am partial to them. And my mind will want to take rest in one of them. Right? Because I perceive one of them as more likeable or superior or preferable. So, my mind will gravitate towards one of them. But when I come to see that all these are one then no object holds any particular significance. Because no object is really final, all objects are one and all objects are from Him. But no particular object contains finality in itself, therefore my proclivity to attach myself to any one particular object is bound to decrease.

I can no more hold one particular person or thing or place or idea as being very close to my heart. You see, things attract you only in relation to their opposite. When you figure out that a thing is not fundamentally different from its opposite rather it’s the same, then the thing loses its charm.

Let’s say, you have one rupee, one rupee coin. And then somebody keeps a hundred rupee note here. You might probably immediately extend your hand towards the hundred rupee note. And you will want to say, “But a hundred rupee note is important.” Let’s see. What if somebody comes and keeps a two thousand rupee note here, now the hundred rupee note becomes equivalent to a one rupee coin. What happened?

Just now, you were saying a hundred rupee note is important, it was important only in relation to one rupee. Now that you have two thousand, a hundred rupee note has become unimportant. So, things attract you only when compared to some other thing. When you see, when you realize the thing and what you are comparing it to are not really qualitatively different. That realization sets you free. And then you go neither for two thousand nor for twenty thousand, nor even for one rupee. You don’t reject them either, there is a thing in them to be rejected, but at the same time, there is nothing in them to be admired. Nothing in them to be desired.

They lose all mental significance. Now, they have at most a practical significance. The number two thousand is bigger than the number one hundred. As a fact you know that, but that has no bearing on your mind. What does it mean to have no bearing on the mind? It means now your ego sense, ‘I’, does not look at rupees two thousand as being twenty times more valuable than rupees one hundred. The ego knows the relation between the figures two thousand and one hundred as a fact. But the ego does not associate itself with the fact. What does that mean? The ego will not say, “If I have rupee two thousand then I will be twenty times more valuable or bigger or richer compared to the situation when I only had one hundred.”

The ego is no more looking at either of these things as objects to be attached to, or as objects to determine its self-worth. So, all the movement, the action, the game, the drama continues on the outside. You take rupees two thousand, you purchase something for fifteen hundred, then you want your five hundred back, you won’t leave the change with the shopkeeper. You know very well two thousand minus fifteen hundred is five hundred. But these figures have lost their meaning. The figures are just figures now, they do not hold any internal meaning for you anymore.

You have seen that they are all one in the sense that all belong to one common plane. This is a virtue greatly extorted in all spirituality, in all religious streams, especially the Indic ones. In some places, it is called as ‘*samata*’, at other places it is called as ‘*sam drishti*’. And the same thing extends to becoming 'sakshitava' — I can witness anything because anything that I see is just not powerful or lucrative enough to tempt me in because there is nothing there so tempting, at the same time, there is nothing there so disgusting, hence I neither gravitate towards them nor am I repulsed by them. I can just sit at my place and watch everything without jumping into the fray or running away from the shore. That’s witnessing. In some sense it’s all the same. It’s all the same and all of it come from a single source. This realization is a source of great peace, great detachment and this realization is not something that weakens you or hinders your capacity to participate in the life game rather, it sets you free.

You are now participating in the game without bondages of attachments or fear. You play much more vigorously, you play with a great rigour which has peace at its centre. Vigor that has peace at its centre has an unmatched quality. It has the ferocity of desire, as well as the relaxation of contentment. When these two come together then you are living fully. The person displays furious activity on the outside and yet within, at the centre, he knows very well that it’s all the same. Win, lose; drop, gain; arrival, departure; birth, death — they all belong to one particular level, one dimension, one common plane.

When you see the commonality between all physical objects and when you also see the duality involved in all mental objects — two is just false — then you are liberated. It is both ways. One, it is all the physical objects that you see are essentially one belonging to the world, belonging to the zone of perceptible objects and all the mental objects that you have that operate in the dualistic way — happiness, sadness. When you start seeing even these as one, then what can set you back? Get this?

It is to reinforce this point that the seers have uttered verse after verse because even though the message is simple, but the mind will find ways to forget it. The usual habit and experience of the mind is diversity and duality. Oneness is something that you never experience, you are incapable of experiencing oneness. Experience itself implies distinction, therefore the mind has to be trained and reminded again and again and again and again, and that’s practice. That’s really the askesis being talked of in these verses.

Q: Acharya Ji, if all is one then what is discretion? What is vivek ? And as you say, “To make the right choice,” but if all is the same then what is the importance of right choice?

AP: You see, when you see two objects, then among them it is probable that there will be an object that has a relationship with you, that only reinforces the idea that, that particular object is special. Are you getting it? Let’s say there are two persons and you have to make a choice, and I have advised you to practice discretion or vivek in the choice. Now, look at these two persons, one of those persons is very sure that he can exist in your life as only someone special. One of those persons is trying to enter your life as the special one.

Now, if you chose that person, then what have you really chosen? You have chosen to reinforce the flawed idea that objects are really separate from each other. Because that person is entering your life only to assert the idea that “I am different or superior or special compared to everybody else.” And then there could be another person who is entering your life to teach you that the distinctions that you usually see between objects are all bogus. Now you see the role of discretion? The mind is already conditioned to see differences where there are not. The mind is already conditioned to live in and create illusions. Now, why go for an object that would push you deeper into illusions?

And it’s not really the fault of that object as such, therefore I said the relationship. Do not go for an object with which your relationship itself is of a certain illusory character. We are not really blaming the object per se, you have to choose between one type of relationship and another type of relationship. Choose the right relationship. If the mind is flawed then you have to choose someone who would teach the mind, correct the mind, rectify its flaw and that’s where discretion comes in. Unless you have a relationship with the sage, who would tell you all this? Do you see this? That’s the role of choosing rightly. Before you become choiceless, you have to endlessly keep making the right choice. You will not become choiceless all of a sudden, magically. Therefore, I emphasize upon the right choice. Make the right choice, and if you make the right choice often enough, you will come to choicelessness.

Q: Acharya Ji, as you said that the sage will tell you how to make the right choice but before coming to the sage, how can one make the right choice?

AP Try. When you do not know how good one thing is compared to another thing, what would you do? You try both of them without committing to either. Try everything, don’t just commit yourself suddenly. That’s the mistake we often do — without knowing the thing fully, without knowing our relationship with the thing fully, without knowing the repercussions of the relationship, we rush into the bondage of blind commitment. Have patience and courage to keep hanging. Keep hanging, till gradually a slow clarity emerges.

You have to give yourself time. And you don’t have to be in a hurry. And you need to have the integrity to reject the thing even after several years of trial if those several years have revealed to you that the thing or the relationship with the thing is not worth it. What else is experimentation for? So, that experimentation is very important, that experimentation is honesty. That experimentation is at the heart of all investigations.

You do not investigate to embrace the first thing you come across, do you? You investigate to check and re-check and cross-check, to ask question after question. So, that’s what do in front of the sage as well. That’s why you have this special process through which Upanishads came into being — the process that involves discussion. The rishis never tried to be overwearing or tedious, they talked. They let the student listen, assess, question and the student did that — the process is didactic.

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