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JeevanMukti - Your Highest Possibility || Acharya Prashant, with DU (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Questioner (Q): I am seeing that the mind lives in a hierarchy. So, there are some social reformers and then there are some spiritual mystics. Is there any difference between them, if both of them are working from the right centre?

Acharya Prashant (AP): No, you cannot be a true social reformer without being spiritual at heart and if you are, indeed, spiritual, then your existence will definitely result in social reform. So, at their best places, these two are one.

However, these two are not necessarily one because you have social reformers of all hues and shades and you have spiritual masters of all kinds, so, at their best place, these two are one. The true spiritual teacher will also be a true social reformer, but if you are talking of run-of-the-mill kinds, then these two can be very distinct because you have had many social reformers who knew nothing of spirituality and that's the reason why the kind of reforms they wanted to bring only proved divisive and counterproductive and problematic, as history has shown.

Similarly, there have been mystics and all who had no intention toward social reform. Their works, too, have not only not brought illumination but have actually acted to create a lot of confusion. So, you can know the real social reformer by this, that at his core, he will be a sage and if he is not a sage at his core, then the social reform he is bringing is just some kind of partisan agenda or communal agenda or something.

Similarly, the great teachers who say that ‘We are concerned only with our own enlightenment and we give two hoots to the state of the society. We are not social reformers, we are spiritual teachers.’ Such people cannot be genuine. Spirituality sans compassion is not possible. Enlightenment as a personal event is a great delusion. When there is no personal bondage, when there is no personal rebirth, how can there be a personal liberation?

The false self is something of a network. It is not something personal or unique to you. It's a network and we all are nodes in that network. One node cannot be liberated itself in isolation, therefore, the real spiritual person will have to be, by compulsion, a social reformer. It’s a compulsion because you cannot have personal enlightenment and you are here to dismantle the entire network, not just your own little personal node. Therefore the real spiritual teacher will have to, compulsorily remain an avid social reformer all his life.

Q: Sir, we had two people in the past century, UG Krishnamurthy and Jiddu Krishnamurthy. Jiddu Krishnamurthy was a social reformer and in his work, for people for more than 60 years and on the other hand, UG was not on these kinds of things. You are saying, compulsorily, a spiritual man has to be a social reformer, and then comes one more hierarchy that my mind always tracks that two words. I don't know much about those but still, I want to ask jeevan mukt and videh mukt . So, I don't know much about it. Can I know something about that?

AP: See, if you are to talk in terms of hierarchy, the spiritual teacher comes first, the social reformer comes later. The mind is the first thing, the world is an extension of the mind. You do not say that the world exists and the mind emerges from it, that would be sheer materialism.

The mind is the central thing and the world projects itself from it, so, society which is the world obviously comes later, and spirituality which deals with the mind obviously comes first.

Now about jeevan mukt and videh mukt. Jeevan mukt is the highest that one can aspire for. Who is videh mukt ?—the one who is free either of the body or along with the body.

It can be interpreted either way. The one who is free along with the body—the body is there but he is free—or the one who is free of the body. That's videh mukt . Higher than videh mukt is the jeevan mukt and it is the absolutely highest ideal India has had to give to the world because the world and all the religious streams in the world have always talked of the highest being possible to you only after death.

If you have a great life, then you will have a great after life. So, there is a heaven or jannat , some other place waiting for you, even in the Indian pauranik (ancient) tradition, there is swarg . But Vedant doesn't talk of any swarg , it dismisses them as child fantasies—heaven and hell as such things. Vedant is the only philosophy, among the major philosophies that lean towards the religious side, that dismisses all talk of heaven and hell. So, the highest that is possible is not after this life, the highest that is possible is in this life.

There is this beautiful Bhajan by Kabir Sahib, it says " Jeevan mukt soi mukta hai ".

There is no mukti or Liberation if you are not liberated even as you are alive. There is no Liberation if you are not liberated even as you are breathing and alive. What is the definition of jeevan mukt ?—The one who is free of life even as he lives is called jeevan mukt . How is it higher than videh mukt ?

Videh mukt is free, principally, of the body and jeevan mukt is free of both the mind and body. That which we call for as life, for human beings, it is more of a mental happening than physical happening.

Therefore, jeevan mukt is considered a bit higher than videh mukt , though if you go into the knity-gritty of it, jeevan mukt and videh mukt have to be one. You cannot be free of the body if you are not totally free of the mind, so the videh mukt have to be the jeevan mukt , but then, talking in a practical sense, the way these two words have been traditionally understood jeevan mukt is a higher, rather the highest state.

Be free of life in life. What is life for us? All this, this, this (indicating the various activities and processes of someone) is life, right?—Be free of it. That is jeevan mukt . Not dead, living, breathing but still free of all that he lives on—all that he eats, all that he relates to, the people he talks to, the money in his pockets, his past, his future, his body, his relationships, his aspirations, his hopes, his delusions—he is living in the middle of all these and yet he is free of all of these. That's jeevan mukt .

It's a great ideal, please understand. Even the Buddha had to talk of parinirvana (nirvana after death), nirvana , as if it was not sufficient. Even the Buddha admitted that until there is the body and you are alive, bondages will remain. But Vedant is far more optimistic, far more upbeat, it says, ‘No, it's not necessary. Being a jeevan mukt is possible. You can be in the middle of it and yet be free of it.’ So, that’s the pole star. That’s what guides you along your journey. I do not know whether it is attainable, but just the fact that it even mentally exists is so very comforting and so very empowering that life is not meant to be spent in grudges, trivia and all the petty things.

You can live as the jeevan mukt . It is possible. In fact, our friend, Shubhankar here (referring to a member present there) , he remembers only a few bits from the Upanishadic treasure trove and out of them there is one on the jeevan mukt . He will narrate it for us right now. ' namé jeev iti gyatva sa jeevan mukta uchiyate ' The one who knows he is not a jeeva , a person, is called jeevan mukt

It's so beautiful, he was a lad and this was like 8-10 years back and we took him to one of our shivirs , our camps and he was someone who was that typical anglophile, forget Sanskrit he could not even speak Hindi properly. I mean our Dariaus (referring to another member) speaks better Hindi than Subhakar used to do, eight or ten years back. So, I took him there and gave him something in Sanskrit to understand, remember and recite, and that was the jeevan mukt chapter from Ribhu Gita and somehow, it has happened that he has forgotten most of the things but this, he has remembered and such things happened coincidentally, there is always something behind them. So, he has continued to remember this. The one who knows he is not a jeeva , a person, is called jeevan mukt . Namé jeeva : 'I am not a jeeva , I am not a person.' Gyatva : 'knows this'. seh jeevan mukta uchiyate : ‘he is called jeevan mukta .’

A decade back I spoke extensively on it. Once you start living in the constant understanding that the person you appear as is not what you are. You are jeevan mukt . Then all the things that the person and the life of the person become a kind of entertainment to you, that's not the right word, but do get the drift. The person has a life, the person has a world, there is a personality, all these things become something of a joke to you. That's when you are free of everything that can contain you. So, you’ve disappeared.

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