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Know your real intention
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Questioner (Q): What are you working for and where are you working from? These two have the same answer, so how to understand this in the context of for Truth seeker who are indulge in their worldly activities, how should they approach their worldly lives?

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, often we either ignorantly or deliberately remain in dark about our intentions. We do not really know, where we are coming from. We profess intentions that are not at all authentic.

Are you getting it?

We might keep saying for example "I am your well-wisher! I am your well-wisher!" where as it is evident that we are harming the other person. Yet somehow we manage to remain confident about our intentions, we keep professing the piousness of our intention, you say no, "I am your well-wisher!", "I am your father" or "I am your husband or wife or friend."

In such cases it serves to find out the result of your action, very impartially you must find that out. What is the overall impact of your action or presence on the other person or on yourself? And that will quite accurately tell you where are you really coming from? For example; you say that you are getting quite health conscious these days, "I am very health-conscious person these days, I have been putting on weight and it must be shed." So, I must go for a walk or jog or a bit of a run, so that's what you do.

It's evening and you put on your shoes and you stroll out and there are many directions you could have taken. You could have gone park, you could have been to the jogging track, you could have been this way, that way but you choose one particular road and that one particular road takes you to the market. And in the market specifically to a sweet shop, right? And what have you told yourself? I am out on the road because I want to shed weight, that's my intention and you have convinced yourself that your intention is to gain more of health and now that you have reached the "Halwai" shop. What it is that you tell yourself, well I have come so far, run so hard, don't I deserve a bit of energy? After all half of the distance still to be covered. How will I manage to return? So I must refuel myself, "Bhaiya, 250 grams of Jalebi please!" And now you have moral rights to indulge because you are a jogger. You can feel the threads of sweat down your temple, down your cheeks, no? So with grand shamelessness, you treat yourself to those sweets and having stuffed yourself with the sweets now you find that you are even more unable to run. You are anyway overweight that's why you needed to jog.

Now, this overweight person has stuffed himself with sweet and he finds that he is like this now (showing his glutton). So he says "No, can't run. So, I just walk my way back to home." And having come some 200 meters now realize that even walking is becoming difficult. So happily you hire an OLA for the remaining 2 kilometers. Now, you came back. See what you have done and that will tell you what your real intention was. What have you done? You have just had a good time, you have just added a few thousand kilocalories to your body. But you kept on telling yourself that you wanted to gain health not weight. See, what the end result is, you ended up gaining weight. So that's what your real intention was.

Don't fool yourself. This is not a random coincidence. This is what always happens with you but we console ourselves, don't we? We say I am pure of intention. It's just that you know... those sweets just dropped from the trees to allure me and seduce me and I the poor one was taken in. Otherwise, know I intended to run 25 kilometers this evening. I had no intention at all of enjoying any sweets or anything.

Next day, you know you might actually feel a little ashamed and not go towards the market, next to next day again you may not go towards the market but the fourth day you will again go to the market and order double the quantity for yourself because now you have even greater, bigger moral license. What have I done? I have abstained for full three days and having abstained for full three days. I have earned the rights to indulge myself even more.

Intention is a pretty mischievous thing. It's one tough nut to crack, even as you proceed on all your great actions externally, it keeps safely and strongly lurking internally. And deeply embedded internally, you do not even realize how it controls all your external actions.

Even the best of our actions might actually be guided by very-very carnal mean and ordinary desires. The fellow is giving a million dollars as charity. It's a million dollars, no less. You never know what really is driving him. How to detect what really is driving him? He must figure out, in the process of charity what is it that pleases him? In the process of charity what is it that would greatly displease him? That will tell him what really he intends to achieve through the charity. Not getting it?

So, there is red light and you have to wait at the crossing and this beggar comes to you, knocks on the window and you look at the beggar and very non-chalantly, apparently without any desire. You just pick up a fifty rupees or a hundred rupees note and hand it over to him. I expect nothing from the beggar, very desirelessly in "Nishkam Bhav" have I given him Rs.100. And true to your word you do not even turn to look at the face of the beggar. You are saying "When I want nothing from him why do I even need to remember his face?" It's a Rs.100 note you have picked it and given it to the beggar. And you can remain comfortably assured of your inner holiness until an awkward thing happens to you.

Let me give you an example of such an awkward thing, the beggar receives a Rs.100 note and starts abusing you (smilingly), starts abusing you. Now, find out whether you are hurt and if you are hurt then your inner claim that you wanted nothing from the beggar is false. Inwardly some where you are expecting that the beggar would be feeling grateful. Somewhere there was a hidden intention that I have given him so much. He is just measly beggar. Rs.100 I have given to him, surely he must be felling grateful. Therefore, when he abuses you, you feel hurt. A random beggar can keep abusing so many people, who feel hurt? But if you have given him Rs.100, you do feel hurt, no?

That's how you will find out where you are coming from. Your action is not really desire less, there was a hidden desire.

In fact it can be subtler than this, alright? This time a Rs.500 note, next crossing a Rs.500 note, it's a big thing for a beggar, pretty unusual. The beggar receives the Rs.500 note, says nothing and walks away. Find out whether there is that slight pain arising inside you. You expected the beggar to at least be surprised, if not grateful at least be surprised. You expected the beggar to at least praise his own stars, his own luck, at least he should have smiled. The beggar does none of these, he simply takes the note, tucks it in and walks off. And you find that you are feeling a bit of disappointment inside. Where is this disappointment coming from?

Your ego wanted to enjoy gratitude from the other. Your ego wanted to feel big by feeding upon the surprised expression of the other.

The ego didn't get what it wanted. Therefore, it is feeling disappointed. Are you getting it? So, again your charity was not quite desireless or purposeless. Apparently it was, really it wasn't. That is what meant by watching the result of desire to know the origin source or center of desire.

If you want to know your center, see what is it that you are ultimately targeting. Are you getting it?

See, we are morally bound creatures. We will never openly admit to ourselves that we have hideous intentions. So, our intentions always carry a moral veneer. We fool ourselves. We are pretty smart people, aren't we? We do not allow even ourselves to know what our real intentions are? It's not that you do not know the intentions of others. We do not know even our own intentions.

People sometimes ask, how can we read somebody else's mind? How is that possible you have not been able to read even your own mind? Why? Because you do not want to read your own mind, why? Because what is written is not quite nice to read. So you avoid reading the ugly stuff. Getting it? Is that clear?

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