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The ecstasy of random aimless wandering || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2013)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
21 min
118 reads

Listener: Sir, I could not understand the motive of not setting a goal in my life. If I do not have an aim or goal in my life, I do not think that there is a reason or spark in my life. If I have my goals, I will put all my energy to get them. If I won’t have any, I would go through different phases, and my energy would be dissipated in different ways.

Speaker: What goals did you have when you were 3 or 4 years old?

Listener: Anything like may be getting a chocolate.

Speaker: Why did you not stay firm on that goal?

Listener: Sir, because I got it.

Speaker: So, the chocolate was achieved, yet the goal remained. Anything beyond the chocolate, that remained, constantly.

Listener: Does that setting up of goals remain constant?

Speaker: Setting up of goals remains constant. What else did you want as 3 years, 4 years, or 5 years old? What else did you want to become? What did you want to become when you were very small? Was there nothing in your life? You didn’t aspire to be anything?

Listener: Sir, appreciation from others.

Speaker: But that is more or less instantaneous. What else did you want to become. If somebody would ask you what did you want to become. You’d often have an answer. What did the others want to become.

Raise your hand and speak.

Listener: Politician.

Speaker: Politician. What more?

Listener: Doctor.

Speaker: Doctor. And?

Listener: Pilot.

Speaker: Pilot. And?

Listener: Army Officer.

Speaker: Army officer, actor and….

Listener: Air Chief Marshal.

Speaker: Shreya, why did people want to get that goal at that age?

Listener: May be surrounded by the media or society.

Speaker: So, that was all that we knew. Those were the limited influences upon your mind. Based on which, mind drew some limited goals. Today, why don’t you pursue the same goals? You said air hostess. Why not stick to that?

Listener: Because, I don’t have enough.

Speaker: And if you had enough, would you rather be an air hostess?

Listener: I would prefer to be.

Speaker: And you would prefer to stick to all those goals that you had at that age. 3 years., 4 years, 5 years, 8 years, 10 years. Would you want to stick to those goals that you had at that time?

Listener: Not really.

Speaker: Not really.

Listener: Not all of them.

Speaker: Why do you want to drop some of them?

Listener: Because I was not mature at that age to decide what is right.

Speaker: Today, you are calling that girl immature. Why a Shreya, 30 years of age should not call Shreya, 20 years of age immature. And remember, had you told that girl of 5 years that she is immature. You are not fit to make goals, set goals. She would get very angry. She would have said that I am mature and I can make my goals and I must live my life just chasing these goals. And why should a 50 year old Shreya not laugh at the goals of a 30 year old Shreya. And why should a 70 year old Shreya not laugh at the goals of a 50 year old Shreya. Do you see what is happening? You are at one point and your mind is limited by the exposure and the experiences that it has had. Your goals automatically arise out of limited exposure that you have. You don’t make goals. Goals just come to you. There are no you in so called “your goals”. Please understand this. If you think these are your goals. No, they are not. When you were 4 year old, how do you decide that becoming an air hostess is my goal? How do you decide? You probably watch a movie. Or you probably have flown to some place. You have looked at the dress of the air hostess and you find it to be very attractive. Or you’ve heard from somewhere. And that is the influence that is deciding for itself. Where are you in all that? You come, let’s say, from a small town, or a village, where you only see government machinery functioning. There is no private industry there. So, all you see is the network of the government. Then, it’s obvious that the only goal that will arise in your mind will be to become a…?

Listener: Civil Services.

Speaker: It is no surprise that even in the civil services the maximum selections are from the most under developed states. And from the states, where there is higher level of development, you hardly have people competing and getting selected. For example we take Gujarat. There are very few Gujarati’s, in civil service. But the civil services list would be full of people from Bihar, from some areas of Andhra Pradesh, from eastern UP, from Orissa. But you would insist that these are my goals. That is point number 1. That your goals are not really your goals. Your goals come from the influences upon you and you don’t have to decide them. They get decided on their automatically. They just get decided and it’s a very mechanical thing. To change the goal is to become a part to that mechanical process. And anything that is mechanical is preprogrammed and dead. That is the first thing about goals.Second thing about goals is, as you are listening to me right now, do you have a goal in mind?

Listener: No.

Speaker: When you are really living in attention, enjoying, absorbed, engaged, then the mind does not run towards goals. Mind runs towards goals only when the mind is sad, dissatisfied, frustrated and miserable. In your moments of joy Shreya, are you thinking about goals? When you are really happy, do you still have goals? Goals disappear. In the moments of joy, goals disappear. Goals come back when you are frustrated. So when, it is being said that look at goals. What is being said is look at your frustration? The more you are frustrated, the more goals centric your life will be. And it would have been alright, could the goals remove the frustration. But there is a problem. Frustration is right now and goals are always for the future. That’s like imaging that I am sick right now but I will take a medicine two years later.

All goals are false medicines. Goals arise with the sense of discomfort with the present. Goals arise with the sense of dissatisfaction with the present. But if the present is not alright then how can the future heal it? If the present is not alright then cure it in the present. Or will you say that my leg is bleeding but I will apply the tincture three years later. If you are unhappy right now, become happy right now. But when we are unhappy right now, we start planning, we start setting up goals. And it’s such a foolish thing. How can your goal remove your misery when your misery is right now? Even, you see, there are two kinds of people in the audience. One, who are fully absorbed, they don’t have any goals. Goals are out of their mind right now. Second, who are not fully absorbed? They have goals. They would be thinking what to do after 3? What to do at 5? Six months later, something is going to happen. 2015, there is going to be a world cup organized. And then, there is no limit to the flight their imagination might be taking. We are not generally condemning goals, all that is stupidity. Just to say that something is rejected outright. We are trying to understand, what are these goals? When do I set up goals? And where do these goals come from? You had that militant Ajmal Kasab hanged, just a few months back. What was his goal when he came to India?

Listener: Killing people.

Speaker: He was a very young fellow, probably 16 or 18 years old. If you ask him, he will say that this is my goal. He is very sure that this is my goal. And you cannot convince him otherwise. You take him aside and you talk to him. He will say, No, but this is my goal. Without this goal, life will become aimless and wandering and there will be no reason to live.

Shreya will support him. Yes, you are right. But is this really his goal? Or was this fellow picked up at a very early age and he came from a poor family. He was picked up by a militant group at a very early age from his home and conditioned and conditioned. And today, he says, My Goal. With him, we can easily see this. With ourselves, we cannot see this because it is easier to accept that the other person is conditioned but it hurts the ego to accept that I, too am fully conditioned. We all are Kasabs. He was conditioned to kill and we are conditioned to achieve. He was conditioned how to use a gun. We are conditioned how to use the power of the brain. He was also interested in a particular number. He wanted to enhance the number of causalities. That was his target. You too are interested in the numbers. You too are interested in a number. But it will be very difficult for you to acknowledge that I, too, am fully conditioned. So, I understand your difficulty. When you say that life will become aimless and reasonless. Why do you think that there must be a reason in life? Why do you think that there must be a reason to live?

Is living not sufficient, that you want to add a reason to it? Yes, that is the thing. Living is not sufficient because we are not sufficiently living. When you live sufficiently, then life is sufficient. Then, you don’t want to add a reason to it. Then, you don’t say that without a reason, it is not tasty enough. Let me add some spice. It is already good, wonderful. Why do you want to add a purpose, a goal, a reason? Why? It is because, we find something missing. And you know what is missing. Life is missing. Joy is missing. That is not missing from the future. That is missing from the present. Love is missing.

Shreya, in your moments of love, you will not be thinking about goals. Let me assure you. You want to compensate for them. And this is such a false compensation. You want to compensate for them by creating imaginary goals for the future. This will not help.

Listener: And how do we compensate?

Speaker: What is missing right now must be obtained right now. There is no other way. You want to study something. For this there are two ways. One, I open my book and I am so deeply engrossed in it that I don’t even bother for the time. I am not pushing myself, I am just engaged fully. Because, I have paid attention and when I pay attention, there is a great oneness. Now, you don’t need somebody to push you. You have paid attention and you are one with your book now. That is one way of living.

The other way of living is, set up an alarm clock and a goal for the future. Let me sleep peacefully right now, I will study in the morning. Let me set an alarm for 5 am. Which of these do you think is the false medicine? Obviously, the second one is the false medicine. Those who have to do will do it. Those who don’t have to do will escape with the help of goals. Goals are a dirty escape from doing it right now. What is to be done right now, if you do it right now, there will be space left for any goals.

You have asked a question and there will be many more who will be aiming to ask a question. And you know what? They will never ask a question. Those who have to ask, will ask, others will set up goals. So, there are two kinds of people, One, who live and one, who setup goals. What kind of person do you want to be Shreya.? The ones who live or the ones who set up goals. Probably, what bothers you is that if there will be no goals, how will I move ahead? How will move an inch? After all, every step that I have taken so far in life has been for a reason, has been for a purpose. If there will be no goal, what will we do? You do not need to do anything. A great load will be gone from their head. You will not need to do much. It will happen. From the attention of this moment, the future will be created on its own, without your intervention. From this beautiful moment, a beautiful future will arise.

Listener: Sir, how is it possible? If we are studying, we have to set goals for studying. If we do not study, how will we gain knowledge?

Speaker: What’s your name?

Listener: Akanksha.

Speaker: Akanksha, what have you gotten so far by setting up goals for studies. The best students that I know are the ones who got lost in studying. You set goals when you are studying. Now, what is more important when you are studying, the goal. It is because you are studying for the sake of the goal. That goal could be a particular percentage or particular day when the examination will be held. Such are the goals.

Now, if I am studying for the sake of a goal. Then what is more important? Studying or the real thing is the goal. If we could get that particular percentage without studying, we would rather not study because the goal is the real thing what we are studying for. Now, if the goal is the real thing then how will you ever study? You don’t love your studies. You study as a mean for achieving an end. And the end is somewhere in the future. That is the reason why you are never able to study. A person whose goal is to study will never be able to study and will do fairly poorly in her studies. Ask those who excel in academics. Do they have goals or do they have love for their subjects? Ask them. When you have the goal, then the goal is the real thing. That is why you copy assignments. That is why you don’t hesitate to somehow just beg for marks. The marks are the real thing, studies are not important. That is why the moment the semester is gone, what do you do with your books. You throw them away. And it does not matter to you today, how much of previous semesters can you really recall? Because, the goal was to get a particular percentage and now it is finished. There is no love for studies. And if there will be this love for studies, will this percentage not come on its own? If someone loves any subject, how will he perform in that particular subject?

Listener: Excellent.

Speaker: Or does he need to set up goals? Why we set up goals because we don’t love. And why don’t we love because we never attend to it. Love is not something which you get from somewhere. Love comes with attention. When you are deeply with something then its love. Are you ever deeply with your books? No. You can’t be deeply with your books because your mind is occupied with the thought of the examination. When the mind is occupied with the thought of the goal how can you be with the book? There is no love possible between you and the book. For you, book is something to be used and thrown away. It’s a very exploitative approach. It is inhuman. And remember, we don’t have this approach reserved only for books. We have this approach towards even human beings and animals and everything in life. Use somebody for a goal. You go and meet somebody and you have a goal. What you want to get from this person. How would you feel if you go on a date and the fellow has a goal? That is what I want to get from her. Often, this is what happens.

Even in love, you have goals. And if you don’t get that goal you start feeling frustrated and then there is a breakup. Because, you know my desires are not being fulfilled. And the desires are already there. Even before the relationship. You already know what you want. You have already decided. You already have a goal. Think of it.

You know, some of the best trips, visits that I have had, very freshly returning from one such excursion was without planning. I just left the office and traveled. There is another mode of traveling. Plan everything in advance. It’s a 3-day trip. Every moment is sorted out. Morning 8a.m-10a.m, we are going to this place. 10am we are returning and having a small breakfast. 10:30-11 and 11 to this. And everything is well compartmentalized. And as against that there is this random, aimless wandering. Try that. Every young man or woman should try that. Aimless wandering. It has such a great intoxication about it. It is maddening. Once you have the taste of it, you will never be able to forget it. Random aimless wandering. I know, it sounds scary. Parents will get afraid. Friends will say you are crazy. But you will know that you have stumbled upon something special. And everything that is important in this world came about through aimless random wandering. Small, little, petty things come through goals. But the thing that are really important and that is what is called as exploration. And remember, though it appears random on the surface, it is never totally random. There is a design behind it. You may not be conscious enough to fathom that design. You may not really know what that design is but there is a design. Have faith.

Listener: Which kind of design?

Speaker: You need not bother about that design otherwise you will have a new goal – To know that design. Let that design operate on its own. It’s a very intelligent design. You concern yourself only with life and life is right now. Forget about everything else. Have faith that there is an intelligent design at work.

Even when you are wandering randomly, something is happening. Something utterly beautiful is happening which every living being must go through. And especially a young man, a young woman. I know, it scares. There is no security in that. It’s unpredictable. You want to know about it beforehand. How can we move into it? First, tell us. Only then, we will decide. No. That’s why, I said, have faith. You will never know what that design is. May be in the hindsight, you will discover.

When you will look at your past and you will say, “Oh, this was this”. The ego says, “I will control, I will decide.” And in this, it only suffers. It requires a movement away from the ego. And in petty matters, goals are always there, so don’t bother. In small things, it’s alright. Don’t even call them goals. They are a part of daily living. I mean, when you started from whichever room you are coming, you must have decided which room you have to come to. That too is a kind of goal. But this is alright. OK. This is not really in the future. The real thing is not about coming to this room. The real thing is what you are doing right now. That is the real thing. Allow the unpredictable to happen. And believe me, the unpredictable is beautiful. Do not be scared. Let the unknown come to you. It is alright. It is more than alright. Don’t be too bothered about controlling things. Let things flow a little. Just be aware. Just be aware. Let the action happen on its own. And out of awareness, actions happen spontaneously right now. They don’t happen in the future. It sounds attractive but it also sounds scary. That’s what happens in a love affair. You are deeply attracted but there is also some fear. And this is the best, the biggest and the only love affair that is possible. Allowing the unpredictable to come to you every moment.. Not resisting it. Not raising walls. Not saying that this was not a part of my plan. Please don’t come to me. That is the way a scared man operates. That is the way a shivering man operates. You are not scared. You are not shivering. You are alright.

How can it be so? Things happen on their own. Did you make a goal to be born? When the biggest thing in your so called life happened without your participation, without your consent, now why are you so occupied with goals? How many of you gave an application that I want to be born, to your parents. So they may conceive you. I mean anything is possible in India. May be you did. This is the land of great miracles.

How many of you breathe out of your own hard work and efforts? Things are happening. Allow them to happen. Just allow them to happen. There is a Zen saying, “Just get out of your own way.” Things will happen. There will be a beautiful movement. Just get out of your own way. Clear the path. Don’t obstruct it. Let it flow. An aware flow, in which you know what is happening. And knowing is sufficient. Knowing is just sufficient.

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

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