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The saint is not obliged to conform to your expectations || Acharya Prashant, on Saint Lalleshwari
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
11 min
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‘In what direction am I going, how shall I find that road? I hope they will send me a map before it’s too late, or it is all over for me. My breath all gone to waste.’ ~ Lalleshwari

Questioner (Q): Lalla had surrendered all her life to That. Now why this confusion? Why is she saying that a road is still to be found? Why is she asking for a map? Why is she saying that it might be too late? Why is she afraid that her breath might all be gone to waste?

Acharya Prashant (AP): The mind will go where it has to go. A surrendered mind is still a mind. There is a beautiful line from the scripture ‘Drig Drishya Viveka’ . It says, “यत्र यत्र मनोयाति तत्र तत्र समाधय” (Wherever the mind goes, there is Samadhi). It does not say that the mind goes nowhere, that the mind is not wandering at all. It is saying, “यत्र यत्र मनोयाति तत्र तत्र समाधय” Mind is still going. What else will the mind do? Thoughts are still there. Will you change the mental apparatus, the brain, the cells, the way you are physically configured? No, that continues, but all that continues in peace. States of mind keep changing, yet you are in peace. To realize does not mean that the mind will now be in some constant, ideal state. The states of mind will keep changing, they have to, and they must. That’s the fun of life, Leela.

Sometimes you will be angry, sometimes you will be sad, sometimes you will be happy, sometimes you will sleep, sometimes you will wake up, sometimes you will be tired, sometimes you will be energetic and refreshed, yet there would be something within which would be untouched by all the changing states of mind. Sometimes you might be worried as well, which is alright. Something very subtle changes. It is not as if you develop giant shoulders or big thigh muscles after liberation. It is not gross. It is not a thing of display. It is something very very internal, very subtle. Yes, its fragrance spreads. On the surface, things might remain just the same.

Somebody once asked a master, “What did you do before liberation?” He said, “Well, I used to get up in the morning, chop some wood, take the wood to the market, sell it, bring some food, eat it, and sleep.” The questioner said, “Right, right, right. That was a very ordinary life before realization. Now, tell us, what do you do after liberation?” The master said, “Things have totally changed. Nothing is the same. Nothing is the way it used to be.” The questioner said, “I am very curious to know this. Now, tell us that what you do?” He said, “Now, I get up in the morning, I go to the jungle, I chop some wood, take it to the market, sell it, get some food, eat it, and sleep. I tell you everything has changed.”

Now, obviously, the one who is asking the question does not understand. He is at a loss. What has changed? That which has changed is very very subtle. The master is right. Everything has changed but nothing has changed. Do not indulge in image formation. Do not think that enlightened women like Lalla look differently or behave differently. You will never get it that way. That is the reason why you will never realize realization because you have images about it. You keep demanding the fulfillment of those images. You say, “Unless somebody looks like this or behaves like this, how can he be enlightened? There are certain things that a realized man must do, and there are certain things that a realized man must not do.” You have very nicely set up all those images. Existence is not there to conform to your images. Enlightenment will not agree to your patterns.

You will see a common man selling wood in the market, buying some food, and peacefully eating and sleeping. It will simply not occur to you that he might be totally at peace because that is not the image you carry. The image that you carry is of some grand man, with probably a halo, a nice multicolored aura around his head, and there is an army of worshippers behind him, which also includes all the animals. Don’t you carry images? Don’t you think that this is how a realized man should look? And you wonder a lot. “Why is Kabir saying that he is sad?” Kabir repeatedly says that he is very sad, and Bulleh Shah repeatedly says that he is crying. Here is Lalla, who is asking if her life is going to waste. Why is the map not coming?—And all such things. You say, “These are such ordinary things. It is for ordinary mortals to wonder whether they would be shown the way. Why is a realized saint like Lalla saying this?”

Lalla is Lalla. Lalla is not the Lalla of your images. If your images clash with her words, then you should know what is false. The words are there. What is false? Images. Drop your images. You think realization is some kind of a grand event after which the man starts walking differently, and great gods come to bless him, and he becomes capable of miracles. If he will touch the dead, they will come alive. You have read fantastic stories like these, so that’s what you think. It is so difficult for you to accept that realization only makes you more ordinary—very very ordinary. So ordinary that you can’t even be noticed. That is the most unacceptable part about the great. They often say very ordinary things, and if we come to know of their life facts, they are filled with instances of their ordinariness. What do we do? We delete those instances or we do what we are doing right now. We question them. “Why is this woman behaving so ordinarily? How can she say that she is feeling lost, sad, and wondering whether anything is happening or not?” If we come to know that a holy man was doing things that only ordinary people do, we take great care that these things should not reach the public, otherwise the entire image is in danger. “Oh my God! He was involved with a woman? How is it possible?” What do you think he should be involved with? Trees, rivers, animals? What exactly do you want? “Oh my God! He was consuming alcohol?” Why, only you can consume alcohol? “Oh my God! He forgot?” Why not? Does he carry a five TB hard disk inside his brain? We have even gone to the extent of claiming that our great men didn’t even have blood in their veins. “Blood is for ordinary people.” Jains say that milk used to circulate in the body of their holy men. You cut them and milk would come out. Hindus say that their holy men chose the time of their death. “Only ordinary people die randomly, circumstantially. If one is holy, he must be in complete control of the entire existence.” Drop these images.

The flower is holy. So ordinary. Whatever you come across as extraordinary is unholy. Everything around is holy because it is just the way it is—ordinary. The sun is so holy. It is a dance of ordinariness, very ordinary, very very ordinary. Do you understand what ordinariness means? Ordinariness means being just that which you are, your nature finding expression. It finds expression in the various elements. It finds expression in the way you talk, breathe, eat, and live. There is no need to try to be special or look for somebody special or look for signs of specialty. None of that means anything.

Q: Sir, can the realized one know whether someone in front of him is realized or not? As you said, we have images about the realized one. Can the realized one observe who is realized?

AP: That is alright, but also see whether this information helps you?

Q: Maybe the realized one is not bothered about anything. He is just observing whether he is realized or not but he is not bothered about it.

AP: He is not even observing all that. What you are saying is alright as an aphorism, that only a realized eye can identify another realized one. It is alright. But how does it help us? Does it help us in realizing anything?

Q: It helps us in a way that what we call realization is obviously not realization now because what we will observe will not be realization as claimed by others.

AP: There are a thousand ways in which we have tried to bring the holy man in the purview of our ego. There are some religious traditions that say that the last holy man has already come and no one can come after him. There are some who say that the next one who will come will carry all these signs. In 1001 ways we have tried to identify the special marks and characteristics of the holy man. Some say that when the holy man will come, his mother will die. If his mother is yet alive, then he is not holy. I do not know what it means to some ambitious man who is pretending to be holy. Mothers should be a little more cautious. Because at some point we are deeply aware of our impotency when it comes to finding out the real from the fake, we try to act on formula. We try to act on some kind of heuristics that if certain signs are there, then this man or that woman is realized.

The search for these signs only shows that we do not know. Had you known, why would you need signs? It is a great method to say that the last prophet has already come, and after him, God is not going to send anyone. Who is a prophet? A messenger of God. The last one has come, and after him, God says, “I’m done. I have dispatched the last letter.” Love letters are always coming. If it is the last letter, it would probably be a breakup letter. I am sure that a prophet cannot be a breakup letter. God is always sending them. You say that God loves you. Then, why would he ever send a last letter? Times are changing, and times are changing because he wants the time to change, right? So he would also send a new man who is more suited to the time with a revised edition of the book, in a new language. Why would God say that the last man and the last book have already been sent? If God really loves you, he will keep on sending you more and more gifts—more suited to you, more suited to the times. Because we are unable to identify the next one, what do we say, “The next one is never going to come.” Or we say, “If the next one comes, then he must carry these signs.” When you do not find these signs, then you are heartbroken. “Oh my God! The world is such a bad place.” Or if you find something like this, then again you are befuddled. “How can Lalla behave in this way?” Lalla behaves in ten more ways that will be difficult for you to accept. She does not have any obligation to meet your expectations. I repeat, if she clashes with your expectations, then you must know what is false.

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