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The world is a river; use it to cross it||Acharya Prashant,on Jesus Christ and Sage Ashtavakra(2017)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
8 min
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Acharya Prashant: Two excerpts are with us.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”


(JOHN 2:15)

“Prosperity, pleasure, pious deeds. Enough! In the dreary forest of the world, the mind finds no rest.”



The questioner says that he is astounded at the commonality between Jesus and Ashtavakra and asks why are both saying that engaging in the world will not be a way to peace. What does it mean to engage in the world?

The world is a tricky thing. The world has to be understood.

The world has utility but the world is not the end. One uses it.

Ever seen a man swimming? What is he doing? Why is he swimming at all? He is crossing a river. Man is swimming. Man is crossing the river. Why is he crossing the waters? Because if he doesn’t cross the waters, he will drown in the waters. If he doesn’t cross the waters or the river, he will drown in the river.

And what is he doing to cross the water? He is using the waters themselves.

Look at the position of this man. Look at what he is doing. You can either let the water consume you. You can either drown in the water, or you can use the same water to cross over the water.

What is swimming? What is the thing that you use to cross the river? The river itself is being used to cross the river. We said the world is a tricky thing. Living in the world then is like swimming. Use the water to cross the water or you’ll drown in the water.

Now, Jesus says do not Love the world. If you Love the world you do not Love God. Loving the world, in the way Jesus is putting it, is the same as getting lost in the beauties of the river while swimming.

You are swimming and the river is wide and turbulent and waters are gushing at some speed. And your mind has been captivated by the beauty of it all. Your eyes are at the water level and from there when you look at the trees on the shore and the distant hurt and the clean sky and the bubbles and the sound of the rushing flows, your senses are enthralled. Your energy starts going towards sensory pleasures. And what happens then to the quality of your swimming? It degrades.

The energy that should have gone into silently and energetically cutting through the river is now being spent elsewhere.

Drowning now is just a matter of time. You have come to the middle point in the stream and the world is looking so very attractive from there. You feel like building a home right in the middle of the stream. You are dead now. You are already dead. That is the fate of those who want to settle in the world.

One does not settle in the world, one uses the world. One has limited time, one uses that time.

One may say that it’s not point swimming anymore, it’s all so peaceful and blissful here. One may say one just wants to float. One may say that one just wants to float, and for a while, it would appear that one has made a river, home. One may keep floating for a while. But can you keep floating for long? A few minutes, yes, you will float. And for those few minutes, you will be fooled into believing that you have attained some kind of permanent residence.

Very soon your dream would be shattered. Very soon you would be regretting your ignorance.

The beauty of the waters does not lie in the bubbles or in the various kinds of flows that we present to the eyes. The swirls, the fountains, they are not what makes the water beautiful . The water is made beautiful by the fact that it enables you to swim, that it enables you to cross over.

Just as in the middle of the death that the deep river is, there is also a silent helper. And what is the silent helper? The buoyancy of the water. The water offers buoyancy. The water enables you to swim. Water is not like air. Water has a certain hardness. Water offers a certain resistance. So when you hit your hands and legs against the water, you are propelled forward.

The water is sure shot death. You will sink. But the water also helps silently. Take the river as the world. The river has the property that it kills. But in the middle of the river, in fact everywhere in the river, also lies a hidden helper.

That hidden helper is Godliness.

That hidden helper is the Guru.

And the Guru is available right where death too lingers.

If you don’t know how to swim, or if you won’t exert yourself in swimming, then the river is just death for you. But if you know the discipline of swimming, and are also prepared to exert yourself, then you will find a silent helper in the middle of death. The process of help is quite interesting. You are beating against the water and the water is helping you stay afloat. You are pushing against the water and the water is pushing you forward.

Now, are you being carried to the other end purely because of your skill and exertion? No, not really, because if you try the same thing in air you will receive no propulsion whatsoever.

The kind of action than a swimmer has will go unrewarded in air because the air does not offer any support to the act of swimming. Both are fluids, air, and water. But you cannot swim through air. Which means that your own efforts have not enabled you to come to the other shore.

If your own efforts were enabled to help you move, then the swimming action would have succeeded in air also. It’s doesn’t succeed there. But will you be able to come to the other shore without your efforts and exertion? No, that too won’t happen.

The water does carry you to the other shore, to safety. But the water does that only when you offer your sincere efforts. When you are offering your sincere efforts to the water, then the water carries you to safety. That’s also the thing with Godliness. That’s also the thing with the Guru. You offer your best efforts, and your best efforts will not suffice. Still, you will be fully rewarded. Your own efforts are little, not really sufficient, yet your own efforts are very very necessary.

Are you getting it?

Engage with the world as one engages with the river that one has to cross over. Look at things with the intention to know the reality of things. That is the right engagement with the world. The essence of things is hidden deep within If you engage with the surface of things, you will drown. But if you engage with things in order to know their reality, then you will cross over to safety. Do engage with the world. But you must know how to engage with the world. With the Love of Truth in your heart engage with the world just as a traveler engages the road with the Love of the destination in his Heart.

Engage the road. The road is to be utilized. But one does not build a house upon the road. The destination is elsewhere.

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