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What if one gets attached to the Truth? || Acharya Prashant, on Bhagvad Gita (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
14 min
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ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंसः सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते।

सङ्गात् संजायते कामः कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते।। 62।।

dhyāyato viṣhayān puṁsaḥ saṅgas teṣhūpajāyate

saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate

क्रोधाद्भवति संमोहः संमोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रमः।

स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति।। 63 ।।

krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ sammohāt smṛiti-vibhramaḥ

smṛiti-bhranśhād buddhi-nāśho buddhi-nāśhāt praṇaśhyati

If a person dwells on objects, there arises attachment for them. From attachment grows hankering, from hankering springs anger. From anger follows delusion; from delusion, failure of memory; from the failure of memory, the loss of understanding; from the loss of understanding, he perishes.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 62-63

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Question: Any two objects kept together in proximity and for a long period of time will get attached. We stay in proximity to our family, and thus we are attached. Does it mean that to have a stable mind one has to be close to no one? If I'm close to the one who seems to be close to the Truth, will I not get attached to him?

Acharya Prashant (AP): It is not possible to be attached to the Truth. Attachment is an exercise in maintaining separation.

When you are with the Truth, then you are merged in the Truth. When you are with the Truth, then you are not even merged in the Truth; then you are dissolved in the Truth. You are not even dissolved in the Truth; even dissolution implies a certain continuity of existence. When you are with the Truth, you simply disappear and only the Truth remains. That is the best way of explaining your relationship with the Truth.

So, when you say, “When you are attached to someone who is close to Truth, is even that bad?”, then you are expressing an impossible situation.

The one who is close to the Truth is verily Truth himself. You cannot be close to the Truth and yet be yourself. The one who is close to the Truth is Truth. He has to disappear and only Truth has to remain. And if there is just Truth, then how do you get attached to the Truth? How are you maintaining your separate identity in spite of your proximity to the Truth? How are you managing this miracle?

It's an impossible question that is being asked.

If you say, there's a lover of Truth, there is a representative of Truth, there is a de-facto personification of Truth that I'm close to and I feel attached to him, then you are lying. It just means that you are not close to him. Had you gone really close to him, you would have disappeared. The question of attachment wouldn't have arisen.

Please understand the nature of attachment. When two things get attached, do they ever disappear into each other? Attachment means continuity of separation. Attachment means that the two, in spite of appearing proximate, would still be separate. They would appear to be near, but still they would continue to hold their separate identities. That is called 'attachment'.

That is why attachment and love are nowhere similar. Attachment is violence; attachment is separation; attachment is a grand conspiracy in maintaining a distance. Why do I call it a conspiracy? Because usually when there is a distance, you at least know that the two of you are distant to each other. In attachment, externally you make it appear as if the two of you are so near to each other, whereas the fact of the matter is that you are still as separate as you ever were. Outwardly, you have come near.

Think of two blocks of metals that are getting attached to each other. Is the core of one block touching the core of the other block? Only their surfaces are in contact with each other. So, the relationship is skin-deep, and that is what attachment is—a skin-deep phenomenon. Skin touches skin and you call it 'attachment'. The heart never meets the heart. When the heart meets the heart, then there cannot remain two separate hearts, so there is no question of attachment then.

Remember that attachment is not something of a half love; attachment is really anti-love. You cannot even call attachment as some kind of an undeveloped or underdeveloped form of love; attachment is actually antithetical to love. Where there is attachment, there can be no love. In fact, if there is distance and separation, then there is a greater probability of love, because if you are really separate and you know that, then maybe you can find a way to come closer. But when you are attached, then you feel as if you are already close. If you feel you are already close, why will you try to come any closer?

Now, the initial part of the question. "We stay in proximity to our family, and thus we are attached." Fine. "Does it mean that to have a stable mind, one has to be close to no one?"

See. As if attachment is closeness. Look at the two parts of the question. "I stay in proximity with my family, and thus I'm attached." Second, "Does it mean that in order to have a stable mind, one needs to be close to no one?" What has the questioner done? He has presented closeness as a synonym of attachment. Very smoothly you have pulled off a fast one. Such a subtle trick of the hand! See, attachment is bad. "Does that mean I can't be close to anyone?" As if attachment is closeness.

Attachment is not closeness. Attachment is separation. And attachment is a very deceptive separation. Attachment is, I said, almost a conspiracy to remain separate. Attachment is no-closeness. You say, "We stay in proximity to our family, and thus we are attached." As if it is some kind of law of nature; as if this is the first word that came out of Brahma's mouth.

"If you stay in proximity to someone, you will get attached." Why didn't you rather write that—"I stay with my family and I love them." I read not merely what you have written, but I also read what you have purposefully avoided writing. Like a hot knife passes through butter, you have tried to pass off this question. "I stand in proximity to my family, and thus I am attached."

Why? If you really are with your family, why couldn't you love them? Why are you attached? In your dictionary, is a family something that you are supposed to hate? If you are not supposed to hate your family, why don't you love them? Why are you attached? Why?

You know, that brings us to a very scary question. Have we ever loved anybody? Do we even know love, or is all we know some kind of a chemical equation, some kind of a superficial relationship? Do we know love at all? And if you do not love your family, why do you stay with them?

It's a horror movie, is it not? We are with strangers. When you are with strangers, do you know what you tell yourself? "Shh, there is somebody around here!" Obviously, if you are with people you love, then you cannot say that. But since you are so sure that you are just attached, therefore, you are de-facto living with strangers, because attachment is separation. And if you are living with strangers, that means you are living with people you really do not know. That's what strangeness implies.

Visualize that —five people in a house, and nobody knows the other four. All of them are actually all by themselves. That's what we call the usual 'happy family'.

Goosebumps?

Not only is the questioner saying, "I'm attached to my family," he extends the question to ask, "What if I come close to someone who is close to the Truth? Will I not get attached to him?"

Sir, friend, my dear, do you know nothing beyond attachment? Attachment is the action of your physical self. Attachment is molecules and chemistry. Are you nothing beyond your molecular externality? Nothing beyond that? How sure are you? Look at yourself. "Not only am I attached to the family; if I come close to a Saint, I will get attached to the Saint as well." You know where this resolute determination comes from? It comes from a steadfast commitment to protect the ego.

Attachment nourishes the ego; love kills the ego. Therefore, you would rather be attached than loving. The horrible part is, even when we come across someone who wants to teach us the futility of attachment, we get attached to him. That is our retribution against the one who wanted to teach us the futility of attachment. And then, we laugh; we laugh aloud. We say, "Ha, look at yourself! You had entered my life hoping that you will teach me the uselessness of attachment. See what I have done; I have become attached to you! That's me. Come on, beat me if you can."

Who can beat you? You are the great yogamaya (creation) of Krishna! You are indefatigable, and therefore, invincible. You will carry on and on. Saints and Prophets will come and go; your continuity takes no exception. Can there be a greater insult to a Buddha than to get attached to him?

You heard of the story of that lady, a monk? She loved the Buddha. Just that she loved the Buddha according to her own definition of love, a personal concept of love. So, she got this little Buddha statue made, and she would keep it very close to her heart wherever she would go. "My Buddha", you know?

She reached a big temple one day—it's a famous Zen story; I wonder how more of you haven't heard it—and the temple had big great statues of Buddha. And incense was burning. And the nun, the lady kept the little Buddha on some wooden platform, and she found that all the incense was flowing towards, rising towards only the big Buddhas, and this made her feel very bad—in fact, jealous.

So, she collected all the incense sticks wherever they were placed, and brought them together and kept them in front of her little Buddha, and felt very satisfied. "This is my Buddha. They are all others. My Buddha should get the best possible. My baby is the best!" Simple.

So after a while, all the smoke gathered on that little Buddha thing and made it all black, especially the face. What happened to the face? It got blackened. That's what you do even to a Buddha in attachment; you give him a black face.

You have asked, "Does it mean that to have a stable mind, does one have to be close to no one?" On the contrary, one has to be really-really close.

Real closeness is something that the ego cannot tolerate. Come really close to anything or anybody, and you will find that the ego is getting sublimated. Therefore, the more egoistic a person is, the more important is it for him or her to remain separated from what is happening anywhere.

See what the verse says, it's beautiful.

From anger comes delusion; from delusion comes failure of memory; from failure of memory, the loss of understanding.

You see the kind of separation these words imply? If you want to stay deluded, the first thing that you will do is that you will allow the memory to fail, which means that you will allow facts to be distorted in your mind. How do facts reside in our mind? As memories. And facts are the door to Truth. Facts are the door to Truth. If you do not want to come close to the Truth, then you have to, first of all, distort facts. You will have to distort facts and you will have to imagine facts; you will have to create stories, myths.

That's what the egoistic person does —he separates himself from the facts, creates a separation, and instead builds up stories in his or her own mind; a lot of stories. "This is what happened, this is what happened."

Not only is there a case of selective amnesia; there is also a lot of wishful imagination. Things that actually happened are conveniently forgotten, and things that never happened are imagined as if real. To avoid the Truth, you have to avoid facts, and to avoid facts, you have to deliberately corrupt your memory. You will say, "No, this really happened, I remember," but the fact is, you are not remembering; you are deliberately imagining. And a large part of that which actually happened you would try to forget. Not that it would somehow accidentally get deleted over a period of time; you would deliberately make it a point to erase the inconvenient portions of your memory.

Failure of memory; from the failure of memory, the loss of understanding; and from loss of understanding, the fellow perishes.

Obviously, if you are not close to Truth, then you would perish. And Understanding is another name for Truth. ’Prajnanam Brahma’. Do not be such a fan of the ego that to protect the ego, you separate yourself from the Truth itself. The Truth obviously is intangible, so to protect your ego, first of all, you will separate yourself from the world, the facts, the reality, the happening.

You will not mingle with people. You will not want to know the crux of any matter. You will not want to go into the details of anything. You will specifically avoid any kind of research—because what do all these yield? Proximity, research, investigation—what do all these yield? They yield the facts. Once the facts are there, you will have to go nearer to the Truth. Facts take you to the doorsteps of Truth.

So, you'd rather dwell in your own imagination. "This is this way, this is this way; I said this, this happening..." An entire hazy and rather shady universe of your own making, with the single intention of preserving the ego, self-preservation. And you start living more and more within your own cloud, you become a loner; you start avoiding company. You deliberately cut-off contacts, you block people. You do not want to talk to people. Why? Because if you talk to people, the reality will come through. If you want to preserve your own fancy stories, if you want to preserve your own house of imagination, then it is very important that you do not talk to anybody. You deliberately remain insulated in your own little room—"No, no, I'm not talking to anybody." This is a dangerous and poisonous conspiracy against oneself. Avoid this!

Whenever you block somebody off, always ask yourself: Is it to come closer to the Truth, or is it to avoid the Truth? You might be surprised at the answer you get, if the query is honest.

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