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What, in life, is the problem?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Questioner (Q): I think you were saying that we have to get rid of all the problems. So, yesterday we were also talking about the bodily tendencies which are there by default and we still have to go ahead towards the destination which is Mukti . So, if I am combining it, what I feel is that: one is solving the problem, the other one is the identification of a problem- whether something is really a problem or not. Things that are by default there in your body might not sometimes be a problem unless you see them with a magnifying glass, new things show up and you get stuck there. So, this is confusing me a bit on what Mukti is? When we say our final goal in life is Mukti , what is to be solved and what need not be seen as a problem?

Acharya Prashant (AP): What is a problem first of all? The essential flow of the Prākṛtik (natural) world is not a problem. When we say a problem, a problem is always for a consciousness that sees the problem, right? In the Prākṛtik world there is essentially no problem. There is life, there is death, but there is no real problem in the psychological sense. Go to the jungle and you will not find any problem there, provided man is not there, man is there then there will be problems. Go to the depths of the Amazon, untouched by man, there is no problem. Go to a river there is no problem; go to the mountain, there is no problem.

The problem is when the ‘I’ gets entangled with the happenings in the Prākṛtik world. That is when there are a lot of complications; then we don't let Prakṛti function as it would. We start energizing some parts of Prakṛti . In our bid to solve, we start complicating matters. And it is not something that we do consciously, we are born entangled. When the child is born he is already entangled with Prakṛti , that is the problem. Because you are born problemed so you have an urge to solve the problem.

But, because you are a part of the problem now, so your efforts to solve the problem only complicate the problem. Therefore, what is Mukti or liberation? Stop identifying with the problem; stop energizing the whole situation, and step away from it. See that the problem does not exist by itself. The problem exists only with reference to the consciousness that experiences the problem. The one who is experiencing the problem is a part of the problem, in fact, he is the energizer of the problem. The experiencer is not merely the experiencer, he is the energizer. Therefore, he has to disassociate himself from this tangle called the problem; that is liberation— dissociation, disengagement. Are you getting it?

Problems are not objective entities; they do not exist by themselves. In the objective world, there are no problems. A black hole eats up a star, an entire star is gone. The black hole has eaten it up. Is that a problem to anybody? A star, a million times the size of earth has been gulped up by a black hole. It's such a massive catastrophe, why is it not a problem? Because you are not associated with the event. A problem is only to the consciousness that is associated with the problem, right? Otherwise, things happen; they are just happenings, nothing personal. They are just happenings; there is nothing personal in them for you, so it's okay. But if even a small teacup in your house breaks, then it's worse than the formation of a supernova, is it not? Because you are...? (associated with it)

It is not in the happening, it is your entangled state of consciousness. How to solve it? By stopping the energy that you give to it. Just see this, don't energize, and just see the magic. Then things will just be things, events will just be events, happenings will just be happenings, there will be no problems.

The problem is the one to whom there is the problem. How do you define a problem? What is the problem? The one who is experiencing the problem is the problem. Don't experience the problem, is there a problem? Tell me.

Or let me put it this way- don't put a value on the experience you have of the problem, now is there a problem? Let's say physically you experience a problem; there is an earthquake. But if you do not give tremendous value to this experience, is there a problem?

In other words, you could say, a problem is a false value system, false and flawed. You are attributing value to the wrong entities, that is called a problem. That which doesn't deserve much value is being accorded a lot of value, a great deal, that's a problem.

Q: I generally think about things- the relations, the work I am doing, the stuff I buy. When I think, they essentially do not have so much value. When that feeling comes that nothing is so important, it feels a bit depressing, actually and life completely feels so meaningless.

AP: Because you accord value to value, so when everything appears of zero value, the value that says, that "There must be value", gets hurt. You must have something of value in your life, that's a value.

Q: That is an assumption that I already made that.

AP: That’s not an assumption, it’s called conditioning. You must have stuff of value in your life. It’s a value. So, people will just casually ask you, “So, what’s important to you?” And the assumption is, something must be important to you, of course! There can be nobody who does not accord importance to anything. Of course, you must be holding certain things or people or ideas as very important. So they’ll ask, “So, what is important to you?” They will be not offended if you say, “You know, what I give importance to is very different from what you hold important.” That is all right. The objects that you greatly value are allowed to differ from the objects that they value. But, if you say, that you do not value any object, then this is blasphemy. So, you too have internalized that value system in which the first point is—do have values. Your value system is a hierarchy, no? The most important thing is this, then this, then this, then this, then this, then this. Out of all these things in the hierarchy, what is it that occupies the topmost position? Do have values.

So, when you see that nothing is of value, the very first value gets offended. ”Ah...! My life is so barren; there is nothing valuable in it. Oh my god! I am so poor. Of course, everyone must have rich things in life. There is nothing in my life.”

Flawed value system, from the very outset flawed. The very first point is flawed. Don’t you see it is all so very materialistic? “You must have something valuable in life”, what are you referring to? Aren’t you referring to something that is very much carnal, material? Are you referring to God, the formless one? When you say, there must be something of value in life, obviously, the intention is not to have something as abstract as the inconceivable Truth in your life. What you mean is that you must have a nice, this and that, you know, something that you can be proud of, something that you can live by, something that you can feel secure about. Drop that, don't energize that.

Q: What is the most important thing that needs to be done?

AP: See what is it that is hurting you the most, you don't need to do much. We said disassociation, we said disengagement, we said de-energization. We used the negativa to describe what must be done. We said, “Don't do!” Hence, just see what all troubles your excessive doing is bringing to you, and stop doing, that's what needs to be done, not something extra. Rather a discontinuation of much that you are obsessed with doing.

Q: How to identify the false values?

AP: How is the false value to be identified? Through its impact upon you. If you are holding a false value, the inevitable outcome is suffering. So, your suffering will tell you which of your values are false. Be sensitive to your suffering and determined to be liberated from it.

Q: Is my perception, suffering also conditioning... How?

AP: Yes, yes, yes! Quite possible. Then you need company, where you see an example of what real liberation means, or freedom from suffering means, or joy means. Then you will be reminded of something that is possible to you and yet is not becoming available to you. It is quite possible that we get so accustomed to suffering, that suffering stops appearing like suffering, it becomes the default mode of life. Then you need company, then you need somebody who is quite unlike you, and then you'll be reminded, “Ah...! Why is that quality of life which radiates through his being, not available to me?”

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