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What is conditioning? || Acharya Prashant (2015)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
13 min
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Question: We generally say, “Let me do this task and then I will be in awareness.” Why do we defer awareness? Why do we keep on postponing awareness? Why are there forces, psychological and physiological, that work against awareness? If one must live in awareness, then why is maya against it?

Speaker: You are bearing the accumulated load of the actions and ignorance of mankind, since centuries. Maya doesn’t come walking towards you as a concept or as a person. What is m aya ? Maya is just all these notions that have been implanted in your mind about how things must be.

Existence does not conspire against wisdom. Existence has nothing against wisdom. In fact, you attain to wisdom by watching the ways of existence. Existence is not poised against wisdom . The sun, the river, the air, the mountains, the waterfalls, they are not against wisdom.

It was Chuang Tzu who said, The sound of water says what I think.” He then said, “You will always find an answer in the sound of water.”

Existence is so very open. It is like an open book, ready to reveal its secrets. So don’t ever think that there is some diabolic agency with a mission to corrupt you. It’s just that you are paying the price of the accumulated ignorance since centuries. Just that. Nothing more.

See, we are born as a body. The body has its own particular ways of functioning. And those ways are alright. For the body, there can be nothing except the body. Why must the body clamor to go beyond the body? And there is beautiful joy in just living as you are. One talks of this joy, and in talking of this joy one also says, “I feel liberated from the bondage of the body.”

There is another man who hears this. Just hearing this, is the beginning of complication. This man says, “Surely there is something special that is happening there, with that other person. I too need to achieve that.” The other has cast its influence upon you, and now you want to achieve something special that probably the other has. This is the onset of social conditioning .

Physically you are already conditioned, but that is alright. You are born as a body. Social conditioning begins with the objective of freeing you from the physical conditioning. That is how it starts. “Oh no! I don’t like being subject to the urges of hunger, thirst, sex, like animals. These are mean things. I need to go beyond these.”

So when the child is born, he is then conditioned. He is not conditioned to create another level of conditioning. He is conditioned so that the first level too may disappear. The first level is the level of the animal. And the child is born like an animal. That’s the beauty of the child. That’s why kids are so very beautiful, because they are just like animals. Socially you are conditioned so that your animal nature can be cleared off.

Now firstly, that is not at all a valuable objective. There is nothing wrong with your animal nature. Even at the objective level, it is not a wise objective. Secondly, it cannot be done using the means and methods that society advocates. The society says that by controlling the basic physical urges one will be able to go beyond the physical conditioning. The fact is, going beyond physical conditioning happens only by living in the physical way.

So an unfortunate accident happens. Instead of one layer of conditioning, now we have two layers. The second layer came to wipe off the first one, but instead of wiping off the first one, it created another layer. Now you are reeling under the collective load of two heavy layers.

In one of the sessions I had said, “Outside prakritisth (natural), inside samaadhisth (meditative). Being prakritisth on the periphery is very important for being samadhisth at the center.” Do you remember this? What does it mean to be a prakritisth ? It means being like an animal. It means being guiltless about your body. It means living in the most natural way possible. Only when one lives like that, with no interference of any social norms, is it possible to move into samaadhi . You wll not be samaadhisth wearing a prim-trim suit and taking care to shave daily and following all the good manners and etiquette. I assure you that won’t happen.

Because if you are doing all that, it only means that instead of one layer now you have two. One is alright. One is what existence gave you. One is existence itself, the body. The second is the disease. God gave you the body, you gave yourself the society. That is the difference. Understand this.

Body is not evil, do not be bothered to get rid of the body. And mankind is so apologetic about the body, especially here in the east. And you are so very proud of the society. You hide what existence gave you. You cover it under ten layers of clothes, and you proudly display what the society gave you.

Don’t you see that this is foolishness? Society gives you a name, and you never hide your name. Society gives you a religion, you never hide your religion. Society gives you certificates and awards, you never hide them. Society gives you your clothes and the latest fashion, you never hide them. But you hide your body.

And when I say you hide your body, I not only mean it in the direct sense of visual exposure, I mean it in the sense of being sensually available to experience. Our body has really been hidden. We do not experience things. We do not see well. We do not listen well. Even our taste buds have been smothered. We can’t even taste. We use so much of spice and chilies. This is social, just social.

Existence gives you fruits and vegetables, but society gives you recipes. And when you fall prey to recipes, then you stop experiencing the delicate taste of fruits. This is what I mean when I say that we have killed the body.

The body itself is the door to joy. But our bodies lie wasted. Our eyes do not see properly. They have lost all sensitivity. Our ears do not hear any music. Have you seen how uncomfortable you are with silence? The deepest and the most sublime music possible, of silence, our ears are not tuned to it at all. Because now your ears are fed on a diet of and spoiled by, all the crass music that you have heard, and that is social.

But what do you do? Instead of rejecting the social, you start rejecting the body itself. So when the tongue starts getting numb, instead of rejecting the spices, you start putting in more spices. To feel a little alive!

You know who is a man who needs more and more spices? He is the man who feels totally dead. So he wants to eat so much of chilly to arouse himself. You must have heard this: “This chilly is so strong that even a dead bull will wake up after eating this.” And that is exactly the reason why we need chilies. Because we are dead. We need something strong, something that gives us a kick. Like drugs, like alcohol. The simplicity of the body is gone.

Have you ever seen animals that are distorted? You find them only in captivity as pets, or in zoo. You go to a jungle, you will only see healthy animals, unless they are nearing their age, or they have contracted some virus. They will be fit in the jungle. And you look at a human being. He tries so much to keep fit and still he can never be fit.

And it is so very important to be physically appropriate. It is very-very important. How will you be physically appropriate when you have been conditioned against your physicality? The society tells you, “Oh my God! If you are allowed to love freely, then you will become a sexual maniac. And all hell will break loose, and the skies will fall.” Ever seen that happening?

All animals know how to behave. They know when to eat, when to sleep, when to drink, when to relax, and when to mate. Why are you so afraid that you will become a maniac? Have you ever seen any animal become a sexual maniac? No. The fact is, only humans rape, no animal rapes. And all that is because of the social intervention. The society wanted to correct your sexual conduct, and it produced rapists. We are not sure of ourselves. We are so afraid. “Oh my God! If I allow myself freedom, then some great blunder will happen.”

No great blunder is going to happen. You are alright. You don’t even need to take care of the body. Just remove yourself from the way. The body knows how to take care of itself. The body is a beautifully designed work of art. It is lovely. It knows how to take care of itself. You don’t interfere.

Animals know when to sleep and when to wake up. Nobody teaches them. Animals know what to eat, what not to eat. They know. Try feeding an animal the stuff that it should not eat, it will never eat it. Unless you are so cunning that you hide it very shrewdly, that is another matter. Otherwise no animal can be fed anything that it should not eat. It will not eat it. It may be hungry, but still it will not eat it. Then why are you so afraid that, “If I am left to myself I will start eating this and that”? That won’t happen. Trust yourself.

To be afraid of body is to be afraid of existence.

Listener 1: Is there no intrinsic relationship between sexual engagement and unawareness? Are you saying that it is the social conditioning that causes unawareness?

Speaker: See, social conditioning is what makes the physical, diseased. These two are related. We talk of them as two separate layers, but they are related. In fact, you don’t need to clear off two layer of conditioning, you only need to clear one layer, which is, the social layer. When the second layer is gone, the first layer is automatically taken care of. It is the second that aggravates the first. It is the social that makes the physical a disease. Just take care of the social part; physical will be taken care of by the one who took care to give you a DNA.

You don’t have to drop the body, you have to drop your concepts. Please be fully aware of this. No teacher or saint asked you to drop the body. They said, “Drop the concepts.” Once the concepts are gone, the body will take care of itself. But you don’t want to drop your concepts, you want to manipulate the body. Concepts remain where they are, because they are a part of your identity. And you live in your head, your ego.

It is not without reason that a Krishna, or a Mahavira , or a Buddha , or a Meera, is depicted to be very beautiful. Muslims believe that Mohammad was a very handsome man. And if you look at images of Christ, you will see again a very handsome young man. That is not just a coincidence or an exaggeration. It is actually so.

When you are beyond the society, it shows up on your face. And that is real beauty. Remember that? We said, “When the radiance of the core shines on the face, that’s what is called beauty.”

In some sense Krishna is just as beautiful as the peacocks whose feathers he so gloriously wears on his forehead. There is nothing to separate Krishna from the peacocks. They both are equally beautiful. He’s beautiful, just like the animals. That is the only way you can describe the beauty of Krishna. As beautiful as the animals, as beautiful as nature. And there can be no beauty except the beauty of animals, and the beauty of trees, and rivers, and mountains, and the open sky. That is the only beauty that can be there. You must be like them, not like some product of a social factory.

You look at your faces. It looks as if you have been produced in some assembly line. Similar faces! It is so difficult to differentiate, you know. Three-four women are walking on a street, wearing same kind of jeans, same straightened hair, and same physique. Obviously they are products of a factory. Now they cannot be beautiful. You and your neighbour are wearing the same lip gloss, how can you be beautiful?

Beauty is individuality. And that individuality is not about being separate. That individuality is about being one with your essence. When you are one with your essence, then your entire being is beautiful.

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