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Why can't I leave my comfort zone? || Acharya Prashant (2015)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
8 min
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Questioner: When I look at what I am doing, and why I am doing it, honestly, it gives me fear. I don’t want to take action, because of the fear of the new.

Acharya Prashant: There is no fear of the new. There is only the fear of leaving the old. The old is giving you comforts, and it is as basic as that! It is so obvious, direct, and ground level, that no explanation can be given or needed. It is the grossest thing that is there. It has to be obvious.

The old has taken complete control over you. You are the old. There is no part of your mind or body that is not related to what you have been doing so far.

The old is your food, very food. It is every cell of your body. How can you leave your food? Do you see that it is as basic as that? It is the fear of leaving food because the old is feeding you. What spiritual answer can I provide? It is a very material thing that is happening, kindly understand it at the material level itself. There is no need to give it a spiritual color. It is like a street fight – punch and counter punch. What spiritual explanation can be given? It is very, very material. You don’t want to leave your food. It is all about that.

The body is a self-preserving mechanism. It will not allow you to do things where your physical sustenance gets threatened. It is not at all about some deeply-logged dungeon of your mind. It is not at all about some subconscious tendency. It is the body! “What will happen to this body? Where will I live? What will I eat?” That is it!

The mind only gives rationalizations. It will not admit that it is the body.

The mind will say, “Well, it is this, it is that.” It will say, “Well, it is about security.”

What security?

It will say, “It is about relationships.”

Really? Where are the relationships?

“It is about name and fame.”

Really? Do you really carry any name and fame?

The battle is a street fight. And anybody who dislikes streets, anybody who does not want to get his entire being dirty, cannot fight the last spiritual battle. I am reminding you – the last spiritual battle is not about a monk sitting in an isolated corner, seeking Samadhi . The last spiritual battle is always a fight in the streets. And those who are fond of wearing white, spotless white, can bid farewell to spirituality, and God.

Samadhi is not the end of spirituality. It is just the beginning. Remember I had said, “Now that you have reached the destination, you can start the journey.”

You cannot fight on the streets – that is your problem. That is why people twist your arms by telling you that you will be evicted to the streets. That is the lever that they have upon you. They say, “We will throw you out on the streets”, and you start shivering. “Oh my god! Will I lose my food, my respectability? Where will I sleep?”

See, the body is a wicked thing. It was not without reason that one saint was compelled to say, “*Bhookhe pet bhajan na hoye Gopala*” (You can’t sing songs of devotion with an empty stomach).

Now if you are hungry, it is the body that is not allowing you to go towards God. But the mind will not accept that. The mind will come up with hundred other justifications. The mind will say, “Well, it is about the weather. Well, you know I am still not very convinced. Well, that concept is not clear to me.”

There is only one reason – you are hungry. There is no other reason!

In the last fifty years, we have had masters in India who had to go abroad, to the west. And even if they didn’t go abroad, most of their disciples were foreigners, mostly from the west, not Indians. Why? Because Indians are hungry. The very body does not allow you. Why else do you think does a thirty-year-old working professional puts up at a place that he knows is his hell? Because he is afraid for his stomach. That is it! He will not admit it, but that is the deepest tendency that is at work. “Oh my God! From where will I get a roof to stay under?”

Most of us are very recently emerging from agrarian backgrounds, and India has seen famines after famines in the last two hundred years. Basic physical sustenance is still a concern with us. In the west, nobody accuses the other, or threatens the other by saying that – “You will die hungry.” But in India, if someone says, “*Bhukhe maroge*” (You will die of hunger), it sends a shiver down your spine. Because the memory of that famine is yet not too distant.

Most of us are the same Aryan race that the Europeans are. Don’t you see why they are six feet and two inches, and we are five feet and five inches? Now such a body that is undernourished, underfed, underweight obviously will not allow you to move into the spiritual battle. Because the spiritual battle, I am reminding you, is a very much physical battle. The one who is not physically strong will not take that battle, cannot take that battle.

And it does involve a great physical fight as well. That’s why I said that it’s a street fight. If you cannot fight on the streets, spirituality is not for you. What do you think, a saint just sings on the streets? No, he actually fights! It’s not all so romantic, that he goes out there with his instrument in his hands, a sarangi , or a flute, or an iktara , and peacefully, joyfully, he sings songs, and masses come after him offering him food, and security, and respect. It’s not like that.

When the saint walks through the streets, he is often pelted with stones. And he must have the wherewithal to take those stones. If you start shouting and weeping the moment the first stone hits you, obviously spirituality is not for you. If you start crying the moment you get an ankle sprain, spirituality is not for you. Spirituality is only for the real man. It is only for the beast really, it is not for the faint-hearted. It is not for those who are afraid of even scratches on their hands. You have to take deep wounds!

When Rumi said, “The wound is the place where the light enters you”, kindly do not comfort yourself by thinking that he is talking in symbols. That he is pointing towards some metaphysical wound. No! He is talking of an actual, real, physical wound! He is talking of a gash from where blood is oozing, and you don’t have the money to take treatment. Now can you take it? That’s the lover that Rumi is searching for.

And that is also the reason why physical tolerance and physical exercises have been given a lot of emphasis in India. The yogi must fast. The yogi must have a supremely fit body. That is why you hear all these amusing stories about mystics who would forever stand on one leg, or who would sometimes sit on tree branches or somebody who would not eat for months altogether. Because the body is the final frontier, though you will not accept it.

The mind will find rationalizations. The mind will not say, “I am not enjoying the session simply because my knees are wobbly.” The mind will say, “You know, I have a problem with the epistemology. I do not think that this principle stands the test of rationality.” No, it’s none of that. It’s just that you have a gastric problem.

The one who can go without food can never be enslaved. Because that is your final fear: physical elimination. Learn to go without food and then come and tell me whether the world can dominate you!

The one who can sleep in the streets under the open sky can never be made a slave. Because that is the temptation given to you, “We will give you a cozy bed.” And then you become a bed warmer.

Refuse the bed! Have the guts to sleep in the fields!

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