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Acharya ji, you are at the top. How does it feel? || Acharya Prashant, with IRMA (2023)
Author Acharya Prashant
आचार्य प्रशांत
12 मिनट
81 बार पढ़ा गया

Questioner(Q): Namaste Acharyaji. My question is that, when you achieve something, you see a lot of behavioural changes in people, like they act differently from what they usually were. So, when it comes to you, you have done your graduation from IIT Delhi, you have done your MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, then you were a civil servant and now you are guiding and motivating people. So, how does it feel Sir? In my definition, these three are the dreams of many people and you have achieved everything. So, how does it feel to be at the top Sir?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Nothing special really. I mean, because you are asking this, so I have to think about all those so called accomplishments, otherwise they do not remain in my memory or consciousness. I have been speaking to you all since hours now. My accomplishments, or my own life, or my degrees, or other things, or awards; they didn’t occur to me even once. In fact, if I look at the last two days or last one week, I will have to struggle to remember when I was thinking of my degrees or my past, even the recent past. No!

Because there is work to do. One is a traveller and one is still on the road; one cannot keep thinking of the milestones gone by, right? It’s a long journey, endless journey probably and you have come just so far, may be five hundred miles and there are five thousand more to go. What’s the point in pondering too much about what happened at milestone two fifty, three hundred fifty, all those things. So, they were never the end; they were almost accidental things that came along the way.

I want to reach the top of Himalayas, in between I passed through some city. I am not going to become a resident there. I had some food there may be, I halted there for the night, that’s okay. One halts for a while and then one carries on. So, those things are good. Obviously, happily I remember my days at IIT. Very recently, just a few days back, I was at the campus and they have invited again; so, probably I will be there again a few days from today. So all that is okay, but there is no possibility, no point of stopping at that.

It’s a problem when anything in life becomes the goal of life, and it’s a huge problem when the goal is achieved as early as, let’s say, when you are twenty one or twenty five years of age. I was twenty one when I was passed out, and if I say, “Oh! I am done. The goal is achieved,” then what am I living for? When the train reaches its destination, you are supposed to deboard. And if you don’t, then you will be pushed out, won’t you be?

So, if you say you have achieved your goal, then life will throw you out. And that’s what one deserves then. The goal has to be, I said, the Himalayan peaks. I am just pointing at something, I hope you sense what I am saying, the Himalaya peaks; not that I am going to become a mountaineer now. That’s how your goal should be, and all these little things keep coming along the way; they are not of much avail. They are useful but they are not the end.

Never build a house at a milestone, just as you do not pause for too long on a bridge, do you? A bridge is there to be crossed, the bridges don’t exist to be slept on. So, never make these things your goal. You have to move on, the real end is liberation. You have to keep moving till the mover is no more, and by that I do not mean physical death.

There’s a restlessness within us, it wants to know, it wants to understand, it’s in dark, it needs some light. Keep moving as long as that restlessness is there. Don’t just artificially, unduly, prematurely convince yourself that you have arrived. As long as you have not arrived, keep moving. There’s no point in just settling down somewhere. The problem with the people is—from where I see—they settle down just too quickly and too easily, and that too at very wrong places.

Even if they say they are still moving, the movement is very one dimensional. The fellow says, “Well, I am making career progress,” that’s the very scope of movement, nothing beyond that. So, how have you progressed between the age of twenty five and forty five? If you ask someone who is forty five today, ask him, “How have you progressed between twenty five and forty five? Can you suggest me some measurement, some benchmark on which I can see that you have indeed progressed?” And he will say, “Well, you know, at twenty five, I didn’t have a bank balance and today I have a fat account.”

Now is that the only dimension on which you live? No, you live multi-dimensionally and there are multifarious higher dimensions. On those dimensions people stall their progress, they settle down. They remain much the same person they were at the age of fifteen or twenty five. And to convince themselves that they are still progressing, they just keep adding figures to their bank balance. Now that’s no good. That’s not good.

You must keep learning till your last breath, you must keep discovering till your last breath. You must keep knowing yourself, you must keep finding out where the last remains of inner bondages are. “I want to confront them.” So know, read, reflect, observe and keep moving on. And all these things will just happen along the way.

They are good, they are good, they are good as memories—there would be reunions, there would be alumni get-togethers. And if you have a noble mission at hand, it helps to sometimes flaunt your accomplishments. “Well, he is coming from an IIT or an IIM, Oh! UPSC to boot? Wow wonderful!” So, all that is okay, but in your inner life all that hardly matters.

You have to remain hungry, you have to remain thirsty, you have to remain a traveller. And I am not talking of an imposed hunger. The hunger is real, you have to just acknowledge it, “Yes the hunger is still there.” Don’t settle down when you have not yet arrived. Your Dharma is that of the traveller. When you are not at the destination, how dare you stop?

(Q): Sir, so basically you are saying that there’s the ultimate mission that everyone has, like the Himalayan peak, and these are just checkpoints on the way?

(AP): Obviously, obviously!

(Q): Sir, do you see any behavioural changes in you? Like you are a bit more confident when you have achieved something, or like you felt that you behaved something in a different way to the same person? Like I personally have experienced this, so that is why I am asking.

(AP): What have you experienced?

(Q): Sir, my elder brother, he has also cracked UPSC. So, he was a totally different person when he was preparing, and now when he has cracked it, I know he’s busy, but he never calls back or has a bit of over-confidence. So, do you feel that these changes are because something is achieved or this is inherent in nature?

(AP): The situation with me is that I do not feel that anything substantial is achieved, so how can my behaviour get changed, or distorted, or inflated? I just do not feel I have achieved anything of much worth or significance. So, in fact if one could like things about himself, what I like about myself is that I am probably much the same person, in some sense, as I was when I was fifteen.

There’s an examination tomorrow, I am constantly preparing, I am constantly working. Every day is another work day. There used to be night outs, because there’s something very important coming up the next day and you have to be ready. And I have been living in night outs since the last thirty years at least. So, what has changed? Nothing! I used to live in hostels when I was a student, and I am still living in a hostel. So, hardly anything has changed.

Behaviour, when you ask me this question, then I have to find out whether my behaviour has changed. The thing is, when you are quite occupied with something that you know of to be great worth, then there’s no time to ingratiate yourself. There’s no time to keep congratulating yourself and feel pleased. So, once a traveller, always a traveller.

May be a little bit of wisdom has dawned, may be some maturity has come; beyond that I don’t think behaviour in terms of feeling happy with one’s position or achievement—I don’t think that has come. Even maturity, if I look at how I live my life, I think I am still very immature. So, even that I cannot really claim. Probably those who live around me, and those who interact with me will know better and will be better judges, whether my conduct, behaviour has been changing over the years. I really have had no time to think over those things. There are more important things to take care of.

(Q): So, just a follow up question on that. You said earlier, once a traveller, forever a traveller. So, when you are on the journey, it is often said that whenever you cross a certain milestones, you start losing people around you. So, does it ever feel lonely that you are at the top?

(AP): That’s a big pain, that’s a big pain! Some part of me likes to get attached, it’s quite sticky. If I have been with someone at some point in my life, I do not like to leave them behind. And I also have to keep moving ahead; and then there’s a problem, then there’s a strife.

On one hand, I cannot compromise on my own journey, on the other hand I do not like to leave anybody behind. But then you cannot force people to do things as per your wish. People do not often want to keep pace with you, they have their own comfort zones. People like settling down and you refuse to settle down.

Then you try very hard to somehow keep them with you—you push them to the extent your strength allows you, you even carry them on your shoulders. You don’t want to drop them, but dropping does happen many a times, and then it’s is painful, it hurts. Sometimes you even try slowing down you own pace so that others are not left behind. But you realise that if you are to think of others, then you cannot just think of a few special others. If you slow down, then you are helping may be two people, but hurting two thousand or two million. And then you have to forget your personal attachment and personal sense of hurt. Then you have to keep surging ahead and it becomes a cruel thing to bear. But what do you do?

More often than not, the attempt is to not to leave the other’s hand. And sometimes it does happen that other does get inspired in due course and says, “I will keep pace. I understand that we all have a common destination, that you are moving towards is my destination as well;” so that too happen. And when that happens, that’s so beautiful.

Sometimes you have to carry people on you shoulder for long, long, long and you say, “Fine, it’s sufficient that the fellow is not revolting. If the fellow agrees to just keep sitting on my shoulder silently, even that is sufficient. Keep sitting, I will carry you. Just don’t jump around, just don’t start hitting me on the head and I will carry you.”

Sometimes it happens that people are just not ready, what to do? One can just wait and hope and one can remain available; so that when they are ready, you are there to hold their hand.

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