Acharya Prashant: (Reading a question) One may have good knowledge, but he might not be having a satisfactory job or salary. What to do in such a situation?
You see, as long as knowledge to you is a means of earning a higher salary, you will have to realize the limitations of knowledge. Higher salary does not come merely on the heels of higher or deeper knowledge. This is assuming that you have already set a goal. And the goal is to get a high salary. I am going by your goal. You want to get a high salary.
If you want to get a high salary, you must know what all factors drive salaries. It is just not dependent, merely on your knowledge. It is a function of many many variables. And even those variables are variable.
Today, high salary might be a function of x, y, and z. And tomorrow, high salary might be a function of s, t, and u. So, variable variables are there. You just can’t know.
Yes, you can catch hold of one variable, and put all energy into it. But that may not necessarily help. The car might be in neutral, and you are pushing the accelerator, would that help? You would only burn more and more fuel, and the engine would get heated up. You are trying to push just one variable, and you are not seeing that the other variables are all? Choked. They will not let you progress.
So, you have two options now. Either you go out and determine all the variables that drive salary. And when you determine all the variables, you must remember that the variables themselves are? Variable. So, that which is driving salary today, might not be what would drive salary? Tomorrow. And that which is driving salary in one place, might not be what drives salary in another place, another room, another building, another company.
So, you may decide, to set out and figure out all the contributors to the salary number. And you may decide to push all of them. And remember that all the variables are not positively correlated to salary. And you also know that the correlation is also variable.
At one place, one thing might be considered an asset in the employee. At another place or another day, the same quality might be considered a liability. You do not know. It’s like the Universe. It’s like life and death. You know, something drives it, but you can never get a total handle on it, a total grip on it.
We all know people die, and we also know the possible reasons of death. Yet, it is impossible to predict, who will die? And where? And when? And how?
So, that’s a good metaphor we have stumbled upon; Death and Salary.
Just as we know something about death, but not everything. Just as we keep wondering and worrying about death. Similarly, we know a bit about salary. Yes, knowledge probably is a positive contributor to salary. And yes, we do keep wondering about salary, as we keep wondering about? Wondering and worrying about?
Now, you can either keep wondering and worrying about death, or you may live so fully, that the very thought of death starts appearing absurd. Does the thought of death come to you, when you are fully immersed in something? When you are honest to the moment? Do you worry about death then? Even in the middle of death, if you are doing what you must, are you worrying and wondering about death?
Think of a rescue-worker. It’s a war-zone. People are falling all around. This rescue-worker in his rescue-vehicle, is busy? Helping people. Does he have time or opportunity to worry or wonder about death? Please tell me?
AP: Now, come to the salary part of it.
If you are really immersed in what you are doing, would you have time and inclination to worry about salary? Please?
Note that salary appears deficient, only when your mind compares it against the desire to spend. You get amount X, when does this X amount start appearing deficient? When you say that you want to spend Y, and Y is greater than X. And notice that often the desire to spend a lot, arises in a vacuum of meaningful life. When you don’t have a meaningful life, then you want to put meaning into Life, by spending. Then you say, nothing else to do, let’s go and shop.
And here, I am not talking of the basic needs. Because a discussion on basic needs is irrelevant to this audience. You all are technology workers. You all belong to the sunrise sector of the economy. You all are relatively, highly paid employees. So, a question regarding bread and butter does not arise. That’s not we are worrying and wondering about.
When ‘you’ talk of salary and salary hike, and salary being low or high, you are talking in relative terms. You are saying, I presently own a Rs 10,000 mobile, and I want to own a Rs 50,000 mobile or a Rs 1 Lakh mobile. It’s not just about owning a mobile. That discussion is irrelevant. All of you anyway own mobiles. The ‘mobile’ is just an indicator, a metaphor, right? You get what I am saying?
Now, it is about climbing up the so-called value chain. That’s what keeps you worried. When will I move up the ladder? That’s your concern. And what I am asking is, if you really have something great to do, would you have time to think about moving up, or falling down?
There is something that you have given your deepest self to. And then, let’s say, at the end of the month, you get something, monetarily, as a return. Would you assess your work, your entire month, by what you receive on the 31st as a pay-cheque? Is your pay-cheque, an indicator of how your month, your life in the entire month has gone? Or is it so, that if the month has been wonderful, then the pay-cheque is just a bonus. The month has already been wonderful. Now, if I get something on the 30th, it is a?
It is not compensation anymore. It is Bonus.
I often ask people, is it so difficult to find something, that you would be prepared to do, without asking for any returns? Is it very difficult to find something where ‘doing’ itself is the return? Where you do not work for 30 days, in order to get a cheque on the 30th. Where you work because the work itself is Joy.
The work itself is its own reward.
So, go back from where we started from. You can either try to determine all the variables that determine the salary number! Get into that exercise. See, how all the variables are continuously affecting the salary equation. And try to maximize your salary. That is one way of living.
And the other way of living is,
Let your work be an expression of your life-fullness.
I am alive and my work is an expression of life itself. Obviously, I get paid for it. But I don’t work to get paid.
These are two different things.
There are people, who work to get paid. And there are people who work and get paid.
If you are someone who works to get paid, you will keep thinking of minimizing work and maximizing the pay. Because you are indulging in a transaction. You are selling your labor. You belong to the labor class. You are saying, I am selling my labor to a buyer, and the buyer, will give me some money in return. So you will continuously keep thinking of somehow avoiding work, shirking work. Because that’s the need of the business.
The price should be maximized and the cost should be Minimized. Only then the profit is maximized. The price is the pay that you get. The cost is the labor that you put in. And that is the reason why, you always find the average employee, talking of a salary hike and trying to get the salary hike with the minimum labor, possible. He is doing what any shopkeeper would do. What is the shopkeeper always trying to do? Get the maximum price, at the minimum cost.
There is no harm in being a shopkeeper. Except, that that which you are selling is very very precious. You are not selling something that you ‘have’, you are selling something that you ‘are’. To sell something that you have is one thing. But to sell that which you are is like selling your heart, your soul, your essence. It doesn’t even sound good, how can it feel good?
Does it sound good? I am standing in the market, somebody please buy me! How does that sound? You know how that sounds! And how does it feel, to sell oneself every day, every Monday morning? I am going off, ‘because I am paid’. I am not working ‘and’ getting paid. I am working so that I get paid. How does that sound? How? And often it’s like the auction market. One sells himself off to the highest bidder. And very proudly you declare, “I have three offers in my hand.” Don’t you?
And mind you! When you do this in your workplace, you also do a similar thing in your personal life. Three girls are ready to marry me. Now, I am seeing, which one would bring me the highest returns. The same approach, the same attitude, because it’s the same you. In professional Life, beta ji has three offers, in personal life, Mumma ji has brought three matches for beta ji. And both are considered on a measure of achievement, success. And you feel happy, wow, market values me! What you don’t see, is that in either case, in both the cases, you are selling yourself off. You know the word for that? Right?
That’s the reason why in spite of being young we can’t really Love. Because love is not something that can remain limited to parks, and beds, and particular days, and pleasant evenings. Love is something that occupies the whole of your Life.
The one who knows Love, cannot selectively Love.
He would be a lover at home, and he would be a lover at the workplace at well. That does not mean he would be chasing girls at the workplace. That means, he would be operating from the heart. Whether he is at home, or at a stadium, or in the marketplace, or in a train, or in a plane, or sitting at his workstation, he is essentially driven by the Heart. And if you are not driven by the heart, at your workplace; how would you be driven by the heart, in the rest of your Life? Why am I saying that? Because the workplace occupies most of your waking time. Doesn’t it?
Tell me of any other activity that occupies, your waking time, as much as work does? You are awake probably 16-18 hours a day. Right? And out of those 16-18 hours, 10 to 12 hours are spent either at the workplace or in stuff related to the workplace.
You are getting ready to go to the workplace, you are traveling to the workplace, or you have just returned and are relaxing. Out of those 16-18 hours, 10-12 are workplace related.
If you aren’t living by the Heart, in your work, how would you live by the Heart, elsewhere?
So, I had said, that’s the reason why Love is so rare!
Love is not just something that happens between two persons, you know.
It’s a way of living.
It’s not about having a partner.
You are solving a problem in Mathematics, you cannot solve it without Love. And if you solve it without Love, then you are just practicing an algorithm, a formula. The moment the problem becomes more imposing, more challenging, more complicated, you will give up because you have no Love. To really go deep into a problem, to really understand it, you require Love. That’s what I am calling as Love. Not the stuff that happens between couples. And if one is leading a Loveless Life, how is one living at all?
Either do everything that needs to be done to maximize your salary, or work in a way, that makes salary irrelevant. I am not asking you to forsake your salary. I am just asking you, to work in a way that makes salary irrelevant.
An amusing thing is, that those who stop worrying and wondering about salary, often start getting unexpected salaries.
Now, it can be unexpectedly high, or unexpectedly low!
I don’t want you to raise hopes!
But is good is to let something ‘unexpected’ enter our Life. No? Otherwise, it’s all very boring. If there is nothing but predictability, would there be any adventure, any excitement? Anything to look up to, look forward to?
(Reading the next question) The next question again said, how can I earn more money?
There are a million ways to earn more money. Are there not? There are so many who are trying to earn more and more money! Let them earn more and more money, and then you snatch it from them. If your sole objective is to just earn more money, let everybody else earn more money, and the day they get their cheques! (gesturing a pistol to threaten and take that money from them) Done.
Because you are not qualifying your question. You are not putting any context to your question. You are just saying, “I want more money.” Fine, rob a bank. Done.
If this is all that there is to this question, then the answer is very straightforward. Chhattisgarh, just yesterday, they carried away an ATM. They didn’t bother to break open, or! They just uprooted the whole thing and carried it away. That’s the answer to your question. Just yesterday. I am not sure whether it was Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand, about that you will have to check. Jharkhand is more likely.
You must ask this question, “Why did my answer appear preposterous to you.” You asked I want to earn more money. I said, go and rob a bank. And the answer obviously appeared stupid. Right? Why?
Because it’s never only about money. Had it been only about money, then robbing a bank is the easiest way to get money! So, it’s not obviously about money. You must know what you really want. You just don’t want money. Had you just wanted money, you would have killed and had money! But it’s not only money that you want, ask yourself. What is it that I really want? Unless you know what you really want, how will you get it?
And if you are insisting that you only want money, then I insist, go and rob a bank. It’s not only money that you want. Ask, what do I really want? And maybe there is stuff that is more valuable than money. Had money been more valuable than everything else, then you would have easily? Robbed a bank, or murdered and had money. But obviously, there are things that are? More important than money.
Ask yourself! What is it that is the most important? What is it that makes Life worth living? These are not merely beautiful, artistic and spiritual questions to ask. They are the real questions, that any young person must ask himself, herself. Without asking these questions, if you are proceeding to live, then you are living in a very blind way. What do I want? Why am I alive at all? And if I don’t really want anything, why not commit suicide right now? Why am I allowing myself to take the next breath? See the next hour! Why? What’s going on? What’s happening? Don’t just take the morning train! Don’t just check out at the appointed time!
Pause, think, reflect. What is this whole game about? What makes me move? What am I after? Why am I never at rest? What makes me just go on and on? If you don’t ask that question, then one day will follow another day and then so on, and so on and so forth. You will not even realize, how quickly time flies.
Not too long back, you were just kids. Were you not? Devesh ji here told me that some of you were students of the HIDP program. And if I happen to visit another time, a few years later, if some of you are still here, you would not be, what you are, right now. Many of you would be gray-haired, you would be fathers and mothers, and what not! By the way, it’s quite unlikely that my next visit would see you here. When I came the last time, I don’t recall seeing any of these faces then! It’s an entirely new group that I am seeing right now! I came to the same organization in 2015.
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Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More