Question: A woman seen just as a body, it hurts a lot. I am saying this from my own experience. How can it stop? When will it stop? How can a person be seen just as a ‘body’?
What is the root cause? Where does it start?
Acharya Prashant Ji: You answer it. You know already. You have attended enough sessions, and you have lived through enough life to know the answer.
Questioner 1: What is the starting point?
Acharya Prashant Ji: Beginning point is the birth of the being, driven by prakriti (nature). So it might begin with birth of the body, but then it is exacerbated by social conditioning.
And when there is nothing beyond the body in your life, you have no option but to consider yourself, as the body.
The ego needs something to identify with. Right? And if that Great, that Tremendous is not available, then what else is there to be identified with? The body. And there is an incentive in getting identified with the body – the body offers a lot pleasures.
What is the solution?
You know the solution, right? Just as a lot of conditioning brings a man or a woman to be more and more body-identified, similarly, rigorous spiritual education is needed to help get rid of body-identification.
And one has to remember that body-identification is not merely a spiritual matter, it is not merely an other-worldly concern.
Body-identification is the root cause of all evils in the world.
You name any problem, and you will be able to trace it back to body-identification.
Unless there is rigorous physical education, you cannot get rid of body-identification.
One needs an identity, right? If there is no other identity, then the body is the obvious identity; you cannot live identity-less. The ego needs an address, a name. The ego has to be something, or somebody.
The easy choice is – the body.
And when you are body-identified, then you have no option but to destroy the world. Because if you are body-identified, then the only reality to you is – the world. What is it that the body perceive? The world, nothing else. And identified with the body, you are greatly hungry. You haven’t identified with the body for nothing, you have identified with the body for a purpose. What is that purpose? Contentment.
“I want satisfaction, through the body.” Now what will the body do? The body will consume the world in order to get satisfaction. But even if you consume away the entire world, that satisfaction doesn’t come. So we see what is happening now.
In order to get satisfaction man has burnt down the entire world, and is still not satisfied, and will never be satisfied. Even if the entire universe is burnt down to ashes, man will still not gain contentment, because man is choosing a false route.
You can never get contentment, through the body – it is not a spiritual axiom or something.
It is a matter of practical observation.
Lack of Spirituality is destroying human beings and the world.
Human beings are being destroyed from the inside, the world is being destroyed on the outside.
There is fire in man’s mind, and there is fire in the forests.
One is visible, one is not.
But both are the same thing.
Questioner 1: Body-identification starts at very early age.
Acharya Prashant Ji: It starts, even before birth.
So we said that you are already body-identified when you are born, that is why rigorous spiritual discipline is needed to get rid of this. Forget about totally getting rid of it, even to keep this in check, even to limit it to sane levels, you require rigorous spiritual education.
Otherwise, there is just inner and outer destruction.
Questioner 1: I was thinking about the bondages. One thing that I observed is that I am afraid of losing money. I am very confident as long as I have money. It gives me a sense of freedom that I don’t have to depend on anyone. There is nothing that I should be afraid of. As long as I have my stable income, I don’t care about anything else.
If I have to leave everything, and join some cause or initiative, I know that I will not be able to earn as much money. So, there is that bit of hesitation.
Acharya Prashant Ji: You have to clearly know how much is enough. Don’t leave it vague. The more clearly you define what is, and how much is enough for you, the easier it would be for you to act. It is great that you do not have to depend on someone, it is great that you earn for yourself, but you must know how much is enough.
I will strongly advise you to never-never move around with a begging bowl. It’s great that you must have something in hand, and not bad if you have something in the bank as well. Fine. But how much? And as much as is needed, must be arranged.
Questioner 1: My initial thinking was that I will work for a couple of years, arrange for certain things. But then there is this confusion that by the time I arrange things, will it be too late in starting-off?
Acharya Prashant Ji: Arrange, with respect to what?
First of all you have to figure out who you are, and how much is enough for you. Otherwise, the question of arrangement of a particular level of funds would remain very open-ended, and un-answered.
If I do not know who I am, how would I ever know how much money do I need?
Questioner 2: I feel very strong pull towards something in the same direction, at the same time, it is very overwhelming. I get panic attacks sometimes before the camp begins, or before I have to do any task. I purposefully find an excuse to not do something.
I feel overwhelmed, but at the same time there is something extremely captivating.
Acharya Prashant Ji: These two are the same thing.
It is because there is something very-very enthralling, something very compelling, that is why you also feel the awe, and therefore the resistance.
Nobody likes things to go out of control. Nobody wants to be attracted without measure. One wants to be capped, controlled, limited. So when something is hugely overpowering, then one is compelled to resist it.
These two are the aspects of the same thing – the attraction, and therefore the panic, and the resultant resistance.
(Referring to the three-day retreat, during which this Satsang is happening).
All that is, only as long as you keep a safe distance. What if you had taken over upon yourself the responsibility of arranging something, in the morning, or afternoon, of the first day itself? Would you have then afforded to come late in the evening? That’s what.
So all these mental games are only as long as you maintain an arm’s length.
Questioner 2: I feel I am doing that. I am maintaining an arm’s length.
Acharya Prashant Ji:
Sooner than later, you see, without your conscious choice, without the thing coming in your notice, you will find that you are unable to maintain that separation, that distance.
Better sooner than later.
It’s anyway going to happen, not because you will necessarily choose that it happens, but because it is bound to happen that way. You cannot remain in a magnetic field, and yet afford to be stagnant for long. Especially, when the field is becoming stronger and stronger.
So, at some point you have to get sucked in. If you know that, that is destined, then better sooner, than later. And, these are stories. If you stay away from something, what else can you have? Not facts, but stories.
The moment you join the action, all these things vaporise, because there is no space left for them. You see, there is so much to do here, after this, or rather into this. How will you manage to think about this and that?
Did this Vishranti (the three-day retreat) actually go perfectly well? It didn’t. So there was a lot to do, a lot to do. And if we get into that, then the various miscellaneous thoughts not only go away, but one also comes in touch with a reality that is beyond our conception, our imagination.
What I am saying, and what I am up to, and what do I want for myself and for you, that you will know in a much better way when you are an activist, rather than a mere passive participant.
Questioner 2: But how do I overcome that fear that – I won’t be able to handle it?
Acharya Prashant Ji: Let’s try. Let’s see.
How do I know that whether I will be able to handle your question or not? Look at me. Poor me! You keep throwing all kinds of things at me, and I don’t even have the option to say, “No, no. No ball. No ball. Only two bouncers allowed per over.” You can throw six bouncers, you can throw a beamer, you can bowl an underhand. You can even come right up to my nose, and throw the ball at me.
I have to play. I have to engage you. Right? I cannot declare your query, your delivery, illegitimate, and walk away. So, let’s just try. Let’s see. Let’s see whether we have the appetite for it.
And I have great trust.
You know, when I invite somebody to try something out, within I am smiling, because I know the result of the trial in advance. I know I don’t have to sell something to you, I know I don’t have to advertise or try too hard with you. I know that I just have to get you agree to try.
I don’t need your consent, I only need your experimentation. Once you experiment with it, consent is obviously forthcoming. So let’s try, and try with all the skepticism that you can muster. I am not asking you to try as a believer. Try as a skeptic, try as a critic.
You may even try with the intention to disapprove me. I am okay with that. I have just too much of a deep belief in something, to be dissuaded by your lack of belief.
You don’t have to straightaway take a decision and jump. Proceed as carefully as you want to – one step at a time.
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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