Why Humans Never Get Anywhere
An excerpt from a private consultation . . .
Client (C )
C: There was a time when I would have asked you this question in an emotional fit. But now I’m asking for an entirely different reason. Almost as if I was a third party to myself. Because now I really want to know the truth. For years and years I did the prescription-following. I followed every potion. I went to every retreat I could find. I hired meditation instructors to make sure I was doing it right. I read the scriptures, watched satsang videos, wrote gratitude journals . . . In my business, I hired motivational speakers, hired people to create stress management workshops right on the premises of my company, and also hired two mindfulness experts. And nothing changed.
I’m the poster child for having done it all. But now I’m of sedate mind. And I want to know why those things didn’t work? I mean from time to time they made me feel a bit better. But my life wasn’t really changed in any way. I didn’t really get anywhere, if you know what I mean. I really want to know the truth about why those things didn’t work. Even though they sound so right.
M: Because prescriptions do not work. No matter how holy, spiritual, moralistic, or positive they may sound. The human organism does not respond to such things.
C: I find it almost conspiratorial. But I don’t think these people mean to harm.
M: I also do not believe they mean to harm.
C: But this entire society, this entire world, every city and every country, every business, every franchise, every institution, every sport, every school, every temple, every ashram, anyone and everyone teaches and follows prescriptions. And you’re saying that they are all completely wrong.
M: It is difficult to digest that a world so vast, and a people so varied, could all be completely wrong. That they could all fall for a trap so fully and completely without ever seeing it for what it is. You seem to lean upon my words that prescriptions do not work. When this has been your very own experience.
C: You’re right. It has. I suppose I’m trying to make you the scapegoat. I’m sorry for leaning on your words. You’re absolutely right, it has indeed my experience.
M: You consider it outrageous that such a vast world, and such a vast number of people could be so wrong. But the truth is, it has always been this way. In just about everything.
C: What do you mean?
M: In golf, there are “golfers,” and then there is Tiger Woods. In architecture, there are “architects,’ and then there is Frank Lloyd Wright. In art, there are “artists,” and then there is Rembrandt.
C: That’s absolutely true. So you’re speaking of talent?
M: There is certainly a talent. But are you saying that Tiger is the only talented golfer? That Frank Lloyd Wright was the only talented architect? That Rembrandt was the only talented artist?
C: No. But they had More talent than the rest.
M: Even if that were true (which it likely is not), the discrepancy in talent could hardly account for the discrepancy in their results.
M: Meaning, even if these individuals were More talented, they would have to be 400 or 500 or 600% More talented than the others, if talent was believed to be the factor that explained their 600% higher level of success. And I don’t think that you would subscribe to that.
C: Then what is it?
M: They know what others do not.
M: Let us explore that wonderful topic another time. You were asking me why prescriptions don’t work.
M: I remember that as a child I was once asked the question, “If each time you walk to the wall, you are only allowed to walk half-way there, will you ever get to the wall?” The answer, of course, was no. There is a truth that you must learn.
C: I’m listening.
M: Prescriptions are given in order to solve a problem. But what humans have not seemed to figure out is that prescriptions are about the prescription. They have nothing to do with the problem.
C: I’ve never heard that one before. Can you please give me an example? Like meditation, for instance. Is meditation wrong?
M: When you leave your house in the morning, is it wrong to turn left?
C: It depends.
M: On what?
C: On where I want to go.
M: Do you understand?
C: So you’re saying that meditation isn’t wrong or right. It depends upon where someone wants to go.
M: That is correct. And if one wants a few minutes of quiet, a nice temporary experience, one may meditate. But he could also jump into a pool of ice water. Or slide down a mud slide. But the reality is that no matter what man may say, he is not truly seeking a few minutes of quiet. He settles for this because experience has taught him that this is all that is available to him. But even though he has settled on the idea that this is all that is available to him, it does not stop him from longing for the ultimate peace and freedom and joy that he truly seeks.
C: And you’re saying that meditation will never give him that?
M: I do not want you to “believe” me. Look at the evidence. Look at your very own experiences. What is happening all over the world when it comes to meditation? In fact, what is happening even within temples, monasteries, and ashrams when it comes to meditation?
C: I’m listening.
M: When a human is given a prescription, his entire world suddenly becomes about the prescription. It is the old adage, “If you point to the sky, man will look at your finger, and miss the sky.” When a prescription is given, the one who is prescribed-to will suddenly find himself swimming in an ocean of questions. Not questions about the problem. But questions about the prescription!
C: Damn, that’s so true.
M: If a person is told to meditate, he will instantly begin to wonder how long he should meditate for. What pose should he sit in? What if he cannot get into the half-lotus or full-lotus? Will he achieve the same benefit if he sits in a chair? How will he know if the meditation is “working?” Is it okay if he takes weekends off? Does he have to count his breaths? Or is it better to focus on the tip of the nose? What does he do with all the thoughts that are going through his head? Do these eventually stop? His friend meditates for an hour a day, while he does only twenty minutes, and now he feels guilty for “losing” to him. What clothes should he wear for meditation? He had a strange experience that he doesn’t know if it is real or a fiction that his mind created. Does this mean he’s getting somewhere?
Take “stress-management.’ Another popular prescription. The person is told to take a deep breathe. And to think positively. And to dwell on the fact that there are things that are out of his control. Do meditation, yoga, and tai-chi. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Learn to “say no.” Get enough sleep. Seek social support. Spend time with those you enjoy. “Just relax.” Make an appointment with a therapist.
C: I’m beginning to understand. But please sum it up for me, so that I can make sure I truly understand.
M: A human is a human. He is not a joystick. If you give him prescriptions, he will spend the next forty years trying to “get the prescription right.” And this new problem will eclipse the one he started with.
C: I completely understand. But I’m dying to play devil’s advocate with you for just a second.
C: Didn’t meditation take Buddha to enlightenment?
M: Buddha is the perfect piece of evidence for the fact that prescriptions do not work. You could not have chosen a greater example.
C: Damn. I thought I had you stumped. But somehow it looks like I’ve played right into your hands. This I’m dying to here.
M: What happened to Buddha when he first entered the forest in search of enlightenment?
C: I don’t know.
M: He found a group of wandering ascetics. Holy men who said they knew the way. They showered him with all kinds of prescriptions. They all meditated day and night. They told him to do the same. They told him that his body needs to be purified by not feeding it. And that this would lead to salvation. So this is what he did. For 6 years!
He was told to drink his own urine, which he did. He was told to eat one grain of rice a day, which he also did. He was told to sleep on a bed of nails, which he did. He was even told to stand on one leg, which he also did.
And what happened?
He became emaciated, and hung on the verge of death. And then he realized that none of these prescriptions worked. So he left. And found enlightenment Directly. Without the intermediary of prescriptions. And those prescription-following ascetics Never found enlightenment!
C: I didn’t know any of this. But then shouldn’t one learn from Buddha, since he did it without prescriptions?
C: Why not?
M: Because even Buddha, the most inspirational man I have ever come across, succumbed to the myth of prescriptions.
M: By giving them. The four noble truths, the eightfold path, and so on. These are relegated to the category of morality and “right doing.” Have they gotten anyone anywhere? Don’t believe Me. See for yourself. Those teachings are available in every library and bookstore and temple and monastery and even every Buddhist website in the world. How many enlightened beings have you come across in your life? How many human beings have you come across that have even found peace?
C: If prescriptions are not the way, then what truly is the way?
M: The Truth.
C: Kindly unwrap that for me.
M: A man must discover where he truly wants to go. Where it is simply not okay for him not to reach. Then he becomes a candidate for The Truth. Because such a man will never be satisfied with having “tried” to get there. Everything else is a shell game. My dear friend, a life is a terrible thing to waste.
Dr. Gupta is a personal advisor to CEO’s, Professional Athletes, Celebrities, and Performing Artists around the world.
His books include:
Atmamun: The Path To Achieving The Bliss Of The Himalayan Swamis. And The Freedom Of A Living God
A Master’s Secret Whispers: For those who abhor the noise and seek The Truth about life and living.
Originally published at www.kapilguptamd.com on August 21, 2018.