Q: Dear Gurudev, can you please explain how to overcome attachment, and what to do about the attachment for you? These days it has become very painful.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You cannot hide love. Nor can you express it fully. This has been the story of love since ages. When there is love, it oozes out and you see it in your eyes, and in your actions. Love can never be hidden, and yet it can never be expressed fully. However much you try to express it, you find you have not been able to express it the way you want to. This is the problem, and the pain comes with it.
It is the same for truth also. You cannot avoid truth, and at the same time you cannot define it either.
Similarly, beauty is something that you cannot renounce. And yet you cannot possess it also. That is why the human race is in such a problem. They want all these things – love, truth and beauty.
Tell me, who does not want the truth? Can you tolerate it if everyone around you tells lies to you? You will boil from inside. You cannot accept it. You expect everyone to be truthful to you. Don’t you? If not everybody, you expect at least some people to be truthful to you. When you feel that too is lacking, you feel devastated. But are you truthful to everybody else around you? That is a big question mark. Which is why truth is something you cannot avoid or get rid of. Yet you cannot define, what truth is.
Whatever is the truth for you at this moment may not be the truth for someone else. Do you see what I am saying?
Say you believe in something as the truth. If you go a little beyond, you find ‘Oh, what I believed as the truth was false’.
How many of you have had this experience, where you thought something as the truth, only to find out that it was not the way you thought about it. Raise your hands. (Many raise their hands)
So how can you ascertain what is truth? Can you define what truth is? No.
Have you heard the story of Akbar and Birbal (referring to the famous Mughal emperor Akbar and his intelligent minister Birbal)?
I have told that story before. There was this emperor in India whose name was Akbar. One day he got an idea to pass a law that anyone who tells lies will be hanged and sent to the gallows. So when this law was announced, there was panic in the kingdom.
First, all the merchants got together, and said, ‘This is a draconian law. Whenever we sell our fare, we always say that this is the best product available. When we sell silk, we sell it by saying that this is the best silk available, knowing fully well that it is not the best. You get better quality silk down south. But we have to sell our products also. What do we do? We cannot run our business otherwise’.
Then came the doctors’ community. The doctors discussed among themselves, ‘Whenever we give some medicine, it is after guessing the problem. We give the medicine hoping it will cure the patient, but still we assure the patient that it will certainly cure him of his problem and make him better. Suppose it does not work, then we too will be sent to the gallows’.
So the doctors said thought the king has gone crazy. They could not carry on with this law; so the entire medical community was shaken as well.
Then came the astrologers. They said, ‘This man is out to destroy our business. While making predictions, we understand some things and guess certain things and then give the prediction’.
So the astrologers in Akbar’s kingdom also got terrified. They thought this law would be disastrous and they would have to run away somewhere to make their living, probably to America!
Then came the lawyers’ group. They thought to themselves, ‘This law is unfair. We always make a living by proving black is white and white is black. That is why people come to us’. So the lawyers too were in trouble.
Then the priests were also in trouble.
So every community was in great trouble because of this law. They all thought, ‘Now who will bell the cat and save us from this law?’
Then they caught hold of Birbal, who was a wise man and also a court jester. He was very dear to the emperor. Birbal heard all their troubles.
So one day, Birbal was walking into the king’s inner chamber and the guards stopped him. They asked him, ‘Where are you going?’
He replied, ‘I am going to get myself hanged’, which was obviously not true.
This news soon reached the emperor. Birbal had indeed lied by saying that he was going into the king’s chamber to get hanged. But if they hanged him now, then what he had said would have been true, and by hanging him, they would have actually punished an innocent guy.
In those days, if a king punished an innocent person, then he too would have to suffer the punishment as well. This was the rule in those days. It was the biggest crime.
Now, if the king allowed him to go free without any punishment, then it would be breaking his own law. And if he punished him, he would be breaking another law. So the emperor was in a state of confusion. He called all his scholars and debated this.
‘What do we do about Birbal in this case?’ The emperor asked them.
‘Birbal had indeed lied in this case. So do you punish him or not?’
Then Birbal came and said, ‘See, truth is not what is expressed or what is said. Truth is what is. And to know what is, is a different thing altogether’.
So they removed the law and everyone lived happily thereafter. That is the end of the story.
So, truth is not that which you speak (it is not limited by words). It is that which is beyond time - past, present and future. That which stands the test of time is what truth is. That is why truth can never be defined.
You also cannot avoid the truth. The same is the case with beauty. Beauty cannot be renounced. If there is something you can renounce, then that can never be beauty. And beauty cannot be possessed also. Got it?
These are the three essential components of human existence.