Is it necessary to have aims in life? || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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Question: Is it necessary to have aims in life?

Speaker:  Right now if you are asking this question, and you have an ‘aim’, would you be able to really know what I am saying? An ‘aim’ is already present in the mind, right? “I want this….I want X.” When you have an aim, you never say, “I want, but I do not know what I want.” ‘Aim’ means that you have something solid present in your mind. So if you have an aim, while asking this question, then an expectation of a particular answer would already be there in your mind. And if an expectation of a particular answer is there in your mind, will you be able to listen to what I am saying?

Chances are that my answer will have nothing to do with your expectation. You expected X, and I am giving you neither X, nor Y. You would be comparing, confused, and without any clarity. This is the case with all points in life, because whatever life has to offer you, is always new. So to approach it with an ‘aim’, only prevents you from realizing the facts, and entering the truth.

You see, you go to a supermarket. And what all does a supermarket has to offer? Everything. Everything, you name it, and you have it there. You have groceries, you have clothes, you have food products, you even have electronic items. You may even have cars being sold there. Whatever you use, is to be found in a supermarket. It is a huge supermarket, right? Everything under the sun is available there. And it contains thousands and thousands of things, products, that you have never seen before, that are totally new to you.

So the supermarket can offer you a lot of surprises, a lot of new stuff. But you go to the supermarket, already with an ‘aim’ that – “I want potatoes.” What do you want? “Potatoes.” So you enter the supermarket, and you say, “Potatoes.” And what will you get? Potatoes.

The great diversity that the supermarket has to offer, will not be available to you, because you already have an ‘aim’. You ‘aim’ potatoes, and you get potatoes.  And you do not even come to know that there is a great world, beyond ‘potatoes’. Do you see this? That is what happens with us.

All your aims come from your experience, right? Let us say that there is a new kind of vegetable there, which grows in New Zealand. Have you ever known it, or eaten it? If you have not known it, neither eaten it, can you go and demand it? You don’t even know its name, you don’t even know how it looks, you don’t even know whether it exists. So can you go and ask for it? You cannot ask for it. You can only ask for ‘potatoes’ because you have been eating potatoes since childhood.

Past‘Potatoes’ are a part of your past; they are a part of your experience. So you will go and ask for ‘potatoes’.

But by asking for anything from the past, you will only ensure that the past continues, and nothing new ever happens to you.

And ‘potatoes’ might not be what you need, because you are not what you were two years back. Your needs have changed.

How does one enter a supermarket? Unless there is a pressing need, for a specific thing, one enters a supermarket with an open mind. One enters to know, and enquire, and explore. Is that not so? You go there, and the whole universe is there. We are assuming that it is a large, large, very large supermarket. Everything is there. You do not go there with an ‘aim’, you go there just to roam. And in roaming, you discover such a lot; not with an aim, not with an ‘aim’.

Roam around. Do you know what I mean by ‘roaming around’? Purposelessly come to know of this and that, because if you have an aim, you cannot see, beyond the ‘aim’. Please understand this. And you being small, your aims are bound to be small. By having aims, you are ensuring that you will remain small always. Do not have aims; aims will limit you.

Explore, know, and that requires fearlessness. That requires openness. That requires that inner sureness that I am repeatedly referring to. “I have time, it’s alright. I am not seized, I am not under threat.” Do not make quick aims. “Everybody in my family is in a government job. So my aim is to do a government job.” But, do you know of anything other than a government job? And if you do not know anything other than that, how do you come to this aim?

Have you heard of the ‘frog inside the well’? What is the maximum that it can aim? To hop from here to there, to hop from here to there. Can it ‘aim’ the ocean? Can the frog in the well, ‘aim’ the ocean? That is how small your aims are, that is how limited your aims are. In fact the frog inside the well, cannot even ‘aim’ to come out of the well, because it does not know that there is a world outside the well. It thinks that the well is the world.

Amicable worldAnd that is the case with most of us.

We think that our small well is the world. There is a huge world outside your well, outside your aims. And you must not be in a hurry to know about it. This is good news, you must not feel threatened. The world outside is good, it is not a hostile world. You can come out and play. The world is not there to enslave you, or harm you, or torture you. No. It is an amicable world. Getting it?


The aims that you have today, did you have them five years back? The aims that you had at the age of twelve, did you have them at the age of six? Don’t you see that how you ‘aim’ only that much, which is a part of your experience? What are the aims of a six year old? And the aims change, when the fellow is sixteen years old. Don’t the aims change? So what is so sacred about your aims? Rest assured, just two more years, and you will find that all your old aims do not mean anything to you.

When these aims are ultimately to mean nothing, why give them so much importance? Why can’t you live aimlessly? And if you must make aims, make very short-term aims, very short-term. To decide what you are going to do for the rest of your life, sitting here, today, is foolishness.  It is alright to wake up, and decide, that – “Today I have to go to the bank, today I have to attend a few sessions, today I have to meet somebody” – that much is alright, that much is a part of daily living; very-very short-term goals.

Do your long-term goals materialize? If you make a time-table today, for the coming two years, what will happen to that time-table?  And if you want something so much that you want to do in next two years, why not do it right now? If you love something so much, that you would do it for next five years, then at least you should begin by doing it right now. Right now you are not doing it, but you are setting an ‘aim’ for the next one thousand years. Right now you won’t do it.

See how your aims prevent you from direct action, right now. “I am not studying today.” Why? “Because my time-table is made for tomorrow.” “I don’t want to study anything today,” so what will you do? “I will make an ‘aim’ to study tomorrow.” Why make an aim to study tomorrow? Study right now.

“I look at the book, and I feel sleepy.” So what do you do? “I make an ‘aim’ that I will get up in the morning, and read. Right now let me simply close the book, and doze-off, and set the alarm. Now I am happy. I have an ‘aim’ for the future.” And what happens at five in the morning? Snooze till seven o’clock. What happens at seven o’clock? Indefinite snooze… (Laughter).

But we keep on deceiving ourselves.  “It feels good. I have an aim at least. I have nothing else, but what do I have?”

Listeners: Aims.

Speaker: “What are your aims?” No. Don’t ask a fellow what his aims are, ask him what he IS. Aims, anybody can have.

You could be in the gutter, and aiming for the stars. Have you not seen drunkards? After midnight you can see them at all the places, on the streets, but they will be talking to the stars. The fellow is in the gutter, and talking to the stars.

(Laughingly) It is alright. You can smile.

Look at ‘yourself’, not at your aims.

Watch the session at: Prashant Tripathi: Is it necessary to have aims in life? The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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