'Know yourself and you know the world' - Socrates
Pride of Achievement
"I have worked hard and I now consider myself a very successful man. I would be a hypocrite
if I did not admit that I have a considerable amount of satisfaction and, yes, a certain amount of
pride too in my achievement. Would that be wrong?"
One evening a foreign visitor addressed Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj with these words. He was in
his mid forties — smug, self-confident and a bit aggressive. Conversation then proceeded along the
Before we consider what is 'right' and what is 'wrong', please tell me who is asking
(A bit startled) Why, 'me', of course.
And who is that?
Me. This 'me', who is sitting in front of you.
And you think that that is you?
You see me. I see myself. Where is the doubt?
You mean this object that is before me? What is your earliest recollection of this object that
you think you are. Think as far back as you can.
(After a minute or two) The earliest recollection would perhaps be of being caressed and
cuddled by my mother.
You mean, as a tiny infant. Would you say that the successful man of today is the same
helpless infant, or is it someone else?
It is undoubtedly the same
Good. Now, if you think further back, would you agree that this infant, which you can
recollect, is the same baby that was born to your mother, that was once too helpless even to realize
what was happening when its little body was going through its natural physical functions, and could
only cry when it was hungry or in pain?
Yes, I was that baby.
And before the baby acquired its body and was delivered what were you?
I don't understand.
You do understand. Think. What happened in your mother's womb? What was developing
into a body with bones, blood, marrow, muscles etc., over a period of nine months? Was it not a
male sperm cell that combined with ovum in the female womb thus beginning a new life and, in the
process, going through numerous hazards? Who guarded this new life during this period of hazards?
Is it not that very infinitesimally tiny sperm cell which is now so proud of his achievements? And
who asked particularly for
you? Your mother? Your father? Did they particularly want you for a
son? Did you have anything to do with being born to these particular parents?
I am afraid, I really haven't thought along these lines.
Exactly. Do think along these lines. Then perhaps you will have some idea of your true
identity. Thereafter, consider if you could possibly be proud of what you have 'achieved'.
I think, I begin to understand what you are driving at.
If you go deeper into the matter, you will realize that the source of the body—the male
sperm and the female ovum— is in itself the essence of food consumed by the parents; that the
physical form is made of, and fed by, the five elements constituting the food; and also that quite
often the body of one creature does become the food for another creature
But, surely, I, as such, must be something other than this food-body.
Indeed you are, but not some 'thing'. Find out what it is that gives sentience to a sentient
being, that without which you would not even know that you exist, let alone the world outside. And
finally, go deeper yet and examine if this beingness, this consciousness itself is not time-bound.
I shall certainly go into the various questions you have raised, although I must confess that I
have never explored these areas before, and I feel almost giddy in my ignorance of the new spheres