The 33voices Dialogue – Kapil Gupta on Self-Imposed Misery and What To Do About It

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Key Takeaways
  • The concept of self-image seems to govern our entire lives
  • “At the end of the day, a human being is a prisoner to his mind, and ultimate freedom is freedom from the mind, and freedom from the self”
  • No one can be prescribed their way to anything
    • “The desperation creates the how. It is not the other way around”
  • When you want something bad enough, the universe conspires to help you
    • “I think the universe is created such that if there is a certain level of desperation, things begin to happen that cannot be explained, that will help you get to where you want to be”
  • Difficulty is just making yourself do something that you don’t really want to do
  • The majority opinion is always wrong
  • “You do not need to fix anything, you need to see everything”
  • Attachment ruins the quality of one’s life.
    • It leads to fear, anxiety, pain, misery, strife, hope, and disappointment. These become the only things you know.
    • “The real tragedy isn’t death, the real tragedy is life”
Intro
What’s something new Kapil has learned, that he didn’t realize before?
  • The concept of self-image seems to govern our entire lives
  • “The fundamental realization of who one really is, and who one is not, I think is truly at the foundation of living a true life, as opposed to struggling through life”
    • Kapil opens his new book, Direct Truth, by discussing this
  • How do we begin to answer the question of “Who am I?”
    • “It relates to the things that one can no longer accept as alright”
    • In order to change your situation in life, there has to a level of desperation or unbearability – that’s all you need to change direction
      • “Once something is no longer okay, then a path away from that is sought”
    • Has Kapil answered this question for himself? Or is it more of a constant quest?
      • “I don’t really believe in constant quests, because that very quickly turns into procrastination. That’s the fundamental nature of human beings, to  procrastinate about everything.”
        • There has to be an end point
What is Kapil’s “end point”?
  • Total freedom – “I just haven’t gotten there yet”
    • “It’s still a quest, but by no means an infinite quest”
    • “It isn’t okay to live in an imprisoned sort of way to the nuances and behaviors or the mind”
  • “At the end of the day, a human being is a prisoner to his mind, and ultimate freedom is freedom from the mind, and freedom from the self”
No Prescriptions
  • Examples of prescriptions – “Watch your thoughts,” “Be present,” or “Start subtracting everything that isn’t supposed to be there”
    • “You just can’t say it that easily, because you have to be cognizant of the fact that the people listening to you, are not the people themselves, but their minds”
  • Be careful though – Saying “I can’t follow X because it’s a prescription” is a prescription in and of itself
  • “A prescription serves only its own end”
    • “Nobody can be prescribed their way to success, no one can be prescribed their way to enlightenment”
    • Look at the evidence – How many Tiger Woods or Michael Jordans are walking around?
      • How many Buddhist monks read countless Buddhist teachings, meditate for hours on end every day, and still haven’t reached “enlightenment” ? – Lots
    • When you are told – “This is what you must do”…your mind will focus solely on the “this” – the prescription itself, replaces the original goal
    • Whenever you give someone a “how to get there”, they will forever get to the “how”, they will never get to the “there”
    • “No one can be prescribed their way to anything”
How can we become the best versions of ourselves?
  • “If I drop you into a lake, and you can’t swim, you’re not going to ask me how to flail your arms”
    • You will do everything and anything necessary to get yourself to shore, and it will have nothing to do with your swimming skills
    • “The desperation creates the how. It is not the other way around.”
  • How does Kapil define that desperation?
    • “Everyone is desperate for something” – But very few people reach the level of desperation Kapil is talking about
    • “I think the ones who are sufficiently desperate, always reach” – either by luck, or being in the right place at the right time, etc.
    • “Whenever someone has a sufficient level of desire or desperation, they don’t not reach it”
  • Kapil doesn’t believe in failure, or specifically ultimate failure
    • You may fail along the way, but – “Everything’s experimentation until you succeed, but ultimate failure is only for those who are not desperate enough”
    • “I think the universe is created such that if there is a certain level of desperation, things begin to happen that cannot be explained, that will help you get to where you want to be”
  • “When there is an uncompromising pursuit and exploration of the truth about a given issue in someone’s life, there are fundamental physiologic, biological, and universal changes that begin to happen”
    • It’s almost mystical
    • “Something within the human organism responds to uncompromising and direct truth”
      • Why? – Perhaps because it’s so foreign in our world to talk about anything that is direct truth
      • Humans are so superficial, cosmetic, and prescriptive, that it’s so foreign to delve into the rarefied arena of direct truth
All Conflict is Self-Conflict
  • Let’s use the example of someone’s anxiety:
    • The goal isn’t to simply lessen their anxiety and make them feel better – “Whenever you feel better, sooner or later you’ll feel worse again”
    • “The real exploration of the truth comes when you begin to dive deep, into the very root, the unimaginable root, of where those anxieties really come from, without any expressed intent of trying to lessen the anxiety”
    • This is very different from what people are used to – we treat the surface issue, instead of dissecting the root cause
  • Another example:
    • If someone upsets you, or angers you…
      • The question is NOT “How do I not get upset/angry?”, but instead, really dive into why this anger arose
      • Normally it arises because when someone is insulted, part of them begins to entertain the fact that they are, in fact, what the other person called them
        • If someone calls you an idiot, and you get upset, what’s most likely happening is you’re entertaining the fact that you are actually an idiot – this creates self-conflict, because the other part of your mind will say “no I’m not”
        • This internal conflict manifests itself as anger
      • If someone called you a horse, you wouldn’t get upset or angry, because there would be no part of you that would entertain the fact that you’re actually a horse
  • “A constant revisiting of the cause of one’s problems, eventually begins to create an understanding within a person, which begins to free him or her from the problems they are imprisoned to”
Why do most of us need the approval of other people?
  • “Because we are not whole, and therefore we look to any and all arenas, in order to fill the holes within ourselves”
  • “When there is no need to fill a hole, there’s freedom”
    • The pursuit switches from “How do I garner and accumulate enough validation in order to patch up these holes?” to “How do I become whole, so that I no longer need to fill up any holes?”
Ease and Difficulty
  • Why do humans get stuck with our minds?
    • “Because we believe the mind to be ourselves”
  • “Everything is easy, it just depends on one’s level of desire”
    • “There is no difficult” – Difficulty is just making yourself do something that you don’t really want to do
    • “Easy is the congruence of what you’re doing, with what you really want to do”
  • Society has been teaching human beings for millennia, that you have to give penance, you must suffer and work hard, and sweat in order to get somewhere (like in education, religion etc.)
    • “Man has fallen in love with the sweat and the blood and the struggle, and he’s forgotten why he was struggling in the first place”
    • The struggle becomes the goal – just like the prescription becoming the goal
Societal Conditioning
  • People who arrive at the pinnacle of their craft, in any field, tend not to do what others do. They tend to be contrarian. They tend to be loners. They tend to go against the grain. They tend to be part of the fringe element. It isn’t by accident.”
  • “The common socializing groupie, is not the individual that becomes elite. He gets what everyone else gets.”
  • “If you walk into any discipline or area, and knowing nothing about it, say ‘Whatever your prevailing dogmas are, they’re wrong!’ because the majority view is always wrong
    • The majority opinion is always wrong
  • There’s a saying- “If you find yourself on the side of the majority, you’re probably heading in the wrong direction” – Kapil agrees with this
Attachment
  • Attachment is the “fundamental feat of human misery, and human strife”
  • The gurus and the Buddhists say “Don’t be attached”, but it’s kind of like saying “Be present” – those are more cosmetic, silly comments
  • “You do not need to fix anything, you need to see everything”
    • When one truly sees, only then does a journey towards non-attachment even become possible
    • A person trying to become unattached by prescriptive means – it’s not even possible for him to enter the journey to become unattached, because he will never escape the vortex of the prescription
    • It’s not about being “not attached”, it’s about seeing the chaos that ensues on account of attachment
    • “We as human beings do no act unless our back is against a wall, and the only way that our backs become against a wall, is if we truly see”
      • A human will commit because he has no choice, not because it’s good for him
    • “Knowledge is not powerful enough to make one change”
  • What would Kapil say to people who have lost their homes in the California fires?
    • “There’s no message I can give to soothe someone or make them feel better”
    • It’s certainly devastating, but what’s perhaps more devastating – “To live every day of one’s life under the weight of attachment, without even knowing it”
      • Most of us are living like this
      • You don’t need to wait for your house to burn down to realize how much attachment is governing your life
      • “It is far more devastating to live 70 years under the weight of attachment. It ruins the quality of one’s life. It leads to fear, anxiety, pain, misery, strife, hope, and disappointment. These become the only things you know.”
        • “The real tragedy isn’t death, the real tragedy is life”
  • What’s the alternative to attachment? – Freedom from the mind, freedom from attachment, freedom from seeking, freedom from hope, and freedom from wishing that tomorrow will be better than today and therefore never really arriving at tomorrow
What are some things we can do, to help us live lives of freedom?
  • “There might be 3 people listening to this podcast, that might become ready at some point in their life”
  • “It is understanding that your problems will never go away, no matter how elaborate the fix, the technique, or the methodology may be. You cannot escape your problems. And because you cannot escape your problems, you will live a life of torment and anxiety, inter-dispersed by a few joyful moments. That will be your life.”
    • “The only way out of that, is for what I just said to ABSOLUTELY not be okay”
What is Kapil most optimistic about?
  • “Nothing. I don’t believe in optimism”
  • What is Kapil looking forward to? – “Nothing. I do not want tomorrow to bring something, because if I want that, I’m going to keep looking over there. If I have a journey, if I have a devotion, it is to become 100% totally and completely free of all imprisonments of my mind.”
Does Kapil set goals?
  • No
  • What if he were running a public company, would he have goals?
    • You have to ask yourself, “What is the thing you truly want to achieve?” or “What is my arrival?”
    • “The arrival has far more to do with the deepest sense of unmitigated satisfaction than it does with achieving a sense of pleasure” 
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