Don’t Take The Kick

Shri Ranjit Maharaj has a very idiosyncratic way of teaching Advaita Vedanta. Consider but two instances (among many others) of his vivid references to “the kick”:

A realized person doesn’t get the kick, the world is there, but he has no kick of it.

Kick is the worst. The world is nothing, but the kick of the nothing is so strong. It never leaves you.”

(Illusion Vs. Reality: Dialogues with Shri Ranjit Maharaj, p. 142, p. 151.

What is this business about “getting” or “taking the kick”?

Your original nature is not touched by any occurrences. How, then, can we describe our apparent involvement in it?

Of course, we can appeal to maya, or the veil of illusion, but what might allow the teaching to come to life in our hands?

Perhaps the use of metaphor. When you get involved in a neighborhood or a social media soap opera, it certainly feels as if you’ve (a) taken the kick as well as (b) gotten your kicks. In the sense of (a), you got kicked: you took yourself to be a somebody and, in consequence, were not only kickable but were actually kicked. By virtue of apparently being somebody, you fell into participation in the drama; that move into participation is a first kick (a real wallop), and the subsequent entanglements in the ups and downs of this drama feel like so many more kicks (a real whooping). In brief, to get kicked is to experience what smarts. This is an especially colorful description of dukkha.

In the sense of (b), you find yourself overly fascinated with, indeed fixated on the world that is actually nothing (asat in Sanskrit). Here, you’re getting your kicks (like “getting your rocks off”) without realizing the steep price you’re paying for being able to kick. Fascination is the fever of the illusion, and as long as the fascination lasts, the drama will be believable and seemingly real.

It’s the last bit about what’s seemingly real that needs to be called out here. A kick, in the senses of (a) and (b), is a metaphor for the reality effect, the feeling that “the world” is “real” just because it keeps packing all kinds of punches. You seem to keep feeling it as you keep seemingly getting more and more involved in it.

The way out? See not just that you can’t be kicked but also that you have no legs. Realization (moksha) means can’t even possibly give or get the kick.