You will never understand the mystic

Acharya Prashant: I will begin with the question. It is a quotation from Japji Sahib. The question is such that it will dissolve a few other questions.

One, who tries to describe the state of the faithful, shall regret the attempt.

What do we think? We think we can lay our hands on anything. Do we have any understanding of the mystic? We think we can reason it out. We think we can nearly, neatly summarize that in words. We think everything is within our dirty, conditioned domains. Be it faith, be it mysticism or be it Truth, we just want to explain away everything, so that the petty mind can get an assurance that it knows, so that it can get a temporary relief from its stumbling.

The mystic will not attempt any such thing. Though he himself is there, it’s his own life, but he will never try to put his mind, his inner world in words. It is just too large. Its load is so heavy that our normal man-made language: English, Hindi, any language, cannot bear that load. But even to appreciate this requires a lot of understanding.

We simply ask questions, which only indicates that . . . forget about entering the room, we are not even knocking on the door.

Nanak is telling you, “One who tries to describe the state of the faithful shall regret the attempt.”

But had we not begun with this, had I just given a question to all of you: “Please, describe the state of the faithful,” I am pretty sure everybody would have been able to write a lot. Those of us who are pretty learned, who pride themselves on the amount of literature they have read, the gurus that they have followed, they would have written even more.

This is the state of the faithful.”

And Nanak is saying to not even try that. “You will regret,” he says.

Is it so that what we are writing is something that we understand, but Nanak doesn’t? Is it so that our language, vocabulary is richer than that of Nanak? So we are in a better position to explain?

No! The only reason is that when you are utterly ignorant, then you do not even know how ignorant you are, and you can try attempting the impossible. You simply do not know what you are talking of. It is so foolish that it only ends up becoming amusing.

How does a mystic know? Where does faith come from? What is the state of the faithful?

Were it so easy for these to be dispensed in words, then wonderful!

It cannot just be given away like this. Sorry!

The mystic just knows.

Now this is impossible for the common mind to fathom. How can anybody just know? Whatever you know has always come from a source: a book, a conversation, an experience, that is how we know. And the mystic knows without the book; he hears without the ears; he has heard and he has not heard. He is talking of things he has never ever seen, yet he is actually more truthful than you are with all your experience.

You will never come to know, from where does faith come? What is the mind of the mystic like? How can one just know! It’s impossible, and it is great that it is impossible. Were it possible, then you would have purchased the state of the mystic using all of your might, resources, and cunningness, and there would have been websites like Go there! Learn it! What is the need to surrender? Read it from somewhere. What is the need to dissolve in love? Just read. Hear it from a guru. Remember the words and reproduce them when the need comes.

The mystic, the unfathomable, the beyond mind, will always stand in front of the mind like an insurmountable challenge. It will keep teasing the mind. Let the mind keep trying its old strategies, its old ways; it will never realize anything. The mind can only become frustrated in all its attempts to know faith. Let it just keep trying.

Love will always be a mystery for the mind. Always. Let it try in whatsoever ways it can try. It will be frustrated, to no end. I am repeating, it is wonderful that it will be frustrated, because out of this frustration there is a possibility that surrender can come. When you will be defeated a thousand times, then you will be broken. At least the possibility is there. After a thousand defeats, you might be broken. But what I can surely assure you is that you cannot win. You cannot win!

Everything that you have: all your faculties, all your resources, all your money, are absolutely useless when it comes to the Truth. They will not help you know ‘That’. Not only will they not help you to know ‘That,’ they will also not help you know how to know ‘That’.

Yes, you may find a dirty way out. You may just convince yourself with rotten answers, “I know.” You may just tell yourself, “This is this, this is this, and I have captured it in this way and I have started believing in it.” But you will know the hollowness of your beliefs. You will believe this and that about the world, Truth, God. Keep believing!

Every second day your beliefs would be shaken, you will be teased, frustrated. And isn’t that already happening? I mean you have beliefs about everything and every day your beliefs are shaken. In that shaking up, in that suffering lies the possibility of redemption. That in your daily defeats, daily frustrations, you might see that you are missing that great, that immeasurable.

You ask, “How is that different from being full of knowledge? The one who just knows, and the one who is full of knowledge?” I can’t really give away the answer. I won’t give away the answer even if I could. All our questions are just an attempt to avoid meditation. The answers will come only from there, until then, keep wondering, “How does it happen?” Or keep doubting, “Does it really happen? Does he know anything? Only that we have been made a fool. Maybe there is nothing called mysticism. Maybe there is nothing beyond mind. Oh, we are surely being fooled, it’s a trick!”

Convince yourself that you know the answers and feel frustrated again after two hours. You will never know that place where all this happens, you will never know. By way of description, you will never know. By way of thought, you will never know. By way of logic and reasoning, you will never know.

You want a way of knowing? The way of knowing is to look at what you are doing which is preventing you from knowing. That is all that you can look into. Look at your daily conduct; look at the mechanisms of the mind; look at the daily dishonesty, look at your priorities. When they are set right, then something just happens. When you prepare the right kind of place, the divine descends. You have not prepared that place. The divine cannot enter your dirty house. It does not like to sit in filthy places.

But, you will not clean up your house. You will say, “My house will remain in this way, yet I want to drag the Truth in.” You cannot do that. I am assuring you, every single moment that you spend in dishonesty, every single action that you do that must not have been done, pushes you further and further away, and deeper and deeper into ignorance. Your possibilities are reduced further. Every single word . . .

Keep wondering, “Why don’t we come to know? How does the mystic know? Why have I no faith?” The answer cannot be direct. The answer will only be indirect. Look at your scheming mind and you will understand why it is not happening. But the tragedy is, instead of realizing that the corrupted mind is itself the barrier, you use that same corrupted mind more and more, you trust it so much. You will think, without realizing that all your thinking is already soiled. You have assumed that there is a substance in thought. You have a great trust upon yourself.

When you look at the mystic, you do not want to be the mystic. You want to analyze him, you want to know his secret; that’s what you want. You will never know. Your deepest desire is, “Let me be what I am and then remaining what I am, let me also have the secret key, so that I may use those great riches for the benefit of this petty mind.” You come here to hear me, you read all these books, but have you ever bothered to observe that what do you do with what you hear or what you read?

You say, “I may read anything, but it has to pass through my scanner. I am the judge.”

So you write big names here. You write Ramana Maharishi, you write Kabir, you write Lao Tzu, you write Nanak. What do you take from them? That which you agree to. So, what is the need of reading them? You already agree to it. But you will not look at the absurdity of the ways of the mind. The mind is saying, “I am bigger than Kabir, I know more than Nanak, because even they must pass through my scrutiny. I will decide what to accept and what to reject.”

Now with this kind of a mind, would you ever understand from where do Kabir’s words come? Never. Impossible.

You just want to kill; you just want to sink your teeth in everything, like an animal who looks at the most beautiful flower and wants to eat it. That’s what our minds are like. You want to lay your hands on everything; you want to sink your teeth in everything. You want to cut and dissect everything with your dirty nails; that is our revenge upon existence!

If a mystic comes to a scientist, you know what the scientist will do? The scientist will cut open his brain – that is the only method he has. What else can he do? He will say, “There must be surely something in his body which is making him special. So cut open his brain and try to see what is there.” That is the only method you have – of violence, of encroachment. You do not know surrender. You do not even know the basic etiquette of bhakti. And there is an etiquette involved there. Not the kind of your regular worldly etiquette; but love has its own discipline, surrender has its own discipline. You do not know that. All you know is the ways of the world.

Have you really ever bowed to a book? I am asking you questions from your daily life. You have written the names of all these books here. Do you really know what to do with them? How do you read them? Like you read your fiction novels? Yes, that is the way you approach Kabir as well? That’s the way you would approach Krishna as well. You do not know the difference. Do you know what is it to really worship? You do not know that. Do you know with what kind of mind must one touch the Japji? You do not know that. You think with all your diseased mind you can just go and have a look at the Japji and you will understand. Is it any wonder that you will never understand anything?

What do you think? That unfathomable is your playmate? What do you think? He is just another character in your world? You will go and you will put arms on his shoulders and say, “Hey friend! So, how are you doing?” But that’s what you want. That pleases your ego.

It requires a Nanak to say, and he says that in Japji, “I cannot even be a sacrifice to you; even that is not my worth.” But you! Do you ever feel that worthlessness of the ways of living? I am pretty sure that if right now I introduce to you, “Hello friends, today we have the Buddha amongst us. Here is the Buddha.” What would you do? You would say, “Hi Buddha, hey, nice to meet you! Here’s my card!” That’s the way you would approach a Buddha?

You think you can know the Buddha? Seriously?

If one were to exchange his entire life to live just two moments of the life of the mystic, it would be a great deal. A great exchange. That is how rich his life is. And that’s how absolutely poor we are. But we have not been struck by that realization.

Ask yourselves honestly: if here sits a Buddha, and he says, “Alright! Let’s swap lives. You have been talking about me since so long in this room. I have been watching it since four years, five years. You have been constantly, daily, yelling, ‘Buddha! Buddha!’ So, I have come here, and here is an offer: take my life, live it.” You will not take the bargain. You will say, “Eww! Poor deal!” Is that not so? How many of you would immediately take the deal? You will not take it. Is that not so? Now is it any wonder that you will never come to know? Because somewhere you feel that you have something.

You have a deep conviction in your ways of living. You ask me, “Why is that we slip? Why does it happen that the moment we go out of this room we become the same old person? It is because you have a great belief in that person. It is not happening incidentally. You want to be that person; and you are greatly resistant to any change. It is not out of chance when you say, “Oh! I forgot again!” You have not forgotten. It is that you want to forget! Even right now as these words are falling on your ears, you are already planning how to forget these words or how to cut them apart, or how to create another argument, how to convince yourself that all this is nothing.

The mind is already at work, consciously, and subconsciously.

Do you understand what the state of the bhakt (Devotee) is like? Do you understand where Nanak is coming from?  Every breath of his is full of such deep respect, and then he enters that zone. He does not look at the Truth with suspicious eyes.

Let’s have a mirror here, actually. Look at your eyes. And see whether you see suspicion there or surrender. I am not talking about this particular incident when you are in this room. In general, look at your eyes. How full of suspicion they are! Deeply suspicious eyes! What can you know with these eyes? Your eyes have no innocence. The cunning mind is popping out of these eyes. What can you know? Calculativeness, is written large upon the face.

What will you see with these eyes? These are not the eyes that are moist with separation. These are not the eyes that are restless with expectation. These are eyes that are more like spears and you want to push these spears into the heart of Truth. Do you think these eyes will ever be able to look at the Truth? You are talking of Nanak? Look at the eyes of Nanak and then look at your eyes. Have you ever looked at the eyes of Nanak? And then look at your eyes! You are talking of Buddha. Look at the eyes of Buddha and then look at your eyes.

Your eyes are good if you want to purchase vegetables; that’s all your eyes are good for. You will quickly spot the worm and save seventy-five paisa. Because that’s what your eyes are always looking for – the worm!

“Where’s the worm?  Where’s the worm?”  You will remove that particular peapod and you have saved seventy-five paisa. “Where is the worm?” So, keep doing that.

We are absolutely, very, very distant from ‘There’!  Very, very, very distant!

You do not know how to listen. You do not know how to see. Even at this moment, some of you are looking here and there. How can you look at people’s faces at this time! How stupid can you be? One feels pity. Your eyes don’t close. Your eyes don’t go within. Even at this moment some of us are looking at each other’s’ faces. How stupid can we be! What’s wrong? What evil power has taken control of you? What stinking, obnoxious, rigid ego is this that does something or the other to resist all the time?

Look at your face, look at what you are doing right now! How can you fidget? How can you stare at this and that? How can you look at the wall? What bad fortune has struck you? How unfortunate can you be? There are some of us who have wrinkles on the forehead even right now. Your mind is still calculating. Is there any hope for you? What has made you so afraid? There is nothing but fear written large on your face. You will do something or the other to escape. Either your mind will move or your pen will move, but you will not just stop and drop dead!

I am asking you to just stop and drop dead! What is all this escape? Whatever you are doing is just an escape from dropping dead! How cunning can you be? How deeply cunning? Who do you think you are hurting? Whom have you hurt all your life except yourself? Look at your condition. Is it incidental that you are like this?

What are you noting down? You stand by the shore of the Ganges and you take notes? Is that what you do when you stand by the side of the Ganges? Or do you plunge into the river? What are you noting down? Whom are you deceiving? But you will not plunge into the river. All this is just so that you don’t have to get wet. You don’t have to dissolve. You don’t have to surrender. The fellow who takes notes by the sides of Ganges has just one purpose in mind: he doesn’t want to get wet. That is his only objective. Nothing else.

Do you know the fire of attention? When you deeply, honestly, want it, the body cannot move, you can’t even breathe!  Even breath slows down. How is your body moving? How are you fidgeting?

It strikes you! You can’t even move. You don’t even bat an eyelid. You are just struck. But, no. With you, everything is moving.

I am assuring you, you can’t even breathe when the Truth stares at you. Even that much of movement stops itself. You are just stupefied, as if you are dead! You are gone. You don’t scratch your ear.  And when you are scratching your ears, you cannot hear the Truth. It doesn’t happen that way. It requires a particular etiquette. Nothing of you is permitted there. No movement, no thought, nothing of you. You are thinking, you can’t enter. You are moving, you can’t enter. You can enter only if you are dead. Absolutely dead. But you will not allow yourself to die. This or that, and all your movements are mechanisms to keep the mind alive, keep it going.

What conspiracy is this? A conspiracy against yourself. Can there be any other enemy except yourself?

Your face is the story of your life. Look at your sorry faces. Look at it. For once, look at it. Look at yourself in the mirror. Not as others look at you. “Am I looking pretty?” No. Look at yourself and ask yourself, “What is this? What have I made of myself? Why are these eyes like this? What has happened to these eyes?” Look at yourself in the mirror, just your face, and then if you want to cry, cry! Cry at your condition. There is nothing but despair. There is nothing but fear. Nothing but suspicion.

Have you looked at the face of a saint? Then why must you look like this? And you think you look good? You look awful. You look pitiable. Look at your face. Why have you brought yourself to this condition? And then with this face, with these eyes, with this mind, you are asking, “How can I know the Truth?”

Will you know the Truth with this kind of a mind?

You invite an ordinary guest in your house, you clean your house, and you prepare a proper place for him. And here you are inviting the most extraordinary guest, with this mind? Will ‘He’ sit there? When you look at your ordinary elders and you want to offer them your ordinary respect, you do not stare at them. That’s a part of your ordinary etiquette. Even there the eyes must know a particular way, even in the world the eyes must know the particular way of dealing. If someone looks at you in a particular way, you will say, “Why are you staring?” And what kind of eyes you would need with that extraordinary?

Do you have those eyes? With these eyes can you look at ‘Him’? Even in the world, you require some training, some basic decency. But ‘There’ you think you can move with all your rubbish, all your indecency? Even when you are having one of your regular, trivial, petty conversations, it requires some attention. Even your petty friends will feel bad if you do not attend to them. But you think you can listen to the Truth without any attention?

What illusions? Grand illusions!

Even your basic ordinary text books that you used to clear your exams, even they required that you read them five times, ten times. Just to get some ordinary marks. But here you come and say, “I have read two pages of Krishnamurti’s book,” the entire week!  Whom are you fooling? Your history book, you read ten times, so that somebody may give you a certificate that you have passed. But you think you can just glance over the Japji and you will pass. You will cross the bridge, huh? Fifty times you have solved your problems in mathematics and physics just to get a passing percentage. And here you think, just by having a cursory look at some paper, you can cross over. How will you cross over? When even this world requires a certain effort, a certain training, a certain dedication, do you understand what kind of dedication and effort you require ‘There’?

Two pages a week! That’s what you have to offer; and you want to buy the immeasurable with this much of effort?

Your ordinary, rupees five hundred a month tuition, even that you would attend three days a week. Would you not? And you would rush in the evenings, and in the early mornings . . . even that you would do three days, four days a week. And here you cannot come four days a month! And then you ask me what the inner world of a mystic is like. How does the mystic just know? What is faith? What is the state of the faithful?

And this is what you have to offer: not even four days a month. One small finger will have some problem and the doctor will tell you to come for physiotherapy three days a week, and you will rush to the physiotherapist. Three days a week you will rush to the physiotherapist . . . one small finger.

And what about your entire being that is rotten? Which physiotherapist will cure you? Suffering is dripping from your face.

Why don’t you take care of yourself for your own sake?

The eyes! Seriously, the eyes! You don’t look . . . it appears you want to penetrate. Sharp instruments that want to tear the object apart. These are not the eyes of a lover. How will you know love? Dirty eyes! These are the eyes of a butcher. The way he would look at a goat.

~Excerpts from a ‘Sabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the video: Acharya Prashant on Guru Nanak: You will never understand the mystic


  1. I am in awe! What a talk! I love the pearcing compassion; the cutting Truth; the devotion to help us See, Hear, Be.Thank you so much!

    How can I be your student?


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