What is understanding?

Speaker: The question asked is, ‘What is understanding?’

What is right there with us, completely available, is difficult to be described in the positive terms. Right! We will begin with what understanding is not.

Right now, as I look at you, you are sitting still, absolutely still. There is peace on your face and you are looking attentive. Are you thinking something at this moment?

Listener 1: No, Sir. It is difficult.

Speaker: Difficult, right. Could you really be listening to me, had you been thinking about something else? Would it have been possible for you to listen to me?

Listeners (everyone): No.

Speaker: Would it have been possible? Understanding is available. What is understanding? This is understanding. What is going on right now, is understanding. What understanding is not?

You asked me a question, ‘What is understanding?’ If you are already carrying a notion of what the word ‘understanding’ is all about, then will you be able to listen to my answer as I speak? Let us say you ask me, ‘What is ‘A’?’, but deep within you are already carrying a belief that ‘A’ is this. Now, if you are already holding on to that belief will you be really able to understand what I say? My words will fall upon your ears but they will not mean anything. It is because your mind is already holding on to an idea, a belief.

The first thing is that belief is not understanding. We begin with finding out what understanding is not. Understanding is not believing. If your mind is believing then it would be extremely difficult for it understand. You may as well say that belief is the enemy of understanding.

Belief is the enemy of understanding.

Understanding is not a process of the mind. It would require some going into it. Understanding is not a process of the mind because the process of the mind is thought. All that the mind can do is think. Mind lives in thoughts. If you are not thinking, there actually is no mind. If you are not thinking, where is the mind? Understanding is not a thought. Understanding, hence is not a result of analysis.

In your scientific processes, how do you say that you understand? How do you say that you understand? You get a problem in mathematics and you start solving it. Ultimately you get what you call as the solution of the problem. So, there is a situation, what you call as the problem, then there is the analysis and then there is the solution. Understanding is not this. Understanding is not a product of the analysis.

Understanding is merely being present.  You do not have to analyze. You don’t have to ‘do’ anything. It is because all doing is contained in the mind. Let us have a small demonstration here, now. Can anybody here claim that he is listening even for fifteen minutes, twenty minutes? Nobody.

(Addressing one of the listeners) Anuj have you listened, at least for some time?

Listener (named Anuj): Yes, Sir.

Speaker: When you were listening, were you doing something? You were listening. When you were listening, were you doing something?

Listener 2: I was just listening.

Speaker: Just listening. Now, this ‘just listening is not a process. Listening is not analysis. Listening implies that the mind is not doing anything, just listening. What does ‘just listening’ mean? It means not doing anything at all. Just sitting and listening. You don’t require a process; you don’t require a mental activity. You are just there, what I call as ‘being present’. Understanding is just happening.

So, the first thing is that understanding is not a belief. Second, understanding is not an activity of the mind. Kindly do not think that you understand something by applying some mental process on it. What are these mental processes?

Mind hates, divides, compares, analyzes, that is what the mind does. Understanding does not come from that. Understanding is just like that. Just listening. Just being present to life. If you are there completely, you will understand.

To the mind that has been dealing with processes and processes, methods, short-cuts and formulae, all throughout the education system, to that mind all this will appear a little difficult to take.

So, understanding does not involve any doing. I do not have to do anything. No, in fact you have to stop all your doing. You don’t have to do anything to understand. You just have to be at peace, just still.  Those who are still right now are really understanding. Those who are doing something right now, they are not understanding.

First, you cannot understand if you say that you already know. So, we say that understanding is not believing. We say that belief is the enemy of the understanding because you think that you already know. That is what belief is, ‘I already know’. If you think that you already know then you cannot understand.

Second, it is not a mental application. It is not like, ‘I will go there, compare it, watch it, break it, and apply logic and argument to it’.  No, this does not lead to understanding. Are you getting it?

Understanding is just being present to anything. You are looking at a tree and you understand the tree. You do not compare the tree to something else, not to a rocket launcher, not to an animal, not a building. You just look at the tree. You want to know a human being, you do not go to the human being and start analyzing. You come in complete contact with him, a particular intimacy.

Do you understand intimacy? It means coming in close contact with something. That is what understanding is. That cannot happen if you are thinking and processing all the time. The word that is very close to ‘understanding’ is, attention. This intimacy, this being in complete contact without the mind being active, this is called attention.

Attention is the environment in which understanding happens.

-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

View the session at: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=MBUFbpcs8wo


    1. There are various opportunities to connect to and meet Acharya Prashant. These are:

      1. Meet the Master:

      Meet the Master program is rare opportunity to meet Acharya Prashant personally, either physically or online. To meet the Master, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917.

      2. Advait Learning Camps:

      Advait Learning Camps are monthly retreats organized under Acharya Prashant’s guidance. These camps are about spending four days and three nights in the lap of nature, while reading, reflecting, learning and evolving. So far, scores of ALCs have been organised in places like Rishikesh, Mukteshwar, Jim Corbett National Park, Chopta, KainchiDham, etc.
      Additionally, we organize dedicated bonding camps for kids and parents. To participate in the camp, write an e-mail to requests@prashantadvait.com, or call: Sh. Anshu Sharma at +91-8376055661.

      3. Course in Realization:

      Course in Realization, a classroom-based learning program led by Acharya Prashant, is an initiative towards disseminating clarity and intelligence in the world. In this course, a rigorous study of a scripture or a saint is undertaken each month.
      To join in, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Sh. Apaar: +91-9818591240

      4. Month of Awakening:

      For those who cannot attend sessions physically, the foundation does online streaming of few selected sessions via Skype or Webinar. Known as Month of Awakening, this facility offers live streaming of sessions and helps seekers listen to Acharya-Ji while being where they are.
      To receive the blessing, send your application to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917

      5. Blessings from Beyond:

      Weekends with Acharya Prashant brings you the unique opportunity for a 2 day 2 night stay with the Master every month at Advait Ashram, Greater Noida. The getaway involves two mystical days of dynamic activities, explorations of the self, sports, meditative reading, deep reflections, midnight walks and more.
      To get a taste of the beyond, register yourself at requests@prashantadvait.com or contact Ms. Anu Batra:+91-9555554772

      6. Triyog:

      Daily morning 2 hour Yog feast for your total well-being. Comprising of
      Hatha Yog, Bhakti Yog and Gyan Yog.

      Send your application, write to: requests@prashantadvait.com Or to register: Contact: Shri Kundan Singh: +91-9999102998
      Venue: Advait Bodhsthal, Greater Noida, India.

      This reply comes to you from volunteers of PrashantAdvait Foundation who maintain this channel.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s