The simple words of the Teacher are not understood by a complex mind || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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Speaker: A few verses of Ramana Maharshi have been quoted here:

  1. The Heart means the very core of one’s being, the center, without which there is nothing.
  2. The Heart is not physical, but spiritual.
  3. The Heart is center of all.
  4. Brahman is Heart.

And the question is, what is Heart?

You need not ask me what the Heart is. You just need to pay attention to these statements; that is sufficient. Read them once, twice, thrice, again and again and that will be enough. The statements are quite simple; there is nothing in them that really needs elaboration. Rather you need to blend your mind clearly to them. That is all that is needed.

Not much can be added to what Maharishi has already said. So let me repeat, ’Heart means the very core of one’s being, the center, without which there is nothing’.  For the purpose of emphasis, one could just say, ’without which there is not even nothing.

 ’Heart means the very core of one’s being, the center, without which there is nothing. The Heart is not physical it’s spiritual. The Heart is center of all. And Brahman is Heart’.

This question is a classic example of what often happens when you come across the words of a Real Teacher. You do not need an elaboration, an explanation or a commentary there. More often than not, words are already in the most elementary, unitary and basic form. Any commentary would actually only complicate the matter rather than simplifying it. But because we are not used to simplicity, we feel as if there is a secret in these words, we feel as if there is something hidden there to unravel, in which we need help.

There is nothing hidden there, don’t ask for help. Instead, pay attention! Look at it simply. That is more important. That is sufficient. The ‘Heart means the very core of one’s being, the center, without which there is nothing’. These words are already there. And also remember that had there been a need to further simplify, Maharishi would have done it by himself.

Truth - direct, obvious and simpleThe Teacher does not speak to confuse you. He has no interest in throwing riddles around. He wants to help you. So he has said something. His words are like the Truth – direct, obvious and simple. But to a complicated mind, the obvious and the simple makes no sense. To a complicated mind, the obvious and the simple becomes a great puzzle.

He wants to find meaning in it; he wants to feel as if there is a great message hidden here. There is no message ever hidden in the words of the mystic.

Previously, I have said that we need to have the ability to decode what the Teacher is saying. But the decoding only means settling down. That decoding only means becoming peaceful because there is no specific message at all. What would you avidly solve there? Nothing! Peace, silence, nothingness. He means nothing; he does not intend to give you words; he does not intend to give you a message. There is nothing positive or negative he wants to leave you with.

To leave you with anything specific is just to increase your load. To leave you with any idea is to make you think that ideas are the Truth. But we are habituated with using phrases like ‘the message of The Gita’ or ‘the message of The Upanishads’ or ‘the theme of this sacred literature’. ‘Gita has no message, Upanishad too have no message. Anybody who ever found a message in the Gita is not receiving that message from Krishna; he is imagining that message by himself or for himself.

Krishna leaves you with pure Silence, not with a message, not with a theme. Krishna does not leave you with the theory of karma; he leaves you free of karma. But those who go to the Gita, they do not become free of karma. Instead they add another theory to the thousands of theories already present in their mind.

You have Maharishi’s words in front of you. Look at them and be one with them. That is what is meant by decoding them. Decoding these words does not mean that you ‘think’ about them. It is not how you go to a Teacher. You do not try to think about what he is saying, just as when you drink water, you do not try to think about what you are drinking, and if you think that adds nothing to the drink.

A thinker gets nothing more out of water. The centers are different. Thinking is happening in the brain and the water is quenching the thirst elsewhere. Thinking will not help you know the water, understand the water and feel the water. In fact the more you think, the more you lose touch with the water. No analysis, no thought helps; instead they are just impediments.

When you are with Raman, when you are reading the words of a Teacher, your interpretation is of no use. Even the best meaning that you can derive from the Teacher’s words is not a meaning that the Teacher intended. It is a meaning that you have conjured up. The same goes with the worst meaning that you can think of.

All meanings are yours. From the Teacher, it’s just the Truth, not its meaning. And remember, Truth means ‘nothing’. It has no meaning at all, no meaning at all.

If someone can find the meaning of Truth, then he is just living in meanings. ‘The Heart is the center of all’ means ‘nothing’. Just come close to it and let it hit you, let the obvious simplify you. Do not try to convince your ego that you have captured and understood what it means, by saying that, ‘We understand the truth’. We want to incarcerate the Truth. There is no need to claim that you have understood. There is also no need to say that you have not understood. Both these statements are the statements of self-preservation.

Foolish are those who understand what a Teacher says. They are even more foolish than who do not understand what a Teacher says. When someone comes and says to me, “Sir, I could not understand what you are saying”, it only means he is not attentive, he was not there with me, he had a motive, he was looking for something. But even greater is the deception when someone comes and says, “Sir, I did indeed understand what you were saying”. This man was not only looking for something, he sought it so intensely in his imaginations that he actually got it.

The first man, who says that he did not understand, is the one who had a motive. He was trying to look for a meaning that is not there, and because it is not there, so he did not get it. He did not get it, so he is feeling disappointed. He is saying that, “Sir, I did not understand”. The second man is looking for a meaning that is not there, not there at all, and gets that meaning.

This second man is more dangerous. The ones who claim that they understand the scriptures are far more ignorant then those who say they don’t. What did you understand? What was there to understand? From where did you dig out your interpretations? A blind man walks into a dark empty room and claims that he is seeing treasures and gardens and animals and fairies and angels. From where are they coming?

And since there has been too many of these people who are able to find meanings of simple statements, such as ‘Brahman is the heart’, so those who cannot find meanings start feeling as if there is something wrong with them. “You know, everybody is able to find some great interpretation; everybody acts as if there was a code here that he has broken, as if something was hidden and he has been able to extract it out. I am the only one who is missing out. I am the only one who is not able to decode the stuff”. If you are not able to decode the stuff then it is because you want to decode it.

Simple-complicatedThe complicated mind cannot become one with the simple. The words of the Teacher arise from a point of innocence. With all your cleverness, how will you ever know those words?

If you want to check whether you are really able to understand what the Teacher says, just ask yourself, “Am I really sitting at the place where the Teacher is? Is my mind really as peaceful as the Teacher’s mind?  Am I really as defenseless as the Teacher? Am I listening from the same depth from where the Teacher is speaking?”

There is no other way of understanding. What comes from a certain point can be understood only at that point. What comes from a certain depth of meditation can be understood only at that depth. Teacher is expressing thoughtlessness. If you had even a single thought while listening, just tell yourself that you have missed it.

Teacher is not at all bothered about what is going on in the world of senses. If your senses are still excited, taking you here and there, then just humbly tell yourself that there is no way you are understanding. The test is not whether you are able to derive a meaning out of it. The test is whether you are standing at the same point where the Teacher is standing.

It is a false image like all other images that, the Teacher pulls the student into understanding; that the Teacher takes the student towards the Truth. There is no way the Teacher can connect to the student if they are standing in different dimensions. It is impossible. They have to be very close, actually at the one and same point. Only then communication can really take place. If the Teacher is there and the student is there in some other dimension, and the purpose of teaching is to elevate the student into the dimension of the Teacher, then this is a useless effort.

Student would understand the Teacher only when he is already the Teacher. If pulling and pushing and effort are going on, then there is no question of understanding. It is with great ease that the Teacher speaks, a simple effortless ease. And it must be then with equally effortless ease that the student understands. There is no space for teaching, in the usual sense of the word, with this ease because in usual sense of the word, teaching is something that happens between two unequal.

When the Teacher speaks, he speaks in aloneness. He does not really care for the student; he does not really care for anybody. How can he care for anybody when there is no world at all in his aloneness? When the Teacher is with student, he is actually with himself, just with himself. The student may feel a divine presence, the student may feel that the Teacher is with him, but the Teacher is not at all with the student, because if the Teacher is still perceiving the student, then he is still perceiving a distance. If Teacher is still perceiving the student, then he is still looking at bodies.

As you listen to the Teacher, do you perceive a Teacher? Use that as a test. Are your eyes looking at Teacher or are you alone like the Teacher?  If your mind is full of the Teacher then remember that the mind can only be full of sensual object. If the Teacher is occupying your mind then remember that only falseness occupies the mind. If your eyes are looking at the Teacher then remember that all that the eyes show you is deception.

If you are feeling respectful and sublimated, if you are feeling anything at all, then toward whom is the feeling? Surely that feeling is toward somebody else. Don’t you see that by being respectful, you just want to maintain that else-ness? Don’t you see that by looking intently at the Teacher, you just want to convince yourself that you are everything else in the world and the Teacher is something or somebody who can be looked at? If the Teacher can speak not caring about you, why can’t you listen not caring about the Teacher?

The Teacher speaks from his aloneness and the student must listen from his aloneness. If the teacher is speaking to the student, he cannot speak, and if the student is listening to the teacher, he is surely not listening.

When Ramana Maharishi is uttering these words to you, your face is not there in front of his eyes. There is no way he is thinking that you would be reading these words one day. In fact he is not thinking anything at all!

Even when these words would have been uttered, even if we say that Maharishi might have been sitting in front of an audience while uttering these words, the audience was inconsequential. Yes, it might have appeared as if Maharishi is looking at the audience. But he was not really looking at the audience. A hundred faces might have been present in front of him, and it might have appeared that he is connecting to all hundred, and it does appear that way.

When the Teacher speaks, it does appear as if he is parallelly, simultaneously connecting to everybody. But rest assured that nobody matters; rest assured that Maharishi was speaking to nobody. None of those faces were the target of his speech. Then why should the Maharishi’s face, the Teacher’s face be so important for you? When you are listening to the Teacher, what are you busy with – his face or your own face? If you are busy with the Teacher’s face, then you want to preserve your own face, because all faces are in the same dimension. It is just your ego and its old instinct of self-preservation.

There might be beautiful faces and ugly faces. The ego is fond of dualistic discrimination. There might be black faces and white faces, male faces and female faces, but ultimately all faces are in the same dimension. They are faces. If you are busy with the face of the Teacher, you are just intent upon believing that you are a face. What a trick, what a trick! And somebody may come up and say Teacher has an ugly face and somebody may come up and say Teacher has a beautiful face. Does it matter? All faces are in the same dimension.

Rohit once asked me that, “How is it happening that you are able to say such things about Kabir’s couplets that we cannot even think of?” I said, “You probably cannot think of these things, but you would surely ‘like to think’ of these things.” Unable to see a direct meaning, because I am not intent upon seeing any meanings, I have no belief that there exists any meaning at all here; I do not approach Kabir as if Kabir is somebody other than me, I do not approach him with analytical tools. I do no approach him with violent instruments of surgery. I have no intention at all to get something from him. When I come to Kabir I just come to myself, and there is no space or thought in being with yourself. You are sufficient, or do you need to think about yourself? But you think, so you get as much from Kabir as you can think. And then you are surprised that why does Kabir offer so little to me? Kabir offers so little to you because you are little. Kabir offers so little to you because what you think of as Kabir’s offering is just your own thinking.

Kabir was not saying anything in particular. He was just saying. You are fond of thinking. So, even when you go to Kabir, all that you go to is your own thoughts. You miss the grandness that Kabir is. And you are left with the pettiness that is you, and to make matters worse, you often name this pettiness that is you, as Kabir.

We are so arrogant that we do not hesitate in claiming that this is what Kabir has said. Kabir has never said anything. A Kabir’s life was a life of Silence. Your mind is full of noise. So, you hear Kabir saying this and that. Kabir is just pure Silence; he has nothing to say to you. There is no message that he wanted to leave for the world or for the generations. For the Kabir neither is there a world nor are there generations, nor is there the welfare of the world and its people.

That goes against our image of the Saint, right? We have been told that the Teacher speaks for the welfare of student. The ones who have said this surely were never blessed with a Teacher. The Teacher does not speak for the welfare of the student. The Teacher does not speak for anything. If you speak for anything, then it would be a motivated speech.

The Teacher just speaks; from nowhere, for nobody. It’s a useless, purposeless, miraculous sport, from nowhere and for nobody.

He wants to respect the Teacher thinking that he is compassionate, then he does not understand the difference between spiritual compassion and worldly concern. The Teacher’s compassion is not worldly mercy concern or attachment. It is a thing beyond touch. But you respect only care and concern.

You want to think that the Teacher is caring about you, he is concerned about you. You name this care and concern as compassion which it surely is not; and your respect becomes such a great barrier. You do not even know that your respect is your internal conspiracy against the Teacher and yourself. Behind the veneer of respect you protect yourselves. What is a curtain? Is curtain not a separation?

In acting like an image in front of me you have given me an image and hence, you have conspired to protect your own image. Don’t you see that? Are you really how you act? That is how we go to a Teacher! That is how we go to the scriptures and hence we keep missing them century after century. We go to the Teacher with great respect. And I repeat, your respect is just a collection of images that you have named as respect. Have you seen how the very expression on people’s face changes when they sit down in front of their holy scripture?  And remember this expression is specific to the name of the scripture.

It is corresponding to the name that the expression on your face changes. If you are a Jain, and you are sitting in front of the Samayasāra, and if you are photographed, you will have one expression and if you are a Sikh and you are photographed in front of the Guru Granth, you will have one expression. You will not have same expression if you are photographed in front of other scriptures. It is a ‘conditioned respect’. This respect will ensure that you are totally missing out on the Teacher.

But you are culturally conditioned to display all these symbols of respect. You don’t even realize this. You are morality-bound that you think that there is something appreciable about your respectful behaviour. People sit down to read the Gita and the way they sit down it is already ensured that they will never be able to come close to the Krishna. They have missed out the Krishna before even starting. Such great pretence!  They would sit down in a particular posture.

Look at how I am speaking to you! Which posture am I adhering to? I am just sitting comfortably. It is with this comfort that I go to a Ramana or a Kabir. Right now I am with Ramana, very, very close to him. And this is my respect to him. The closeness is the respect. The posture is not the respect. But you don’t have closeness. You have respectful behavior. When, with this carefree closeness I go to Ramana, his words just open up, and then I do not need to extract any meaning from them.

Ramana never wanted to communicate any meaning. He wanted me to come to him. I have gone to him. Now where is the need and space for the meanings? One writes a love letter not so that the love letter becomes sacred and is worshipped for generations. One writes the love letter so that the beloved can be met. But you are very respectful, you worship love letters and ignore the beloved. And then you say that “There has to be a great meaning in the love letter. Now let us sit down and write commentaries on these letters.”

You are writing loveless commentaries on love letters. That is all that you have – meanings, interpretations and commentaries, but no love. When you display respect, it is like wearing armour. When you display respect, it is like becoming alert; alert not in the sense of attention, alert in the sense of becoming careful against harm. And who is feeling that harm might happen? – The ego, because the ego only can be harmed. Some of you enter this room and even try to sit in specific aasans (postures).

The questioner himself sits in quite a peculiar way when he is in this room; he does not always sit like this, or does he? He wants to make this a special occasion, he wants to make it an extra ordinary event, and he will miss because what Ramana is saying is very ordinary. It can be understood only in a very casual way, it can be understood only in a very, very ordinary sense. If you think there is something special about these words, there is no way you will ever understand because there is nothing special here at all! But he thinks that by acting as if there is something special going on here, he will be able to understand. He is mistaken.

It is a carefree, casual,closeness with the lover that will quench your Heart, not your display of respect. I am repeating; your display of respect will only keep you away from the Teacher. Doing what you are doing, being what you have been, how will this help? You are missing out on everything. This is the way the world had always approached the scriptures and the Teachers like to call it the conspiracy of respect. Respect them so that you can maintain a safe distance from them, respect them so that you can keep yourself hidden from them. As it happens in Indian families, you show great respect to the elders and you do not discuss disrespectful and unbecoming matters with them. For example, you do not discuss with them your ambitions, stories of your lust and desire. These are not matters that are to be exposed to people you respect. Respect means that you must keep a fake face. How will you ever connect?

Look at the way Kabir speaks to you, look at his spontaneous flow. It is as if he is walking and singing. It is as if he is speaking without thinking. Something happened, and he just said something, not caring about who is listening and what will be the impact upon the listeners. When Arjun asks a question, Krishna has no time to think. He just says something. In one of the Upanishads, the students request the Teacher, “भो! उपनिषद् ब्रहिमी|” (‘Sir, please speak out an Upanishad’). The Teacher says, “उक्ता ते उपनिषद्|” (‘Whatever I am saying, whatever I say is an Upanishad’).

Now what do you think, Upanishad is a special occasion that at nine in the morning on Sundays we must sit under a special tree, and then you will say, “Now, this is an Upanishad”. “उक्ता ते उपनिषद्|” Now, look at yourself! Walking, eating, sleeping, whatever the Guru is saying is an Upanishad. The scriptures have said that even casual jokes of Teachers must be taken very seriously. It might just be a comment made jokingly, made in a very casual setting. In fact, all scriptures have been said only casually. And because they have been said casually, they can be understood casually.

If you cannot take the casualness of the Teacher seriously, then you will never understand the Teacher. Those who are able to understand me here right now on Sunday mornings are the ones who understand me throughout the week. And if you do not understand me throughout the week, if you have no connection with me throughout the week, how can you understand me suddenly on a Sunday morning?

On other days of the week do you pay the same attention to my words and instructions as you pay at this hour? But then you totally forget what I have said. Rest assured even right now you are not getting anything. It is the same mind that has been ignoring me all week. How can it suddenly comprehend me right now? When Kabir’s couplets come in front of me I know what Kabir is saying, not because I know the meaning of those couplets, but because I have been with Kabir the whole week; in fact since a very, very long while.

I know Kabir, so I know what he is saying, not the other way round. When you know Kabir, when you know Ramana, then you know what they are saying. It is not through their words that you will know them. It is when you know them that you will know their words. But you try the impossible. You think that there is something special in the words through which you can know them. No, impossible! When you know the Silence that a Ramana is, then you will also know the words that spring forth from that Silence.

Be real and be honest. The scriptures are the easiest to understand because there is nothing to understand there. The scriptures have the simplest of meanings because they have no meaning at all. But this will become clear to you only when you live as simply as the great Teachers; with as much abandon as they lived. They did not live with respect and concern. They did not live with obligations and responsibilities. They had no motives. Only when you have a mind like theirs, will you understand words like theirs. Don’t try to interpret a Ramana. Come close to a Ramana and live like a Ramana.

Watch the session: Prashant Tripathi on Sri Raman: The simple words of the Teacher are not understood by a complex mind The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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