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Acharya Prashant: Shiv Sutras are the basic, canonical aphorisms of Advait. They come from a ninth century sage called Vasugupt from Kashmir. Very brief, very secant, they contain everything that there is to the understanding of non-duality. The first sutra says:
Consciousness is the Self.
If we go carefully into this one, this Sutra alone, the first one alone would open up everything that deserves to be known about self enquiry. It will open up the beginning, the end and also the method of Self Enquiry. What does it say?
Consciousness is the Self.
You will have to keep coming along with me. If I am an active speaker, you will have to be an active listener. Yes? I like it when we all move together.
L: Where do these verses come from?
AP: They come from a ninth century sage from Kashmir, Vasugupt. But even he did not say that they come from him. He said he does not know where they come from.
L: Do they have a name?
AP: Shiv Sutras. That’s it.
Now that surprises us because we do not expect an important, a serious work to be two pages. Yes? If it is important, if it serious and if it as all encompassing – as I mentioned – then we expect that it must have a certain volume, a certain gravity. Not only the Shiv Sutras, Upanishads like Kena and Isha or Aatm Puja Upanishads, they are all so concise.
Yes! So we are talking about the first sutra, and it says:
Consciousness is the Self.
It must be remembered that when a sage, a seer uses words he does so just out of necessity of communication. He is trying to use words to express That which words cannot usually express. So, he is emptying the words of its usual meaning and trusting it with a transcendental meaning. Hence, it would be an obvious mistake to take the words of a sage and attribute to them, the dictionary meaning.
When the sage says air, sky, water or ocean, he does not mean the air, the sky, the water, the ocean. We said, first of all we have to see it is out of sheer compulsion that he has to use words. He is using words because we can hear only words. Could we listen to his Silence, he wouldn’t have needed to use words. So he is using words but in their usual sense, never. Let us never make the mistake of interpreting the words of the seer in our normal worldly way.
What do we mean when we say consciousness?
L: The waking state.
AP: The waking state. When we say consciousness, what we mean is the perception that there is the universe and there is the me. If you cannot perceive things, if you cannot perceive the universe, then you will not say that you are conscious. And because we are what we are, we have taken consciousness as the consciousness that we experience; that is what is ego centered behavior.
What is our consciousness? Consciousness is the content of mind. Consciousness is our thoughts, ideals, emotions, feelings, relationships. What is our consciousness? Our consciousness is doubt, fear, convictions, beliefs, attachments, imaginations, effort, attainment, beginning, end. That is what we call as consciousness. In the language of spirituality, all of that is not consciousness at all. What we call as consciousness is the interference of “I” in the facts of life. That is what we referred to as consciousness. And if we take that to be consciousness, then we would be mislead into believing that Vasugupt is saying that ego is the self because he is saying, “Consciousness is the Self.”
And if consciousness means our consciousness, then our consciousness is an ago centered consciousness, an “I” centered consciousness. We look at the world as we are. We are greatly attracted to that which has a meaning to us. We are repelled by that which we have been taught to dislike. So man’s consciousness is not pure consciousness at all. If a sage would look at the expanse of our consciousness, He would say, “This is so mechanical. Why do you even call it consciousness? Why do you even label yourself as conscious? You are not conscious at all.”
To be conscious means to know and to really know you must be free of the blockage to knowing. You yourself, what you take yourself to be, are the biggest blockage to knowing. You don’t really know.
Let me present an example. As I am speaking right now, all of us would say that we are conscious of the words of the speaker. You will say, you are conscious of what I am saying and you are conscious of the fact that you are hearing. And I have spoken hardly for ten minutes or so.
But if I say let’s write down what I’ve said, all of us would write down different things. Now, as a matter of fact the speaker is not talking of different things at all. Speaker has been centered around the One, but when we would write down what have been said, what we have been conscious of as the audience, we will write down very different things. In fact, we would be surprised by how much our narrative differs from our neighbor’s narrative. You would feel like asking yourself, are the two of us attending the same session, are the two of us listening to the same speaker?
That is what is meant by an impure consciousness. The “I” is interfering with the listening; interfering in two ways. First, it is blocking everything that is a potential threat to it. Second, it is projecting much that it wants to project – that it would find as an enabler to its continuation. So, even if we say that we are conscious of what is going on, the fact might be that we know nothing of what the speaker is saying.
And it is such a great joke that even after a session lasting hours, we may go back having listened to nothing; having heard much and listened nothing. And if that might be happening in these couple of hours, it is obvious that keeps happening throughout the run of our life. We belied that we know what is happening; we believed that we are conscious of what is going on. But the fact is that a very thick wall separates the happening, the existence from us. That separation is defined as the ego.
When the sage speaks, he speaks from the heights of his beings. When he says consciousness, he means a consciousness free of interference. He will not even say pure consciousness because he does not know any impure consciousness. We keep on talking of pure consciousness. We keep on talking of real love. What do you mean by real love? We must use words like real love because there is much unreal love in our lives. We keep on talking of the transcendental reality. Why? Because what we usually call as reality is not reality at all. And if we be really honest, then we must not call the reality as transcendental. We must call reality just as reality and that which we know as reality as totally unreal.
Do you see what we do?
We say consciousness, and then we say pure consciousness. Now if consciousness is consciousness, what is the need for calling something pure consciousness? If joy is joy, what is the need for calling something as absolute joy? If love is love, what is the need to call something as real love? It only indicates that with us, there is much that is not absolute, not pure and not real. Pure consciousness is called awareness. Pure consciousness is about just living in the facts. We live in perceptions and imaginations. We live within a self created circle. That circle is what we call as the domain of our consciousness. At the center of the circle, we sit; the ego sits.
When the sage says consciousness, he simply means ‘the facts’; the facts. The common man lives at the level of imagination. Higher than that is the level of facts and these are the only two levels possible to the mind – the level of projection and self centered imagination, and the level of impersonal facts. These are the only two things possible to the mind. Proceeding from here, the sage is saying, the second level itself is the Atman.
He is saying two things parallel now. First, we live at the first level, the commoners, what we call as the well adjusted, worldly man. He lives at the first level which is the level of assumptions and beliefs and imaginations. That is the first thing. Second thing that He is saying is, there is no level beyond the second level.
Please be with this. He is saying that the mind is only two levels. One, that level where there is much “I”; that level where there is the fear and insecurities of ego and its desperate efforts to protect itself. And then there is the second level. The level of facts and there is no third level. Usually, we believe that there indeed is a third level. We call that third level as the level of holiness, as the level of Truth, as the domain of God, as pure and absolute reality.
He is saying, “No.” Nothing like that really exists. There are only two levels and the second level itself is the third. Do we see that He is suggesting the one and only method of self-enquiry? He is saying the second itself is the third. In a sense, He is saying that pure mind itself is the Atman; that pure mind itself is the Self.
Put differently, He is saying that facts are the door to Truth. If you live in facts, that is sufficient. Consciousness itself shows up, shines as the Atman. But that consciousness must be real consciousness, not adulterated consciousness. Just live in facts. Do not try other methods, tapasya or saadhna. Just know what is.
Just know how you are sitting, just know why you are in a particular physical posture, just know why you are writing down certain things specifically and omitting others. Just know why you wake up with a certain thought. Just know why particular sites, sounds and phone numbers turn you off. Just know the facts and you are Home;he second is the third.
Facts are so proximate to the Truth that if you are living in facts then you are not at all away from the Truth.
L: What do you mean by living in facts? What do you mean by facts?
AP: So, you are asking this question. The fact is that even as this question arises, I know from where it is arising. The question might be pure inquiry; I am really sincere about knowing and so I am asking and the question could also be self-defense.
Living in facts means really and honestly knowing what is going on; not letting my fear come in the way of my awareness.
L: What do you mean being present?
AP: I mean not being biased, not being present. If you are present then you will interfere. If you are there, then you will poke your nose. So I mean don’t be there. When you are not there, then only the facts are there. When you are there, then a picture of facts is there. And the picture that we create is always a distorted picture. So I am not talking of present because we can never be present. Only the present can be present and the present is the Atman.
It is not about being present. It is about being absent.
L: Is fact the same as awareness?
AP: Awareness is about the absence of thought, the absence of the need to interfere with the facts. You see what we normally call as consciousness is a thinking consciousness. What we normally call as consciousness is an active consciousness – a consciousness that wants to do something, reach somewhere, protect something, destroys something, a consciousness that has a goal in mind.
Awareness is a passive consciousness. Awareness is a consciousness that is settled.
L: I do not understand facts. Can you explain?
AP: So when you say, you do not understand fact. This may be a very innocent expression that you cannot quite comprehend what I am saying. There might be another one who is not really getting what I am saying; but then he may say, you cannot explain facts. Do you see this?
Suppose the question is coming from an insecure mind. Would the insecure mind say that it cannot understand? He will say the speaker is unable to explain. Do you see how the need for self protection has interfered with what is going on? The fact is, the simple and direct, obvious fact is you didn’t understand and it is all right. It is so very all right. But if I am insecure about my image in front of audience, then what will I tell the speaker?
“Oh! You could not quite explain it to me.”
Now that is projection. That is the need to defend yourself. That is a thinking consciousness.
It is like this. You see, sitting over here, is it possible to just look at that tree (pointing towards the tree outside the session hall) and not even call it a tree? That is awareness. But when you look at that tree and that tree reminds you of the tree in your own backyard in your country and that reminds you of what your husband or daughter or neighbor is doing, and that reminds you of the unpaid bills, and that reminds you of the hurt of the past; then that is the thinking and active consciousness. And there is another consciousness that looks at the tree and cannot even name it as a tree. It is just looking at that. At what? Nothing.
If you ask, ‘What are you looking at?’
So it has a very empty glance. Almost like that of an idiot. The eyes are not full of intention and meaning. The eyes are totally blank and that is the eye of the saint. India has often said that the saint looks so much like a child and even like an idiot; that is because he does not throw meanings at things. If he doesn’t get food, he will not say, I didn’t get food. I am so unfortunate. If he didn’t get food, he says, “I didn’t get food.” If he didn’t get food, he will not say that the world has conspired against him. If he doesn’t get food, he will not say that will I get food tomorrow? No. He just says, “I didn’t get food.”
Neither will it lead to an activation of memories, nor will it lead to the projection of a future. And the fact will have no impact on his self concept and self worth. “I didn’t get food.’ Now does that mean that I am inferior? Does that mean I am unlucky? Does that mean I am cursed? No, none of that. Does that mean I am wonderful? Does that mean I am the son of God?” No, not even that.
That is awareness, pure consciousness. The same thing has been expressed as a Mahavakya of the Upanishads. It says:
Same thing. Here, it is been said:
There it is said:
Pragyan is awareness and Braham is Truth. Awareness is Truth and the same thing is being said here. In fact, Vasugupt has gone a step ahead. He is not even saying awareness. He is just saying consciousness. By just saying consciousness, he is making a very strong statement. His statement is in fact an insult to most of us. He is saying consciousness is to be called consciousness only if it is pure consciousness. That which you call as consciousness is just mechanical, robotic, impure movement. I wouldn’t even call it consciousness.
He is saying that consciousness is a sacred word. It cannot be used lightly. When you are angry and shouting at someone, are you really conscious? When you are in the flow of emotions or greed or lust, are you really conscious? When you are walking on the street, you feel that you are walking on the street, but do you really know what is happening?
First of all, He is saying that “that” is not consciousness. And when you are conscious, then that is the Truth, that is the self, that is the Atman. Then you are identical with God.
That is what the saints have meant when they have said that, could you know what is all around and within you, you will only see God. By that they do not mean that you will start seeing a special figure somewhere. By that, they do not mean that you will start experiencing a certain feeling in the heart. By that, they mean you will continue to see the bird as the bird; the tree as the tree; the road as the road; the sound as the sound. But then the bird will be just the bird. Not bird plus something; not bird minus something. Then the tree will be just the tree; not tree plus something; not tree minus something.
L: Why it is so important?
AP: It is so important because, that which is blocking you is also your suffering. So it is important only to you. When it is being said that consciousness is important, not blocking facts is important; you must ask for whom it is important? It is important to you. It is important to you because you are the one who suffers when this blockage happens. If there is no suffering, is there any need for spirituality or self inquiry?
All self inquiry begins with a recognition of a restlessness within. And that restlessness is nothing but the veil on the consciousness, the veil on the eyes.
That is why the saints have been so frequently using the expression: ‘Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!’ Now, don’t you feel like asking, “I wake up every morning and why are the saints so insistent on saying wake up? Don’t you wake up every morning? So why are they saying wake up?” They are saying wake up because what you call as wake up every morning is just the changing of one dream into another. In the night, you were dreaming and now you are dreaming again. The saints are saying you have not woken up at all.
L: Restlessness also leads to progression.
AP: What you call as progression is needed only because you are restless.
Are you saying the medicine has an absolute value? Would you worship the medicine? A medicine is needed only because first of all, you are sick and here, progress is a fake medicine because no amount of progress ever leads to an easing off of your restlessness. In fact, the more you progress, the more you feel like progressing. I call this need to progress, this ambition as a false water that is quenching a false thirst.
First of all, the restlessness is something false and then one is using false methods to quench a false thirst. Mankind has made enough progress over the last five thousand years. With all this progress, do you see a reduction in inner restlessness? Or do you project that there would be a point where material progress would reach one day when there would be no need to know the mind, when the mind would be settled and composed on its own just by looking at the great inventions, technologies, and the wonders of economics.
What we call as progress is the disease of the mind. The saint has no need for any progress – for progress always belongs to the future and the saint is the one who has quit the future.
Does any progress belong to this moment? This moment is just what it is. Progress means I will reach “there” tomorrow or day after or ten centuries later.
L: So, when you say that there are two levels of mind. So, when second is attained, first one is gone?
AP: First is gone and third is also gone because third is the second. At the second, the above and the below, are both gone.
L: But, can there still be both the levels together?
AP: When you are in the second, you are living in the fact, and when you are living in the fact, then you also know that you are imagining. The fact of the moment is that I am lost in imagination. This ceaseless knowing of the fact is called witnessing. One does not really go anywhere. One just becomes subservient to two. So, why one would imagine, one would ideate; but one would know that what I am in right now is an imagination – my personal imagination, not a fact of the moment. And when you really know that then imagination loses its control, power and venom.
L: Is this level of the mind is tool, or is it….
AP: It is your natural state. It is not a tool to attain something. Had it been a tool, then three – the Atman, the center would have been distinct from it. It is your natural state.
See, living in facts does not mean thinking about facts. Living in facts does not mean taking names, providing definitions, coming to conclusions. The mind is anyway doing all of that all the time. Living in facts means that it is known that all of this is happening and as all of this is happening, I am just the knower.
So there are the three states of mind and living in facts means knowing all the three states. All the three states are facts. A dream is a fact. When it is on, a dream is very much a fact. Is it not? Have you ever called your dream, “a dream”, in the dream? In the dream you know that you are the horse.
L: But it happens in the life that we have a very great shock.
AP: Yes, so those shocks not really then shocks. Those shocks are acts of grace. If anything exposes that one is living in the middle of a dream, then we better not call it a shock. We call then it a gift.
Is the first sutra clear? We must not go to the second one till we are one with the first.
L: You say facts, but not the seer of the facts?
AP: There can be no fact without the seer of the fact. Would you able be to talk about the fact if there is no seer? It is just that “that seer” is not the same as the seer in level one. The seer in the level one is the person, the me. The seer in level two is an absence, that absence is called the witness.
L: How can you see if you are absent?
AP: Then you do not see. Seeing sees.
See, why are you asking this question? You are asking this question because usually whenever we have seen, ‘we’ have seen. Whenever you have seen, “you” have seen. So when I am using the word “see”, you are assuming that I am preferring to same kind of seeing that you have been experiencing till now. No, I am not referring to that kind of seeing. For that kind of seeing, you will have to be present as the seer.
I am talking of another kind of seeing which happens when you are not there. Let’s take a current example.
As I am speaking, you can listen and understand only if you are not there. Your understanding of what is happening right now will happen only in your absence. If you are present, then you will be present and understanding will be absent. So who is the one who is understanding right now? Your absence is understanding right now. You can very quickly bring in your presence. How? Your mobile phone rings; your wife is calling. Now you are resent; now you have come back. You are totally immersed in the session; lost and suddenly the mobile phone starts buzzing. And now you are again back and when you are back the session is…? When you are back, the session is over for you.
It is your absence that really listens, that really sees, that really understands, not your presence.
L: So, now I realize that I can’t understand you because I try to associate what you have said with something I know. So that is why it’s not happening.
AP: And the moment you try to integrate what I am saying with your existing knowledge, you will distort what I am saying. That is what is called as “I” centric behavior.
Essentially, you are saying there is something that I already know and because I am worthy, knowledgeable, wise and smart. So what I already know must be true. Now what you, as speaker is saying, sounds all right. So, I will try to adjust this to what I already know. I cannot reject what I know. I cannot reject what I know because if I reject what I know, I will actually be rejecting…
AP: Myself. Instead of rejecting that, I will assimilate “this” into “that,” and the moment you do that, you have corrupting the fact and we keep on corrupting the fact.
L: I think the confusion arises because different teachers use different words. When you say, “You are present”, I understand that you are talking of the false self. But what you are saying as once absence is what other teachers might have expressed as true self.
AP: The thing is that no teacher, no scripture of any worth has ever called “us” as present. I do not know from where is this ‘neo’ definition coming? All the teachers have always said that only the Self is present; only the self. You can never be present.
L: But another teaching says, “Be present.”
AP: Which teachings?
L: I was some foreign author.
AP: The moment you say I will be present, you are saying the ego has the power to be present. That is such an ego centered statement and that is why you will be a best seller.
Because you are helping the ego like itself.
Go to the fact of your life Shiva (referring to the questioner). Go to the fact of your life. What do you call as I? When you say I am coming,…
L: But this is important to define I as the ego or the…
AP: You don’t need to define. You very well know. When I say, “You,” what do you mean? When you say “I,” in which direction do you point?
L: The body and the mind.
AP: So it is certain that when we say “I,” all that we mean is the ego.
L: But when I said- “I” I, I mean that something beyond the “I”.
AP: So, I “I”, there is something there to indicate that it is not your I. But when it is said-you can be present, then it is quite misleading. When it is said that you are absolute Bliss, God, Brahman and the final Truth, then it is just the inflation of the ego. You are none of that. You are just your suffering and the wounds and the puss that is coming out of them. But that sounds so humiliating.
L: Can any body live without consciousness?
AP: Do we live with a corrupted consciousness?
L: It is consciousness.
AP: It is consciousness, if you are alive. Is it not possible that what we call as being alive is not even life and it is just to maintain our sense of worth that we keep on saying, We are alive?” What I am asking you separates us from the machines that we call as not alive.
When you say that we are alive, and consciousness is so related to this thing being called alive, right? You say that, living beings have consciousness. Now what is it we call as being alive? This breathing, eating, walking, thinking. You can have a sufficiently advanced machine that can do all of these. It can even make love, it can have emotions, it can even die. You can program it to die after a time. So, why are you proceeding from the assumption that we are in fact alive? May be life is something that is just a potential to most of us, maybe we haven’t really yet taken birth, may be we are here just to be born. Why you assuming that we are already alive?
L: We were told so.
AP: We were told so by those who thought that they were alive and we are so much like them. And if they are alive, they must tell us that we are alive because if we are not alive then it is proven that they too are not alive.
Spirituality is not about taking things blindly, at face value. It is about really having the courage to stand the fact of anything, even if it’s distasteful.
L: What makes a person alive?
AP: The person can never be alive. The person is just a machine. There is nothing in the person that you can call as distinct from a machine. You call this (indicating towards the body) as the person, you call this (indicating towards the mind) as the person. There is nothing in any of this which is any different from an instrument, equipment, a machine.
L: What makes us to become a person?
AP: We are already person. We are persons already.
Persons we already are, life is something different. Life is, when you are not self contained, when you are not programmed. Are we not programmed to walk away from places that we do not like? Now are you alive if you start feeling insulted at every small barb and you get away, walk away. Are you alive?
The machine is programmed. Humiliation is equal to – next line, get up, gather your luggage, walk down the stairs, disappear. Now are you alive? Somebody has written this code for you that somebody could be evolution. That somebody could be your parents, society, religion, anything. Somebody has written the code and you are living as per the code. Are you alive?
Somebody has written the code that you must marry, you must have kids, a family, you must go to holy places when you start feeling really…
L: We are potentially alive because we can re-program ourselves.
AP: Yes, but the potential is so distinct from what we have made of ourselves. What we have made of ourselves, can that really be called as life? And if we call that as life, then the potential will remain potential. The first step is to see that this is not that. And when you see that this is not that, then you have suddenly arrived close to that.
L: And what makes us see that it is not that.
AP: We don’t like it. It’s as simple as that.
L: There must be something.
AP: Suffering; our own suffering.
L: There must be a force that brings you forward.
AP: Just your suffering, the force makes you suffer.
L: The force can also bring us forward to see that we are suffering.
AP: You don’t have to see that you are suffering. Are you not already suffering? See, if a suffering mind — go into this — if a suffering mind tries to see that it is suffering, then it is assuming that it has the power to really know and had it had the power to really know, why would it be suffering? Suffering itself means that you do not know what is going on? If you do not know what is going on, how will you know the fact of suffering?
L: How we come out of this?
AP: We will go into that.
May be the moment you ask this, how do I come out of this, you have already gone into the prohibited area. Maybe just constant acknowledgment that, this is suffering, is enough.
L: And from where is this coming from?
AP: For the sufferer, it is coming just from the suffering. It would be very easy for me to say, it is coming from grace or God or…
AP: The acknowledgment is coming from the depth and the intensity of your suffering. You are compelled to accept that you are suffering.
L: There must be a force that makes you…
AP: The very same force that makes you suffers.
L: There must be a force that makes you acknowledge.
AP: That you cannot say because had you been acknowledging that force, you wouldn’t have been suffering in the first place.
L: What is the way out?
AP: The way out is to just see that you are suffering.
L: From where is this coming from?
AP: It is coming from the same place from where this question is coming.
L: And what do you name it?
AP: There is no need to name. It is coming.
L: I call it consciousness.
AP: If you call it consciousness, then you must not call all of that consciousness which you normally live in. If in this moment you are conscious, then call only this as consciousness, then do not call all the other rubbish as consciousness.
L: Otherwise, the rubbish cannot exist?
AP: No, if this is consciousness then the rubbish can exist only without consciousness because this is not what you are otherwise. And if you are otherwise just what you are right now, then you are already home.
If you are conscious right now, then do not call that as consciousness which is happening on the road, by the river, in the ashram, on the yoga mat, in the room, then none of that is consciousness.
L: You were saying that we are just machines without consciousness.
AP: I am saying, the way we operate is no different from machines. Simple!
AP: And no more than that and no less than that.
L: What brings us out?
AP: Does any machine ever say that it is a machine?
L: It can maybe when it acknowledge that it is a machine.
AP: Can you ever design such a machine? Please do that.
A machine that really knows that it is a machine.
L: That is some link that what’s brings….
AP: That link and the desire to explain that link is what is called as the ego.
L: What is beyond ego?
AP: A dropping of this question.
L: Who is dropping it?
AP: Just the question itself gets dropped. The ego itself gets dropped.
L: And who is dropping it?
AP: If there is still a dropper, the dropper is the ego.
L: And what is behind the dropper?
AP: Behind the dropper, there is more of the dropper. So don’t talk of behind and dropper and dropping. Till the time you are asking, the ego is asking. The question itself needs to be dropped and if you cannot drop it, then live with it.
L: How is it happening?
AP: If the question continues, then you are continuing.
L: It may be grace?
AP: You want to give it a name, it is a name that you would give.
Why do you want to contain the infinite in your name? Why is the ego so important to you?
L: The way you explain is like there is no way out.
AP: No, there is no way out. There is no way out at all because if there is a way out, you would be so eager to believe that ‘you’ can proceed on that way; that it is within your potential to take that way. You must feel totally helpless. You must feel without any power. It is only then that you surrender. All these questions are just a tactic to not to surrender.
All these questions are intended to believe that there is a way out. For whom? For me. So, I am so smart that I can figure the way out and move on it. I don’t need to surrender. Where is the question of grace if you are asking for a way? Does grace comes on ways appointed by you? Does grace walk on ways built by you? Then why must you talk about ways so much. Just so that you are still in command, just so that God is still a servant to you.
‘Even if God sends grace, He will send it on my ways.’
Drop the question. As far as we are concerned, please see that Vasugupt is saying that two is three, meaning that when you come to the fact of suffering, proceed no more. That is your full stop. Just see that you are stuck. And then don’t try for activity or progress or methods or solutions.
When you don’t try for methods and solutions, then He sends His methods and solutions.
That is why there must be no gap between you, the fact and you, the Truth. Just come to the fact and stay there. Now that requires a really surrendered mind because when we come to the fact, we also quickly want to come to a conclusion and then a plan of action. Have you seen this?
The moment you see that something is the way it is, you want to do something about it. We talked of the active consciousness right? The moment we come to a fact, what do we do with the fact? We do something with the fact. Now that is the ego that wants to do something with the fact.
Spirituality consists of coming to the fact and stopping; remaining there. Nothing is to be done, no way-ahead or forward or back or behind, no progress, no here, no there, no future, just this. And this is it.
When you say “This is it,” you have just said what Buddha called as Tathata – neither forward, nor backward. This is it and that is consciousness-living in “this”; and that is also the real meaning of living in the present,“This is this, and nothing else.”
‘I am not saying, “this” is bad and hence I want relief from it.’
‘I am not saying, “this” is wonderful, so I want to sustain it.’
L: But it is very difficult to say “this” is “this” because there are many things around me which are “this,” and “this”( referring about facts) …but my mind can’t take all “this”. So, when you say “this” is “this,” I am focusing, and…
AP: And I am focusing, and ‘I am focusing.’ This is it.
What is going on? In my limited sense of self, what is going on? I am…?
Focusing, and this is it. That doesn’t mean that I am worthless. That doesn’t mean anything.
“What am I doing? Concentrating.”
“What am I doing? Dividing.”
‘I am dividing,’ and that is honesty. If you say, “I am dividing, but I do not want to divide.” That is ambition.
If you are saying, “I am limited but I want to be unlimited.” That is dissatisfaction.
L: So, facts are what we are filling inside us, or….
AP: All of this is going on and all of this is factual. All of this!
L: It happens to me again. I am wondering why am I here? Because I cannot try to hear your words and find something to do.
AP: Yes. Something to do. At least, something to come to, some statement to conclude. “I heard this. Now this is what comes out of it.”
“All right! I heard the speaker and what do I do with what I heard?”
When you do nothing, then great actions happens, then right action happens. Just be alive to the happening. You are the deadness. Don’t let the deadness come in between. Just be alive to the happening.
I repeat, are we fully one with the first sutra, to the bet of your limited capacity?
AP: So far we have treated it mostly in theoretical way. Expand it to see what it means to our daily living please.
L: It’s kind of being stupid. Just see and…
AP: See how? Like this (mimicking one’s posture of seeing)
When the word “Seeing” is used in the spiritual sense, it does not quite mean seeing with the eyes. That is why Shiva is depicted as having…?
L: Three eyes.
AP: Three eyes. You have to see with the third eye (pointing towards the mind).
These two eyes show you only falseness. This eye shows you the Truth. If you are seeing only with two eyes, you are not seeing at all. You can ask this with respect to these two eyes.
You see with “this” eye, when you stop asking how to. Every “how to?” is a question of the power of ego.
“I can do it. Now tell me how to do it?”
“Obviously, I have the power to do it. Just tell me how to do it. I will just now do it.”
Never ask, “how to?” because you cannot. When you cannot, then it happens.
L: You are telling this “how to?” right now.
L: You are saying that ‘how to?’ questions are pointless.
AP: I do not have any “how to?” to gift to you. When you have a “how to?” all I say is, “it is useless.” I do not have any method to give to you and when you demand a method, all I can say is, “I don’t have one and if I do give one, it would be useless.”
Friend, I am not speaking out of a method, out of some practice or rehearsal. A method is predetermined. You very well know that you have something in your kitty and when a situation arrives, you can apply that tool. Yes? The tool is in the tool box. The moment the contingency comes, you pull out that tool and you apply it. I have no tools. I have no methods and so I have all the tools.
L: But it is strange to stop asking questions. Isn’t that in itself a method?
AP: No, I am not saying stop asking questions. I am saying, “see where all your questions comes from?” A question can arise from genuine self inquiry also. And when a question is such that the answer would embolden the ego, then I point that out.
A question is a movement, a question is mental activity. Mental activity could either take you towards the center, if it is diminishing in nature or it could take you further away from the center, if it is increasing further and further.
The sign of a good question is that it asks for dissolution, its own disappearance.
L: Yes, I understand.
What such questions would be?
AP: I can give an opposite example. I can give an example of a question that extends itself infinitely because the dissolution of a question depends not on the question but on the center from where the question is coming. Any question can dissolve. You could just ask, “What was that?” and that’s all or you could ask a question like, “What is ‘A’?” I say, “A is the dual opposite of B.” then you ask “What is B?” I say, “B has no existence of its own. It is the dual opposite of A.”
So you ask me, “What is A?” I say, “A is that duality which expresses itself as all A’s and B’s.” So you say, What are all A’s and B’s?” I say, “Dual opposites of each other.” So you say, “What is A and what is B?” Now do you see what is happening? This is just that the question is refusing to go away because if it goes away then the ego will drop. So this is then not a question. This is then a conspiracy to shield oneself.
Questions are wonderful, questions are beautiful. If questions are the expression of the illusioned mind to move into clarity, they are most beautiful. But the hallmark of such questions is that — as I just said — that they are converging questions. They ultimately come to a point where they don’t even need an answer, they just go.
So keep asking questions, not stop asking questions. It’s upon me to tell you to not to ask. You keep asking. You keep asking because anyway you are asking all the time. What is a question? A question is the perception of a contradiction, of a problem, of a challenge. That’s what a question is. Don’t we keep perceiving that all the time. We are living in questions. So keep expressing them.
L: But is there any method for the sudden death of the question and the questioner?
AP: When it gets seen that every question is essentially the same, then you no more feel like asking the next one because the next one will be the same as the previous one. Why ask any more? When you see that there are no new questions, then you don’t feel like asking the next one. When you feel that now this is the new one, then you will keep shooting questions.
L: This cannot happen in two-three days.
If you really do not know anything, do you also know that it cannot happen in two-three days? You see how the ego hides even in harmless statements? You are saying that I am so humble that I have come to accept that for me it cannot happen in three days. Now you are saying that I know at least this much. How much?
L: This much.
AP: And that ‘this much’ is so much.
What are you saying?
You are saying that I am so wise that it cannot happen. Drop this knowledge also. Drop even this knowledge.
Are we one with the first Sutra?
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant on Shiva Sutra: Common consciousness is a burden
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