Use thought, don’t be used by thought || Acharya Prashant (2016)


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Listener 1: Sir, I find myself falling again and again and then again I hold on, and then again I manage to fall somehow.

AP: So after this moment, do not fall. Now that is too much, right? After this moment, do not fall! That scares!

Listener 1: It’s like I force myself to falling somehow but then I hold.

AP: Then don’t force yourself.

Listener 1: But when I am doing that, I do not see that I am forcing.

AP: It is not a question of seeing. All is happening as per your wish. Why do you have a grudge against your own wish? Only that is happening which you want to happen. You are not even falling, you are enjoying the fall. So, now what is your problem against your own intentions? Your problem is that your intentions do not quite coincide with what you hear here. The problem is not that you have seen the baselessness and the hollow-lessness of your intention. It is just that you want your intentions to be aligned with these external words that are falling on your ears.

Listener 1: Then whatever I do, when I have fallen, it’s just that the hollowness becomes gaping and that’s my clue that I am…

AP: And you know very well, right? That the result of falling is that hollowness and that hollowness is also the furtherance of that falling? You know it, right? And still you will fall this evening. Aren’t you already committed to falling? (Smilingly) Stay committed! If you can stay fully committed to anything, it is alright. Don’t you see that we don’t have commitment even towards our own convictions? Somewhere you are quite convinced of the veracity of what you are doing. Otherwise energy for action, won’t arise. Otherwise you won’t have the energy to go through your daily routine. From where would that energy come?

The moment you are sapped of all your inner conviction, the moment all your beliefs are beaten hollow, you are left totally energy-less, drive-less. You won’t be able to get up from the bed and again go to the office. Obviously, you go to the office because you are committed, because you have a certain belief. Now stay true to that belief. In staying true to that belief, you may discover the Truth behind the belief. If you are committed to your daily routine, whatever it is, going to your shop, idling in the bed, going to your office, at least go there with the honesty that you have chosen to be there.

We want the best of both worlds and in this attempt, we just remain sandwiched between two worlds. We will go to the office and keep cribbing there against the office itself. Don’t we do that, right? We will stay in the house and keep cribbing against the house. We will stay with our particular group of people – friends, family members, and still act as if life has been unfair in giving us these companions.

Be honestly committed to your actions. If you are choosing to be at a particular place, if you are choosing to be with a particular person, be fully there. Why fool yourself?

Listener 2: Sir, at times it happens that at one moment we are feeling okay with it that yes I want to be with him or her or I want to continue with this job and at the very second moment we are like, “No, this is what I have been looking for. No, I don’t want to go there.” And these two thoughts keep going on and off. While I am in one then second thought is coming and while I am in second then earlier thought is coming back. So, it keeps coming. Is there any way out of this?

AP: If thought is your master, then act as per the thought! Why should there be any complaint? Thought by its nature is fickle. Thought by its nature rises and falls, moves into its opposite, changes shapes, forms. How can you complain against thought? You are complaining sometimes the thought of staying with the person comes, sometimes the thought that I should not stay with that person comes. But that is how thought is, that is the very definition of thought! No thought can ever be stable.

My question to you is, is thought your master? And if thought is indeed your master, if you have submitted yourself to thought then by all means, keep following your thoughts, and that is what you will get. A life in which you will be thrown around along with the thoughts. A life that will be as anchor-less as thoughts are. A life that is as easily influenced by the environment as thoughts are.

Thoughts will remain what thoughts are defined to remain. Thought will move according to its own mechanism, according to its own construction. Why do you want to stay pack to the thought? It’s like riding a horse and saying, “Oh! The ride is bumpy.” Will the horse move like a Lamborghini?

You chose to ride the horse, you selected the horse. Now you are saying, “Oh! The shock absorbers are not quiet fine. Hitting my bums!” You have chosen your preferred partner and that partner according to you is? The thought. Thought will do what thought does. Why is your relationship based on thought? This will be the punishment of having the relationships that are based on thought. This will be the result of having relationships that are based on calculations, because thought calculates. This will be the result of relationships that are secured, predictable, well thought out.

If relationship is based on thought, it will suffer all the travails of thought. Instead of asking the horse to behave itself, why don’t you just get down? But no, you are taking the horse to a personality development class. You are saying, “Please train the horse, the thought to behave properly.” Let’s take the horse to some ashram, where they will teach him some fine etiquette. Cultured thought, gentle horse! Gloss.

Even a saint’s thoughts are as fleeting as yours. Because thought is thought. Doesn’t matter whether it is thought in your mind or in the mind of a Kabir or in the mind of an Ashtavakra. Thought will remain thought. The difference does not lie in the nature of thought. The difference lies in whether you are accepting thought as your master. Kabir’s thoughts are of the same quality as yours, same fundamental at least. But Kabir is not a servant to his thoughts. In fact much better than thinking about someone is to just feel about him. If you don’t have any meditation in your life, you at least have feelings? Better move on your feelings and intuition, then proceed on carefully carved out and thought based association.

And those of you who proceed on feelings, to them I would say,  if you have a relationship based on feelings then it will have all the ills that go with feeling. And if you can have a relationship based on just simple love then that relationship will have all the characteristics and all the simplicity of love.

It is a non-issue! You can think about anything and you will find that you have become more and more uncertain about that thing. If you keep thinking, whether this speaker is sitting here or not, sooner than later you will pass through a point where you will be thinking that there is nobody here (pointing towards himself). This is how thought operates. No thought stays, and no thought is loyal to anything.

If you are not committed to the truth then thought is a perpetual wanderer. A wanderer without center. It will go to all the doors possible and keep knocking there. It will conceive all the possibilities that it has been trained to conceive, and keep considering them. You will find no stability there, you will find no rest there. There is no certainty in thought, how can you have stable relationships there?

I invite you, kindly start thinking whether you exist. Even that will become uncertain. You will find yourself wondering, do I really exist? A phase of thought will come, a time of the day will come when you will be convinced that probably I don’t exist. Even that time won’t last, even that would pass away! But the point is that nothing lasts, if it is based on thought. So there is no security there. The more you think about your near ones, the more you will find that they are quite afar.

Listener 3: Don’t thoughts help us understand things?

AP: Understanding comes first, then come thoughts. This may sound strange, because conventionally we have been trained to use thought as a tool to understand. That is felicitous. First comes understanding, then comes thought. The purpose of thought is not to understand but to give a language to understanding. Thought can never help you understand. The purpose of thought is to articulate. That is why thought and language necessarily go together. Thought can at best articulate your understanding and that is a genuine function of thought, genuine function!

You already know but conscious mind proceeds on language. So thought will help you put in consciousness what you know. Are you getting this? Thought will help you put in your consciousness what you know. That does not mean that without thought you will not know. You will still know. But as a conscious mind, you will have nothing to claim as your are knowing. Are you getting this? Thought does not help you understand. Thought helps you claim that you understand. And sometimes that claim is needed, in the field of consciousness that claim is needed!

It’s like this, you already know and somebody asks you, “What do you know?” Then you need language, then you need mental activity. And if the other one is still not able to conceive what you are saying then you will probably need to think a little and giving an example that belongs to his domain. You will have to think about his situation, you may probably have to gain knowledge about the environment he is coming from, the language he knows, the metaphors he would comprehend. And then you will build a narrative around all of that. Here thought is needed.

Understanding pre-exists thought. Awareness pre-exists consciousness. Consciousness will not lead to awareness, awareness is the basis of all consciousness. Consciousness may come, may go, change shape, change color, awareness remains. Thoughts may come, go, rise, fall, move into their opposites, understanding remains. You already understand, what do you understand? You already understand! The function of thought is to say, “What do you understand?” That is why thought, even as it describes understanding, also corrupts understanding, because language necessarily has objects. Thought will always want to answer the question, “What do you understand?” Understanding is there! Object-lessly, subject-lessly. Not only does it not have an object, not only can you not answer, “What do you understand?” Understanding also does not have a subject. So you can also not answer, “Who understand?”

Neither is there something to understand, nor is there somebody to understand. But thought always has a thinker, and thought always has an object of thought.

“What are you thinking about?”

And whenever there is something to be thought of there is always somebody to do the thinking. Understanding, neither has an object nor has a subject. Understanding is pure surrender. Now that you understand, keep thinking! Now thought is good, fun. There is nothing wrong with thinking. Thinking is not a crime, thinking is not a base activity. Thinking is wonderful. But not if thinking is promising itself as a vehicle towards understanding. No, no, no! Thinking cannot deliver the goods. Thinking is good fun. Thinking is just good fun, so let’s think! Let’s think but let’s not be in the illusion that thinking will take us to the beyond, that thinking will take us to our heart. Thinking cannot do that. And that reduces nothing, because thinking is still good fun.

The conscious mind needs something to play with. Thoughts are its toys, leave it with thoughts. After it has played hard, it has exhausted itself in the play, it goes to sleep. So healthy thinking is a wonderful thing, the mark of healthy thinking is that it will exhaust itself out. It will come to a point of U-turn. That point of U-turn is also a point of no return, because beyond that, thinking cannot proceed. Beyond that, thought consumes itself. Now gone! Arising from understanding, it again settles into understanding. Came from there, went back to there. In between, had good fun!

Like a kid, who proceeds from his house, goes to a playground, has a good time and then again goes back to relax and sleep in the house. The house comes first. In the house, is the kid born. In the house, would the kid again go to sleep? And in that sense pass away. The kid will not build the house, the house is ancient. Several generations of kids have been born and brought up there. The house is ancient, very-very ancient.

Get rid of this feeling that you do not know that you need to think hard. That is another aspect of shame.

“I do not know.”

Is that not a matter of shame? Get rid of that. You already know. In front of even the most knowledgeable authority, you need not feel submissive. He may words, he may have articulation, but there is nothing that he knows and you do not. He may have flowery faces, he may have scholarship, he may charm you with his ways but essentially there is nothing that he is and you are not. So there is no need to feel inferior. Enjoy the articulation, enjoy the books, enjoy the show but let it not become a judgement on your self-worth. Nobody has the right to announce a judgement on you. (Smilingly) Because nobody exists to announce the judgement.

Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant: Use thought, don’t be used by thought The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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