Question: My beliefs have come out of my experiences and my experiences have shaped my individuality. If I give up my beliefs, then I am giving up on my individuality?
Acharya Prashant: (quoting the questioner) My beliefs have come out of my experiences and my experiences have shaped my individuality. If I give up my beliefs, then I am giving up on my individuality?
If I ask you to write down what I just said in the last fifteen-twenty minutes and I say, write down in three clear points what has been said. And you write it down. And then I say, compare it with your neighbor, what he or she has written. You will be deeply surprised. You will be deeply surprised at the variation. You will look at your neighbors’ sheet and say, did he ever say this? What have you written?
Now I am one and I am saying the same thing, but all of you are experiencing different things. What is this experience? Where does it come from?
What is an experience?
Experience is nothing but the experiencer.
Kindly do not think that the experience is factual, that experience has any objective reality to it. You only experience what you have been conditioned to experience. Take a clear example. Even as we speak right now, a cricket match is going on. India versus England, right? Suppose we project the game here, live. On this side are Indians and on this side are Englishmen. And India quickly loses three wickets. What does this side experience? Gloom, disaster, three wickets in two overs, long faces. What does this side experience (pointing to the other side)? Cheerfulness, enthusiasm, right? Same happening, different experiences. Now, can these people call their experience as my own experience? Are ‘you’ experiencing it? Or is the ‘Indian’ experiencing it? Similarly, can these people call the cheerfulness their own experience? Are they experiencing it? Or is the Englishman experiencing it?
You do not experience anything! You are the experiencer who is a bundle of his
Born in England, you would be experiencing something totally different. You would be sitting on this side, same happening and you would be feeling glad. Are you getting it?
Listener: Acharya Ji, what is the experience
AP: Does that happen? Don’t imagine. Does that happen? If you have Indians sitting this side, does that happen? We are not talking in imaginations. We are talking on how the mind really operates.
Whatever you experience is not really ‘your’ experience. It is the experience that you have been conditioned to experience.
But you think, Oh I am experiencing this. If your identity is changed then your experience changes totally.
All experience has no objective value. It is completely subjective. What is happiness for one is sadness for the other. And it is not sadness for the other out of his individuality. It is sadness for the other out of his conditioning. Out of what he has been made to believe.
The ringing of the temple bell is a delight for the Hindu and means nothing to the Muslim. The call of the Azaan is deeply significant to the Muslim but is disturbance to the Hindu. Now, are you experiencing the ringing of the bell and sound of the Azaan? Are ‘you’ experiencing it? Or is it the Hindu that is experiencing it?
Were you born a Hindu? Hinduism is something that was given to you. It is part of your conditioning. You have acquired it, you have absorbed it. Same for the Muslim. He has acquired it. Taken it in.
But then, because we are living with it for a long long time, we start thinking that it is “My” experience. And because you are under that illusion, so you provide an opportunity for everybody to exploit you. How? The filmmaker very well knows that you do not know how to differentiate between conditioning and intelligence. So, he can do a lot of things on the screen which will give you varying kinds of experiences. And you will think these are my experiences and you will pray to those experiences. He can make you cry, he can make you laugh, he can titillate you with his item numbers and he knows very well that you will think that this is ‘my’ experience. You will be identified with it, attached to it. And then you can be exploited.
We are saying, one – Your experience depends upon the experiencer that you are. The experiencer that you are, the mind, comes out of a long process of conditioning.
You understand conditioning?
What is conditioning?
The mind acquiring and acquiring beliefs and layers and layers of thoughts. That is the process of conditioning.
Third, you are beyond your conditioning. There is something in you that is not conditioned. That is your individuality. Your very premise that my experiences come from my individuality, is deeply misplaced. Your experiences do not come from your individuality, experiences arise from your conditioning. From individuality, what you get is not at all an experience; it is a realization. That is why, it has been clearly said that what is essential in life is never really an experience and if you are experiencing it, then you don’t know it.
L: Acharya Ji, what is individuality according to you.
AP: Not according to ‘me’. Individuality is individuality. It is not my belief or opinion. It
is a fact. It is not according to me.
Individuality is that silence that untouched point, which can never be conditioned, which really looks and understands in an untouched way, Simple.
Can I stand a distance away from all my conditioning, can I just look at the happening as a non-participant? And then the realization that happens is individuality. And remember that is not just ‘your’ individuality, that is just ‘individuality’.
Just ‘individuality’, not ‘your individuality’.
L: But then again Acharya Ji, the term individuality that you have defined, this has come
from somewhere! And then again this was someone else’s belief?
AP: The word comes from somewhere. Why do you think that every word is a belief Why do you think that every word is a belief? It is a belief only when you have taken it from somewhere. But there is another possibility. Of having that faculty that just realizes, that doesn’t need to believe. You need to believe, you know when?
You need to believe when you don’t know. When you know then there is no question of beliefs.
Only those who do not know, ‘they’ need to take the support of beliefs.
When you know, why do you need to trust or believe? You know. And that knowing is very very first hand. That is the work of individuality.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Individuality is neither acquired nor influenced
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