Acharya Prashant: Is witnessing a hindrance to living? || Acharya Prashant (2012)

Question: Kabir is saying ‘attentive at a time.’ I can either be gossiping with my friend or watching that I am gossiping. How is it possible to be attentive and watch all the impossible to be doing both, right?

Acharya Prashant: Yes, it is a bit difficult because we have been in practice of inattention since very long.

Attentiveness is not a separate activity in itself.

You do not do attentiveness.

This question is would I be doing one thing and also doing attentiveness simultaneously.

Attentiveness is not something to be done.

If you are doing something that becomes another ‘action.’


Attention is the complete ‘absence of action.’

Attention is not doing another thing that I am already doing five things and I started getting another six things and that six thing is attention. If that is attention that will add further to the chaos. If that is what we understand by attention then this kind of attention will act further to the chaos. You see my mind is already divided in doing this thing, that thing, and that thing. And there is the fourth string that sums-up by the name of attention. And then, of course, we are already so busy and then we add attention to work to do list. There is a lot to do throughout the day and there is one more thing, ‘attention.’ So, chaos can only magnify from that. Am I right?

Do you understand this?

That is the reason why attention appears not very attractive. When you looked at in this way, it will appear very unattractive. There is so much to do in life and let’s start another new thing; watching. I am doing, running and eating and gossiping and in addition to that I am also watching but then attention is not a new or separate activity. It is not.

When there is a complete absence of activity at the center (At the center of the mind) so that at the center of the mind, you are free to just observed everything that is gathering on the circumference. That is called attention.

See the very nature of human-mind, is action, activity. That activity in the form of thoughts, planning, thinking, memories, hopes. All these are activities of the mind. Analysis, this is what the activity of the mind is. But all of this is not the central activity of the mind.

As long as whatever is happening, is happening a little bit at the circumference and at the center.

You are free, to see what is happening.

Just see, not do anything.

This seeing not doing.

Don’t burden yourself with it.

That you are doing some extra activity.

See there is a man who is sleep-walking and there is a man who is walking in awareness. Understand awareness as he is awake. So there is a man who is sleep-walking and there is a man who is walking in awareness.

Let the sleep-walking man going down this side. And let the man who is awake, walking down this side. At the surface, are their movement same? On the surface, superficially, are their movement same?

L: Yeah.

AP: It appears, same? Both are raising their hands, putting up their foot down, taking another step forward and walking at a distance, correct? What is the essential difference in the movement of ‘this man’(pointing towards the sleep-walking man) and ‘this man’(pointing towards the awake man.)?

A lot of work is doing this too but he does not know what he is doing. The work is done here too but he doesn’t know what is happening. Thing are just happening. Are you getting it? Things are just happening without any knowing and what is happening here, superficially his actions are same as the action of sleep-walker.

But there is the critical and central difference and what is the central difference that this man ‘knows.’ Now, in the knowing is a doing separate activity. Is knowing a separate activity in itself.

Knowing is ‘just’ knowing,

It is not any separate activity.

If you are doing anything you must have knowing with it unless you are asleep. Unless you are asleep, knowing is not a burden.

Knowing is your central state. You will know. If you are awake, do you need to take a different decision to know whether it is a light or a wall? Do you need to put an effort to know all of this? You just know, right? You just know. There is no burden in this. There is no labor involved in this and it is not a separate and extra activity. So don’t feel hesitant about it.

-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Is witnessing a hindrance to living?

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