All thoughts arise from external influences || Acharya Prashant, with Students (2013)

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Questioner: Most of the thoughts are coming from society and family. So, how can I judge that which thought is mine or not?

Acharya Prashant: No thought is yours; no thought is ever your own. You have very rightly said that all thoughts come from this place or that place, this influence or that influence. No thought is your own. Understanding is your own; that can be your own.

Let me give you an example:

As I am speaking right now, some of you would be thinking, the others are not thinking.

Is there anybody here, who would like to claim that he or she has listened to me attentively, even for one or two minute?

Even for one or two minutes?

Anybody would like to claim that?

‘That yes, even just for one or two minutes, I did listen attentively’.

Many of you…

In that moment, exactly in that moment, when you were listening to me, attentively, deeply, were you also thinking?

Exactly in that moment, when you were listening to me, attentively, not right now, in that moment, were you also thinking?

How many of you say that when you were listening attentively, you are also thinking?

If you are listening, then you are understanding and that understanding is your own.

If you are thinking when you are listening to me then you are surely either comparing what I am saying to your own past knowledge, or you are comparing one thing I am saying to another thing I’d said or you are thinking about just something outside of this room, ‘What is going to happen in the evening? What is there in my mail box? Who is walking outside this door?’

And there are thousand things you can think of. Is that thought yours, really?

The thought is surely arising from an external influence. Want to do a small experiment right now? About thoughts? Yes?

We have made a claim that all thought is external, it comes from outside.

Now, in the next 2 minutes, I challenge you that I am going to put a thought in your mind and you will not be able to resist me. Right?

You already know. And he has already surrendered. He knows I am going to do that. I challenge you to not to think of monkeys. In the next 2 minutes, nobody will think of monkeys, nobody will think of monkeys with long tails, monkeys with red or black faces, small monkeys, large monkeys, chimpanzees, a monkey shape like Hanuman, nobody will think of any kind of monkey. A monkey walking on a wall. A monkey hanging by a tree. A monkey carrying a fruit. A monkey showing it’s teeth. Nobody will think. I challenge you not to think! A mother monkey carrying a baby monkey. A whole group of monkeys. Not one but many monkeys.

Do you see how thought comes?

Do you see how this mind is totally influenced from outside? One is talking, and immediately thoughts will arise in your mind. The fact is even this mind is not our own. The kind of condition mind that we have is not our own. I can only call this mind our own only when it is not a slave of others, but it has come to such a situation that our mind is mostly a slave of others.

I said it is a 2 minutes experiments. You very will know it did not even last 15 seconds. Within 15 seconds there were only monkeys and monkeys in your mind. Right?

2 minutes are not needed, even 5 seconds is sufficient.

A beautiful girl walks in and this session is gone, disappeared.

He is already looking at the door! ‘Sir, will that really happen?’ And even as I have said, a beautiful girl, there would surely be an image in your mind. Gone. Many of you are already gone, finished. Such is our mind.

All thought arises as an external influence, but let’s not be disappointed because there is something deeper than thought which is totally ours. What is that?


When thought is behaving this way, there is a understanding that ‘Oh! this is the nature of thought to be like this, why should I be worried? Let thought do whatever it is doing. I m enjoying’.

This joy is deeply related to understanding.

A very practical thing for you, after all this, never say that this is ‘my’ opinion. Every opinion is a thought and every thought is borrowed. So never say it is ‘my’ opinion, it is not your opinion. It is somebody else’s opinion. It is a conditioned opinion.

India and Pakistan are playing a match. There are Indians, there are Pakistanis and there are Americans and Sachin Tendulker gets out, how do you feel?

How do you feel?

How do Paksitanis feel?

How do Americans feel?

Now, do Indians have a right to say that ‘It is ‘my’ desire that Sachin should play?’

Is it your desire?

Or is it because of the fact that you are born in a particular place?

It is the desire of an Indian and you didn’t choose to be an India.

There (Pakistanis’) great desire is that Sachin should fall as early as possible. But is it really their desire? Is it really their desire? Since childhood they have been taught that Pakistan must beat India. Is it their desire really?

That’s what they have been told. They don’t bother. They are indifferent. Who is Sachin? Now is it their indifference. It is not even their indifference.

Since childhood, all they (Americans) know is Baseball. When they look at Cricket, they say ‘It looks like Baseball. But it’s not exactly Baseball. And we don’t bother about what these people are doing.’

Do not ever be too serious about your opinions. Do not ever be too serious about your beliefs about your prejudices. Because they are anyway borrowed, they are anyway not yours. They are somebody else’s. Why be too serious about them? Somebody else has anyway given them to be. Why be too serious about a borrowed thing? If there is anything really yours It is not your thoughts and opinion. But your ability to understand. Everything else is borrowed and hence, meaningless. Do not be serious about it. Throw it away. Unacceptable. We do not accept it.

There was a fellow called Chuang Zu. He said a very simple thing and he is one of the leading figures of Taoism. He used to write beautiful short stories. Very-very short stories. Very simple, very direct but extremely deep.

In one line he has captured the whole thing. He said, ‘If you want to know the Truth, get rid of your opinions’.

Of course what he meant was, don’t take your opinions too seriously. Otherwise, you will remain caught in the opinions and never know the Truth.

So if you want to be real, do not take thoughts seriously. Thoughts and opinions are more or less the same thing.

Watch Full Discourse: Acharya Prashant: All thoughts arise from external influences The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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