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Question: Acharya Ji, conceptually I agree with everything you say. But my situation is that I have left a lot of my material stuff behind, and I seek that life that you speak about, but every step that I take I am always thinking about the next step.
I am here in India, I practice yoga and meditation, and I enjoy the beauty of the mountains, and I am trying to live this awesome spiritual life, without the material things. But now that I am here, I am also constantly thinking about what is next, what I am going to do when I return from India. It seems like a never ending cycle.
How can I stop thinking about the future?
Acharya Prashant: Davin (the questioner), a man felt burdened with Kilograms and grams. The kilos were a few, the grams were numerous. To make it more concrete – the kilos were four, and grams were forty. The fellow dropped forty of them, forty grams, but he missed out dropping the four, the four Kilograms. And now he says, “I have dropped so much, and I still feel heavy.”
Why does he feel heavy when he has dropped so many of them? Because he dropped the ones that were easy to drop; the real weight he didn’t quite drop. You dropped this and that, but have you dropped your belief that you know what is good for you? That is the one central belief that does not allow man to live freely and fully – “I will be my own master. My intellect will decide the next step.”
If you keep thinking about what you need to do next, if coming to India or planning your sojourn through India, is all happening via the intellectual route, then what have you dropped? If you still haven’t dropped your misplaced belief, in your power to take care of yourself, then what have you dropped?
That’s what hurts man most – his notion that he knows best what will serve him. He lets his intellect be his master. Take an example. You will come to know what we value more, and what is it that we will be very reluctant to drop.
If I say, “You are poor,” and if I say, “You are a moron,” what would hurt you more? Please. If I say, “You are poor,” verus if I say, “You are moron,” what would hurt you more?
Questioner 1: Being called ‘a moron’.
Acharya Prashant: Being called ‘a moron’. And that tells you what you are more attached to – you are not attached to your material belongings, you are more attached to your intellect. And that is why when you are called ‘a moron’, you cannot take it. Tell a man that he looks ugly, he will just feel offended. But tell him that he is stupid and crazy, he might just get at your throat.
It is our intellect that we take as our most valuable asset, it is our intellect that we are most identified with. Unless you have dropped that identification, what have you dropped? You have only dropped the grams. You have not yet dropped the Kilos. Drop the Kilos.
Questioner 1: I agree with what you are saying. What I have decided is that I will practice meditation because to me it is the best answer to being in present. Do you have a quick fix answer about what can I do?
Acharya Prashant: The quick fix answer is that even at this moment you are mistaken. Who is agreeing? Your intellect is agreeing. And you are saying, ” I am agreeing,” and by saying that you are agreeing, you are doing a disservice to yourself.
If you are really listening to a Teacher, you do not agree, you just listen.
If you are agreeing, then you have reserved the power to disagree as well. If you can agree, then tomorrow you can disagree as well. You are still taking yourself as your best Teacher – “I will decide whether or not I need to listen to someone. If I agree, it is good. And if I disagree, then the fellow is not good for me.”
Are you then listening to me, or are you then listening to yourself? Yourself.
Questioner 1: Then how to assess whom to listen?
Acharya Prashant: Don’t assess at all; just listen.
Questioner 1: So one must just listen to everything that anyone says?
Acharya Prashant: Yes, because listening is not same as acceptance. You do not yet know the power of listening.
Listening does not mean automatic, or mechanical acceptance.
Listening means Wisdom.
And if you do not listen, how will you know that the speaker is false?
If you agree or disagree, then you have already shut the doors.
You just listen, and listening does it for you.
Let listening be your master, not your notions.
Just be there.
Questioner 1: So should I accept everything that you said as the truth?
Acharya Prashant: Not accept. Didn’t I just say that listening is not acceptance? What is listening? Listening is that, that is so very subtle and imperceivable, that you are unable to ride on top of it. And the intellect has a deep need to be on top of everything. It is very insecure. That is why my answer is a threat to you. And you are saying, “How can I just accept what anybody is saying?”
You don’t have to accept. You accept when you agree, and I am asking you to not to agree. I am saying, “Never accept and never reject; just listen.” This listening is very-very strange thing. It is not a thing at all. Just listen, doesn’t matter what you are listening to. Be all ears, be all eyes.
India has said, “When you have all eyes, then you discover the eyes beyond the two eyes.” Be all eyes. Just see, without effort, without agreement, without judgement, without anything.
(Referring to the faces and body language of the audience during the Satsang) This is the state that you need to be more often – open, but not conclusive. Open without knowing what you are open to. It is a state of vulnerability. And we are very afraid of this state. If we want to open our doors, we need to be sure of the person who is knocking at the dorr. We don’t want to open the doors to everybody. We feel scared.
Open the doors, and trust that the door has its own sentience; the door won’t let everybody in. Get down from the position of being your own master. Unless you step down from the throne, you will find that you are letting the servant rule the kingdom, and there is only destruction everywhere.
Agreement and disagreement belong to one plane; Understanding is a different Sky altogether.
If you agree, you haven’t understood.
If you disagree, you have again not understood.
(Addressing to one of the listeners) Don’t scratch your head; it’s not there.
It’s somewhere else. One doesn’t reach there riding on the intellect.
Question 2: So one should think less?
Acharya Prashant: You should think as much as you want to, but you should think about matters that can be thought of. ‘You’ cannot be a subject of thought. Think about the cup and the coffee, don’t think about yourself. Don’t think about Freedom, and Truth, and Love, and God.
(Referring to the various objects in the room) Think about the camera, think about the tripod, think about this structure, think about the stars, and the Sun, and the galaxies, and the atoms. Go ahead and think about them. Be very scientific in your thought – explore, experiment. But don’t think about That which is not material.
Questioner 2: So, one must not think about the Self.
Acharya Prashant: Yes, yes. You can think about your body, your mind. Don’t think about the Self. You can think about the ego, the ego is very much material. That which can be related to the material, is just material. Isn’t ego related to the material?
If I have more material, my ego gets inflated. And only the material can have a relation with material. So ego too is material. So think about the ego, but don’t think about the Self. Keep that aside.
When you think about the ego, say, “It is the ego,” don’t say, “It is the Self.” When you are thinking about the body, say, “I am thinking about the material body,” don’t say, “I am thinking about my Self.” Keep the Self aside.
Questioner 1: What is the Self?
Acharya Prashant: Why do you want to think about it?
Questioner 1: If I can differentiate between ego and the Self, I can know what I need to think about, and what I don’t have to think about.
Acharya Prashant: Yes, of course. All that you know is – your ego. All that you know is your troubles, your life, your money, your body, and your relationships, why don’t you rather think about them? And if you think deeply about them, maybe you will be able to see a few things. But instead you waste the energy of thought over inconsequential things; you think about Freedom. When you start thinking about Freedom, you have unnecessarily distanced yourself from Freedom.
There are certain things that are not ‘things’ at all, and hence they must not be thought of. Think about bondage; bondage is a thing, Freedom is not a thing. So please think about your bondage, and you are neck-deep in bondage. Instead of thinking about the bondage, what do you have? You have great lectures on the blossoming that is Freedom. And nobody is asking you to be honest and direct, and acknowledge the fact of slavery and bondage.
Questioner 2: Is looking at the ego the way forward?
Acharya Prashant: No. Looking at the ego is not a way of moving forward; looking at the ego is hard work.
The moment you look at the ego, and you accept that you are suffering a lot because of this little thing, then you have to take the pains of getting rid of the current situation. And that is why we do not want to look at ego, we do not want to look at bondages. We want to avoid suffering, we want to avoid taking tough decisions.
The fact is that by avoiding the right kind of suffering, you are immortalising the wrong kind of suffering.
See, if you fight for Freedom, there is pain. And if you do not fight for Freedom, even then there is pain. Choose the right kind of pain. We choose the wrong kind of pain. There is trouble for Jesus, and there is trouble for Judas. What kind of trouble would you rather have? Both are in trouble, please see.
Choose your trouble wisely.
Escaping trouble is not possible. If you are born human, you have to conquer a few things, you have to fight it out. You will have to get into the war. Just ask yourself, “Which side am I in, in this war?” The war is there, we cannot wish it away.
There is strife, there is conflict, man must fight. The question is: For what are you fighting – for Freedom or for your own bondage? Most people fight to support their chains; it is such a stupid fight.
Most people work very-very hard to maintain the status quo, and the status quo is imprisonment. We work very hard to build prisons for ourselves. Is that wise? Why do you work so hard?
Questioner 2: But Acharya Ji, in the real world people need to work, people need to earn money, people need to maintain family.
Acharya Prashant: All that is alright. The question still is: What is more important? We are not saying that you must not earn, or feed your family. It is not an either or situation, where there is either Freedom or food. The question is: What comes first – food or Freedom?
Questioner 2: Food.
Acharya Prashant: Ah! Then the matter is settled.
If food comes first, then go ahead and sell everything else for the sake of food. If you are sure that food comes first, why are you troubled? Sell everything for the sake of food. But you know very well that it’s a bad deal. Food cannot come first, unfortunately food cannot come first; not for human being, not even for an animal perhaps.
If you keep an animal chained, and keep feeding it nice food, the animal won’t settle with that; probably it would, who knows. There are birds that get attached to their cages. Even if you now open the door of the cage, they won’t fly away. We are not talking of anybody and everybody, and all birds. We are talking of the bird called ‘you’. What do you value?
Questioner 2: Food.
Acharya Prashant: If you value food, then the matter is closed. But if you value Freedom, then let Freedom decide where your food would come from.
It is not as if that those who live a life of Freedom, do not get food and starve.
Let Freedom decide where your morsel would come from.
And rest assured, there have been hundred and thousands, who have lived freely, and yet not starved.
Question 3: How does one decide what Freedom really is, without intellectualising it?
Acharya Prashant: You decide Freedom by being true to your experience. If you are suffering, then you are not free.
Questioner 3: But how does one decide that one is suffering?
Acharya Prashant: You don’t like it; it’s simple.
Questioner 3: But how does one decide that one is not liking it, without thinking about it?
Acharya Prashant: One’s head is heavy. If you have a headache, do you need to think that you have a headache?
Questioner 3: Yes.
Acharya Prashant: Seriously.
Questioner 3: Yes. If I don’t think that I have a headache, then I wouldn’t know that I need to do something about it.
Acharya Prashant: It’s not so. Look at your daily life. (Referring to someone sitting in the audience). He is there, and he pinches you hard from behind.
Questioner 3: If I don’t think that someone is pinching me hard from behind, then I will not realise what is going on.
Acharya Prashant: No, no, no. You won’t take even a split second to react to him. Thought needs time. If you are pinched hard from behind, you would quickly react. Where is thought? Suffering doesn’t need thought really.
Questioner 3: If one is used to suffering whole life, then how does one separate suffering from what is not suffering?
Acharya Prashant: That’s a more tricky question.
The question is: “What if one is so accustomed to suffering, that he has now termed suffering as his natural or normal state. What to do then?”
You would still keep feeling an inner restlessness. You may consciously tell yourself that everything is alright with you, but when you would look at the Sky, and look at the flight of the bird, something would still inside you. You would not know what it is, but you would feel uneasy. That unease is the proof that life is not yet alright.
When you would look at the river, or when you would look at a wandering Monk, suddenly something would strike you. All your life’s earnings, and all your intellectual structures would start shaking. And you would know that your intellectual structures are not resting on a firm foundation. Just the sight of a bird, or a fish, or a river, or a monk was enough to shake you up.
And if you are not shaken up by anything, relax. Chill! Why unnecessarily invite trouble by going to a Guru, or reading a Scripture? If you are feeling totally alright, tehn stay alright and relax.
Question 4: What if one feels like ninety percent alright?
Acharya Prashant: There is nothing called ‘ninety percent alright’. You cannot say, “I am ninety percent free of cancer.” Even if ten percent of that lump remains, the stuff is still cancerous; it’s not a matter of quantity alone.
Question 5: Once we know that there is some uneasiness, then when we need to encounter that what is going wrong. Then we need to use our thoughts. Otherwise how would we get to the point?
Acharya Prashant: Use thoughts. Who is saying that you do not have to use thoughts? Use thought to look at that, which can be thought of. So use thought to look at body, to look at ego, don’t use thought to determine or define Freedom. Think about your bondages, about your life, your job, your relationships, whatever can be thought of, but don’t think about Love. Yes you might think about lovelessness, which is alright.
The trouble is, if you think about Love, you will be successful in defining Love. If you think hard enough, you will come up with the definition of Love. And that definition is bound to be incomplete. Now even if it is incomplete, you have it in your hands. And what will you do next? You will bring up something that confirms to your personal definition, and you will start calling it ‘love’. And then you will convince yourself that you have found Love.
Question 6: Is it something higher than thought?
Acharya Prashant: In the last one hour, have you been continuously thinking?
Questioner 6: No.
Acharya Prashant: No, right? And when you have not been thinking – “What is it that was happening on its own?” – that is called ‘Understanding’.
Even thought happens for the sake of Understanding. You do not want to be perpetually thinking. You think so that the matter can be closed. Right? You think about a problem, do you want to continue thinking? Or do you want to come to a solution?
Questioner 6: To come to a solution.
Acharya Prashant: So higher than thought is a state of solution, a state of dissolution; dissolution of thought itself. That dissolution is called by the name of ‘Bodh‘, ‘Understanding’, ‘Pragyan‘; so many names are there.
Thought is a medium, a useful medium; apply it where it is applicable.
Keep it in its right place, and then it is beneficial.
Think when it is necessary; if you do not think, then you must be foolish.
And if you think when you must not think, it’s even more foolish.
Questioner 5: Acharya Ji, it seems like a perpetual machine; it is not in control. Even to control it, we have to use our head. To use it here, and to not use it here, we will again have to use thoughts.
Acharya Prashant: Now there are two possibilities – either the machine is badly designed, blame God, or operator of the machine is unskilled. Which possibility do you want to talk of?
Questioner 5: The one that involves the operator.
Acharya Prashant: Who is the operator? You.
The mind is a servant, you are making the servant do what it cannot do. The mind cannot fetch you Peace. And what are you making the mind do? Run after Peace, run after Truth, run after Freedom, run after fulfillment.
You do not tell the mind, “Go get the fulfillment,” but what do you tell it? “Go get me that thing, which in turn will get me fulfillment.” Now the servant cannot take this task, so the servant goes mad. You are overloading the servant.
The mind has limited capacities. Ask the mind to do what the mind can do.
Tell the mind to go into the atom, and it can go there. Tell the mind to chase the stars, and it can do that. But if you tell the mind to get you Love, the mind cannot do that.
And entire humanity is busy in getting the mind to do impossible things. That is why the mind has gone totally bonkers. It is a mad machine now.
Question 7: So does it mean that the Understanding that you spoke about a while ago, precedes thought, that the thought comes after and tries to rationalise the Understanding?
Acharya Prashant: Understanding simply means dissolution of the matter. Understanding means – the thing does not exist, the matter is closed; it’s gone, away. So what is left to rationalise?
Understanding is both before and after thought; it is also the base of thought. But if you have wandered away from Understanding, sometimes you need the help of thought to come back to Understanding.
What is the utility of thought?
Good thought helps you cut through bad thought – that is the utility of thought. In fact, good thought is that, only that, which helps you see the fallacy of thought. Good thought helps you lose confidence in the power of thought. That is good thought.
Questioner 2: What you are saying, is that not a thought? Are these not your thoughts?
Acharya Prashant: I do not really ‘know’ what I am saying. I cannot even say that these are not thoughts. I hear what you just said to me, and I also heard what I just said to you. I heard both of them equally.
I can make no comment on what I am saying; I am at a distance from it.
Watch the session video: How to stop thinking about the future? || Acharya Prashant (2018)
The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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