What is Tapasya? What is concentration? || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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What is Tapasya What is concentration

Question 1: What is ‘Tapasya‘(austerity)? Why is ‘Tapasya‘ necessary?

Acharya Prashant Ji: In the cold areas of the country, it becomes important, especially in winters, to let the sunlight in. Quilts etc. are kept out in the open, so that they receive the Sun treatment. The Sun must beat down on them.

The ‘taap'(heat) of the Sun removes, a lot of impurities.

That is ‘tapas’.

Feel the heat. Feel the heat.

Questioner: Still I don’t get it.

Acharya Ji: You know where the heat is. You know where the Sun is. Face it! There are many ailments for which you require heat treatment, or you require UV rays emitters. What do you do? You just bring yourself to the heat emitter, and stand in front of it, naked. You allow the heat to bake you, roast you, cleanse you.

There was a man, who once had few microbes, you know little germs, bacteria, on his skin. The doctor told him that sunlight kills these germs, or at least makes them run away. The germs overheard the doctor’s advice.

So, when the man was gleefully returning to his house, preparing to try the heat treatment, the ‘tapas’, the germs said, “You know what, the heat would do bad things to us. But the heat would do bad things to you as well.”

“Remember that you have not been exposed to sunlight since long. And we live in a tender part of your body, which is usually not exposed to harshness, to harsh Sun. If you will subject us to heat, you will be subjecting yourself as well to the heat, because you and we are very closely associated, attached now. And not only the two of us, are very closely attached now, it is some very weak part of you, it is very tender part of you, that is attached to us. You could even say that it is your weakness, which is attached to us. So, do not try what the doctor just advised. We will suffer, but you too will suffer.”

So declared the germs.

What did the man reply?

The man said, “I will merely suffer, but I will survive. And if I can survive that suffering, I would emerge healthier. But you, would not survive that suffering. I am a man. I have something in me, that can survive the Sun, because it is related to the Sun. I will suffer a lot. But, I will suffer brighter and stronger. The suffering will help me. But as far as you are concerned, you will not come out alive, out of that suffering.”

“The same heat, the same Sun, that is life-giving to me, is life-threatening to you. So I am prepared to go through the suffering. In order to avoid the suffering, I cannot give you an extended life. It is true that you will suffer, and I too will suffer. But that suffering is a blessing to me. That same suffering, is your end.”

This is ‘tapas’.

In killing your germs, you too suffer. In killing your germs, you too suffer. You willingly take that suffering, because you know that, that which kills the germs, makes you stronger.

So the suffering, has utility.

It is very difficult to defeat someone, who is prepared to give up everything, for victory.

This is ‘tapas’.

You defeat someone, not because he is weak.

You defeat someone, when he wants to protect his weaknesses.

Understand this.

It is not your weaknesses that defeat you.

It is your fondness towards your weaknesses, it is your protective attitude towards your weaknesses, that defeats you.

If you are  prepared to give up everything, if you are prepared to give up all your tender spots, your weaknesses, you would be very difficult to be defeated.

The final fulfillment, the final victory, that we had been talking of, would then be yours.

It is therefore, no crime, to find yourself weak. Biology and society, leave no stone un-turned, to keep you weak. Therefore, it is never surprising, if you look at yourself, and discover, a hundred weaknesses. It is normal.

It is normal to be weak.

But it is not alright, not acceptable, to be protective towards your weaknesses.

Finding them is alright. protecting them, is not.

Questioner: Acharya Ji, you have made it very easy.

Acharya Ji: If at the very first step, you declare it difficult, then there is no second step. Remember, what the germs said? “It’s going to be very difficult for you.” Do not buy into what the germs speak.

Question 2: Acharya Ji, can you give clarity in ‘concentration’? How to concentrate?

Acharya Ji: To concentrate, is to allow something worldly, to occupy you fully. To concentrate, is to allow something worldly, to occupy you fully.

Does concentration have a role in spiritual process? Yes, and No. Concentration can have a very beneficial role, and a very deleterious role as well. There is stuff in the world, that can take you beyond the world. If you concentrate on that, then you move into ‘dhyaan’(meditation).

Concentration has something worldly, as your goal.

Meditation, or ‘dhyaan’, is to have ‘the Beyond’ as your goal.

Now, ‘the beyond’ as the goal, is beyond the capacity of the mind.

Therefore the mind, has to necessarily start with concentration.

But, we said that concentration, is both – a boon and a curse. Concentration is a boon, if you have discretion, if you really know what to concentrate on. If you really fall in love with the right object, to concentrate on, that is ‘Ishq-e-majazi’, then concentration will lead you to meditation.

Therefore, in Patanjali’s path, concentration is one of the steps. But if you concentrate, on something stupid, it will take you deep into itself, and far away from meditation. Therefore, concentration, is a double-edged sword.

Come to the right object, and concentrate fully. Along-with concentration, discretion is needed. Discretion is needed, so that you concentrate on the right object.

Concentration, plus discretion – a good recipe for meditation.

Concentration, without discretion – devastation.

Question 3: Acharya Ji, does Vipasanna help?

Acharya Ji: It totally depends on the person. You have to hold the hand of something, or somebody, that is evidently taking you to the beyond. And, you have to hold the hand tightly. This ‘tightness’ of the hold, is called ‘concentration’.

But, before you hold someone’s hand tightly, do determine, who he is.


Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity. Watch the video session:  What is Tapasya? What is concentration? || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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How to awaken one’s potential? || Acharya Prashant with Students (2015)

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Acharya Prashant: Just ask me how to not lie sleeping, don’t ask me how to awaken my potential.

The potential doesn’t have any habit of sleeping, you forcefully put it to sleep, intelligence is not habituated of lying dormant. You habitually put it to sleep by acts like these (pointing to two students gossiping) and then you ask why is life so miserable, why my potential is lying unutilised; because you are hell bent upon living a stupid life.

You are asking me what do I need to do to awaken my potential, I am saying don’t do anything, you are already doing too much, in fact, stop doing what you are doing right now, once you stop doing, you find that the potential that intelligence starts expressing itself, stop doing that you are doing so much, even at this moment there are two kinds of people over here:

1. Who are not doing anything, who are just sitting and letting the listening happen.

2. Who are doing a lot.

And what would that doing mean, that would mean fidgeting with the pen, that would mean thinking a lot.

Who do you think is understanding me?

Those who are doing a lot or those who are not doing anything? Who is understanding?

Those who are not doing anything.

So don’t ask me what do I need to do to awaken my potential, you don’t need to do anything extra, in fact, stop doing all that you keep doing, stop doing that in which your energy is being dissipated, in thousand miscellaneous acts, stop doing them and then you will find that there is great and beautiful channelization, a lovely flow and then you will know what does it mean to be young; not this kind of random movement, like this is going on, haywired minds, this way, that way, this thought, that thought.

Look at your thoughts and actions from morning till evening, and see what you are doing, where your time and energy are going, and then you will realise.

You don’t need to actually read great books it’s far easier than that, far closer than that, observe your own life, what do I do from morning till evening.

We have our friend sitting here, and it pleases my heart, it warms my heart, to see that he doesn’t belongs to this section but he is still here but then there is something from time, past, memory which reminds me that our friend is the same fellow whom I had to scold in the last samvaad and ask him to sit right in the front, remember?

Would have been absolutely great if he had come here on his own accord, but he hasn’t, yes, he is here because he is short on attendance, which not a crime, it is good that he is still here but would have been so wonderful had he been here on his own accord.

And there have been cases where people have attended samvaad even though they belonged to different sections, and see how domesticated he looks right now!

And you remember the last samvaad when you were like an uncontrollable beast, over there, and I had to make you sit here; though he was very nice after that, you also raised a question didn’t you?

What we do our entire day just see what it comprises of, when there is pressure we succumb and what is the pressure?

Attendance!

When there is no pressure then we behave in the most glorious manner possible! Like in the last samvaad, just observe your own actions and thoughts, and see what you are doing, please you don’t need to do anything extra, observe what you are any way doing, and that is sufficient even. At this moment find out what you are doing and that is sufficent, you don’t need to take pains and extra steps.


Excerpts from a Shabda-Yoga Session. Edited for Clarity.

Watch Full Discourse: Acharya Prashant with Students: How to awaken one’s potential?

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We just need to understand our mind

Be cautious of what that thought is about. Look at it and ask yourself, “Is it needed?” If it is needed then proceed, think with all your power. And if it is not needed, then realize it is not needed. Realization is sufficient, no control is needed. I am repeating this, “Realization is sufficient. Control is not needed.”

No control is needed. Thus, this word – control, let it not be present in your vocabulary at all. See, so many of you are sitting here. If you are in attention and most of you look so peaceful, your faces are settled, your bodies are not fidgeting, who wants to control you? There is no need to control. The need to control comes only when this is lost.

And then control is violent, then control is suppression. I don’t think, here, as you are, you need to be controlled. We just need to understand our mind. We just need to understand what all this thought business is all about. Then there is no need to control.



Read the complete article: How to control thoughts?

How to control thoughts?

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Question: Sir, there are thoughts which distract us and make us restless and there are thoughts, which do not distract us and calm us down. Something is on the sideline of mind and then those thoughts get us distracted and we are distracted. So, how to have control over those thoughts?

AP: Tell me. What’s your name?

L: Divyanshu.

AP: Diyanshu. How do you know that it is important to have control over thoughts? Come sit over here….

Right?

Divyanshu is saying that there are thoughts that distract, there are thoughts which do not distract, thoughts of thousands of flavors and colors. How to have control over them?

Read more

Be a good friend of the mind.

We have been told only two things, either become the servant of the mind indulge in whatever it tells you to do or become a renunciate, a saadhak and learn to control the mind. Both these directions are directions of division, where you are dividing yourself against yourself. I am talking about something totally different. I am talking about defending the mind. And you know what defending the mind means? It means that “The book is open in front of me but the mind says, “That mobile phone is so attractive. I want to be with that mobile phone. and you say alright, you want to be with that mobile phone, let’s be with the mobile phone, let’s see what you want to do? Do whatever you want to do, I will not stop you. I will just remain present.”

Let the mind do, what it wants to do. Remain present along with the mind, do not leave it alone. Good friends do not leave each other. At the same time, they do not try to rule each other. They also don’t judge each other. Be a good friend of the mind. “You want to go there, I will come along. Whatever you want to do, do that but do that in front of me, in front of my awareness. I’ll watch what you are doing. Do what you want to do, let me just watch.” And then you will discover what the mind wants. And then you will discover why it rushes about in such a mad way, in such particular directions. And that will be a different knowing altogether. Are you getting it? 



Read the complete article: How to prevent distraction of mind?

How to prevent distraction of mind?

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Question: Sir my name is Anshul Negi. I want to ask you, Sir, How to concentrate on studies and focus my mind when it is distracted by other components and these components essentially lead to what I love to? So studying here now in modern toxic form. So, how to continue with these components and focus on studies?

Acharya Prashant: Repeat your question, please.

Question: Sir basically I want to ask “How to concentrate on Studies and focus my mind more towards it?”

AP: Anshul first of all do not give too much importance to the words ‘Concentration’ and ‘Distraction’. Your question essentially is “How to concentrate on my studies and how to prevent distraction?” Right? Read more

Is there a thing as free will?

 

Question: Is there anything as total free will or is there only free will according to conditioning?

Acharya Prashant: You know! The general concept of freedom, what does it entail? The general concept of freedom is all about being free to act as per my conditioning. ‘I want to buy that holy candle and I should have all the freedom to buy it.’ That is what I call as my “freedom,” and that is what is all the laws and all the constitutions, and all the societies and all the police systems protect. And that is what we are so touchy about.

‘I must have freedom to cast vote as per my choice.’ Now I do not even see that my choice of the president is an influenced choice. And what am I saying? That ‘It is a part of my freedom to cast my vote.’ Your vote? It is not your vote. It is your papa’s vote. It is the entire locality’s vote. It is your community’s vote. But we say, ‘No! Don’t take away my freedom.’ What we call as “free will,” hardly ever exists?

Read more

Find something overwhelmingly beautiful, and you won’t need to concentrate

Question: Why can’t I concentrate on anything?

Shri Prashant: Because those things are not worth concentrating. When you will meet something that deserves all your immersion, then you will not be left to ask this question. So, till the time you are not meeting that, it is good that you are not hitching up with the wrong kind of things. Is it not? It is good that you are unable to concentrate. Read more

You can never say ‘you are concentrating on something’

  • Any object and all objects are in duality, what does that mean? It means that they are limited and have a boundary, outside of that boundary, there is no object. So even when you are thinking of one object, you require it to have a boundary outside which it would not be there.
  • So, even if there is just one object, along with the object comes the absence of the object, which is not the object. So, there can never really be One object. Please understand this.
  • If you are concentrating on a tree, is it possible to not be aware of the sky behind the tree? The tree by definition is its outline, its boundary, its limits. The tree and the not-tree have to exist together for the tree to be there.
  • So, usually the mind would have many objects and even if it has just one object, it would have the dual opposite of that object necessarily present. Just as when you are concentrating on hope, fear is lurking in the background.
  • Objects by definition will have to be a minimum of two.
  • So for Solitude, mind will have to go beyond itself; that is called Absorption or Immersion or Surrender or Home-Coming or Dissolution. It is referred to by many names.
  • Because only That can be one. In the world of mind, you will never find oneness, at best you can find two.

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Edited for clarity.

Read full post: That Blissful Solitude is your nature | Words Into Silence

Watch full discourse: That Blissful Solitude is your nature | YouTube

That Blissful Solitude is your nature

Questioner: The reading has this quote that,

‘Solitude is in the mind of a man, that it is an attitude of the mind.

A man attached to things of life cannot get solitude wherever he may be.

A detached man is always in solitude.”

So it doesn’t depend on the location, the place where he is at, but how he is in the mind. I would want to understand more of this, what does this solitude mean? Read more

How do I get rid of my restlessness?

Question: Restlessness doesn’t really leave me. Why am I so restless? How can I get rid of my restlessness?

Speaker: Cars these days come with the auto-pilot feature. You can put the car on the cruise mode, especially on long drives, and the driver can relax. There was a research conducted on the vehicles that have this auto-drive feature.  It was found out that people who buy cars having this facility do not really use it. Read more

Only light can illuminate others

The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

– Lao Tzu

Speaker: Nothing can be looked at in isolation. (Pointing at the photo of a candle) You have a flame on the cover page of that calendar there.There is that flame.Lao Tzu Flame What else do you see there? There is a book, there is light falling on the book, and there is space around the flame. Right? And there must be other candles as well. Right? Read more

How do I know whether I am aware?

Question: How to know whether I am aware?

Speaker: What you call as ‘knowing’ is just thinking. It is a mental activity. Do you know of anything that is beyond the mind? You know of so many things in this world. Right? List them and see whether anything that you know is beyond time and space. Whatever you know of is a thing of thought. Read more

Intentions don’t matter; Awareness does

Question: What we get from outside especially in the childhood, is the love, affection, care of our parents, family. How can that contribute to our ego?

Speaker: There is a saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” People’s intentions are good, but they end up doing a lot of harm. People’s intentions are good but they end up doing a lot of harm because they are not aware. Even their love can only cause harm to the loved ones.

Intentions don’t matter, awareness matters.

I may have all the intentions of helping my son, my friend, somebody. But how can I help if my notion of help itself is misplaced.

Read more

Only a Godless mind will be petty

यदि देहं पृथक् कृत्य चिति विश्राम्य तिष्ठसि।

अधुनैव सुखी शान्तो बन्धमुक्तो भविष्यसि॥

– अष्टावक्र गीता (१.४)

Translation: If you detach yourself from the body and rest in consciousness, you will become content, peaceful and free from bondage immediately.

Question: How to detach oneself from the body? Read more

Motivation and ambition, symptoms of suffering

Question: Sir, how to stay motivated and ambitious even after repeated failures in life?

Speaker: Our friend is asking that how to stay motivated and ambitious even after repeated failures.

Do you understand what is ambition? Do you understand what is motivation? Do you understand what is failure?

What is motivation? What is meant by ‘motive’?

Motive means greed. Motive means, ‘I want to get something.’

Same is ambition. Ambition is an enhanced form of motive. ‘I want to get more and more.’ That is ambition. Be it motive or be it ambition one thing is certain, you are saying that I want to get something, that I want to achieve something. I can understand that the voices around you have been constantly telling you that you must get something, that you are incomplete, that there is something missing in you, there is something wrong in you, and you must make up for it by obtaining a particular degree, a particular job, a certain respectability.
Read more

The delusion called ‘Achievement’

Speaker: Do you really want to understand what this whole business of ‘achievement’ is? If you really want to understand, only then we can go into it. If you are into it superficially, out of an obligation, then you will not understand anything. So do you really want to understand this ?

Listeners: Yes, Sir.

Speaker: If you think this must be a very, very serious thing in which we are investing our entire life, this business of achievement, then it is very important to understand it. If you think this to be of that great importance, then only you will be able to understand. And if you think that there is nothing to do, life comes and goes, and if we waste one life then another life is waiting for us, then there is no point discussing all this. So are you really sincere about understanding ? Read more

Whose desires are you chasing?

Question: What is the proof that we are still evolving?

Speaker: Who says that it is not happening anymore? That process takes millions of years. There is enough proof. If you go hundred years back, the human brain has become larger. The overall size of the body has decreased because we have moved from an agrarian society to a society that is service-based, doing far more of intellectual work than mechanical work. Do you know what is happening? Across the world, babies are being born with bigger brain and smaller body. Evolution is at work all the time. Because your life span is only eighty to hundred years, you never see that. It takes place across centuries. You never see a monkey changing into man overnight. Read more

Of Confidence, Falseness and the Idea of Perfection

Speaker: The question is, “How do I know whether I am confident or overconfident? One is considered positive, the other is considered negative.” I ask you again. How can I declare a quantity ‘x’ to be positive or negative if I do not know that quantity. I must know something about it in order to understand it as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Do I understand what is ‘negative’ or ‘positive’?Do I understand what this confidence thing is? You will go back to your home, most of you, after few hours. When you are with your parents, let us say with your mother, sitting in a very relaxed way, do you really require confidence to speak to her? Do you really require courage to speak to her? It’s a natural, smooth, free flow. You do not require any confidence. Right? But when you have to speak in front of an audience, when you are standing on the podium, then you require a lot of confidence. Right?
Read more

Quantifying yourself leads to jealousy

Speaker: How should we get rid of jealousy and anger? By deleting the word, ‘we’ from this. Why could not you ask, “How should ‘I’ get rid of jealousy and anger?”

Listener 1: Yes, Sir.

Speaker: Why this plurality? Why does ‘me’ become ‘we’? That is why the jealousy and anger are there. See ‘M’ and it has been inverted. The letter ‘M’ in ‘Me’ when inverted becomes letter ‘W’ in ‘We’.

And then, the entire life becomes inverted. The absence of ‘I’ is the root of jealousy and anger. This ‘we’, is the cumulative mind, the collective mind, the social mind, the comparative mind that lives in ‘we’, that lives in a tribe. Jealousy cannot be there without ‘the other’.

Jealousy is born out of comparison. Jealousy is born from a mind in which many, many are living. To say that there are many, means that they are different entities. And to say that there are different entities, means you have already compared them. Can you say that ‘X’ is different from ‘Y’ without comparing ‘X’ and ‘Y’? ‘We’ means that different entities are present. And whenever there are different things, there would definitely be comparison and hence, jealousy. Read more