Never forget who you are! || Acharya Prashant (2019)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.

Never forget who you are!

Question: Acharya Ji, during the process of spiritual sadhana, we have some responsibilities related to both finances, as well as physical availability. How to tackle this?

Acharya Prashant Ji: Who are you?

Questioner 1: Incomplete consciousness.

Acharya Ji: So what is your responsibility?

Questioner 1: To get completion.

Acharya Ji: Full stop.

Questioner 1: So, what to do of the responsibilities?

Acharya Ji: What is your responsibility?

Questioner 1: To get completion.

Acharya Ji: Full stop.

Never forget who you are.

If you will forget who you are, you will take up false responsibilities.

Are you getting it?

Questioner 2:  Isn’t the other’s completeness, also our responsibility?

Acharya Ji: How do you know about other’s completion, when you have not fulfilled your basic responsibility towards yourself? Is it not great arrogance, and story-telling? When you do not know what is your responsibility, and what will bring fulfillment to you, what do you know about others, and others’ fulfillment?

May be you are the biggest barrier to others’ fulfillment.

Questioner 2: Suppose my child needs my…..

Acharya Ji: Why ‘suppose’? Why not stick to That, which you definitely know of? Why suppose so much, and make more stories?

The very first day (of the 3-day retreat), we said that – what is the only thing that you definitely know of?

Questioner 2: Suffering.

Acharya Ji: “I am. And I am suffering.” Is there anything else, that you definitely know of? Then why suppose so much? Why live in suppositions?

It hurts to realise, that suppositions are stories.

The more you live in stories about yourself, the more you will have ideas about the world.

The more you gain clarity about yourself, the more you realise, that your stories about the world, were all cotton-wool stuff.

Questioner 3: They do effect. The friction that arises, does effect the state of the mind. And because of its effect on the state of the mind, it feels like coming back to square one. Every day, one starts with something, then there is friction, and one comes back to the square one. It is a vicious circle. How to deal with this?

Acharya Ji:

Others and situations, are able, to cause a drastic change, in your mental environment, because you are not aligned with, you are not sticking to, something immovable.

Had you really been tethered to something, that cannot be proven false, that can be easily blown away, then how could the others, just carry you along, and take you for a ride, and shake you, and displace you?

We are not firmly affixed to that definitive-ness. There is nothing in our life, that is ‘certain’. And because of this lack  of certainty, all external influences, become too much on us.

Are you getting it?

We are not firmly rooted in reality. We are not like a strong tree, with deep roots. We are more like a fallen leaf. So, every small influence, or a little bit of breeze, let alone a powerful gust, just takes us away.

What is the ‘reality’, the ‘certainty’ that I am talking of?

I AM – that is the only thing about which, you can be sure. That is the only thing, you must always remember.

When you remember THAT, you will have very little space to remember miscellaneous things. When your mind is constantly occupied by that fundamental realisation, then how will there be any space, to accommodate, miscellaneous worldly stuff?

But we displace, the essential, and create space for the non-sensical. These two things happen together – both equally unfortunate. The tree is uprooted, and then the leaves start being taken away by the winds.

Don’t be uprooted! Don’t be uprooted!

Remember one essential thing, and then all else will sound very trivial to you.

You will be able to ignore it, reject it, dismiss it, without much effort.

You will become unavailable.

Things will keep happening, you won’t be available to them.

Because now, you have reserved yourself, fully, for the essential.

And this is common sense.

What must you attend to – that which is important, that which is critical, or that which is flimsy, casual, transient? What must you attend to?

Keep attending, to that which is definite, important, urgent.

All else will fall in place.

Don’t blame others, or society. They are able to influence you, because you are faithless. The wind blows for everybody. If you are a healthy being, you enjoy it. If you are weak and sick, with your immunity compromised, then you curse the wind, and run indoors, complaining of fever.

The same external movement, is delight for the one, who is inwardly healthy. You say, “Wow! Lovely breeze. See, how my hair are flying in it.” Don’t you? But if you are two and half kilograms in weight, so pale, so emaciated, so diseased, then you would be found flying away to glory, along with your hair, in the same wind. Now, it is no more a delight. Now, it is a dread.

All the ones around you, who influence you, affect you, are just winds.

Be strong, and enjoy the winds.


Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Never forget who you are! || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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The relation between religion and spirituality || Acharya Prashant (2018)

The relation between religion and spirituality

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Question: Acharya ji, my sister believes in Christianity, and she has also changed her religion. Now, she says that I am on a wrong path. What is the right path? How are religion and spirituality connected?

Acharya Prashant:

When the subtle becomes gross, rather the subtle is turned into gross,

then all these religious prejudices are born.

So, when someone says, “Jesus,” then someone must ask, “Who is ‘Jesus’? What do you mean by ‘Jesus’? The son of Mary? Who is ‘Jesus’?” When somebody says, “I have found my path,” the question to be asked is, “Whose path?”

From the gross, the inquiry must move to the subtle.  And that is also the relation between Religion and Spirituality. The Truth is subtler than the subtlest.

Spirituality is subtle, Religion is gross.

We get attracted to names, forms, conventions. Jesus is not the name and form of ‘Jesus’. Who is ‘Jesus’? And if you look at the Bible closely, then there is enough in the Bible, to clearly see, and demonstrate, that those who are ardent evangelists, are the ones, who have probably missed Jesus the most.

There are two kinds of missionary zeals. One is – when you have really dissolved, really found, and then what you have found, disseminates itself from your being, or rather non-being. This is Love. You are like the Sun, you must radiate. This first form of zeal is Love.

And then the second form of zeal is, when you have not found, and you know that you have not found, and because you have not found, you are insecure, and to cover-up your insecurity, you want to gather numbers around you. Because insecurity requires a crowd. Insecurity requires that there must be more like you. Insecurity has a need to prove itself.

So, to convince yourself, that you are not as much in a debauched state, as you really are, you turn outwards. This is ‘evangelism’. You are trying to convert the other, because you are yourself not converted. And there is a great difference between love and evangelism.

In Love too, you bring something precious to the other. But, in Love, you bring something precious to the other, for the sake of the other. In evangelism, you bring something to the other, for your own sake, because you know fully well that you are insecure. Because you know that you are stuck somewhere, and are lonely.

“I am the only one who follows a particular religion in the family. So, won’t it be great if I have some support? Won’t it be great if my numbers multiply?” The question to be asked is, “Do you have the real thing?” And I am not saying that one has to follow only path to get to the real thing, or for that matter one has to follow any particular path to get the real thing.

So, it’s not the question of paths, it’s the question of whether you have IT. If you have IT, then your approach, then your relationship with the entire family, would be very different. And if you don’t have IT, then you are just acting as an enemy, by trying to convert someone to your side. 

It’s not then about Christianity, or Hinduism, or Theism versus Atheism. It’s simply the question of whether one has it. Do you have it? And if you have it, then please tell me what does ‘Jesus’ mean to you. Who are you? Who are you?

When you say you have found your path, whose path? This question of identity, will befuddle and anger, many a zealous evangelists. When they say that they have found God, the only question that you have to ask is, “Who has found what?” And this will irritate them so much.

When Jesus says, “I am the life, the light and the way,” what does Jesus mean by ‘I’? Does Jesus mean, the body of Jesus? Then what does Jesus mean by ‘I’? In fact, the best way to tame a Christian , is to read the Bible. The best way to show to a Hindu, that he is ignorant, is to read the Gita. 

Chances are, the Christian would be the one, who has no relationship with the Christ, whatsoever. The Hindu would be the one who has no relation with Krishna, in any way. So, when they say, “Come to Jesus,” say, “Yes, I will come to Jesus, directly, through the Bible.” And go to the Bible, and meet Jesus.

And I assure you, Jesus is tremendously beautiful. But when you will really be with Jesus, then Christians will not like you, because they do not want you to be with the Christ. They want you to be a Christian.

And there is tremendous difference, in being with the Christ, and being a Christian.

So, how to deal with your sister? Go to Jesus, he will tell you. Your sister wants to take you to Jesus, I too am encouraging that. Kindly do go to Jesus, but go directly. Go to the Bible.

Yours truly too has spoken a lot on Jesus. Why don’t you share one of those videos with her? Support is available. Fire!

Listener: Some say that even Christ was not a Christian.


Acharya ji: Jesus is beautiful, Krishna is beautiful. Go to them.

Listener: Are they not same?

Acharya ji: In form and name, obviously not. In essence, obviously yes.

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

Watch the session:  The relation between religion and spirituality || Acharya Prashant (2018)

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Acharya Prashant: How to remain free from the hurt and sickness of others?


Question: Dear Acharya Ji, you have said that what is healthy is forgotten, what is sick is remembered. If something is bothering me and making me restless, is it always that I am sick? Can there will also a way where I am healthy but the sickness of other person is bothering me? Can you give clarification on this?

Acharya Prashant: Sickness is always the ‘other.’ Sickness is anyway never yours. I am not merely saying that sickness belongs to the others, I am saying, sickness is the ‘other,’ and parallelly the other is the sickness. So, it doesn’t make matters any better for you.

Even it is proven that the sickness that is bothering you, comes from the other. Even if you are identified with sickness still it is the other.

Your nature is ‘not sickness. Your essence is ‘not sickness.’

So, obviously wherever whenever there is sickness, it is foreign, it is something else, it is somebody else.

You are asking what do I do if somebody else’s sickness is bothering me? If somebody else’s sickness is bothering you then you have contracted that sickness.

All sickness always comes from somewhere and starts bothering you then that sickness starts bothering you, it is the only proof that you are sick now. A virus comes from somewhere but it has not started bothering you. What is this situation called? The situation called ‘disease.’ You are infected now.

The first step in dealing with the sickness of the world is to not fall sick.

Read more

Man stabs in the back

And man have such great systems of morality and yet man is a ‘Mass-murderer.’

Man has caused thousands of species to get extinct and they will never come back.

Is that not surprising? Except the child of man, nothing is told right and wrong and yet it is the man who seems to be the worst offender of all.

The dog knows Love. In spite of never have been taught anything about Love

And Man is continuously been taught Love and Man does not know Love.

Man stabs in the back. No, dogs stabs in the back

and man has given ample lessons in Loyalty and Fidelity.

Nothing in existence makes itself up.

Man wants to do a lot and in doing a lot he only degrades himself.

That which is central that which is really important is beyond right and wrong.

To live in your essential nature is only right. And this is a secret that entire existence knows.

The only right is to be aware of ‘your’ nature and live in it.

Live by it and die by it.

If the cost is death, pay the price.

You need not tell somebody that it is right to be free.

That which is really important is already known to us, rest need not be taught.

Remember that, the only right is to be aware of ‘your’ nature and Live in it.

The only wrong is to have an ‘artificial personality.’

Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant: How to know what is right and what is wrong?


Acharya Prashant: How to know what is right and what is wrong?

Listener: Who discretes ‘what is wrong’ and ‘what is right?’ People have a different perception of what is right and something is better.

Acharya Prashant: Right. Very good. What is your name?

L: Apoorva.

AP: Sit, Apoorva. Apoorva it is very good that you are questioning a deep assumption. The assumption of morality that ‘what is right’ and ‘what is wrong?’ You have gone many steps ahead but still, you stopped, you are not completing the journey. You must not only ask, “Acharya Ji, who decides what is right and what is wrong? You can go a step ahead, a step further and ask, “Whether there anything right and anything wrong?” You still have belief that there is something ‘right’ and there is something ‘wrong,’ right?

You are believing in that, right? I am asking you, “Why must you believe in that?” You have limited your question. You are saying that there is something ‘right’ and something ‘wrong’ but who will decide that? Your question is limited to this part that who will decide that ‘what is right’ and ‘what is wrong.’ I’m saying broaden your question take one more step. Ask, whether there anything called ‘right‘ and ‘wrong?’ Can you ask this question? Do you want me to broaden it?

L: Yes, Acharya Ji.

AP: Alright! What is right, what is wrong? You were born and if these things were not given to you, would there be a problem with the living? Would you not able to breathe? Would the essentials of life be lost to you? How would a man be a lesser being if there is nothing called right and wrong in his vocabulary, tell me?

There is beautiful grass outside. It does not know any right and wrong, and it’s still Beautiful. It is not depressed. It does not have any diabetes or heart attack and it is not sining either the clouds, the animals, the rivers. They have no sense of right and wrong and yet they are very grounded beings. You do not see any animal raping any other animal. You do not see ethnic cleaning in jungles. You do not see that one animal was so violent that it caused any other species to go extinct.

Do you see all this?

You do not see organized wars amongst trees. Now, they don’t have sense of right and wrong and yet they are alright.

And man have such great systems of morality and yet man is a ‘Mass-murderer.’

Man has caused thousands of species to get extinct and they will never come back.

Read more

How to relate better to one’s wife?




Question: If there is a fight going on with my wife, and she gets angry, and I too get angry. Won’t that create more friction?

Acharya Prashant: You know what, you don’t get angry when fighting with your spouse, because you assume that she is not as strong as you. Do you see that? You say, “She is the weak one, so let her be angry. I am the more responsible one, so it is upon me to not to get angry.” Is that not what the assumption is? Now see what is actually happening. You are assuming her to be weak and she is controlling you. So, who are you? Weaker than the weak. Do you see this? Read more

What you call as normal is abnormal, and also highly insane


Question: A gentleman was saying that a person, who is drinking or is drunk, he still has got some kind of stability on mind, and he too, can judge. That is what I felt to be perhaps wrong. A person who is drunk probably loses his judgement and whatever we have heard from doctors and other people, anybody who takes liquor is likely to lose self control, his thought processes are likely to become distraughted, and he is likely to lose his good judgement. We have seen drunkards moving around and we see that they probably lose self control. That’s my perception or observation.

Acharya Prashant: In an otherwise sane world, drinking might probably need obfuscation of consciousness. But when you say that you see drunkards moving along and you see what kind of things they are doing, do we also not see non drunkards moving along and doing what they are doing?

Listener 1: But if we compare their behavior, Sir, we find that the behavior of the drunkard person is deviated from the normal standards.

AP:  What is the normal? And who sets the standards? What if the normal itself is highly depraved? Read more

Krishna is that within you that already knows


Krishna is that in Arjun that already knows. In a physical setting Krishna appears like a man outside of Arjun. Actually speaking, Krishna and Arjun are not separate. Krishna is the one that Arjun goes to, when he wants to validate all that which he already knows. Krishna is the Heart of Arjun. That Heart is also known by the names – Lover, Friend, Guru. Are you getting it?

That within you which already knows, is Krishna. Now, That may appear outside of you also, just take a form, a shape, a name but essentially That is not outside of you. That is your own heart, your own core, essence, centre. Whatever you may call it – source. That is the relationship between Krishna and Arjun. Arjun is confused mind; Krishna is the centre of that mind. Arjun is the problem; Krishna is the solution.



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

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Krishna is that within you that already knows

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The difference between ordinary and common


Question: Sir what is the difference between being ordinary and being common?

Acharya Prashant: Commonness is social, commonness is what you see all around. What is very very prevalent is common. Ordinary is that which may not appear to be very prevalent, but is all-pervasive; which is the essential; that to which nothing has been added.

We usually use these two words — ordinary and common — as synonyms but they are not synonyms. Read more

An accidental seeker and a true seeker

That is the distinction between an accidental seeker and a true seeker: an accidental seeker can be made to listen through a foreign influence.

It is the influence of this beautiful environment, my presence that you might be listening right now. But would you be listening after I am gone?

The true seeker listens under all conditions because his seeking is his own. The accidental seeker listens only when

The accidental seeker listens only when made to listen. Only when the situations are

Only when the situations are favourable. As long as the situation are favourable, you look towards me, you try to look towards the truth and whenever the situations offer you a little slack, then you run away. Then you do all kinds of things that you cannot do in front of me.

To read the complete article:

On Ishavasya Upanishad: There is nothing called spiritual knowledge

We are all born married


Listener: Is it possible to live alone?

Acharya Prashant: Why does this question arise?

L: Because I don’t want to get married.

AP: Why don’t you want to get married?

L: Because I want to go on the path of spirituality. And dependency should not be there. I feel that if I marry someone, I will be dependent.

AP: What if you are dependent on somebody or something else even if you don’t marry?

L: I feel complete without marriage.

AP: Then, why does this question arise? Read more

Silence is the thirst of your mind

Silence is that which you want, really really want,
when you move from one type of noise to the other type.

Silence is the thirst of your mind.

Silence is that which is your essential state; that which you deeply do know.

And because you know it, because your familiarity with it is very very intimate,
hence, you cannot forget it.

Whom to call a real saint?


Question: If man’s nature is intelligence then why ignorance is so prevalent and there are very few intelligent people in the world. There have been very few Saints compared to the overall population of the mankind. Why is it so?

Acharya Prashant: It cannot really be explained but what is certain is that if a Saint is able to speak to you, it is because you have a Saint within. So, I do not know to what extent we can accurately count the number of Saints we have had. I would rather like to say that—Every person is a Saint; all that we have is Saints.

There are saints that appear as Saints, and there are saints that are waiting to appear as Saints. All’s said and done there is only Sainthood, nothing else. Of course, you can say that there is the Sainthood and there is the waiting. Yes, there is the waiting and waiting means time. So, there is Sainthood and there is time.

The thing is waiting is nothing. You are waiting for something to happen. Now, is anything happening in the waiting? Waiting means that the happening is postponed. The real thing is just being postponed, not that the Real thing is being substituted with anything Real. It is just being unduly, unnecessarily postponed.

So, of course, one can give a lot of classical, theoretical answers that there is Maya; anyone cannot explain the origin of Maya; or that it is the very desire of the source and one cannot read into the desires of the source; or that, this question can come as long as the mind is disturbed when the mind is not disturbed then one does not ask where does disturbance come from. So, I can give all those answers but I would rather like to give a more useful answer.

The answer is that a Buddha is not rare, or a Kabir is not rare.

Had they been rare how could you have sung of Kabir, and you sing Kabir with such fondness. Very recently you have uploaded a few of your songs, have you not? So, in those moments you are Kabir. You are Kabir.

In other moments, you are waiting to turn Kabir, eagerly waiting. Walking in the street, sitting in your office, driving your car, typing an e-mail, what are you waiting for? You are waiting just for those few moments when you can be Kabir. Is it not happening? Don’t we spend the entire day just in hope of those few moments of sanity? What are those few moments?

What are those few moments?

Let those moments not remain so rare. Support them. When they call you, respond affirmatively. And then, you find that slowly your life is becoming more and more full of Kabir. I am not referring to the man who lived a few centuries back; the weaver. You know what I am referring to. I am referring to the peace that you are when you are singing Kabir. That peace is what beckons you all the time. That is Kabir.

That is Kabir.

So, there have not been just a few Saints; everybody is a Saint. Some people are Saints in the present and some people are postponed Saints; deferred sainthood, scheduled for the future.

Stop this scheduling business. Let it come to you right now. Let it come to you more and more.

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

Watch the session:  Acharya Prashant: Whom to call a real saint?

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: Your own essence is the Guru, the essence of everything

Article 2: Only the fake saint conforms to the idea of a saint

Article 3: On Lalleshwari: The saint is not obliged to conform to your expectations

Editor’s Note: 

Books by Acharya Prashant are available on AMAZON:

On Jesus: The real teacher cannot belong to a tradition, he belongs only to God


The Authority of Jesus

And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

~ The Sermon on the Mount

Acharya Prashant: “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes”.

The Real guru would always speak from an inner sureness. He would not act as an agent of the crowd, not as a social pleaser. He is not looking to get his authority from somewhere else. He is not looking to gain applause from the crowd. When he speaks it is very clear that it is not the gathering that gives him strength, his strength comes from somewhere within. And that display of inner strength is what really convinces the listeners. Read more

Your wishes are not granted so that you may be granted your destiny

Are we born with destiny or choices? Why don’t things happen as per our wish?

Acharya Prashant: Is it not a great mercy that things don’t happen as per our wish? Do you really want existence to punish you by granting all your wishes?

Your wishes are not granted so that you may be granted your destiny.
Your destiny is realization; your destiny is Truth.

If you start living in your wishes, your desires, then how will you come to the Truth? Because, directly, you never wish for the Truth. You never desire Truth.
Read more

The Essence of Religion


If we look at our lives, and the life of the man sipping tea in his balcony, or the man out to take a walk, is there anything that we are doing and is not a product of recommendation of others? Our education, our social relationships, our very consciousness is composed of the teachings and advices and examples and experiences of others.

The more this consciousness, this mind, grows and gets filled up, the more difficult it is to return. Man is a restlessness and the restlessness keeps growing, growing. The more it grows, the more man seeks advice. Unfortunately, he seeks advice from those who themselves need advice.

The restlessness is a proof that you are being called. I’m very sure that the day you will not be called, you will not wake up in the morning.

You wake up in the morning because another day, another possibility awaits you in which something can happen. You wake up to search, you wake up to find. Your eyes open in a longing.

When you know so much, when you know that you are being called, then you surely have some connection with the One who is calling. Otherwise, how would you have felt the longing?

Instead of asking Jack and Jill, him and her, this and that, about how to go back, how to take the road back, why don’t you ask the One who is calling?

He is calling, ask Him; directly and simply. That is the essence of Religion: having no intermediary, a direct connection between you and your Home.

~ Excerpts from the article, ‘What is Religion?

The Language of the Heart

Acharya Prashant: So, what are we talking about today?

The voice of the Heart. The beautiful voice of the Heart, rather.

‘Beautiful’ — that reminds me of a city. They, just like you, were enamoured with beauty. They wanted to know, what makes the sky beautiful. What is the most beautiful thing in the sky? So the scientists, the astronomers, and the common public alike, they all got into a great debate. They wanted to know, “What is most beautiful about the sky?”

At first rose the voices of the common folks, a few said, “The moon”. Somebody said, “The Sun”. Others talked of the stars and still others talked of the planets. Some of them came up with very nice poems, praising the beauty of the objects that attracted them. Read more

When life lacks the Essential then it tries to compensate with exotic experiences


Question: Sir, suppose I go through an incident and I take it into my stride, and I learn something from it. So then that learning becomes my experience. But, in one of your discourses you have said that the only thing that keeps us from forgetting our past is trying to forget the past. So, how does one do both the things simultaneously that is let go of the past and gain experience from it?

Acharya Prashant: We’ll have to address the issues of ‘experience’ and ‘learning,’ and see how and whether they are related to each other. Normally, what do you think learning is?

Listener: Sir, anything fruitful that we can extract from any occurrence.

AP: So what do you mean by extracting something from an occurrence?

L1: To be able to know the dos and don’ts in advance in case a similar situation happens to us in the future.

AP: So you mean committing it to memory?

L1: Yes, Sir.

AP: So you have related memorization to learning. Is that not so?

L1: Yes, Sir.

AP: Learning is the ability to respond afresh to something, to respond free of experience. Pay attention to this. Normally, the mind is clouded with all kinds of experiences, memories, thoughts, a sense of the self, all these together create a world, and the ego sits at the centre of that world. It is from this kind of a mind that we respond to the happenings around us.

Learning means the clearing away of this world. When you say that you are learning something, it must not mean that you are covering yourself with more layers of experience. Learning means that you are able to uncover your innate ability to know and respond. That is learning. Now this goes against what we usually call as learning, our usual sense of the word. When we say learning, we mean gaining something, some data, information, knowledge, a method of responding.

Contrast it again. Learning means, “I went through a particular experience and in the light of attention, by the grace of Truth, I was able to see the various kinds of falsenesses contained in the whole process of experiencing. I was able to see how what appears is just a game that the mind of the subject plays, and I was able to see how my own reactions are another game that the mind of the subject plays.”

So, experience cannot reveal to you anything new. The very idea that one gains from experience rests on the assumption that one is intrinsically poor and experience will supply to him that which he is deficient in. Experience cannot teach you anything.

If you are not careful, experience will form a layer over your psyche. And what else is psyche? Layer upon layer of experience. But if you are careful – in the sense of being attentive – then the same experience will just reveal to you its own hollowness – that is the proper place of experience and attention in living. You would be undergoing some experience all the time. So you are talking to me, this is an experience; you came here, and that is an experience; you might have spoken to a few people around here, that was another experience. These experiences are not meant to provide or supply anything fundamental to you. But if you are going through these experiences wakefully, watchfully, attentively, then you will be able to see how each experience has the power to cloud your intellect – that is learning.

You do not learn from experience, you learn about the experience.

And what do you learn about the experience? That it really means nothing: “It means nothing really, but it appears to mean a lot.” And therein lies its hollowness, and its deception. Being nothing, it promises so much. Being hollow, it appears so substantial. That is how the sharp eye looks at experience.

I am repeating: this whole assumption, the paradigm that experience makes one richer, is inherently false. Experience does not bring any richness to your life. Richness of life is given to you by something very innate to you. Something that is your life-blood, it is already there with you. But when you are taught that experience will make you a bigger, a better man, that it will bring fulfilment to your life, then what do you do? Then you do that which this entire world around us is doing.

If you see, what is the common man doing? What is the entire life story of the common man? You will see that he is running after experience. He wants one experience after the other, and behind this ‘want’ is the premise that one experience, or a set of experiences, will be able to close that yawning gap in his heart. Is that not so?

L1: Yes, Sir.

AP: What are we doing, moment after moment, day after day, year after year? Gathering experiences and running after them, right? “Let me see how it feels to travel in that foreign country. Let me see how it feels to have dinner in that exquisite restaurant. Let me experience what it means to be physically close to that man or woman. Let me touch, let me smell, let me eat, let me travel, let me reach.”

One job after the other, one relationship after the other, one house after the other. What is the common man doing all the time? He is just gathering experiences, assuming that ultimately some experience will be the final one. But the very foundation of this running around is false.  You can run all your life and gather as many experiences as you want and for as long as you want, yet, if the mind is resting upon a flawed foundation, it will never gain peace.

Are you getting it?

L1: Yes, Sir.

AP: So, am I saying that one should avoid experiences? Am I saying that one should enclose himself in some kind of a silo and insulate himself from the world? No, I am not saying that. Experiences are anyway happening all the time. A while back, we said that since you have come here, you are having experiences. This discussion is an experience. Having tea with our friend here would have been an experience. Reaching up to this place would have been an experience. Life, every moment, anyway is an experience. And there is the experiencer.

The wise man does not expect too much from experiences. The wise man does not make experience the source of his learning. He knows that learning rests within. Experience has no positive role in enhancing learning. If anything, experience can obfuscate learning.

Pay attention to this because it runs contrary to conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom says that experience can enhance learning. I am saying that experience cannot enhance learning, experience can only obfuscate learning. It can cover it.

The reality, the Truth of things, of Being, is very simple and direct, and within. One does not need an external agency to provide it to you. But what you call as ‘external’ surely has the power, in all its complexity, to not to give you something, but to take away that which is already with you.

Totally give up this notion that those who are more experienced have advanced in any way in terms of intelligence.

Look at the people who have known much, are knowledgeable, experienced, of advanced age. Do you really see innocence and simplicity shining on their faces? Or do you see them rather bogged down under the weight of experience?

You look at most people who have crossed a particular age – forty, or sixty, or eighty – you look at their faces. Have they become more open to life, have they made themselves more vulnerable to life? When they look at the simple things around, do their eyes lit up with a wondrous question, an excitement, like a child when he sees an ordinary insect, like a moth or a kite? Do you see that happening with experienced people? Do you see that on their faces, in their eyes? Or do you see a dullness, a heaviness? Now with that dullness and heaviness, where is learning? Where is learning? How can you learn about anything if your experience is too much upon you?

Are you getting it?

Do not bother about experience. I am repeating: live simply and allow experiences to come to you. They are anyway coming to you. You hold no obligation or responsibility to run after experiences. Just don’t block them and that is sufficient. And the experienced man, it is quiet amusing, blocks experiences. Because that is what experiences teach him: all kinds of morality, all kinds of precaution. Now he knows what to experience and what not to experience. It is quite paradoxical in that sense that the experienced man is the least open to experiences.

Life is eager to give you more experiences than you can ask for. You do not have to worry about running hither-thither and having experiences. You look at young people, they are worrying all the time.

“Will I get a job of that nature?”

“Will I get a social security of that kind?”

“What if I do not get a girlfriend and I die single?” Do you see, what is this anxiety?

“What will happen to me?”

“Will I get that particular experience or not?”

Now, why are you so anxious? Is there anything in the entire universe that has to worry about the next day? That has to worry about what existence will bring to it? Nothing worries, and everything gets what it ought to get. Man is the only one who is so worried about whether or not he would attain fulfilment. I am repeating: experience blocks experience; and life showers experience upon you.

Let life flow through you. It will naturally, without your asking, bring to you so many and such diversity of experiences, which you could have never even thought of. You do not need to plan and you do not need to worry. Become one with life, have the faith that whatever will happen, will not destroy you. Remain open, remain prepared to being wounded a little, and then see how you are left breathless with experience. And that experience, which we are talking of, will be fresh.

When people commonly say that they want an experience of a particular kind, do they ever want a fresh experience? You can demand something from life only if you have already heard about it. Have you not?

“My friend has been earning so much money, so I too want that much money.” Now is there anything fresh about your demand for this experience? No, not really. You are seeing this happening all around you, so you too want it. “My cousin has been smoking a particular exotic variety of weed, I too want it.” Now, what is new about your demand? Anything new? “I want to become the president of the world.” It’s a stale wish. “I want to receive the highest honors that man can give to man.” Millions of people have wanted the same. “I want the most beautiful woman on my bed.” Come on, demand something new.

But that’s the kind of ‘experience’ that one can demand, or can you demand any new experience? Can there be any newness in the experience that you demand? Ever? Think of it.

L1: No, Sir.

AP: No! Fortunately, life has no respect for your demands. What life can give to you, is brand new. What life can give to you, is really fresh – so fresh that it knocks you down. You don’t know what to do with what you have been given. At most, you can demand a kitten, or a pup; life can give you a baby serpent on your bed. Now what to do with it? You never wanted it. You wanted a cute kitten. What have you been given? You wake up and what do you find? A baby snake. That’s what life can give you. Now that’s experience – to the extent that one man can think of it, right? You can even have the egg of an extinct dinosaur on your bed – I mean, let imagination run.

But you will never ask for it really. Life can give it to you, without your asking. But life will not give it to you if you are hell-bent upon just pups and kittens. Pups and kittens are so boring. Your brother has them, your mother has them, everybody has them. Are you getting it?

You demand such boring and dull and ordinary things from life, and then you complain that life is not providing them to you. What you don’t realize is that life has something really special in store for you, which is not coming to you because you are not open to it.

Life is knocking on your door with its wondrous gifts and like a sissy baby you are crying and wimping and complaining, “Why am I not being given the same thing that Tina in the neighborhood has been given!” That is all that you know – your comparison with Tina. Life is little bigger than Tina and infinitely more wise. Are you getting it?

Stop this infatuation with experience. You see the advertisement of a new product in the market and you want it. Somebody wants to sell a resort to you and he will say, “Come over and we have some kind of an adventure store. You can have games and parties and pools.” And you become excited. Some new food? “There are so many countries in the world – two hundred odd. Have you tried all the exotic cuisines? With all their exotic names?” And you feel so small and jealous when you come to learn that somebody is having food from Rwanda or Chile. “I am so impoverished. See, all that I have ever had is food from my petty house. And that lucky fellow is having exotic meals from Azerbaijan.”

When life lacks the essential then it tries to compensate for it through exotic experience. When life is brimming with the essential, overflowing with the essential, then the craving for extraordinary experience is no more there. Because the essential itself is the destination of all experience. Why do you demand experience? So that you can ultimately reach that point of supreme peace and fulfilment. And if that supreme peace and fulfilment is anyway available, then what will you do with experience?

And this ordinary availability, this simple abundance of life, to know it, to live in it, is learning. Nothing else is learning. You make your brain a store house of information – that is not called learning. To learn is to learn about the hollowness of experience and the fullness of your self – that is learning. Are you getting it?

That is the only thing that one can ever learn. Nothing else is there to be learnt. You go to some alien location and you memorize all the people that you met and all the places that you went to and all the food that you ate, and all the other pieces of data that can be had and you come back with it. You have no right to say that you have learnt anything. Yes, you have gained in knowledge. But knowledge itself is so poor, it never gains completion. Have you ever seen anybody gaining complete knowledge? Knowledge itself is condemned to remain incomplete and what is condemned to remain incomplete, how can it give completion to you? You are demanding health from sickness? You are demanding fulfilment from knowledge, which itself never becomes fulfilled?

So be very clear about what learning really is. Learning does not mean the acquisition of anything external. Learning means to see that whatever is external is just so hollow, just so needless. One learns about the only Truth that there is, and that is the Self. That is the only thing worth learning. That is the only substance that can be learnt about. All else is false.

L2: Sir, correct me when I go wrong: by understanding what is learning, we get to know that experiences are basically hollow, that they will come and go, and that one does not have to go chasing after them.

AP: In the moment of experience, if you can remain untempted by experience, that is learning.

Remember you are not being hostile towards experience; you are not even being indifferent towards experience. It’s just that you are not placing an unreasonable demand upon experience. You see, what do we do? Understand this. We all want a certain contentment, call it peace, call it joy, or call it love. Because we have lost the understanding of where this real substance could actually be found, we try to find it in the wrong places.

We are trying to get from experience what experience can never give you. For example, immortality. Nobody wants to die. One’s nature is to be, and not be extinct. Be. Be present. But the nature of the world is to come and go. Since we do not know where really to find immortality, we try to find immortality in material. We somehow try to find immortality in the body, in relationships, in mental security, in concepts about rebirth. Are you getting it?

So experience is alright. I repeat that we are not trying to look down upon experience. We are just saying that we should not expect that from experience which experience can anyway not provide. With all the effort that you can put behind experience, experience will never give you wisdom. Similarly, we know that all experience is material, is sensual. Similarly, you can go through the process of physical intimacy a million times, yet it will not give you love.

Now to expect experience to give you that which is beyond experience, is foolishness. So go through experience but let experience stay in its place. You should know that the essential will not be provided by experience. And remaining in this understanding is learning, is wisdom.  So we are saying: let life bring all kinds of experiences to us and we will happily and willingly go through them. We will not obstruct them. We will welcome them, but we will not think that these experiences are in any way, a substitute, a complement or a proxy to the essential.

Experience in no way can touch the essential. Experience whatever life has to give you but stay with the essential. Do not confuse these two. Experience is experience and essential is essential.

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

Watch the session: Prashant Tripathi: When life lacks the Essential then it tries to compensate with exotic experiences

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: Does experience give intelligence?

Article 2: The only way to clean yourself is to immerse in the ocean of the Self.

Article 3: The false promise of fulfillment through experience.

No action can correct another action;only in understanding do all actions dissolve


Question: Destruction of our world, which we find comfort in, is inevitable. We can only help ourselves understand this, and minimize our suffering. To a cozily sleeping mind though, this realization is a nightmare. We can only pull it out slowly from of its deep sleep.

Travelling without luxuries and comforts, forces the mind to be in the moment, and breaks years of patterns. Can meaningful travelling be used as a technique to slowly awaken the mind?

Acharya Prashant: We often think that a particular action can bring the mind to awareness. We pit action against action. We think that there are good actions and bad actions, meaningful actions and meaningless actions. Read more

To hope is to postpone the good, and embrace the waiting

Speaker: What is ‘hope’?

First of all, it is an obvious matter to see, that hope is always located in the future. And hope is always related to the expectation of – getting something, or not losing something.

So something good will happen in the future – this is what you call as ‘hope’. Something good will happen in the future, this is what you call as ‘hope’. In other words, when the mind, shifts goodness, into time, that is called ‘hope’.

Mind wishes itself well. Mind wants to come to a full stop, a point of peace. But this ‘point of peace’, is somehow, never located by the mind, in the present, in its immediate vicinity, never. It’s quite funny. Mind wants good things to happen to it. Good things like:

“I will get ample love,”

“All the troubles in the life, will be resolved, and life will become simple, free-flowing,”

“There will be no sadness and troubles, problems will be taken care of. There would be only simple Joy,”

“There would be need of any cunningness, directness will be sufficient. Such lightness in living.”

So, mind knows of all these goodies. Mind knows that these are precious things: Lightness, Directness, Simplicity, Love. Mind knows. Pretty intelligent fellow it is, right? It knows. But strange, it never wants them, right now. That it never wants.

On one hand it is willing to toil as much in time, as can be demanded of it. “I will toil all my life.” And what does it mean by ‘toiling all my life’? Toiling in…(prompting the listeners)

Listener 1: Future.

Speaker: Toiling in time, in future.

“I will toil all my life. I am prepared for that. See, how committed I am. See, how I am willing to pay the highest price. But, one simple price I will never pay.” Which is..? To get all that, right now, specially when it is easily available right now.

So, mind says, “No, it is not easily available right now. Right now there are only problems, and complications, obstacles. The world is a bad place. Tomorrow will be better. And tomorrow will be better, with ‘my’ efforts” – that is hope.

So ‘hope’ is to postpone that, which is available, today. ‘Hope’ is to postpone the good, and embrace the waiting.

You look at the situation of the mind. It is a very peculiar situation. On one hand, it knows, that nothing less than the Total, the Ultimate, the Final, can bring Peace to it. It knows that. On the other hand, it also knows that the Total, the Ultimate, and the Final, mean the death of mind, as it has known itself. In the form it has known itself, it will be no more.

The mind is stuck.

You want something so desperately, that if you don’t have it, life is not worth living. You want something so desperately, that if you don’t have it, life is not worth living, but what you want can be had only by, sacrificing life for it. Now you have to decide – whether you want to give up life, or whether you continue living without having that, which makes life worth living.

Hope1Rock, and a hard place – choose. What to do you want? Without love, life is dry. To get love, stop living. What to choose? The good news is – when you stop living in the way you have lived so far, it does not mean ‘death’. It only means a life of the beyond, a life of the quality such that you have never known.

Ordinarily, in our dualistic world, when we say, “I shall be no more,” it means death, it means annihilation. But In the spiritual sense, in the real sense, when one dissolves, when one surrenders, when one is no more, then it is not a matter of sadness, rather it is a matter of great celebration. Because it does not mean that you have died, it means that you have come upon ‘Real’ life.

Now this is a little too fine, for the gross mind to understand.  This much it understands that – “I am stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea,” as we said, “A rock, and a hard place.” This much it understands. But the solution is quite fine, subtle. That solution is understood only by a fine mind, only by a subtle mind. And the solution is that, “Poor kid, there is actually no trade-off involved. Why are you thinking that you have to choose between this and that? You can have the best of both worlds. You can have Love, and a fresh life as well.”

How about that?

The mind is thinking, assuming, that it is very stringent trade-off. Hmm? “If I get the Ultimate, then I will have to lose the world.”

“If I earn the blessings of the beyond, then I have to leave the comforts of this world.”

The truth is different. You get the Total. And ‘Total’ means everything, not ‘this or that’, not ‘A or B’. No choosing is needed. To get That, is to get the totality of everything. The choice should be very obvious. That’s the fun of this world.

Nobody seems to be making such an obvious choice. Nobody seems to be accepting, this fabulous offer that life is giving. (Smilingly) Everybody seems to be in two minds, twenty minds, twenty-thousand minds. Everybody seems to be cursing their luck.

“Yes, it’s a great thing on offer, but you know, they are extracting such a high price. Yes I understand. Yes, yes, yes. The product is beautiful. The service that they are offering is immaculate, ultimate, but they are asking me to pay with my blood. They are literally fleecing me. Now, you know, neither can I go away, because the thing is so tempting, neither can I pay the price because the price is so high. And you know, everybody is just standing outside, wondering, and cursing.”

The product is actually free. The service is out of love. The price that you are paying, is not a ‘price’ at all. If the doctor is taking away your disease, if a friend is taking away your nightmares, is he extracting a price? Will you say that you are poorer for the bargain?

Whatever you can hope for, something higher than that is already given to you. And it is the most difficult thing to accept, because the mind has been trained in living purposefully. If you accept that the Highest has been just being gifted to you, then what do you live for? So it is very-very difficult to accept. Man lives on hope, man lives on feeling of incompleteness. And man feels grateful that there is hope, which is such a stupid thing to do, but it happens all the time.

You know, to project something is one thing – I throw a ball up, and I know that it is going to come down. Now I can project, yes. Having gone up, it will come down. I go to the railway station, in a sense I hope that it will come on time. All these things are alright. And as far as such petty matters are concerned, one can hope. The trouble starts, as we said in the beginning, when the basic goodness of life, when the basic essence, the juice of life, is turned into a matter of hope.

“I will gain fulfillment tomorrow.” Now this is problematic. “The flight will land tomorrow,” is alright. “I expect the results to be declared tomorrow,” is alright. But, “I expect bliss and joy tomorrow,” is problematic.

Do you understand the difference?

Do not live as if you are in a waiting room, waiting for some train, that actually never arrives for mankind. Do not live, as if you are in a waiting room. And even if you are in a waiting room, do not live, as if the next train will bring to you, the love of your life. Sometimes, one is, in fact, in a waiting room. Even if you are in a waiting room, you should actually be, beyond waiting.

“Whether or not, I catch the train, one thing is certain – I am not missing on life. I may miss the train, but I will never miss on…”

Listeners: Life.

Speaker: Life. And missing the train is alright. We are all entitled to our stupidities, and mistakes, and games. Once in a while, one can miss a train, or a flight. It is alright. But to wait for a train, thinking that you are missing on life, and the train will bring life to you, is a gross mistake. Do not commit that mistake.

Getting it?

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

Watch the session at: To hope is to postpone the good, and embrace the waiting