What is Bharat?

So, if you’ll ask me, “What is Bharat?”

I will wait for you to look at the snow capped Himalayas. And then, when your eyes would be shining with wonderment, then I will say, “That is Bharat!”

Or when you would be reading The Upanishads, and your mind would suddenly be getting lighter and your face would have a sudden radiance and you would have felt for yourself deeply in your heart what it meant to say, ‘Poornamidah; poornamidam’.

Then I will say, “That! That is Bharat.”

India and Tolerance || Acharya Prashant (2017)

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Acharya Prashant: We are here together and this meeting, the togetherness, is the central thing. Today happens to be Ramana Jayanti, an auspicious day. And on any day, what matters is the closeness, the meeting. For name sake, we always have a certain topic to discuss. It’s a kind if an entertainment: the name, the topic. How does it matter what we discuss? That we are really talking, is what matters. We could discuss this or we could discuss that. Someday, I might just forget and I would really like to forget the appointed topic for the day. I may just come here and be with you and say anything on any topic or not say anything on any topic. How does saying matter? But anyway, since its a ritual to speak and speak on an honored topic. So we shall dutifully follow the order and talk about the topic at hand. What does it happen to be?


Good that you too are forgetting, or you don’t know at all. Knowledge is anyway always a burden. Forgetfulness keeps all of us much lighter. May we forget more and more. But I know, inspite of our forgetfulness, we are very vigilant beings. So we remember. So what do we remember about the topic for the day? What is the topic?

Listeners: India and tolerance.

AP: India and tolerance.

Words are words. Aren’t they? Words are words. What is India? Another word. Just like so many words that we utter every day morning till sleep, India is another word. The meaning is supplied to the word by the utterer of the word. Is it not so? What does food mean? Or love mean? Or the river Ganga mean? Or a person mean or a place mean? Nothing. The meaning is supplied to the word by the one who utters the word. Otherwise, a word is a word.

And what kind of meaning will I fill any word with? I am the one who fills meaning in a word. Don’t I? A wall means so many different things to different people. An animal or a mountain means entirely different things to different people. And even to the same person, it will mean differently at different times and in different situations. Wouldn’t it? So I am the one who supplies meaning to the word ‘India’ as well.

What kind of meaning am I going to imbue this word with? What is the meaning that I impose upon anything in the world? What does that meaning depend on? I call something a car; I call something a tree; I call something a women; I call something money; I call something God; and when I call these things with these names, I am the one who supplies meaning to them. What kind of meanings will I supply? How will I fill up these words? What does that filling up depend on?

Listeners: Value system, mind.

AP: Yes. Well said! You said my values system, you said what’s going on in my mind. Could I just say, “What I think of myself? What I take myself to be?” Depending on what I take myself to be, I paint the word with a thousand colors. The entire pallet is available. I pick up the colors according to who I think I am. If ten fellows look at a woman, they would look at her so differently depending on who they know themselves to be and this ‘knowing’ is what they ‘think’ themselves to be. Right?

You look at a child, you look at a temple or a mosque, and the meaning that you supplied to it depends on who you are, and that is one thing that must be remembered. When you are talking of India, when you are talking of tolerance, you are not talking of anything external, you are talking of yourself because to any word, you are the one, we are probably repeating it for the sixth time, you are the one who will supply the meaning to it and the meaning will depend on what I think yourself to be.

Now, for the sake of convenience, let’s just say that man thinks himself either as material or as material. That is only way you can think of yourself — either as material or as material. Sometimes, you think yourself as gross material and sometimes as subtle material. Gross material is things, body, material that you can hold and touch and watch and smell — perceptible with the senses. So, this kind of man is a body identified man; the one who identifies with body. He thinks himself to be body, his entire mind, his whole sight is obsessed with material, gross material.

There is another kind of man, who thinks of himself as subtle material. And I repeat, whenever you will think of yourself, you will only think of yourself as material. Thinking of yourself as any other thing is not possible because thought itself is ‘thing. The one who identifies himself with subtle material is the mind identified person. He thinks of himself in terms of ideas; that is subtle material. The one who is body identified, the one whose thought is gross, when he will utter the word ‘India,’ what will he think of India as?

L: Geographical boundaries.

AP: Geographical boundaries. Simply, a land, a territory, a geography, a space limited by boundaries. That would be his definitions of India. The moment such a person, such a mind, utters the word ‘India’ what comes to him is a flashing map of the political country. ‘India’ means the territorial map of India, to such a mind. Whenever you come across such a mind, and it could unfortunately be your own mind, that equates ‘India’ with the map of India, you should know something not about India, but about that man.

What do you immediately come to know about the mind?

That this fellow is terribly body identified. Because he think of himself as body, hence thinks of India as a ‘landmass’. Now every thing that he does with the body, every way in which he relates to his body, would also be the way he would relate to India. The body wants to preserve itself and expand and this mind will say, “let the country expand.” This is the mind of the ‘king,’ who fights wars to enhance the boundaries of its territory. Just as the body draws its sustenance from the world, and is concerned firstly about its own survival, such a mind would want that his country extract resources from wherever possible in the world, and be bothered principally with its own survival and continuation.

We know the games of the body. Don’t we? We have seen how two male animals fight for the female and that is not very different from how two countries would fight for a coveted resource; if that is the definition of country — a piece of land — India or any other country. There is bound to be body-centered strife. Every disease that plagues the body would then also plague the country. There would be the fear of extinction, there would be deep insecurity, the world would appear hostile, there would be a particular date when the boundary would come into existence and there would be an inevitable lurking certainty that one day these boundaries would be no more. And when these boundaries would be no more, I would be no more, the country would be no more. Hence, the relationship with the world would be of strife, conflict. Living would be continuously  under the shadow of extinction.

Then, there is the one who identifies more with ideas.

He says, “I am not a layman, I am not a common patriot, I am not the zealot, I am not the one becomes who become overly enthusiastic, I am not the chauvinist; I am an intellectual, I live in my brain, I live with thoughts, and ideas and concepts.” For him, India is a concept and we have often heard this phrase: ‘The idea of India’. Have we not? For this fellow, who thinks of himself as subtle material, who is mind identified, who lives in ideas, everything is an idea. Even India, for him, is an idea and he very proudly and assuredly claims that India is an idea. And as far as he goes, because for him, he himself is an idea, so surely India is an idea. India is as much an idea for him as is his wife, as is his world, as are all his relationships, as is his car, as his life; even life is an idea for him.

This fellow would be plagued by all the diseases of the mind. He would not overtly display conflict. He will say, “You know! I am an civilized man,” and civilization is an idea. So “I am going to tolerate. We will not fight with guns; we will debate.” But in that debate, what he wants to maintain is an opinion. He is prepared to modify his opinions, no doubt about it, but even that modification must be first approved by him. He says, “I will decide what my beliefs are going to be; I am the master of my beliefs. But one thing is certain that I do not know anything except beliefs. So, let us come to a truss: you enjoy your beliefs, and I will enjoy my beliefs, and we will call it peaceful coexistence. We will call it mutual tolerance.” And what is he doing? Look at the cunning game. He is saying, “Let your ego exists and let my ego exists because ego thrives on ideas. Let both of us feel safe in our respected domains.”

And then there is the third mind.

This third mind thinks of itself neither as gross material, nor as subtle material. Then what does it think of himself? Because all thought is material, so it does not think of itself at all. It feels no need to give itself a definition. It is so innocently, joyfully, immersed in life that such questions appear meaningless to it. He has no conception about himself. Such a mind feels no need to give a limit to itself. When asked, “Who are you?,” such a mind does not reply with anything. Silence.

“Who are you?” Well! Not even Shivoham; not even Soham. Only silence. For such a mind, India cannot be an idea. For such a mind, India can be only the mother of all religion. Religion arising from nowhere because if it arises from anywhere, that anywhere is bound to be from man’s mind and religion that arises from man’s mind will be as petty as man. This third mind that does not think of itself as anything looks at India not as a landmass, not as a political unit, not as an idea, but simply as the fountainhead of spirituality.

So is it about India or is it about the way the mind identified itself?

L: The way it identifies

AP: The way it identifies. The second word that happens to be there in the topic for the day is tolerance. We say it is not so much about India, it is more about identification. Where there is identification, there is conflict. That conflict is very tangible, very material, when it comes to the body identified mind. If there are two body identified fellows, then their conflict will be visible as a street fight. They would be hitting each others bodies. I am a body, and you are a body and where there are bodies, there are bound to be conflicts and because you are a body and if I want to hurt you, I will hit your body.

So, fists, and punches would be landing. A very explicit fight will be taking place; and you can surely call it violence. Violence, conflict is the result of the identification. Where there is identification, there is bound to be conflict. This conflict can be called as explicit gruesome violence when two body identified person are fighting. When two mind identified persons are fighting, then this conflict is called as debate. This debate is nothing but a clash of ideas. When two mind identified persons are together, then their togetherness is a conflict which is called as tolerance. Tolerance only means, “I am somehow bearing you.”

The word has a shadow of intolerance.

Tolerance is not love. Or is it? Do you tolerate in love? But because I live in ideas, because my ego is connected to ideas and I am so poor that I know nothing beyond ideas, so for my survival, it is important that ideas must survive. “I cannot allow myself to be called a bigot. I cannot let people say that I am rigid about my views and opinions. So, I am open to talking. I am open to what is called an exchange of views; what I will call as a healthy debate.” But have you ever seen people becoming free of ideas after a debate? What happens after a debate?

Yes, in worst of cases, both parties stick to their grounds. In the best of cases, somebody says, “Well, listening to you I have gained some new beliefs and I am modifying my position.” But have you ever seen anybody become position-less after the debate? Does debate ever lead to meditativeness?

When noise meets noise, can it ever lead to silence?

But the intellectual, the thought identified man, will very proudly claim that there must be  healthy debate. And what will be the output of that debate? More beliefs. Not only more beliefs, more beliefs in your beliefs; because now you are saying that “My beliefs have been purged by open debate.” You are saying that, “You know, I have gone to the market, I have exposed my beliefs and my beliefs are now a synthesis of the best that the world’s highest intellectual have to offer. Hence these beliefs must be the Truth.” 

That is the bane of the intellectual — He equates beliefs with Truth. And if you tell him beliefs are not truth, then he will say, “All right! I am prepare to modify my beliefs; tell me, what is the Truth? I will start believing in it.” His handicap is that he is prepare to change his beliefs but not ready to go beyond beliefs. Getting it?

The mind that does not think of himself or of the world or India as a material, or as a thought or anything will be bothered only with the Truth. When you are bothered only with the Truth, then there is no conflict. We have said conflict takes the shape of explicit violence when it comes to the body. Conflict takes the shape of argumentation and debate  when it comes to the mind. But when you are a nobody, then there is conflictlessness; because whatever you are, is the source of all conflict.

With Truth, there is love.

It is important to understand the difference between love and tolerance.

Tolerance implies separation, distance. “You remain in your province, as you are, I will remain in my province as I am. We both are entitled to our views, and that is called freedom of thought.”— This is tolerance. Is that not the definition of tolerance? “Both of us are entitled to think the way we want to, and both of us are entitled to express ourselves, we want to.” This is what you called as tolerance. This is what you called as democratic liberty.

The spiritual mind does not caught in this trap. He knows that you are only talking the language of ego. To maintain your opinion is to just maintain your ego. To ask me to maintain my opinion is to just safeguard your ego and my ego. Even when you say that you respect my opinion, you are respecting my opinion only so that your opinion does not get threaten because if you will attack my opinion, then you are also exposing your opinion to threat. So he will say, “Well, you know, unity in diversity” he will not say that all diversities are false, because you are a creature of the mind and mind lives in diversities. The nature of the mind is fragmentation; fragmentation is diversity. So you will use all these nice sounded phrases. You will say, you know India is like great Indian Thali, in which there are theses bowls of various kinds. You will say India is like kaleidoscopic; you will say India is like rainbow but you will be very particular that the differences remain. Because you are identified to differences, your very life will be threatened if somebody shows that all differences are false because all differences just sustain the ego. You will say, ‘you know, it is the greatness of my country that everything is varied, and different here; it is the land of contrast. You will fail to see the underlying nothingness beneath all contrast; the non-duality below all pairs of dualities. That you will not even talk of because that scares you that takes away your very belief in yourself.

In love, you do not tolerate the other. Love and Truth are one. The duty of love is to bring the Truth to other. If I live in love and I see that you are living in opinions, or if I see that you are living a body identified life, then I will not say that, that is your fundamental right or that is your personal way of living. I will not say that I respect the way you live. If I live in love and I see that you are living in violence, then I cannot say that this is your particular choice, your way of life, your tradition, so I am not going to interfere.

I will interfere! Love is not passive. Love has great energy. It is very-very active force.

In love you do not tolerate. I am repeating this and this must be deeply understood.

Love is not about peaceful coexistence.

This statement may shock many of us. But please understand this.

Coexistence means ‘you’ and ‘me’ living separately. Love is not peaceful coexistence. Wherever is co-existence, it cannot be peaceful. In coexistence, there will be tolerance but not love. In love, there is just existence — total, one, undivided. Love will not say that, ‘You may be my neighbor and I see that your life is mired in all kind of rubbish, yet I’ll keep at an arm’s length from you.’ Love will not say that, ‘I might be seeing that you may have created hell for yourself or your family members, for your entire community, but I am not supposed to interferes because it is your community.’

Love interferes.

Love takes risks.

And love has no regard for your ideas or what you call as the freedom of thought because there is no freedom of thought.

What you call as a freedom of thought and expression is a misnomer. Where there is thought, there is only bondage. But if you are an intellectual, you have nothing more than a thought. So, even freedom, according to you, is the freedom of thought. If you are an intellectual, all that you express is your conditioning, your experiences, and your prejudices. So freedom according to you is just the freedom of expression.

Love has no patience with all this rubbish.

Love says I cannot let you rot; because I cannot let myself rot. If you rot, then I rot. You and I are one. We are not just coexisting; we are one. I want you to change because if you do not change, then I am suffering. Your suffering is my suffering. I am in love with you. And just as I insist that you go beyond your beliefs and thoughts and enter silence, I too am prepared to go beyond beliefs and thoughts and enter silence.

If I am asking you to totally give up your beliefs, it is not so that you may take up my beliefs. I am just asking you to give up and take nothing as a substitute. Become empty. And this call for emptiness is not coming from my beliefs about emptiness, it is my own emptiness which is calling you to become empty. It is not as if I have a belief about something which I want to maintain. But when it comes to you, I am insistent that you must be beliefless. No. I am only asking you to taste what I am tasting.

Freedom from beliefs is a nectar of life.

I have tasted it.

And you and I are one. You too must taste it!

This is the action of love. This is the force of love.

So we wanted to talk about India and tolerance but we saw that it doesn’t make any sense to just take up any two words and talk about them. We talked rather about identification and conflict. What India is, is decided by what you are identified with. And whether it is explicit violence or the violence of argumentation, is decided by the level of conflict but when there is no identification, there is no conflict and what we have is love.

I will not ask you to choose between kinds of conflict. Surely, there can be a conflict free living. Can we live without conflict? The great action of love, the great insistence of love has great energy. It can even lead to bloodshed. Your blood may flow and the others’ blood may flow but still it is conflict free. Kindly, do not equate peace with the word-less-ness of the graveyard. Peace may imply a lot of apparent strife. If you are on the side of peace and peace and love and Truth are all one. If you are on the side of peace, you may actually have to enter a lot of noise and chaos because the action of peace is to spread. Spread where?

The action of the light is to dispel darkness.

So, light will have to meet darkness and when peace meets noise, there can be bloodshed.

Do not be scared of that.

Remember all fear arises from the need for self-preservation.

All fear is ego. Only the ego is scared and wants to preserve itself.

If you see that your brother is suffering, first of all, look inwards. See, whether you have come to a point that is free of suffering. Your first responsibility is towards yourself. But when you look at the other in compassion, and at yourself in attention, you find that you have already come to that point that is free of suffering. Now it is your responsibility to act. You may even call that action as interference, but that interference must happen.

What else is Krishna doing?

It’s a matter between brothers. Let them decide whether they want to fight or have a settlement. What else is Krishna doing? He could have said, ‘Well! Arjun, go and speak to the other party. It’s an intra-family thing.’ But he decides to interfere. He is poking his nose.

What else is Jesus doing?

The Jews are all happy. Living the way they are, they are happy. But out of love, you must interfere. But remember, only out of love. Your interference must not be a decoy, you cannot camouflage yourself. Ego loves to call itself love. It is just that I want to impose my beliefs upon you, so I am saying that it is my duty in love to interfere. No! Not that kind of a thing.

First thing: Discover the Krishna, the Jesus sitting inside you.

Second thing: :Let the Krishna and Jesus act.

A Jesus does not tolerate. A Krishna, does not tolerate. Muhammad didn’t tolerate. Saints do not tolerate. Prophets and Avatars, do not come to this earth to tolerate. You too are an avatar. Why must you tolerate? If you will tolerate, what will you tolerate? What do you see around you? What do you see? Is it worth tolerating? You really want to live with all this? You want to allow it to continue? Is that your responsibility towards yourself and the world? To tolerate this non-sense, this rubbish, this violence, this needless suffering. Yes?

Somebody is butchering an innocent animal, must you tolerate that in the name of personal freedom? Must you? In the neighborhood, next door, the father is crippling the mind, the freedom, the being of the daughter by imposing beliefs and a particular life upon her. Will you say it is their family matter, who am I to interfere? If you are really a loving being, would you tolerate? Would you give precedence to your personal security? Would you say, ‘Why must I run into personal trouble? I don’t need to stick out.’ Yes?


In this world, where you can breath today, just reach the lowest ebb which we have filled up with eight billion people, which has weapon enough to destroy the world thousands of time over; is tolerance a virtue? Can you say that people are happy doing what they are doing? Somebody’s religion ask him to live in a particular way, I must let him live that way. Somebody’s conditioning, somebody’s thought, somebody’s upbringing commands him or suggests to him to live and act in a particular way. I must respect that way. Would you say that?

L1: Sir, can we do anything on actual basis? It is happening all the time?

AP: You are talking about acting. You are saying, ‘what can we do?’ Action follows realization. How will you act if you do not realize? How will you know that you need to do something about the world when first of all, you have not known what you need to do about your own life? Yes! I did say that a Krishna, does interfere. But he interferes when he is a Krishna. So the first thing is to discover your own Krishna nature. Have you looked at your own life? And you say that there is so much going on in the world and there is a balance between good and bad; first of all, have you realized who you are? Is that not the foundation on which we are basing the entire session; that words are words. You are the one who supplies meaning to them.

When you know what to do with yourself, then you also know what to do with the world.

Where would you get energy from?

We are so dull.

Obtuse in realization and dull in action. That’s what we are.

When you do not understand anything about your life, how will you take responsibility of the world? I do not know what prompts you to go from this place to that place, then what right do you have to suggest to anything to anybody? You do not know how should you be living, then who are you to interfere in somebody else’s way of life? You do not why you are married, you do not know why you took up a job, you do not know why everyday you perform a particular ritual, then what right do you have to go and suggest something to your neighbor? And even if you try to, on moral grounds, even if you try to, in an attempt to look and sound good, you will find that you re afraid, you will find that you lack energy; you will find that you lack that deep spiritual conviction. Because that deep sureness comes only out of living rightly.

When you are living rightly, only then you get the license to poke your nose; only then you get the license to not to tolerate. You are tolerating all your own beliefs, you are tolerating yourself everyday; you are very accommodative towards your own rubbish, but when it comes to others, you go and say, “No! You must drop your beliefs.”

That is just hypocrisy.

L1: Who is this judge to decide that you should interfere?

AP: You are the judge and if you lack energy, then the judgment is clear. You need not judge even on subjective grounds. If you find that you lack energy, if you find that you lack passion, if you find that you feel like leaving the world to its fate, then the judgment has already been pronounced. This lack of energy comes only from not living rightly.

The one who is living rightly cannot allow others to fall, to get killed, to suffer.

When you are attentive towards yourself, then you are compassionate towards the entire world.

We must seriously ask ourselves, beneath all the verbiage — the thing about tolerance, is it not just indifference? Is it not just insensitivity?

Be active, interfere. Don’t just tolerate me.


Fight, quarrel, engage.

L2: What I am thinking that when a person is tapped with the source or non-duality, then the person cannot talk about anything else. You are doing the same thing.

AP: It depends on how you are listening and if you can listen that way…

L2: I think that way.

AP: No, You are listening that way. If you are listening that way, then it tells more about you than me. If you can listen non-duality in what I am saying, then you are established in non-duality and that is such a wonderful thing.

L3: Sir, can we boldly say that we wish India to be non-tolerant. How will you make people understand that?

AP: It is not a question of sermonizing. It is the question of the understanding, the realization, showing up in our action.

What is India?

What you do, if you do it from your deepest understanding, you are India.

You are India!

That is the only befitting definition that we can give to the word, ‘India’. The source and the center of all understanding. I had said, (India is) the mother of religion. That is the only worthwhile definition of India. Everything else is so disrespectful. So disrespectful!

L4: Sir, just like to share something. I had met a Sanskrit scholar, who used to say that every word has a meaning in Sanskrit and a meaning, which is very well defined. So, once I asked him, “What is the meaning of ‘Bharat’?” He said, ‘Bha’ in Sanskrit means ‘Bhram’; ‘rat’ means who is involved with bhram. So, ‘bhram-rat’ is Bharat. That was his interpretation. I do not know if that is true?

AP: No, you see sir, we said that any word has a meaning only in context to what you are. If you come to me and ask me, “What is Bharat?” I will not reply. I will wait to catch you in your particular moment of immersion or love. I will wait to catch you, looking deeply immersed towards a mountain, or a river or a butterfly and then I will say, “That! That! That which is just now happening to you is ‘Bharat’ because that is the only way I can tell you what is Bharat?” I cannot tell you ‘What is Bharat?’ by referring to the etymology of the word.

If you ask me, “What is love?” It will be foolish of me to say, ‘L-O’ means this; ‘V’ means this; ‘E’ means this. If you ask me, “What is love?” I will wait for you to taste love and in that moment, when you would be in love, then I will say, “That! That is love!”

So, if you’ll ask me, “What is Bharat?”

I will wait for you to look at the snow capped Himalayas. And then, when your eyes would be shining with wonderment, then I will say, “That is Bharat!”

Or when you would be reading The Upanishads, and your mind would suddenly be getting lighter and your face would have a sudden radiance and you would have felt for yourself, deeply in your heart what it meant to say, Poornamidah – poornamidam’ (Opening prayer in Upanishads)

Then I will say, “That! That is Bharat.”

Otherwise what does ‘bha’ and ‘rat’ means? Nothing.

All this is just word play.

The word ‘That’ is of tremendous significance. ‘That’; ‘Tat’; ‘Tat- Tvam – asi’.

‘Tat’ — ‘That’ is ‘Bharat’. 

Just as we formally began this session, formally we have to close it as well.

But really, it is about being together and close.

And ‘that’ cannot be closed.

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

Watch the session: India and Tolerance || Acharya Prashant (2016)

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To know why a man and a woman are in conflict is to know why world is in conflict


Question: I want to know why the world is at the moment so harsh?

Acharya Prashant: There is nothing that one group, one community or one person experiences that the other has never experienced or is not experiencing even to the slightest degree. Fundamentally we are all one. As human beings, we all perceive the world through our senses, we all operate through language, we all think and our basic tendencies are all the same.

The same urge to have security, the same urge to find love, the same repulsion from the feeling of termination, of disappearance, the same attachments and the same kinds of identifications. We’re all very much one and the oneness becomes more and more apparent as we go deeper into our psyche — the mind. As we go deeper into the mind, the similarities become very apparent. Read more

The experiencer is a product of experience & hence cannot freely judge experience


Acharya Prashant: Not only do we give value to experience, we also give value to learning. And because the valuer is the same, so we put these two at the same level – ‘experience’ and ‘learning’.

We want to value everything; we want to attach some kind of a quantifiable assessment to everything, because the mind is limited. It seeks security in measurement. It wants to take the measure of everything it comes across.

Now, we give a lot of value to experience and we give a lot of value to learning. Both are false, but in very different ways. This must be understood. The value that we give to experience is false because the value that is being given to experience, is provided by experience itself. The valuer himself is a product of experience.

How did you learn to value anything? From where did the valuer come? The valuer himself without knowing, without understanding, is just a coincidental aggregation of experiences. Now such a valuer has no independent yardstick through which to measure experience. Are you getting it?

Who are you? You are somebody who was born in a violence ridden family. You are part of a tribe that attaches great value to honor, dignity, and bloodshed. That’s what you are. That’s what the valuer is. And you have been made this way by your experiences. Now whatever you will value, will be according to . . .

Listener: Values.

AP: Your values. And your values have been given to you by your . . .

L1: Experiences.

AP: Experiences! Hence when you say that you are valuing a particular experience, that statement is nonsensical. But we want to value everything. Even as you are listening to me, some of you might be busy valuing me, trying to take a measure of me, without realizing that the entity that is trying to take a measure of me is itself a product of biological and social . . .

L1: Conditioning.

AP: So that is the reason why valuing experience is meaningless, it doesn’t make sense.

Getting it?

At the same time, we want to value learning. Now learning too cannot be valued, but for a different reason. Learning cannot be valued because learning happens only when the one who is obsessed with valuing, falls silent for a while. You and I are together, and learning can happen only when your noisy valuer becomes silent for a while. Otherwise, you will not be learning, right?

So learning and valuation do not go together. As long as you are valuing, learning cannot happen. As long as you are assessing, measuring, learning cannot happen. Learning is invaluable. Experience has zero value. So the process of valuation does not apply to both. It does not apply to experience because experience anyway has no value of its own.

Understand this: the value that you attach to experience is dependent on what experiences you already have had. So experience has no independent value of its own. Are you getting it?

Learning, again, the tendency of your mind to value it, even to attach respect to it, is absurd. Because how can the limited even say that it respects the unlimited.

Anything that the limited does, will be a product of its limitation. The best that the limited can do is, cease to be attached to its limitation, cease to exist, cease to clamor, cease to have an obsession with its being.

See, you say that you respect Truth, or you respect God, or you value Love, but whatever you will do with these, would be coming from what you think of yourself. Would it really be an expression of respect, or would you rather be soiling or spoiling in your own petty way that which is totally beyond you?

Take a simple statement, “I respect God.” Now can we see the arrogance contained in this statement? We are talking about valuing learning. In that context, I am saying, let’s look at the statement ‘I respect God’. Can we see how arrogant that statement is? Why is it an arrogant statement?

L1: Because the ‘I’ thinks that it has some measure to evaluate to respect or not to respect.

AP: Even to respect anything, you must first have some idea of what that thing is. So you will have to bring it within the domain of ideation. The thing may be a million times bigger than you according to your proclaimed point, but still you are saying it is measurable. “I am two units and God is two trillion units” – still you are saying that God is measurable. Also look at the other things that you attach respect to. The tongue that is saying, “I respect God,” also respects the police, the army, the nation, the caste, the religion, the tradition, the boss, money, and so much else, right? With the same tongue, and with the same mind, you are saying that you respect God, right?

“I respect money, I respect the army, and I respect God.”

So you’ve brought God down to the level of money.

It would be wonderful if you could say that I respect only God. But when you respect only God, then the word ‘respect’ is not at all needed. Because then, what you are saying is, that your respect is unconditional. The kind of respect that we offer is given by us and because it is given by us, it can be withdrawn also. I am offering respect based on a certain condition of my mind and if that condition changes, surely the same mind will withdraw that respect.

So, do not value learning, do not value the Truth, and do not value God. Just see what you currently value, and currently you value experience. See the hollowness of all that you value. In the spiritual domain, what usually happens is, I say, “I respect my life, my being, my styles, my habits, my family, my job, and now because I am now also spiritual, hence I respect the Truth as well.” That is the most commonly followed approach and that is the approach that comes instinctively to us. We think that this is the way to go. We say, “I have a certain pattern. I have a certain house in a city in which I exist, and my name, my meanings, my language, my patterns, all come from there. Now I have been told that there is something missing in my life. So, just as I respect a lot of other things, spirituality implies that I will now also respect . . .

L1: God.

AP: No, no.

Wisdom or spirituality is about seeing the hollowness of experience. It is not about bringing Truth down to the level of experience. It is not about saying that your city must exist and you must also now instate God in your city. “Your city is there; what it lacks is a temple.” So being spiritual means, that you must raise a beautiful temple in the city. Is that not what man has been doing? There are grand cities and because they look incomplete without a touch of the religious. So what do we do? We find a nice space in the city and then some temple is raised.

No, not that way.

Real spirituality is about seeing the hollowness of the city itself. It is not about bringing the temple down to the domain of the city. It is about seeing that the city itself is the cause of my suffering. Are you getting it? You don’t need a temple. You need freedom from the city.

When the city is your bane, then building a temple in the city is not going to heal your wounds.

In fact, what you’ve done is that you are closing the only possibility of redemption that was available to you. Truth could have redeemed you, but what have you done? You’ve brought Truth down to the city. Now the Truth is the city. The city is the problem, so how will the Truth now help you? Now the Truth is the city and the city is the problem, so the Truth too has become the part of the problem. The Truth that could have been your savior is now a part of the problem. Such a temple is never going to save you.

But we say we respect Truth; we say we value Truth. So, when we go to that temple, we bow our heads down, we stand up, we offer our respects. It doesn’t help; it cannot help. And man has been doing that and trying that since centuries.

Do not turn Truth and God into newer experiences. Instead see the falseness of all that which you anyway are experiencing from morning till evening. That ‘seeing’ itself is God. You do not need to see God. Seeing itself is Godliness.

Would you be able to see without God? So why this urge to see God? Why this urge to measure the Truth? All your measurements are happening because you are powered by the Truth. Because you can measure anything, it is proven that the Truth is energizing you. Otherwise, how could you measure anything? Now don’t have this childish demand that you must measure the Truth as well. That’s what thought tries to do, right? When thought is told that you arise from beyond, that your origin is unthinkable, then immediately thought tries to think about the unthinkable.

Don’t have a desire for something new, something exotic. Just be careful about that which already is.

Be very careful about what you are doing, meeting, what you are eating, what you are thinking, and everything opens up there itself. 

Excerpts from a ‘Shabdyog’ session held at Advait BodhSthal, Noida. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: The experiencer is a product of experience & hence cannot freely judge experience

Book of Myths

myth-for-blogThis is the most challenging book one can ever come across. It will questions all the popular beliefs one harbours. Never imposing itself on the reader, at the same time the book facilities a thorough enquiry of popular knowledge which is blindly accepted as an obvious fact. It demolishes our so called holy concepts.

If you are someone who has read anything on self-help or on spirituality this book is a must for cleaning of spiritual information.

Paperback: https://goo.gl/VVD8Yg

Kindle: https://goo.gl/VsIucH

The real meaning of Mauna (Silence)

(Speaker in conversation with Shri Edson Mattos from Brazil)

Mattos: Thank you for allowing me to attend this session. I’ll be very quiet and just observe.

Speaker: In fact it would be even better if you speak. When we meet in our office, which happens twice a week, our discussions or deliberations center around life, mind, and the way we look at things, how we perceive what we perceive, what we want, illusions, facts, the light of Truth and then to aid us in these discussions we take texts from all times and places. We pickup stuff from the Oriental traditions, we have the Vedantic tradition, the Buddhist tradition, the Taoists. We also take stuff from the Abrahamic traditions, so the Sufis, the Bible. That is how we proceed. The clarity sessions happen twice a week in the office.

And occasionally, once a month or so we go out to a bit of a remote place for a period of around a week and we organize our learning camps there. We intend those places to be very secluded, man-less, civilization-less, almost like a jungle.

Mattos: Do you practice Silence?

Speaker: The emphasis is on the essence of things. So, Mauna (Silence) at the surface level is just wordlessness, which is good initially as a tool because the mind’s tendency is to remain busy and act. Words are a form of acting. So, to go against the tendency is to size up the tendency but that is all. If Mauna (Silence) means wordlessness then that is all one can do. It always remains on the surface; though it is useful. When we take up Silence we try to let the inner Silence let us know the real meaning of Silence. What really Silence is.

Mattos: To live Silence.

Speaker: Yes, to live Silence, and the living of Silence may actually involve lots of words. One may speak the Silence within, and that is beautiful. The entire rainbow is available, emanating from the core of Silence. Hardly have we ever practiced Silence, yet Silence pervades everything that we do, all that we talk of. Be it Silence or self-inquiry or Love or Truth, those old culprits, the spiritual subjects, Joy, Freedom.

The emphasis is on coming to the essence rather than just the functional aspect of it. What happens is that when one is looking for something then it pleases the mind if one gets that thing quickly in a form, in a way that is apparent to the eyes and rest of the senses. It pleases the mind because it is an indicator to the mind that the search has fructified. Let’s say I am looking for Love and I come across a person who promises me love and that is happening all over the world with the young and the old alike. It pleases the mind that I was looking for Love and I got love, in a form, visible, in a way that I can touch and feel. I will be quickly impressed and I will want to state and declare to myself that I have been successful, that my search has yielded results. I am not really wrong; it’s just that there is much more to it. The form is always a fraction of what the formless has to offer. Even to say that it is a fraction is to bring the form to the same dimension as the formless. So, we can’t even say that it is a fraction.

Mattos: It is impossible to speak of the formless.

Read more

Spirituality is not the renunciation of life; it is the art of living fully

Question: I am not sure about what to do in life. Whether I should go for a spiritual path and leave all material desires or do what everyone is doing. Divergence is always there in my mind. I am practicing meditations regularly, but it won’t clear my path. Secondly, how can only knowledge bring a change in me? Surely no one changes just by listening to talks?

Acharya Prashant: Why is it so that what you call as the ‘spiritual path’ must be equated with leaving something? Do you find any renunciation in existence? Do you find anything in existence that is bent upon giving up something, or dropping something? Read more

What is unconditional freedom?

Question: Is there any difference between freedom and unconditional freedom?

Speaker: We live in bondage. What we call as our normal, usual, daily life, is a series of bonded movement in time. Our thinking, acting, even breathing is bondage. It is happening as per forces we have no understanding of, and hence no control over. And then suddenly, without our explicit demand, it so happens that this series, that this chain gets disrupted for a while, like a flash of lightning in dark sky, not lasting long, but having its distinct presence, an undeniable presence. It didn’t last, but it illuminated as long as it was there, and I can’t forget that it illuminated Read more

The external social order neither tolerates nor matches the innate order of Love

Question: Why does society hate lovers but like husbands and wives?

Speaker: The society is not based on love. Society is a certain external order and love is an intrinsic order, an internal order. So love and society are different, are opposites. It is simple. 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

No ritual is spiritual

Question: Sir, could the people of India be enslaved for long because they were spiritual people?

Speaker: If India was enslaved for so long, if the people here could be conquered and banished, and be made to live against their will, it was not because they were spiritual people, it was because they were not at all spiritual.
I ask you a simple question. What is the most fundamental tenet of spirituality? It is to know what is this game called ‘the world’ and ‘Who am I?’ Right? That is the foundation. ‘What is all this going on?’, and it’s a most obvious question that any intelligent man must ask. Right? Only if you are very stupid, then you will be not spiritual otherwise you have to be spiritual. What else can you be? Spirituality is common sense. Don’t you want to know what all this is? That is spirituality.

Read more

Worldly man- Slave of Destiny

Question: Whatever we are doing in this life, whatever is happening in the universe, is this already defined by God, and we being mere players? Or is God nowhere in the picture?

Speaker: These are the two options that your mind has come up with. One- all is predestined, with we being the enactors of God’s pre-scripted will. Two- there is nothing pre-scripted, there is no God. Whatever is happening is happening out of the forces of the universe. Read more

The saint is not obliged to conform to your expectations

The saint is not obliged to conform to your expectations

In what direction am I going, how shall I find the road? I hope they will send me a map before it’s too late, or it’s all over for me, my breath all gone to waste.

– Lalleshwari

Question: Lalla had surrendered all her life to ‘That’. Now, why this confusion? Why is she saying that a road is still to be found? Why is she asking for a map? Why is she saying that it might be too late? Why is she afraid that her breath might all be gone to waste?

Acharya Prashant: The mind will go where it has to go. A surrendered mind is still mind. There is a beautiful line from the scripture Drig Drishya Viveka. It says, “Yatr yatr manoyati, tatr tatr samaadhayah.” (Wherever the mind goes, there is peace). It does not say that the mind goes nowhere, that the mind is not wandering at all. It is saying, “Yatr yatr manoyati, tatr tatr samaadhayah.” Read more

Detachment is the fruit of maturity

Speaker: You see we are outrageously arrogant when it comes to small things, we are so fond of claiming that which we do not have, but we are absurdly humble when it comes to claiming that which we really have. You don’t have a large house but you would not feel shy of boasting it to others that I have a large house and so much money. But it terrifies you no end to admit that you already have enlightenment. There you want to act humble. Why don’t you just admit? Read more

Any and every image you make of yourself is an ugly image

Question: How do I find a balance between my personal goals and dreams in life with my family’s expectations from me? How can one fulfil both without compromising on either?

Speaker: How can I find a balance between my personal goals and dreams in life with my family’s expectations from me? How can I fulfil both without compromising on either?

There is a slave, and there are two men who are fighting over the rights to own that slave. The slave is greatly interested in the fight, the slave wants to know who will win. The slave sometimes even wants to support one party over the other. There are these two men who are quarrelling, who are fighting, it’s like a tug-of-war, and the slave thinks that he is asking a very meaningful question. ‘Who should be my master? To whom should I be enslaved?’ What would you recommend to that slave? Read more

A vulnerable mind will have a vulnerable relationship

Question: Why is it that we knowingly let our loved ones hurt us?

Speaker: The hurt is not coming from the loved ones, the hurt is coming from the shallow nature of the love itself. It is not the loved one that hurts, it is your fake love that hurts. Kindly do not unnecessarily put the blame on somebody else. What hurts you is that in spite of being the object of ‘my’ love, he hurt me! Read more

Choose religiousness rather than religion

Question: Is Hinduism a religion that allows and accepts non-believers too?

Answer: If you are accepting non-believers, then you also have to accept that Muslims and Christians are also Hindus. So, this is obviously a non-question. If you are saying that Hinduism accepts both believers and non-believers, then believers and non-believers is the sum total of everybody. You are saying, ‘A and A compliment’, and that is the universal set. Then you are saying that everybody is a Hindu. 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

To not to be spiritual is to be a social slave

Question: A simple rejection from anybody affects me completely. How to overcome this and what causes this disappointment?

Speaker: Rejection might be simple, but do you keep it simple? Do you allow it to remain simple? Do you know what ‘simple’ means?  Simple means, direct. Simple means, it is what it is. I do not add anything to it, I do not distort it, I do not take away anything from it. Rejection is rejection. But for you is it merely rejection? You make it a part of your self-assessment. It all pertains to the question, ‘Who am I?’ When there is no clarity on that question, then that question clamours to be answered. And it gets answered in very confused ways, in very distorted ways. ‘Who am I?’ The one, who will be accepted by others. ‘Who am I?’ One, among the others. Are you getting it? 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

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