Thought is not bad

There is the mind, and the mind has the ability to think. The question is not whether you are thinking or not. The question is, who is the thinker? If the thinker is devoted to the Truth, then thoughts are just like the dance of Shiva.

Is the river of your thoughts pure enough to allure Shiva to dance in it? And Shiva will not dance in a stream impure.

There is understanding without thought and there is understanding with thought as well. Just as there is Truth, formlessly, and there is Truth, formed as well. There will be occasions when the Truth will strike you like a thunderbolt, like a flash of lightning. And understanding will be complete in a split second. And there will be occasions when you will be required to think.

But I understand your predicament. All the spiritual masters are treating thought as the worst offender. As if thought has brought in sickness and disease to your life. Not really. Thought is your expression, just as action is your expression. As you are, so your thought is. In fact, thought is so very helpful. You cannot look at your tendencies, your vrittis, directly. But thought is gross, palpable, definite, it can be watched.

When you think, you come to know of yourself. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have known. The thought of jealousy or the thought of fear arises, it helps you know that deep within somewhere, you are? Afraid.

Thought is not bad. ‘Useful’ or ‘Useless’ is the place, thought is coming from.

Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant: Is physical proximity to the Guru necessary?


Acharya Prashant: Is physical proximity to the Guru necessary?

Acharya Prashant: The next one is from Roosmarjin, from the Netherlands. And she has tried the devanagari script today. That’s what I say, you Love playing games. And you keep trying your games upon me as well. I too am a sportsman. Right? If you offer me a game, I won’t refuse.

So, yes Rosie, let’s have a ball.

“Acharya Ji pranam.” Rosie ji, “Pranam.”

Freedom is compulsory.” Of course.

“At a grace given moment, no thoughts come up in the mind any longer. I want to do or drop, whatever it takes in order to not resist the process. Day by day, the pull to be in physical proximity with you and devote my life to you, the Truth, grows stronger. Most of the thoughts that are in my mind are related to moving to India, to be in your physical proximity. Only if it would be wanted for the sake of the mission at large, will I stay there? But the thought of not coming to live close to you literally makes my heart contract. Maybe this message is not suited for the class, but it is ‘the one thing’ I am serious about. If you don’t stop me, I will come. Please tell me, what is being wanted.

Yours Roosmarjin”

[Holding a cat in his hands and showing the cat towards the screen] Say “Hi” to Roosmarjin. So what do you want from her (asking the cat), she is the Oracle (referring to the cat). So, what do you want from Roosmarjin?


Yes, Oracle, speak !  (still holding the cat)

Nothing. Please. Just a meow would be enough. Say something, say something!

She is not refusing. She is not even saying, that consent is needed. She wants to sleep (lets the cat off his hands, and while she goes, comes a meow). And to this, she said, Yes.

A few things you have said.

You have said, “at a grace given moment, no thoughts come up in the mind any longer.” When you were here in India, I had spoken about this, I will repeat!

It is not at all necessary or advisable, to target a state of ‘no thoughts.’ To extend the metaphor of the last answer, will the Sun ever be without its radiance? It’s rays? Will the ocean ever be without its waves? Will there ever be God, sans godliness? Will there ever be the creator, without the creation?

Thoughts are like waves. And waves only give dance to the substance of the ocean. If the ocean itself has somehow become contaminated or spoilt or corrupted. Then the waves too would have that corruption.

There is the mind, and the mind has the ability to think. The question is not whether you are thinking or not.

The question is, who is the thinker?

If the thinker is devoted to the Truth, then thoughts are just like the dance of Shiva.

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To break-up or not to break-up? || Acharya Prashant (2018)

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Question: How to get rid of a relationship that gives pain in leaving?

Acharya Prashant: A few things must be clear.

One, if it is really a bad relationship, then you can have no pain in leaving it because the pain is already there.

How can there be a pain in leaving it because there is a lot of pain in living it?

You cannot have pain in leaving it; rather you are leaving the pain.

Second thing, dropping a relationship, does not mean dropping the other person. If you think that dropping the other person will lead to a change in the relationship, you are mistaken.

All your relationships are fundamentally a reflection of yourself.

You chose the other person.

If you remain the same, then you will find another person to have the same kind of relationship with.

You are a drunkard; you go to the market to fetch some liquor. If one shop is closed, what will you do? You will go to another shop, establish the same kind of relationship with that shop and get the same kind of intoxication from that shop.

You may keep changing shops, that does not change the relationship.

It is a very fine thing that you must understand. You can keep changing persons in your life, and yet you will find that your relationship is just the same because you haven’t changed. You have kept dropping the persons, you may keep changing shops, but wherever you go, you are just asking for liquor. So your relationship with any shop is just the same. Even if you are going to a shoe shop, you are asking for liquor.

That is one approach, the other approach is, “I chose the other person and if I remain the same, I will keep choosing persons of the same quality.” Why drop the person? Every person is a universe. What do I relate to,  in that person? What does that person become in my presence? Can I let the person ‘be’ and rather change the relationship?

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What is Godlessness?

Man in that sense is way behind words because our resistance towards free fall is both biological and social.

Even if you find discontentment in an animal’s eyes, it is just biological. Man’s discontentment is far deeper. An animal would appear frustrated if it cannot get food, or if it is physically confined. Man is frustrated for a billion more reasons, a billion more idiotic reasons.

To live in dissatisfaction is to keep crying.

Even if you find discontentment in an animal’s eyes, it is just biological. Man’s discontentment is far deeper. An animal would appear frustrated if it cannot get food, or if it is physically confined. Man is frustrated for a billion more reasons, a billion more idiotic reasons.

The skin is so protected that it cannot take any sun. However, it looks cute, like rabbit fur, feels nice and soft. You can play with the kid as if the kid is a toy and parents Love that, their personal toy. So the more toy-like the kid is, the more you feel satisfied as a parent. See, no scars and the shade is uniform. No dents. Regularly maintained and serviced. Weight is perfect. Refueling is done at regular intervals. Paint is so original.

Godlessness means Lovelessness, Joylessness, Freedomlessness.

Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant on Rumi: Fall in faith, and you will be given wings


Acharya Prashant on Rumi: Fall in faith, and you will be given wings

“Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it? They fall and falling; they are given wings.”

~ Rumi

Question:  Shilpi has asked, RUMI says “ Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they learn it? They fall and falling; they are given wings.” Can you please speak more about this?

Thank you.

Acharya Prashant: Rumi says birds fall and falling they are given wings. Those wings are so perfect and powerful that birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. Birds fall and falling they are given wings. They are given wings; their fall is a Trust fall. We don’t trust that wings will be given to us, we want to earn our wings. We cannot allow ourselves to fall freely because we feel responsible for our welfare. We feel that we live in a hostile world, we have been born in an alien place, and unless we take of ourselves, we will be eliminated.

This universe, we take as a stranger. Existence, we take as inimical to us. Now obviously, then there is a constant tension to take care of ourselves. We will not let ourselves fall. What Rumi is saying must not be taken literally. It’s not as if birds fall and in the process of falling, they are blessed with wings. What he means is that there is no effort on the part of everything existential, be it a river, a mountain, a bird, a fish, an insect, and an animal. They live in a state of constant surrender. Even if they resist, their resistance is just biological. Their resistance is not social; their resistance is not one of knowledge but of instinct.

Man in that sense is way behind words because our resistance towards free fall is both biological and social.

We are born as someone who would be afraid and then we are terrified further by our social conditioning. When the child is born, the child cries. The beginning itself is not very auspicious, and to make matters far worse, the entire life we are taught to cry. Sometimes we are told to laugh, but that is the same thing. Laughing and crying are ends of the same duality.

To live in dissatisfaction is to keep crying.

That is what we are always taught, live as if you are hungry, stay hungry.

Even if you find discontentment in an animal’s eyes, it is just biological. Man’s discontentment is far deeper. An animal would appear frustrated if it cannot get food, or if it is physically confined. Man is frustrated for a billion more reasons, a billion more idiotic reasons.

The primary idiocy being, if I don’t take care of myself what will happen to me. The man extends this idiocy to others. I have to take of myself, I have to take care of him, him, him, him ( Acharya Ji pointing out to few listeners) and this we call as Love. Come all of you, my loved ones, I must save you from existence.

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Pure giving

The ego is interested in its own nourishment.

Because the ego wants only that what the ego values, not which is absolutely valuable.

Getting tired of getting hurt is a rare happening. Man is extremely resilient. We keep on getting hurt again and again, at the same place and yet we are hardly ever tired of repeating the same processes, the same actions that bring us to hurt.

You can call it a stage of demolition. The old patterns are seen as worthless and hence given up.

In the first level, the ego gives, and this giving is of a nature that strengthens the ego. In the second level, the ego gives up its trust in itself and hence gets diminished.

In the third stage giving up does not happen. The third stage is of pure giving.

You just give. Meaninglessly, purposelessly, reasonlessly. You don’t even give, you are just being what you really are.

And when you just start giving, since you are giving to yourself, you start receiving a lot.

Tremendously bored we are with everything, that even an invitation to get rid of boredom sounds boring.

Your mind is already afraid of death, and Rumi is just exposing, or at worst exploiting that fear.

Given the way we are, fear is our reality. Wherever there is body identification, there would also parallely be the fear of the loss of the body.

Everything is done for a purpose, for a reason, with the expectation of gain. And where there is the expectation of gain, there is also the parallel fear of loss.

Because an action that arises from fear can never eliminate fear.

Take care of the ‘first’ in the ‘first place.’ Do not let the disease guide your actions. Rather, the first action should be to eliminate the disease. And these are the only two ways of living.

Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant on Rumi: The three levels of giving

Acharya Prashant on Rumi: The three levels of giving


Before death takes away what you are given,

give away what there is to give.


Acharya Prashant: Here is something from Rumi: “Before death takes away what you are given, give away what there is to give.”

The question says, “Statements like these are interpreted as being pleasure aversive, and we already are pain aversive, so together it means being life aversive. Is Rumi really talking about being life aversive?”

I’ll repeat the quote, “Before death takes away what you are given, give away what there is to give.”

‘Giving’ is the keyword. Let’s go close to it and understand it. ‘Giving’ happens at three different levels. All three are connected to each other, yet there is a dimensional difference between the three. The three appear to be progressively leading to each other, yet there is also a quantum jump from the first to the second and from the second to the third. The first kind of giving is the giving that we are all very familiar with.

You give somebody a hundred rupee note and then you expect in return a value of at least hundred rupees, right? And it is great if you give hundred rupees and are in return given a value of two hundred rupees. If you just look at the event partially, then giving is happening. Is it not? You are giving something, right?

Similarly, we give gifts to each other. We give compliments to each other. We give advices to each other. We even give help to each other. We see that happening all around us. What is common between all these types of givings? We are talking about the first level of giving. What is common between all these types of giving?

Listener: It’s given to someone else.

AP: Yes, and?

L: Expectation of a return.

AP: Expectation of a return. Now what kind of return do you expect? When you give something to somebody, what do you expect in return?

L: Something of same value.

AP: Something of value at least, or do you expect something valueless? Be with me, do you expect something valueless or something you deem as worthy?

L: Something we deem as worthy.

AP: Who decides whether what you are getting in return is indeed valuable?

L: Me.

AP: You decide. So you are the one who decides that you are giving away something that has value, let’s say a note or a compliment. And you are also the one who decides that what you are getting in return too is valuable, correct? Who is this ‘you’, who is this ‘me’ who decides what to give and what to get? And whether to give and whether to get? And whether the given and taken has value? Who is this entity that decides all this? That entity is called the ‘ego.’

The ego is interested in its own nourishment.

So, whenever it enters into a transaction with the world, whenever it enters into a transaction in a relationship, its objective is always to enhance itself. Which means that if it is giving hundred, it wants hundred and fifty in return. This is our normal day-to-day giving, which appears like giving but is actually a business transaction in which the ego wants to benefit and hence enhance itself. Are you getting it?

If you give something but get something in return which the ego does not like, then you will say that this is not a fair transaction. Take an extreme example. Let’s say you have become habituated to substance abuse, drugs. You take one thousand rupees and you give it to a drug peddler. And what you get from him instead is some sane advice and a copy of the Upanishads. An entire set of the principal Upanishads, that’s what he gives you the moment you hand over your thousand bucks to him. Will you say that you have been given a fair deal? Would you?

L: No.

AP: No,

because the ego wants only that what the ego values, not which is absolutely valuable.

It has to be valuable in relation to the ego’s configuration. I want that which I think is good for me. Now even if what you are giving me is beautiful advice and a copy of the scriptures, yet I reject it because I do not value it because this is not what I expected. Give me that which I want.

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The function of Brahm is to give stability


One should identify Brahman neither with the head nor with the middle part nor with the bottom but with (what remains in the shape of) the tail, since it is said that Brahman is ‘the Tail’ and substratum. Thus those who contemplate this fourfold division attain the supreme Goal.

Verse 5

~Avadhut Upanishad

Acharya Prashant: Brahman is to be identified with no part of the body but with the tail. What is meant by that? The idea is that the tail has only one function-to give stability. Brahman is the stabilizing tail of the universe. All other parts of the body have various utilities and functions. But the tail gives stability. Read more

You are always in Liberation

The whole thing about liberation is that it begins in an acknowledgement of one’s suffering. 

Unless one is sensitive to what is happening in one’s life, one is not going to be available to be liberated from what is happening in one’s life; one will remain stuck in it.

All that arrives is bound to depart. If liberation arrives in your life then liberation too is bound to depart.

Liberation will not begin for you. You are the one who ‘begin’ and ‘end’ in liberation. Whether you begin or whether you end, you are always in liberation.

Read the Complete Article: What is the meaning of Guru?

Guru is the realization that even the maya is Brahm

Guru is the realisation that, all that which is denoted by ‘Gu’ need not take control or possession of me, that, ‘ru’ is possible to co-exist along with ‘Gu’; ‘ru’ means standing still, ‘Gu’ means all the movements that you see. Guru means a great paradox where ‘Gu’ and ‘ru’ co-exist, where the periphery and the center dance with each other, where the sky and stars are one with each other. The sky has no form, no shape, doesn’t come, doesn’t go. The stars were born, the stars will go, and yet they are so one with each other – that is Guru.

The Guru is the one that powers the seeing, the Guru is the seer and the Guru is the seen.

The Guru is not the object in your universe, the Guru is the foundation of the universe.

Guru hence is freedom from the great fear of death. With ‘Gu’ there is only death. With ‘ru’ there is neither birth, nor death. In ‘Guru’ there is immortality in the middle of death.

Guru is the name of the great game. A game in which there is neither victory, nor loss, just fun. When fun is divine, you call it as Joy.

To know the Guru, is to know the Truth. To know the Guru, is no different than knowing the Atman, the Brahm absolutely.

The great game is ‘of the Truth’, ‘in the Truth’ and is nothing but the Truth. And hence in this great game, the Truth keeps showing up in all possible ways; nothing else but the Truth shows up.

The realization that the false has no recourse but to submit to the Truth, is the Guru. The realization that even the false is Truth, is the Guru.

Guru is the realization that even the maya is Brahm.

Read the Complete Article: What is the meaning of Guru?

What is the meaning of Guru?


Acharya Prashant: The text says that the Guru is the one who gives freedom from coming and going. ‘Gu’ indicates the whole process, the whole cycle, the whole game of coming and going and ‘ru’ indicates the cessation of that game.

Let us talk about this coming and going. What is it? What is meant by coming and going?

L1: Here (in the text) it is written life and death, but what does it mean?

AP: So, you say coming and going means life and death. Can you put it in more daily terms?

L2: Thoughts?

AP: Hmm (Yes).

Coming and going in a more immediate way, in a more practical way, relates to all that which rises and falls, all that which moves, all that which changes. All change indicates coming and going. All change indicates movement; something that takes a peak and then dips, right? Before we say that Guru is the one who gives freedom from this rise and fall, you must understand why any freedom from this is required at all? Why freedom from this is required?

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Who are you and what is your nature?

 Listener 1: Even if we surrender, still there’s a confusion.

AP: Of course, if you surrender then you are still on top, and can you see how discreetly you are surrendering, “Even if we surrender”, as if surrendering is a choice.

Listener 1: No sir, it’s not a choice.

AP: Then it’ll just happen. Then you won’t say, “Even if I surrender.”

Listener 1: But there is no clear way ahead.

AP: Who’s way, your way? If you are surrendered, will you ask about the way or will you say – ‘Now my surrender is the way’. If I have surrendered myself to the driver then why should I worry about the way ahead, the driver will take care of the way.

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On Shiva Sutra: Atman is the mother of mind; Awareness is the mother of consciousness


ज्ञानाधिष्ठानं मातृका

Translation: The basis, the foundation, the substratum of consciousness, which is knowledge,
is the mother, the origin.

~ Shiva Sutra: (1.4)

Acharya Prashant (AP): Atman is the mother of mind. 

Awareness is the mother of consciousness. 

The Source is the Atman.

The manifestation is Prakriti. Read more

Is the universe actually a human being?

Questioner: The whole universe is a human and each of our part in the body is different places in the Universe, is it right or wrong ?

Acharya Prashant: Both, right and wrong. What you are referring to is the classical Upanishadic description of the first human being, or the first physical form, the first person. It is symbolic.  Read more

The best way to get Truth and Love


Question: What is the best way to achieve Truth and love?

Acharya Prashant: You are the way; your life is the way.

There is no other way. What else do you know of? Do you know of anything except that which you are experiencing? You are asking as if there are options and other possibilities. I am asking you, do you know anything beyond your experience? Read more

What would remain without thoughts?

AP: You have said without thoughts and thinking there would be no world. It is well said but one could do better by saying that- without thoughts there would be no world and neither no no-world.

To say that the world does not exist is as much of a myth as saying that it does exist.

A Zen master once called one of his disciples and he pointed at something in his hand. He said what do you want to say about this — it was probably a short scarf. He asked does it exist or not? He said if you say that it does not exist then you deny its factuality and if you say that it does exist then you deny the reality. So talking about existence is always a risky business. Read more

The world can redeem itself only by placing the highest value on the Guru


Questioner: The question is: Who is a Guru? Is a Guru different from a Teacher right? Can a Guru bring together — Knowledge and spirituality in one domain? And what is this contradiction between Osho and J. Krishnamurti?

Acharya Prashant: See, there has to be something which makes you feel that there is a difference between a Teacher and a Guru. What is that thing? Because language and dictionary will tell you that these two words are almost synonymous: ‘Teacher and Guru’. Yet something within you tells you that they are not. Indeed there may be a huge difference; a dimensional difference between these two.

Teaching, in the way we know it, in the way it is used in contemporary society, is analogous to filling up the brain, guiding the intellect in a predetermined direction. Now it’s a very important function: to bring a child or a young student up to date, to the point where evolution has brought mankind is important. If a child has born today, he must know the languages that are prevalent today. He must know the sciences, he must know the traffic rules, he must know the political environment, he must know computers and electronics, he must know the way the various societies are built and are operated. Read more

Ways of Truth

Ways of Truth are mysterious, paradoxical, sometimes rather opposite to what we think and sometimes not even opposite of what we think.

If they are just opposite of what we think, it is still a mercy.

The great bewilderment is when the Truth is not what we think and Truth is also not what we do not think.

Then one is left in the middle of nothing.

On Ishavasya Upanishad: There is nothing called spiritual knowledge


 Different indeed, they say, is the result of vidya and
different indeed, they say, is the result of avidya.
Thus have we heard from the wise who had explained it to us.
He who knows both vidya and avidya together,
transcends mortality through avidya and reaches immortality through vidya.

~ Ishavasya Upanishad, Verse 10 and 11 ~

Acharya Prashant: One thing, they say, is obtained from vidya. Another, they say, from avidya. Thus, we have heard from the wise who have taught us this. ‛He who is aware that both vidya and avidya should be pursued together overcomes death through ignorance, which is avidya; overcomes death through avidya. And obtains immortality through vidya.’

The text here has used the word ‘avidya’ for ignorance, which is quite not proper. What is this whole business of vidya and avidya? What does that have to do with overcoming death and obtaining immortality

Knowledge is knowledge. Be it any kind of knowledge, it is just knowledge. But the human mind has a tendency to look at everything in a divided way. Anything, any object that exists in the mind is necessarily limited and hence, divided. Divided from the rest of existence. One fundamental distinction that exists in the mind is the distinction between the Universe and the self. That is what is also called as the ego — ‘I am’. ‘I am’ separate from the universe.

So, the mind starts with this: that I am separate from the universe. When you are starting with this proposition, obviously you will say that the knowledge of the universe is different from the knowledge of the self because all the time you are anyway feeling that you are separate from the universe. The universe is one thing and you are another thing.

You say that you came into this universe at time of birth and that you will go away from universe at the time of death. So, the universe and you are distinct. If the universe and you are distinct, then knowledge of the universe and the knowledge of you, which is the self, will also be taken as distinct and separate. This separation is represented by vidya and avidya. When you look ‘outwards’ into the universe, and when I say outwards, that outwards is within quotes; that outwards is only the sensual perception of the mind. The eyes are looking outwards. So when you look outwards into the universe, you gain knowledge and you call that knowledge as avidya. And then you look ‘inwards’, inwards again within quotes. Then you look inwards, and you come to see the Self. And this knowledge, this perception, whatever you have about the Self, you call that as vidya. And you keep treating these two as different.

Please understand.

You keep feeling, you keep maintaining that the universe is different from you. So you say, ‘Alright, well, something is happening in the universe and because the universe is separate and different from me, so, I can change something in the universe without changing anything in me’. Because vidya is one field and avidya is another. So something can be changed “out there” without changing anything “in here”.

And that is how mankind has proceeded — Wanting to change something within, it disregards what is happening outside. And wanting to change something “out there”, it totally forgets that the out there is the same as; is dependent on, is organically linked to, what is “in here”.

The Rishi’s will have none of it. They know better than this distinction. So they gave us a wonderful sutra. They say, ‘only when you know these two together, that you have known something.’ Now, this is easier to hear, in fact, it is deceptively easy to hear because the very definition of knowledge lies in division. To know that hill side and the mind together, is to stand separate from both of them. The study of hill side is the study of all universal material objects — we are calling that as avidya. The study of the mind is the study of the subject, the mind — we are calling that as vidya. And we have been thinking that these two are separate, that the subject and the object, that the world and the mind are separate. But the Rishi is saying, know them together. Know the subject and the object, the world and the mind together. See that what is happening outside is just a representation, an image of what is happening inside. Nothing could have happen outside without it’s parallel, without it’s twin event happening inside. Getting it?

So they are saying, ‘Know both of them together, for they are twins, for they are mirror images.’ And when you know the subject and the object together, then you cannot be the subject and surely you cannot be the object either. That is called witnessing. That is called standing at a distance from the duality of the subject and the object. Do we see what is meant by seeing them together? To see them together is too see them one. To see them together is to see that they are just two sides of the same coin, that they are just mirror images of each other.

Whole of human suffering lies in seeing his conditions as something different from his mind.

Don’t we say that ‘I am a good man, it’s just that the conditions right now are not favorable or that I am brilliant, benign, compassionate but my situations have forced me to act cruelly?’ Don’t we say all that? Don’t we feel that the change in our external situations can be called as progress? And is that progress not the goal of so much of civilization? All that happens out of the same mistake. The mistake is that the outer is different from the inner. That a different universe exists outside my skin. And a different universe exists inside my skull cap. That the body is the dividing line.

There are some who follow the path of material progress. They say, ‘I can change the outer, I remaining the same, I want to change the outer.’ There are some who follow the path of meditation, they say, ‘The inner is everything’ and they pay no attention to the facts of their life, for the facts are outer. They have to be seen with the senses. But they are busy with meditations believing that everything is inside. They do not know that they see inside is not an independent or Real entity at all. It is all coming from the outside. Borrowed, taken in, absorbed, tutored, programmed.

So, in a very simple statement, something very profound is communicated:  Look at them together and see that they are one. When you see that they are one, then you are somebody distinct from both of them.

Now that takes us to the next part which says, ‘You get freedom from death on knowing the world. You get freedom from death through avidya and you gain immortality through vidya.

What is all that?

Let’s understand.

How have humans thought of death? What is our conception of death?

Let’s look at the various myths and representations around death.

So ‘Yamraaj’ (represented as the God of Death in Hinduism) comes from somewhere. Yamraaj comes from somewhere riding his animal. And in various cultures, death is depicted in various forms but that form is never our own. It is some alien form. It is somebody from outside. From where? From somewhere in the universe obviously. So where does the death resides? Where does death resides? Somewhere out there. Don’t we say, ‘Death will come’ or do we ever say that death will arise from within me? Do we ever say that?

Even the phrases that we use, look at our language — ‛Waiting for death’, for us, death exists in the universe. It is an enemy that is lurking around somewhere, not within. We feel we are life and out there somewhere is death. So the universe is a hostile place because the universe is sending death to life. We are always at odds with the universe. We are living beings, we are life and the universe has elements that can kill this life. The universe can fire death at us any moment. Don’t we feel that way? So it is our duty to protect ourselves from the universe. We always, then, have a ring of defense ready.

The Rishi is saying, ‘Once you know the universe, now you have freedom from death.’ Having known the falseness of what you thought to be the universe, you also come to know the falseness of what you think belongs to the universe. Once the universe goes down, once the universe is no more substantial for you, death too can no more be substantial. A false universe can only send a false death to you. It is only when you believe in the veracity of the universe that you also believe that you can die.

With the universe gone, death too goes way.

With the universe gone, by the way, birth too goes away.

No universe, then where were you born?

The universe can go away only when you have studied the universe properly. The universe can go away when you have really-really known the universe, the nature of the universe. Knowing the nature of this universe is called Avidya.

And knowing the universe fully, obviously, involves knowing The Self fully as well. Know the universe fully, know The Self fully and the universe will drop. All the meanings, all the temptations, all the bondages, all the pleasures and pain — they all will drop. And with them, you will find that the great fear of death too has dropped.

Knowing the universe is freedom from the universe, which is in turn,  freedom from death.

To know the mind as the projector of the universe is the field of vidya. The universe does not come To enquire into you. The mind goes to enquire into the universe. So while the mind and the universe are one, if one of them, has to be called the basis of the other, mind will have to be called the basis of the universe. While there are the two ends of duality, please remember that the one you call as “yourself” identifies with only one end of duality and that one end is not the universe. That one end is The Self. Please understand.

The Self and the universe might be two ends of duality. For sure they are. But what do you consider yourself to be? The self or the universe?

Listeners: Self.

AP: So out of these two ends, with which end have you identified yourself? The Self. Right? So as far as you are concerned, The Self is the one that gives rise to the universe because the self comes first. It is the self that goes to enquire into the universe. It is the self that wants to know anything. The universe drops. The self that give rise to the universe, that too, drops along with the universe and that is the field of vidya and with this gone, nothing remains at all — this nothing remaining has been called as immortality.

Firstly, there was fear of death. Then there was no fear of death. And now there is not even no fear.

Firstly, I thought of whatever I saw as true, then I thought of it as false.

Now I am calling it not even as false.

Complete freedom from something comes only when you are free from its opposite as well.

Complete freedom from something comes from being free of the need to negate that thing.

The universe offered death and birth. Knowing the universe offered no death but no death is still one step behind immortality. Because in saying no death, you have given birth to something more. You have given birth to no death. If death was a concept that needed to be dropped, then it has not been fully dropped, it has been substituted with another concept called no death. Immortality is freedom from both death and no death.

Freedom from just death is freedom from birth and death. And it is very easy to say, ‛You know, for me, there is no birth and there is no death.’ So many religious scriptures say that you are the one who can neither be born and nor can you die.’ And the ego can co-opt this statement. It is so easy for one to say that no birth or death for me. But be careful. See what have you done. Earlier, you used to say that you are the one who would die and now you are saying, ‘you are the one who would not die. Another birth has taken place. Another cycle of duality has started.

Immortality goes one step beyond ‘freedom from death’.

It is freedom from ‘freedom from death’.

It is freedom from death and freedom from no death.

It is total freedom. It cannot even be called freedom because freedom too would become another concept. That is what happens when you go to the depths of the mind, that is when you hit that which is beyond all description and who is also not beyond all description. Who is conceivable and inconceivable together. Whatever you say about that would be wrong and yet you cannot say that you cannot say anything about that. That is what happens when you go to the utter depths of the mind.

Going to the utter depths of the mind is the field of vidya. But remember that “That” which you may call as Aatman or Brahm, is not the fruit of vidya. If you have really gone into vidya, vidya and avidya would happen together. And when these two would happen together, as the sage have always advised, then both are dissolved as well.

Vidya does not take you to Brahm — that is another popular misconception. Kindly get rid of it. Vidya has to go away for only Brahm to remain. Brahm is immortality. Are you getting it?

When you believed in the universe then you also believed in the study of the universe. So a belief in the study of universe implies a belief in the universe. When the universe will drop, the study of the universe too, will simultaneously gone. So with the universe gone, avidya too has…

L: Gone

AP: Okay. With the universe gone, the avidya too has gone. So, with the mind gone, vidya too has gone. No vidya can, hence, take you to The Truth. Because though vidya is the study of the mind, but vidya can only revealed to you the falseness of the mind. And if the mind is false, what have you been studying? If the mind ultimately is being shown up as non existent, then are you studying the non existent? So the entire field of vidya too must drop as non existent. This is especially important for those who are seekers of spiritual knowledge. There are people who seeks worldly knowledge and then there are people who seeks inner knowledge. Spiritual knowledge.

The materialist has to drop the material.

The spiritualist had to drop the spiritual.

And these two must happen together.

When these two happen together, then nothing is left to happen.

Is this clear?

These set of verses dealing with vidya and avidya and finally talking of freedom from death and immortality are part of the small Isha Upanishad and these are some of the most befuddling, intriguing verses in the whole Upanishadic literature. These have to be very carefully understood. If it is not clear, we will go more into it. Because the Rishis had a special knack to express the most intricate of the subject in the briefest of words. What looks like just two or three verse actually contains the essence of all wisdom.

Listener 1: Sir, this study of the mind, just knowing how my mind functions and what my tendencies are, is that the only thing we should do?

AP: You see, when we start studying the mind, it is a great temptation to close your eyes, and introspect. And this introspection is severe nonsense. Study of the mind cannot happen without parallelly studying of the universe. How will you know that you are conditioned unless you first see that the outer and the inner are one. Hence, it is quite likely that what I call as the inner has been borrowed from outside. But many people fall into this trap. They say, ‘Let me close my eyes and sit in meditation and that will reveal  divine knowledge to me.

The Rishi’s are warning us. There are those who make the mistakes of only looking outwards and there are those who make the bigger mistake of only looking inwards. But rare is the one who sees the outer and the inner together and then sees that they are the same, one.

You see, this distinction between outer and inner has been so pronounced in our culture, civilization, polity, society, everything. The conqueror of the world is called the King and the conqueror of the mind is called the saint. And the king and the saint are taken as polar opposites. Are they not? You can either be a householder or you can be a spiritual seeker. The market place has to be different from the temple. All of this is The dividing line between the outer and the inner.

There is nothing, that you are seeing around you, that is not a representation of something within you. Will you remember this? This grass something within you. I represent something within you. This hill side represents something within you. The outer and the inner are one and the distinction is false. The body is the distinction. You say, ‘Outside the body lies the external and inside the body lies the internal.’ Inside the body or inside the brain, or whatever. In fact, that is also the mind-brain debate — Whether the mind lies inside the brain or the brain lies inside the mind. This debate is meaningful as long as you believe that the outer and the inner are separate.

‘So, does that mean that I am not walking around upon the ground, I am walking around my mind?’

Yes, you are walking ‘in’ your mind.

‘So, do I exists in the universe or does the universe exists in me?’

Well, the universe exists in you.

‘Such a large universe exists in me?’

Yes, it does. That is why your mind is so heavy.


So, if you can empty yourself of the universe, you will feel light.

‛Yes, yes. Sure. I too am trying for that. I want my mind free of the universe.’

Yes. That would be nice. But let me tell you something additional. When your mind would be free of universe, it would be free of itself as well. The universe gone, mind too would be gone. Now that is dangerous. You, don’t want that. Then you can continue to move around with the universe in your mind. Now you know why it is dangerous to enter the Ganga river?

(Smilingly) Do you know which part of the body sinks?

Mind. Because it is so heavy.

L2: Can we say that there is nothing called a light mind?

AP: Yes. You can say that.

L2: Because lightness appears in the absence of the mind.

AP: Yes. Of course. But that makes you feel so uncomfortable. Doesn’t it? When you have a load in the mind, it also gives you a purpose to live. It gives you a certain tautness. A direction, something to do, something to take care of. You wake up in the morning and you say, ‛Oh my God! I am so occupied, so much to do.’ And now, you are relieved of the burden to respond to this day.

It may rain. It may shine but your schedule is already decided. Come what may, I will, like a programmed robot do, what is upon my mind. Now, if you wake up and you don’t have a readymade schedule with you. Then, it is a big trouble. Now, you have to respond afresh to the day. Now you have to be creative. Now, it is a threat. Lightness is threatening when it comes. That’s why we don’t let it come.

L2: Sir, what does it mean to see the mind and the universe simultaneously? What is this seeing about?

AP: This seeing is simply seeing that your usual patterns of functioning and thinking do not make sense. They are all false. You say, ‛I love you’ to somebody and it is kind of ridiculous to say that because even this expression of love is so preprogrammed, so deterministic, you feel as if the expression is arising from somewhere within, as if it is an inner call. And you do not realize that it is a universal thing. That the elements have come together to make you feel as if you are in love. You do not realize that what you call as the external society has given you a particular definition of love and because what you experience right now as happening is confirming to that definition. So you are calling your feeling as love.

And what’s worse, you do not realize that the experiencer who is experiencing love is himself a product of previous experiences which have all come from the outside. Now, our normal mode of functioning does not make any sense. This is what meant by seeing the outer and the inner together. And when this happens, this breakdown happens, then this breakdown is accompanied by the revelation of The Holy. When these two falsenesses is gone, something else comes about. That something else is neither outer and nor inner. Neither here nor there. Or both here and there.

It defies your language, it defies your mind. It defies your distinction.

Yes that sky that you are watching is within you. Surely, don’t worry.

L3: Sir, when it is said to ask, ‛Who am I?’ Is it the same thing as when ‘I’ thinks, it becomes strong and ‘I’ will come out as external only.

AP: You see, when I am talking to beginners then it is a good tactic to tell them that what you consider as internal is something external. That is easier to understand. That can be the first step. So, I put it that way. That all your mind stuff is socially borrowed or biologically conditioned. I put it that way. To express it the other way around will make it difficult for the audience to understand.

I never say right in the beginning that, ‛Universe is your projection’. Otherwise, it will be almost impossible to understand. They will say, ‘Sir, you are saying, I am made up of influences from outside. This much I can understand because it is easy to gather that T.V is affecting me, parents, society, literature, education, religion, all of them is affecting me.’ This is easy to gather. But it is so very difficult to gather that this whole universe has been projected out by me. I never say that.

So do not say that the “I” is external because again you are talking of the distinction between external and internal. Just say that wherever there is the distinction between internal and external, this false distinction shows up as an “I”. There is nothing and that nothing is fakely divided into two.

This fake division is called the “I”.

There is neither external nor internal, but we create both. This fake creation is called the ‘I’. ‘I’ is not internal. It is to school kids that I am saying that “I” is internal, “I” is internal. So kindly free your “I” from the external. It is to school kids that I keep saying that your individuality is within you. There is nothing called within. Just as there is nothing called without. Similarly, there is nothing called within. Nothing is within you. Your “I” is not within you. When you are nothing, how can there be something inside nothing?

What I am speaking right now to you is a more advanced enunciation of the ‘I’. ‘I’ is that falseness which leads to the simultaneous apparition of the internal and the external. That is the ‘I’. The ego lives within your mind because there is nothing called your mind. The ego is that which creates you and the universe together and as separate entities from nowhere. Will you remember this?

The ego is that which creates you and the universe together and as separate identities and from nowhere.

That is the ego. The ego is not your property. The ego does not live in your mind. But this is a confusing statement, this is difficult to appreciate. So, I hope that you are listening to it with all the meditativeness possible. Otherwise, it will be very difficult.

L4: Sir, the question that I wanted to ask you is that as you explained rationally how the ego gets conditioned from external sources like media, etc., can you also explain this thing that the stars in the sky is inside you?

AP: Of course, logically that can be explained. Do something to your head and the star will disappear. Or can magnify. Or drink a little whisky and you will start seeing starts in daylight. So, of course, if you change the internal, the external changes. Does that not happen?


So some hints can be given, some rational hints. But it cannot be appreciated in its total depth using rational examples. Rational examples can serve as little pointers.Can’t they?

If I give you a little dopamine shot, you will be so full of pleasure. Smiling, hugging everybody, feeling full of gratitude towards existence and that will sound so spiritual. And it is just dopamine! So, the internal has changed the external. Now, the world is full of flowers. And a short of another chemical can be given. And you will pass into depression. So, the external has changed. The world is now a graveyard. A totally gloomy place.

These are rational pointers. By no stretch, am I claiming that these are explanations. That this is the cause and effect narrative. No. I am not saying that. But I am saying that, in case, you are too fond of those kind of examples, here they are.

L5: What is this traditional distinction between “Aatman” and “Paramatman”?

AP: There is no distinction. It is like the distinction between “Prashant” and “Shri Prashant”. When you want to address the Aatman with a little bit of respect, then you call it “Paramatman”. That does not mean that there is a separate Paramatman. It happens, somebody can come at the Bodhsthal (place where Acharya Ji takes session), meet me and then say,‛Now where is Acharya Shri Prashant? You are just a mere mortal. I want to meet Acharya Shri Prashant!’ So I’ll have to retire to some hidden room and then re-emerge with a lot of saffron on me. Now, the Paramatman has come. Aatman is gone. All this thing about Aatman merging into Paramatman is sheer nonsense.

The mind goes into the Aatman and that’s all.

There are only these two and nothing else.

All that which appears is the mind.

All that which is, is Aatman.

And besides these two, if you talk of a third, that is heresy.

If you are really a spiritual one, then there can be no third word in your lexicon. There is the mind and there is the Aatman. That’s all. Finished. What is the mind? All this, all that. All within. All without. All pairs of opposite. All that you can think of. All that which appears and all that which doesn’t appear. All that is the mind.

And what is the Aatman?

All that is. Full stop.

Do not talk of any third entity.

L5: Sir, some saints do the worship of Saguna form of bhakti. So does that mean that God has a form?

AP: See they are just confessing that body-identification is too strong in them. The body has “Gun” (characteristics). “Prakriti” has Gun. The body is Prakriti. So, because you are so severely body identified, whatever you will look at will be as per you and hence bodily. So, they worship a bodily form of Truth. That is what is called as worshipping a Saguna-Brahm. So, they are being honest. Just being honest. ‛I know nothing except material. I know no more than the body. So, how can I just start worshipping the Nirakar (formless), the Nirgun?’

L6: Sir, Raman Maharishi has always pointed that we actually sort of believe that we are the mind and its quality and right now, you also pointed out that when you stop believing in this, then it goes. But, the whole theme does not really strike that- it is that easy. Stop believing and it is done. Either I am not getting it or it is that simple? Or it is just my belief that…?

AP: It is just that even this question that you are asking is not honest enough.

You are asking this question in the same way, with the same mind that is busy asking so many other questions. Are you not the one who keep asking, ‘From where entertainment would come? From where security would come? From where sex would come?’

How is it possible to be honest and parallelly ask both of these question. If I am honest, can I parallelly ask, ‘How do I go left and how do I go right?’ If I am asking both these together, then it means I mean neither of them or I do not know where to go or I am just collecting intellectual knowledge. The one who is not just asking for the sake of knowledge but actually means to know; but actually intends to live what is he going to now learn, will ask only one question. His questions will never change. He will keep asking and asking a million times. Maybe, in different forms. Maybe, on different occasions. Maybe, to different people. But the question’s essence will remain the same.

He will be asking, ‛How do I go right? How do I go right? How do I go right?’. You observe yourself. Right now you are asking, ‘How do I go left?’ Then you will ask, ‘How do I climb upstairs? Then you will ask, ‘How do I dig a tunnel?’

See how the intent of your curiosity keeps fluctuating.

Be a little honest. Be determined that you really-really want to know. Even a child knows this trick. He wants a chocolate and somebody offers him a toffee, He says, ‘No, no, Where is the chocolate? And then somebody offers him a toy, and he is still saying, ‘No, where is the chocolate?’ And then somebody offers him a new pair of shoes. And he is insisting, ‘Chocolate!’ Right? And then some cousin comes and gives him a hug. And the hug is quite warm. And after the hug, he says, ‛This was alright but chocolate?’.

When you will ask this question with that same insistence and sincerity, then you will know. You are the type of kid, who asks a chocolate and is very content with a pair of slippers. You are the kind of mind who goes to search for somebody but is very content on finding her friend.

Have a one-pointed inquiry.


I do not deny that at this moment, most of us are sincere in their own eyes. We are trying to listen. But would you be listening a week later? Would you be listening a couple of hours later?

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 made to listen. Only when the situations are favorable. As long as the situation are favorable, 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.

Is that a mark of a real seeker?

L4: Sir, as you told that whatever appears is the projection of mind. So if my mind is not projecting the things which are doubtful or which are causing conflicts that means mind is ill. So that means if mind is healthy, it will only project if mind is healthy, then it will only be present to truth and..

AP: Yes and if you are living in falseness, it will make you uncomfortable.

Living uncomfortably is often a sign of health calling from within. Artists, poems, there are numerous examples of them not been able to live a relaxed life. Many of them commit suicide. Many of them go mad. It is because they are sensing that something is wrong; something is wrong in the way one construe the universe, one accounts for reality — they are sensing that. But at the same time, they do not know whether anything lies beyond this duality. It is too scary you know. Drop the outside. Drop the inside and left with what? So you better commit suicide then.

L5: We can not think, speak, feel, without that. This is a paradox. How to get out of this way?

AP: Silence is the answer. Language cannot help.

L2: Sir you asked in the beginning what does meaning do? So, just as we were going to the Ganges, we look at the notice boards, it says that, It is a dangerous place. So one of the reasons that society display all this because many of us are unintelligent and dumb. So things have to function. Right? Had that thing not be there, then one wouldn’t be alert?

AP: You see the river has been the same and this is the 23rd camp. Probably, the tenth in the Shivpuri. We have managed ten without the aid of such signs. So that assumption that human beings need the aid of such board and that which you said that we are basically dull and unintelligent is not necessarily true. We have survived ten camps. Have we not? And you have been there at least in half of them.

You could have put it in another way as well because the society does all kind of these things. That is why today you could not take a dip in the Ganges. The Ganges is the same but the name today has changed. The name before was nothing. There was no name. This time, a name has come. The name is danger. So the coming of the name spoiled all the fun. Why can’t you look at it that way? Or is it a new river this time which is more dangerous? Is it the monsoon time when the river is swelling? Is it a particularly dangerous time to enter into the river? Have we never been here in winters?

Same place and in the same month. Exactly the same place.

You remember those pics in which kids are coming and jumping into the river. That’s exactly the same place where you were today. But that was today so very dangerous because the name ‘danger’ had come.

L4: Sir, I want to express this that the naming thing struck me. I was running music. So basically there are two kinds of music teachers. So one is, they tell you, this is C  chords and this is D. They will make you memorize the call shake and then there are other kind of teachers. Each time when you listen a song, for instance you listen a song X, the teacher would tell you, song X has A, B, and C chords. And then he would simply play by memory. The other kind of teacher will tell you find out. He will play the sound and will tell you to find out which chord it was.

So naming certainly makes things easy. They give you the excuse to not to be alert.

AP: Easy in what sense? What is made easy?

L4: The work.

AP: What is that work? What kind of work can be made easy by naming? Don’t call it ‘The work’. What kind of work can be made easy by naming?

L4: Sir which requires..

AP: …Repetition. And hence is basically not creative.

L4:  No. Naming makes it repetitive and creative. But the work in the first place…

AP: ‛Work in the first place.’ But once you have named it, then you have named it for somebody else. So It is now not in the first place. It’s a repetition. Second time, fourth time. The name is now a tradition, a flow. Right? So, naming makes it only easier to repeat. Not to really create. Not to be original. When it comes for the first time, does it have a name? If it is fresh, will it have a name?

So, your argument is very right in its place. Naming does make a lot of work so very easy. But don’t forget the quality of work that it makes easy. A lot of things makes a lot of work easy. A lot of very-very sordid things. But a sordid act can only make sordid work easier. Not real work.

You see, look at the way we are listening to all this right now. Most of us, right after this session, will again go back to our same, old universe. Replete with naming, replete with our habits, replete with our old patterns. And here I am sitting on this chair, saying to you that naming is disastrous. And you are coolly listening to this.

Do you know why you are so cool about it?

Because you are not taking anything seriously at all. Because you fully well know that whatever might be said at this moment, you are sure that you will continue in your old ways. Had you had any intention of really knowing and living as per the knowing, then you would have revolted by now. You would have said, ‛If naming is such an evil. Then I want to know how to live?’

But you are coolly listening that the universe is false.

‘Right, right. The universe is false. Get me another bowl of corn!’

‛The universe is false, but I need a little more food.’

‛Yes, yes. Attachments are disastrous. Wife! come over a little earlier today.’

Coolly we are listening. Right? It’s just a Camp. It is just a camp. And this is just a talk.’

And some of us might be a veteran seer who have been through several such talks. So this is  just another talk. ‛Why should I let it disturb me? Why should I let it unsettle my ways?’

Do you know what we have talked now, in the last one hour?

We have said, ‛All this is not! You are not. Your front is not, your behind  is not. Your head is not, your ass is not.’

That’s what we have said. And you are so cool about it.

‛Of course, of course. My head is not. My head is not. Of course, of course.’

L6: In some Zen monasteries, centuries ago, the teacher, the master they beat the student. Or, if you know Gurdjieff, and what he has done with his students just so that they take seriously what he was talking about.

AP: That’s why he had very few students. In fact, he wanted very few students, right? But the thing is that the one’s who would turn away, are also the one’s who are the most in need of his education. I do not know whether I can turn away anybody or be selective about the people I talk to.

‘Of course, of course, you are a very good speaker. You said all the right things. Attachment is quite bad. Daughter, where are you?’

‘Of course, of course, the world is false. Is the talk over? May I now look at all my missed calls?

Ah! the universe is false but the missed calls are real!

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

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant on Ishavasya Upanishad: There is nothing called spiritual knowledge

Further Reading:

Book of Myths


Statutory Warning: This book is not for the weak hearted

This 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.



If you don’t rely on God, then you’ll rely on thought


Question: What I notice with myself is that having thoughts prevents me from listening with attention and then I say to them, ‘leave; go away!’ What’s your opinion on this?

Acharya Prashant: Don’t say even that much to your thoughts.

Listener 1: Then? Is it not about being conscious of the thoughts?

AP: No. Don’t even be conscious of the thought; because whatever you are with respect to the thought is just the furtherance of the thought.

Don’t even look at the thought! And when I say don’t even look at the thought, I would amplify it by saying that ‘don’t even don’t look at the thought,’ and then I would amplify that by saying, ‘don’t even don’t even don’t look at the thought’. Read more