There is nothing as one’s True Self || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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

There is nothing as one's True Self

Question: Acharya Ji, I have often observed that my bodily tendencies always act as a hindrance in my spiritual growth. Please guide.

Acharya Prashant Ji: Sadhana is not for the sake of the body.

The body does not want any kind of liberation. All that the wants is – food, rest, sleep, sex. Therefore, whenever you would go against the conditioning and the objectives of the body, the body is bound to resist.

Obviously, sadhana requires a fit body. But, this has to be remembered that fitness is for the sake of sadhana. Otherwise, strength and longevity of the body, have no value per se.

The body is like an instrument, or a vehicle. You do not want to have a car that is serviced, fueled, polished, maintained, but never used. You maintain your car, you service it, you fuel it, so that it can take you to your destination. The destination comes first. The car is subservient to the destination. The car is not an end in itself.

However, there are many, who would compromise on the destination, for the sake of he vehicle. That does not sound quite intelligent.

Question 2: Acharya Ji, how do I know that the one who observes all the thoughts, all the temptations, is my ‘High Self’, and not my mind?

Acharya Ji: There is nothing called ‘my high self’. The ‘High Self’, is not ‘yours’. If the ‘High Self’ is really high, how can it be yours? You don’t have two selves – one high self, and one low self.

True Self is really is a misnomer. The True Self is not personal. The True Self does not belong to ‘you’. Not ‘yours’.

You can’t say, “It’s mine.” It is unknowable, unthinkable, untouchable, unimaginable. You can say nothing about it. You are the low self, who can at best simply surrender to the Truth. The Truth is, sometimes called as ‘The True Self’, or ‘the High Self’.

The little self, must not even talk of the Truth. it can just bow it’s head down.

When you say, “I am the True Self, that observes all the little activity,” you are saying something about the True Self. Right? You can say something about anything, only if you can observe that thing. Right?

(Pointing at the camera, placed in front) So, if you say that this camera is observing me(the Speaker), then there has to be a third entity, that is observing the camera, and is therefore able to say that the camera is observing this speaker.Correct?

So, if you say, as is often commonly said that – ‘the True Self is the observer, that observes all the little activities of the mind’ – then you you are making a claim about the activities of the True Self. In other words, you are claiming, that you are observing the True Self.

You can observe something, only if you are behind it.

On one hand, you say, “The ‘True Self’ is the witness of everything.” On the other hand, you say that, “Witness is witnessing, the witness is not witnessing” – and such things about the witness.

Who is a ‘witness’ by definition? Who sees everything, but can itself never be seen. It would be a poor witness, who is witnessed. When you talk about the ‘True Self’, you are actually talking of – witnessing the witness. Don’t you see how absurd that is?

But we want to keep talking about ‘witnessing’ and ‘True Self’. This is nothing but the ego’s attempt, to lay it’s hands, it’s small and dirty hands, even upon the Truth. So much talk about witnessing. Only the ‘witness’ can say about ‘witnessing’. But, the ‘witness’, by it’s very nature, would not be interested in saying anything. Who are we to talk about ‘witnessing’?

But in talking about witnessing that same, fundamental misconception is there, called ‘my High Self’. As far as we are concerned, there is only the small self, the low self, in your words.

‘Witnessing’ is never something, that you would ever – know of.

You can never say, “I was in the witnessing mode, an hour back. And now I am not witnessing.”

If you knew that you were witnessing, then I repeat, you were witnessing the ‘witness’. It must be a very poor witness. So, here is the event, here is the witness of the event, and here are you – witnessing both the event and the witness.

Even the best that you can be is small. Retain this humility. This humility is far more important than concepts like witnessing.

Questioner: You said that it is better to keep up with this humility. But this decision too would be taken by somebody. So, keeping up with this humility would be impossible.

Acharya Ji: It is not impossible, because someone, or somebody, we inexorably, inevitably, are – by dint of birth, by dint of body-identification. The somebodi-ness, is anyway there. No point turning blind to it. That’s the fact of our living. Now, given that we already live as ‘somebody’, why pretend that we are nobody?

Anshu (one of the team members) was telling me that he met a lady, and asked her name. And she was returning from some satsang, and she replied, “I am nobody.”

You are ‘somebody’.

Given that you are ‘somebody’, the somebody would always have an option, a choice, as to what to be.

Make a choice, in favor of humility.

It is not very honest to say, “One is nobody.”

Questioner: But the choice will be made out of some reason.

Acharya Ji: Yeah!

Questioner: So, there must be a reason to choose humility.

Acharya Ji:

You have already made all the other choices.  So, when you say that there has to be a reason, there is only one reason – suffering. All your other choices, all your choices in vanity, arrogance, bigness, smartness, cleverness, have already been tried, and they brought you suffering. So, there is one choice left. And that final choice is – humility. If you still want to try out, the various choices that you like, you may still try them. The result would be – more suffering.

And that suffering would ultimately push you, to humility.

Questioner: So, you mean to say that humility is forced.

Acharya Ji:

Yes.

Humility is a forced choice.

It comes either to the very intelligent ones, or to the very experienced ones.

Either you are so very intelligent, that you quickly realise, that arrogance doesn’t help. Or, you are so experienced in getting beaten up by life, that life beats all the smartness out of you.

So, either intelligence, or experience.

But, ultimately, humility has to come.

The ego has to see it’s small place.


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

Watch the session: There is nothing as one’s True Self || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

You must see the True in the false also

Truth is that which is independent of everything.

The World determines you, the mind; and you determine the World. It’s the same. And when you know these two together, then you have exceeded them both.

What will we do with awareness? Awareness is already doing what it has to do.

False is not a word that you can use carelessly. Only in deep contact with Truth, do you call the projections of Truth as false.

When you go to the root of desire, you find that your ultimate desire is just one. And that is Truth.

Condemning anything is to condemn the Truth. Because nothing but the Truth exists.

You must see the True in the false also.



Read the complete article: Acharya Prashant on J. Krishnamurti: The world is you, you are the world

Acharya Prashant on J. Krishnamurti: The world is you, you are the world

Question: Acharya Ji, what does J.Krishnamurti mean when he says, “the observer is the observed”?

Acharya Prashant: As you are, so you see the World. Simple.

That there is no objective reality about the World. The ‘subject’ and the ‘object’ are intrinsically linked; they are One. The subject and the object are linked; One.

You could further it, by saying, the observer is the observed, an honest observation dissolves them both. Or, the observer is the observed and both are false.

We lay a lot of emphasis on the World, assuming it to be the Truth. If the World is an entity independent of everything, then has to be the Truth, right? That is the definition of Truth.

Truth is that which is independent of everything.

Time, space, people, processes, situations, events; nothing can change it. And if something is totally unchangeable and independent, then it is the Truth. Now, we assign the same status to the World. We feel as if the World is independent of everything, right? That’s our normal perception. We say, this building was there before I went to sleep, and this building is still there when I woke up. Which means that this building is independent of me. In saying that, we have taken this building as the?

Listener: Truth.

AP: Truth. Because now, we are giving all those qualities to this building that rightfully belong to the?

L: Truth.

AP: Truth. When Krishnamurti says, “the observer is the observed.” he is saying, this building is you; it’s not Truth. You change, the building changes. So, it is not the Truth.

L: So, the observed is the observer.

Read more

If sex is sex and food is food, then you are home

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Listener 1: Some things that I still like, for example I like sex or good food, some other things; could that be blocking me from realization? Or it’s not that?

AP: See how simply you can accept that you like food or sex. How simply you can accept that. It’s okay, it’s fine.

The only thing that you can call as a block is the thing that you do not acknowledge. So you are blocking, that is the block. You are blocking the acknowledgement. One has, as an offshoot of Prakriti, as a current in the whole flow of Prakriti, one has all the right to like good food, like good sex, like this and that, be entitled to his likes and dislikes; be honest.

Be honest; what was this? Good sex. Now don’t call it love and commitment. Be honest; what was it? Good food. Now don’t say, “it was a great spiritual experience.” What was it? It was a good intestinal experience. It was a good experience of the tongue. Now don’t say, “It satisfied my soul.”

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Life is the Guru

Life anyway does a lot of things to everybody which help them wake up. We are just one of those things, we are no special.

The fellow may fail in his semester exams and wake up. That fellow may break up with his girlfriend and wake up. The girlfriend is a guru, the exam is a guru. We are only as much of a guru. If you want to call us a guru, then the exam is also a guru; then the girlfriend is also a guru because life itself is presenting situations and these situations are present in front of everybody.

Buddha woke up by looking at a corpse – a dead body!

Life is giving you opportunities all the time.

Life is the Guru.

We are a part of life. Yes, we are a guru, of course! Why not? Because when the Source itself is the guru, everything in the life is Guru. So we are Guru but that does not mean that the piece of chair, the wood is not the guru. Wood is also a guru. All is Guru.

It is just incidental that how the light of the divine will shine upon someone.

Observing one’s life is not about scolding oneself

We talk so much about observing one’s life.

Observing one’s life is not about scolding oneself or belittling oneself.

A lot of that happens in the name of observation.

You observe and you say, ‘Oh! I am such a rascal! I am so mean, so pity, so self-contained.’

No, observation is not that.

Observation is not only choiceless, it is also judgmentless.

You observe, you see; you do not say that because my observation is not tallying with my expectations so I will despise the observation itself.


To read the complete article: Even in your darkest hour, the Truth shines in your heart

Problems will continue as long as you want them to stop

 

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Question: There are times when I feel that there is a flickering in observation. For how long it will continue?

Acharya Prashant: It will continue as long as you want it to cease.

It will continue as long as you want it to stop. When you do not want it to stop, it stops. As long as you have problems with it, it will continue.

L1: It is very very strong even when I am just the observer.

AP: Let it be strong. Let it carry you away. Your resistance is what keeps furthering it. Let the storm come, let it carry you away, keep watching. When the bouncer is bowled to a good batsman, he may hook, he may duck, he may play, he may leave but one thing is certain – he must always keep his eyes on the ball.

Keep watching.  Read more

To just know is to know without thought

 

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Acharya Prashant: ‘Just knowing’ – both the words are important. When I say, “Just know”, the emphasis is equally on just.

Just know means: ‘You know’.

It is so simple! Read more

Realisation sublimates the doer; the doing changes by itself

Question: When a person has, after such a discussion, understood that this is what his situation is, what should he do after that?

Speaker: Who is to do what? Who are you referring to?

Listener: Probably me, myself.

Speaker: Where is that?

When you say, “What am I to do?” I want to ask that ‘I’ – “Why don’t you know what to do?” But to talk to him, I first need to see his face. Where is he? Where is he? Who are you referring to, so seriously? “What should ‘I’ do?”

Listener: A bundle of the past.

Speaker: Yes. (Smilingly) Bring them here.

What is a machine to do? As if the question means anything. The machine will really do nothing, at most it will do what it is programmed to do. So what is the point in a machine asking, “What am I to do?” Or if this ‘I’ has any volition, really free will, any freedom of any kind, then bring it here. Let’s speak to it.

Read more

Asking ‘Who am I’ is honesty in face of falseness

Question: Sir, Ramana Maharshi has talked about the ‘I’. He has always asked the seekers to observe this ‘I’, and this has always been the basis of his teachings. What exactly does Ramana Maharshi mean, when he asks us to constantly observe this ‘I’? How does one witness this ‘I’? In short, what is the basis of his teachings?

Speaker: See, appearances are deceptive; not only sometimes, but always. You look at these faces here (pointing towards a photo of Ramana Maharshi and other Saints hanging on the wall). Shubhankar, why not point the camera there for a while.

Ramana here would be the last one, with whom you would probably want to attach the word ‘rebel’. But, Ramana is – absolute rebellion. Absolute Rebellion. Do you know what ‘absolute’ means? ‘Absolute’ means pure. All his life, Ramana had only one answer, “What is pure, is One.”

Do you get this?

What is Pure, is One. ‘Purity’ means Oneness. All his life, Ramana had only one answer to anything that you would ask him. He might use many words, but if you look closely at the words, he had just one thing to say, “Find out who is asking the question.” He actually never had any other response to give. Never any other response.

There was a certain Oneness in his response to life. He didn’t have a bag of tricks. Krishna has eighteen chapters and talks of eighteen different kinds of yoga. With Ramana, there are no eighteen, or eighteen hundred types. There is just one – ‘Who is it’, that speaks? ‘Who is it’, that acts? ‘Who is it’, that is enquiring? ‘Who is it’, that is restless? ‘Who is it’, that is going to learn? ‘Who is it’, that forgets? Simple!

Even Kabir is sometimes, classified as a poet in the Bhakti (Devotion) tradition. There are others who say, “No, he can’t really be categorized,” and there are others who say that he belongs to the path of knowledge, Gyaana. So there can be a divergence, because Kabir talked of this and that, and everything. He often said things that are seemingly at odds with each other. They are actually not, but it appears.

Ramana was one-pointed, one track, and that is such a huge rebellion against the apparent diversity that enslaves the mind.

What is the mind, a slave to? The mind is a slave to appearances. And when you say, “Appearances,” you mean diversity. When you say, “Appearances”, you mean a thousand colors, a thousand sounds. You mean shapes and forms, and names. And all of them are different and diverse. For Ramana, there is no diversity. He refuses to acknowledge diversity. For him, the diversity is not real at all. Only the Aatma (Self) is real.

So, like him, his method of asking – ‘Who am I?’ – the Koham technique, is also greatly rebellious. It does not entertain the stupidity of mind at all. And it also does not entertain the stupidity of methods that rest on, a validation, a justification, an acknowledgement, of diversity.

For example, when we say that there are a thousand methods of ‘meditation’, what have we done? You see, meditation is about being there where are no numbers, no diversities. And you are saying, “Thousand methods of meditation!” In Ramana’s world, this statement is stupidity. So for him, there is no ‘method’ of meditation. Or at best, at most, one method.

Are you getting it?

He rebels against tradition. Though we call him, ‘Maharshi’ (A great seer), and we aptly call him ‘Maharshi’, he does not belong to any tradition. He simply does not acknowledge any ‘rules’ or ‘formulae’ that tradition and scriptures have handed over to us.

In fact, it often would happen that people would ask him, “This point that you are speaking, contradicts something that is mentioned in the scriptures.” Then he would say, “Scriptures are for those who are still learning, scriptures are hence only for those, who are deluded. Scriptures are not for those who have attained Gyaana (Truth).” That would be his reply.

So what do the scriptures say? The scriptures say, “Here is a particular method.” The Bhakti Maargis say, “Bhakti (Devotion) is the method.” The Karma Yogis would say, “Nishkam Karma (Desire-less action) is the method.” The Gyaana Maargi would say “Heightening of consciousness, is the method.” And they say, “This is the method!”

Ramana says, “Do you know who is asking the question? And if you do not know who is asking the question, how can I suggest a method? There can be no method, because there will have to be an infinite number of methods, because the mind is capable of taking infinite shapes. Hence, I have to first ask, ‘Who is asking the question?’ And the moment I see who is asking the question, the method emerges from there. In fact, the asking of the question itself, is the method.”

Are you getting it?

There is no rigidity in his approach. He will not say, “Devotion is the way.” Of course, he did not reject devotion, but neither did he say that devotion is the way, Bhakti is the way. He did not say that. He rejects nothing, and he stands for nothing.

Please understand this.

So, when you knock on his door, he asks, “Who is it?” That’s his method.

He says, “Who is it? Introduce yourself.”

Is that a not a sane thing to do? Is that not something that must always be done? So the moment you say, “I am troubled,” he would immediately ask you, “Who is troubled?” Bring him in front of me. Make him sit here.” And the moment you want to find out who is it, ‘the troubled one’, it often happens, that instead of trouble, you find only peace.

When somebody knocks on your door, do you just go and open the door? You first want to know. When somebody comes to your door, do you have the same response and reaction to everybody? Your response and reaction depends on, who is it that you are meeting. It depends on who you are meeting, or does it not?

So when you go to Ramana, he says, “Who are you?” That is the path of Self-enquiry. “Ask yourself – Who are you? Blindly, I will not give you any answer. You must first know ‘who you are’. And if you do not know ‘who you are’, go find out! Turn inwards and figure out ‘who’ is asking the question.”

So there is this great world, where the universe is taken as rigid, predictable and finite. Ramana knew better than that. He understood that a mere hundred techniques would not work, even a thousand would not work, and even ten thousand would not work.

You require a million techniques. You require a million-million techniques. You require an infinite number of techniques, because the mind has an infinite capacity, like a chameleon. Oh, the mind ashames the chameleon. We have Kabir here (indicating towards Kabir’s portrait on the wall) and he said,

“मन के बहुतक रंग हैं

छिन-छिन बदले सोए”

(The colours of the mind are infinite.

It changes moment to moment)

The word ‘bahutak’ means many, and it is a very gentle understatement. Kabir said, “Many,” when he meant – infinite, when he meant – beyond count.

In this realization, Ramana is Buddha-like. Ramana doesn’t take you to be a fixed entity. “How can I ask you to follow the path of Karma (Action) when ‘you’ do not exist?” If I say that Joydeep (pointing towards a listener) here, must follow Karmayoga (The discipline of desire-less action), then there must be somebody called ‘Joydeep’ to follow Karmayoga (The discipline of desire-less action).

Just as the Buddha realized that ‘Joydeep’ is nothing, nobody substantial – that ‘Joydeep’ is just a flow, a movement that is continuously happening, there is nothing permanent or stable in that movement.‘Joydeep’ is changing every moment – so how can he be suggested something permanent, stagnant?

When the patient is changing every moment, how can the disease be constant? And hence, how can the medicine be constant? So, at the moment when you say, “I am a patient,” the doctor needs to ask, “Who exactly are you? What exactly is your disease?” And that answer has to be then and there. It is not an answer that you can borrow from the past, or carry forward to the future.

Listener 1: So you don’t have time to ponder upon it?

Speaker: Actually you don’t have time to ponder. It’s something that works instantaneously. And hence the response of the doctor, to your disease, must constantly vary, because you are never the same.

Do you see how great a rebellion this is? When you go to a Saint, you expect a particular ‘saintly’ treatment from him. Ramana does not give you that. But at the same time you would say, “Sir, his responses, as far as we have read and heard, used to appear to be the same. He would be sitting comfortably, and whosoever would come to him, he would respond in a few words, and that’s all!”

Listener 2: And that’s why after reading him for some time, we feel a little bored?

Speaker: Yes, there are many people who do not see much diversity there. So their mind starts feeling bored.

Listener 1:  I personally find Ramana very interesting!

Speaker: Go find out! Go figure out. Go enquire. Go ask, “Koham (Who am I?).” All these questions only mean now face the Truth. And the moment you face the Truth, the shadows are gone.

That’s Ramana’s method.

Listener 3: Are the shadows really gone?

Speaker: (Smilingly) Yes, and no.

If a man is standing next to you and looking in the same direction as you, he will say, “Yes Sir, the shadows are really gone. Just as you do not see shadows, even I do not see shadows. So, I validate your observation, there are no shadows.”

But, if a man is standing next to you and he is facing in the opposite direction, he will say, “You have been fooled. There were shadows before, and there are shadows even now. No shadows have gone away, your life has not changed.” You will smile and say, “It has totally changed. I see no shadows.” He will say, “The shadows are still there,” and he’s right, but totally wrong.

He’s right, the shadows are still there. (Smilingly) Why are the shadows still there? Because he sees the shadows.

Listener 1: So, when it is said, “Face your gaze at the Truth,” – the Truth cannot be captured in mind, it is beyond mind – so saying, “Truth, Truth, Truth,” is also shadows? So ‘facing’ would be, being present to what is going on?

Speaker: Actually he’s saying, “Be honest.” When he says, “Go find out,” all that he is saying is, “Can you be honest towards yourself for a while?”

Listener 2:  Sir, the mind has a lot of concepts about fear, can we actually witness fear? Why do we just get lost in concepts?

Speaker: Because the mind has been told that certain things are ‘good’ and certain things are ‘bad’. When you say, “Fear,” it is not merely a sound. It is an entire world of images. An entire world! It carries so many connotations. Every world is a universe, every world is a total universe. Fear is not just another sound. When it falls on your ears, it changes your being. Or does is it not?

Listener 1: Yes.

Speaker: You are no more the same person. It is not something objective, outside of you. With the result that you can never really be with it, be with fear or be with anything. Why can’t you be with it? Because you have already been told what to make of it. So you have already been told that fear is something…?

Listener 2: Bad.

Speaker: Bad. When it falls on your ears, immediately an automatic system goes off. “Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.” To some extent it is genetic; to some extent it is social. You see something and immediately it sets off a chain of automatic reactions in your mind – good, bad, this and that. And the moment this automatic process begins, it becomes impossible to really come close to the happening. For example, how can I answer your question if automatically there is a rigid judgment here that his questions do not deserve to be answered, that he always asks ‘bad’ questions.

But that’s the whole danger with naming, with having names. You have the same name today that you had yesterday and day before yesterday. Name conserves the past. You have the same face today, almost the same face today, that you had two months back so the moment his face comes in front of me, entire past comes in front of me.

Do you understand this?

So how can I come close to you? The entire past and the experiences and the knowledge is standing between you and me now. I cannot come to you. That’s the thing with name and form. That is the thing with anything with boundaries. It is rigid. Boundaries mean rigidity, now I cannot approach you.

Similarly, fear has a name and form. In fact, you can try it out. You ask kids to draw fear and you will see how easily they are able to put fear in forms and there would quite predictable forms. The colours used would be mostly black and red. Hardly anybody would paint fear in pink or in blue. Nobody would paint fear in these colours. Fear would be painted in?

Listener 1: Black and Red.

Speaker: Black and Red.

Listener 1: So the sense of constancy keeps you away from actually seeing the happening.  The face is saying that this person is something constant. When I am in fear I feel that this situation is going cause permanent damage. It’s give a sense of constancy and in the world of mind nothing is constant.

Speaker: But we want that, we want that.

Listener 1: Continuity.

Speaker: Continuity, that permanence. We want that, just that we want it within the stretch of time, which by definition is about coming and going. (Smilingly) So within the field of coming and going, we want something that…?

Listener 2: Remains stable.

Speaker: Which does not come and go. And we want it here, in our world, on this earth, relative to this body, relative to thoughts and ideas, expressible in words. We are using all the means and methods that are applicable to the world in which things are changing and ephemeral.

Change and change and change totally scares the mind, “Nothing is stable here, give me something that remains firm, nothing remains firm.”

Listener 3: Sir, we are trying to actually get something from the mind which is against its nature.

Speaker: Against its habit.

Listener 3: Why did you say ‘habit’?

RestlessnessSpeaker: No, the nature of the mind, again, is not restlessness. This restlessness that the mind exhibits, is not really its nature. That’s why it suffers in this restlessness. Going against its nature, it suffers, it is an acquired habit, not nature.

Listener 3: Sir, one thing I would like to ask that when somebody comes in front of me, the whole past too comes. How exactly can this happen that I am talking to somebody, for example, I am talking to you and the past is not hindering in the now, because the past always comes in.

Speaker: Face the Truth all the time. The past will always be there, like that shadow. Let it be here only like that shadow. There, yet not there. Present, but not interfering. The shadow is there, but it is not interfering in my vision. Why? Why it is not interfering in my vision?

Listener 1: Because I am not looking at it.

Speaker: I am not looking at it. It’s there, but I am not looking at it. You have that power, you have that choice, exercise it. You have the choice to look either at the light or at shadows. Keep looking at the light, keep looking at the light. Behind your back there would always be shadows. They are always behind you, remain one step ahead of them. And even if you are one step ahead of them, yet they would be right under your step, right under your feet. But that’s the closest they can get to you.

Listener 3: Is it not also a habit?

Speaker: Facing this way rather than that way?

Listener 3: Yes.

Speaker: It’s an acquired habit.

Listener 1: Sir, this mental churning is nothing but a choice to just to be away from the Truth?

Speaker: Yes, you are fascinated with shadows as sometimes kids are. You cannot really do anything with the light, the light will not cater to your whims. Have you seen how kids play game with shadows?

Listener 1: Yes, yes.

Speaker: They would take their hands and draw something like this and this looks like a deer. There are so many things that you can do with shadows, but you can’t do anything with light.

Listener 3: It’s more like answer of Bhagwan Ramana, he would always be saying the same thing. “Go back to yourself.” So with falsities, you can play around, with the questions you can play around, but the answer remains the same.

Speaker: In front of light you can only surrender. You can just be over-awed and over-joyed. With shadows there are so many possibilities, so many diversities, now, come into the picture. They all are black diversities.

Listener 3: Sir, Maaya has been portrayed in two ways, one of which is that ‘something is there and it makes you see something else’ and the other is ‘something is not there, yet it is seen’. So we have talked of that ‘something is not there, yet it is seen’, but the other one?

Speaker: The other is also fairly simple. There are people who hypnotize themselves into thinking that the Sun is contained somewhere in the shadows. There are people who start thinking that they are looking at the Sun when all they are staring at, is the shadows.

Their life is full of darkness, yet if you approach them, they will put up a fake smile and say “No, no, no, my life is all resplendent with Truth. See how everything is bathed in light”. And you will look at their life and say, “No, I only see darkness, where do you see light?”  They will say, “No, no. no, this is not darkness, this is light”.

So this is about seeing something. That is the thing with shadows, nobody who is looking at shadows would say that he is looking at shadows. That’s the ultimate humiliation to shadows, you know, they can’t even declare themselves to be shadows! When you are looking at shadows, what is your self-defence?  – “They are not shadows, they are Sun, its light!” You cannot say, “These are shadows,” and yet keep looking at them! How will you then answer the question, “Why are you avoiding the Sun?”

So you will never say, “I am looking at shadows.” So, there are some people who are actually looking at the Sun and there are others who claim that they are looking at the Sun. There is nobody who can claim that he is looking at the shadows.

Ramana Maharshi would catch you in the moment of suffering and say, “Find out where the suffering is?” That is the moment when you will have to acknowledge, that you were looking at shadows. He would expose your lies.

And he would not do it through assertion; he would do it through suggestion. He would suggest that you find out. In a very modest way, he may seemingly in a very innocuous way, would totally dismantle your falseness. You won’t even be alerted, you won’t even know that your ego is under severe attack. You won’t even know. That man had such a gentle demeanour, he gave you no hint that he is going to strangulate your ego.

Listener 1: Very playfully.

Speaker: Very playfully. In a sense, very deceptively. Only later on could you go and complain to him, “Father you really killed me”.

Listener 1: Looking at the Truth, you know, there is no chance for shadows. Whatever the mind generates if not 100% then 99.99% are shadows. So fact is that I am conditioned to seek securities within the shadows and the shadows are the reason why there are insecurities in the first place. So, when I look at the Truth, it would need lots of Faith.

Speaker: Yes.

Listener 1: So, I don’t have to turn back, I don’t have to rely on myself for my protection.

Speaker: Old habits have a certain momentum.

Listener 1: Yes. So…

Speaker: So, it may take a while.

Listener 1: But the suffering is, it’s right now too.

Speaker: You will have to pass through it.

Listener 1: Sleeping. I don’t want to sleep, I want to listen but it is coming back.

Speaker: It is coming back because, you know, the Sun is a threat. It is coming back because the shadows are smarter than you are. They know that they are under attack so at this very moment they must seize you or they would lose you. You are being seized by your own deluded self. Grasping for breath, it is clutching at your neck.

Listener 1: And I can’t do anything about it?

Speaker: You are already doing something about it. You are sitting in front of me.

Watch the session at: Prashant Tripathi on Raman Maharshi: Asking ‘Who am I’ is honesty in face of falseness

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: Will I ever know who am I?

Article 2: The simple words of the Teacher are not understood by a complex mind

Article 3: The Truth is what you are in spite of your identification with the false

Real objectivity is disappearance of the subject, and hence freedom from the object

(Speaker is taking up questions from the audience)

Speaker: Sushmita asks, “What does it mean to look at anything, or anyone, afresh? Memories, inkling, or a very basic thought, always persists”.

Dhirendra says, “Sir, you said that look at everything and everybody as if it is for the first time. How is it possible? How can one erase the memories?”

See, whenever something is said in words, try to pay attention to that, which cannot really be expressed in language, but which is the whole target of communication. So, because of deficiency of words, because of the necessities of communication, one will have to use words like ‘first time’, ‘afresh’ and such words. Read more

Fear has its domain, but there is a vast world outside it

Question: For a mind that is always fearful, what would saadhana (practice) be?

Speaker: Does fear remain the same, if it is no more an object to be loathed, an object that is spiteful, that must be gotten rid of?

Listener 1: One does not remain fearful.

Speaker: So what starts as a particular movement of chemicals in the brain, can be made to remain, just that much, right?

Listener 1: Yes.

Speaker: To a great extent, what happens in the brain, is just so automatic, that it is outside the volition of man, right?

Listener 1: Yes.

Speaker: So, this light that is falling on your face, on your retina, and you have so little control on how the chemicals inside the eye are responding to it. In fact, you probably have zero control. If we have just had the food, a while back, we almost have zero control as to how our body is ingesting it. We, in fact, have no knowledge.

So, there is the physical, the mechanical component of fear, and that depends on one’s conditioning, which has its physical representation in the structure of the brain, right? You have these many cells here (pointing at one part of the head), which are related in a particular way to the other cells, and so many other things. All of that has come up, through your experiences, through your evolutionary journey, your genes. You can’t do much about it.

Read more

From nothing to nothing and why?

They kept coming, they kept coming, now they’ve got to go.
They’ve got to keep moving, day or night,
and where they came from, there they’ve got to go.
From nothing to nothing to nothing and why?

Lalleshwari

There is nothing called the ‘world’. What you call as the ‘world’, what you call as the ‘objects’ that constitute the world are actually nothing, because they are all in a flux. If there is something, it must be unchanging, at least for the briefest possible period of time. For something to be, it must be there at least for the tiniest fraction of a second. It must have some stability, only then you can say there is something. But in the world there is nothing because whatever there is, is not stable even for the millionth part of a second. The world is just a flux, a movement, a constant movement in which there is nothing but just the movement.

Read more

Only the ego wants to correct mistakes. The fundamental mistake is ego itself.

Question: Why is it that if we search for evil or bad things, we find that it is all our fault? What if we don’t go out searching? Then will we have a hard time realizing our mistakes?

Acharya Prashant: This option to ‘not to go out searching’ is not really available. The nature of the ego is to not to search for anything beyond itself. While it does appear that the ego is restless and keeps searching, but its entire preference is to search within its own predetermined domain. It’s a pseudo search; it’s a fake search. The ego is very, very happy in this fake search; it keeps itself occupied and it also gets to say proudly that it is searching. After all, we all do have things to search for, right?

Everybody has goals, targets, something to accomplish. None of us is sitting idle; everyone is chasing something, and we can claim that there is something that we are going after, that you are not stagnant, that life has a meaning, a purpose. But if we look closely at all our meanings, purposes and targets, they are all within the domain of our conditioning.

No target is an unconditioned target. No meaning that we ascribe to life is a para-mental meaning. All of them are coming from within a preset domain. So it’s a nice game; it’s a nice pseudo act. We can console ourselves all the time that we are doing something when actually nothing is happening, when actually whatever is happening is just happening to ensure that the status quo is being maintained. So we display a lot of activity, we move around, we run after this and that; and it’s a good act. Just a pretension, just a display to fool the world and fool ourselves. The more we move, the more we are ensuring that nothing really is changing. The more we run, the more we ensure that no reaching is happening.

So, that is the way the ego functions – a lot of sound and fury, a lot of movement, a lot of asking, searching, seeking, but essentially just the maintenance of its own boundaries: “I will run a lot within the room. I will run a lot within the preset boundary.”

So, had it been left to ourselves, we would have never really sought, we would have been happy just ‘pretending to seek’.

So, when does one start looking for the Truth?

It is not a choice; it is not an indulgence; it is never a pleasure; it is never out of great willingness. It is just that, as a natural consequence of the nature of the ego, there is suffering. Just as it is the nature of the ego to not to know the Truth to pretend a lot, to act as if it is genuinely curious, but never really to know,  just as this is the nature of ego this too is the nature of ego that it will suffer.

Nothing except the ego suffers. Nothing except the ego is deluded. 

When it suffers and suffers again and again, and yet again then it is forced to seek. Why? Again there is a reason there. Suffering might be the natural consequence of ego, suffering might be the habit of ego, but you are not only the ego. It is not your nature to suffer. The ego can get nothing except suffering and that’s when you start feeling uneasy, because it is not your nature to suffer.

You are essentially joyful; and what the ego brings to you goes against your own grain. That is the reason why anybody ever steps out to seek. Nobody steps out to seek in great happiness. Nobody steps out to seek in order to feel better about himself, or because it is a thing of pride never! Whenever seeking would happen because of a pleasure motive, it would always be within the room, and hence, it would be a pseudo search. That is the reason why most seekers never actually learn anything, because theirs is a fake, a pseudo search. They are searching within the room. The room itself is the domain the preserve of the ego. How will you get anything within it? By being within the room, all that you are doing is that you are validating the room you are confusing yourself all the more by convincing yourself that this is where you belong.

You must have heard that little anecdote about Raabiya.

She lost her small pin maybe a weaving needle or something and she started searching for it in another place and she collected the entire village.

“I am an old woman, I can’t see, help me.” Soon the entire village was searching with her. Then one man got a little frustrated and asked, “Old lady, where did you lose it?” She said “There, somewhere else.”

They said, “Why are you searching for it here then?  Have you gone totally senile?”

She said, “I might be senile, but what else are you doing! You too are searching. All your movements are a search. Wherever you go, you are going with a purpose. All of us are after something in life. But are you searching at the right place?  How will you find it where it is not?”

And there is nobody who is not after something. Anybody here who is not after anything? (Pointing towards someone in the audience.) You too must be after something. That is the way our system operates, we are always after something. And don’t delude yourself; whatever you are after is just the veneer, and the proof of that is that whatever you are after never really satisfies you. You are after something else. Whatever you are after is just a pointer you are after something else. That should be a good enough indicator to an intelligent mind, “I am not searching rightly. I am constantly searching, but probably I am searching just to maintain the search and never to find – just to maintain the search so that I can console myself and feel good about myself that I am not really idle, that I am really not good-for-nothing. So I am doing something.”

(Silence)

Lucky are those, whose eyes open up even if to just see their own wounds.

Lucky are those whose sensitivity awakens even if to just realize that they are badly hurt, because it is only then that you are forced to see the fallacy of your ways.

Otherwise nothing would ever change. We would be very happy and continue in the way we have always continued.

See, we keep on saying, “We are totally conditioned,” but that is just to drive home a point. The fact is that we can never be totally conditioned, or let me put it this way: “What is totally conditioned is not really the totality of me. I am vaster than that which gets totally conditioned. Yes, the mind-machine does get totally conditioned, but I am something beyond the mind-machine, and therein lies the possibility of my redemption. The mind is just an apparatus that does get totally conditioned, but I am something else – a little more. So, when the mind gets totally conditioned, that doesn’t match or concur with what I am, because it is not my nature to be conditioned.”

And then, you want to hit at the boundaries, to knock at the doors, to cross the limits. That’s when you challenge your patterns. Because what you are doing and how you are living is not what you are. How long can you go on violating and contradicting yourself? A point comes when you just start feeling suffocated and then things happen on their own. Never say that you have a choice there. All your choices are within the room. You will never choose to go outside it never!

Left to yourself, you will happily keep singing, dancing, eating, sleeping, and breeding inside the room. A part of you exists outside; it is that part which calls you, but you do not know that part.

It is funny, because that is the ‘essential you’ that you do not know.

That face of yourself ‘that you know’ is a very superficial face. You may as well not know it and continue no harm will be done. So, that which you know as yourself, is anyway valueless. It is another matter that you attach a lot of importance to it and you spend a lot of time and energy just trying to maintain, preserve, and burnish it.

It is like you have a diamond, and you have a diamond case, and you are spending all your time preserving and polishing the case, while forgetting the diamond, which is lying somewhere else unattended.

Even if you forget all that you think yourself to be, no great harm will be done; but forgetting that which you really are that which is lying unattended, unsought . . .  that’s a great loss!

Again, for whom is that a great loss? Only for the one who is within the room. For itself, it is never a loss, because it is not something that can be lost; it is not something to which the words gaining or losing can even be applied. It is a strange kind of thing!

Understand this: whatever I am saying right now, I am not really addressing the ‘real you,’ because that doesn’t need to be addressed.

(Smilingly) Who can teach the atman? Is there anything apart from it to teach it? And what does it lack in to be taught? So, I am not really talking to the ‘essential you’. There is no point talking to ‘it’ and there is nobody else except ‘it’ to talk to ‘it’.

I am just addressing the ego, nothing else just addressing the ego. And when you are addressing the ego, all that you can do is draw its attention to its own suffering; all you can point out to it is “Little child, you have been continuously trying and trying, and going around restlessly attempting, seeking, finding, un-finding, picking, dropping – doing all the actions that can be done.

You have been continuously doing all these things; there is nothing that you have left undone. You have seen so many colors of life, you have tried whatever experiments you could try and what have you got?

Except trying, and except an inflated sense of pride “that I have been trying” what did you get?

That is all that can be said to the ego, and then one can just wait for a bit of good luck – that is needed. Without that nothing can happen. People call it grace.

Because the ego is stubborn, you never know how much it can take. Quite resilient it is. It can suffer a lot.

We have great potential for suffering, and then denying that we are suffering.

So, you never know how much stamina is still left in your ego; it might still not be exhausted, it might still be rearing to go: “No, no, I still want to try a little more.” If that be the case then not much can be done. Then your time has not yet come. If you still have a very fit and muscular ego, throbbing, itching, running, eager, determined, then not much can be done. Your time has not come. You need a few more hits. Deep hits, bloody hits and you will get them, for sure you will get them. It’s a matter of time, you may get them in two days or in two hundred years, but you will get them and then you will see how lucky you are that ultimately you got those hits.

(Silence)

Then you really seek. Then you are forced to admit: “I am mistaken.” I am repeating these words – ‘You are forced to admit’. Nobody will admit out of his own sweet will that he is mistaken, never. It’s just that you will be battered so hard that you will be left option-less. You will be made mincemeat of. Have you heard the word kachoomar (to make mincemeat)? You will be beaten so badly that you will have no option but to accept. Out of your own false sense of pride you will have to accept: “Now I can see that there is something wrong.”

If you come across people who very easily admit that they are mistaken, if you come across people who keep smiling sweetly and saying, “You know, I have so many habits, you know I am an idiot, you know I am a slave of the ego,” you must realize that all this is just another tactic of the ego. Pretending to be egoless is such a wonderful tactic of the ego. Those who admit very quickly that we are mistaken are the ones who have co-opted mistakes. It’s a nice fashionable thing to do. Right? (Referring to his immediate disciples.) It happens with some of us here as well. You write your reflections and what do you write there? “Oh my God, I am such an idiot, I again slipped. Oh! Today I again slipped, and I realize that I am an idiot.” And the next day you again slip after realizing yesterday that you are an idiot. Great tactic: ‘own up the mistake so that you can remain mistaken’. Wonderful! Nice!

You will never own up your mistakes, you will be brought to a point where you will have no option but to see that you have been an idiot. You will be left option-less. Till the time you have an option, you will exercise it. Till the time you have an option, you will only choose the ego because only the ego has options, what else will you choose? Willingly, it is never going to happen never, ever! And those for whom it is happening willingly, it is not really happening. If it is happening willingly for you, then it is not really happening. Then it means that it is a part of your internal conspiracy.

(Silence)

Know that it is really happening when the ego, breathing its last breath, bleeding profusely, is still resisting it.

Know that it is really happening when you are deeply attracted to it, while finding simultaneously that you experience an aversion to it.

If it’s good, nice, honey and sweets, then it is not happening. The very phrase, ‘realizing my mistakes,’ is a meaningless phrase.

The ego will never realize its mistakes because the fundamental mistake is the ego itself. 

So how can it ever realize any mistake? But it’s fashionable for us to say, “Oh, I realize my mistake.” The more you say that you are realizing your mistakes, the more you are ensuring that you will not realize anything. In fact, more honest are those who say, “I am not realizing anything, I don’t want to realize anything.” You never ‘make’ a mistake, the mistake emanates from your very structure. The mistake is a representation of what you are.

You never make a mistake, you are just doing what you can do. Being what you are, what else could you have done? But morality has taught us that it’s nice to admit mistakes.

It might be nice to admit mistakes in order to keep the whole system, the social order, running; it might be a generous thing to do; it might appear a gentle and nice thing to do; but it’s a harmful thing to do. By saying, “I committed a mistake,” you want to say that, right now you are not committing a mistake.

You are always mistaken because a mistake is what you are.

What do you mean by realization? It’s like a mad man saying, “You know, I realize I am mad.” How does that help? I mean what has he realized? Being mad, how can he ‘realize’ that he is mad? And the day that he actually realizes that he is mad is the day when he is not mad anymore. So, don’t admit your mistakes too easily. Don’t just go around saying, “I slipped.” You didn’t slip, you have been slipping all along and you are still slipping. It is not an isolated incident it is always happening.

Humbly, go to the root of the happening; if you are lucky enough, if your time has come. Humbly, try to dig deep into it without feeling ashamed, without feeling guilty or bad about yourself. The ego likes to maintain its sense of purity and decency. If it starts admitting that it has been always slipping, then it will find it difficult to look at itself in the mirror. That is another thing with the ego, it must feel good about itself.

(Silence)

So, whenever by chance you get a feeling that you made a mistake, don’t stop there. See how the mistake is just a minor representation of your entire mental structure. Go into that. ‘The mistake is not an isolated incident,’ I am repeating. The mistake is an opportunity to look into your wider self, if you really bother. If you do not bother, then alright, you are still quite muscular, you can still take a lot of beating, you still have a lot of stamina; you are huffing and puffing and saying: “You know, I still want to try a little more.” Keep trying, it’s alright.

Without you how would lila (the cosmic play) continue? Without you how would the show run? Every good show requires a few comedians whose entire role is to keep slipping and keep getting beaten up all the time. You are that comedian! Without you the entire drama will become so tasteless, there would be nothing in it. After all somebody has to slip on the road, somebody has to step on the banana peel, so that everybody else can have a good time. You are that one!

So, don’t think of yourself as worthless. (Smilingly) You are the one who provides spice to the great show that this existence is. Without you there would be nothing to laugh at. Without you what else is left to be written about?

The Core, the Center, the atman is very intelligent, but it is also beyond the grasp of any writer. Nothing can be written about it. All that can be said is, “Nothing can be said.” About Intelligence, nothing can be said. About stupidity, a lot can be said. So, you are the one who provides employment to all the authors and writers. If you are not there then the world would be poorer, nothing would be left, nobody would be slipping on the road, nobody would be falling in the gutters, nobody would be creating a scene so that the neighbors can enjoy.

You are the color of the world, and this is not merely a satire  this is it!

When you see that you have been stupid all along, don’t feel bad about yourself. You didn’t do it, you have been made a fool of, and somebody else did it, right? Who chooses to step on a banana peel? There is no need to feel bad about yourself; there is no need to feel guilty. When by chance you find yourself making mistakes, then without any sense of remorse or self-deprecation go deep into yourself. The deeper you will go, the more mistakes and more sufferings you will come across. So, go in boldly; don’t feel bad, don’t stop, don’t feel shy, and don’t start crying that, “Oh my god! Am I such a fool?” Of course you are! What’s there to feel bad about? Whenever this so-called realization starts coming, “I have been a fool,” tell yourself that, “No, you have been a bigger fool than you can ever imagine, and it’s alright.” It’s alright because you are not responsible for the show. Right?

I didn’t choose to be a fool, I didn’t even choose to be ‘here’ (in this world) in the first place. I am on the stage, I am playing a fool, and I am on a stage I never chose to be on. Who chose to be born? Anybody here who did? So, you have been thrown onto a stage, you are there on the stage unwillingly, and unwillingly everything else is happening – the great game of maya.

There is no need to take ownership of all this; you are not responsible. You do not own your mistakes.

Now, you can clearly look at yourself. Now, witnessing is possible. Now you can observe all that is happening. Don’t feel bad.

That is your problem. You feel so bad about yourself that you observe no more. You feel so bad about yourself that it becomes impossible for you to proceed. Just as the entire world laughs at you, you too laugh at yourself. In fact, when nobody else is laughing then you start laughing at yourself, because you are the first one to know how big an idiot you have been.

It would be nice. Right? You are sitting in a bus and nobody else is laughing at you and you are laughing. People will say, “What is there to laugh at?” You will say, “Don’t you see? I am there to laugh at. I am the joke of jokes!”

Keep laughing at yourself. There is nothing dishonorable about it. You are anyway so dishonorable. (Laughingly) What can be more dishonorable than you? Don’t regret!

Then, you reach the mother mistake. Laughing at yourself you reach the mother mistake. Only when you look at it lightly, is it possible to drop it. That mother mistake thrives in seriousness. That mother mistake is seriousness itself. You take yourself so seriously. It’s like somebody taking a used toilet paper seriouslyThat is the fundamental mistake. Drop it! Flush it!

(Looking at the facial expressions of a listener.) That is better; now you are not serious. Witnessing is simple, natural. All that it requires is a bit of detachment and when you have a point to prove then you cannot be detached. When you have a face to maintain, an image to maintain, then you cannot be detached. Then you will admit mistakes, but never admit that you are the mistaken one. It is a clever ploy. It works against you . . . it does work, but against you. Don’t work against yourself. Whenever you come across mistakes just realize that it is not even the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

It is more like you are driving upon the highway and there is a bit of a stink and it is arising from the entire sewer system of the city. The stink means nothing – it is nothing, it is a small thing. You will take a few steps ahead and the stink will disappear, but the stink points out to a great accumulation of rubbish in the basement. Just below the surface lies collected heaps and heaps of rubbish. And ‘you’ are not rubbish; so there is no shame in accepting that there is so much rubbish. Be supremely confident that you are not rubbish; feel free to disown it, feel free to laugh at it.

How can you take rubbish seriously? When you don’t take it seriously there is no way you can get identified with it. Do you want to get identified with all the shit? Do you want to do that? Then why don’t you just call shit as shit? That’s our problem. We will never call shit as shit. We will acknowledge the stink but act as if there is no shit. We will acknowledge the mistake but act as if there is no mistaken one.

Yes! There is an entire ocean beneath the compost surface. That’s from where the stink sometimes arises. Disown that ocean. Laugh at it. You are not that. Nothing will be lessened from you; you only lose your heaviness, nothing else will be lost, no harm is going to come your way.

(Silence)

So, I’ve said enough, and that’s all that can be said. The rest depends on your stamina. Maybe you still want to take a few more punches. It’s alright. Somebody has to step on the banana peel. It’s alright.

Listener: If I want to see the mother mistake, then will I have to go again and again into the rubbish?

AP:  You are probably not feeling sure. Think of the man who has to take rubbish seriously and identify with it. Surely he feels very poor; surely he feels that there is not much in his life; surely he feels that life will be so harsh upon him that if he leaves the rubbish then nothing else will be there. “So better than being totally impoverished, let me at least latch on to the rubbish.”

See whether you can feel a little more certain that ‘things cannot be so bad’. See whether you can feel a little more confident that ‘even if I drop this, even if it goes away, it’s alright, I’ll live with it’. See if you can feel a little more emboldened.

Let it go! Anyway all that it is giving me is a lot of foul air. Let it go! Say: “I am prepared to take the consequences.” Feel a little more certain.

We hold on to all the rubbish in our life for the simple assumption that we have very little self-worth. We feel that if this goes away then nothing will be left. You feel, “Alright this might be defective, dead, soiled, but at least I have something. What if even this goes away? What if I am left with nothing?”

You will have to trust a little. You will have to just jump in. You will have to just hope that things will not be so bad, that things cannot be so bad. See whether that is possible.

L2: Sir, towards the beginning you said, “You have a deep belief that you still have a lot of stamina in you, and you want to keep hopping.” Sir, my condition is exactly the same. Within me, there is a strong feeling that I have to do a lot; but at the same time, there is this other side which tells me that all doing is futile.

So, what do should I do?

AP:  See, I also said in the beginning itself that you don’t really have a choice in this matter. So, even if I suggest something and you decide to pick it up, it will be you who will be deciding and hence you would also have the luxury of dropping it at your own sweet will. That is the whole problem with taking somebody’s advice. You are the one who went to take advice, you can also drop the advice.

Have you not seen people taking ‘second opinions’? Going from one doctor to the other? When you are taking a second opinion, ultimately it is your own opinion that prevails. You are the one who decide whether to consider the first opinion or the second opinion. Don’t you see? There is really no choice in this. Don’t ask, “What to do?” You are already doing a lot! Aren’t you? Go into that; if you can!

Don’t ask me, “What to do?” Aren’t you already doing a lot? And even if I suggest you a few more things to do, who will be doing them? The doer will remain the same, right? Now, if the doer is to be investigated, then why take on a new doing? You are already doing a lot, start from there and go deeper boldly, without fear or without any sense of shame. This ‘going deeper’ is not another doing. It is not another action of the same doer. It has a different quality to it.

You do ten things in a day you cannot say that attention is the eleventh thing. There are already ten things that you are doing, be attentive towards them. And that is not an eleventh action; that is like a light falling on all those actions.

Alright?

L3: Sir, if I do ten things, what gives me this stupid power to do another ten things? Succeeding in a few?

AP: The very concept of succeeding, the very hope that success is possible, that’s what keeps us going.

L3: Where does that hope come from? If I fail in all, will that hope still retain?

AP: Chances are the hope will diminish. That is why failure is often such a blessing. But again you see, one has to admit the failure. You may keep failing and keep labeling the failure as success.

Have you not seen people celebrating diamond jubilees of their marriage? Have you not seen that? (Laughter)

So failure and success are just words labels.

That deep realization has to come and that comes only when its time has come. It requires that bit of luck.

Pray, if you can!

L2: Sir, what is meant by saying that the time has not come? There are a few things that I have decided that I must do and only then the time will come, right?

AP: No, you have not done any of those things. What are you doing? What is the fact? The fact is – ‘you are deciding’. That is the doing. You have decided to do a few things, right? Have you done any of those things? What have you really done?

L2: I have decided.

AP: You have decided! Now, go into this decision and go into the decision maker. That is the real doing. Ask: “Where is this decision coming from?” Don’t go into what you have decided to do and when, and all that. You may as well never do all those things. You know the quality of your decisions, right? You decide to go left and you end up going?

L: Right.

AP: (Smilingly) Underground!

So, there is no point thinking about what goes left or right but yes, the ‘decision’ has been done, that is a fact, and that is very much an action a mental action that has been done. Go into that.

L3: Sir, while going into that, in between, one encounters, this entire thing of accepting or not accepting the rubbish. And whether we accept or deny, the ego survives in both the cases: commit a mistake and accept it or commit a mistake and deny it. How to move out of this vicious circle?

AP: The more you believe in what you have believed so far the more you will stay in the same circles. You have believed in your fears, you have believed in your limitations, you carry an entire world inside your head. At the center of that world is your own self-image.

The more you keep believing it, the more you keep feeding it, the more you keep feeling sure about it, the more things will remain the same. So try to take a few baby steps. See whether it’s possible there is no guarantee but see whether that is possible, maybe your time has come! See whether you can proceed without your self-image. See whether any harm really happens to you when you drop the rubbish. See whether you really lose something when you act in contradictions of your own assumptions. We imagine so much; see whether your imaginations actually materialize.

They won’t! See whether your own self-worth or self-image is real at all. I assure you, we know very little of ourselves, very, very little. You are not at all what you think you are. Allow yourself to come across your new face. You will be surprised. It is just like exfoliation. (Addressing one amongst the listeners.) You are a woman, you understand that, right? There is a beautiful face waiting to be discovered. Don’t be ashamed of it.

You have already decided that you are the maximum that you can be; this ‘can be’ has no limits. You can keep trying and keep moving within this so-called maxima. Limitlessly you can keep moving after setting a boundary. And in this nonsensical movement you keep missing that which you really are. Now don’t make images about it, just gather a little courage. Don’t think about it.

“What is it that I really am? What is my real face like?”

There is no need to think more. You already think so much. Just gather a little bit of courage to move into an unknown land; but that sounds scary, so I am saying, “Take a few baby steps.”

One step? At least that much can be done? Test your assumptions!

But when one is testing her assumptions, it is not tested in order to maintain the assumptions. If your assumption is that your assumptions are valid, then you are not really testing your assumptions. When you test your assumptions, then it must be done without bias, then it must be done impartially. “Let me really test.” We are so clever that in the name of testing we create situations that validate the assumptions. Don’t do that. We play so many games with ourselves. Do not do that. First of all you tell yourself that the world is a bad place and then you say, “Okay, let me test this assumption.” And then you go out and you bump into someone and he beats you up and then you say, “See I told you so, the world is actually a bad place.” Are you testing your assumption or are you going out just to reinforce it?

Don’t do that.

L3: Sir, whenever we feel light, we also find reasons that make us heavy. We do this just to ensure that the lightness does not prevail.

AP: Yes. You see we need to feel healthy, and if we can’t feel healthy, we at least need to pretend healthy.

Even if I have to slaughter somebody, it is better to do that via the court so that I can maintain my self-image. “I am a justice-loving person. I follow the due process of law, you see. I am not blindly believing in my assumptions. I tested them. So what I am saying is not an imagination; it is the fact, Sir!”

People will come and say: “I am so experienced and what I am telling you about life is not just my thoughts, it is what I have experienced.” Have you not heard this?

L: Yes.

AP: “This is my experience.” And they are not really lying; it is actually their experience. The only shrewdness there is, is that they are the manufacturers of that experience. Yes, you did experience, but who is the experiencer? When your so-called experienced people come and tell you that the world is a bad and wicked and ugly place and you need to protect yourself, otherwise a lot of harm can happen to you. They are not really lying. For them the world has actually been bad and wicked and ugly. So, they are actually not lying. What they do not admit is that they made it this way. They are the creators of their experiences that is something they will not admit.  They will not admit that.

L1: When somebody says very forcibly, “I have experienced this,” then the implication is that there is something objective there.

AP: Yes! There is nothing objective about it. ‘You’ did that.

We create situations that are conducive to our image of the world.

You hate a person and that will show up in your entire being. Now why are you surprised when the person reciprocates hate? When you look at that man your eyes are radiating hate, you words are full of poison, now is it any surprise that that person too reflects the same hate? Then you will say, “See, I told you so. That fellow is evil.” Is that fellow evil or did you make him act in evil ways? The world is your self-image, nothing more than that. It’s an echo!

L5: Sir, then experience is also a part of ego?

AP: All experience! Let experience never be a criteria. Let nobody claim that experience leads to Truth. Experience can only lead you to your own mind – that much, experience can help you. When you experience something, go into the experience, but not with an intention to know the world. Your experience will tell you nothing about the world because there is no objective world; but your experience will tell you something about yourself, your own structures.

When you hate somebody, that tells nothing about the person you hate, but it tells a lot about you. So do not make images about the person you hate. Go into your hatred; it will tell you something about yourself – it will tell you how afraid you are; it will tell you about your own insecurities; it will take you to your own basement.

L5: It will make me aware about the mechanism of my mind.

AP: And will take you to the mother of hatred.

L1: Let’s say somebody is testing his assumptions, and is doing that quite honestly. In the process, he sees that his assumptions are flawed. But since, he has been powering them for a long time, so they keep coming back again and again.

AP: See, that is why we are saying that there is no point in admitting mistakes or admitting that the assumptions are flawed; because till the time that mother is there, she will keep producing more babies.

Assumptions are not flawed, assumptions are what you are so go deeper.

Whenever you say that these assumptions are wrong, then tell me what is right? Is there another assumption that is right?

When you say, “I committed a mistake,” then tell me what not a mistake is? You must be having some image, right? That image too is a mistake.

So, it’s like a kid comes to you and says, “I have written 5+5 equals 15,” and you really scold him hard. You say, “How can you be such an idiot to write 5+5 as 15! You didn’t even know this much; you are making so many mistakes.” And ultimately you tell him, “Now, write 5+5 is 17.”

When you are declaring something to be a mistake, also ask yourself what is it that I am declaring as ‘not a mistake’? You will be surprised to see that calling something as ‘not a mistake’ is a bigger mistake.

L1: Sir, for example, the assumption is that – ‘somebody doesn’t like x,’ which is based upon x’s own inferiority complex. When x will check this assumption, it will be revealed that the fellow actually likes x.

Are you proposing that both of these aspects are equally wrong?

AP: Well said! Both are equally wrong. Neither does he dislike you nor is there anything to like. What the reality is . . . that you will never know being yourself.

The Truth is not the opposite of the false; the Truth is the absence of all that can be false.  When I say that you have an assumption that the world is a bad place, kindly do not use it to say: “Oh my assumption was invalid! The world is not really a bad, bad place; the world is actually a good, good place.”

The moment you do this, the mother mistake is smiling. Why? Because, this second assumption will be invalidated very soon, and you will have to come back to the first assumption.

So, going to something’s opposite is actually a very clever way of returning to the first thing.

The world is neither good nor bad.

‘Find out’ what the world is; why assume?

Assumption two cannot correct assumption one! So, never say, “I have known that this is a mistake.” When you say that you have known something as a mistake, you are pretending as if you know what is ‘not a mistake’. Because without having some concept, some notion, some idea of what is not a mistake, you can never say that this is a mistake. That idea too is equally wrong. Just say, “This is what I am, and I am suffering.” Now, you cannot go wrong.

Just say, “In my life, ‘5+5 is 15,’ and I am suffering.” Do not claim that you know what ‘5+5’ is. All you know is ‘5+5 is 15’. Just say, “I am holding these ideas as sacred; I am assuming these things to be true; I am living by these concepts; and what I am getting is suffering.”

These two are facts; there is very little positing here. Firstly that ‘I think,’ and secondly that ‘I suffer’. Now proceed downwards; keep going into the depth.

L5: Sir, I am suffering and I know that the mother reason of my suffering is my assumption about life. So when I see that a particular thought is arising from an assumption, I pause . . .

AP: Does that really happen that when you don’t want thoughts to come, they don’t come?

L5: Yes, it does! The other day, I was getting late for office. I stopped at the traffic signal for a minute or two and my mind started getting anxious. So I just paused and said, “Okay. Don’t let these thoughts come, reach the venue and see what happens.”

AP: If it is happening, then there is nothing to worry about. If it does happen that when you ask your thoughts to shut up and they do fall quiet, then, it’s good . . . already good.

L5: So, I don’t need to get into this assumption that certain thoughts are not good for my well-being – nothing like that?

AP: No! Where is the thought left now?

L5: It’s gone!

Sir, there are certain kinds of impulses that have gained so much momentum that it requires immense energy to dislodge them. What should be done?

AP: Take the previous example: when thought refuses to subside in spite of your telling it to shut down, then there is anyway not much that you can do – then let it continue. Don’t resist it.

You feed thoughts in two ways: from the front and from the back. From the front you feed it by asking it to continue: “It’s a pleasure to think sometimes.” You feed it from the back by resisting it: “It’s a bad thought, how can I think this way?” The moment you say this, then the bad thought intensifies. Let it continue. After all, how much can the imagination proceed on its own? How far will it go? You will assume that you will come late, alright, then? The gates will be closed, and then? And then . . . and then? Soon you will be bored.

“Alright, let’s stop.”

What is the worst that can happen? He doesn’t even have a gun license – your boss at the office.

What is the worst that can happen? Let it continue. It’s alright. You want to think? Proceed.

L5:  Yes. Then I start feeling guilty: “Why do I waste time thinking more and more about an unnecessary thing.”

AP: Never be bothered about your actions. By being bothered about your actions, you create a ploy to not to be bothered about the mother of the actions.

You meet a small kid and the kid is behaving in all kinds of stupid ways and he has acquired so many habits at just three or four years of age. He is stealing, he is cursing, he is kicking and crying – he is doing all kinds of things that kids do not usually do if they are healthy. What do you say to the kid? “Who is your mother? What have your parents taught you?” Actions are like kids. They are poor kids. What is the point in beating up the kid? Go to the mother; she is the one who is training the kid. But we bash up the kid: “This action is bad, evil!” What is the point?

You can even the kill the kid, but the mother is very fertile, she will produce more and more.

Actions are kids, go the mother of that action.

L2: Sir, but this requires subtlety of the mind. One who is very thoughtful, has not the depth to locate and scrutinize ‘the mother’.

AP: Then at least stop blaming the kid!

Can you remember this much? We have a great tendency to say, “Oh my god, I did something bad today.” Don’t we have that tendency? And all concepts of correction and repentance are based on this concept: “I did something bad.” So what am I correcting? The mistake. What I am repenting for? My action. At least stop doing this? Remember that the action can never be corrected; it is coming from a particular actor who is the mother. At least stop saying that you did something bad today; at least stop writing in your daily reflections that “Oh my god, I forgot, I slipped!”

You are not forgetting, you are forgetfulness itself personified.

By saying that you forgot, you are pretending as if you otherwise remember. You never remember.

Don’t blame yourself too much; don’t be harsh upon yourself. That’s what I mean when I am saying that don’t feel ashamed. By feeling ashamed you are pretending as if there is something honorable about you.

A speck falls off a lump of coal and the coal is regretting: “Oh my god! It’s so black.” As if there is anything non-black about it. A particle falls off a lump of coal and the coal looks at that particle and says, “Oh my god! It is so dark, so black.” Hello sir! Is there anything except blackness about you? So, what is the point in feeling ashamed? Just laugh it away: “Of course, I am all black. But when I will burn, when I will turn into ash then I will no more be black.”

Have you seen that? How coal becomes almost white when it turns into ash? There is no point regretting at your own little speck, your own baby. “The baby is so black.” The mother is an entire lump of blackness, the baby is bound to be black. Let the mother get burnt down, then things will change. Never regret your actions, never. Never feel ashamed of something you did. That’s a clever ploy against yourself. Don’t repent. Don’t try to correct your mistakes, never. You will be allowing the mistaken one to happily continue. Don’t do that.

L6: Sir, do we give value to assumptions and other things just because we are always trying to analyze situations? Like we do in a math problem – that if we don’t have a value for anything, we assume it to be something, and then derive the whole formula just for the sake of our analysis.

AP: See, there you have no option. You will have to do that because it’s a pattern. Mathematics doesn’t breathe. It doesn’t know by itself. So, if you don’t make that assumption, you will not be able to proceed at all. Life is a little different. Here, if you don’t make assumptions, you reach the solution.

Mathematics – you don’t make the assumption, you can’t even proceed to get the answer. Life – don’t make assumptions, and the solution would be obvious.

That is the difference!

(A long silent pause.)

L7: Sir, how can I call something a mistake if I have no idea of what is not a mistake!

AP: Yes, that’s what is being said. So, don’t call anything a mistake. Just say, “This is what is happening and I am suffering.” Only two things: “This is what is happening, and I am suffering.”

No point calling it a mistake or anything. There is no benefit in naming.

L1: Sir, this shameless, fearless, and guilt-free acceptance, something that is needed to see the ‘mother problem’ . . . Sir, it just does not happen to me. I stop midway. I am unable to go really, really deep. Fear, self-image, etc., stop me.

Sir, there must be something that gives the mind the courage to keep digging despite fear, shame, etc. . . .

AP: Yes. It is something very subtle, very faint. It’s a very subtle sureness. It is not a loud emotional declaration. It is not the reiteration of some conceptual knowledge – that when I feel afraid, I say, “I am the fearless atman.”

No!

It’s a very subtle sureness; not the recitation of some old mantra.

L4: Sir, this discussion reminds me of the activity ‘Mirror Identities’ we conduct with our students, which says that all identities are dependent upon each other: ‘If I am this, I am not that’; ‘if I am goal-oriented, I cannot be an aimless wanderer’.

To me, being constantly aware of the fact that I am none of these co-dependent identities, seems the only right step at any time.

AP:  Yes.

And you know, when you are taking that step . . . you see we live in closed claustrophobic rooms . . . when you just open the gate a little and take half a step outside – you know it’s new. The fresh gust of air hits your face. You know there is something new about it. You realize that it is fresh, it is new. This doesn’t happen within your circles.

L5: Sir, you talked about not resisting the assumptions, but my resistance or non-resistance is through thoughts, and when I don’t resist, thoughts become all the more powerful and shake me up from peace.

So, what is this ‘not resisting the assumption’ which will make me feel light? Kindly guide.

AP: There is Udit sitting next to you. Shake him up!

(Listener shakes Udit’s upper body.)

You could shake him up, right? Now shake up the space here! Shake it up. You can’t!

You can shake something only when it offers resistance. Udit’s weight is offering resistance that is why you can shake him up.

Understand that you feel shaken up only because you offer resistance to thoughts. That resistance itself is the energy that shakes you up. Thought comes and says, “Some great harm is going to happen! And you say, “No. No great harm is going to happen. How can it happen?”

Don’t you see that in the process of resisting the thought, you are supporting the thought?

Thought is saying, “Great harm is going to happen,” and you are saying, “Great harm is not going to happen,” but you too are admitting that great harm is ‘possible’.

Only that can happen or not happen which has a possibility of happening or not happening. When thought comes and says, (and that’s what this terrifying thought says) “Some great harm is possible,” say, “Go ahead. Let’s see what great harm is possible.”

As I said, your boss doesn’t even have a gun license. What great harm can be done?

Now thought is coming and saying, “Something bad is going to happen,” and you are getting all worked up, “No, no! That bad thing cannot be allowed to happen. It cannot happen!”

Thought is coming and saying, “You are dying! You are dying!” and you are saying, “No, no! I am not dying yet!” Don’t you see that you are supporting your thought by admitting that death is possible? When thought comes and says that you are going to die, say, “Fine, if that’s what pleases you, if that’s what makes you feel better, yes, I am going to die. Now, what next?”

Remember? You feed it from the front, you feed it from the back. Don’t feed it from the back.

“Something bad is going to happen!”

“Yeah! Something bad is going to happen.”

L2: Sometimes what happens is, this whole game of thinking gets exposed. How? Say, I am sitting and thinking, I am brooding, and I forget what I was thinking about. Then later on, I try to remember, “What was I thinking about?” And I am unable to recall it.

AP: Thought itself is such a stupid thing; you allow it to continue, it will get tangled within itself and will forget what it was all about. It is a monkey; it jumps from one place to another.

Thought is saying, “You will die! You will die! You will die!” You say, “Fine, proceed”; and next thing it will be thinking about the wood in the funeral pyre and then it will be thinking about the Himalayas and the great weather.

(Laughs)

So, from death it will, like a monkey, hop from one place to other. So, death will bring it to the wood; the wood will take it to the Himalayas; Himalayas means fine weather, so now you are thinking of fine weather. . . It’s alright.

L7: Sir, while doing tasks that ought to be done, like reading scriptures, I experience solid resistance. As per you, this resistance is a thought and need not be resisted further; but this ‘thought’ creates a lot of turbulence in my mind-body. What to do?

AP: When the thought says, “Don’t read!” Let thought say, “Don’t read!” You read.

(Laughter)

What else can the poor thing do!

L2:  Sir, does thinking differ from person to person?

AP: Oh, of course!

L2:  Like, not the thoughts, but the whole process. Sometimes when I try to cut the thoughts . . .

AP: The tendency to think doesn’t differ. That is the mool vritti (fundamental tendency). Thoughts always differ. In fact, thoughts make the person; that is why you are never the same person at two different points in time. But the tendency is the same everywhere. That’s where we are all one. We all have the same latent tendencies . . . same latent tendencies – fear, greed, lust. And at the root of these tendencies, lies the ‘I’ tendency – aham vritti (ego tendency).

L7: Isn’t that aham vritti coming from the tendency to think? As in, if we don’t think, the ‘I’ thought won’t come.

AP: Because of the ‘I’, the thought comes!

At the center of the entire expanse of thought, sits the ‘I’. You cannot think without an ‘I’. Go into your thoughts, there would always be an ‘I’ present.

So, the ‘I’ makes the thought possible.


~ Excerpts from a Clarity Session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Only the ego wants to correct mistakes. The fundamental mistake is ego itself.

Read more articles on this topic: 

  1. The unrealistic expectations of the ego from its self-created world
  2. Even when you are lost, you are already Home
  3. Why do we blame others for our mistakes

Witnessing is freedom from the unnecessary

Question:  You have said, “Awareness is untouched by problems. No matter what, good or bad, be aware.”  On the other hand you also talk of complete immersion. These two seem to be contradictory.

Speaker: First of all, be a little immersed so that you do not misquote me. I have not said, “Awareness is untouched by problems.” What I have said is, “Awareness is a point untouched by problems.” And there is a seemingly small, but actually great difference between these two.

When I say, “Awareness is a point untouched by problems,” what I mean is that except that point, whatever there is, that will be completely touched by problems. And these two things go together. When the rest of ‘you’ allows everything to penetrate and pass through, then parallely you find that there exists something that just cease this penetration and passing through.

Read more

To take the body seriously is to allow the world to control you

नाहं देहो न मे देहो बोधोऽहमिति निश्चयी।

कैवल्यं इव संप्राप्तो न स्मरत्यकृतं कृतम्॥

~ अष्टावक्र गीता (अध्याय ११, श्लोक ६)

Meaning:
Neither I am this body, nor this body is mine.
I am pure knowledge.
One who knows it with definiteness gets liberated in this life.
He neither remembers acts done in past nor worries of future.

~ Ashtavakra Gita (Chapter 11, Verse 6)

Question: “Nāhaṁ deho na me deho (Neither I am this body, nor this body is mine).”

How is the statement, “Neither I am this body,” different from the statement, “Nor is the body mine”?

Speaker: It only means that the sage wants to attack your illusions from both the sides. On one hand he is saying, “The body cannot be my identity,” on the other hand he is saying, “I do not need to possess the body.” Both of these are related, both are like looking at the issue from different directions.

The relationship between – who you are and what the body is – is of tremendous significance. It deserves to be understood. One starts, by looking at the ways of the body. One starts by seeing what the body is, where does the body come from, what does the body survive on. And these are not questions that will usually come naturally to you.

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Constant remembrance of “I am” takes me beyond what I think I am

Questioner: Nisargadatta Maharaj says to be constantly in the “I am” realization. What does that mean? What is this “I am” realization? This he said was the mantra that his Guru gave him and this was also the advice that he would give to all his listeners. He used to say never forget “I am”. What does that mean?

Acharya Prashant: It means two things, of which one is ‘nothing’. We will first discuss the thing.

There is this entire world and its happenings, and seemingly you at the centre of this world and there are events that are happening all the time: thoughts, discussions, accidents, destiny, love, hate, anger, profit, loss, news, knowledge. All that is happening all the time and the mind is kept active, busy with all that.

To remember “I am” means to remember that none of that which is happening really has an objective existence. So whatever is happening is ‘you’. If you find it difficult to digest initially that if there is a war happening in the Middle East, how could this war be me? Then start off by at least remembering that whatever is happening is being given a color by you. At least this much can be remembered. Read more

What is guilt?

Question: What is guilt? Does it facilitate, or hinder spiritual growth?

Speaker: We often use the term ‘spiritual growth’. It is alright if it is used loosely, just to indicate something. But it is not alright, if you mean ‘spiritual growth’, as actually the growth of some entity. There is no spiritual growth as such. ‘Spiritual growth’ only means ‘spiritual dissolution’. Nothing grows. All growth is that of the ego. Only the ego grows, accumulates, becomes larger. Read more

Self-awareness is not self-stalking

Question: I seem to be moving from the so-called liberal, open to a highly moralistic type of woman. It is a movement from one end to the other. But nothing has changed actually. I may just be repressing myself, and keeping more watch on myself. What is happening to me?

Speaker: Do you want to ‘know’ what is going on, or you want to change what is going on? What is the intention?

Listener 1: Both. Read more