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Don’t become a prisoner of meditation practices
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
14 min
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Acharya Prashant (AP): (Reads question) Mohit Sharma from the USA, “Pranam Acharya Ji, I am paying attention to what and how I do. I have observed four states of mind. Is it natural to observe this? Are these all the same or different? And by doing it, will I go closer to a better quality of attention or dhyan (meditation), or is it another trick of the mind? These are the four states that I have observed: The first state, thoughts keep arising and I get lost. Most of the time, these thoughts relate to fear and worries; the second state -I make a conscious decision to think about something, I am aware of the decision but then, the stuff of stage one intervenes and carries me away again; the third state - I sit silently doing pranayama and paying attention to the breath, thoughts keep arising in the background. I try to keep my attention to breath, I keep hearing sounds near me, but I still remain attentive; the fourth state - I am working on something and completely absorbed in it without any thoughts and don’t even realize anything happening around me, just completely absorbed in what I am doing."

Mohit, when you are mentioning these four states, you are probably assuming a progression. The first state is when thoughts arise and take you away. It’s almost getting kidnapped. And in the fourth state, you are talking of the disappearance of thoughts. In the fourth state, you say you are just completely absorbed in what you are doing. You are assuming a progression. The progression is there and is equally not there.

When you are really, really attentive, you will just not know about yourself. In all the four states, you have described what is happening to you, which means that your state is going to and getting registered in your memory. Remember that memory registers only distractions, memory cannot register the Truth, memory cannot register that which is natural and normal.

As a crude example, see whether you are registering that the air pressure, the atmospheric pressure is normal right now. Anybody who's memory is registering this? But if the atmospheric pressure gets reduced and there is oxygen deficiency, then memory would quickly register it. Memory registers only that which has an irregularity, that which has something deficient or diseased about it. Why are you registering these four states?

Surely none of these four states are states of fulfillment. The proof is that they are mere states. What is the definition of a state? That which comes and goes.

Truth doesn't come and go.

So, if you are describing a particular state as a state of Truth or Godliness or Attentiveness, then you are mistaken. Stop being a watchman.

Attention is not about keeping an eye on yourself.

Attention is about being an attendant to the Truth. Attention is about not getting identified with whatever you are phenomenally doing.

It’s subtle, understand this. The man who is driving towards the snow-clad hilltop must keep looking at the road immediately ahead of him and he must also know what the dashboard is saying.

At the same time, he cannot belong to the milestones, to the crossings, to the road, to the scenery, to the dashboard, to the music in the car. He must keep belonging to the destination. He must keep belonging to the hilltop. That's attention. Keep doing whatever you are doing, but keep belonging there. And when you belong there, then whatever you are doing gets aligned to that.

If you are driving to the hilltop, you cannot say that these mortal eyes will keep looking at the hilltop. Driving towards the hilltop, if you keep looking towards the hilltop, then you will surely get an accident. At the same time, you cannot forget the hilltop, you must remember the hilltop. That remembrance is attention.

The hilltop that I am talking of is a physical destination. Truth is not a physical destination.

But remembrance is still needed. Now, it’s a strange demand. We know how to remember physical things. Memory is equipped for that. But the saints have continuously told you, remember, remember and remember – sumiran, surati, sumiran, surati sumiran, surati.

How are you to remember something that is not physical, not material? You know that. That is attention. You must have that knack, you must have that love. And then, you can remember even that which cannot be seen, not be touched, not be experienced, not even be remembered. Remember that and keep your eyes on the road. That's attention.

I attend to the Truth. I am a servant of the Truth. I am devoted to Peace. And devoted to Peace, now Peace decides my action. When I have taken somebody as my master, how can I make decisions on my own? Who will decide my day-to-day decisions? Who will decide for me?

Questioner (Q): Destination.

AP: The destination will decide for me. The Master will decide for me. I am cursed if I take a single personal decision and that's the mark of the inattentive mind, that's the mark of the arrogant mind that refuses to surrender. This mind keeps taking personal decisions. This mind has no need to seek permissions. This mind says, “I will decide where the car will go.” If you will decide where the car will go, one thing is certain; the car is not going towards the destination.

The nature of this destination is that the destination must become the driver, otherwise, you won’t reach. Must have happened with you, you asked somebody to help you cross the river, the fellow says, “The river can be crossed this way.” The instructions have been given. You try to enact those instructions, you fail. So you go to him and you say, “How to cross the river?” He says, “Fine, I will demonstrate.”

So he walks ahead of you, in front of you, and shows you how to cross the river. Again, you fail, now the only way you can be helped is when you let him hold your hand when you actually let him put you on his shoulders and cross the river. The destination must become the driver. The destination must carry you to itself. If you do not allow the destination to carry you on its shoulders, you will never reach. It is a mark of stupid arrogance to say, “I know the destination and I will reach.” The destination can keep beckoning you and you will not reach till you surrender to it, till you say, “You come and drive the car, I will just relax in the rear seat.” That's attention.

"My task is you, now you take care of my tasks." Differentiate between 'task' and 'tasks'. We get so lost in 'tasks' that we forget the 'task'.

Attention is to have just one task in life, my task is to serve, my task is to attend, my task is to wait upon you.

I am a waiter. That's my 'task'. And now that I am doing my 'task', I have forgotten all about my 'tasks'.

The one who forgets his tasks finds that his tasks have been taken care of.

Sudama goes to Krishna and forgets what he came for, but he remembers the 'task'. The 'task' is Krishna. And he comes back to find that the 'tasks' have been taken care of.

There are several clever people who think that by doing the 'tasks' they will fulfill the 'task', who say, "We are doing all the duties that have been prescribed to us." You might be doing all the tasks, but you are severely deficient in the one 'task'. You will not go anywhere. Just by doing your daily work rightly, you will not reach anywhere. The fact is: you cannot do the daily work rightly unless you are, first of all, devoted to the right one. Your only task is to be devoted to That.

If you are not devoted to That, how can your daily task be right? You may keep thinking, it is right. But it would all be botched up. That's attention.

Another crude example, when a little baby arrives in the house, look at the condition of the mother. She is doing a thousand things, but her ears are constantly tuned to the baby. The baby just whimpers in one room, somewhere in the corner of the house and the mother is in the kitchen and there is stuff and noise in the kitchen. But the mother knows something has happened. Quickly, she rushes. That's attention. That does not mean that she is constantly physically with the baby. She is doing what is required of her daily life, but her priority is very clear. I am not edifying or glorifying a mother, get the example. The baby is no substitute for the Truth. Just get the example.

Constantly be tuned to That and let that tuning dictate your slightest movement. Constantly be tuned.

"Are you tuned in?"


"Are you tuned in?"


Sometimes I say, never log out. That's the only way. That's attention.

Attention is not about, "I watched this thought, I saw that, I did this." Why are you doing all this? Is it a self–interest? Is it a game? What are you preparing yourself for if you have no lover? The lover comes first and then you deck yourself up, right? Who comes first?

Q: The lover.

AP: The lover. Who comes first? The One you must attend to. And then you do all these things, and then they are nice and beautiful. With no lover in your life, you are saying, “There are four kinds of hair-cuts and five kinds of dresses.” What will you do with them? And you are talking of this and that, where is the Lover in all this? Where is the one you must attend to? Don't become a prisoner of practices.

All the practice is there to remind you of the Lover. You are practicing all kinds of methods. And there are a hundred methods of meditation, a million methods floating in the market. This kind of yoga, that kind of stuff. All greatly garnished and swollen and big, complete with the machinery and the decoration.

Just one little thing is missing, the Lover. The house has been greatly decorated, the guests have been invited; all the marks! The lady has been preparing for two months, four lakhs paid to the parlor, or that might be an understatement.

(Audience laughs)

Only one little thing is missing, the bridegroom, the dulha (bridegroom). Nobody talks of that, everything else has been talked of. "Pranayama!"

What will you do with pranayama, what will you do with breath? The breath will anyway go away one day. You keep regulating the breath, one day there will be no breath. Somebody is pumping in and pumping out the belly. One day this belly will go to the fires. And you may have had a great belly, half in, half out, this way, that way. Where is the Lover? Where is the Bridegroom? Is He there in your life? That's attention.

And somebody is adept at reading scriptures. The entire library is finished off. The bride is very well-read. Where is the Bridegroom? Very well read bride! So what? And then the bride comes and says, “You know, I do all the things rightly, I am doing all my duties.” There is just one 'task' that you forgot. That 'task' is the central task of life. Without that task whatever you do, cursed it is.

That's why people come to me talking of this technique and that technique and then they say, “Can you tell us whether we have mastered everything rightly? I am taking in air from here and then exhaling from here. And then there is Kumbhak and then there is Rechak .” Not that I don't know of these things. But I wonder at the stupidity, what will you do with all this when the Lover is missing? What will you do?

And it’s not as if these things are not useful. They are greatly useful. You get a good body. You also get a silent mind. But you can have a silently stupid mind as well! Why don't you realize that?

There are many whose mind has been silenced by the incessant practice of techniques. But that silent mind is still a bereaved mind, it is still a stupid mind. You are silently grieving. Don't you see people who grieve albeit silently? So the mind has been put to silence, it’s an artificial silence.

Real silence comes when you have consummated with the Lover, after that, you go off to sleep. That is real silence.

You have met him. Now there is no Viyoga (Separation). And that is silence. Without that what kind of silence? It's the silence of the graveyard. If you have no Lover in life and still you have practiced or cultivated silence. It is the silence of the graveyard. And there are many walking silently like corpses, a corpse is very silent.

And you can get a very good body and call yourself a Yogi. What will you do with this body? Keep admiring yourself. Will you be able to take this body beyond death? The body is the vehicle, the body is the instrument. Shiv-sutra says, “The body is the havi (offering).” The body is the offering. The body is not an end in itself. What will you do by polishing your body and building up your body?

Having a healthy body is important, but not the end. There have been loveless, ruthless, violent butchers in the history of mankind, who had greatly fit bodies. In fact, to be a ruthless butcher, you need to have a fit body. A fit body, in itself, does not mean anything.

Techniques of meditation by themselves do not mean anything. It’s a thing of the Heart. It cannot be cultivated. You can only be reminded. And that's what I am doing. I am asking you where is the Love? Attend to the lover. That's attention.


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