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How to control my thoughts? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
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Questioner: Sir, you always say to live with the thoughts. But at any second there are so many thoughts in mind so how to control it, sir? How to control the mind?

Acharya Prashant: Who will control them? If one is in a dream and the dream is a very confused dream, then who will control the dream?

Don’t say, “How to control thoughts?” Don’t say, “How to control dreams?” One doesn’t control dreams. One wakes up.

But we’re not interested in waking up. We’re interested in changing the dreams. Now if you have one dream and then you have another dream, has your position changed for the better? I am asking you, you’re dreaming of fire and you’re afraid, now you’re dreaming of fountains and waterfalls and you’re happy, has anything really changed?

Don’t say, “How to control thoughts?” Because even the controller is fast asleep. Ask me, “How do I understand thoughts?” - That is waking up. When there are so many thoughts going on in the mind, don’t hold onto them. This much you realize that I’m thinking, right? When you’re thinking you know that you’re thinking. If you can know this much that you’re thinking, you can also remember that every thought is just an external influence, not really important.

Alright, it is there. It is the natural tendency of the mind to think. Let the mind be involved in its own preoccupations. "Can I stand at a little distance from the mind and look at the mind?" That will happen only when you don’t take your thoughts too seriously. Don’t become attached or identified with them. Are you getting it?

You see when you want to control thoughts what you mean is, there are two types of thoughts, good and bad. The bad thoughts need to be controlled, and the good thoughts need to be promoted. Is that not so? That is what you want. You just asked one part of the question but there was a hidden second part as well. You don’t want to control all thoughts. You want to control all thoughts? No. You say, “I want positive thinking. Let me control the negative thoughts and let me have more and more of positive thoughts”, right?

You want to control thoughts of happiness but you never want to control thoughts of… the other way round rather. Sad thoughts you want to control, but happy thoughts you want to promote. You do not realize that sad or happy, thoughts are thoughts.

And there are so many people who’ve told you that positive thinking is a very good thing. They are idiots. They do not know what the etymology of thoughts is, where it comes from. They think that by thinking good something good happens. As if by dreaming well something good can happen. As if a good dream is better than a bad dream. Thoughts simply mean that the mind does not have clarity. Simple.

What is thought? Pay attention to this. Thought is the mind’s problem-solving mechanism. When the mind is confused, it thinks. When the mind is not confused it has no need to think. So don’t say that, "I want to control thoughts". Say, “I need clarity.” In clarity thoughts automatically evaporate. Then there is no need to think. Why should I think? Everything is clear. What to do with thinking? Am I mad man who’ll unnecessarily think? Is thinking my pass time, a hobby?

Because we lack clarity hence all kinds of thoughts come. What you call as good, bad, positive, and negative. Never ask for positive thoughts and never ask for control of thoughts. Ask for clarity. So the question then wears around to the issue of clarity. What is clarity and how does one get it? The answer is obvious, it’s there is this moment. How are you clear right now?

In your moments of attention, you gain clarity. Confusion comes from not looking at something closely enough, attentively enough. Whenever you will allow yourself to go close to an event, to a person, to a thought, you will gain clarity. But we don’t allow that, why? Because we are prejudiced and attached.

We say “We already know, what is the need to go close and investigate.” You say, “No no no, I’m related to this person and there is a close relationship. I don’t want to inquire. The fact may hurt me, so I don’t want to know the fact.” And whenever you will have this prejudice and attachment in mind, the result will be a lot of confusion and you’ll find yourself thinking a lot.

Whenever you find that you have to think a lot, just tell yourself that "I’m making some mistake. And that mistake cannot be corrected by thinking more and more. Thinking is just a symptom of some mistake that I’m making. Otherwise, there can be no need to think. What is the mistake I’m making, where am I slipping, what is the thought, idea, or person to which I’m attached? What am I so afraid of?” And always remember, fear is useless. Fear is imaginary. There is no need to be afraid of anything.

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