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How to cultivate understanding?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
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Questioner: This is concerned with the fact of minute-to-minute understanding. So, for example, when I have seen the pain and cruelty being carried out on animals in the slaughterhouse, let’s say to a cow, then I have the understanding. But, then I also have the tendencies of having eaten meat all my life. Now at that moment, with that understanding, I am able to say, “No, I don’t want this non-vegetarian item.” So, do I need to apply that understanding every single time there is this opportunity for me to eat non-veg or in one instance where I have understood?

Acharya Prashant: You don’t need to consciously apply any understanding, that is not really needed. You just need to be present to understanding. There is a difference there. Application is instantaneous and unpredictable. If you try to consciously apply, if you try to deliberately plan an execution, then it will be distorted. Knowing or realization is about just being open to realize, and you will realize because it is easy and it is your nature. You don’t have to do something to realize, you just have to be free to realize.

It’s like conversating with me at this moment. What are you doing to understand? What are you doing to understand as we talk this moment? What are you doing? Nothing in particular, right? In fact, if you are occupied doing something then it would be difficult to understand. That’s the nature of life, understanding just happens. Without planning, without preparation, without a method, it just happens. Just as right now, there is this relationship, this connectivity. Things are just happening, are they not? One just understands, there is no process to it. At most you can say, there is a mystery to it. This mystery you can call as 'consciousness' or if you go deeper then you can call 'awareness', if you want to give it a more dramatic name you can call it God.

It’s just happening, right? Look at the magic—I do not know how I am speaking and you do not know how you are listening, but it’s happening. I do not know where the words are coming from, you do not know where the words are going to, but there is a flow, and we are related. And such a tremendous thing is going on here without either party knowing how it is going on. This is when one feels like unconditionally bowing to the magic.

Tell me please, how are you getting what I am saying? Tell me, please.

Equally, please enlighten me on how I am speaking what I am saying, I do not know. Honestly, I have no idea how I am speaking.

This is understanding. If you are just available, it happens on its own, you don’t need to weave a big story around it. You don’t need to say, “You have to do this, you have to do that, you have to sit in a particular way. The session must start at a particular time and one must look at the stars, they should be favorable, and the teacher should be facing exactly north-west. And the questions should come in a particular order, in a particular language.” Is any of that needed? All of that is so ancillary, so useless, so irrelevant, no? The magic does not require any of those things, they are so superfluous. And I am just speaking to you as ordinarily as possible and I am not sipping this water from a copper vessel, am I? Ordinary, plain, good old glass tumbler and it’s happening. If I put conditions upon it, am I not limiting it? Please tell me.

Then what I am saying is, that understanding is subject to certain conditions, which means then that understanding can never be continuous, because no condition can ever be continuous. A condition, by its definition, comes and goes. You cannot universally maintain it, or can you? Is there any one condition—and when we say condition, we mean something external, right?—is there any one condition that can be unconditionally maintained? Can a condition be unconditional?

So, a condition is always spatial, always temporal, always partial, is it not? The moment you say, "This, this, this, this must happen so that understanding can happen", you have put a big barrier in front of understanding, and that barrier is your own assumption. One of those assumptions is, "Understanding will happen when I make it happen", that’s a big condition, do you see that? So, you don’t have to do it, make it happen, or apply it. Just don’t be so full of yourself that you block it. It’s the easiest thing, it’s your nature, that’s why it’s so difficult to explain it. Had there been some complication in it, it could have been explained. Only complications can be simplified and explained. That which is simple than the simplest, how does one put it in words? How does one reduce it further to simplify it? It is already reduced to the most minimal level. It is already at zero level.

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