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How to drop the personality? || Acharya Prashant (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
21 min
30 reads

Questioner: What are the practical ways by which we can move towards dropping personality?

Speaker: No! Going by the discussion we have had so far, look at the semantics of your question – “What are the practical ways in which we can move towards dropping personality?”

The solution is here, if you just look at the language of the question, you will understand!

Yes, what is it?

Listener 1: The question clearly indicates that the ego should be preserved as it is.

Speaker: How? How?

Listener 1: Practical ways.

Speaker: Yes! One thing is “practical”. The other thing?

Listener 1: And dropping of personality.

Listeners (in mixed voices) : “We”, “Dropping the personality”.

Speaker: Yes! If ‘you’ are moving, then who will drop the personality ? If you are dropping the personality, how can the personality be dropped? We are the personality. You are asking ‘How can we move towards dropping the personality? That is why you are asking for a practical way. Practical way means…

Listener 2: Then, Sir, how must our behaviour be changed?

Speaker: How can the behaviour change as long as you are you ? Being what I am, can I display a different kind of behaviour? Can I do that? Being what “He” is (pointing towards a barking dog) , can he produce a different kind of sound?

Listener 2: Sir, may be, I have to rephrase it – How to stop being what I am?

Speaker: Yes! And there is a world of difference between these two questions. Then I’ll ask you! You are asking “How do I stop being what I am?” What are you? Do you know that (laughs)? The question is ‘How do I stop being what I am?’

What are you?

What are you asking?

When you say, Sir, how can I stop being, let’s say, greedy, then I understand. When you are saying “How can I stop being what I am?”, then I am asking you “What you are?” Tell me.

Listener 2: Set of certain qualities, certain traits.

Speaker: Like?

Listener: Like I am very curious.

Speaker: Like?

Listener: Like emotional, like spiritual, like being independent.

Speaker: And like first of all, someone, who thinks she is all this. How about that? That is the fundamental belief that “I am spiritual”, “I am emotional”, “I am curious”.


Let’s proceed from here.

How do you know that you are all this?

Listener 2: Because I behave in certain ways. For example, I didn’t accept a very high paying job because I could not give time to my son. So that was out of emotions .

Speaker: And you said, while you are emotional, you are curious as well?

Listener 2: Yes, I ask a lot of questions. Every day, all the time.

Speaker: Now let’s look at these. Did we ask what is emotion? Is the curiosity including the aspect of emotion? Is the curiosity directing itself to emotion as well?

Listener 2: No!

Speaker: Curiosity, emotion, if all of them are not really examined, then all of them are not what I am , but they are just what we had said – my beliefs about myself . It may turn out that I am not really curious. It may turn out that I am not really emotional. That does not mean that I am the opposite of emotional. That also does not mean that I am the opposite. It may turn out that I just think so about myself. So, then the question is rephrased as? We started with asking, “How can I stop being what I am?” then the question is “How do I stop being what I think I am?” Right?

Listener 2: But, Sir, I really want to stop. I don’t want to be emotional.

Speaker: Don’t want to be emotional. Then we’ll ask, “How does this thinking happen?” Because whatever I believe myself to be, is a thought about myself. I have this thought about myself. I have thoughts about everything, the entire world. In the same way, I have thoughts about myself. How have I started thinking about myself in this way? How have I created myself in this image? I have built myself up! How has that happened? See, even when we say “I don’t want to be emotional”. Is it not an emotional statement? And aren’t we already feeling emotional about not being emotional anymore?

You look at lovers. When they are telling each other ‘I don’t love you anymore. I don’t care about you anymore. I don’t feel anything about you anymore.’ That is the moment when they are the deepest in feeling. Now she would be crying out and saying I don’t care a hoot about you. Thick tears. Really don’t care? (sarcastically) Where is all this coming from then? And in the softest of voice, he would be saying, “You know what, I am a very hard-hearted person.” Really? This is the voice of a hard-hearted person? “I am telling you.” (whispers)

So, I am thinking this way about myself. What tells me to think this way about myself? Why must I? All my personality is a thought that I am nurturing. Constantly nurturing. Mostly, without being conscious of it. Without being alert that I am nurturing this thought. Without knowing that I act in such and such ways only because I have just been acting all along. And nothing will change if I start acting in other ways.

I look at my daily routine and I ask “Where is this coming from?” From the morning when I wake up, til the time I go to sleep there are a thousand things that I am doing. And I ask myself “Where is all this coming from?” And why must this happen in this particular way? Then, the change automatically happens. You say: How do I stop being what I am? It automatically stops. It does not require your effort or intervention.

Just the realization that this is what I am doing. This is what I am doing, and it happens. But it’s subtle. You see, If I start expecting then again I am the same impatient man. Now, I cannot get rid of impatience by expecting.

Who am I? I am very impatient. Then what do I do? I start expecting that by observing my daily movements, I will get rid of impatience. Now what is actually happening? It’s the same mind continuing itself and expecting that by continuing itself it will stop. That cannot happen. There is no other way but to look at what is happening . In the body form, as a human being Yasmeen (referring the questioner) , only the senses are provided to us and we have to make good use of them. Only the mind is there, you have to make good use of it. I like to put it this way that the fact will reveal the Truth.

The fact will reveal the Truth. There is no other way, as a human being, to move into the Truth except through the fact. Know the fact and you’ll enter the Truth. Know the fact of your daily living, know the fact of your relationships, know the fact of your mental states, and you will enter the Truth.

That is the only reason why imagination is a problem. Because imagination keeps you away from the fact.

Just know the fact. This is it.

Listener 3: Imagination of which kind?

Speaker: Of whatever kind. There is nothing great about fact. We are admitting that. Because what we call as fact, is again something that is brought to us by the…?

Listeners: *(All together) S*enses.

Speaker: By the senses. When we say – this is a fact – there is not much in that, right? I am touching it, looking at it, is all in the process. I am creating it. So there is nothing very special about all this. But this is the only method available to me. No other method is available. And this method of going into the fact is far better than living in imaginations. So, look at the fact of daily living.

Where am I acting emotional? When does emotion arouse? Am I really emotional? Do you know as we have been sitting here, Yasmeen , every moment, dozens of kids may have just vanished out of hunger? Who felt emotional about them? Anybody here, who felt emotional? Even as you’ll sleep, there would be injustice and murder. You feel emotional, really?

Listener 2: But when we come to know, then we do.

Speaker: Do you try to come to know?

Listener 2: Like we got to know that in Muzaffarnagar… (Describing an incident)

Speaker: Yeah! You are right. But, then that news was heaped upon you. As you’ll go back, will you try to know how many people suffered as I spent these three hours? So where is curiosity? Not only are we not emotional, we are also not curious. So, when you observe the facts, what is happening? What really is happening?

Then you say, ‘Boss! The thing is something else. What I think about myself is just a thought. I am believing myself to be so but it may not be actually that way. It may actually not be that way. We know of Muzaffarnagar (a place) because Muzaffarnagar (a place) is being fed to us. TV is feeding it. The newspapers are feeding it. What do you know of what is happening in Burma? Tell me. It’s a neighbouring country. What is happening in Burma ? And heinous crimes are happening there, but do you know? What do you know what is happening in Zin Jiang ? And are those people of another flesh? Another kind of blood? So, is this a fact, that I get easily hurt? In case, somebody does here. In case somebody claims that I am very sensitive. Are you really sensitive ?

Listener 2: So, it is also some kind of…

Speaker: Some name that you have given to your mental condition.

Listener 2: We take it too seriously?

Speaker: You take it too seriously. Forget about the Truth, it is not even a fact. It’s a belief. That is why, people have, learned men have, advocated that you take facts seriously. While at the same time saying that whatever is apparent, is Mithya (Mendacious) . Have you never questioned that what is this going on? On one hand they are saying that whatever is all this is just nothing. It’s just an illusion because your ears and eyes are telling it to you and there is nothing more to it. At the same time they are also saying take it seriously.

Now, why? Why? If it is Mithya, then why must I take it seriously? Because this is the only instrument available to you. What else will you take seriously? What else?

And those – my word of caution – those who do not take facts seriously start living in imaginations.

That’s why I greatly advocate an honest and deep study of science . So that you don’t start living in imaginations. So that you know the material for what it is. So that you do not start day dreaming.

Science is extremely important so that facts are facts and imagination is imagination, and you keep the two apart. Only when you are fully into facts then the door of Truth opens.

Then, the door of Truth opens, then the door of the Truth opens to you. Can’t see the wall as wall! You don’t know thanda (cold), you don’t know garam (hot), you think you will know Param (The One)?


Such arrogance?

(All laugh together)

Listener 2: Sir, facts depend on five senses…

Speaker: You are right. But from where will you bring a tenth sense?

Listener 2: As you were saying one day, that the ones who are colour blind, for those the fact would be limited as per that, as he is not aware of other colours. If so, then the fact too varies from person to person, as per the quality of mind.

Speaker: Whatever is available to you, use it. One ear stops working, doesn’t matter. Use the other one. One side paralyzed, use the other side. But that is the only thing available to you. What else will you use? Some other special auxiliary sense? External hard disk? Body 2.0?

This is all.

This is it.

Use it judiciously.

The facts, just the facts.

Listener 4: To be practical?

Speaker: What do you mean by practice? Practice is action , right? Practical is practice, practice is action. What you can do. What will you do? That which comes out of your mind. That’s what you will do. The question of practicality is not at all an important question. You just said how can I stop being what I am. Being what you are, let’s say you are this, can you touch this door? But the moment you stop being what you are, you will get up and touch it. But if you insist that I am this, this, who is in this particular position and who will retain this particular position, then it is highly impractical to touch this door.

So, what is practical and what is impractical depends upon what you think of yourself. If I am this then touching this door is highly impractical, but if I am not this , then I will just get up and touch. No problems. There is not much worth in the question whether this is practical or not.

Walking is highly impractical if you are sleeping. The sleeping man hardly ever walks. The sleeping man hardly ever walks. It’s a hugely impractical thing. If a question regarding practicality comes up in the class, do this role play – Call that fellow, and tell him now you are sleeping, and you are sleeping! Then tell him, “Walk!” and if he tries to respond, tell him “You are sleeping!” Again shout to him – Walk! And if he tries to walk tell him – No! you are sleeping.

Then ask the class, he couldn’t walk even though I told him to walk five times. Five times I shouted out “Walk!” yet he couldn’t walk. So, walking is highly impractical. Walking is impractical when you are sleeping.

Listener 3: This is called learned helplessness. We learn that we are like this and we set boundaries and identities.

Speaker: Yes, yes, yes! And take that a step ahead to say that every helplessness is acquired.

Every helplessness is acquired.

That is why the saints and the prophets have compassion but they don’t have pity. Because they know that all your suffering and helplessness is just a sham. They know that your suffering is not real, so how can they have pity on you? Even if you go in front of them and weep like a melting glacier, deep within they know that you are just a fool. Otherwise how can you weep like this?

So, they will have compassion. And compassion is – you appear to be suffering, so alright, let’s do something, but no real pity. What’s the point in pity? Because all helplessness is acquired. It is not yours.

Listener 4: But how can you be compassionate towards the mind because its the tantrum of the mind.

Speaker: You are compassionate only towards the mind. There is nothing else to be compassionate towards. The Self, the Source, the Atman – it does not require anything.

Listener 4: But why should any mind be compassionate towards any other mind that is at lower level, lower level of consciousness?

Speaker: Because everything is one and at the same level and someone is unnecessarily shouting and weeping that I am at a lower level. So, you say alright. There is nothing in it. It’s like a man gone mad. Unnecessarily gone mad! There is somebody who is looking at a shadow and he has thrown a fit. He has gone mad. This is not a shadow, this is a ghost! Now, how can you feel pity over him? In compassion you may even slap him.

Listener 5: Sir, basically it happens that we consider everything in our life, those are shadows, we consider them to be real, to be ghosts, then where do this compassion like to be copassionate towards something, there has to be a situation for somebody who is in that situation. Whatever we do, we consider the shadow as the ghost, be it pain or pleasure. Then, how will one understand, I mean, even a person is thinking pain to be something real and crying out and someone is thinking the shadow to be ghost are actually the same.

Speaker: Same, same.

Listener 5: Then to know that that person is thinking rubbish…

Speaker: Everybody is thinking rubbish.

Listener 5: You said that one knows and can be compassionate or one will just not give a thought and will know that it’s just a fool.

Speaker: See, there can be only compassion.

Listener 4: What does it mean to be compassionate? I mean I am there, crying, shouting, and you are saying that you are compassionate towards me, then what does it mean to be compassionate?

Speaker: There is the Self which is exhibiting itself ultimately as ignorance. The Self is highly lovable. At this moment it is exhibiting itself as ignorance. But it is highly lovable. You are acting like a fool right now but you are the Supreme Intelligence itself. You have dressed up like a witch right now but you are the most beautiful being possible. So what do I do? What do I do? I take off all your make up and this is compassion.

What would be pity? Oh! Too bad that this has happened to you. You are so ugly! You are so ugly! But don’t mind it happens.

Listener 4: To all witches.

Speaker: (Laughingly) To all witches.


Speaker: You see this? Pity tells you – please tolerate it. Compassion tells you – why are you tolerating it? You are not this! That’s it. Compassion does not mean that you start crying in front of a crying person. Compassion means you are such, that there is no need of tears in front of you. Even the crying man stops crying in front of you. All crying is ignorance. The moment the crying man comes in front of you he realizes that there is no need to cry. That is compassion. Compassion does not mean that he is hurt and sad and I will feel equally hurt and sad. This is not compassion.

Listener 4: But you had also said that if I am compassionate then I will remove all your make up. But, if I am not able to do that, then, does it mean that I am in an indifferent stage?

Speaker: You do not have to do that. I said it is your certain presence in which there are no tears needed. There is a particular presence in which you cannot continue with your artificiality. I don’t know whether you have experienced it or not. You may have a thousand masks but you find that all of them just drop in that presence and that is compassion. He does not do anything.

We have great obsession with doing. The saint is not bothered with doing. The presence is enough.

And the presence is not the personality. Presence does not mean that you sit in front of.., Presence is something else.

Our life sits on these basic words – love, compassion, identity, vision, future, relationship. We do not know what they are. Isn’t that horrible? Responsibility, society; go into it , is it not horrible? Every day these are the foundations of every step that you take. You do something because you feel you are responsible. You do something because you say I love somebody. You live somewhere because there are certain duties to be fulfilled. You go somewhere because there is a relationship to be preserved. Every single breath is being taken on this foundation and we don’t know what we are talking about. Is that not horrible? Is that not horrible?

Listen to how people conversate. See what they are saying and doing. Then you say, what kind of mad world is this? These two buggers; neither of them knows what they are saying, yet they are communicating. A is talking to B. Even A does not know what he is saying, but B is understanding and responding. Now what B is saying, even B does not know. But A claims ‘I am understanding’. At the end of the day, A and B might claim that we are falling in love with each other and a new story starts from there. Now, what kind of kids will be born out of this relationship? Just think of it. Think of it.

What kind of life ensues from here? Anything.

Listener 4 : But being compassionate, why should I think of, it’s ok whatever conversation in whatever manner is going on. But, as we said that being compassionate is removing the make up…

Speaker: Did I say removing? Did I say removing? Didn’t I categorically say something else? What did I say?

Listener 4: Taking off the make-up.

Speaker: Did I say he takes off the make up? Didn’t I categorically say something else? What did I say? I said his presence is such that the masks drop. Compassion is not an action. Actions keep happening. This and That. Actions don’t matter.

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