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How to get rid of identification with thoughts? || Acharya Prashant (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
14 min
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Na ghato, no ghatakasho no jivo jiva-vigrahah kevalam brahma samviddhi vedya-vedaka-varjitam


There is no pot; there is no pot’s interior space. Neither is there an individual soul nor the form of an individual soul. Know the absolute Brahman, devoid of knowable and knower.

~Avadhuta Gita (Chapter 1, Verse-32)

Question: Acharya Ji, this verse indicates that there is no individual, and there is only Absolute Brahma.

Daily when I wake up, as soon as I become conscious of my waking state, immediately the duality of ‘I’ and ‘the world’ comes into existence.

Acharya Prashant Ji: Abhilash (the questioner) , was duality not there when you were asleep? It was there even then, and not outside of you – even in your waking state, or your sleeping state, or your dreaming state.

Questioner: My entire day goes by thinking of myself and how I can relate to this world in the best sense. My identification with things has reduced drastically, but my identification with thoughts is still prominent.

Am I not yet accepting full the uncertainty of life, and hence I am trying to think a lot about myself? Can you please help me in getting more clarity on how one can free oneself from getting identified with thoughts?

Acharya Prashant Ji:

Action! Action! There is no other way. Only in immersed action can you come out of immersion into thoughts. There is no other way.

Unfortunately Samadhi has been construed to be a state of non-action by many.

No. Samadhi is a state of deep action.

Ram standing in front of a Ravana, Krishna standing in front of the Kauravas at Kurukshetra, are they not in Samadhi ? Are you trying to say that the Gita is not a product of a state of Samadhi ? Obviously Krishna is continuously samaadhisth , and he is engaged in deep action.

You are saying that continuously through the day you are thinking. You are thinking because your day is probably full of unworthy action. When action has depth and meaning, then there is not much space for thoughts. But when life is full of unworthy activities, then obviously you have to think.

And it is a matter of relief that you are still thinking.

What would happen if you are immersed in trivia and not even thinking about what is going on? So it’s good that you are at least thinking, if not acting. This incessant thinking itself will tell you that something is wrong. What is wrong? The way you have chosen to live out life is probably wrong.

In fact, this word ‘probably’ is a very needless insertion from my side. Society tells me to be polite, so I just moderate my statements with words like: ‘may be’, ‘probably’, when I am actually certain.

If you say that you are stuck in thought, then you don’t have really much to do. The one who really has something worthwhile to do in life will not find the occasion to be thoughtful. Thought has its place only in the preparatory stage.

You think through an issue, right? What does it say? “Think through.” And then you are through with thinking, and then you act.

If you are continuously thinking, it surely means that your action lacks substance, or you are stealing time away from action. Either you are acting in an unworthy cause, or if the cause is worthy then you are stealing time away from worthy action. Otherwise, why would you become a victim of needless thought?

You have written so much, but you have just avoided mentioning what you do the entire day. You have written a very passing mention. You have written: My entire day goes by thinking how can I get related to the world in the best sense.

What do you mean by that? Do you do something? You must be doing something. What do you do? You think.

Now if thinking could get you out of this mess, then by all means double your thinking. If thinking is what you do for action, if thinking is your substitute for action, then keep thinking. And ask yourself, “Is it helping me?” Otherwise engage in serious action.

Nobody can think his way through deliberation, not possible. You cannot just sit on your sofa-set and ‘think’ ego out. Ever seen a pic or ever heard a mention of somebody enjoying samadhi on his armchair? ‘ Samadhi on the couch’ – does that happen? ‘Liberation in the Jacuzzi’. The arms will shrivel, the brain will get swollen, and then one doesn’t look handsome. Does one? Such a big head, and weak and shriveled arms.

It doesn’t happen that way.

Think as much as you want to, for once, and then be done with the thinking. In fact, thinking doesn’t change you, but action would.

There is a reason.

Please understand.

Thought has no way to go beyond itself, but action can bring at least a new experience to you. Action can at least show a side of your ego that you were not so far familiar with.

Thought will not do that.

Thought remains strictly confined to its narrow and small area. Action too cannot go beyond the boundary of ego. But action, by way of experiences can show you more faces of your ego. It can take you deeper into your ego. So action is useful, at least more useful than thought.

You can sit here and think about Kashmir, or you can travel to Kashmir. Obviously both are sensory processes – sitting here and thinking about Kashmir is an exercise in time and space, and even travelling to Kashmir is sensory process, an exercise in time and space. But what is likely to benefit you?

Listeners: Travelling to Kashmir.

Acharya Prashant Ji: Travelling to Kashmir, because that will put you in different situations, different experiences. And then you will come to know some other side of yourself.

So act.

Question 2: Thought, when it is streamlined and analysed, it gains a momentum. It can lead to comprehension and come up with a concept. In the light of that new concept, one can have a new experience.

Acharya Prashant Ji: First of all thought requires ‘stuff’ to think about. From where will stuff come? From where will stuff come? You can think ‘about’ an experience, you can think about an experience, but thought itself cannot become an experience. Or can it?

If you have had an experience, then you can think in all possible ways about it, and then you can come up with a concept. You can compare experiences and come up with a theory, and do all these things. But what if you are now experience-less? What would you now think about? Now tell me.

For Marx to come up with his theory, what did he first decide to have? Experience. He went to the factories. Didn’t he? And then he got an insight, and then he came up with ‘The Manifesto’, and such things. But what if you just keep sitting on your sofa-set and not experience life, and keep thinking within your closed circle?

And you cannot imagine the drastic change that comes to thoughts, once it has been informed with experience. Experience-less thought is just fancy. Or is it something more than that? Is it? You don’t know how things work, or appear to work, and are still speculating about them. Is there any worth in such thoughts?

Questioner 2: The risk is that by advocating action, we might end up having an army of thoughtless people, just merely acting mindlessly.

Acharya Prashant Ji: They will act mindlessly and suffer. Then they will come to me, and I will say, “Think.” If you act without thinking, then you will suffer, and then I will get the opportunity to say, “Why the hell are you acting without thinking? Think.”

Questioner 2: Are the manifestations of one’s vrittis (tendencies) not the stuff enough for the mind to think? Of course not enough, but yet….

Acharya Prashant Ji: No, because vritti (tendency) is abstract. Vritti is abstract. It requires conducive time, space and experience to show up, otherwise it remains merely an abstraction within, like the sexuality of a four year old. It is there, but still not there.

Without experience, vritti is like the sexuality of a four year old. It is there, but it is not being experienced. So it does not exist for him.

Questioner 2: So before self-observation, if I have understood this rightly, comes experiencing the life. Exposure.

Acharya Prashant Ji:

You are anyway experiencing. When you rightly meditate on it, then you get the incentive to experience more and experience better in the right direction.

You must start with your current set of experiences. Be honest and sharp about them. And accordingly then you broaden your horizon of experiences.

Questioner 2: Thereby the horizon of thought also broadens.

Acharya Prashant Ji: Yes, the horizon of thought also broadens.

But if you do not allow yourself to experience more, and instead you let thought operate wildly within the same, old zone of experiences, then it is not going to be productive.

Very-very loosely you can say that – experiences are like the cane, thought is like the juice. For the juice to be there, some cane has to be there. Right? Or would you take the same old cane and keep passing it through the machine, hoping that new and fresh juice would emerge. Would it?

May be the cane would keep yielding some juice, going through four iterations through the machine. But after that? Would anything come? You require then fresh cane so that it can yield more juice. Sometimes we become so enamoured with the juice, that we totally forget the cane. We totally forget that without the cane, juice will not emerge.

You think ‘about’ something, right? Thought is not object-less. Or is it? What are you thinking about, if you are not experiencing anything? I am not asking you to go on a wild spree of general experiences, but you require some freshness, some newness, some openness, some vastness in your experience for you to be able to even think.

Questioner 2: Can thought in itself not come up with something new, a new concept?

Acharya Prashant Ji: A new concept about what?

Questioner 2: Can thought not reform the content of what it was thinking?

Acharya Prashant Ji: There would be just the old content, right? There would be just the old content, and thought would be operating on it again and again.

Reform it, obviously.

Questioner 2: For example, when we have a logical discussion, ten people are thinking, speaking, expressing themselves, ideating. It does happen that something new emerges. They have not actually had a new experience per se, they were just speaking the on the old stuff in their mind, but…….

Acharya Prashant Ji: New things can be experienced, but within a very limited domain.

It’s like passing the cane through the machine. Juice can emerge, but with every successive iteration, the quantity of juice would be smaller. And after four iterations, you will get nothing – then you just become a serial thinker, getting nothing out of thought. So the cane is passing now through the machine again and again for the fifteenth time, yielding nothing.

Question 3: Acharya Ji, so we can say that compulsive thinking is a result of not experiencing things fully.

Acharya Prashant Ji: Not acting. Simple.

Questioner 3: So if we act, thoughtlessness can be attained.

Acharya Prashant Ji: Yes. Yes. True.

So mind the difference.

Thinking is not to be avoided, excessive thinking is to be avoided. And what is ‘excessive thinking’? Thought that aims to substitute for action. That is what you can call as ‘excessive thought’. Now thought is committing an excess. Now thought is doing what thought cannot do. Thought is trying to become a proxy for action.

Questioner 2: So the ultimate value rises in action, because it brings change and newness. Thought is just instrumental.

Acharya Prashant Ji: No. Because you are anyway an acting being, and thought and action are not two separate units, obviously not opposites, they are points in a continuum.

Thought is subtle action, physical action is gross action.

And if they are two points on the same continuum, then it is a matter of honesty that that which is subtle must definitely be related to that which is gross, and that which is gross must be in it’s turn related to that which is subtle.

So if you are thinking, and thought will yield it’s insight, that is what it is supposed to. Otherwise what is the use of thought. It may yield a conclusion, or it may yield some insight, or it may come up with something. Right? Now what to do with that? Live by that. And that is called ‘honesty’.

One acts that out, and that is called ‘honesty’. Right? You thought of something, you discovered something, now what do you do with your discovery? You live it out. What else can you do with your discovery? What else can you do?

So Marx looks at the factories, the workers, their colonies and living conditions, and the whole system of what he called as ‘capitalist exploitation’. And what does he then do with it? He tries to en-act it. He tries to bring out a revolution. He doesn’t just say, “O! I have discovered something, and that is it.” Does he say that?

If you have discovered something, you want to turn it into a living, breathing, throbbing reality, which is nothing but just the expansion of subtle into the gross. And that is ‘honesty’. The Saints have called it the continuum between ‘*kathni*‘ (saying) and ‘*karni*‘ (doing).

Thinkers think, and then they speak out their thought- “This is what I have thought out.” But where is the ‘*karni*‘ (doing)? Where is the ‘*karni*‘ (doing)?

Just as one suffers when there is a division between thought and thought, similarly one suffers when there is a division between thought and action.

Question 4: Acharya Ji, can one act also be an omission of another act?

Acharya Prashant Ji: Obviously.

Given that your capacity to act is limited by time, space and your energy, obviously new action cannot come without substituting the old patterns of action. So omission is bound to be there. Can you get into a new zone of fresh actions without giving up on your old patterns of actions? Is it possible?

Your day has only twenty-four hours.

How would you continue to do what you are doing, and parallely take up something else? So something has to be omitted out.

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