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Live to express Fullness, not to gain it || Acharya Prashant, on Shanti Mantra (2016)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
29 min
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Om! Puurnnam-Adah ||

That is that, full, complete, ultimate.

Puurnnam-Idam ||

This is that, full, complete, ultimate.


Full expresses itself, as fullness. Puurnnasya Puurnnam-Aadaaya ||

From full, all fullness arises.

Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate || And full, remains full. Full complete ultimate. Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

So, is it not wonderful that ‘this’ and ‘that’ are being addressed together? The Rishi begins by saying, “‘this is full’ and ‘that is full’.” First of all it has to be understood that ‘this’ and ‘that’ cannot pertain to the beyond. ‘This’ and ‘that’ cannot pertain to anything outside the mind. What are ‘this’ and ‘that’ then?

‘This’ and ‘that’ are everything that the mind anyway daily experiences. In terms of matter, they are the thing and its absence. So there is a ball kept somewhere; ‘this’ is the ball, ‘that’ is the absence of the ball. In terms of time, their cause and effect. In terms of thought itself, they are what occupies the mind and what remains hidden. So ‘this’ and ‘that’ pertain to all pairs of duality.

The Constitution of the mind is such that it does not look at both ends of duality together, ever. It only looks at one end. And the one end that it looks at is always found incomplete. When the mind is in pleasure then at that moment it forgets about pain. But because pleasure and pain invariably go together, so there is a hidden sense of incompleteness which the mind can make no sense of. Mind says it’s a good occasion, there is pleasure all around then why am I still suffering? I am still not feeling ok.

It is because we never look at ‘this’ and ‘that’ together. When we are looking at ‘that’, then ‘this’ is forgotten and when we are looking at ‘this’, then ‘that’ is forgotten. And whenever one part is forgotten, it aims to remind of itself and that is the fundamental human sense of incompleteness. That is our restlessness.

When both are looked at together then both are found to be full. Only when ‘this’ and ‘that’ are looked at together, then one can say, “‘this is full’, ‘that is full’.”‘This is full’ by itself would have made no sense, ‘that is full’ this too by itself would have made no sense. But when these two are expressed together, then you are going as far as words can take you. You have come as close to the truth as words can bring you; ‘This is full’, ‘that is full’.

When ‘this’ is ‘this’ then ‘this’ is suffering. When ‘that’ is ‘that’ then ‘that’ is suffering. Remember, as long as a thing is what it appears to be, then the thing is merely a thing and everything is suffering. As long as ‘that’ is what ‘that’ appears to be, ‘that’ is just ‘that’ and ‘that’ is suffering. So ‘this’ is not ‘this’ and ‘that’ cannot be ‘that’.

When ‘this’ is ‘this’, then ‘this’ will cry for completion. Look at anything that you have in your life, it is crying for completion. Why? Because ‘this’ is ‘this’. Time is crying for completion, aims are crying for completion, past is crying for completion, future is crying for completion, relationships are crying for completion. Why? Because we take them to be what they appear to be. As long as something is taken to be what it just appears to be, there is going to be no relief.

We have a habit of sticking to names and forms, to appearances. The seer has giving us a method. The method is- do not take anything to be what it appears to be. ‘This’ has to be taken as ‘not this’. When you say something is ‘not this’, that does not mean that something has become something else.

In the complete negation of appearance, lies the fullness of truth.

So when you say, “‘this’ is ‘not this'”, in effect you have said, “‘this is full'”. Similarly, when you say, “‘that’ is ‘not that'”, then you have said “‘that is full'”.

You know one of the reasons why people avoid even detest spirituality, it’s because they are afraid that it will lead to a total annihilation of their concepts, of their way of thinking, of their relationship, in effect, their whole life. They do not want to lose it. Because they do not want to lose it so they shy away. It is just a bid to protect oneself. But even this attempt to protect oneself is not needed. Look at what the Seer is saying. The Seer is not saying, “‘this is nothing’, ‘that is nothing'”. He is saying, “‘this is full’ and ‘that is full'”.

And nothing about us is full. Anything in our life that is full? You know,

What is full, does not demand your attention. What is full, does not make you restless, crazy, eager to seek a solution. What is full, just comes to a full stop. What is full, allows you to relax and retire. In fullness lies peace.

The seer is not saying, “‘this is nothing’,’that is nothing'”. Though, technically, he is saying that. But why say nothing, when there is a word, another word which rather suits the mind so he is saying, “‘this is full'”. But I repeat that fullness descends only when ‘this’ is ‘not this’.

Emptiness is the root to fullness.

Emptiness is the same as fullness . First of all you have to take away all the meanings that you have assigned to ‘this’ and ‘that’. ‘This’ has to be cut down. What is ‘this’? What is this ‘this’, which we are referring to? ‘This’ is our life. What is this ‘that’, we are referring to? ‘That’ is our life. ‘This’ and ‘that’. And why must two words be used -‘this’ and ‘that’? Because our life operates in dualities. So we say, “‘this’ and ‘that'”.

The Seer, the Rishi is saying, “whether ‘this’ or ‘that’, both are meaningless.” Had he just said, “this is nothing”, then you would have sought refuge in ‘that’. And that is what the mind does. Right? Once it comes to see that something is not providing it the sucker it had hoped it would then he immediately hops on the other end of duality.

It often does happen that we see the futility of placing our hopes in something. It often does happen that we see that we have been unnecessarily, needlessly, wastefully investing ourselves. We see the total pointlessness of our ways. But what do we do then? Once we see that the ways in which we have been moving have led to our destruction, what do we do? We immediately jump to the opposite way and that is all that the mind can do, because all it knows is duality – a thing and its opposite. The Rishi ( Seer ) won’t fall in this trap. So the moment he says, “‘This’ is meaningless”, he immediately adds, “And ‘that’ is also meaningless”.

Kindly do not rush to white if you have been disappointed by black. Because white and black are same. And if black has disappointed you, white will disappoint you equally. In fact had you had no hopes from white, black would not have disappointed you. It is a game in which the two disappointments go together. Hence it is necessary that both are countered simultaneously, concurrently. ‘This is full’, ‘that is full’. ‘This’ is meaningless, ‘that’ is meaningless. This meaninglessness and the fullness go together. The emptiness and the fullness go together.

Fullness is only for the one who has the guts, the faith to firstly live in emptiness.

Are you getting it? The one who cannot bear to throw away everything that the mind has dreamt of, will never get to know that, which is beyond the mind.

While back I said, ‘Emptiness is the root to fullness; emptiness is the same as fullness’. I am repeating that,

Emptiness is a prerequisite to fullness

Those who are afraid of emptiness may just give up all their hopes about fullness. ‘Fulness’ is not a thing of the mind. Fulness is not an idea, not a concept. Fulness is not something that you can achieve. You can only go up to emptiness. You are the one who filled himself up. How do you fill yourself up?

L1 : With things.

AP : By Ideas, concepts, conditioning, all that you have read, heard, experienced. That is you. So what is the maximum that you can do?

L1 : Get rid of things.

AP : Right? That is the farthest that you can go. Mind deals in things. So even if the mind wants to get rid of something, what is it that it can get rid of? Yes? Things.So you can go only as far as emptiness. Getting rid of something is within your purview. But not fullness. And the moment fullness becomes an objective of the mind, then let alone emptiness, you have not even begun. In fact most spiritual seekers need to be emptied of their fake fullness.

Have had the incidents to meet many practitioners, whatever you mean by spiritual practices who say that they experience purnata (fullness). Now this purnata and its experience are really no different from the experiences that any man, you and I, anyone on the street have daily. Just another experience. Sweet and sour, hot and cold, just another experience. It is just a thing, a routine thing of the mind. First of all they have to be emptied of their perceived fullness. And that’s as far as we can go, after that what happens, just happen.

Fullness is something beyond that. We need not think about it. By thinking about it we just reduce it to a thought. Man’s primary responsibility towards himself is to keep clean. To not to let himself be dirtied. Your responsibility is not to chase liberation. Liberation will not come out of your chase. Your responsibility towards yourself is not about chasing peace, or love or freedom or pure being, none of this. If you are indulging in these chases then you are no different from a man who is chasing a house or a car or a woman.

Your primary responsibility is to keep yourself clean of everything including all chases. That is, I repeat is the maximum you can do. That by the ways also the minimum you must do. Once you have done that, then the rest happens on its own. What do you say? As a human being all that you say is, “‘this is nothing’ ‘that is nothing'”. And then by virtue of grace, it is thundered, ‘this is full’, ‘that is full’.

‘This is full’, ‘that is full’ are not really your words. What would you say? ‘This is nothing’ ‘that is nothing’. And then it is said, an existential voice sings, “‘this is full’, ‘that is full'”. If you start saying, “‘this is full’, that is full'” then you are deceiving yourself. Are you getting it? Yes?


From the full arises the full.

It has to be understood that this arising does not take place in time. Wherever there is time, there is an absence of fullness. And hence this is a spontaneous manifestation, which is not a happening at all. The moment I utter the word happening whatever comes to your mind is happening in time. Think of whatever you call as happening, is it not happening in time? But when the Seer is saying, “From the full arises the full” then he is not referring to a happening in time.

He is saying that if you can just look at what is there, without letting your notions, prejudices and hopes coming in, then you do not find anything to hope for, anything missing, any strife; what is there is just there. Nothing can arise from the total, except the total.

So the question is, as human beings we can only see parts, the little, the limited; are we saying the limited does not exist? Put it this way, the limited is the total, from the total limited can never arise. So, surely there is some error in the way of seeing that you call anything as limited. There is just the total. What makes you think that there is anything limited? Things. You are the one who name something as something. You are the one who defines something as something. If that is done away with, sans our definitions, our concepts, is there any need for struggle, for change, for becoming?

‘From the full arises the full’. And if you are perceiving limitations, then surely your concept of the source would also be of limitation.

From full arises the full- From limitation arises limitation.

The one who looks at the world as full of limitations also parallely creates a limited god. Getting this? You cannot have an infinity, an immensity giving rise to pettiness. If you see pettiness all around then your mind is petty. And a petty mind will only have petty god. Don’t you see that in the way we have painted godhood over the centuries? The way various religions have their concepts of god?

* Puurnnasya Puurnnam-Aadaaya, Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate* ||

The total manifests as total and nothing has changed. The total is still there. Only the total is there. Incorrectly * Avashissyate, is* often read as residue, as a remainder. No it is not a remainder. Yes in the dictionary it would mean that, but it is not really that. The total expresses itself and still all that you have is the total. Which means again,that nothing really has changed. At least, not in the sense in which we know change.

Look at the wavy, conceptualize think of the truth, the maker of the world, God and everything else. All religions say that there is creation taking place and in that creation something new comes into existence. So there is a God or a source or emptiness from which everything comes into being. But U*panishadic rishi * if rightly understood, is saying totally different from all that. He is saying the universe has come into existence right now. There is no history.

He is saying that all this talk about big bang and stuff is meaningless. You don’t have to go back to the origin of universe. It is right now that the origin is there. Right now is the origin and right now is the dissolution; right now is the origin, right now is the dissolution; right now is the origin, right now is the dissolution. And what has come into origin? Nothing has come into origin. What has changed? Nothing has changed.

So what is really happening? What is really happening is that the one who is thinking about this, only he is there. The universe has just come into existence and you are the only one in the universe, you are the universe. I repeat, ‘the universe has just come to existence; it is not at all before because there is nothing called ‘before”. Just now.Just now.Just now.

If you say anything other than that you will be talking of time. If you say there are things, you are talking of space, if you say there are other people you are again talking of space. Not really. While the entire shanti mantra is full of repetition of the word purna (fullness), kindly understand that it is highly reductionist in its essence. It is taking away everything that you stand for. It is saying nothing exists except purnta . But in your world everything except purnta exists.

Shanti path apparently is not talking of the language of a Buddha. But it is the foundation upon which all that the Buddha said, stands.

You look at your world, what is there – The House is there, the car is there, the husband is there, the chair is there, the clothes are there, the worries are there, the school bus is there, new garments are there, the coffee shop is there, the in laws are there, the shopping list is there, and the laundry list is there. Where is fullness?

But the * Rish i* is saying there is only fullness.If there is only fullness what happens to the coffee shop. Surely it is not. Surely the shanti path is a beautiful example of the total process of neti – neti . Just that instead of directly saying that you have been hallucinating it is putting the whole thing nicely as a mantra, as a song. You can sing it, you can feel healed by it.

Remember, there is no space for achievement in the shanti path. When all is already full, what are you rushing towards? When all has already been taken care of what are you trying to correct. You can at most live and breathe in that fullness. You can at most express that fullness. Wow! That has brought us to a way of living. Mostly we live in order to get something. Yes? Mostly we live in order to gain fullness. The Rishi is saying, “live to express fullness not to gain it.” Because what else can you express.

Puurnnasya Puurnnam-Aadaaya

When you are full what else will you express; expression and manifestation are the same. What would fullness express? Fullness. But when you do not know yourself rightly, then instead of expressing and exhibiting fullness you express all kinds of disease. Instead of expressing relaxation, you express strife, a race, an effort for fullness.

The shanti path in itself contains the whole of Vedanta . It is the foundation of all spirituality. And because full is expressed from the full hence the entire edifice that stands on the foundation is nothing different from the foundation. So you could say this that has been just said is the beginning and the end and the totality of all spirituality. There is nothing more than this.

If you will look at your beliefs and test them on benchmark of what the seer has just said, you will find that not one but all of your beliefs will fail the test. Because a belief always says something, remember because it is a belief so it cannot be content in not saying anything. It will say something and because it is belief it is beyond its powers to say everything. So belief would always be struck in an intermediate zone, it will say something. It is not humble enough to say nothing and it is not potent enough to say everything. But the seer is dealing only in nothingness and fullness. Beliefs can touch neither nothingness nor fullness. The moment beliefs are tested, they fail.

Once I said to somebody that if the entire shanti path is to be summed up in one sentence, it would be- ‘It is always alright’. It is always alright. That is what the shanti mantra is saying. Now that it is always alright go ahead and do whatever you feel like. But always be glued to your fundamental position of saying that ‘It is always alright’.

It is always alright now let us change the world. You cannot work with this apparent paradox then you cannot work and live at all. It is just as beautiful as it can be. Now let’s overhaul the whole thing. Now if you want to overhaul without first saying that it is just as beautiful as it ever can be. Then you are operating from discontentment, not from fullness. If you operate from discontentment then whatever you do will just be? If fullness comes forth from fullness, then from discontentment what would come forth?

All Listeners : Discontentment.

So even if you want to enter into radical action, even if you want to change the phase of everything, first of all you have to be totally contented with ‘what is’. Totally contented with what is, the universe comes into existence. The universe does not come into existence because the source was feeling dissatisfied. Right?

The origin is alright, totally settled, comfortable, relax, enjoying a warm afternoon, winter afternoon nap and then from nowhere let there be light. That’s all. There are fake things coming into being, it’s not because he said that he must prove something to somebody or even to himself that the world was created. It was created out of fullness; it was created out of playfulness. Yes these two words go very nicely together- Fullness and playfulness.

And he does not dissolved the world because something has gone wrong with the world. Just as in a playful mood, the universe comes into being similarly in an equally playful mood the universe is dissolved. Both are expressions of fullness. The Seer is saying, “that is the way to live”. Express your God nature. Whatever you do let it arise from your playfulness. When create, let it be playful creation, when you destroy let it be playful destruction.

In creation there is no need to feel especially good about yourself because you are already feeling perfectly good about yourself. When you are feeling perfectly good about yourself how can you feel additionally good about yourself. In destruction there is no need to feel that you had created something that was not worthwhile. Because what you had created was nothing but yourself.

Fullness comes forth from fullness.

What I had created was me. ‘Me’ was created and ‘me’ is being destroyed by me. Can you see the Seer smiling or do you think that he is a serious fellow. Yes? Is he a serious chap? Highly disciplined-“The universe shall be destroyed sharp at 22:30 Sir”, that kind of fellow? Remember we take this world so seriously then what is it that created. You never know. We take this world so seriously. And how does it get created?

Look at the nature of the universe – so random and you try to find order in it. And you fail. And then you say surely there is something wrong with my efforts that I could not totally decode the universe. What will you decode, somebody is just having fun. somebody in his playful mode creates it, destroys it, creates it, destroys it, randomly it is happening. Because you cannot decipher the happenings continuously, you try to take the help of time and that complicates matters even more.

You try to find order where there is no order. And in finding that illusionary order you miss the real order. What is the real order? Have fun. A kid in his wanton mood is sketching something on the wall and you are trying to find a pattern there. There is only one pattern. What is that pattern? Have fun. There is nothing more to life, that’s it. ‘This is full, that is full’. You cannot improve it; you cannot even deteriorate it. Such is your impotency.

Forget about making it better, you cannot even make it worse. Have you seen how hard you have tried? Have you seen the way you drive? See you are still alive. Let alone live on your accord you cannot even die on your accord.

Understand the universal order. The universal order is ‘submit your individual order and discover that you are the universal order’. The expression can never fight with the expresser and if you want to call yourself the part, the part can never fight with the total. Part arises from the total, goes back into the total. And that’s it.

Try this, a small method- Whenever you perceive something, whenever something comes into the mind, starts dominating the mind, at that moment try to remember, recall its dual opposite. This comes from the first two words of the *shantipath-** Puurnnam-Adah Puurnnam-Idam .* Do not let this come to you, without that. When this and that will simultaneously come to you then both will be dissolved in each other. And all that would remain is the dissolution. This dissolution you can call as dissolution which is negative term – emptiness or you can call this dissolution as fullness.

In your deep moment of excitement, remember your daily boredom and when you are feeling bored, remember there are moments of excitement. In pleasure remember pain, in pain remember pleasure. In seeing the other end of duality, you will see the total functioning of mind.This is how the mind functions. Within dualities and sticking to one end.

When ‘this’ and ‘that’ are seen together, then both are dissolved in each other. Then both lose the grip that they have over the mind. ‘This’ and ‘that’ stands for the total universe. There is nothing in the universe which is there without its dual opposite.

In the end the Seer says O m shanti shanti shanti . Om shanti shanti shanti .

Previously it has been said that shanti is repeated thrice because the number three is quite specifically relates the three kinds of sufferings, tray taap. You can look it at that way or you can simply say that any number would have been alright because all numbers pertain to the mind. You could have said shanti four times or five times, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that shanti shanti shanti goes along with purnata . Without that inner contentment there is no * shanti*. And you have to realize the mental states that are not arising from purnata .

Whatever is not arising from purnata . Whatever is not arising from fulness will only make you ashant . In fact saying even that is not proper. Whatever is not arising from purnata is already ashanti . Only ashanti arises from apuranta . Om shanti shanti shanti . Just as om disappears, similarly in disappearance of your mind is shanti . The wonderful thing about om is that it starts as a word but disappears as silence. Similarly when the Rishi is talking to you, you start as person and you disappear into silence. In your disappearance is peace, not your peace, just peace.

The whole process of listening to a R ishi is the process of Om, started off as a mind and ending as the mind dissolved. And after the mind is gone, when the mind is gone what remains is shanti shanti shanti . So Shanti is not a state of mind, shanti is not something that a mind can attain. When this is gone and that is gone. When there is just the mmmmmmmmmmmmm of om, that is shanti.

‘This’ and ‘that’ will go away only on their completion, only on attaining their fullness. Otherwise there is no use. You cannot say shanti shanti shanti om . It is very aptly expressed. From aptness only an apt expression can arise. Right? poornaat poornam udachyate.Obviously, from the seer, only a seer like expression arises. Om shanti shanti shanti .

The Silence is the shanti. The silence into which Om fades away, that is shanti. Your mind in full of ommmmm…. . This fading away is shanti.

What fades away? All the bad things? All your enemies? No, all your friends as well. Because ‘this’ and ‘that’ go together.

Shanti will not come only when your enemy goes away, shanti can come only when your friends too go away.

The problem is that till the time you have friends you will also have enemies because ‘this’ and ‘that’ go together. Om is about not having enemies as much as not having friends. Not having near ones as much as not having far ones.

Those of you who have near and dear ones in life are condemned to have enemies in life. And then either ‘this is full’ or ‘that is full’. You find that you cannot love your near ones enough. There is always a strain is there not? And obviously with the enemies there is anyway strain. So in both the cases when you have friends and enemies, in both the cases all you get is strain.

The wife is always complaining, your love is still not perfect. Tension, so much tension. And outside the house the enemy is standing with his gun. Tension. The woman has no gun; she herself is the gun, firing all the time. Tension. Ommmm means get rid of the gun outside and get rid of the gun inside. Otherwise no shanti. And if you have happy illusion that you can get rid of the gun outside without getting rid of the gun inside that won’t happen. Because ‘this’ and ‘that’ go together.

Why do we have so many enemies, why do we have boundaries? Why are there so many outsiders, why is there so much to fear? Whenever you will have somebody or something quite near, you will also have somebody to fear. So your ideal, your dream, your utopia about having a peaceful world can never be really materialize. As long as you have a house you have a boundary, as long as you have family you have a boundary, as long as you have community, you have a boundary, as long you have state, nation you have a boundary. How will you ever going to have a peaceful world?

But within the boundaries live all your attachments that you are not giving up and without giving up the boundaries, without giving up the attachments, without giving up the near ones, you want to get rid of fear. That will not happen. Nearness and fearfulness go together. But the utopia is a lot of families living happily together. Peaceful co-existence in the community of nations – Sarvdharmsambhav .As long as there is an insider and outsider there is bound to be strife.

You cannot have boundaries and yet not have conflict. The only way to not to have conflict is to not to have boundaries. Boundary is duality. Only in non-duality ,lies peace.

But we are such magicians. we say you know we live 20 families here, we live in great love. Had there been any love, why would there be 20 families? There would be NO families. Not one family, NO family. One would mean, two, three, four, five family. When there is no family, there is great love. When there are no near ones then there is great nearness. When there is no wanting, then there is great attainment. When there is no attachment, then there is a great unification. Is that not?

In several transitions of shantipath , they have interpreted ‘this’ and ‘that’ to mean the universe. Kindly do not fall into that. The Upanishadic Seer would never mention the universe and Brahm in same breath. Would not ever place them at the same level. It is the terrible instance of the ego to say that this and that refer to universe and brahma they do not. This and that refer to only ‘this’ and ‘that’. And when the Brahma is mentioned then there is no other. If Brahma be ‘that’ then there is only ‘that’. Then no ‘this’ remains. ‘This’ becomes ‘that’. Then there is no reason for mentioning them in same mean.

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