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Standing still, I move so fast || Acharya Prashant, on Ishavasya Upanishad (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
26 min
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Unmoving, the One, than the mind is swifter.

The senses fell back as ahead It speeded.

Though standing, It passes all others running.

The air by Its presence supports the waters.

It moves and yet It does not move. It is far and also near.

It is found within all this and also outside can appear.

Ishavasya Upanishad (4-5)

Speaker: Unmoving, the One, than the mind is swifter”, that is swifter than the mind. “ The senses fell back as ahead It speeded”, its speed is greater than that of the senses. “ Though standing, It passes all others running”, shows no movement yet He passes all those who are displaying any movement. “ The air by Its presence supports the waters”. Then, “ It moves and yet It does not move. It is far and also near. It is found within all this and also outside can appear”.

So, to say that this, all this (Referring to the world), is not the Truth would not be proper, but also to say that this alone is the Truth, too would not be proper. “It (Truth) is within all this (the World) and outside all this.” This is also how they put it across in Zen – “*It is not what it appears but It is also nothing different from it.*” All objects arise in It and are due to It but It cannot be objectified. Everything arises in It , due to It and goes back to It but ‘It’ is not a thing. Because It gives birth to everything, so whatever qualities they possess come due to It the One, the Brahm, the Truth. But It is not the sum total of the qualities of any object or all objects taken together. All objects along with their respective qualities of movement, speed, colour, form, whatever qualities there might be, arise from It . So obviously It has the potential for all those qualities, that is why they appear from It . But at the same time those qualities do not account for the potential that It has. So, there is the potential from which all the qualities appear but even if you take all the qualities together, if they could be taken together, still the potential would be left out. So It is within it and also outside it. Getting it? Within it and outside it . No scope is left for any kind of debate here.

If someone says that “*I see the Truth in all this*” (Referring to the sensual world) , he’s not at all mistaken. Let’s say the biggest materialist says that, “In this, all that is perceivable through the senses, I see the Truth.” He is perfectly right, he is not wrong. Just that his statement is not complete yet. The Truth is very much to be seen in all this but that does not mean that all this, taken together, itself is the Truth. So the sensory world, the material world is not an illusion. It is the Truth. But it is not the complete Truth. There is something beyond it as well. This (Referring to the world) is there; let’s not deny it, because this is That (Referring to the Truth) . To deny this is to deny That. This is there. This is to be accepted, respected, lived, but one must never forget that this is not all. “It is within it and It is outside it.” So, there is a definite domain outside all this.

We were talking yesterday that how there is only so much that can be held in the hand, material – which is this world, ‘*within it ’, perceivable through the senses, can be seen through the eyes, heard through the ears. And there is so much that we know exists but cannot be perceived through the senses. We talked of Joy, Love, Freedom, Truth. And nobody over here would want to deny that Love and Truth exist. They do exist, right? We know very well that they exist. So, that’s about it. So, this gives us a very important lesson in living. Look at this world .* There is no need to renounce. There is no need to abdicate. There is no need to denounce either that the world is an illusion , because the world itself stems from There (Truth) , rises from There. To have complains against the world is to have complains against Him, That, the source of the world. So, all due respect for the world, but there must be a clear recognition of the limits of the world. And there must be a humble appreciation of that which is beyond the world. Obviously what is beyond the world cannot be objectified. If it can be objectified it will become a part of the world. So, you can only appreciate that in Faith, not in logic, not in thought, but in the Faith that arises from meditation. Anybody who does not do both will suffer, that’s a lesson in living. If you don’t look at this world carefully, you’ll suffer and if you take a position that this world is everything then too you would suffer.

We are talking of the Ishavasya Upanishad, at another place it has been said that “Those who talk of Avidya and are deeply enamored by it, they fall into a deep well.” What would ‘Avidya’ stand for? Concerning yourself only with the material world. They would suffer. But the same verse proceeds to say that, “Those who talk of Vidya alone fall into a well even deeper. And those who know Vidya and Avidya together, they become immortal.” Because He is within it and He is outside. Both must be taken together, only then you can appreciate the Source in totality. The Source is within it, appreciate it – this world is an expression of that. To appreciate the material is an aspect of spirituality. Because what is material? – The manifestation of the Great Spirit. So it is a deeply spiritual thing to respect material. Are you getting it? He is within it, He is outside it. Know material, Avidya . And don’t limit yourself there, know that which is beyond the material – Vidya, and then you become immortal. What is meant by Immortality? You reach to the Source itself because you have now covered both the within and the without. So, you have reached the Total and the Total is immortal. The Total is timeless and that is immortality. Do you get the import of what it says and the deep relevance to our lives?

There is another important factor here. The verse had begun by saying ‘*It is faster than the mind, smarter than the senses*’. Let’s never forget that. Whatsoever you may attain in the material world, whatsoever science may do, whatever wonders are possible with matter, those wonders will never be anything compared to the wonder that the Source itself is . Remember, He is faster than the mind, way faster than the mind. So, you can apply all your smartness and cleverness, He will be cleverer than you. He is faster than the mind. He is faster than the fastest super computer that any human mind will ever make. So, do not be too complacent. Let the smugness not come near you that, “Why do we need a God? God is dead. We have conquered disease, we have the best of electronics and there are the wonders of science and economics has now provided enough to feed all of mankind. And we are now travelling to outer space.” Let that not make us complacent about the nature and scope of human mind. The human mind might be smart, the Source is infinitely smarter than the smartest of us. Don’t try to be too smart. It says, “The senses fell back as ahead it speeded.” Your eyes might be wonderful and science may give you the best of lenses. But He can see more clearly and more sharply than the best lens can ever see. His vision is a zillion mega-pixels and he zooms things a zillion times. The senses fell back as ahead it speeded, right? You would ultimately have to stop at the velocity of light; He’s not bound even by that. All material movement is limited by the speed of light. But the speed of light is itself the speed of the manifestation, right? Light comes from Him and no matter can travel faster than light. He does because He’s the Father of light, as it is said, “Let there be Light” . He said “Let there be Light.” And you are limited by light.

‘Though standing it passes all others running.’ The race was won by the one who did not run. Though standing, it speeds ahead of all those who are running’ – those of us who are attentive would obviously see the life lesson it contains. You want to pass by everybody who’s running? Just keep standing. Keep standing, and do not think that it’s so easy a thing to do. The kind of mind that we have come to have, standing still is the most difficult thing for us. It ought to be the easiest, it must be the easiest, but we have made it extremely difficult for us. We cannot stand still for five minutes. The mind cannot stand still even for five minutes. If you can do that, just stand still, you have won. ‘Standing still It speeds ahead of all those who are running’. Standing still itself is the victory, no other victory is there. Stand still – that is the only victory. Why does a man run? Why does a man run? Ultimately he wants to reach the point where he can stand still.

(Listeners agree in unison)

Speaker: And if you’re already standing still, then you have already reached the finish line. So who has won the race?

Listener 1: The one who has stopped.

Speaker: The one who has already reached the finish line. Everyone is running and you are already standing at the…?

Listeners: Finish line.

Speaker: So who has won? Obviously you. That’s the importance of standing still. The ones who try and put effort and are full of doership are trying to reach somewhere, to reach a point of peace, to reach a point of stillness. And if you can be already peaceful and joyful and still, then you have already reached the climax of all human endeavours. Everything that the mind had ever wanted has been just to be peaceful and joyful, to have that contentment which we mistakenly call as satisfaction. You can be already contented; then all movements become unnecessary, even stupid. That’s what it is saying. So, the verses when you read them, they appear abstract at times, the way they have been phrased; and they seem to talk about something which is not apparently applicable to daily life. But a little attention, a little closeness to what is being said, and you’ll see that this really is the most practical thing that can ever be said to you. What else are we doing all the time? Thinking, planning, applying our assumed cleverness, running, achieving, trying to attain, and the material fills up so much of our mind, right? This is what we are doing all the time. And these lines are very directly applicable to that, that which we are doing every day and every hour. So, let us never say that these things are other worldly. Let us never reject them or become indifferent to them by naming them abstract or spiritual. This is the best advice that can be offered to you. This is the best insight that a friend can give to you. Go close to it, pay attention to it. You will benefit. In the morning we had talked about competition and here you have Ishavasya Upanishad telling you – “*Standing still it speeds ahead of those who are running.*” And you’re competing all the time. And here is a lesson in non-competition, if only you can understand it. Is that right?

Listener 2: Sir, when we hear this concept *‘standing still*‘, it looks very fascinating, but when we try to apply it there is a big inertia which stops us. What to do with that? It may be possible that we don’t even understand what is meant by standing still.

Speaker: Standing still is not a concept first of all.

Listener 2: But the mind takes it as a concept.

Speaker: Mind tries to make it a concept because the mind can know nothing other than concepts. The mind tries to make ‘*standing still*’ a concept. The mind tries to make a problem out of standing still. But standing still is simply our nature. You need not bring the mind into question. You don’t even need the help of the mind to stand still. You need the help of the mind when you’re dealing with conceptual things. Standing still is not a concept, so why do you need to bring your intellect in between. Your intellect is not needed. In fact, the moment you tell yourself that intellect is not needed, you’re already standing still.Standing still is not something to be practiced. Standing still is not something that you will cultivate. Standing still is your nature. It is already there, but you move away from it when your mind has values that tell you to run all the time, to become super competitive. All you need to do is go closer to those values and ask yourself, “*Are they really needed? Are they important? Are they relevant? Can’t I live without them?*“

Or you may ask yourself, “From where did I get this value that running is important, that you’re not a man if you can’t run fast enough? When did I acquire this belief? Who told me that I must be a super achiever? From which direction are all these poisonous inputs coming to me?” The moment you realize all this, that “Running and being competitive, and this obsession with achievement, is just something that I have been loaded with”, you become free of it. You cannot learn to stand still but you can learn to reject what is false. Standing still is your nature. How will you learn your nature?

You don’t need to learn to stand still. You need to unlearn what you have acquired and that is easy. A little bit of attention, a little bit of fearlessness that comes from Faith, and you’re home.

When you were born did you start running? When you were six months old were you thinking of becoming a great man? Not when you were six months old. Not when you were two years old. But after two years or three years, something starts happening. The mind already has latent tendencies in the form of DNA, in the form of genetic conditioning, and on top of those latent tendencies there is the social input from family, from society, media and all these places. So, these two combine, your latent tendencies or ‘ vritti’ combines with the input you get from the senses, and then these values come to you. What is a value? – A strong belief. You start valuing achievement. You start valuing the race. I must reach the finish line first. Don’t value it and you’re already standing still. Nothing ever moves. Getting it?

What does that mean? Does that mean that you don’t have to do anything? We just said that, ‘ Nothing ever moves’. If you look at the last lines of this verse, they say, “ It moves, it moves not.” We said that nothing ever moves but what are the lines saying? ‘*It moves, it moves not*’. So, there is movement! When it is said *‘standing still*‘, that does not bar you from moving, because it is the nature of the Source to both move and not to move. Be like the Source. How is it?

Listener 3: No movement in the terms of thoughts.

Speaker: No movement at the center. Be just like the personality of the cosmos. No movement at the center and there is the required movement on the periphery. Everywhere else there is movement but no movement at the center. The center is the place where you stand still. ‘ It moves, it moves not’, no movement where?

Listeners: At the center.

Speaker: And a lot of movement where?

Listeners: Periphery.

Speaker: So, compete but don’t have a competitive mind. Let the mind not be bothered with things like running, achieving, beating somebody, finishing first. ‘*It moves, it moves not*’. Remaining silent, it speaks everything. Say everything but remain silent. Can you learn that art? Even when you’re speaking can you learn to remain silent? It’s a beautiful thing to have, when you know that you’re speaking, yet you know that there is a deep inner silence. The lips are moving, the words are being uttered, the complete physical process that is involved in speaking is there and yet there is no process somewhere else. There is a point, a sacred point which is in silence and in non-movement. It is the nature of the world to show movement and it is the nature of the Source to stand still. Let your hands move, let your feet move and let them move as briskly as possible, as briskly as needed, as swiftly as is appropriate. But in the thick of this movement, in the middle of all this action, let there be inaction. That is what is meant by ‘*It moves, it moves not*’. That is also what Krishna means when he talks of ‘Inaction in action.’ Do you understand this?

Listener 2: Sir, competition sometimes comes automatically.

Speaker: ‘Automatically’, what does that word mean? Automatic – is that word applicable to human beings or to machines?

Listeners: Machines.

Speaker: What do you mean by automatic?

Listener 2: I don’t want to compete but still I have to compete.

Speaker: No, you ultimately end up doing what you want to do. And all wants in a machine come from its programmer. One has been programmed to compete and one has been programmed to then feel guilty after competing (Laughingly). None of these programs is you. Can you unload these programs? Can you uninstall them? First of all – competition, achievement, a feeling of incompleteness should never touch your core. That is the first program. The first program says that, “*It is a core value to ‘achieve*”. Look at your society. Isn’t it a core value to achieve? The first un-installation will remove this core value. “*I do not need to achieve. I do not need to be called a super hero*“.

The second program is – Worldly attainment is bad. The world is sin, material is crime. And there is some concept of a spiritual world which has been juxtaposed against the material world. And all the crime and sin that you commit in the material world must be compensated, atoned for in the spiritual world. This is the second program. Uninstall this one as well. There is no need to feel guilty. There is no crime, so there is no question of atonement. There might be situations in life when you will need to run. Run as fast as is needed! And there is no need to feel guilty. There might be situations in life when you need to do this and that with the material. Do that! There is no need to feel guilty. Uninstall that program as well. Uninstall both these programs.

The first program says, “You must achieve” and the second program says, “Achievement is sin”. That is what our world is. And because of the second program we need to create a stupid image of a God, which is just an image, right? “Achievement is sin. God does not like achievers.” (Sarcastically)

Listener 2: Who will decide when to run and when not to run? The mind will decide.

Speaker: And the mind is?

Listeners: Ego.

Speaker: Full of stuff acquired from here and there.

Listener 2: I understand that. Then it will become very difficult to…

Speaker: Right. The mind obviously has the capacity of intelligence provided you unload it of all the rubbish. The same mind which cannot see clearly, which cannot think clearly, will have great insight when you are free of all these acquired values. The same mind which causes so much of suffering to us because it is always confused, because it is always in conflict, the same mind will become a wonderful friend. A situation comes and the mind immediately gives clarity. Won’t it be wonderful to have that kind of a mind? Is not that mind a nice friend to have? Or do you want a mind which is always a source of grief for you, always in conflict, confused, irritated, frustrated and repenting? I’m saying that unload the mind and this same mind will shine like a diamond, the same mind.

Listener 2: But again that unloading will be done by the same mind.

Speaker: Howsoever much the mind is loaded, it never loses, not at least completely, it never loses completely the capacity to attend. The capacity for attention is always there. And it’s a great gift to us that we can summon attention. If you want desperately enough, then you can be attentive, because attention begins with your own resolve. You resolve to know clearly and you will know. The moment you start knowing unloading starts happening . Attention is the key to unloading. And it’s a great relief that we can be attentive. Whenever you want you can be attentive. That’s a blessing. That’s a great blessing. Wherever you want you can pay attention. And paying attention is the root to becoming light, getting rid of all the junk that is there.

Don’t keep pushing things back. If you know that it is important, let it come right in front, investigate it, go close to it and scrutinize it, and have Faith that you can tolerate whatever you will see. We are very often afraid that if we open our old diaries and our old albums then too many skeletons will start falling from the cupboards. Have Faith that, “Even if I investigate, even if I know the facts, I have it within me to bear what comes.”

We don’t want to look at the facts. We keep pushing them at the back. Let them come in front. Go close to them and inquire. Facts will open the gate to Truth.

You keep pushing things back. You can decide not to push them back. You have it within you. That option is always available. I’m saying, exercise that option; it’s within your power. With the same hand that you push it back, bring it in front, with the same hand. Our mind is full of stuff that we have been pushing back and hiding in the sub-conscious. Don’t hide it! Let it come. Face the issues. Look at the matter. Let the reality come out. Why hide it? And believe that you have the courage to bear the facts when they emerge.

Listener 4: Sir, yesterday it was being said by you, that, “Put a full stop to the past. Once it’s done, it’s done” Now you’re saying…

Speaker: How do you put a full stop to the past when you have accumulated it in deep godowns and bunkers? How will you ever put a full stop to it? When you have put it in safe locks, will you ever be able to get rid of it?

Listener 4: It is still there.

Speaker: Still there? You are protecting it with your life. Have you seen all those lockers that are there? Fire cannot enter those lockers, no earthquake, no bomb can destroy those lockers. Those are the kind of lockers that we have made in our mind, in our sub-conscience and there we have put all the accumulated stuff, so that it can never come under any kind of threat. I’m saying, expose it, bring it out. That’s the only way to bring it to a full stop. Face it, or if you can, then just dismiss it. But even that dismissal is a kind of facing.

Listener 5: Sir, dismissal means?

Speaker: Just reject it. Facing it means you want to know what it is all about. But you can go one step further. You can say, “*Even without knowing what it is all about, of one thing I’m absolutely certain – whatever it is, it is junk. So, I can reject it even without going into the details of it. I’m summarily rejecting it. Go!*” You can do that as well. But one thing is certain; you’ll have to pull it out. You cannot let it remain there and come to a full stop.

Listener 4: And what do you mean by ‘pulling it out’?

Speaker: What do you mean by ‘burying it deep’? That’s what you do every day. I’m saying that the same hand that pushes it back will also bring it in front. We have learnt the art of self-deception you know. We have greatly learnt the art of self-deception. Every day somebody says something to you, you don’t like it, but then you don’t express what you must. That’s how the sub-conscious keeps getting created. There needed to be a response, you curbed that response. Do you think the matter has been closed? No, the matter has not been closed. The matter is very much alive here (Pointing at the head). Just because you did not respond adequately at that moment, the matter has not come to a full stop. It is alive and kicking here. And it will affect your life.

Listener 4: That is if somebody says something bad to you and you feel bad about it.

Speaker: Yes of course, and you do. Do you want to deny that?

Listeners: No.

Speaker: But we have learnt the art of self-deception. We feel bad and we keep smiling as if nothing has happened. If actually nothing has happened, wonderful! Nothing like it. But the case with us is, things happen and we hide them. That’s our hell . That’s our hell. That is an important part of all that has been stored by us. You have been storing it. I’m saying that you stop storing it.

Listener 4: So, whenever a thought of the past comes you dwell into it and see where it is coming from?

Speaker: Either you just understand that it is useless, and then you don’t need to go into the nitty-gritty of it, or if you still think there is some importance in it, let it come right in front of you.

Listener 4: Let’s just see.

Speaker: Let’s talk, “ What do you want? Why do you keep coming to me?” Let’s talk, “*What do you want? Why do you haunt me?*” As soon as the mind is cleared, it starts standing still. In fact you discover that the stillness was always there but not available to your ego. So standing still is not that difficult a preposition. If you’ll think about it, if you’ll try to form an image of it, it will appear very difficult but it is not difficult. Getting it?

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