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Strange sounds and thoughts during meditation?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Questioner (Q): I have a question on my practice.

So, when I notice thoughts arising or the sounds of the cars, when I notice them in my awareness, I will ask, “To whom is this arising?” And sometimes I’ll go, "Oh! They will just disappear and won't bother me." And, I guess I have two questions;

  1. Is the practice really that simple that whenever I notice, try and witness it to ask, “To whom is this arising?" and go in.
  2. I notice some thoughts and sounds have more of an attraction. I like hooking to them, and some I don’t. I notice that it’s a thought as well. What do I do?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Who is noticing all this? Who is the questioner?

So, when you ask, to whom are these sounds and noises? The answer is obvious. These sounds and noises are to the questioner. Can you question something without noticing it? If you don’t even notice the sound, would you question, "Who is the recipient of the sound? Who is receiving or paying attention to the sound?" So, a better practice would probably be to ask— why does the sound matter to me at all? If you ask, "To whom are these sounds?" then the answer will not take you very far. Because the answer is obvious. These sounds are to the questioner, nobody else. The incident of asking the question itself reveals the one who is cognizant of those sounds. So, that matter is settled.

Now we come to the next question then, there are a variety of sounds, always entering my sensory space, are there not? Why do I feel attracted to, or charmed by, or offended by a few of them, and why are a few others not significant to me? That's the question that will tell you something about the nature of your mind, the constitution of your inner Prakriti ; and this knowledge helps.

Ego that starts knowing itself does not remain charmed by itself for too long.

A point might come when no sound matters so much to you that it pushes you to ask, "From where is the sound? To whom is the sound?" Because even asking these questions is some kind of a chore, an unnecessary activity. This will not allow you to fully rest. You always have an agenda at hand. The moment a sound comes, you have to be vigilant and ask, "To whom is the sound?" and all those things. Far better is not to be alive to the sound at all. Let the ears receive the sound, let the mind and the memory process the sound. You keep sleeping in your cozy bed. That's the utter inner relaxation, that spirituality is all about. Let all the action smoothly, resistance-lessly happen on the outside. Within, you remain in your nature and your nature is of relaxation, even if the mind is troubled, let the trouble remain on the periphery of the mind.

The center of the mind should be carefree as ever.

Q: How do you get to that place?

AP: By having some respect and love for relaxation. If you keep respecting all the wrong things, how will you ever fall in love with restfulness? Therefore, even here, the process must be of negation, see who are the ones you accord value to, see what is it that you respect in your daily life and if you are respecting all the sources and agents of trouble and worry, and anxiety, then how will you ever respect the right one? And the right one is a bit finicky on this count. The right one says, “I will have all your respect or nothing. You cannot give me divided attention.” It’s not for nothing that he is called the 'Absolute'. What does absolute mean? Total. So, he says, “You cannot get away with this. Forty types of falsenesses you respect from your morning till evening. Look at your daily life, pay attention, and then, you put me as forty-first in the queue." You say, “I respect Truth as well. I respect peace as well.” This won’t do. You cannot respect Truth 'as well'.

If Truth is to be respected; if peace is to be loved, that love has to be unconditional and absolute, totally undivided, unfragmented, reserved only for the one.

Q: What were the forty falsehoods you referred to?

AP: You have to look into your daily life. For example, if you cannot find a hundred rupee note on the table and you allow yourself to go berserk over the event. Then, see what is it that you respect. Somebody comes and just pushes against your shoulder, on the streets of Rishikesh it’s quite possible, and you allow yourself to be offended by that and you chase that person and you want to give it back to him in double the quantity. Then, you have declared the one you love. You love agitation, you love street fights. Now with the same kind of mind, how will you love peace? So, that's why spirituality definitely has to be a 24/7 occupation. You have to constantly see what you are doing. Not police yourself.

Q: What’s the difference?

AP: In policing, you want a particular standard behavior, and that behavior has been determined in advance. You have to very passively just watch and that watching is not an act. You don’t have to add it to your to-do list. It happens on its own. You just have to, therefore, not watch, but actually, acknowledge.

The watching is happening. It is the acknowledgment that remains missing.

We know what we do, don’t we? It’s not that we are so ignorant about ourselves. We know what’s going on. What we lack usually is the honesty to acknowledge it. We give colorful names to our behaviors and attitudes. We do not call a nail 'a nail' and a spade 'a spade'. For example, if there is jealousy, outright naked jealousy, we might choose to call it 'ambition', and that doesn't help, right?

Jealousy has to be called as 'jealousy'. Insecurity has to be called as 'insecurity', not 'future-planning. Lust has to be called as 'lust', not 'love'.

It is in these names that we have totally deceived ourselves and others as well.

Q: What happens if I walk down the street and notice that lust? Is it okay to acknowledge that I felt lustful towards her at that moment?

AP: Smile. That’s the nature of the inner animal. When you watch a bull chasing a cow, what do you do? You don't become a participant in the act, do you? You let the bull chase the cow and you smile and you say, that's the nature of the animal. Similarly, you have to acknowledge that there exists the bull within and that's enough. You don't have to police the bull after that.

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