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The ones glad with the fullness of Knowledge || On Mundaka Upanishad (2021)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
18 min
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संप्राप्यैनमृषयो ज्ञानतृप्ताः कृतात्मानो वीतरागाः प्रशान्ताः । ते सर्वगं सर्वतः प्राप्यधीरा युक्तात्मानः सर्वमेवाविशन्ति ॥

saṃprāpyainamṛṣayo jñānatṛptāḥ kṛtātmāno vītarāgāḥ praśāntāḥ te sarvagaṃ sarvataḥ prāpyadhīrā yuktātmānaḥ sarvamevāviśanti

Attaining to Him, seers glad with fullness of knowledge, perfected in the Self, all passions cast from them, tranquilised, these, the wise, come to the all-pervading from every side, and, uniting themselves with Him, enter utterly the All.

~ Verse 3.2.5

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Acharya Prashant (AP): “Attaining to Him, seers glad with fullness of knowledge, perfected in the Self, all passions cast from them, tranquilised, these, the wise, come to the all-pervading from every side, and, uniting themselves with Him, enter utterly the All.”

"Attaining to Him"—having attained That—"seers glad with fullness of knowledge"—seers joyful in the fullness of Truth—"perfected in the Self"—the pūrṇatā of *Ātman*—"all passions cast from them"—free from trivial desires—"tranquilised"—'tranquilised' is a bad word. The word used here is ‘*praśānt*’: in deep peace, not tranquilised.

“These, the wise, come to the all-pervading from every side”—no, they don’t come to the all-pervading from every side, they receive the all-pervading from every side. This has to be corrected. You cannot come to the all-pervading from every side. The all-pervading is not a limited entity that you can approach from this and that side.

“…and, uniting themselves with Him, enter utterly the All.” They unite themselves totally with the Truth, and enter the Ultimate in a final sense.

So, this is a description of the process, the experience, and the joy of the seers, how they let the Truth totally consume them, and how ultimately they disappear in their bliss.

In authentic spiritual literature, rare are the descriptions of the states of the seeker or the seer because that is something beyond words. So, usually not much attention is paid to describing how their inner world is. It is also an exercise not in negation, because now you are describing something in a positive sense, how it is, not how it is not. Though the verse also contains reference to the rejection of desires, casting away of passions, that part is obviously in negativa, but otherwise, this verse is a bit of an exception.

So, what does it say about the seers? “Seers glad with the fullness of knowledge”—having known and really known, a gladness descends on you. In fact, that gladness is the proof whether you have really known.

Suppose you have been tricked or deceived and you have come to know. What does this make you feel? If it makes you feel low and down and gloomy, then you have not really known that you have been deceived, and probably you want to continue being deceived; otherwise, there would be a gladness.

If there is no gladness, then the next one is also going to trick and deceive you because you are gloomy on the loss of something that deceived you. What does that tell about your desire? You somewhere wanted the one who deceived you; in fact, you would have been better off not knowing at all that you have been deceived. Now that you know that you have been deceived, you are sad.

You were not sad when you were being deceived; you are much more sad when you know that you have been deceived. Look at your condition.

With Maya , typically, this is the role of knowledge: you come to know that you have been deceived. Now, what does that bring to you, gloom or gladness? Typically it brings gloom. And what does that tell you about your preparedness? You are prepared to be further deceived. When you were being deceived, you were alright; now that you know that you were deceived, you are so sad. You want to continue being deceived and you do not want to know that you are deceived.

So, even if you drop this particular person or situation or thing, you are going to inadvertently, consciously or unconsciously, choose the next one just to be deceived, because deception is not at all a problem to you; recognition of deception is a problem. That’s something you don’t want to face, that you have been deceived. When you face that, you become sad.

Do you want to repeat something that makes you sad? No, and what is it that is making you sad? Recognition of deception. So, next time, what do you want to do? Not recognize that you have been deceived. In fact, now you will be more alert—more alert not to avoid deception but to avoid detection. We don’t abhor deception so much; what we strictly dislike is detection of deception.

So, next time you will say, “Fine, you know, I obviously like those who deceive me because I am a self-deceiver in the first place. But now I will be careful that the deception does not get caught by me. So, I will be even more unconscious in the relationships so that I never get to catch any deception happening.”

What does knowledge give you, gladness or gloom? Ask. Most people get gloom from knowledge, so they avoid knowledge. That only means that you do not know at all. Had you really known, you would have been glad.

And I repeat, in case of Maya knowledge would inevitably be about detection of deception. What else will you come to know when it comes to Maya ? That you have been deceived—what else? There is nothing else hidden there, just deception is hidden there. No great thing is waiting for you because there is nothing great there.

Whenever you will come to know of the world, all you will come to know of is how you have been deceived for so long and so deeply. Let that not disappoint you; let that rather energize you and relieve you. Thank God it’s over.

And if you can’t thank God, you are condemned to over and over repeat what is really not over for you. If you are sad at its demise, is it really over for you? No, you are going to stubbornly continue it in other names and other forms. One thing will end, the same thing will restart.

That will tell you about the nature of real celebration. Real celebration cannot be about an attainment. Real celebration always has to be about an ending, a closure—because there is nothing else to celebrate really in the world. In the world we are in bondages. What will you celebrate when you are in bondages? “One more chain has been broken. Let’s celebrate!”

You will have to learn to celebrate your losses; only that is real celebration. Why? Not because I want to cheer you up or motivate or encourage you, but because there are really going to be no gains. The Truth is not to be gained; therefore, gains are not available to be celebrated. If you want to celebrate, the only thing that is available to you is loss—loss of what? Not something valuable; the loss of your bondages.

The moment you lose a bondage, celebrate—because that’s the only thing available to celebrate. There is nothing else to celebrate. When something lowly has been lost from life, that’s the only occasion to party. When else will you party? Beginnings you don’t need many, because there is already so much going on in life. What more do you want to begin? You are already so encumbered.

All that you can celebrate is closures, endings, full stops. Celebrate. Otherwise you can’t have joy. If you can’t celebrate things disappearing and making space, then you probably don’t want freedom.

“Seers glad with fullness of knowledge, perfected in the Self”—living without blemishes or shortcomings, incompletenesses. ‘Perfection’ here refers to pūrṇatā , completeness, totality, wholeness.

“Having surrendered their mind to purity, having kept purity above all, perfected in the Self, all passions cast from them”—not catering to trivial desires anymore. That’s the state of the seer.

“In deep peace, these, the wise, come to the all-pervading from every side”—which is not the right translation; we said, come from all sides of their life to the all-pervading. Whichever way they go, they come to the Truth. Yatra yatra mano yati tatra tatra samādhayaḥ (Wherever the mind goes, there is samādhi ). Joy.

“Doesn’t matter where I go, where the mind goes, where life takes me—there is samādhi . Because I know, because I am not enamored of the false now, because I am no more agreeable to being deceived now. I am glad. I am joyful. I have lost all taste for gloom. I am no more a magnet to miseries. I just don’t like a sodden face, a sulking demeanor; it’s just not my style anymore, you know, not my way.”

How do you like your tea?

“Well, without sorrow.”

Well, at least one teaspoon?

“No, no. I like my tea without sorrow. I just don’t have the taste for it. Nor do I enjoy the company of sulking people, sad and withering souls who find a perverse pleasure in keeping a long face. None of that.”

“And, uniting themselves with Him, enter utterly the All.”

That unity is paramount. Unity: no distance, nothing in between; not saying that if this happens, then that happens. It is a unity: united very intimately, unconditionally; no road in between, no medium in between, no conditions in between.

“I will be with you only if such a thing happens”—none of that. I am with you. “I will be with you if this thing permits”—no permissions needed. “I will be with you if my mind is favorable”—two hoots to the mind! Who cares for what the mind says? The mind will follow me; I am not going to follow this bugger. Self-mastery: the mind will follow me, I am not going to follow the mind.

Don’t you feel supremely energized just getting a faint glimpse of how the seer is? These are not imaginations, these are coming from life; people have lived them. They have no interest in presenting a bloated picture of themselves to the anonymous future generations. They are anonymous to you because they didn’t give you their name, and you are anonymous to them because you are coming thousands of years after them. So, it’s mutual anonymity. Obviously, they are not going to bloat their image and orchestrate a fancy show of their ego.

It is a simple, direct, truthful presentation of their reality. Doesn’t it inspire you? It is meant to!

Questioner (Q): I have found moments of peace during my spiritual journey, but other times I have faced obstacles also. Sometimes the obstacles—that are mostly mental—are so strong that they manage to obstruct me; they block me from proceeding on the path. My mind refuses to stop creating confusion, as if it no longer wants to continue seeking the Truth. How can I overcome this obstacle? Can calling and recognizing this as Maya help, or is Maya something beyond our understanding?

AP: You see, you can’t really overcome the obstacle; you will have to make the obstacle become less meaningful to you, and it will become less meaningful to you when you offer less resistance to it. The more resistance you offer to the obstacle, the more it becomes an obstacle.

These so-called obstacles will remain all through life, you will meet them at every step. You will have to stop complaining; you will have to start coexisting with them as if they don’t exist. I am not saying they won’t exist; I am saying, as if they don’t exist.

So, the obstacle is there, and you are doing what you should do, rather what you must do. The obstacle will remain; you have to continue in spite of the obstacle’s presence—in spite of, not without.

So, that’s the keyword, learn it. Learn to continue in spite of; that’s where the dignity of human effort lies. Continue in spite of the obstacle. Do not pray for the obstacle to disappear or for the obstacle to be surmounted; that’s really not going to happen. You surmount one obstacle, and the next one will appear. That’s how life is. Learn to live with them. Learn to not let them become too important to you. Learn to not count them as significant factors in decision-making.

The sleep will be there; you continue being awake, please. The dogs will bark, they are there outside the window; you continue listening to the session, not to the dogs, please. The obstacles will remain. The dogs will do what they are to do; you do what you must do. And when the dogs are gone, some other animals will arrive; the world is full of animals in all shapes and forms.

The obstacle here is that you are talking too much of the obstacles. Don’t talk too much of them; reduce their importance, learn to downplay. It’s a kind of enactment, you know, a bit of drama. Theater helps. Why roleplay only to the audience? Learn to roleplay to yourself; tell yourself, “I am alright” when you are not; tell yourself, “I am great” when you are not.

In the upcoming book, Maya , there is this chapter, I suppose: ‘Learn to cheat the ego’. That’s what.

Learn to cheat yourself. If you don’t want to cheat yourself, learn to cheat yourself. That’s the only way to not cheat yourself.

Chin up, not only to the world but also to the mirror. Chin up. And I am not talking about presenting a happy face to the world and sobbing in your silence; I am talking about presenting a strong and brave face even to yourself in your seclusion, isolation, silence. Even there do not allow yourself to feel small or little or defeated or probelemed or besieged. Have some self-control. Be the master of your emotions. If you don’t want to feel weak, you must not feel weak.

Why should situations command your insides? “Yes, there is everything here that should practically, usually make anyone feel defeated and small, but I must not feel defeated and small, I must not feel defeated here. I don’t deserve to feel defeated here, not for myself but for the Truth. For the sake of the Truth, I will stand upright. I am not going to kneel down, to retreat, to keel over.”

Don’t give your obstacles too much respect. Only Truth deserves respect, not obstacles to the Truth. Obvious, no? I am not asking you to underestimate the worldly challenges you have in front of you; I am asking you to have the right attitude. Do not be too respectful to them. Do not feel bogged down. Remember that the truly significant thing is something else.

So, even if obstacles are to be faced, you face them with a bit of contempt. That’s what barriers to the Truth deserve: contempt, don’t they? Or do they deserve your adulation? You want to sing of them and prostrate? Obviously no.

Don’t bemoan so much that things are bad for you; things are always supposed to be bad for everybody—always and for everybody, and just bad. That’s the nature of human birth. What did you expect? You were born in some kind of heaven or what?

So, take problems and obstacles as the default thing in life. “It is the default, it will remain. Why talk so much about it? If something is to be done about it, I will. But I am not going to lament and cry and yell and make a big deal of it.”

Q: When I go out of my house, I get quickly distracted from seeing riches and women. When I am out, I cannot listen to your videos which I do continuously at home. My productivity and quality of work has been great because I have worked from home due to the pandemic situation for the last year or so, but now that it is about to end, how can I maintain the same concentration at work when I go out?

AP: No, you never had any concentration in work in the first place. It’s just that women etc. were unavailable during the lockdown, so you had no option but to look at work. There was no concentration. Real concentration comes from devotion and understanding, not from unavailability of the opposite.

So, first of all, get some decent work for yourself. Maybe the job that you are doing is just not right, and that’s why money and women attract you so much, rather distract you so much. If the work is right, the work itself is a repellent to distractions. The nature of the work, the very charm of the work will repel distractions. If you are so troubled by distractions, that is a commentary on the choice of work.

Distractions will always remain; work has to be such that it overpowers all distractions. Work needs to have some intimacy, some urgency in it, authentic work, heartfelt work, and then trivial things won’t get the better of you. Then even if you are attracted to a person or a thing, an object, a woman, a man, whatever, it will be the right one because the work will be of such a supreme nature that the work itself will dictate your other pursuits. Then those other things will not rally against the work, be an obstacle against the work; rather, they will be aligned with the work.

You have a great vehicle, you visit the vehicle showroom. You have a shoddy vehicle, you visit the vehicle showroom. What’s the difference? You are still visiting the market, you are still interested in something in spite of having the vehicle, but there is a great difference. When you have a great vehicle, you visit the showroom to buy a great accessory for it; the new purchase is aligned with the existing thing. And when you have a shoddy vehicle, then you visit the showroom to get its replacement; the new purchase is against what you already have. Do you get the difference?

So, it’s not that the marketplace of the world is barred to those who live a Truthful life. Those who live a Truthful life do participate in the markets of the world, but then they buy something that is aligned with what they already have; they are not distracted by things that would act as substitutes to what they have.

You don’t want to supplant your existing state of life when you are with the Truth. You just want to extend it, express it even more vigorously, not change it.

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