Questioner (Q): What kind of technique would you propose to someone whose mind is constantly racing and just being alone with the mind sometimes is a torture to them. What would you suggest to empower themselves?
Acharya Prashant (AP): Your mind keeps racing, you find that a problem?
Q: I am staying with a friend who has been on a spiritual path for years but she says that meditation is a torture for her. So, I suggested that she observe her mind in a neutral way and let it be. Because if she argues, her restlessness would only multiply. So far, my words haven't been fruitful. So, what would your approach be?
AP: No, before having any approach I would like to understand the situation. How can I suggest anything without first knowing, what is going on? Let's say, you are a father and you find your little son racing around. Now, is that a problem? Your little son is racing around on a busy road. Now is that a problem? What is the problem? The racing around. Is the racing around the problem?
AP: The danger. So, the thought that something wrong, something bad may happen, is the problem, right?
You have a pet dog. You find the dog racing away from your house. Is that a problem? I'm not asking a metaphysical question.
Q: My dog may not come back.
AP: Yeah, my dog may not come back. Is racing a problem?
Q: What if it never comes back?
AP: So, the mind keeps racing. Have you ever tried to see whether it really ever goes away? The mind keeps running towards what? And if it is running so hard why hasn't it run away from you? It should have reached outer space by now. Should have been riding some satellite or something. The mind is obviously always running but towards what?
I'm again asking, is it running away from you? It appears as if it is running away from you but if it is really running away from you why hasn't it gone away yet? Why do you still call it 'your' mind? Why? Just let the mind run away and see where it goes. Have you ever, in a friendly way, asked the mind where it really wants to go? What lies behind its incessant struggle, restlessness, strife, aspiration?
Every single human being is aspiring. All of us are running. That's the movement of the mind. Towards what? And if it's the very mind of mankind that is running, then surely the mind knows its one common destination. Now, would you call it a problem or would you rather assist the mind?
AP: You are forcing the mind to a place where it cannot be. You have brought the mind to an office which is full of ambition, jealousy, greed, competitiveness and the mind wants to run away. And you are calling it a problem? Seriously? You're in a relationship that suffocates and the mind wants to run away. You call it a problem? You're in the middle of the morning traffic and the mind wants to run away. Is it a problem?
Just see where it wants to go and go along with the mind. It wants to go to peace. It wants to reach a place from where it won't ever need to run away. And you can never cheat the mind. The mind is stubborn. It will not settle for anything less than that which it precisely wants. You cannot negotiate with the mind. You cannot come to a compromise. It will keep running away and you may keep trying all kinds of spiritual methods and practices. All will fail. Ultimately, the mind will win.
The mind wants love and will not settle to quietness till it gets that. The mind wants freedom and will not agree with you, till it is completely free. Assist the mind. Be with the mind.
The mind is not a criminal that wants to break away from jail. You are asking the question like a jailer, "My prisoner wants to run away! In fact, occasionally he keeps running away. Then I chase him and chain him again and bring him back to his cell. Can you suggest me a technique through which I can ensure that he never breaks free?" He will break free and my advice to you is, you too break free along with the mind.
Next time your mind runs away from the office, you too run away. Don't say, “Oh! This fickle mind, it can’t rest. It's not spiritual enough." Great that it is not spiritual enough. Great that it is not tolerating rubbish. You too run away.
Do you have an obligation to bear all the nonsense of the world? Are you born to relieve mankind of its sins? All sins; past, present, future, committed, uncommitted. Who are you? Why must you burden the mind with all kinds of responsibilities? Who gave you the mandate that you must act serious and important and control the mind so that it serves like a faithful servant?
You think you are the master of that servant? No. The mind runs away because you are not the master. Had you been the master, why would the mind run away? The mind loves you. The mind runs away because in your name, in your form, the world becomes the master. Through your mouth, the world tries to command the mind. And the mind would have none of that. The mind loves only the original one. Only the real one. The mind's nature is surrender. And surrender, you cannot, to all and sundry. One surrenders only to the one Truth. From all else, the mind would necessarily run away.
Come face to face with the Truth and then see whether the mind runs away. It never runs away. In fact, if it would run away at all, it would run away towards the Truth which is towards you. It comes back. That running away is a ‘coming back’. It's a return.
Escape. Now you know where the bike wants to go. Have your mind as the pillion rider and escape. A better still, let your mind be on the rider seat. You ride the pillion.
Have some compassion towards yourself first. Before you bear all the responsibilities towards the world, be a little sensitive to your own state, please. Do you see how we have tortured the mind? Do you see the kind of pressures we put upon ourselves? Do you see how we torment ourselves under a load of ideals, expectations, role models?
Do you see that so much that you have ever wanted to achieve, has been so needless that you have been running other’s courses? Like a slave who goes to the market to purchase goods worth millions but just for the master, nothing for himself. You too have gone to markets and conquered the markets but whatever you have done, you have just done at the behest of some master. Instructed by the master, sent by the master, and called back by the master.
Superficially, it may appear as if you have been ruling the world, ruling the markets but really the mind knows that it is not doing anything for the real one. It is only obeying the commands of the world. Some fake master and even that fake master keeps changing, hour to hour. Now you are obeying your boss, next moment you're obeying your wife, then the policeman, then the priest, then some book, then your stomach.
What do you think, the mind can put up with all this? It will rebel, it will necessarily rebel. And when it rebels, you call it a spiritual problem. And then you want some esoteric techniques. "How can I breathe from my ear, so that the mind remains calm? Yeah, maybe you know, some kind of a ventilation system that you take here from here (Indicating from one ear to another), and it goes out." (Speaking in sarcasm)
Never would you address the real situation. The real situation is, you are unnecessarily tormenting yourself. There is a lot that is prepared to be dropped. Why do you want to hold on to it?
See, the puppy is there. Look at that puppy. And if there is stale, stinking, rotten food in my hands and I'm forcing myself to eat it, I bring the puppy here and force the puppy too, to eat it. What would the puppy do? Run away. And then I say, “Oh! The puppy is running away. It's such a problem. The puppy is not fulfilling its social, moral, religious, spiritual, divine responsibility of eating rubbish. You must force nonsense down your throat and your mind. That's your divine obligation. That's why you were born to go through hell.” The puppy will not have any of this nonsense. Puppies are not as mad as a human being. When the puppy runs away from you, you too run away. Don't try to chain it. I assure you puppies know. They really do know.
Ever sat in Satsang with a puppy? You haven't, right? No puppies Satsang for you? That's why you're so interested in having Satsang with me and other big bores. As for me, I can sit in Satsang only with puppies and cocks and rabbits and idiots. Only they can really teach. Only they really know.
Q: Puppies also depend on us for...
AP: You can make puppies dependent on you or whatsoever but a puppy will never eat nonsense even out of the master’s hands. A puppy can go hungry but will never take food that does not suit it. Yes, you can force it, of course, just as you force the mind. Forcibly, of course, you can do whatever you want to do. Just as forcibly we dominate the mind. Just as forcibly you make yourself get up every morning and wear formals and go to that seventy-storey building. Forcibly you can do anything with yourself.
Do we have any appreciation of what all do we do forcibly? When you read in the newspapers that somebody has been raped, you feel sympathetic. Do you know how much we rape ourselves? Our eyes see only the gross, so when the body is violated, we call it rape. What about the violation of the mind every moment? Is that not rape? And why must the mind not run away from rapists? Why?
We have a great interest in making the mind follow our wishes. It is a blessing that we never succeed. So much of the so-called spirituality is just aimed at maiming the mind. Making the mind subservient to the wishes of the Ego. It is great that such spirituality never succeeds.
You want the mind to concentrate, where you decide it should concentrate, right? You say, “I want the mind to concentrate on that object. Why is it getting distracted? It must focus there.” Why must the mind focus there? The mind finds no peace in concentration. Why must the mind concentrate?
You want the mind to concentrate where there lies pleasure or self-interest for you. Pleasure or self-interest is not the nature of the mind.
Why must the mind concentrate? And then you call distraction, a problem. Is distraction a problem or is it a welcome sign? Is distraction really a problem or is it a genuine indicator that you are not putting the mind at the right places?
Offer peace to the mind and then see whether it refuses. Offer love to the mind and then see whether it runs away. Let the mind breathe in freedom and then see whether it runs away. It doesn't then run 'away', then it runs towards you.
The mind is thirsty for love. Just offer it a little love and then see how it will keep running, how it will come running towards you. Ever seen how your puppy comes running towards you when you reach home? That's the way the mind runs towards you in love. But instead of love, if you carry rotten food, that too with a stick then you may keep complaining all your life and keep trying spiritual methods.