Questioner (Q): How to train our mind so that we have a say over our senses and our thoughts? For example, we have a big target we want to achieve, and we know that waking up early is a good habit. But despite knowing this, many distracting thoughts come up and we waste time watching some videos or Netflix late into the night. How to get out of this cycle?
Acharya Prashant (AP): Don’t sleep at all. Don’t sleep at all, and there would be no problem such as waking up at the right time or missing waking up at the right time.
See, you cannot be trained into these things. It is a matter of love. The thing is that our entire system, our education, our neighborhood, the way we are brought up, it stifles all spontaneity. In fact, we become afraid of our spontaneity, even more so, if I may say, as a woman. So, we want to be educated even in love. We want to be trained even in these matters.
If you know something is right, if you really know something is right, you just do it; you don’t wait to be trained for it, no? Or maybe this is something I just cannot wrap my head around, but I have always failed to comprehend how one can claim that one knows something to be right and still does not do it or does not commit herself to it. The only explanation can be that you really do not know it fully yet. And knowing something cannot really happen without coming very close to that thing. To come close to something is to drop what you know about that thing, your images of that thing, and to really be intimate with it. That is love.
And when love is there, then you just bulldoze your habits, your tendencies and such things. Maybe you cannot force yourself to sleep at the right time, 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., but you know that getting up in the morning is something of beauty, something of love. So, what do you do then? You say, “Fine, if I can’t get up at the right time, I won’t sleep at all. Let the habits do what they want to do; I will do what I want to do. The habits tell me, ‘We will not allow you to sleep at the right time,’ and I am telling the habits, ‘I don’t mind whether I sleep or not, I must be awake at 5:00 a.m. because sunrise is just so special. So, if you will keep me awake till 2:30 in the morning, I will say fine, two and a half hours more. I won’t sleep at all.’” And funnily, if you wake through the entire night, next day you find that you are anyway sleepy at 8 p.m. So, you will have to just crash on your bed.
See, these two things are concurrent: real knowledge and real action. That is a law. If you find someone saying “I know but I cannot act” then you must immediately know that the fellow does not know. Had he really known, he would have become helpless.
Real knowledge, you could call it realization, renders you totally helpless. Your free will is gone. The choosing agency, the ego is no more. It has surrendered. It has surrendered to the immensity, the beauty, the reality of what you have just known. Now you are left optionless. You don’t have a choice not to act. You will have to act. And if you repeatedly find yourself not acting, then go close to the thing you claim to know of. There is still some distance; you need to breach that. Am I making sense or am I just being too poetic or something?
Q: Yes, certainly, it is very beautifully explained. Sir, as you said, if we are not acting on what we know, that means we are still at some distance from that thing. So, how to go close to that thing and know it fully?
AP: You know, there must be some object you are referring to. Ask yourself, “Do I really know that object?” That object could be sunrise. That object could be the fact that you want to jog. That object could be a purpose in life. That object could be a person. If you say that particular object exists and still you cannot act decisively with respect to that object, then tell yourself that you do not know that object.
Once you know something there are no two options left; you either act or you don’t act. Either you say, “I will get up at 5 a.m., come what may,” or you say, “It is not worth it, I am not getting up.” You don’t remain lumbering on that petty middle path where you say, “I want to get up but I am still not getting up,” and finally somehow you drag yourself out of the bed at 7:30 a.m. No, none of that.
So, my advice is, if you set targets for yourself and you find that you are repeatedly distracted in pursuit of those targets, honestly ask yourself are those targets even worth it. Maybe you are just going for those targets due to social pressure or in your ignorance or in some kind of fear, and that is why all the inner power is not coming into play. Your self is not assisting you with its boundless energy, because the self does not act as per the dictates of the world. The only thing that can make it move is true love, or you could say true realization or crystal clear knowing, and then it moves and its power is awesome. You forget all these things about sleeping, eating, bathing, looking good, being in others’ good books, maintaining your personality, etc. All these things just disappear. Only one thing remains: the thing that is important. And you commit yourself totally to it and you are not bothered about other things then.
So, know fully. Know fully and keep knowing till your knowledge becomes loving action.
And my advice to you as a young student is, don’t get into things that you have not really understood. There can never be perfect understanding, one can never be hundred percent clear on anything, but to the maximum extent possible seek clarity, and that will solve a lot of problems. Clarity will become your driver. You won’t need to be motivated; you don’t need to push yourself anymore.
See, I would be sounding strange, I know, but I am doing my best to be comprehensible. Beyond this is action and practice. Beyond this words and counseling cannot help. Beyond this, you have to really act and do it on your own.