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Tools and techniques for awareness || Acharya Prashant, at IIT Delhi (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
4 min
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Questioner (Q): Can you please introduce us to some tools or practices which can help us in maintaining and focusing our awareness on the path of that endless work you hinted about the inner work?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Actually, all my life, I have never really used any specific definite tool but since you have asked for it... the one that I can recommend especially to a young person is the question —what is going on and to whom?

Things always happen to you when you are awake, alive and conscious, right? There is always something happening. You are constantly in the middle of experiences, are you not?

Always keep asking what really is happening? And who is experiencing it? —that's all. And this has to be a 24 hours practice. There is not something that you can practice only when you are down or defeated. In fact, far greater importance is to our ease of asking these questions when you are happy and high. What’s happening? What's happening? What's happening out there? What's happening in here?

I am in the middle of a market; what really is a market? Can I define a market? What is a market? And bring the whole definition down to first principles. So fine; ‘A market is a place where a seller meets a buyer’. Who is the seller and why does he want to sell?

What is he selling ? Who is the buyer? Why and what does he buy? What is this interaction like? Don’t believe the pre-existing definitions you carry in your head. Always reduce everything to first principles. What really is going on?

So you know, right? When there are two kinds of people; ones who just work on formulae — so you can mug up the formulae and try to plug in values and try to solve problems; that usually does not get you through the JEE.

And then there is the other kind of mind that operates from the first principles; cultivate that mind. Always go to the first principles. So there is that woman I am feeling attracted to; what is this thing called attraction? What really is happening?

Could I have experienced this attraction when I was asleep? So what happens when I wake up? Alright. I saw her. I saw her and then there is something called attractiveness. Can I define attractiveness? Indulge in all these things. I mean it might spoil the romantic fervor of the evening but would help you a lot.

I am afraid; what is this thing called fear? What is my fear saying to me? Fear is threatening me. What is the threat all about? And if you can understand what fear is saying to you, you will have to answer and you will be in a position to answer. Who is the one being threatened?

Have very, very curious eyes, very investigative eyes. Don’t just trust what you already know. What you already know might be of value and might be of no value at all. It might actually be a big impediment in the way of understanding.

See, apply the basics. What's the harm in asking a question? If your preexisting answer is alright, then the question and the associated scrutiny will only reinforce your confidence in your preexisting answer. No harm done, right?

But suppose for a moment, that your preexisting answers are hollow or even junk, then that scrutiny can help you so much right? And that attitude of inquiry must not be reserved only to an academic subject. When one becomes an enquirer in life, then life itself shines, beautifully. All that which is not worth keeping, simply drops. And great things start coming to you.

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