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What is simple living and high thinking? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Question: Sir, we often hear this famous proverb “Simple living and high thinking.” What is this simple living, and what is this high thinking? If I want to be an IAS, is this a high thinking? I want to know what is simple living and high thinking.

Acharya Prashant: Because you are talking of high thinking, there must be its counterpart as well, low thinking. Let’s try to just see then what could be high thinking, and what could be low thinking.

High thinking is that which terminates itself.

The mind is like this room. The mind, the walls of the mind are the walls of experience, the walls of past, it’s a very limited space, it’s not an open sky. The mind knows only this much. The entire existence is there, open, but the mind knows only this much. And within this wall is the entire movement of mind. This movement of mind is called thought, thinking.

One cannot think beyond his experience, right? Can you think of the fourth dimension in space? Can you think of a language that you have not learned? Even imagination is based on experience. You cannot even imagine beyond your experience. It will be in some way related to your experience. So, the mind is a limited enclosure. The walls are the walls of conditioning and experience and bias and past. And it keeps moving within these walls. This movement we said is the movement of thought.

What is thought? What is the definition of thought? The movement of mind is called thought. Now there is an entire open world outside this room. Is that not? There is open space, open sky. The minds fundamental nature is freedom, it does not like being enclosed here. It does not like being enclosed here. At the same time, it cannot just go out on its own, right? Because it has by itself created these walls. So, in its restlessness it just keeps moving. The entire movement of the mind is an attempt to get out of this room. Because this room is a bondage. It’s a boundation.

One can move within this room in two ways. One is move so that you reach the door. That’s a conscious movement, and aware movement, right? You can start from there and move towards the door. With your eyes open, in intelligence. And this movement of mind, what is the movement of mind called? Thought. And this movement of mind, this thought, will liberate you. It will liberate you. Thought will bring you to the exit and then you can fly. Because the movement of the mind within this room is called thought, the moment you are out of this door, thought will? Thought will disappear. Stop. This is high thinking. That thought which terminates itself.

You start thinking, but your thinking is such that you don’t need to think for long. Soon you reach the exit point and then all thinking stops, because you have reached the solution. So, now there is no need to think. Now, you can rest. Now you can simply relax. There is no need to think anymore. This is called high thinking. High thinking does not mean that you are following high ideals. No, that is not high thinking. High thinking is the thought that simply dissolves very soon. Thought that reaches its limit and disappears. Are you getting it?

What is then low thinking? Low thinking is a drunkard inside this room. With very weak legs, and a and weaker mind. Now what is a drunkard doing? He is moving from here to there, continuously roaming, falling down, stumbling, hitting the chairs, sleeping, but he is never able to reach the door. He has weak legs, he cannot move. And even when he moves, he is moving from here to there in random directions.

So, what is he doing, he is continuously moving all the time, and what is this movement inside the mind called? Thought. So, he is continuously thinking all the time without ever coming to a stop. He does not have the courage to think hard, think freely. And he does not have the intelligence to move towards the door. Legs are weak, eyes are weak, and about him everything is weak because he is drunk. This is low thinking.

Low thinking is the kind of thinking that continuously goes on and on in the mind without ever coming to an end.

Have you seen such people who are continuously thinking? And thinking repetitively about the same things. In the morning they are thinking of the same thing, in the afternoon again, in the evening again. It’s the same circular pattern. Repeating itself. Repeating itself, but it is keeping them busy.

In the morning they talk of the same problem, in afternoon again the same problem, in evening again the same problem. And they think they are doing something very important by just talking and thinking. Have you seen such people? This is low thinking. Low thinking is that which perpetuates itself. High thinking is that which terminates itself.

Will you remember this?

Low thinking is the kind of thinking that continuously goes on and on, like a chronic disease, never to end. High thinking starts as thinking and ends as understanding. It starts as thinking and ends as understanding. Low thinking starts as thinking and just keeps thinking. Like a closed-loop program. First line says go to next line, next line says go to first line. So it’s the closed-loop, continuous, infinite loop. Have you seen that happen with yourself? Infinite recursion. Yes? This is low thinking.

On the other hand, if you have to think, think hard and think freely. And soon you will find there is no need to think. There’s no need to think. You have reached a stage where there is thoughtlessness. Thought becomes unnecessary. Yes?

What is simple living? What is complex living? That’s easier to understand. What is complexity? Complexity is when you do not see the simple and the obvious. Complexity does not lie in the object or the world. There is nothing complex anywhere. Complexity means, my eyes are such that they cannot look at the simple and they are calling it complex. Because there is nothing complex.

To a mind that does not have knots within it, everything is simple. If you find something complex it is because the mind is layered, conditioned, confused. Complex living means living from a conditioned mind. Will you remember this? Complex living means living from a conditioned mind, and hence not able to enjoy the simple beauty of life. That is complex living.

So, what will be simple living? Living from a free mind, an unconditioned mind. So that you are able to live in the simple beauty of life, and enjoy it, obviously. Getting it? Simple living is, when I look at somebody, I do not look at the makeup, I do not look at the brand of the clothes, I do not look at the expression the fellow is wearing, and I look at that essence of the person. Direct and simple.

I do not ask, “How much money you have?” I do not have to which religion and caste do you belong. I do not ask what your percentage is. I look at the person and what I see is the individual. This is simple living. And what would and complex eye look at? What is a complex way of looking at somebody? You meet somebody and you ask, “Alright, so, which locality do you live in? Masters, or PhD? How much money do you have? How long is your car? That’s a complex way of looking at somebody. You cannot look at the man directly. The man is a man, why do you need to ask for his caste and his money, and his car? This is complexity.

Simplicity is existential, complexity is man-made. So, when you look at something, and if you are too concerned with the man-made aspects of it, then your eyes have complexity. Then your eyes have complexity. So, when I look at a person, what is man-made about him? What all is man-made about a person? If I give importance to that then I have a complex way of looking, right?

On the other hand if I look at a person, and I am concerned more with that which is existential, then it is a simple way of looking.


So, simple living is living from a free mind – a mind that is not cluttered with man-made rubbish, a mind that is not layered with lots of conditioning. That is simple living. Simple living does not mean that “Oh, this man wears only kurta, so he must be simple. Oh, this man does not eat this kind of food, so he must be simple.” All that is rubbish. Simple living means the mind is free. That is all that simplicity means.

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