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Yoga is freedom from that which you think yourself to be
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
43 min
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न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते।

तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्ध: कालेनात्मनि विन्दति।।

श्रीमद भगवद गीता

na hi jñānena sadṛiśhaṁ pavitramiha vidyate

tatsvayaṁ yogasansiddhaḥ kālenātmani vindati

Certainly, there is no purifier in this world like Knowledge. A man who has become perfect in yoga, finds it within himself in course of time.

~ Shreemad Bhagwad Gita (Chapter 4, Verse 38)

Acharya Prashant: Krishna brings us to Yoga along with certain words: ‘knowledge’, ‘time’, the ‘self’. Let us discover what Yoga is, and what is the relationship of Yoga to knowledge, to time, and to the self.

न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते।

“Certainly, there is no purifier in this world like knowledge.”

It is always easy to misinterpret, misunderstand a Krishna, a Buddha. They speak from their highness; we listen from where we are. And they too are confined by language. Though they are artists of language, though their language plays around, though their language breaches the usual boundaries of meaning, still, language is language, something manmade. And whatever is manmade will always struggle in fully carrying the import of that which is beyond man, which is not man’s creation.

So, Krishna says, “Nothing purifies like knowledge.” In the world of Krishna, ‘knowledge’ has a very special meaning. The word ‘gyana’ there does not refer to the usual, sensual, memory-based knowledge that we are accustomed to. When Krishna says ‘knowledge’, he means that which helps you see the limitation of what you generally call as knowledge. Krishna says, “Knowledge is a great purifier.” But for most of us, knowledge is the prime agent of corruption; for most of us, knowledge is the greatest bondage. Knowledge is what keeps us heavy.

Elsewhere in classical literature, the Shiva Sutra very crisply put it in two words: “Gyanam bandhah”—knowledge is bondage.

You must read the statement of Krishna and the declaration of Shiva Sutra together.

That which we call as ‘knowledge’ is nothing but sensual input. It is not something that arises from within; it is something that is obtained from outside. It is totally a matter of consciousness. It has no Truth, permanence, stability, or originality about it. The moment one’s state of consciousness changes, all the knowledge disappears.

The moment you go to sleep, where is all your knowledge? Does one even remember his name? All knowledge is centered around the ego self. Whatever you know, you know. In fact, liberation, realization, or enlightenment is nothing but a transcendence of knowledge, which is in turn a transcendence of consciousness itself. Because what else is consciousness? The movement of that which we call as knowledge.

But Krishna says that there is no purifier bigger than knowledge—what does He mean then? He means that it is possible to know without the help of senses, and that is real knowledge. He is saying that it is possible to know without knowing how you know it, and that is real knowledge. He says, it is possible to know without having experienced or registered in memory.

Knowledge then is not a thing of the outside, but the nature of the inside. Knowing is one’s nature. Knowledge is not.

‘To know’ is different from the tendency to gather knowledge. ‘Knowing’ is spontaneous, real time, causeless. Knowledge always depends on a reason; you might have read a book, you might have heard from someone, you might have experienced something, the eyes saw something, the hands touched something, the intellect inferred something—no, not that.

Most of us live in that which the world has given us. And that is all our identities, our knowledge about us, the world, the purpose of living, the right way of living etc.

And then, there is the yogi who does not live by the ways of the world. His guidance, his knowledge emanates from within. In that sense, it is an originality. Seen a little more clearly, it is a deep rebellion. Seen more aesthetically, it’s an assertion of man’s dignity against the tyranny of the world. That is Yoga.

Why should I live by what you give me? If I am, I am. And that ‘I am-ness’ is independent of anything. Why then must I need you, your guidance, your patterns, your systems, your order to live, to survive, to breathe, to connect, to relate, to love? The yogi is the one whose movement is not dictated by the crowds. * That which arises from within him has purified him—purified in the sense that it has burnt down all that which was unoriginal, all that which was not native. *

The Heart is a fire; the Self, the Truth is a fire. Its function is to cleanse. This fire does not like, does not respect anything that is fake, make-believe, secondhanded, rootless. The Truth is an obliterator. And that must be very evident to you in this city of Shiva. Shiva stands for annihilation. And that is the first and foremost function of Truth. It destroys, It exposes, It sheds light, and in that light all that which festers in darkness vanishes.

Truth is the greatest purifier.

That Truth is not something that your ears can hear, your eyes can see, or your mind can comprehend. Yet that Truth is very-very close to you, it’s the closest; yet that Truth is your very own baby because it arises from your own center. It owns you and you own it. There is a total identity. When you live in that Truth, then you are established in Yoga.

Yoga means ‘not two’. Yoga means, “I do not exist as separate from anything. Because if there is something other than me, then that otherness will necessitate a relationship of violence. Otherness means distance, otherness means limitation and boundaries, and the otherness means that the other will necessarily exercise some influence on me.” Yoga means, the one who could be influenced has been burnt down by the pratibha gyana arising from the Heart.

Dead is the one who would tow the line of the world. He is gone, finished. And here am I, my own man, my own master, my own lord. My own lord, because I have surrendered so completely to the Lord that there is no distance between me and Him. I am Him. Because I am Him, hence I am the Lord. That is the yogi.

Now, that might surprise us a little, because to us Yoga happens to be something of the intellect; it happens to be a spiritual concept; it happens to be something that is sold in shops, read of in books, practiced in secluded corners; certified, taught, obtained, disseminated. No. Krishna is saying none of that.

Yoga is a life of integrity and honesty. Yoga is a life of burning rebellion. Yoga is a life in which your movements in life are not dictated by what you know from the world. Yoga is a life in which your steps are guided by nothing and nobody other than the Heart itself. Yoga, then, is not a corner of life. Yoga is life itself, total; leaving no space for compromises; leaving no space for doubt; leaving no space for dependence.

If you live by knowledge, you are always going to be dependent because knowledge is external. And external knowledge is never, never absolute, never complete. You always keep asking for more and that is why we are always full of doubt, always uncertain—because we can never really have full knowledge. You want to know how to earn your bread, how to choose your livelihood—how do you know? Are the total facts ever available? And even if they are, how do you know on which criteria to base your choice? Because even the criteria are supplied by the world. How do you know?

Unless there is a direct recognition, a direct and causeless recognition, causeless and instantaneous, instantaneous and crazy, crazy and overpowering, overpowering and final, with no scope left for appeal or consideration of any kind; unless you are in that state, you would be always be full of doubts. You would not know whether you have made the right decision.

And we have just talked of matters of livelihood. How about matters of love? How do you know which way to go? How do you know what to do in a relationship? Which books would you read, which experts would you consult? How deeply would you Google? Which scripture, which master, which guru?

It’s your life; it’s your Heart.

The yogi is the one who does not need to think twice in matters of life and love.

And this is the most direct and practical definition of Yoga that there can be. Everything else is eyewash.

Unless one is living in an inner certainty, life becomes very traumatic; one feels like an estranged alien in a hostile land. One is always looking over his shoulder, “Where am I, who am I? What am I doing? Sir, can you tell me what to do? Where to go, to whom to relate? How to live?” And answers you get a plenty.

Every answer only increases the load of the mind because none of those answers is really yours. Even the answers that you give to yourself only increase your load because even you are not yourself. So, bad if you take answers from others, and worse if you take answers from yourself—because that ‘yourself’ itself is a function of the outside. That which we so proudly call as me, mine, the self is not genuine, authentic, or self at all. Every cell in the body is conditioned. Every wave in the mind is influenced. Where then is the question of something original coming from us?

I like to say that the slavery of others is bad, but worst still is the slavery of the self. Because when you are being held hostage by others, you can at least see that you are dominated and enslaved. But when your own tendencies, your own mind becomes your lord, then you cannot even see that you are a slave; then you feel that whatever your tendencies are commanding you to do is just an expression of your freedom.

Don’t you see that? People saying, “This is what I want to do, and this is a matter of my personal freedom.” Is it a matter of their personal freedom? Is freedom ever personal? The choice that they want to make—is it really their choice? Or is it a choice tutored by economics, by culture, by religion, by education, by media? But instead of seeing that one’s choices are not at all one’s choices, one’s thoughts are not at all one’s own thoughts, neither are one’s ideologies, one backs them, one gives all his energy to them. One says, “They are mine. And if they are mine, I will live by them.”

The yogi is the one who has stopped following the world. And more importantly the yogi is the one who has stopped following himself. He follows neither the world, nor himself. Whom does he follow? You figure out. He follows the one who follows him; he follows the one who can never leave him. Find out who is the one who would never leave you; find out who is it who always shadows you. Find out who is it who, in a matter of saying, is always stalking you.

The one who always follows you is worth following. The one who is always with you on his own accord is worth being with.

Be with the one who is anyway never going to desert you; be with the one who is so identical to you that you cannot know who he is; be with the one who is so very close to you that he cannot be known at all—because knowledge requires some distance, some separation.

The yogi is the one who knows whom to follow. And that knowledge the world never gives you.

All the knowledge that the world gives you has one common theme: ‘follow me.' The world would never say, “Well, we have given this knowledge to you, but this knowledge is limited. This knowledge is only a matter of dualistic comprehension. It has no base in reality. It does not matter how many texts one has read; it does not matter how trained one is in her classical indicators of Yoga. The only real test, the only final determinant is life itself. How do you eat, how do you breath, how do you relate, how do you sip a cup of tea, how are you sitting here, is the world too heavy on you?”

If sitting here is still your consciousness is full of the world, then Yoga is still a far cry. If sitting here you can still see the faces of your neighbours, then Yoga is very distant. The yogi is the one for whom the world has de facto disappeared. He lives in the world but does not really see the world. The eyes with which he looks are illuminated by an inner light; not by a reflected light, not by an alien light.

Yoga is not really about this and that. Yoga is about you, you being the authentic you; you being what you were at the time of your birth; you being what you were even before your birth; you being what you would be after your so called death. Yoga is not about this and that. Neither is Yoga about the yoga mat.

Krishna is very-very direct about that. Unless your Heart has burnt up your mind, unless the fire from here has purified the mind, do not call yourself a yogi. It is almost literal; you can almost visualize the Heart as the seat of the fire the flames of which leap up to the mind. All that which is false there is reduced to ashes, like the ashes you see smeared on the forehead of Shiva. And only that remains which cannot be burned down.

The yogi is the one who lives in that which cannot be destroyed.

If your life is full of or dependent on stuff that can be destroyed, that time will take away, then Yoga is still quite far off.

What is it that circulates in our mind? Stuff that is eternal? If it is eternal, it would not circulate because it would give us a total assurance. Why does something present itself to our consciousness? Only that presents itself to our consciousness which is threatened, which is in the nature of a problem. I asked the audience the other day, “How many of you are conscious of your right hand?” Even as I speak right now, how many of you are conscious of your right hand? But if your right hand is problematic, then it would be present in your consciousness. The yogi is the one whose consciousness does not consist of stuff that is bound to remain only a problem.

* Yogi* is the one who has not identified himself with things, events or people who are anyway not going to be reliable. His life is built on an unshakable foundation; hence he can sleep properly. He does not have to keep worrying, “Will my palace be intact when I wake up? Will the man or woman be still in my life when I wake up? Would the bank still be in business when I wake up? Would my business still be competitive when I wake up?” None of these can stand the test of time.

The yogi is the one who does not depend on that which time anyway is going to take away. If he knows that something is going to go away, he knows that it is not anyways his at all. Because his nature—his own nature—is not time dependent. His own nature is to be, and if you ‘are’, then you cannot conditionally ‘be’. You cannot say that “I am between this and this stretch of time.” I just am. If you just ‘are’, then why do you relate to, get wedded to, get identified with something or someone who has situationally entered your mind and who would be swept away by situations any particular day?

The yogi does not live on shaky foundations. You cannot cheat him or defeat him. You cannot plunge him into sorrow. In fact, you can do nothing to Him. That brings us to another definition of a yogi. The yogi is the one you can do nothing to. If you ever come across somebody you cannot really touch, know him to be a yogi. And if there is somebody you cannot really touch, he would give you all the freedom, all the allowance to touch him in whatever way possible, because now he knows that your touch can do nothing to him. Neither can your touch elevate him, nor can your touch enfeeble him. So, he will be totally available and open to relate. And that is called love.

The yogi is then the one who can open himself up totally in love because he knows that he cannot be hurt. Because he knows that, he does not love to gain something, and because he does not love to gain something, hence he cannot lose anything. That empowers him to be totally available; that empowers him to be totally naked. The yogi, then, is the one who can be *totally naked in love. *

If in your love you find that you are still all decked up and dressed up, if you find that the maximum you can give up is your clothes, then you are cheating your lover and you do not know love, and neither does your lover know love.

The yogi is the one who can give up every bit of himself, all the clothes that surround his being, his body, his mind, his concepts, his ideologies; he is prepared to shed them off because he takes none of them seriously. That is total nakedness: to be able to open your mind to its very core. And you can do that only when you know that you are no more vulnerable. If you know very well that that which sits in your mind is so feeble, so brittle that anybody can come and jerk it, break it, then you will defend your mind, then you will not open-up.

Have you seen how most people live? They live behind armours because they know that they are feeble, because they know that that which sits at their centre, at their core, is not unbreakable; because they are not yogis, because they do not know Krishna, because the Gita is just a few letters for them.

Yoga lies in the way you love. Yoga lies in the way you live. Yoga lies in the way you go about making your daily choices. Yoga lies in your very relationship with the world.

Do you see that?

Now it is extremely dangerous because it is so much. We want a little, right? The immense terrifies us. We go to shops asking for quantities that befit us. We say, “Sir, I have come to get a bit of water and this is as much water as my limited being can hold.” And the mischievous shopkeeper, he hands over an entire ocean to you; you run away. Too much is just too much. Who wants too much?

We are beings who would rather have just a little. Krishna is saying, Yoga is freedom from littleness. As long as you are wedded to the little, you are a viyogi. At most, you are yogabhrashta. Yoga eludes you.

You will have to have the ocean. Krishna is relentless; you cannot come to a compromise with Him. He says, “The ocean is your nature, you will have to take the ocean.” Now, how do you take the ocean? If your container is so petty, the only way to take the ocean then is to get rid of the petty. The container is the limitation. The container is the boundary. The container is the falseness. ‘You’ are the container.

Yoga then is freedom from that which you think yourself to be.

None of this is going to make sense to you if it is mere knowledge coming from an external person. I do not speak to give you more knowledge. We are already too full of knowledge. We are already sick of knowledge. I speak so that some of these words may strike the centre from where the fire of knowing might arise. I speak so that you may just get a glimpse of something beyond knowledge.

“A man, who has become perfect in Yoga, finds it within himself, in course of time.”

This tells you about the purpose of time. This tells you about the purpose of life. Time exists so that you may come to timelessness. Life exists so that one may come to real life, so that one may really be born someday. Krishna is saying, every moment is an opportunity so that you may move into something that does not tick by the clock. The clock is ticking so that the clock may stop. You are moving so that you may discover that stopping is your nature. You are struggling and striving so that you may discover that relaxation is your nature.

One does not journey for the sake of journey; one journeys for the sake of the destination. The little caveat is that the destination is there prior to the journey. If you take the knowledge from the world, the world will tell you to do the journey so that you may reach the destination. Krishna is saying, “Be firmly seated at the destination so that you may journey in fun.”

That little difference is the difference between heaven and hell. If we live by the knowledge that the world gives us, if we live by the Yoga that the world teaches us, then we are living in hell. And if we live by the blessing that Krishna gives us, and if we live by that which is really Yoga, then that is heaven.

What keeps us away from the Truth is nothing but our attempts to reach the Truth.

In every attempt to reach the Truth you reinforce the assumption that the Truth is somewhere far away. What keeps you away from Yoga is your attempt to learn Yoga. The more you try to learn Yoga, and the more there are people who try to teach you Yoga, the more you will remain separated from Yoga.

Krishna is saying, “ Yoga is freedom from all that others can give you.”

Do you see the fundamental difference? The ego-self moves into anything so that it may improve. It wants to retain its center, and is prepared to change the periphery, rather decorate the periphery. So man says, “I will learn the scriptures so that I meet may my objectives in a better way.” Man says, “I will learn Yoga so that my life becomes better.” We do not want to let anything to change our center, our foundation. In fact, whatever we do, we do in order to protect and further the center even more.

An ambitious man would say that he wants to control his mind so that he can pursue his ambitions with even more focus, and hence he would say, “ Yoga is wonderful; it would allow me to be more of what I want to be.” A violent man, a militant might say, “You know what, when I engage in acts of militancy, then there is fear and the mind starts quivering. I want to learn Yoga so that I am still even in the moments of greatest carnage, greatest violence and greatest fear.” Do you see what they are doing? Do you see what we are doing?

We are remaining firm on our center. Our attempts at anything are just attempts to decorate our sicknesses. We do not really want to heal ourselves.

Real Yoga is not about self-improvement; Real Yoga is Self-annihilation. Real Yoga is not self-decoration; it is Self-dissolution.

And there is a great difference between the two. Self-decoration is attractive; you will be told that you will become better. Self-dissolution is terrifying when you are told that you will be no more. Who wants to be no more? All of us want to be no more. That is our deepest wish. Who is alright with being herself or himself? Don’t you see you don’t want to be anymore? Don’t you see that you want all this to just stop? That is Yoga: coming to a full stop.

Yoga is not about oiling your machinery so that it becomes more productive and even more lethal. Yoga is about getting rid of the machine altogether. Now it is no more mechanical, now nobody can push the button, and demand a product.

Now, the existence of A does not automatically mean the existence of B. Now, X does not directly imply Y and preclude Z.

I am no more a machine. I am no more a slave of my design. Yoga that becomes an ordered design is no more Yoga because we are anyway living designer lives. Yoga that can be packaged and sold is no Yoga because we are anyway all packaged and sold out. Yoga is to bring all of this to a completion. Yoga is just to see the futility of being what we are and seeing that another totally different way of living is possible, totally different way. Not a minor deviation, not some kind of course correction; a totally different dimension of living is possible, and that is Yoga.

Unless you are prepared to totally get rid of your notions about life, you do not start living; you start moving in the same groove, in the same pattern.

The Real, in spite of being the most intimate, does not really become available to us. But there is time, Krishna is saying, time has been given. A lot of opportunities have been given; every moment is a fresh opportunity. Try as many times as you can. Some moment, someday, some point, just randomly, just without knowing, just causelessly, very strangely—you might just hit the jackpot.

You do not know which of the infinite buttons in front of you is the right button—so what? You have also been given infinite chances. Keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing, don’t give up, keep faith, something will just happen on its own accord. Not due to your wish, not due to your planning; you will not even know that it is going to happen. It will very suddenly happen. The only way it cannot happen is when you become a cynic, when you give up, when you lose faith. To be a yogi is to keep faith.

How many times, after all, can you miss? And where all can you miss? Yoga is chasing you; Krishna is chasing you; Truth is chasing you. It is your destiny. You will have to be extraordinarily stubborn to keep missing for long. And if you are stubborn, Krishna is even more stubborn, “Let’s see who lasts. It is a game of ‘who blinks first’.”

I assure you, Krishna won’t blink. You are going to lose the game. Yes, you are free to try. You are free to validate it for yourself. And that’s good so that when you lose, you don’t feel hurt; you will know that you have lost to a worthy champion. You tried your best and you still lost, 21 – Love. That was after you tried your hundred and ten percent. There is no disgrace in losing that way. So you try. In trying to evade Krishna you will know how all-pervasive Krishna is.

Try to evade the Truth and see how it follows you. In fact, those who evade the Truth come to the Truth far more easily. The real problem is with those who think that they are going towards Truth or Yoga, whereas they are going somewhere else. If you know that you are sick, probably you will go to the doctor who will put you on some treatment. But if you are taking sugar pills thinking them to be medicines, then yours is a little difficult situation.

Those who aren’t introduced to Yoga at all have a good chance of entering Yoga. The trouble lies with those who think that they are practicing Yoga. They are the ones who are likely to be denied for very long. And they would be quite complacent in their own minds; they would say, “Oh, we are *Yoga practitioners.*” The more you practice Yoga, the more you miss it.

Questioner: How to examine our ego?

AP: The examiner too would be the ego. Don’t examine the ego.

Dive deeply into your experience. And that is no practice, that is no method. Don’t you experience, aren’t you alive? The experience itself is a tell-all story. Remain close to your experience. Don’t be numb, don’t be insensitive. Stay a little green, a little vulnerable. If you are hurt, stay close to the hurt. Don’t just label it and walk away. Don’t just say, “Oh, I am hurt—certified, proved—and now let me move on to other tasks.” Stay with the hurt. If you feel you are attracted or repulsed, stay with the attraction or repulsion. If you feel you are tired, stay with your tiredness. If you feel something is good, stay with that thought, with that feeling. It’s not a matter of examination. Please. It’s not a matter of analysis or critical thinking. Just stay with it, and something happens. That is what I call as seeing. Without your effort—effortlessness is alright—without your intention, without any conscious movement in any direction, you just realize.

That is what Krishna is saying. There is a knowledge that comes from there, and there is a knowledge that just arises from here; you do not know from where. And you will be caught by surprise yourself. You will say, “How did I know this? When did I become so wise?” Your friends will say, “You have changed, you have started talking nonsense.” And then, you will know now that there is something sensible about you. Your parents will say, “Who is teaching you all this?” And you will say, “Well, this, you know, is just coming to me… Probably in my dreams…”


“…or I read it somewhere!”

You see, to others it has to be justified; others won’t understand. You just start learning a few things and that learning is not acquired learning. That learning is imminent learning.

Q: Sir, you said, stay with the hurt. Does it mean that don’t think that you are affected by it? I should not assume that I am not hurt?

AP: You don’t know hurt, but you assume that you know hurt when you start calling that sensation by the name of hurt. What you know is (spelling out) H U R T. About H U R T you know everything. But you know nothing about that here (pointing to head), which really gets hurt. Now, something has happened here (points to head) and you know nothing of it. But the moment you label it as H U R T, you assume that you know it.

I don’t really know about this (holding a glass of water), but the moment I call it as W A T E R, I know everything; now all the knowledge from the past suddenly kicks in. This is something objective, so here labelling might even work. What happens within is not objective. It is something that happens to the subject himself. So don’t label it, stay with it. When you stay with it, then you are forced to realize what it really is. Naming it is ending it. Naming it is capping it. To name it is to end the story. “Oh, that is hurt. Just remove it!”

It is like this: somebody is coming to you and you do not know that person. Then somebody comes and says, “You know what? He is a German, or an Israeli, or a Christian, or a Jew, or a young man, or an old man, or a rich man, or a poor man, or a radical, or a communist.” And then you say, “Oh, I know him; remove him, remove him. Let us examine something else.” The moment you give yourself the license to name something, you have given yourself the license to shelve it. Now you are complacent. Now you are unnecessarily confident that you know what is going on. You know nothing about what is going on.

Do you really know hurt? If you could know hurt, you would have known God. Do you really know love? Do you really know attachment? You don’t know them; all you know is words. And we have been given words; we have been told, “When such and such signals arise from within, then give them this name.” Based on very superficial signals, we start giving names. How many of us know love? Come on?

But when a certain gooey feeling arises from within, when something of emotions and sexuality and this and that happens, somebody comes and says, “Are all these things happening to you? You have fallen in love!” And you say, “Oh! This is called love? Fine. L O V E.” Now you need not know any further; all your knowing has stopped because you have been given the assumption that you now already know.

Stay with it. Stay with it.

Staying with anything is to reach its root. And the root of everything is the Truth. If you would stay with anything, you would reach the Truth.

Q: We come from different parts of the world, which are all labelled or named. I came to India because I wanted to heal something in me through Yoga. So, is naming of Jews, or Muslims, or Christians not a part of this world?

AP: What you are asking is happening already. Is it not happening all the time? You say, you made the decision to come to India because you wanted to complete something and all that, right? To heal something, right? Now, What if the decision-making ability itself needs to be healed?

You decided that you will come to India. To heal what? Your decision-making ability. Now, how sound is your decision to come to India?

My eyes are not quite well. I can’t see anything properly. And then, I go to the market, reading signboards. I am trying to read signboards so that I may read an eye surgeon or eye doctor written somewhere. Which shop am I likely to enter? I might as well enter a confectionery shop because I have read with my own eyes that it is the shop of a doctor of the eyes.

That inner sense of hurt that needs to be healed impedes and impacts everything. How can you make the right decision if the 'I' sense is in the need of healing?

I will put it even more bluntly. If my disease itself is that I can never make a right decision—let us say that is my disease, I don’t make a right decision—and then I decide upon a doctor, what am I doing to myself? My disease is that I can never make a right decision and then I decide upon a doctor to heal myself. What am I doing?

Q: I am just deepening my disease.

AP: I am just deepening my disease. I don’t need a doctor; I need to see what is happening to me. I don’t need to move any further; I just need to see what is happening to me right now. Remaining what I am, if I move any further, I would just be deepening my own condition. The snowball would just be fattening even more.

Sir, things are always happening with us, are they not? Be it India or your native land. Something is always happening with us. Life is always in flux. And whatever is happening, is happening with an associated response from our side. This response is who we are. Can we not stay with these responses?

AP: Does life happen only in Rishikesh? Wherever you are, things are happening. And they are happening every moment, are they not? You might be watching TV, you might be feeding your cat, you might be wearing a new dress, you might be visiting a dentist, you might be playing soccer. Something is happening. And whatever is happening is proceeding with an associated response from your side. This response tells everything about the ‘I’. In fact, without the response, the ‘I’ cannot be known. The ‘I’ can be known only through your thoughts and actions. And watching your thoughts and actions is the only way of self-knowledge. If someone suggests any other way, then it is just a story.

(The listener getting up into a standing position)

Can you see what you are doing? And this tells you about how hungry the ‘I’ sense is to reach completion. It is not a body that is rising. It is the ‘I’ sense that is rising in expectation and anticipation, as if to get some welcome news, as if somebody is about to come as a messenger of Truth and the ego sense is rising to welcome it. Can you see what is happening? You are on your knees right now, and you are almost about to get up and stand up.

Q: Yes, I can see that—

AP: And that is happening only right now. Only right now. It could have happened anytime in the last two hours.


Sir, you are rising because the ego is eager, desperate for good news. It is tired of all the sickness that goes around. You are rising to welcome. Yes?

See how things are. Watch every response that emerges from you. See what is going on. The moment you know what is going on, you are home. Because whatever is going on, is going on in your home.

Q: You said that stay and see what is happening. But staying and seeing what is happening, wouldn’t it become another objective which will be occupying our vital space?

AP: When I say, stay with the object, stay with the happening, all I mean is, don’t cap it. That does not mean that you make it another figure in the memory and let it linger.

Q: Not a subject of analysis.

AP: No, no. Not a subject of analysis. Not an object in memory.

I am sorry if it communicated that.

Staying with something does not mean prolonging it in time. Staying with something only means not concluding it; not concluding it, not bringing it to an abrupt end by unnecessarily claiming that you know it and giving the knowing a name.

We know nothing. And hence, just don’t conclude.


Q: When you are saying, stay with that thing—what if you know that it is causing you harm?

AP: It is anyway there. It might be there in the mind and it might be doing whatever it does to the mind. When I say, “You stay with it,” I do not mean that you prolong its stay. Somebody is in your house. Even if you don’t stay with him, he is already there in your house. But if you stay with him, his potential to harm your house would be reduced. An intruder has entered your house. He is there irrespective of whether or not you are with him. He is there in the house. But if you stay with him, what happens? If you have an eye over him, what happens?

His potential for mischief has reduced. He is now under your direct eyesight. You stay with him. You don’t run away. Concluding the matter is an opportunity to escape away. The moment you go away, now this intruder can do whatever mischief he wants to. So don’t go away. Stay. Keep watching what he is doing. Keep watching. And he is always doing something because life is always in motion. So, this intruder is always doing something. See what he is doing.

Q: You mean just being in an observing state, not making any conclusions about whatever is happening. Is this what you mean?

AP: Almost. You see, staying is not something complicated. Staying is not something that you need to give a lot of thought to. Staying is our fundamental nature. In fact, we do something against our nature by not staying. Staying is simple and natural. That is why I say, life is always giving experiences, and that is sufficient. If you can just stay with the experience, you know what has happened.

What do you do with experiences? You feel jealous of somebody, and the moment that sensation is labelled as jealousy, what do you do with it? You try to shoo it away. “No, I don’t want this.” Now you have denied it, defied it. Now you have falsified it. Conversely, something is happening, another sensation. And you name it as love. Now you bloat it up. Now you decorate it. Again, you have falsified it. Again, it is not the same what it really is.

Staying with it means being true to the experience. It is a basic inner honesty.

When you are suspicious of someone, you just say, “No, no, no, this is not genuine inquiry. What it is? I will learn only if I stay with it. I am not too eager, and I am also not afraid.” Do you see that you cap it only when you are afraid? When you are not afraid, then you say, whatever it is, “I am available to know.” But when you are afraid, when you don’t want to fall in your own eyes, when your self-worth is under question, then you want to cap it and conclude it.

Stay. Stay.

And that staying is not something that you can practice one hour a day. Life is continuous. It is a way of living. It is an innocent and honest way of living. That comes naturally to us. That was with us when we were kids. The question you need to ask is, where did I drop it along the way and why?

Q: In life, I find that I need many protected things in order to survive. Let us say, jealousy. I find it is very difficult to stay with jealousy, to feel it. I have to protect. So, for envy, for ambitions I hear a lot of voices in my head. It is my decision to go and follow those outer voices or not. But those voices are real. And you say, if I step in now, the voices are not there?

AP: What happens to those voices when you go to sleep? What happens to the listener of those voices when you go to sleep?

Q: Gone.

AP: So how real are they?

What happens to those voices if you do not listen to them? Are they still there?

If you have not heard something, has it been said? Go into this, please. It hasn’t been.

Then, is the voice real? Is the listening real? Or are both of them just dependent on each other, the old classical dualistic pair which has no legs of its own?

They are not real! They come from the world and the world depends on you. The world arises every morning when you wake up. Along with you, the world also wakes up. The world disappears every night when you go to sleep. Where was the world before you were born? Where would it be after you are gone?

All these voices are the voices of the world that you have internalized, and you are calling them real. How?

Not only are the voices not real; the voices themselves have constructed the ear that listens to those voices. The ear is equally fake because, please see, you do not listen to everything. You neither do see everything. When you are passing through a market, do you watch everything? You look selectively, because the objects themselves have constructed the eye. The objects have made the eye and hence the eye would look only at the particular objects. The other objects it is going to ignore.

Your eye is not fundamental at all. The eye is not original at all. The eye itself is factory made and hence it would look only at the factory.

You buy a car from a dealership and back goes the car to the dealership for repair. It goes nowhere else. If the eye is the product of a factory, the eye would keep looking at the factory. Are you getting it?

None of that is real. Both of them are dependent on each other. Unless something is independent, it cannot be called real. The Real is that which is totally independent. The voices exist because you listen to them. And you listen to them because you yourself are a product of those voices. Who are you? The product of the voices of a priest, father, mother, teacher, boss.

All those voices have come together and made ‘you’. Now, it is but obvious that whenever you would hear, you would hear only those voices. You remember the voice of that teacher who made you up; you remember the voice of your grandfather, or your neighbour, or your friend. All these voices are now flowing in your bloodstream. So, it is obvious that whenever we hear, we hear only those voices.

There are some who are products of silence. They listen to silence.

You are one of them.

Just acknowledge that.

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