How do I know whether I really understand it?

Question: Sir, how do I know whether I am really understanding something or not?

Shri Prashant: Understanding is not some knowledge that you can hold and store here (pointing towards the brain).

 It has to become your life. If it is not becoming your life, it is useless.

You may know a lot about fearlessness.

“You know, I have read twenty volumes on fearlessness. And the moment I see a small lizard, all hell breaks loose!”

What is the point of reading all these books?

You have not really-really understood.

Real understanding does not come from outside.

And what is Real understanding?

Real understanding is a state of your mind in which it is attentive.

It knows.

That intelligent self; it knows.

That is real understanding.

Right? When anger is arising, then at that moment can you see the anger? At that moment can you tell yourself, ‘the mind is angry but I am not angry’?

When anger is arising, then at that moment can you see the anger? At that moment can you tell yourself, ‘The mind is angry, but I am not angry.’?

It is possible.

It is possible.

It is not that it’s impossible.

It is possible. 

The mind is very, very angry.

The mind is ticking like a time bomb, but you are not at all angry.

Now the mind is angry, so it’s showing up on the face, but then there is a point within you that is not angry.

Just a small point and that is the Real you.

That small point is Real you.

Everything else is mind.


And this is not as if it cannot be practiced. See, it’s happening right now. Some of you might be feeling a bit lazy, some of you might be feeling a bit sleepy, some of you may be want to go to the loo, somebody wants to go and eat something. So, the stomach is saying, give me food. The bladder is saying, please empty me. The eyes are saying, we want to sleep. But YOU are saying, I want to sit.

And that’s a case with me also right now. There is a little ache in my back. The back is saying, please sit on the chair. But I am saying, No! Mr. Back, you keep saying what you want to say, I am standing.

Do you understand what I am saying?

L: Yes Sir.

SP: Mr. Back, you keep saying what you want to say, I am standing. Dear pair of eyes, you might be feeling sleepy, I will not sleep. Dear legs, you might be tired, I am not tired. This is attention. This attention means I am master of myself. I am not a slave to my legs. I am not a slave to my eyes. I am not a slave to my stomach. I am not a slave to my feelings. Feelings might be saying that slap him, slap him! But you are saying, feelings want to slap him, I don’t want to slap him. It’s alright. Let the feelings slap him. Can the feelings slap him, if you do not slap?

L: No Sir.

L 1: Sir, is it possible that if he slaps, the other person can understand that ‘feelings’ have slapped him, not the person?

SP: Yes. It is possible. In fact, if the other person is highly attentive, what you are saying is exactly the thing that will happen. He will understand that it is not YOU who is doing this. He will understand that it is the mind that has gone mad, is doing this. That exactly is the thing that will happen.

Don’t we all do this? A fellow who is highly drunk. He comes over here and he abuses us. Don’t we tell him, it’s not you but alcohol talking! Don’t we do that?

L: Yes Sir.

SP: We know that it’s not him that who is talking. It is the mind that is intoxicated. It is that mind talking, and once the mind is alright, he will start pleading; if you want to punish, please punish the bottle.


SP: Alright, and this is a misplaced joke but it’s pointing in the right direction. And you understand what it is pointing at.

Learn to distance yourself from all potpourri of feelings, emotions, thoughts, bodily urges etc. Learn to distance yourself a little. And that would be great, great fun. You will actually feel very powerful. You will not be there in the mercy of the world. You will be your own master.

The world is trying to infuriate me but I am cool. The world is trying to bow me down but I am standing. Firm. The world is trying to attract me but I can see what is happening. I understand what is happening.

There is great power in this.


L: Yes Sir.

~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. 

Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Prashant Tripathi: How do I know whether I really understand it?


Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: What is understanding?

Article 2: Why should I understand the mind?

Article 3: Dissolution of mental activity is Understanding

2 thoughts on “How do I know whether I really understand it?

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