It is not experience that helps, but your openness to total experience

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Acharya Prashant: Experience is something that ‘you’ call as experience, right? Okay, we’ll go into it as it is happening here, please stay with me.

I am speaking to the group. So, you’ll say you have had an experience. This, right here, is an experience, is it not? What is happening since the last one hour, is it an experience or not? It is an experience? You have had an experience?

Listener 1: Yes.

AP: Yes. You too have had an experience? (asking another listener)

L2: Yes.

AP: Yes. You all have had an experience. If all of you write down your experience, would you all write down the same thing? So, is ‘experience’ something objective? So, that means that there is nothing called ‘experience’; it is only ‘you’. Please understand: If experience is what ‘you’ are, then how can experience give something additional to you?

Please understand: If experience is what ‘you’ are, then how can experience give something additional to you?

I would have spoken to not less than twenty-thousand, or what, maybe fifty-thousand people by now. What do you think, I create a great deal of difference in their lives? To some of them, it is a momentous experience; to some of them, it is not even an experience, they say, “We don’t even remember that it happened.”

Please understand.

The ‘experiencer’ – the one that you are, you decide the experience. If you are an ignorant fellow, you will totally ignore this talk and hence it is not at all an experience for you. You will only gather that which you are. That is why people living even in similar conditions claim to have had totally different kinds of experiences.

You see, you are sitting here, if you are totally body conscious, you are experiencing cold; somebody is experiencing fear; somebody is experiencing happiness; somebody is experiencing attraction; somebody is experiencing sleepiness.

Don’t you see this? – Your experience depends on what you already are. So how can experience take you forward? You have had this experience, now how will this experience help you?

L3: It is about our opening, presence to that experience.

AP: Ah, so that opening helps, not experience. And are these two one? Are experience and that openness, one? Tell me. You will have an experience even if you are totally un-attentive. You will have an experience even if you are totally closed. It is just that the experience will change in its nature and quality. Being attentive is not an experience. That is a totally different thing. You might have had lots of experiences, but if you are not open, will you get anything from this talk?

Somebody is very full of experience but is sitting here in a very closed way, will he get anything? And somebody is a novice, a youngster, eighteen years old, zero experience, and he is sitting here with his heart open. What helps you, experience or the openness of your mind?

I am asking you, what helps you?  You might have seventy-years-of-experience, but you are sitting here closed, and there is one who is seventeen-years-old and he is sitting here open, what helps you, experience or openness?

L3: Openness.

AP: And openness does not come with experience. Even a seventeen-year-old can have it. If a seventeen-year-old can have it, and he has zero experience, then surely it has not come from experience. So openness is the real thing, and openness does not come from experience. But if I depend too much on experience, then I am not open; then I am open only to my previous experience. Then I am living in a closed circle.

L4: Experience is always like confirming myself, or denying myself, but ‘myself’ – the ego is the center.

AP: Yes. It is like this. I am speaking to Anshu, the word is the same, hitting everybody’s eardrums, right? But do you experience what Anshu experiences? Tell me. I am saying something to Anshu, the same word reaches your ears as well; in fact, Joydeep is closer to me physically than Anshu. Physically as in, right now; don’t take it otherwise! Even Anu is right behind Joydeep; I mean here, not otherwise!

But the word that is sent to Anshu, the word that reaches Joydeep and Anu before it reaches Anshu, does it give Joydeep and Anu the same experience that it gives Anshu?

L4: No.

AP: So does the experience depend on the word? No. Anshu is totally moved by what I am saying. Why? Because it is directed to Anshu. And Joydeep is totally indifferent, “Whatever, he is talking to Anshu. Five more minutes I can have to myself.” The word is the same, the experience is totally different. Your experience depends on your own self-concept. Joydeep’s experience depends on Joydeep.

L3: Can it be put this way, that there is always already something or the other happening around us and a possibility for experience is always there, it depends on the state of our mind, what kind of experience we have.

AP: Yes, of course. And if you have any particular state, then you will only have particular experiences. If you have any particular state of mind then you will only have experiences particular to that state. How can you have total experience then?

L3: To have no particular state.

AP: To have total experience of everything; won’t it be orgasmic, to have total experience? Not experience of just the word that is sent to you, but a total experience of every damn thing that is happening. The complete happening. For that, you will have to be a nobody, in no particular mental state.

One particular mental state: You catch one thing and get one experience.

Another state: You catch another thing and get another experience.

No state: You are open to everything.

Can you imagine it? It’s a cyclone, so much is happening!

L5: You fire the arrow at him but it hits me.

AP: Yes! And you think the arrows are only being fired by me?  The tree behind you is also firing arrows. So it is not as if he is only being hit by the arrows I fire, he is being hit by the tree as well, and the earth, the sky, and Joydeep’s cap! Everything is an experience, parallelly. Not a thought. Kindly do not start thinking, “How could I be thinking about so many things at the same time? I’ll go mad.” No. In that open state, the total experience comes to you not as a thought, but as a…


~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Prashant Tripathi: It is not experience that helps, but your openness to total experience

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: Does experience give intelligence?

Article 2: The experiencer is a product of experience & hence cannot freely judge experience

Article 3: The false promise of fulfillment through experience

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