Acharya Prashant: Repeatedly, in the last two days we have said, that behind all the words, concepts, and diversity, it is alright to see just two: the mind, and the Center (the Aatman). There is the mind, all that which appears; then there is the Self, that which is. Now, Emptiness and Silence?
Listener 1: To me, when I think of Emptiness, the concept, the objects remain. Empty ‘of’ something. But when I talk of Silence, it’s not the absence of noise, it’s the substratum behind all the noise, all the objects. So to me, Silence is. Emptiness may or may not be there.
AP: So, looking as the mind, when you will look at Silence and Emptiness… and Janko said that these two are essential. Are there many essentials? You didn’t say that these are ‘essentials’, you said that these are one. So if there is one essential, and these two are essential, so these two are one.
So when we are talking of Silence and Emptiness, let’s just call them ES – which stands for Essential as well as Emptiness and Silence. Nice. So when we are talking of ES, it pays to see who is talking. If the mind is talking, surely the mind knows nothing more than sounds and objects, sights, touch, and the rest of it. So Emptiness and Silence both will necessarily appear as Andre said, like something negative, like an absence. Because what mind calls as presence, is just itself. According to the mind, only it is present, nothing else.
What do you call as present? That which the mind can see, perceive, make sense of, think of, hold, touch, smell, right? That is what you call as present, otherwise, you don’t call it present. So when you will use the words Emptiness and Silence, acting as the mind, then Emptiness and Silence are negative things. When you are calling them negative, then we should not forget that for the mind, the only positive is itself. Nothing else is positive.
But when you are looking at this ES standing as the Aatman, then Emptiness and Silence is all that there is. It depends on who is answering. It depends on your mood.
L2: Has Emptiness got anything to do with what we call ‘nothingness’ or ‘thoughtlessness’?
AP: See, first of all, you should not differentiate between these two. When there are only two, then the only difference that can ever be talked of, is the difference between the mind and the Self. There are only these two. Except these two, there are no differences at all. Except these two, nothing is different from each other.
So, to the worldly man, when you say, “Lentils and curry,” he finds a difference. When you say, “Old and young,” the worldly ear immediately hears a difference. When you say, “Yellow and red,” the trained ear, trained by the world, the trained ear immediately hears a difference. So when you say, “Emptiness and Silence,” the trained ear immediately hears a difference.
You should stop seeing differences, because if you see differences where they do not exist, then you will fail to see differences where they actually exist.
And only one difference exists, that between the True and the false. Everything else is the same.
So stop differentiating. Stop seeing diversity where it really does not exist.
This cessation of unnecessary diversity, false diversity, is also called Samabhaava (equanimity).
Things are coming and going, but because I see that what is coming and going is essentially the same, hence there is actually no coming and going.
Treat all matters, as far as you can go, to the best of your ability, treat all matters as one. That is the real meaning of indifference. Indifference does not mean not being bothered about something; indifference means seeing that they are not different.
We use the word ‘indifference’ very casually. It is a beautiful word. It must be understood. Yellow and red, they are actually one. So, I must be indifferent to the apparent distinction between them. Because there is really no difference, so I am indifferent. This is the real meaning of indifference. And when you are indifferent to the false, then you are really particular about the Truth. Then the Truth does make a difference to you. Indifference to falseness is when the Truth starts making a difference to you. Now, Truth is substantial, now Truth matters.
But when you are occupied in the small differences, “Oh! Is it hot or is it cold?” “Oh! Am I being respected or ignored?” When you are occupied with all the small differences, then the only one, real and huge difference will not matter to you. Then you will become insensitive to the real difference. And that is like being penny wise, and pound foolish. You are so particular about small things, and about the huge, you are totally unaware.
In some way, that is a pointer towards living life. Totally ignore all that which does not matter. Which is just sensory. There, if differences come, the bread may be hot or cold, it should not be a huge thing. Are you getting it? Lunch may come at two, or five, it should not be a big matter. You might be earning X or 2X, it should not be a serious concern.
But you must know what really to take seriously. When you are not serious about these trivial things, it is then that you have known, what to take seriously. So ignore all the rubbish, and be very, very particular, extremely stringent, totally non-compromising about the One. About the One, suffer no compromises, no adjustments at all. Do not yield an inch.
In all other matters, be prepared to happily accept losses. In all other matters, when challenged, joyfully retreat. “I don’t want to fight this war. Because I know that only one war is worth fighting. Other things, I am not really concerned with.” Getting it? Ignore the trivia.
Your eyes see only differences. Do they not? If things are not different, would your eyes see them? The ears hear only differences. The sense of touch operates only on differences. Learn to ignore the differences. Do not live an inverted life, where you are extremely particular about choosing between ocean blue and sky blue; “No! No! No! My particular shade of navy blue! That is what I want!” And at the same time, you are totally out of touch with that which really makes a difference. Do not live that kind of a stupid life.
It is a little paradoxical, right? On one hand, we are saying, “Keep yielding, keep ignoring, maintain indifference.” And on the other hand, we are saying, “Do not yield an inch! Keep fighting! No compromises!” That is the distinction that intelligence makes. That is the sole function and mark of intelligence. It will happen very easily, you do not need to think. It will happen on its own.
~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
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