Question: Sir, whenever life appears to be miserable, I have this habit of observing the mind.
Acharya Prashant: Actually, observation and relaxation are one.
L1: Sir, relaxation?
AP: When you are relaxed, then there is no need to observe. Observation is not a need. It cannot happen because you are telling yourself to observe. It cannot happen out of some purpose. When you are internally relaxed, then a subtle observation is automatically happening.
L1: How to relax?
AP: See, essentially there is no technique for this, but if you are asking then I will say: maintain a certain confidence; sureness. I call it Faith, and it is a certain solidness of the Heart. It’s a way of standing up to life. Maintain that.
Never let any loss become too important for you; never let any gain become too meaningful for you.
Maintain your dignity and poise.
Even when everything is taken away, do not start crumbling.
Even when a lot is coming to you, do not become exuberant.
Maintain your own inner core.
And then you will not be afraid to observe. Observation is not something that one does, it is anyway happening. It is not a duty, not an obligation; it is not a planned action. It is anyway always happening. But it will not happen if you are afraid to observe. And you are afraid only when you think yourself to be small, incomplete. I am not saying that you must ‘think’ yourself to be complete. What I am saying is that whatever be the thought, you remain in a ‘firmness’, irrespective of the thought. It doesn’t matter what the thought is, you maintain a certain firmness without bothering for what the thought is. And it’s not a violent firmness. It’s a gentle firmness; almost an invisible firmness. It’s like, ‘I am so powerful that I don’t even need to display my power.’
So powerful that I don’t even need to display my power.
In life, good things, bad things, pleasant things, unpleasant things will keep happening. There is no guarantee that you will not receive some bad news, and good news too keeps coming. You maintain your worth irrespective of good news and bad news. And then you will find that fear is not blocking your observation.
L1: When I start to think, I know something will be wrong and…
AP: Observation is not thinking! Do not think that you will start observation. Whenever you will start, observation will just be a thought, and observation is not thought. So you don’t worry about observation; you worry only about keeping yourself clean. If you are clean then observation automatically happens. You forget observation.
L1: First level is the everyday interaction that is already going on. But when you are sitting alone…
AP: This is the only level. Even if with you are other people, then also observation happens only in aloneness. It doesn’t matter if you are with someone or with yourself. It’s all the same.
Actually, even when you say that you are with yourself, thoughts will still be there, and thoughts belong to the world.
Even when you are with yourself, the body will still be there, and body belongs to the world. So it doesn’t matter if you are surrounded by ten other people or not because at any point in time, you are surrounded by your thoughts and your body. They are surrounding you anyway.
L1: Same thing!
AP: The same thing. It’s all there. You could be feeling bad, having bad thoughts in the presence of a person, and you could be feeling miserable when you are all by yourself—so that is no distinction. What really matters is that whether you are sitting in a corner quietly or whether you are in a market, you still have that untouched solidness, here, in the Heart.
Don’t turn observation into an activity. Don’t say that, “I am observing! I am observing!”
You just occupy yourself with the daily tasks with all that which is happening here and there.
Observation happens on its own.
L1: It is to focus and pay attention to little things.
AP: No! No! Just be sensitive to yourself. Just love yourself so that when fear arises, you know that it is fear, and when you know that fear is there then fear does not become powerful.
L1: But I always know, don’t know that if I am feeling something else.
AP: Don’t do that. Even that confusion happens because we are not prepared to acknowledge fear as fear. Don’t get adjusted to fear. Don’t start calling it by a beautiful name.
L1: Thank you!
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Advait in Everyday Life
Advait has since long been revered as the crown jewel of all spiritual philosophies. However, there are very few books, if any at all, that practically demonstrate the presence, applications, methods and benefits of living as per the golden teaching of Advait-Vedanta.
This book is a much needed and rare attempt to bring spirituality and philosophical teachings to everyday life. The author’s genius lies in being delightfully able to bridge the abstract world of theorizations and principles with day-to-day circumstances, happenings, emotions and relationships.