Question: How can I know the truth?
Acharya Prashant: It is not very important. Far more important it is to see that you take a lot of things as the truth. You already take too many things as the truth. To begin with, don’t you take yourself as the truth? Is there anybody who says, “I am not”? Everybody says, “I am.” So when you say you are, obviously you mean that you truly exist. So you are the truth.
Begin from there. There is so much that I take as the truth. Now, is that really truth? A few hints from the scriptures may be helpful. The scriptures say, “If it is prone to disappearance and appearance, it cannot be the Truth. If it breaks your trust, it cannot be the truth. If it has an opposite somewhere, it cannot be the truth. If you can think about it and talk about it, it cannot be the truth.”
So, take all that which you already consider to be the truth, and test it. Will it not go away in time? Did it not one day appear in time? And if it will go way then you know, all going away is a threat, all disappearance is suffering, whatever you know to be prone to the disappearance, you try to protect and secure it. Don’t you? And that is why it cannot be the truth. The Truth is the greatest delight – Joy. It cannot be suffering. But that which is ephemeral, if you take that as the truth, then you will suffer.
Now, by this, I do not mean that everything that is transient is to be rejected. All I am saying is that you must not burden it with the expectation of it being the truth. You see, you get into a relationship, and you believe the relationship to be a truthful relationship, now what do you start expecting? That this relationship is forever. Now, it is no tragedy that it does not
Now, it is no tragedy that it does not last because not lasting is the very nature of everything in this world. It is no tragedy that everything comes and goes. But it becomes tragic when you had expected it to be eternal.
Are you getting it?
You had expected that relationship to be the truth, and truth is eternal. So whenever you will take something to be the truth, you will suffer. Because if it is the truth, it must be eternal, and it will not be eternal, one day it will die, and when it will die, you will cry.
So that is why it is far more important to see that all that which you take to be the truth is probably not so true. And then you are free of it. Then you are free of the burden that you place upon these little things. And that freedom is probably the truth, who knows? Then you do not need to define it in some particular way. Just being free of the false, is probably the Truth.
Questioner: Why can’t truth come in thoughts?
AP: Have you ever thought of something that will not disappear? And have you ever thought with the intention that something must deceive you? You think so that you get clarity and security. You think for your welfare. Don’t you? But you always think in terms of objects. Can you ever think of something that has no form, no shape, and no name? Can you ever think of something, even imagine, which is beyond space and time?
So all your thoughts are of things that are contained in this temporary material world. But the objective of thinking is to give you a Joy and a security that is beyond all this temporary material world. You think in one dimension, and the purpose of thinking is to take you to a totally different dimension. That will never happen. So thought in that sense is quite useless.
What is the objective of thinking? Do you think so that you may suffer more? Whatever you may think of, you may think of all the miscellaneous matters – you think so that you may get clarity. When you think, you think in a dimension in which there is only clutter. Will thinking of clutter give you clarity? Will thinking of the limited, take you to the unlimited?
So that is why it is said that in matters of truth, thought is not useful, it is even a handicap.
Q: Thinking can give a platform.
AP: Thinking can tell you a lot about this dimension. So, we think of objects, if you think deeply, you will probably come to see the fact of objects, you will come to see that that which you were taking as truth is not really the truth.
And that is the rightful purpose of thinking—To show you the falseness of thought itself. But thought cannot carry you to the truth. Think a lot, but think about this world. Do not think about God or Truth. They cannot be contained in your thought.
Think deeply, but think about all these matters. Think about what is happening here and there, the condition of the world, the continuous strife in one’s own life—all these little things.
Q: It brings contemplation.
AP: Yes, but which is not really thought, but loosely one may say so.
Thought is good only if it settles down into meditation.
So as you are thinking, thinking and thinking, you come to a point where thought stops. Only that thought is good. There is another kind of thought, which is self-perpetuating. Have you not witnessed that thought? You look at the tree, and you see that the color of the leaf is green, and that green color reminds you of the flag of your country, which is also green, which reminds you of your home, which reminds you of your pet, which reminds you of your veterinary doctor, which reminds you of your girlfriend who looked like the veterinary doctor, this is random thought that proceeds in diverse directions.
This thought will give you no relief.
There is another thought which is convergent thought. You are thinking but you are committed to not to think too much. You are thinking, but even as you are thinking, you are not becoming the thinker. You remain settled in peace. And then the thought proceeds for a while and then comes to its rightful conclusion, which is disappearance.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
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