On Ishavasya Upanishad: There is nothing called spiritual knowledge


 Different indeed, they say, is the result of vidya and
different indeed, they say, is the result of avidya.
Thus have we heard from the wise who had explained it to us.
He who knows both vidya and avidya together,
transcends mortality through avidya and reaches immortality through vidya.

~ Ishavasya Upanishad, Verse 10 and 11 ~

Acharya Prashant: One thing, they say, is obtained from vidya. Another, they say, from avidya. Thus, we have heard from the wise who have taught us this. ‛He who is aware that both vidya and avidya should be pursued together overcomes death through ignorance, which is avidya; overcomes death through avidya. And obtains immortality through vidya.’

The text here has used the word ‘avidya’ for ignorance, which is quite not proper. What is this whole business of vidya and avidya? What does that have to do with overcoming death and obtaining immortality

Knowledge is knowledge. Be it any kind of knowledge, it is just knowledge. But the human mind has a tendency to look at everything in a divided way. Anything, any object that exists in the mind is necessarily limited and hence, divided. Divided from the rest of existence. One fundamental distinction that exists in the mind is the distinction between the Universe and the self. That is what is also called as the ego — ‘I am’. ‘I am’ separate from the universe.

So, the mind starts with this: that I am separate from the universe. When you are starting with this proposition, obviously you will say that the knowledge of the universe is different from the knowledge of the self because all the time you are anyway feeling that you are separate from the universe. The universe is one thing and you are another thing.

You say that you came into this universe at time of birth and that you will go away from universe at the time of death. So, the universe and you are distinct. If the universe and you are distinct, then knowledge of the universe and the knowledge of you, which is the self, will also be taken as distinct and separate. This separation is represented by vidya and avidya. When you look ‘outwards’ into the universe, and when I say outwards, that outwards is within quotes; that outwards is only the sensual perception of the mind. The eyes are looking outwards. So when you look outwards into the universe, you gain knowledge and you call that knowledge as avidya. And then you look ‘inwards’, inwards again within quotes. Then you look inwards, and you come to see the Self. And this knowledge, this perception, whatever you have about the Self, you call that as vidya. And you keep treating these two as different.

Please understand.

You keep feeling, you keep maintaining that the universe is different from you. So you say, ‘Alright, well, something is happening in the universe and because the universe is separate and different from me, so, I can change something in the universe without changing anything in me’. Because vidya is one field and avidya is another. So something can be changed “out there” without changing anything “in here”.

And that is how mankind has proceeded — Wanting to change something within, it disregards what is happening outside. And wanting to change something “out there”, it totally forgets that the out there is the same as; is dependent on, is organically linked to, what is “in here”.

The Rishi’s will have none of it. They know better than this distinction. So they gave us a wonderful sutra. They say, ‘only when you know these two together, that you have known something.’ Now, this is easier to hear, in fact, it is deceptively easy to hear because the very definition of knowledge lies in division. To know that hill side and the mind together, is to stand separate from both of them. The study of hill side is the study of all universal material objects — we are calling that as avidya. The study of the mind is the study of the subject, the mind — we are calling that as vidya. And we have been thinking that these two are separate, that the subject and the object, that the world and the mind are separate. But the Rishi is saying, know them together. Know the subject and the object, the world and the mind together. See that what is happening outside is just a representation, an image of what is happening inside. Nothing could have happen outside without it’s parallel, without it’s twin event happening inside. Getting it?

So they are saying, ‘Know both of them together, for they are twins, for they are mirror images.’ And when you know the subject and the object together, then you cannot be the subject and surely you cannot be the object either. That is called witnessing. That is called standing at a distance from the duality of the subject and the object. Do we see what is meant by seeing them together? To see them together is too see them one. To see them together is to see that they are just two sides of the same coin, that they are just mirror images of each other.

Whole of human suffering lies in seeing his conditions as something different from his mind.

Don’t we say that ‘I am a good man, it’s just that the conditions right now are not favorable or that I am brilliant, benign, compassionate but my situations have forced me to act cruelly?’ Don’t we say all that? Don’t we feel that the change in our external situations can be called as progress? And is that progress not the goal of so much of civilization? All that happens out of the same mistake. The mistake is that the outer is different from the inner. That a different universe exists outside my skin. And a different universe exists inside my skull cap. That the body is the dividing line.

There are some who follow the path of material progress. They say, ‘I can change the outer, I remaining the same, I want to change the outer.’ There are some who follow the path of meditation, they say, ‘The inner is everything’ and they pay no attention to the facts of their life, for the facts are outer. They have to be seen with the senses. But they are busy with meditations believing that everything is inside. They do not know that they see inside is not an independent or Real entity at all. It is all coming from the outside. Borrowed, taken in, absorbed, tutored, programmed.

So, in a very simple statement, something very profound is communicated:  Look at them together and see that they are one. When you see that they are one, then you are somebody distinct from both of them.

Now that takes us to the next part which says, ‘You get freedom from death on knowing the world. You get freedom from death through avidya and you gain immortality through vidya.

What is all that?

Let’s understand.

How have humans thought of death? What is our conception of death?

Let’s look at the various myths and representations around death.

So ‘Yamraaj’ (represented as the God of Death in Hinduism) comes from somewhere. Yamraaj comes from somewhere riding his animal. And in various cultures, death is depicted in various forms but that form is never our own. It is some alien form. It is somebody from outside. From where? From somewhere in the universe obviously. So where does the death resides? Where does death resides? Somewhere out there. Don’t we say, ‘Death will come’ or do we ever say that death will arise from within me? Do we ever say that?

Even the phrases that we use, look at our language — ‛Waiting for death’, for us, death exists in the universe. It is an enemy that is lurking around somewhere, not within. We feel we are life and out there somewhere is death. So the universe is a hostile place because the universe is sending death to life. We are always at odds with the universe. We are living beings, we are life and the universe has elements that can kill this life. The universe can fire death at us any moment. Don’t we feel that way? So it is our duty to protect ourselves from the universe. We always, then, have a ring of defense ready.

The Rishi is saying, ‘Once you know the universe, now you have freedom from death.’ Having known the falseness of what you thought to be the universe, you also come to know the falseness of what you think belongs to the universe. Once the universe goes down, once the universe is no more substantial for you, death too can no more be substantial. A false universe can only send a false death to you. It is only when you believe in the veracity of the universe that you also believe that you can die.

With the universe gone, death too goes way.

With the universe gone, by the way, birth too goes away.

No universe, then where were you born?

The universe can go away only when you have studied the universe properly. The universe can go away when you have really-really known the universe, the nature of the universe. Knowing the nature of this universe is called Avidya.

And knowing the universe fully, obviously, involves knowing The Self fully as well. Know the universe fully, know The Self fully and the universe will drop. All the meanings, all the temptations, all the bondages, all the pleasures and pain — they all will drop. And with them, you will find that the great fear of death too has dropped.

Knowing the universe is freedom from the universe, which is in turn,  freedom from death.

To know the mind as the projector of the universe is the field of vidya. The universe does not come To enquire into you. The mind goes to enquire into the universe. So while the mind and the universe are one, if one of them, has to be called the basis of the other, mind will have to be called the basis of the universe. While there are the two ends of duality, please remember that the one you call as “yourself” identifies with only one end of duality and that one end is not the universe. That one end is The Self. Please understand.

The Self and the universe might be two ends of duality. For sure they are. But what do you consider yourself to be? The self or the universe?

Listeners: Self.

AP: So out of these two ends, with which end have you identified yourself? The Self. Right? So as far as you are concerned, The Self is the one that gives rise to the universe because the self comes first. It is the self that goes to enquire into the universe. It is the self that wants to know anything. The universe drops. The self that give rise to the universe, that too, drops along with the universe and that is the field of vidya and with this gone, nothing remains at all — this nothing remaining has been called as immortality.

Firstly, there was fear of death. Then there was no fear of death. And now there is not even no fear.

Firstly, I thought of whatever I saw as true, then I thought of it as false.

Now I am calling it not even as false.

Complete freedom from something comes only when you are free from its opposite as well.

Complete freedom from something comes from being free of the need to negate that thing.

The universe offered death and birth. Knowing the universe offered no death but no death is still one step behind immortality. Because in saying no death, you have given birth to something more. You have given birth to no death. If death was a concept that needed to be dropped, then it has not been fully dropped, it has been substituted with another concept called no death. Immortality is freedom from both death and no death.

Freedom from just death is freedom from birth and death. And it is very easy to say, ‛You know, for me, there is no birth and there is no death.’ So many religious scriptures say that you are the one who can neither be born and nor can you die.’ And the ego can co-opt this statement. It is so easy for one to say that no birth or death for me. But be careful. See what have you done. Earlier, you used to say that you are the one who would die and now you are saying, ‘you are the one who would not die. Another birth has taken place. Another cycle of duality has started.

Immortality goes one step beyond ‘freedom from death’.

It is freedom from ‘freedom from death’.

It is freedom from death and freedom from no death.

It is total freedom. It cannot even be called freedom because freedom too would become another concept. That is what happens when you go to the depths of the mind, that is when you hit that which is beyond all description and who is also not beyond all description. Who is conceivable and inconceivable together. Whatever you say about that would be wrong and yet you cannot say that you cannot say anything about that. That is what happens when you go to the utter depths of the mind.

Going to the utter depths of the mind is the field of vidya. But remember that “That” which you may call as Aatman or Brahm, is not the fruit of vidya. If you have really gone into vidya, vidya and avidya would happen together. And when these two would happen together, as the sage have always advised, then both are dissolved as well.

Vidya does not take you to Brahm — that is another popular misconception. Kindly get rid of it. Vidya has to go away for only Brahm to remain. Brahm is immortality. Are you getting it?

When you believed in the universe then you also believed in the study of the universe. So a belief in the study of universe implies a belief in the universe. When the universe will drop, the study of the universe too, will simultaneously gone. So with the universe gone, avidya too has…

L: Gone

AP: Okay. With the universe gone, the avidya too has gone. So, with the mind gone, vidya too has gone. No vidya can, hence, take you to The Truth. Because though vidya is the study of the mind, but vidya can only revealed to you the falseness of the mind. And if the mind is false, what have you been studying? If the mind ultimately is being shown up as non existent, then are you studying the non existent? So the entire field of vidya too must drop as non existent. This is especially important for those who are seekers of spiritual knowledge. There are people who seeks worldly knowledge and then there are people who seeks inner knowledge. Spiritual knowledge.

The materialist has to drop the material.

The spiritualist had to drop the spiritual.

And these two must happen together.

When these two happen together, then nothing is left to happen.

Is this clear?

These set of verses dealing with vidya and avidya and finally talking of freedom from death and immortality are part of the small Isha Upanishad and these are some of the most befuddling, intriguing verses in the whole Upanishadic literature. These have to be very carefully understood. If it is not clear, we will go more into it. Because the Rishis had a special knack to express the most intricate of the subject in the briefest of words. What looks like just two or three verse actually contains the essence of all wisdom.

Listener 1: Sir, this study of the mind, just knowing how my mind functions and what my tendencies are, is that the only thing we should do?

AP: You see, when we start studying the mind, it is a great temptation to close your eyes, and introspect. And this introspection is severe nonsense. Study of the mind cannot happen without parallelly studying of the universe. How will you know that you are conditioned unless you first see that the outer and the inner are one. Hence, it is quite likely that what I call as the inner has been borrowed from outside. But many people fall into this trap. They say, ‘Let me close my eyes and sit in meditation and that will reveal  divine knowledge to me.

The Rishi’s are warning us. There are those who make the mistakes of only looking outwards and there are those who make the bigger mistake of only looking inwards. But rare is the one who sees the outer and the inner together and then sees that they are the same, one.

You see, this distinction between outer and inner has been so pronounced in our culture, civilization, polity, society, everything. The conqueror of the world is called the King and the conqueror of the mind is called the saint. And the king and the saint are taken as polar opposites. Are they not? You can either be a householder or you can be a spiritual seeker. The market place has to be different from the temple. All of this is The dividing line between the outer and the inner.

There is nothing, that you are seeing around you, that is not a representation of something within you. Will you remember this? This grass something within you. I represent something within you. This hill side represents something within you. The outer and the inner are one and the distinction is false. The body is the distinction. You say, ‘Outside the body lies the external and inside the body lies the internal.’ Inside the body or inside the brain, or whatever. In fact, that is also the mind-brain debate — Whether the mind lies inside the brain or the brain lies inside the mind. This debate is meaningful as long as you believe that the outer and the inner are separate.

‘So, does that mean that I am not walking around upon the ground, I am walking around my mind?’

Yes, you are walking ‘in’ your mind.

‘So, do I exists in the universe or does the universe exists in me?’

Well, the universe exists in you.

‘Such a large universe exists in me?’

Yes, it does. That is why your mind is so heavy.


So, if you can empty yourself of the universe, you will feel light.

‛Yes, yes. Sure. I too am trying for that. I want my mind free of the universe.’

Yes. That would be nice. But let me tell you something additional. When your mind would be free of universe, it would be free of itself as well. The universe gone, mind too would be gone. Now that is dangerous. You, don’t want that. Then you can continue to move around with the universe in your mind. Now you know why it is dangerous to enter the Ganga river?

(Smilingly) Do you know which part of the body sinks?

Mind. Because it is so heavy.

L2: Can we say that there is nothing called a light mind?

AP: Yes. You can say that.

L2: Because lightness appears in the absence of the mind.

AP: Yes. Of course. But that makes you feel so uncomfortable. Doesn’t it? When you have a load in the mind, it also gives you a purpose to live. It gives you a certain tautness. A direction, something to do, something to take care of. You wake up in the morning and you say, ‛Oh my God! I am so occupied, so much to do.’ And now, you are relieved of the burden to respond to this day.

It may rain. It may shine but your schedule is already decided. Come what may, I will, like a programmed robot do, what is upon my mind. Now, if you wake up and you don’t have a readymade schedule with you. Then, it is a big trouble. Now, you have to respond afresh to the day. Now you have to be creative. Now, it is a threat. Lightness is threatening when it comes. That’s why we don’t let it come.

L2: Sir, what does it mean to see the mind and the universe simultaneously? What is this seeing about?

AP: This seeing is simply seeing that your usual patterns of functioning and thinking do not make sense. They are all false. You say, ‛I love you’ to somebody and it is kind of ridiculous to say that because even this expression of love is so preprogrammed, so deterministic, you feel as if the expression is arising from somewhere within, as if it is an inner call. And you do not realize that it is a universal thing. That the elements have come together to make you feel as if you are in love. You do not realize that what you call as the external society has given you a particular definition of love and because what you experience right now as happening is confirming to that definition. So you are calling your feeling as love.

And what’s worse, you do not realize that the experiencer who is experiencing love is himself a product of previous experiences which have all come from the outside. Now, our normal mode of functioning does not make any sense. This is what meant by seeing the outer and the inner together. And when this happens, this breakdown happens, then this breakdown is accompanied by the revelation of The Holy. When these two falsenesses is gone, something else comes about. That something else is neither outer and nor inner. Neither here nor there. Or both here and there.

It defies your language, it defies your mind. It defies your distinction.

Yes that sky that you are watching is within you. Surely, don’t worry.

L3: Sir, when it is said to ask, ‛Who am I?’ Is it the same thing as when ‘I’ thinks, it becomes strong and ‘I’ will come out as external only.

AP: You see, when I am talking to beginners then it is a good tactic to tell them that what you consider as internal is something external. That is easier to understand. That can be the first step. So, I put it that way. That all your mind stuff is socially borrowed or biologically conditioned. I put it that way. To express it the other way around will make it difficult for the audience to understand.

I never say right in the beginning that, ‛Universe is your projection’. Otherwise, it will be almost impossible to understand. They will say, ‘Sir, you are saying, I am made up of influences from outside. This much I can understand because it is easy to gather that T.V is affecting me, parents, society, literature, education, religion, all of them is affecting me.’ This is easy to gather. But it is so very difficult to gather that this whole universe has been projected out by me. I never say that.

So do not say that the “I” is external because again you are talking of the distinction between external and internal. Just say that wherever there is the distinction between internal and external, this false distinction shows up as an “I”. There is nothing and that nothing is fakely divided into two.

This fake division is called the “I”.

There is neither external nor internal, but we create both. This fake creation is called the ‘I’. ‘I’ is not internal. It is to school kids that I am saying that “I” is internal, “I” is internal. So kindly free your “I” from the external. It is to school kids that I keep saying that your individuality is within you. There is nothing called within. Just as there is nothing called without. Similarly, there is nothing called within. Nothing is within you. Your “I” is not within you. When you are nothing, how can there be something inside nothing?

What I am speaking right now to you is a more advanced enunciation of the ‘I’. ‘I’ is that falseness which leads to the simultaneous apparition of the internal and the external. That is the ‘I’. The ego lives within your mind because there is nothing called your mind. The ego is that which creates you and the universe together and as separate entities from nowhere. Will you remember this?

The ego is that which creates you and the universe together and as separate identities and from nowhere.

That is the ego. The ego is not your property. The ego does not live in your mind. But this is a confusing statement, this is difficult to appreciate. So, I hope that you are listening to it with all the meditativeness possible. Otherwise, it will be very difficult.

L4: Sir, the question that I wanted to ask you is that as you explained rationally how the ego gets conditioned from external sources like media, etc., can you also explain this thing that the stars in the sky is inside you?

AP: Of course, logically that can be explained. Do something to your head and the star will disappear. Or can magnify. Or drink a little whisky and you will start seeing starts in daylight. So, of course, if you change the internal, the external changes. Does that not happen?


So some hints can be given, some rational hints. But it cannot be appreciated in its total depth using rational examples. Rational examples can serve as little pointers.Can’t they?

If I give you a little dopamine shot, you will be so full of pleasure. Smiling, hugging everybody, feeling full of gratitude towards existence and that will sound so spiritual. And it is just dopamine! So, the internal has changed the external. Now, the world is full of flowers. And a short of another chemical can be given. And you will pass into depression. So, the external has changed. The world is now a graveyard. A totally gloomy place.

These are rational pointers. By no stretch, am I claiming that these are explanations. That this is the cause and effect narrative. No. I am not saying that. But I am saying that, in case, you are too fond of those kind of examples, here they are.

L5: What is this traditional distinction between “Aatman” and “Paramatman”?

AP: There is no distinction. It is like the distinction between “Prashant” and “Shri Prashant”. When you want to address the Aatman with a little bit of respect, then you call it “Paramatman”. That does not mean that there is a separate Paramatman. It happens, somebody can come at the Bodhsthal (place where Acharya Ji takes session), meet me and then say,‛Now where is Acharya Shri Prashant? You are just a mere mortal. I want to meet Acharya Shri Prashant!’ So I’ll have to retire to some hidden room and then re-emerge with a lot of saffron on me. Now, the Paramatman has come. Aatman is gone. All this thing about Aatman merging into Paramatman is sheer nonsense.

The mind goes into the Aatman and that’s all.

There are only these two and nothing else.

All that which appears is the mind.

All that which is, is Aatman.

And besides these two, if you talk of a third, that is heresy.

If you are really a spiritual one, then there can be no third word in your lexicon. There is the mind and there is the Aatman. That’s all. Finished. What is the mind? All this, all that. All within. All without. All pairs of opposite. All that you can think of. All that which appears and all that which doesn’t appear. All that is the mind.

And what is the Aatman?

All that is. Full stop.

Do not talk of any third entity.

L5: Sir, some saints do the worship of Saguna form of bhakti. So does that mean that God has a form?

AP: See they are just confessing that body-identification is too strong in them. The body has “Gun” (characteristics). “Prakriti” has Gun. The body is Prakriti. So, because you are so severely body identified, whatever you will look at will be as per you and hence bodily. So, they worship a bodily form of Truth. That is what is called as worshipping a Saguna-Brahm. So, they are being honest. Just being honest. ‛I know nothing except material. I know no more than the body. So, how can I just start worshipping the Nirakar (formless), the Nirgun?’

L6: Sir, Raman Maharishi has always pointed that we actually sort of believe that we are the mind and its quality and right now, you also pointed out that when you stop believing in this, then it goes. But, the whole theme does not really strike that- it is that easy. Stop believing and it is done. Either I am not getting it or it is that simple? Or it is just my belief that…?

AP: It is just that even this question that you are asking is not honest enough.

You are asking this question in the same way, with the same mind that is busy asking so many other questions. Are you not the one who keep asking, ‘From where entertainment would come? From where security would come? From where sex would come?’

How is it possible to be honest and parallelly ask both of these question. If I am honest, can I parallelly ask, ‘How do I go left and how do I go right?’ If I am asking both these together, then it means I mean neither of them or I do not know where to go or I am just collecting intellectual knowledge. The one who is not just asking for the sake of knowledge but actually means to know; but actually intends to live what is he going to now learn, will ask only one question. His questions will never change. He will keep asking and asking a million times. Maybe, in different forms. Maybe, on different occasions. Maybe, to different people. But the question’s essence will remain the same.

He will be asking, ‛How do I go right? How do I go right? How do I go right?’. You observe yourself. Right now you are asking, ‘How do I go left?’ Then you will ask, ‘How do I climb upstairs? Then you will ask, ‘How do I dig a tunnel?’

See how the intent of your curiosity keeps fluctuating.

Be a little honest. Be determined that you really-really want to know. Even a child knows this trick. He wants a chocolate and somebody offers him a toffee, He says, ‘No, no, Where is the chocolate? And then somebody offers him a toy, and he is still saying, ‘No, where is the chocolate?’ And then somebody offers him a new pair of shoes. And he is insisting, ‘Chocolate!’ Right? And then some cousin comes and gives him a hug. And the hug is quite warm. And after the hug, he says, ‛This was alright but chocolate?’.

When you will ask this question with that same insistence and sincerity, then you will know. You are the type of kid, who asks a chocolate and is very content with a pair of slippers. You are the kind of mind who goes to search for somebody but is very content on finding her friend.

Have a one-pointed inquiry.


I do not deny that at this moment, most of us are sincere in their own eyes. We are trying to listen. But would you be listening a week later? Would you be listening a couple of hours later?

That is the distinction between an accidental seeker and a true seeker: an accidental seeker can be made to listen through a foreign influence. It is the influence of this beautiful environment, my presence that you might be listening right now. But would you be listening after I am gone?

The true seeker listens under all conditions because his seeking is his own. The accidental seeker listens only when made to listen. Only when the situations are favorable. As long as the situation are favorable, you look towards me, you try to look towards the truth and whenever the situations offer you a little slack, then you run away. Then you do all kinds of things that you cannot do in front of me.

Is that a mark of a real seeker?

L4: Sir, as you told that whatever appears is the projection of mind. So if my mind is not projecting the things which are doubtful or which are causing conflicts that means mind is ill. So that means if mind is healthy, it will only project if mind is healthy, then it will only be present to truth and..

AP: Yes and if you are living in falseness, it will make you uncomfortable.

Living uncomfortably is often a sign of health calling from within. Artists, poems, there are numerous examples of them not been able to live a relaxed life. Many of them commit suicide. Many of them go mad. It is because they are sensing that something is wrong; something is wrong in the way one construe the universe, one accounts for reality — they are sensing that. But at the same time, they do not know whether anything lies beyond this duality. It is too scary you know. Drop the outside. Drop the inside and left with what? So you better commit suicide then.

L5: We can not think, speak, feel, without that. This is a paradox. How to get out of this way?

AP: Silence is the answer. Language cannot help.

L2: Sir you asked in the beginning what does meaning do? So, just as we were going to the Ganges, we look at the notice boards, it says that, It is a dangerous place. So one of the reasons that society display all this because many of us are unintelligent and dumb. So things have to function. Right? Had that thing not be there, then one wouldn’t be alert?

AP: You see the river has been the same and this is the 23rd camp. Probably, the tenth in the Shivpuri. We have managed ten without the aid of such signs. So that assumption that human beings need the aid of such board and that which you said that we are basically dull and unintelligent is not necessarily true. We have survived ten camps. Have we not? And you have been there at least in half of them.

You could have put it in another way as well because the society does all kind of these things. That is why today you could not take a dip in the Ganges. The Ganges is the same but the name today has changed. The name before was nothing. There was no name. This time, a name has come. The name is danger. So the coming of the name spoiled all the fun. Why can’t you look at it that way? Or is it a new river this time which is more dangerous? Is it the monsoon time when the river is swelling? Is it a particularly dangerous time to enter into the river? Have we never been here in winters?

Same place and in the same month. Exactly the same place.

You remember those pics in which kids are coming and jumping into the river. That’s exactly the same place where you were today. But that was today so very dangerous because the name ‘danger’ had come.

L4: Sir, I want to express this that the naming thing struck me. I was running music. So basically there are two kinds of music teachers. So one is, they tell you, this is C  chords and this is D. They will make you memorize the call shake and then there are other kind of teachers. Each time when you listen a song, for instance you listen a song X, the teacher would tell you, song X has A, B, and C chords. And then he would simply play by memory. The other kind of teacher will tell you find out. He will play the sound and will tell you to find out which chord it was.

So naming certainly makes things easy. They give you the excuse to not to be alert.

AP: Easy in what sense? What is made easy?

L4: The work.

AP: What is that work? What kind of work can be made easy by naming? Don’t call it ‘The work’. What kind of work can be made easy by naming?

L4: Sir which requires..

AP: …Repetition. And hence is basically not creative.

L4:  No. Naming makes it repetitive and creative. But the work in the first place…

AP: ‛Work in the first place.’ But once you have named it, then you have named it for somebody else. So It is now not in the first place. It’s a repetition. Second time, fourth time. The name is now a tradition, a flow. Right? So, naming makes it only easier to repeat. Not to really create. Not to be original. When it comes for the first time, does it have a name? If it is fresh, will it have a name?

So, your argument is very right in its place. Naming does make a lot of work so very easy. But don’t forget the quality of work that it makes easy. A lot of things makes a lot of work easy. A lot of very-very sordid things. But a sordid act can only make sordid work easier. Not real work.

You see, look at the way we are listening to all this right now. Most of us, right after this session, will again go back to our same, old universe. Replete with naming, replete with our habits, replete with our old patterns. And here I am sitting on this chair, saying to you that naming is disastrous. And you are coolly listening to this.

Do you know why you are so cool about it?

Because you are not taking anything seriously at all. Because you fully well know that whatever might be said at this moment, you are sure that you will continue in your old ways. Had you had any intention of really knowing and living as per the knowing, then you would have revolted by now. You would have said, ‛If naming is such an evil. Then I want to know how to live?’

But you are coolly listening that the universe is false.

‘Right, right. The universe is false. Get me another bowl of corn!’

‛The universe is false, but I need a little more food.’

‛Yes, yes. Attachments are disastrous. Wife! come over a little earlier today.’

Coolly we are listening. Right? It’s just a Camp. It is just a camp. And this is just a talk.’

And some of us might be a veteran seer who have been through several such talks. So this is  just another talk. ‛Why should I let it disturb me? Why should I let it unsettle my ways?’

Do you know what we have talked now, in the last one hour?

We have said, ‛All this is not! You are not. Your front is not, your behind  is not. Your head is not, your ass is not.’

That’s what we have said. And you are so cool about it.

‛Of course, of course. My head is not. My head is not. Of course, of course.’

L6: In some Zen monasteries, centuries ago, the teacher, the master they beat the student. Or, if you know Gurdjieff, and what he has done with his students just so that they take seriously what he was talking about.

AP: That’s why he had very few students. In fact, he wanted very few students, right? But the thing is that the one’s who would turn away, are also the one’s who are the most in need of his education. I do not know whether I can turn away anybody or be selective about the people I talk to.

‘Of course, of course, you are a very good speaker. You said all the right things. Attachment is quite bad. Daughter, where are you?’

‘Of course, of course, the world is false. Is the talk over? May I now look at all my missed calls?

Ah! the universe is false but the missed calls are real!

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

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant on Ishavasya Upanishad: There is nothing called spiritual knowledge

Further Reading:

Book of Myths


Statutory Warning: This book is not for the weak hearted

This is the most challenging book one can ever come across. It will questions all the popular beliefs one harbours. Never imposing itself on the reader. At the same time the book facilities a thorough enquiry of popular knowledge which is blindly accepted as an obvious fact. It demolishes our so called holy concepts.

If you are someone who has read anything on self-help or on spirituality this book is a must for cleaning of spiritual information.

Paperback: https://goo.gl/VVD8Yg

Kindle: https://goo.gl/VsIucH


2 thoughts on “On Ishavasya Upanishad: There is nothing called spiritual knowledge

    • There are various opportunities to connect to and meet Acharya Prashant. These are:

      1. Meet the Master:

      Meet the Master program is rare opportunity to meet Acharya Prashant personally, either physically or online. To meet the Master, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917.

      2. Advait Learning Camps:

      Advait Learning Camps are monthly retreats organized under Acharya Prashant’s guidance. These camps are about spending four days and three nights in the lap of nature, while reading, reflecting, learning and evolving. So far, scores of ALCs have been organised in places like Rishikesh, Mukteshwar, Jim Corbett National Park, Chopta, KainchiDham, etc.
      Additionally, we organize dedicated bonding camps for kids and parents. To participate in the camp, write an e-mail to requests@prashantadvait.com, or call: Sh. Anshu Sharma at +91-8376055661.

      3. Course in Realization:

      Course in Realization, a classroom-based learning program led by Acharya Prashant, is an initiative towards disseminating clarity and intelligence in the world. In this course, a rigorous study of a scripture or a saint is undertaken each month.
      To join in, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Sh. Apaar: +91-9818591240

      4. Month of Awakening:

      For those who cannot attend sessions physically, the foundation does online streaming of few selected sessions via Skype or Webinar. Known as Month of Awakening, this facility offers live streaming of sessions and helps seekers listen to Acharya-Ji while being where they are.
      To receive the blessing, send your application to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917

      5. Blessings from Beyond:

      Weekends with Acharya Prashant brings you the unique opportunity for a 2 day 2 night stay with the Master every month at Advait Ashram, Greater Noida. The getaway involves two mystical days of dynamic activities, explorations of the self, sports, meditative reading, deep reflections, midnight walks and more.
      To get a taste of the beyond, register yourself at requests@prashantadvait.com or contact Ms. Anu Batra:+91-9555554772

      6. Triyog:

      Daily morning 2 hour Yog feast for your total well-being. Comprising of
      Hatha Yog, Bhakti Yog and Gyan Yog.

      Send your application, write to: requests@prashantadvait.com Or to register: Contact: Shri Kundan Singh: +91-9999102998
      Venue: Advait Bodhsthal, Greater Noida, India.

      This reply comes to you from volunteers of PrashantAdvait Foundation who maintain this channel.


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