Question: Acharya ji, what do you think is the significance of understanding the body to have some real experiences beyond the mind of oneness. I mean, I see a lot of masters giving discourses on how the oneness is realized on mind levels sometimes. But there are no real, valid experiences within the body for the true, bliss of true oneness, or seeing the reality as one throughout.
Acharya Prashant: I am glad you brought this up. Is everybody one with the question? His question is, how does the experience of oneness come about? He is asking – all the understanding that one has from the scriptures, from learning, from life, from teachers, how does one validate it through personal, bodily experience? He is taking the personal, physical experience as a measure, as an indicator of Truth. And that often happens, right? Don’t we say that, “Unless I see it with my own eyes, I won’t believe.”
Two people are talking of something and they come and break the news to you. They say, “You know, we just saw a dog with eight legs.”
What do you say? “Unless I see with my own eyes, I won’t believe.”
In the same way, he is raising a question which rests on the assumption that it is possible to verify the Truth using sensory experience, right?
Listener 1: Not really. What I am saying is, what is the significance of understanding the body as it is? When we eat something, when we talk to someone…
AP: Fine, that was your first statement – “What is the significance of understanding the body?”
L1: What is the relevance or is there any relevance at all.
AP: Before we take up the question, first of all, it is important to see that there is a great assumption contained in the question. Would you want to figure it out?
L1: No, it’s just a question out there.
AP: No, there is no question that does not rest on an assumption. Try any question, it always contains an assumption. And to not to know the assumption, is to become a victim of the question.
L1: What if the question is just…
AP: No, it is impossible. Ask any question, it is always coming from a foundation of something you believe in.
L1: Does not necessarily have to be a belief.
AP: It has to be a belief. Ask any question and try.
L1: Same question again. So, for example, we are sitting and meditating and trying to understand the mind, figuring out the logic, reasoning, all sides of the mind, seeing the mind, deciphering…
AP: Do you see that there have been at least ten assumptions that you have talked of till now?
L1: I am just stating things.
AP: You are not stating things, you are stating mental stuff and all mental stuff is something which is just mental and hence, an assumption.
L1: Isn’t that a presumption that everything that is coming out is from a personal mind?
AP: There is nothing called an impersonal mind.
L1: There is a mind.
AP: There is nothing called an impersonal mind.
L1: But there is a mind.
AP: Where is it? Show me.
L1: We are sitting in it.
AP: You are sitting in it and only you are talking of it and hence, it is personal.
L1: It is always personal.
AP: It is always personal, yes, of course. There is nothing called an impersonal mind, right?
AP: Now, when you say, “What is the significance of understanding the body?” your assumption is that there is something called ‘understanding’. There is something called ‘a thing’. There is something called some ‘thing’. Understanding is the dissolution of all things. Understanding is fundamentally nothing and hence, understanding can never have an object.
You can say you have an image of the body and that is perfectly alright because images will always be of something. You can say you have an image of God and even that is alright. You can say you have an image of anything and that is alright. There would be images, object centric images and images that differ from each other and hence, images that must be talked of along with the object that they correspond to. But when you say, “Understanding”, it means dissolution of images. It means now remains nothing. In understanding, nothing remains. Before understanding, a lot remains – the body remains, the mind remains, the thought remain, assumptions remain.
It’s like asking, “What is meant by the space of India?” or “What is meant by the space of a particular house?”
Space has nothing to do with boundaries or assumptions that you draw in your own intellect. If you are talking of the body, it is certain that there is no understanding. And if there is understanding, how can you say, “Understanding of the body?” Understanding means now the mind is still, thinking of nothing, there is no concept, no activity, no movement; all the churning that there was, that has settled. If it has not settled, then one is still in thought.
So, you are well entitled to say thoughts of the body and the moment you use the word ‘body’, it is already a thought. So, you are well entitled to say thoughts of the body or concepts of the body or ideas of the body or images of the body. But understanding means that all of this that you are occupied with is insignificant, is now lost and you don’t want to talk about it anymore.
Beware the ones who say, “My understanding in this particular matter is…” and then they go on to say something.
Understanding is not a conclusion, understanding can never be captured in a statement; Understanding is pure awareness. And pure awareness is truth itself, which is God. “Pragyaanam Brahm” – Understanding itself is the Truth.
Now, what do you mean by Truth of the body? What do you mean by God of the body? Do you see this?
Understanding means pure emptiness. Now there is nothing in it. When there is nothing in it, who will be there to talk of the body? Who is there?
Now one comes to the issue of the physical experiences related to understanding.
All experiences are physical; all experiences are only to the experiencer. All experiences require, first of all, somebody who is experiencing and that somebody himself is the central problem, that central restlessness, that somebody is the ego; only the ego experiences. So you can have an experience of everything that is ego-centric, like? Like pleasure, like pain, like attraction, like repulsion, like fear, like hope – all of these are elements of experience because, all of these are born out of the ego.
All of these are characteristics of the experiencer. But in realization, or liberation, or understanding, this experiencer itself becomes insignificant. When the experiencer is gone, what kind of experience can be there? But there are enough people who talk of God experience, and experience of liberation and some mystical experience of, you know! And all that sounds so tempting, millions are roaming around in hope of that divine, metaphysical experience. “Can we have that experience?”
And there are enough, strangely, who claim that they have had those experiences. Somebody says he was able to fly out of his body; somebody says he felt as if he is levitating in the air; somebody says he could hear transcendental bells in his sleep – all of that is just mind. In your deep sleep, in Sushupti, would you experience anything, including a spiritual experience? All of that is just mental movement, conditioned, programmed, old, stale and grim.
Never take the Real to be an experience.
God, Love, Joy, Freedom, Truth – they are not experiences, they are freedom from experiences.
We are experiencing all the time and the experience is always personal, depending on the experiencer that we are. Take a small example, here I am, saying a few things to you all. Are you all hearing the same thing? If we just ask ourselves, to write down what the speaker has said in last fifteen or twenty minutes, do you think all of us would write down the same thing? Would we? So the experience is different, right? In the same hall, sitting in front of the same speaker, the experience is totally different because experience is always contingent upon the…? Experience depends on the?
AP: Experiencer. And the experiencer is the person that you are. So, you are carrying all your experiences already within yourself and those experiences are exactly what you want to get rid of. But the ego finds unique and clever ways to extend and prolong itself. On one hand it says it wants God and God means the dissolution of ego. On the other hand, it says it wants a God experience and experience means continuation of the ego. You have to decide what do you want?
Is Silence an experience? Is Love an experience? Attraction is an experience. Attachment is an experience. Is Silence an experience?
You can either have Silence or an experience of Silence and an experience of Silence is called noise.
You can either have Love, or an experience of Love and an experience of Love is called distance.
L1: Sir, what I have noticed, you know. I have been meditating; I have been practicing on my own. I have seen things. I am aware of things in some ways. What I have found is when we get stuck on language, the words and try to dissect them and negate them, we have a certain kind of realization. We can talk about infinite things but what happens is when we are stuck and we fail to see the reality as it is. And…
AP: There is no ‘reality as it is’ and there are no kinds of realization. Just as there are no kinds of space, there are no kinds of zeroes, just as there are no kinds of space, just as there are no kinds of infinities; similarly, there are no kinds of realizations. If you are still experiencing kinds of realizations, then at the risk of being blunt, let me just say that all the practices that one has been going through are just silos. And as far as language is concerned, language in itself means nothing but means a lot because it is a representation of the mind.
When you call someone as, “Hello, Sir” and when you address the other person as, “Hello, you!”, it is not merely the language that has changed.
It is the mental state that is being reflected in the language, alright? So, it is not as if language is totally inconsequential. In matters of Truth language is totally inconsequential; in matters of mind, language reveals. It tells what your mind stuff is. It tells what you have been dealing in. It also tells what your bondages are. So, do not dismiss the whole matter as just linguistic, it tells of the chains here. It is a very nice and fine and sophisticated thing to say that language means nothing. But language means nothing only to the one who has moved into Silence.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: How to have spiritual experiences?
Read more articles on this topic:
Article 1: What is freedom from experience?
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