Question: This word practice was quite striking for me because in the last session that happened before we left for the camp when Devesh Ji asked you that what to do when the world calls. You answered saying that why don’t you talk about that cause. Then when we talked about Ramakrishna he also said that if you talk about the free, you are free and in the same way Ramana Maharshi again said that it is also a practice that we can keep on talking more about all this. So, its a kind of practice that you have formed.
There are two things that we have mostly discussed is, we need to be in close contact with what we are. We call it by the name observation. And the other thing is its also a practice of doing all this, that has been mentioned here.
How can we be in a constant touch with what is happening (Observing) and still do not make a practice out of it? How can these two things happen simultaneously?
Acharya Prashant: Why do you need to practice? Is it not happening right now? It is like a man asking, “How to ask?”
It is like saying that one wants to learn to breathe. Had he not been breathing, could he have asked this question?
Practice is always happening. This is what is happening, is practice. When you remember practice – that is practice. The moment when you ask, “How to practice?”, the question is redundant, because ‘practice’ is already going on. The question of practice is relevant, only when you forget that question.
‘Just remember’ – this is the practice.
You could have talked about ten other things right now. You could have been at ten other places right now. You are here. This is practice.
What happens is that because you have missed out on something, so it appears special and worthy of attainment. You have missed out on it. Not that it ever was absent.
Practice is just remembrance. Practice is just attention. If you are attentive, then it is always there. It is not there, only when the mind is elsewhere. Even right now as I am speaking to you, what is happening, is practice. The depth of your listening right now will determine, how much more can you listen. Just like, when a man practices to run, the more he practices, the more he can run.
Similarly, the more is your attention right now, the more you will be able to listen, understand. And then, listening and understanding, become such a state that they do you remain special anymore. Then you are not asking for them.
You don’t pay attention, things remain special. Then there is the need to form an image, to chase something, to question, to desire.
See, even right now, this is a very pertinent example. Of the various things that you said that you read, Anu said that sleep is closer, and Ramana Maharshi made it clear. So, this is something that comes to a new realization to her. Those of you who were here yesterday would remember that exactly the same thing was discussed, just yesterday that, ‘Sushupti’ is not ‘Samadhi’, ‘Sushupti’ is just a state of mind, and ‘Samadhi’, the dissolution of the mind. There is no question of any similarity.
So, the Truth is there, but if you are not attentive, then for you, it is not there. It is there, but remember, for you, it is not there because you simply didn’t listen. Getting it?
Similarly, whatever is existent, is simply there. It cannot be an object of a discovery. But because, you have been away, you have been identifying with this and that. Because, all your mind, mental energy, and attention have been taken up by miscellaneous stuff, so you miss out on the Truth. And missing out on the Truth, remember again, does not mean that it is distant, or unavailable. It is there.
Similarly, what Abhishek said that we take ‘Turiya’ as the fourth, we would have spent one complete hour, just to dispel this. That it is not the fourth. Who thinks that Turiya is the fourth. Did we not spent an entire hour on this, that it is not the fourth? But one misses out.
Does one miss out, because whatever is real, is never there?
Does it lapse, even for a while? Is there a small gap?
Then why did you miss out?
Why such a big miss?
That question is immaterial right now. Because you are not missing right now.
Unfortunately, that question is not asked when the miss is happening. So, you ask a question for the Truth and the asking of the question is itself the Truth.
You say, “Who am I?” That’s it. You don’t need an answer anymore. The answer is not needed. Because in your moment of missing, you are ‘not’ asking, “Who am I?” Just asking, “Who am I?” is sufficient. You don’t need an answer. Because in the moment of asking, it has been ascertained now, that you are here. This question itself is the proof.
When you are missing and missing and missing, do you ever ask, “Who am I?”
That’s practice. I remembered to ask. Now, whether or not I got an answer, and what answer I got, that all is mental stuff – words, language, concepts. Doesn’t matter, what is the answer you get and whether you get an answer.
Repeating this… Just remembrance and this remembrance is not a verbal one, not one of three words, ‘Who am I?’. It’s a remembrance. This remembrance is practice.
You may in fact not ask any question. You may just remember. And that would be even better than asking, “Who am I?”
Just remembering, that is attention. Just remembering. What else is attention? Attention does not mean you are looking very closely at some object. Attention does not mean that all your mental energy is fixated on that chair. What does that become?
AP: We are not talking about that, obviously. Attention is something else. Attention is this, subtle remembrance. That’s it.
Remembrance of what?
Of nothing. Nothing in particular.
Do you see, what Maharshi does? The moment you ask him, “Why do we forget?” He says, “Ask this question when you have forgotten.” You ask him, “What is the non-self?” He will say, “Let the non-self ask this question.” What does this mean?
This means that when you are asking, there is no question of non-self. And when you are not asking, that is the state when you have forgotten.
What is ‘inquiry’?
Remembering to inquire, is ‘inquiry’.
Even, ‘remembering to’ enquire is redundant. You may just say, ‘remembering’ is ‘inquiry’.
Inquiry does not mean asking a specific question. It is not like railway inquiry. Inquiry, just means, remembering.
Nothing. Just remembering.
L: Acharya Ji, when we are talking of remembering, for this mind, which is more helpful – The beyond or the falseness of the World?
AP: The beyond. Whenever you remember the World, you will have to take the World, as real. Whenever you will remember the World, it will invoke a certain feeling, a thought, inside you. It will take you away from Silence. One has to remember the roots. You remember the Truth, the World is taken care of. You remember the World, and even the World remains in disarray.
L: We talked about this in the first session. You said, “Start with the God and the World is yours, start with the World and you lose even the World.”
AP: What does Kahlil Gibran say in his title: Lazarus and his family? Or ..
L: Lazarus and his beloved.
We do not meet the beloved at any point, in the story. Whom do we meet? Mother, Mary, Martha, Philip. Is there even one dialogue by the beloved? Strange?
Kahlil Gibran did not give an apt title. He should have said, “Lazarus and his family.” Whatever is happening, is happening under the great umbrella of the beloved. Or, you could say, “Is happening upon the foundation of the beloved.” So, it has to be Lazarus and the beloved. Even though the Beloved is not explicitly present as an object at any point. Is he there as an object?
That’s the Self. That is Turiya.
Never explicitly present, yet always there.
That’s also God.
L: Not there, yet everywhere.
L: For the shoot to remember its root, it must have the ability to perceive because perception is all it knows. So, for me, to remember the beyond, it has to be something positive, which is not possible. So…
AP: Does the shoot, remember itself? First thing. The shoot may not know the root, but does the shoot know itself or not? Does the shoot exist, or, will the shoot say, “Even I don’t exist?” The shoot exists.
Show me a point where the root ends and the shoot begins.
Is that point, not merely a concept?
Is it not true that the root and the shoot are actually one?
And the dividing mind, creates a boundary, that here the root ends and here the shoot begins. Just because, something is beneath the soil, it cannot be seen, your eyes cannot perceive it, so you draw a boundary there. Right?
Otherwise, does the root ever say that I have ended? And now the shoot is beginning. Are they together, not a continuum?
So, forget the root. If the shoot knows itself, then the shoot is the root. You need not know God, know yourself.
L: Knowing of the Self, is, “I am not this, I am not this?”
AP: Starts with that, because you already know yourself in ‘n’ different ways, so they get negated in the process. “I am not that”, has nothing sacred about it. It is just that I am already full of ‘n’ things that those n things must go. So, you have to say, “I am not this, not that.” If you are not full of other things, there is no need of saying, “I am not this, I am not that.”
Even if you are full of rubbish, and you say, “I am, full of rubbish, yet, I AM.” There is no denying of this. The denial pertains only to the rubbish part. So, when you say, “I am full of rubbish”, what are you denying? Rubbish. And whatever you deny, what remains fully established?
L: I AM
AP: That’s it.
No positive assertion is needed. Whatever positive is needed, is already established. Without that positive I AM, there is nobody to inquire. The inquiry itself establishes the positive existence.
L: When we say that we have to remember THAT in a positive sense, then that danger of division arises.
AP: So, it is strange. That you want your own image. Why do you want your own image? Are you in doubt regarding your own being? You can be in doubt about ten things. But would you like to deny that you exist? An image means a representation of some territory. Do you need an image for yourself?
You exist, right? And ‘I AM’, is not the thought that ‘I am’. Because this thought will fade away, you do not have always this thought either. Even though, it sits in the center of all thoughts. But let us say, at the time of death, this thought will remain no more. In deep sleep too, this thought remains no more.
‘I AM’ is not the thought that I am, ‘I AM’ is the foundation, that makes even this thought possible.
It is not personal, so don’t try. You are trying as a person, and ‘I AM’ is not personal. There is no need to try.
L: But then remembrance is done by the mind.
Whenever the mind will remember, it will remember an object. That’s why we said, “Remembrance, is just remembrance.” If you will remember, then ‘YOU’ will remember. And ‘you’ will remember something of your world. Just remember.
I will have to say this a thousand times, remember what?
AP: Nothing. Just remember.
L: We need faith for this.
AP: No. Just remember.
L: Socrates said, “I know that I don’t know.”
AP: It is far, far deeper than that. “I know that I don’t know”, is a thought. This remembrance is not a thought.
It’s a rootedness. It is a presence.
L: Does it mean that ‘Neti Neti’ is taken care of, by itself, just by this remembrance?
AP: Without this, how will you perform ‘Neti Neti’?
Will the eyes say that the stone is unreal? Will the mind say that the mental objects are unreal? Will the bundle of identities say that the identities are unreal?
L: Like you say, facts lead to Truth.
Facts lead to Truth, and you cannot come to facts without the Truth.
So, that is something that you must take as a default. This leads to that, and so on… But ultimately the first cause is the Truth, that must be taken always as a default. Without being said.
L: When we are talking about practice. We can practice…
AP: You will not practice. Practice is happening, right now. It is happening. It is happening. This is it.
You ask, “How do I learn?” You are learning. Now, where is the question of ‘How do I learn?’, you are learning. Aren’t you. Without learning, you couldn’t have asked this question. It’s happening. This is it.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
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