Question: If our original nature is the Truth itself, and primarily, and originally we are Truth itself, we are THAT. And, we were THAT, we are THAT and we will be THAT. So, why this whole cycle of birth and death and worldly travels?
AP: Because even right now the statement is “We are THAT”. So, on one hand you are saying, there is singularity called THAT, on the other hand you believe in a plurality called ‘We’. How can these two be equated? Do you see that you are attempting the impossible?
Is that THAT, or, are there THATs? Then how are there this ‘We’? What is ‘We’? Now ‘We’ is important to us because ‘We’, that we think ourselves to be, exist only in a context. We exist only as a function of others. As long as, the one who is saying. “I am that,” does not really reduce to I-ness, that THAT will remain merely an idea.
You have the right to say that you are THAT and nothing, but THAT exists, and only THAT was, and only THAT is, and only THAT will be, only if first of all you are speaking as THAT. Only THAT can say, “I am THAT,” or, “We are THAT.” You, me, I, and we have no right to say, “I am THAT” or “We are THAT”. That right has to be earned by reduction, by annihilation. Be THAT and then you are THAT. .
Till the time you are what you are, if you say “I am THAT,” that would merely be a hollow claim, but would have no substance and hence it would bring no peace or relief to you. Give up that which makes you think that you are a particular ‘I’.
Listener: There is so much information, so much books, and so much of knowledge inside.
AP: Was there a need? Why must all that be there? And why can’t that be forgotten? Do you remember what you did at 7:00 am this morning? Do you remember what you were doing at 10:15 am this morning? If you could forget all that, why can’t you forget all the knowledge and information you have? Do you even remember what I said in response to the last question? If all these can go into auto-deletion, then why can’t all that knowledge just disappear?
Surely, one has a need. One has a stake in maintaining that knowledge.
Knowledge has no stickiness of its own. It is the mind that is sticky. It is the mind that feels that it is incomplete and hence must have knowledge to feel complete. As soon as that stickiness, that incompleteness that blank that is eager to contain something, as soon as that is given up, then knowledge falls off on its own.
Do you keep things in your house that have no utility? Or do you just go past them? If you actually come to see that most of the knowledge that you have has no utility, you will find it dropped. Knowledge exists because the ego takes pride in accumulation. Even if it is actually adding nothing to my life, even if it is actually just making me more miserable, yet I can at least claim that I am knowledgeable.
You know so much of history, you know so much of what is going on in the neighbor’s house, you know so much about what is going on in the political circuits, you know what is going on in a particular football league. How is that really giving you love or peace or stillness? You know of things that have so little real value for you. Why don’t you forget them?
You don’t forget them because they help you feel as if you know. They help you be able to claim that you are THAT. Drop the knowledge. That doesn’t always mean that you have to be free of memory. It may sometimes just stay in the memory, but the memory need not be something squabbling, active, trying to gain attention, trying to come to the forefront of conscious thought. Let it stay behind.
It doesn’t matter what the quality of knowledge is. No knowledge is ever going to deliver the goods for you. Never. It does not matter what the genre is. You may say, “I was reading fiction or science or technology or romance and now I have elevated myself to spirituality and now I am ordering more and more spiritual books.” It does not matter, books are books.
When I say, “Read good books.” I say that only to those who cannot do without books. Because you must read, because your mind is still very porous, because things percolate, because you keep sucking in stuff, hence I say that if you must have something going into the mind then preferably this is what you may allow to go in. But whatever goes in must eventually go out. Otherwise it becomes mind stuff. It only makes you heavier.
So when I say, “Let this go in,” when I say, “read the Upanishads,” I only recommend them because they are less prone to stickiness. But the mind is very receptive. It knows all the tricks. It can stick even to the Upanishads. It does stick. It does stick. If you have already accumulated a lot of knowledge, let go of it.
And there is nobody who does not have knowledge. The kinds of knowledge may vary just has the kinds of books vary. Even the most unread person, even the illiterate one, is full of knowledge. He may have never touched a book all his life, still he has so much knowledge. Just that the kind of knowledge will vary. I won’t even say quality.
He will have knowledge about what kind of road is going to where, who is saying what, who what is the local goon charging these days, who is chasing his wife these days. All this is knowledge. And someone else is talking about Samadhi. Name the four kinds of Samadhi. This too is knowledge. And one is no better than the other.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Only That can say, “I am That”
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