Acharya Prashant: Sourabh is saying, what is the value of our own thinking when we know that the mind is so vulnerable to being manipulated by others?
When we know that the mind is full of influences coming from others, then what is the value of our thoughts?
Sourabh, if you really are feeling this, then the first thing is to stop saying “Our thinking and my own thoughts”, right? Because our opinions, our thoughts are anyways not our. Our likes and dislikes, they are anyways being dictated by the influences around us.
Born in India, you like cricket so much. Born in Argentina or Brazil, you wouldn’t have heard cricket. And today you say “Oh, my God! I’m all the time thinking of cricket.” Maria Sharapova recently said, “Tendulkar who?” Born in her country you would have said the same thing, “Tendulkar who?” But, we take our opinions very seriously, without realizing that they are no value at all.
Being an Indian you’re bound to have a certain opinion about Pakistan, and being a Pakistani you are bound to have a certain opinion about Afghanistan. Sitting in this college you will have one particular opinion about other colleges. Other colleges will have an opinion about these colleges. It all depends upon where you are sitting. And that is so very random. So random. What is the value of these opinions?
Only two places, from only two places, do all our opinions come. One, either the body. Second, the society. There is no third place. How do pinions come from body? The tongue tells you, something is tasty, so now your opinion about it. Being born a man, you will have a particular opinion about women. Women do not have the same opinion about women that men have about women. Right or wrong? So, is it your opinion or the body’s opinion?
And what is the body, is nothing but a random event of X chromosome versus the Y chromosome. And you call it my opinion, and you’re so serious about it. Somebody contradicts your opinion and you are ready to fight. What are you fighting for? If you study in a particular kind of University, your mindset is bound to become communist. Marx would become your hero. You’ll be looking at Lenin and Che Guevera.
And you go and study in an Australian or an American University, and you’ll have nothing to do with these people. Now you’re talking only of the great economists.
Our opinions are not at all our opinions. Think of how one acquires opinions. And when I say opinions, that includes the entire family of opinions, thoughts, attitudes, likes, dislikes everything. The entire content of the mind, is it really really mine? Or, has it come from random influences?
Born as a Hindu you will have a certain attitude about Muslims. Born as a Muslim you have a sudden attitude about Jews. Of course, little bit of variation might be there, but broadly it is defined. Broadly it is well defined. So there is the Israel-Gaza conflict, don’t you see that most of Pakistan has sided itself with Hamas, and if you go to US or Canada or any European country, they are pretty sympathetic with Israel. Now how is it possible that such lopsided statistical distribution is there?
The Pakistani will say, “Hamas is doing just the right thing.” Now is the individual saying this or is the Pakistani saying this?
AP: The American is saying, “Israel is doing just the right thing.” Now is the individual saying or the American saying this?
AP: So, are their opinions, their opinions, or are they opinions of the influences around them? But what will they say, “My opinion”, and they are prepared to die for it. The Pakistani and American if they meet they’ll kill each other, “My opinion versus your opinion.” Is it really your opinion? Really, your opinion?
I’ve narrated this incident earlier, but this is such a rich one that I need to do it again. When I reached IIT after taking admission, so based on my rank and my entry number, they allotted me a hostel. It was a purely random event. You have a rank and you have an entry number in the Institute. First of all, based on my rank, I could have gone to any other IIT as well. It’s a random event that I am taking IIT Delhi. Then in the IIT, I have a particular entry number, my entry number could have been different. I didn’t choose my entry number. There is nothing sacrosanct that entry number.
So, based on that entry number I have been allotted a hostel. So, I reached the hostel, and after the initial ragging and everything, the senior called us. And they said “Now we are going to the terrace of the hospital.” I said, “Wonderful, for what?” They said “There we’ll abuse all the other hostels. From there we can see everybody else, so together we’ll abuse them with the choicest kind of expletives”.
So, we were trained for half an hour. Three dimensional, fourth dimensional, fifth-degree abuses. They said “Today we have to rock the campus. Today we have to show the entire campus that our hostel is this and the other hostels, we know all about your mothers and sisters.” So, I was also enthused, but I said, “Tell me something, why do I have to abuse them?” They said, “Because you belong here”. I said “I belong here only because of an entry number. With a little bit change here and there. With some random event happening, I could as well have been in that hostel. It’s such a random event, and you’re asking me to abuse them.”
They said “Ye hostel drohi hai. You’re not loyal to your hostel”. I said, “What loyalty? I could have been somewhere else as well. And tomorrow this hostel can be split into two hostels. Just as countries are split into this country and that country. What do you mean by loyalty? To What? To a coincidence?” So, ultimately instead of abusing other hostels, they all ended up abusing me. They said, “This is a wrong kind of man that has come to the hostel. He’s not loyal. Because you are here so you must display loyalty.”
Then there were loyalties of other kinds also. You belonged to this department. But the fact is, had I got a better rank I would’ve belonged to some other department. It was not my grand dream to belong to that department. Not that, that department was horrible. It was alright. But the fact of the matter is, with another rank I would’ve been in another department. So, they are saying that now we belong to this department, so all other departments are now your enemies. Don’t talk to them. Don’t disclose our secrets. We’ll have an inter-departmental meet, and we’ll beat everybody else. And it’s better if your friends are from within the department.
And it was great. You know gang wars. Mechanical versus Civil. Biotechnology versus Electrical. For what? And every biotechnology student feels electrical is worst. Same opinion. And all electrical students can swear that biotech is hell. Same opinion. What is the worth of these opinions? What is the worth of these opinions?
Does that mean that there is nothing worthy possible in the mind? No, this does not mean that. The mind is the most wonderful thing. If corrupted, it is worse than hell. But if clean, shining, then it’s the most valuable. More valuable than everything else that can be thought of or not thought of. When the mind is corrupted, it is conditioning. When the mind is clean, then it is pure intelligence.
When the mind is corrupted, conditioned, then you’ll be full of opinions. But when the mind is clean, then you’ll not have opinions at all. Then you’ll just have the capacity to understand in the moment. See, look, there two ways you can come to this session. One, “I already know what this seminar, what this course is all about.” So, then you have an opinion, a kind of attitude about the course and about me. That’s the fool. That’s a conditioned mind.
And there is another kind of mind possible, which says, “No, I do not know anything? I do not know anything, but surely I have the capability to understand. So I will go and I will sit and I will listen. And as I listen, I’ll understand. Why do I need to have readymade opinions coming from the past? Intelligence is enough. Understanding is enough.” And that is valuable.
Now, it depends on you, what do you want to use your mind as? You can use your mind as a storehouse of opinions, or you can use your mind as the seat of intelligence. What do you want to use your mind as? The question was, is there any value in all this? There is great value. But not in opinions, but in intelligence. But that intelligence is not something of the past. The intelligence does not come from influences. That intelligence is the real you. That intelligence is not about thinking hard. That intelligence is about being so still that you just understand. Are you getting this?
Intelligence is not about having a lot of knowledge. In fact, knowledge will only give you more and more of likes, dislikes, and opinions. Intelligence is about being fully alive, being fully present. It depends upon you, what do you want to use the mind as? What is the mind for you? Just a dead inventory, containing the memories of the past or hope for the future, a storehouse, or, is it a great instrument of understanding.
And, understanding happens only in an atmosphere where attitudes are not there. Attitudes and opinions means I already know. When you already know then how can you know? When you already know then how can you know? So, the one who already knows ends up knowing nothing.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Intelligence is being fully alive, fully present
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