Tag Archives: Discretion

What is Tapasya? What is concentration? || Acharya Prashant (2019)

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What is Tapasya What is concentration

Question 1: What is ‘Tapasya‘(austerity)? Why is ‘Tapasya‘ necessary?

Acharya Prashant Ji: In the cold areas of the country, it becomes important, especially in winters, to let the sunlight in. Quilts etc. are kept out in the open, so that they receive the Sun treatment. The Sun must beat down on them.

The ‘taap'(heat) of the Sun removes, a lot of impurities.

That is ‘tapas’.

Feel the heat. Feel the heat.

Questioner: Still I don’t get it.

Acharya Ji: You know where the heat is. You know where the Sun is. Face it! There are many ailments for which you require heat treatment, or you require UV rays emitters. What do you do? You just bring yourself to the heat emitter, and stand in front of it, naked. You allow the heat to bake you, roast you, cleanse you.

There was a man, who once had few microbes, you know little germs, bacteria, on his skin. The doctor told him that sunlight kills these germs, or at least makes them run away. The germs overheard the doctor’s advice.

So, when the man was gleefully returning to his house, preparing to try the heat treatment, the ‘tapas’, the germs said, “You know what, the heat would do bad things to us. But the heat would do bad things to you as well.”

“Remember that you have not been exposed to sunlight since long. And we live in a tender part of your body, which is usually not exposed to harshness, to harsh Sun. If you will subject us to heat, you will be subjecting yourself as well to the heat, because you and we are very closely associated, attached now. And not only the two of us, are very closely attached now, it is some very weak part of you, it is very tender part of you, that is attached to us. You could even say that it is your weakness, which is attached to us. So, do not try what the doctor just advised. We will suffer, but you too will suffer.”

So declared the germs.

What did the man reply?

The man said, “I will merely suffer, but I will survive. And if I can survive that suffering, I would emerge healthier. But you, would not survive that suffering. I am a man. I have something in me, that can survive the Sun, because it is related to the Sun. I will suffer a lot. But, I will suffer brighter and stronger. The suffering will help me. But as far as you are concerned, you will not come out alive, out of that suffering.”

“The same heat, the same Sun, that is life-giving to me, is life-threatening to you. So I am prepared to go through the suffering. In order to avoid the suffering, I cannot give you an extended life. It is true that you will suffer, and I too will suffer. But that suffering is a blessing to me. That same suffering, is your end.”

This is ‘tapas’.

In killing your germs, you too suffer. In killing your germs, you too suffer. You willingly take that suffering, because you know that, that which kills the germs, makes you stronger.

So the suffering, has utility.

It is very difficult to defeat someone, who is prepared to give up everything, for victory.

This is ‘tapas’.

You defeat someone, not because he is weak.

You defeat someone, when he wants to protect his weaknesses.

Understand this.

It is not your weaknesses that defeat you.

It is your fondness towards your weaknesses, it is your protective attitude towards your weaknesses, that defeats you.

If you are  prepared to give up everything, if you are prepared to give up all your tender spots, your weaknesses, you would be very difficult to be defeated.

The final fulfillment, the final victory, that we had been talking of, would then be yours.

It is therefore, no crime, to find yourself weak. Biology and society, leave no stone un-turned, to keep you weak. Therefore, it is never surprising, if you look at yourself, and discover, a hundred weaknesses. It is normal.

It is normal to be weak.

But it is not alright, not acceptable, to be protective towards your weaknesses.

Finding them is alright. protecting them, is not.

Questioner: Acharya Ji, you have made it very easy.

Acharya Ji: If at the very first step, you declare it difficult, then there is no second step. Remember, what the germs said? “It’s going to be very difficult for you.” Do not buy into what the germs speak.

Question 2: Acharya Ji, can you give clarity in ‘concentration’? How to concentrate?

Acharya Ji: To concentrate, is to allow something worldly, to occupy you fully. To concentrate, is to allow something worldly, to occupy you fully.

Does concentration have a role in spiritual process? Yes, and No. Concentration can have a very beneficial role, and a very deleterious role as well. There is stuff in the world, that can take you beyond the world. If you concentrate on that, then you move into ‘dhyaan’(meditation).

Concentration has something worldly, as your goal.

Meditation, or ‘dhyaan’, is to have ‘the Beyond’ as your goal.

Now, ‘the beyond’ as the goal, is beyond the capacity of the mind.

Therefore the mind, has to necessarily start with concentration.

But, we said that concentration, is both – a boon and a curse. Concentration is a boon, if you have discretion, if you really know what to concentrate on. If you really fall in love with the right object, to concentrate on, that is ‘Ishq-e-majazi’, then concentration will lead you to meditation.

Therefore, in Patanjali’s path, concentration is one of the steps. But if you concentrate, on something stupid, it will take you deep into itself, and far away from meditation. Therefore, concentration, is a double-edged sword.

Come to the right object, and concentrate fully. Along-with concentration, discretion is needed. Discretion is needed, so that you concentrate on the right object.

Concentration, plus discretion – a good recipe for meditation.

Concentration, without discretion – devastation.

Question 3: Acharya Ji, does Vipasanna help?

Acharya Ji: It totally depends on the person. You have to hold the hand of something, or somebody, that is evidently taking you to the beyond. And, you have to hold the hand tightly. This ‘tightness’ of the hold, is called ‘concentration’.

But, before you hold someone’s hand tightly, do determine, who he is.


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

Watch the session:  What is Tapasya? What is concentration? || Acharya Prashant (2019)


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Acharya Prashant on Khalil Gibran: You know your real face, and your real home?

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“Your life, my friend,

is a residence far away from any other

residence and neighbours.

Your inner soul is a home far away from

other homes named after you.

If this residence is dark,

you cannot light it with your neighbour’s lamp;

If it is empty you cannot fill it

with the riches of your neighbour;

Were it in the middle of a desert, you could not move it to a

garden planted by someone else…

Your inner soul, my friend,

is surrounded with solitude and seclusion.

Were it not for this solitude and this seclusion

you would not be you and I would not be I.

If it were not for that solitude and seclusion,

I would, if I heard your voice, think myself to be speaking;

Yet, if I saw your face, I would imagine that I were looking into a mirror.”

~ Khalil Gibran

Acharya Prashant: Poets have a way, of presenting the Truth. The way helps. The way is beautiful. But as happens with all ways to the Truth, the way itself is a bit of a hindrance to the destination.

What Khalil Gibran is saying here, is essentially very straightforward. The inner seclusion and solitude that he is talking of, is nothing, but your calm, peaceful, silent, immovable, center.

Seated at that center, with the calmness, the immovability, of the center, vested in the mind as well; the mind gains intelligence, the mind gains discretion.

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Acharya Prashant on Vivekachudamani: How to discriminate rightly, and get rid of fear?

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Questioner: Dear Acharya Ji, Pranam.

Discrimination and renunciation have been given the highest importance in Vivekchudamani. I do discrimination of real and unreal by enquiry of objects and situations around me and observing my mind attentively. It is clear that all structures are bound to collapse in time. I see the fakeness of me to some extent. Yet, I have not gained a firm conviction of truth. Dear Acharya Ji, please tell me how can I discriminate, further, diligently so that I am able to see things with clear eyes and get rid of the fear caused by snake vision?

Thank you.

Acharya Prashant: Parameshwari, continue doing what you are doing; just continue.

When one starts getting success on a particular path, then excitement tells her to do more. This excitement seems like a supporter of change, a supporter of progress. But this excitement is actually intent on blocking the progress. When something is going right, then just put your head down, and continue doing what you are doing.

A lot of people let the valuable slip away from their hands because they took the valuable for granted. Once you get it, then it is your duty to stop looking this way and that way, then, it is your duty to just serve what you have, without any deviation, without any question.

If the medicine is benefitting you, better complete the course.

There are so many who suffer just because the medicine is extremely good. The medicine is great, and you had to take it for six months. And the medicine is so great that it started showing its effect in the first two months itself. There was not only improvement but actually improvement beyond expectation.

So, what do you do?

Oh, you give up!

Have you not observed this with kids?

They get a fever and the doctor says, ‘This medicine has to be taken for ten days.’ The medicine is good and so the fever goes away within 3 days.

Now, it’s the fifth day, and the kid refuses to take the medicine, now the medicine has been discontinued precisely because the medicine is very good. You see, this is how the ego works, ‘I have got it, it was so good; I have benefitted.’

‘I have already benefitted’, and on the 7th day, the fever is back.

And now the doctor says it is a chronic fever and the course will run for one month.

The original prescription was for ten days.

Now he says the case is spoilt, now, it will run for one month.

See, you have done a little Parameshwari, and with that little you are getting results beyond the little.

Do remember that you have so far not put in much of investment. You have only done a little; and see what you are asking: ‘Yet I have not gained a firm conviction of Truth.’

How are you entitled to gain a firm conviction of Truth?

In two months’ time? With a bit of reading?

That’s ego, which tells you that God is easy, facile, just round the corner. Just do a bit of reading, just apply a bit of discrimination and you will have the fellow in your pocket!

Sadhana must continue uninterrupted.

Uninterrupted, unquestioned.

And never ask, ‘When I will have a firm conviction?’

Truth is not a conviction.

Truth is not something that you have.

Truth has you.

You are never going to have the truth.

Little kids, they plant sapling, and for one week they water them. But the little thing has just been planted, it doesn’t grow by much, or even if it grows, all you see is one or two little fresh sprouts, that doesn’t satisfy the one who is constantly watching, and eagerly expecting.

So he says, ‘Probably there is something wrong with the little plant! Are the roots really healthy?’

So, he will go and uproot it, and check the roots, and again put it back, and every week he does that. He wants to check the length of the roots, if it is firmly established in the earth just like you are asking a firm conviction of Truth, for how much? How much have you given? How much time, how much patience, how much sadhana?

Continue doing what you are doing; just continue.

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Sushupti is the final frontier of Maya

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अविवेको मायासौषुप्तम्

(Unconsciousness and lack of self-awareness create the illusion of deep sleep)

~Shiva Sutra (1.10)

Acharya Prashant: Tenth Sutra, अविवेको मायासौषुप्तम् – Unconsciousness and lack of self-awareness create the illusion of deep sleep. That which we called as ‘deep sleep’ is the final frontier of ‘Maya’ because it gives the illusion that, no objects remain.  So, it appears so much like Samadhi.

Sushupti is the final frontier of Maya. You know what is ‘Maya’? What is ‘Maya’? –Illusion.

Why is Maya mentioned only in the context of ‘Sushupti’? Because only in ‘Sushupti’ do you feel that ‘Maya’ has vanished. If the objects are illusory then you feel and see no objects in Sushupti. So, only in Sushupti, can you be assured that because objects are not there so ‘Maya’ too is not there. Continue reading

Who are you and what is your nature?

 Listener 1: Even if we surrender, still there’s a confusion.

AP: Of course, if you surrender then you are still on top, and can you see how discreetly you are surrendering, “Even if we surrender”, as if surrendering is a choice.

Listener 1: No sir, it’s not a choice.

AP: Then it’ll just happen. Then you won’t say, “Even if I surrender.”

Listener 1: But there is no clear way ahead.

AP: Who’s way, your way? If you are surrendered, will you ask about the way or will you say – ‘Now my surrender is the way’. If I have surrendered myself to the driver then why should I worry about the way ahead, the driver will take care of the way.

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