Question: What is ‘thought’? Why is thought dualistic? What is ‘positive thinking’? Does positive thinking work? Why is positive thinking, a hype?
Acharya Prashant: Positive thought is never fully positive, negative thought is never fully negative. That is the meaning of the uncertainty, that always tags any thought.
What is ‘uncertainty’? ‘Uncertainty’ means, that when you are positive, you cannot be certainly positive. The doubt, that positivity is flanked by negativity, always remains. What do you call as a ‘positive thought’? Thought that makes you happy. A thought about your well-being, a thought that – you would be alright or better-off. A thought of hope.
But hope is not ever certain. Hope is always accompanied by fear. You hope that you might win, but somewhere you are also afraid that you might not. So, uncertainty is there. Similarly when there is a negative thought, yet you keep hoping that the negative might be averted. Even in matters of despair, you are not fully certain. You keep clinging to some hope, howsoever unreasonable. This is what is meant, when it said that – thought is dualistic.
Total certainty is non-dual. Non-duality is possible, only when the other side, any kind of otherness, totally ceases to exist. When there is no ‘other’, there is no duality. But where there is thought, there would always be the other side of the coin.
When you are being positive, then you are looking at one side of the coin, but deep within you know that the other side also exists, and is just waiting to show-up. A little flip, and everything would change, right?
So, thought never gives you total assurance. You remain a bit iffy. Everything remains dicey. You cannot fully relax. You cannot just go to sleep. It always remains important, therefore, to carry your defenses.
With thought, therefore, fear always is there. First of all, fear is there. And second, a continuation of thought is there. When something has not been concluded, it would continue. And with thought, there is never any conclusion, and therefore, an indefinite continuation is there.
You keep thinking. It is like an infinite snakes and ladders game. Just when you think that you are about to reach the conclusion, you land in the mouth of a giant snake, and you are back to square one. And now again you continue with your long, arduous journey. And back again, to the same old point, and then again, a resumption, and then again despair. But all this helps you to while away life.
Thought serves a great purpose, it eats away your time. Otherwise, time will become such a burden.
Thinking, thinking, you continuously think, and you comfortably let days, months, years, decades, slip away. And then you are so thankful when the death arrives. Otherwise, living eighty years, and that too in awareness, would have been such a pain.
You will have, had to go through the rigors of right action.
Thoughts facilitate an avoidance of right action.
Thought is helpful. Someone comes to you and demands, “Now is the time to climb up the hill, are you ready with your trekking gear?” And you say, “No, I am still thinking.” So, all the effort and the pain, that would have come with climbing the hill, has been successfully avoided. You are still thinking.
Thinking is nice, scaling the heights is arduous.
Have you ever asked yourself – if positive thought is really ‘positive’, then why are there ever any negative thoughts, after a positive thought?
If positive thought is really ‘positive’, it should have ended even the possibility of any future negativity. But that possibility remains, and vice versa.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Does positive thinking work? || Acharya Prashant (2018)
Books by the Speaker are available at: