Question: Acharya ji, what is the most important lesson in spiritual wisdom? How to understand the mind of a commoner? How to understand a spiritual mind? How to understand a scientific mind? What are the challenges faced in spiritual journey?
Acharya Prashant Ji: One of the key lessons in spiritual wisdom, is to keep imagination apart from facts, is to not take your ‘personal world’, as ‘the’ world. It is already bad enough that we take ‘the factual world’, ‘the world’ to be real. And it would become far worse if we started taking even our ‘personal world’, ‘the imaginary world’ to be real.
The mark of the commoner is, he lives in his personal world, and attributes to it, the finality of Truth. The mark of the scientist, is that he does not live in his world, he does not care about subjective interpretations of the world, he lives fully in facts. So his science is fully objective, and does not contain trace of personal subjecivity. The scientist is obviously, an advancement over the common psyche. And then the mark of the spiritual mind, is that, it does not lend veracity even to the factual world.
The common mind is inclined to say, “Something exists, because I feel it does.” Right? “Something exists, because I feel, or think that it does.” So he says, “Something exists.” So his world is very, very subjective. Then there is the world of the scientist. He says, “Something does not merely exist, because it appears to exist. Appearances can be deceptive. Appearances vary from person to person, even mood to mood. So I have to verify. I have to cross-check.” And that is the scientific method.
Prove it, and any number of proofs do not suffice to ascertain the veracity of something. But one proof against the veracity of something, suffices to prove that it is false. That’s the scientific mind.
And then there is the spiritual mind.
The spiritual mind says, “Not only is the imaginary world unreal, even this objective, factual, scientifically proven world, that you see, expanded all around you and inside you, is not quite real.”
We have talked of three kinds of minds. There is another quality of mind, that is below even the common mind. It is the mind of the madman, the crazy man. The common man cares at least a bit for facts. The crazy man does not care even one bit for facts.
The common mind would atmost say, “Yes, this is the pillar. But I do not like this pillar.” So, to him this is a dis-likable pillar. The crazy mind would may even say that this is an elephant, and he would insist that this is an elephant, and this is his totally personal truth.
The more your truth becomes personal, the more crazy you are. The madman too lives in truths, but all his truths are purely personal. If he says, “This is an elephant,” – this is an elephant for him. He says, “I do not bother about universality. I do not bother about something being verifiable. I do not bother about facts. Obviously I do not bother about the Truth. All I bother about is my subjective perception.”
The more you live in your world of subjective perceptions, the more crazy you are.
Listener: So, in the light of this, this is the good reason for travelling and wanting to explore?
Acharya Ji: Yes, very good.
Travel helps you see that several of the things, opinions customs, mindsets, you were taking as absolutes, or general, universal, are not universal at all.
There are alternate viewpoints possible.
There are alternate ways of living possible.
That does not mean that alternate ways of living are truer than your ways of living. That merely means, that there do exist alternatives, and Truth has no alternative. So, a thing to which an alternative does exist, is just not the Truth. If it is not the Truth, it must not be given the position of Truth. It must be taken lightly, casually, with a pinch of salt.
Do not be sold out to it. Do not become a fanatic. Do not hold your opinions, as if they are the last thing. But, if you have seen nothing, apart from opinions of your personal kind, then you would be much more inclined to believe that you opinions are not personal, or subjective opinions of a person, or a place, but that they are the final Truth.
It is always helpful to see an alternative. It is probably even more helpful, to watch your point of view challenged, even defeated. All of that helps you, come out of your false truths.
The key challenge in spirituality, is not the attainment of absolute Truth, because there is as such nothing to be attained. What are you going to attain with these little hands? Can you really attain immensity? You cannot. The infinite is not given to be contained in littleness. And we are all very little.
Hence, the key challenge is not the attainment of the infinite. The key challenge is to come out of the finite. And that is far more difficult. We keep talking of the immense, the great, the unknowable, the unreachable, the absolute. But hardly do we bother to challenge all the relatives, all the littlenesses, all the subjectivities, that we so very identify with. And not only do we identify with them, we label them as the – final Truth.
Challenging your personal truths, is most of spirituality. Those are the ninety-none steps. Ninety-nine steps of the personal demolition. And the final step, that just happens. What is incumbent upon you, that for which you are responsible, is personal demolition. You are not responsible for attainment of the absolute Truth.
That is not at all your responsibility, because you are too small to do that. However, you are surely, definitely, responsible to challenge yourself. That responsibility everyone must bear. That is the basis of personal integrity, personal honesty.
Personal integrity is – to not to take the person too seriously.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: The four grades of mind || Acharya Prashant (2019)
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