Acharya Prashant speaking at 23rd Advait Learning Camp (International Spiritual Exchange)
on 1st February 2016, Shivpuri, Uttarakhand
Acharya Prashant: Suppose these statements (referring to the scriptures given to camp participants) come to you without a title, suppose you do not know that they are coming from the Upanishads. How would you respond to them?
Listener 1: It’s too abstract.
AP: Too abstract, right?
L2: For me, it would be the same
AP: The same. So would you actually devote so much of time and respect to them irrespective of the title that they have? Suppose you just have found these written on a sheet of paper somewhere; no introduction, no heading, no explanation just these statements. Would they still carry the same weightage for you? Would they?
We would like to say yes.
L2: It seems like a code language, what it means?
AP: That in some way is the whole message of the Upanishads— To the mind, the name matters so much.
And that is an understatement. It might be possible, that to the mind, name is everything and it might be possible that some of the statement set that has come to us right now may not be from any Upanishad but still, we would accept them and try to make some sense out of them because they carry the name of the Upanishads. Without that support without that name, we would have simply ignored and rejected that statement or statements.
How does it help the mind to have names?
Why does the mind find it so comforting to deal with names?
L1: There is a certain fixity.
AP: Certainty. Right. Once I know that a thing is what I know it to be, then I am relieved of the need to enquire into it. Something new comes let say a new person, I’ll have to ask a lot, I’ll have to pay attention, I’ll have to be open; an old acquaintance comes, the name is sufficient who is knocking? Okay, it is Rajul Garg (picking up random name).
Now, the name Rajul Garg is an assurance plus it relieves me from the need to pay attention, the need to work, the need to find out, it may also be possible that the mind fundamentally has very little capacity to reach directly, by itself, into the Truth, so it needs names. If names are not there till you have to find out and finding out is probably impossible for the mind at least for a usually conditioned mind. So it will have to deal with names. the
Name is knowledge, the name is the assurance that ‘I know’, thereby name is the stuff of ego.
See whether whatever you know has a name or not. Is it possible to know, is it possible to have knowledge without the name? Is it possible to have knowledge without a label or a code? Is it possible to have knowledge that the ego cannot call or summon?
You see, I ask you something the question challenges you, the question challenges you and if you are up to the challenge, then you will feel reduced, hurt. The ego is at stake. So the moment you’re asked something the ego sends a message to the knowledge database and from the knowledge database, help arrives. The help is in the form of knowledge obviously. From the knowledge database, help will be in the form of knowledge. And one uses that knowledge; the ego uses the knowledge to defend itself.
How is the ego able to call knowledge and resources from that database?
Please understand the process.
The process consists solve the following steps–
First of all, whatever seems to be happening the sensual inputs that the ego gathers is forcibly related to some previous experience. The word forcibly is important because actually whatever is happening has no relation at all with the past. Even that which appears like a fruit of the past even that which appears like having a causal link with the past actually has no link but it is the ego’s helplessness and the necessity to relate it to the past.
So, the label is put on the happening and that label is not new. And that label is something that ego must have necessarily used before, encountered before. So you see a man of a certain ethnicity and immediately the ego having already put the label of ethnicity also puts another label – enemy. So, the man is approaching you the first label has already been put, the first label refers to the ethnicity. The ethnicity could relate to religion or the color or geography or anything.
The second label is the enemy. Now another search happens in the knowledge database—Enemy of this particular ethnicity, what to do? And from there help arrives from there a readymade answer arrives do this. And now the ego can do that. It is a very blind process, the ego doesn’t really know anything about anything but it has a large collection of memories. The whole of mankind collective’s consciousness is available to the ego. It’s a very large database and the ego is good at searching; it hardly ever forgets anything. Whatever enters the database the ego is quite skilled at quickly searching it.
And thus we go on living.
This is what we called as life.
Something happening, naming happens, now the naming acts as a pointer. To search from a large database you require a reference variable, don’t you? Indexing. So the name helps in indexing. What you called in computer science as the primary key, naming is that.
Do you see how blind the whole process is ?
And this whole process is the whole of our life. We know, I repeat, nothing about anything. But we go on living and we go on reacting and it appears as if the whole thing is coming out of careful consideration, it appears as if there is great wisdom behind our responses.
If the whole of the database could be opened up, it would be very very possible to predict our future. The future is the movement of time, the future is the next response and the next response is so very already known.
Does not sound very interesting all of this, does not sound very attractive all this, Does it?
If it doesn’t sound very interesting then how can it be any better to live this?
~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Would you know without naming?
Read more articles on this topic:
Article 1: Love does not know labels
Article 2: Spirituality is science turned inwards – it looks at both the subject and object
Article 3: I have been living in ignorance. How do I start living in knowing?
25th Advait Learning Camp with Acharya Prashant is being organized
Dates: 17th to 20th October
Place: Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand
To apply, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Books by Acharya Prashant are available on AMAZON: