All else is external || Acharya Prashant (2013)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.

Speaker: The question is, ‘why bother at all looking inside, when all the answers are available on the outside?’ Let’s see.

Listener: Sir, can I say something?

Speaker: Yes.

Listener: Sir, you might have seen a lot of introverts in your life, people who don’t bother looking outside. You might have seen really hard core introverts who remain only with themselves. They don’t interact with anyone. Now, I am assuming that twenty-four hours they look inside for answers, but at the end of the day, they really do not understand anything. When somebody comes and teaches us something, we have learned from you or from other teachers from outside only. I have not learnt anything from inside.

Speaker: Rohan, this is such a precious question and this is a question that we all must give ourselves to-fully, completely.

 What is inside and what is this outside? What is this introversion and this extroversion? What is this inside and outside? Inside what, Rohan? Inside this skin bag?

Listener: Mind.

Speaker: Mind. Is the mind inside you? What do you mean by inside something? When you say inside something is something, then you are assuming yourself to be something. What do you mean by inside? Inside what? You say your mind is inside. Inside what?

Listener: The brain.

Speaker: The mind is inside the brain. The brain is inside…?

Listener: The skull

(Everybody laughs)

Speaker: My skull. So, it’s all about the skull and the skull is inside the skin. So, the inside and outside is determined by the boundary of your skin or skull. Hazy,very hazy. Isn’t it? Inside what? Inside my skin. So, all the answers are inside my skin.

Don’t seek answers from outside; seek answers from inside your skin. Problem! It cannot be this way. What are you or me or anybody for that matter? What are we? What is our inside? What do we mean by inside? When you say, ‘an introvert looks inside’ then what do you mean by that? Don’t go by these traditional definitions. Inquire. Find out. What do you mean by inside?

Listener: Sir, it’s again a response to something from outside.

Speaker: If you can understand something that means that you are apart from that thing. Understand this. Whatever can be understood, you are not that. What the finger-tip can touch cannot be the finger-tip. Black cannot see black. Whatever you can see, hear, touch or understand, that you cannot be, that is an object of your understanding. You cannot be that. If I can read the book, can I be the book? And can a book read itself? And if you can read the book, can you be the book?

So, first principle- whatever you can touch, see, feel, smell, know, and understand- that you cannot be. You are apart from all that. You are different from all that. Then, everything is outside. Nothing is inside because everything can be understood.

You are that intelligence that understands, and if you can understand then you are not that thing .Everything is outside. It’s a cardinal mistake to assume that anything is inside. There you are, and there are layers and layers of outside. These are called layers of your personality. All of these are external. None of them is internal. There is nothing called internal. Not yet clear. Are you not coming along with this?

Take an onion. It has an outermost layer. You take out that layer because you want to find inside. All that you find is another layer. You take out that layer as well. You move further inwards, and there is another layer and again another layer. Now ultimately, what is there inside? That no layer is, what you are. All the layers can be peeled away. You are that understanding that sees all these layers come and go. All these layers are external. You got them from family, society, by birth, through all the external influences. None of these layers is ‘you’. Are you getting this? So, firstly see that there is nothing internal. Whatever you can understand is external, a layer. You could watch it, it’s there; outside. It’s all external, there is nothing internal.

Now you will say, ‘what is the need for inquiry when all the answers come from outside?’ All your life you have been taking answers from outside. Has this helped you? Tell me. Has that helped? That cannot help. Life will remain boring, full of doubts, full of apprehensions till the time you do not know this world, your mind, the meaning of living, on your own. It is an obligation towards yourself as a young individual to discover these things on your own. Discovering them on your own, by no means mean becoming an introvert. Who told you that an introvert keeps on looking within? An introvert is only someone, who does not talk too much, get involved too much with other people, but if he is occupied with his thoughts that does not mean that he knows. To be occupied with thoughts means, to be living in a dreamland. Being an introvert does not necessarily mean that you are intelligent and being an extrovert does not mean that you cannot know.

Introversion and extroversion are just personality characteristics. They change as well. Introverts turn extroverts and vice-versa. General inquiry is not about introversion or extroversion; it’s about attention, it is about looking in an unbiased way.

Looking at what? Looking at both: the world and this mind. And this world is external and this mind is also external. Keep this in. Whatsoever you will understand is external; don’t identify so much with it. Right now, this must be sounding strange to you because you have identified so much with this mind that it beats you that how could this mind be external. This is my own mind, inside my skin, so how can this be external? You look at it just as objectively, just as dispassionately with as little prejudice, as you look at equipment in the laboratory.

You don’t allow your desires to interfere in the observation. Do you allow? You conduct the experiments and note the readings as they are. You don’t let your desire dictate, that ‘you know I don’t want Plank’s constant be that much’. ‘Today I am in good mood so Plank’s constant must be higher’. ‘Today I am depressed so constant of gravity; ‘g’ cannot be more than 6 m/s2, if I am depressed ‘g’ should also be depressed’. You see things for what they are. Similarly, you look at the processes of the mind as they are. How the mind is influenced? How the thoughts arise? How it gets easily distracted? You observe these processes as they are happening? You observe it just as you observed the outside. This also is outside. This too can be observed. Don’t think that this is inside you. This too is an external thing, totally external. Observe it. Are you getting it? Whatsoever comes from outside can make you a slave of it, it cannot ever quench your thirst.

And then, there are multiple issues. From outside, not one answer but many and mutually conflicting answers will come. You ask, ‘what is a good life’ or ‘how do I take decisions regarding my career?’ You will get fifty different answers of the same question. Right? Who will decide which of these answers are appropriate for you? Ultimately, Rohan will decide. So, in any case, ultimately your intelligence has to be put to work. Are you seeing this? When intelligence is ultimately what will give me the answer, why not apply it from the outside as well?

By all means, collect information from outside. Rohan, take all the information that is available from outside. But do not let that information become your master; do not let that information dominate you. Take information from outside but do not take answers from outside. Do you understand the difference between information and answer? Information can only come from outside and answer is a definitive decision. Do not let that decision come from outside. If your life is moving on ready-made decisions coming from outside then it is a slave’s life. Do you see this? So, by all means, let information come to you but your answers will always be yours. They must be yours.

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session video: All else is external || Acharya Prashant (2013)

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