Acharya Prashant is dedicated to building a brighter future for you
How to differentiate right thinking from wrong thinking? || Acharya Prashant,on Shri Ashtavakra Gita
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
17 min
120 reads

śuddhamadvayamātmānaṁ bhāvayanti kubuddhayaḥna tu jānanti saṁmohādyāvajjīvamanirvṛtāḥ-Ashtavakra Gita(18-43)

Translation: The stupid one thinks of himself, and lives in the confusion of concepts.The wise one knows himself and lives in the joy of clarity.

Speaker: The question is: If one doesn’t meditate upon the aatman and still be redeemed, then what to meditate of. Those of dull intellect meditate upon the aatman as pure and one but they do not realize it. Through delusion they remain unhappy as long as they live.

The exact word used is ‘kubuddhi’ , the one with impure intellect. What is the difference between sadbuddhi (pure intellect) and kubuddhi (impure intellect)? ‘The man with kubuddhi (impure intellect)’, Ashtavakra says, ‘even if he meditates upon the supreme truth, even if he says technically all the right things, that the aatman is pure, the aatman is one, that the aatman is without a second, he doesn’t realize it. He remains deluded and he consequently remains unhappy as long as he lives.’

What is this kubuddhi (impure intellect)which is responsible for his deluded state throughout his life? Buddhi (intellect)is the movement of mind from one state to the other. The mind is constantly in a flux, always moving, thoughts rising and falling, images coming and going. No state of mind is permanent, and if it is looked at closely, it would seem that it doesn’t survive even for a moment.

The power vested in the mind through which the states move into each other, through which mind moves from one state to other, that is buddhi (intellect). Buddhi (intellect) is an important part of what the scriptures call as antahkaran chatushtay , the four states of mind. Mun , buddhi , chitt , ahankaar .

Buddhi (intellect) is the guiding force. Then what is sadbuddhi (pure intellect) and what is kubuddhi (impure intellect)? Buddhi (intellect)makes mind move. All movement of the mind can only be in one of the two directions. One direction is- I exist and that is the ultimate truth. I am there, as I know myself. My concepts about myself, my image about myself, and from this position I now want to understand the world, the universe, and finally the ultimate truth.

Apparently the effort of buddhi (intellect) is genuine. It does want to understand, it does want to know, it is meditating. But it is meditating keeping itself intact. It would be making very smart moves, it would be analyzing thoroughly, but the objective of all the moves would be to maintain the self, and to discover the truth while maintaining the self.

Now it is a very peculiar situation. When you say that I want to discover the truth , while maintaining the self, remember that now you will be under compulsion to create a version of truth that maintains the self. We will go back to it.

We are talking of one particular movement of buddhi (intellect). We said that all movement of buddhi (intellect) can be in one of two directions. We have taken one of the directions. We are saying that one direction is, ‘I exist’, that is taken for granted, that is the first truth, that is the principle, fundamental position. ‘It is not that I am a dull man, it is not that I am a closed man. Apparently I am a seeker. Apparently I want to know, I want to enquire, and I am investing my energy and understanding. But my prime concern, my fundamental position is- I am what I am. Around this position the truth must disclose itself.’

So what will inevitably happen is that, I will be forced to come not to the truth but to a concept of truth, which is suitable to the position that I hold about myself, my identity, my image. I will come to something, there would be a mental movement. It is not that I would be so dull that I won’t discover anything. I will discover a lot of things, but whatever I will discover, it will be polluted by its mandate, to be compatible with ‘me’. And if it is not compatible with me, I will not even be able to discover it. Not that I will reject it, it will not come in purview of my discovery. This is kubuddhi (impure intellect).

The one with kubuddhi(impure intellect) keeps self before truth. The one with Kubuddhi (impure intellect) says, ‘Truth is great, truth is wonderful. Let me search for the truth.’ Now this is seemingly a very harmless statement to say, in fact a very nice thing to say. Right? ‘I will go and search for the truth.’ But here a nuance has not been realized that when you go and search for the truth, then you have said that whatever will be revealed, will be revealed to ‘me’, the same ‘me’ who went out to search. So ‘me’ before truth. ‘I come first. The truth has to be suitable to me.’

So the man with kubuddhi (impure intellect), when he picks up Ashtavakra Gita, then what is his approach? Read the Ashtavakra Gita, find out all the important verses. And what would be important to him? That which maintains him, that which maintains him. It is not that he would not read the scripture. He would read, he would appreciate, he would want to go through all the knowledge that can be available to him, but out of all that, he would give importance to that which maintains him.

It is because he has said that the truth he is talking about is extremely important, but still less important than ‘him’. He is the worshiper of the truth, but before truth he worships himself.

He may go to Ashtavakra, or he may go to Kabir, or he may go to Krishna, but within himself there would always be a feeling that ‘I am going there, I will benefit, something good will happen to me’. It is like a pre-condition, ‘If I am going, then I should benefit.’ This also implies that if this self comes under any kind of threat, then all his sense of allegiance, or surrender, or affinity, to Ashtavakra or Krishna, would evaporate in a moment. Now they don’t matter to him.

The man with sadbuddhi (pure intellect) on the other hand, places the truth in an incomparable position. The man with s adbuddhi (pure intellect) says, ‘There is no question of asking what is more important, the truth or me. There is no question of wondering that what will happen to me when I come upon the truth. If it is the truth, it would be auspicious. If it is the truth, it would definitely be helpful. So there is no point speculating what will happen to me if I know the truth. What will happen to me if I start living the truth? Oh my god!’

This question does not arise in the man with pure intellect, sadbuddhi . He does have thoughts, but never a thought that questions the truth itself. Never. The fear that, ‘Everything else can be given up, I can drop my notions, I can drop my attachment, but let me protect at least myself. You know, ‘I’ will come upon the truth, truth is bliss. I must survive, to experience that anand , that bliss.’

The one with sadbuddhi (pure intellect), does not raise even this argument. It is not that it says that truth is greater than the self. In sadbuddhi (pure intellect) truth is incomparable, because deep within it knows that there is nothing, except the truth. So what to compare it with?

This man now has no self-imposed duty to protect himself. He is not under an obligation to come to a certain, appropriate version of truth. He is open to discovery. He is not wondering, ‘Oh my god! What lies in the closet? Are there skeletons in the cupboard? What will I discover? I hope discovery is not too harsh. I hope I don’t come to know, or see something, that simply shakes me up.’ These concerns do not bother him. He says, ‘Let it be. Come. Bring it on. I am prepared to see whatever it might be. The ugliest cannot be ugly enough to deter me. The most terrible cannot be terrible enough to shake me up. Its alright. I can take anything. Bring it on.’

So there is a very fine difference between sadbuddhi (pure intellect) and kubuddhi (impure intellect). In fact, that difference is not visible till the very last stage. Both are seekers, both want to know, both want to understand, both are prepared to give up, relinquish, both show movement from one state of mind to another state of mind, yet there is a subtle difference, and that subtle difference creates a world of difference, when it comes to the final leap.

The one with kubuddhi (impure intellect) will say, ‘I need to protect myself.’ The one with sadbuddhi (pure intellect) says, ‘We were talking about the truth, which by definition is one without a second, all-encompassing joyful, deathless. Do I still have to take care of myself? Do I still have to be concerned about my well-being? I can let myself loose in the pursuit of truth. Whatever happens to me is exactly the right thing that should happen. I am not going to worry about what is happening. Whatever is happening is the best that ought to have happened.’

‘Based on my conditions, based on my feelings and my reactions, I am not going to decide my course of action. After the days fight, I will not come back to my room in the evening and count my wounds. And my wounds are not going to decide whether I am going to fight the next day or not, that is a given, that has already been decided. One wound or ten wounds, I am going to be found in the battle-field next day. So what is the point in counting them anyway? If there is a wound a single wound, its good, nice. I will go and fight even if there are thousand wounds. Do I have the option of not turning up, available to me? No, I gave up that option long back. I don’t have that option. It is the battle of truth. I have to show up. I am option less.’

The man with kubuddhi (impure intellect) says, ‘You see, it’s a great battle. No doubt it is a great battle, but I must live to see the victory.’ That is one condition that he poses. He says, ‘Yes I am fighting, I am fighting for victory, but if victory comes and I am no more there to look at it, to enjoy it, then what is the point of such a victory?’ This is the difference between these two minds. The one with kubuddhi (impure intellect) says, ‘I will fight, there is no doubt. I am going to fight, but I will fight while protecting myself.’

Whenever that is an objective, then remember that the battle is so bloody that one day you will have to choose your protection over the truth. Because you will be hurt, it’s a bloody battle. You will be hurt, you will be wounded, and then you will be required to make a choice. What do you want to do tomorrow? Rest, go to the doctor or fight? And you will have to say, ‘I need to take rest the concern for self-preservation will be your defeat.’

So that is the reason why Ashtavakra says that the one with kubuddhi (impure intellect), even if he keeps thinking of the *aatma*n, of the truth, he does not realize it. He only remains deluded all along. He remains deluded even though he gives his search a very high priority. ‘I am doing so much for my search, I have given up this, I have given up that, I am working hard, I am toiling, and yet realization does not dawn upon me.’

It won’t dawn, because you have given it a very high priority, yet a priority lower than yourself, and that is your punishment. For the rest of the world truth is the fiftieth priority, you brought it up, you brought it up to the number two. So you give it a lot, you invested a lot in the search, and yet you will get nothing, because here one gets something only by placing the search on the highest pedestal, the number one. Even number two won’t be sufficient. Number two is worse than number fifty, because when you have put it on number two, you have given up all other numbers, and yet you will get nothing.

So you have lost what you apparently had, and yet you will not get anything, because to get it, it has to be the one, the incomparable value. That is why those who talk in relative terms, those who talk in the language of balancing, are the ones who will suffer the most. You can be a man who is totally occupied with the world, totally engaged in it, then it is alright. You remain occupied and engaged. You can become so dull that your senses get numb, and you don’t even experience suffering, then you are at least not suffering deeply. But there is great suffering for those who start on the path of truth, but do not go the entire way. The ones who want to balance the thing, the fifty-fifty ones or the eighty-twenty ones, they will suffer. Even ninety-nine is to 1 will not be sufficient.

On this Kabir says, ‘ Maya mili na Ram (Neither the world, nor the truth)’. Whatever you had in a worldly way, your time, your relationships, all the excitement that the world can offer, you are no longer making any use of them. At the same time your thirst remains what it was. Now that’s a bad situation. For the world the truth is hundredth priority, for you it is the second, and that is why you must suffer more and more and more. And then you come up with fantastic arguments like ‘ bukhe pet bhajan na hoye gopala (one cannot worship empty stomach). First priority has to be the stomach. If the stomach is empty, how will we go after the truth?’

‘Firstly I have to ensure a good earning for me and my family, that is my first priority, and after that I can think of other things. Have you not heard of the fundamental needs? First of all, all the physical needs have to be met, only then the higher order needs like self-actualization can come.’ Whom are you fooling? When your first priority is the stomach, then that’s what you will do, beat the stomach all through your life. The man whose first priority is the stomach, surely identifies more with the stomach than with the truth. So that’s what you are, stomach. So next time when you think of yourself, don’t think of your face, think of your stomach.

‘You know, we have responsibilities, and there is the family and I have a kid. So, there are lot many other things that are important than the truth.’ So you have discovered something bigger than the truth. You have done what all the buddhas of the world could never do. You have given up the truth. You found out that your emotions and you family responsibilities are more important than the truth. Wonderful! The Buddha must come and take a lesson or two from you.

The poor man, deluded, wandering here and there in the jungle, thinking that the truth is absolute, incomparable. But you know better than the Buddha. ‘Truth is important, but my wife, my dear ones, they are more important.’ Poor Buddha never knew all this. That is kubuddhi (impure intellect). Kubuddhi (impure intellect) will create a future, and what kubuddhi (impure intellect) will want from the future, sadbuddhi (pure intellect) will want exact the same thing this moment itself.

There will be no difference. The one with sadbuddhi (pure intellect) will say, ‘I am drinking’, the one with kubuddhi (impure intellect) will say, ‘I will drink.’ Same statement, but a world of difference. If you can look at them closely, when you say, ‘I will drink’, it’s a conspiracy of the mind to say, ‘I am not drinking.’ Pay attention when you say, ‘I will drink’, what you are saying is, ‘Right now I am not drinking.’

The one with kubuddhi (impure intellect) will always create a future, always. It will want to do all the great things that can be done. All the wonderful things that can be there, it would surely be devoted to all of them. But when? In the future. It will postpone the truth to the future, so that it can escape the truth in the present. That’s the conspiracy. Because truth is number two, so it can be procrastinated. Number one is something else, that I have to take care right now. First priority, this moment. Second priority, future.

Do you see how he shifts all that is valuable to the future. and whatever there is an urge to dive into the gutter of life we do it right now. If you have ever felt like being angry, have you ever said that I will be angry six months later? Have you ever said, ‘ bukhe krodh na hoye gopala (one cannot be angry empty stomach).’ If you want to be angry, you will be angry spontaneously. That moment you will not say that let me first marry-off my daughter, then I will be angry.

Now this will help you to decide the difference between sadbuddhi (pure intellect) and kubuddhi (impure intellect). Remember both will say that the clarity session is important, in this they will not differ. They all will agree. But the one with sadbuddhi (pure intellect)will say that it is the number one priority, that everything else can go for a toss, that let the entire world burn, but this cannot be compromised or delayed. The one with kubuddhi (impure intellect) will say that it is important, very important, absolutely important, but let me take permission from my father.

What are you saying? What are you saying? ‘I know it is great and very important, it is the most important thing for myself, let me just inform my mother.’

Whom are you deceiving?

Have you benefited from Acharya Prashant's teachings?
Only through your contribution will this mission move forward.
Donate to spread the light
View All Articles