How do we know ANYTHING about life? Where do our thoughts come from?

Acharya Prashant
6 min readJul 12, 2021

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner: It’s well known that simple living and high thinking is what we should aim at, but how do we know what is simple living and high thinking?

Acharya Prashant: You talked of simple living and high thinking, and you said that it’s well known that simple living and high thinking are necessary, they are important ideals, we have heard them being emphasized so many times. Right? So we take this as some kind of a proven truth, a universal axiom that one must have high thinking or sometimes that one must have a simple living. The question is how do we know what is high thinking? How do we know what is simple living? What is the place from where we are obtaining our definitions?

There is nobody who would want to happily say that his thinking is low or lowly, there is nobody who would willingly embrace distorted or narrow or ugly thinking and thoughts. So in his own opinion, all and everybody are going for their version of the right thought.

Nobody who is thinking of anything in his own mind is thinking wrongly. In fact, we all think so much because somewhere we are confident of our thoughts and our conclusions, that our thoughts would give us. A fundamental question is how are we so sure of our thoughts? How are we even sometimes unsure of our thoughts?

We have words that are central to our life, and we have definitions of those words. For example, you used the word simplicity. From where does our definition of simplicity come? How do we classify something as being simple versus it being complex? So, the Upanishads ask us these questions, they challenge our basic notions. And these basic notions, these basic concepts, these definitions are very, very important because the entire structure of our life is built on these basic things. I mean life itself, what do you call as life? When we say our entire life is built on some basic definitions, the first word that we must learn to accurately define is life itself. How do we know, what is life? There is nobody in whose life words like career, money, education are not important. I am talking to students who are just entering a professional course. They all must have thought in…

Acharya Prashant