How to cultivate understanding?

Acharya Prashant
4 min readJun 18, 2021

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

Questioner: This is concerned with the fact of minute-to-minute understanding. So, for example, when I have seen the pain and cruelty being carried out on animals in the slaughterhouse, let’s say to a cow, then I have the understanding. But, then I also have the tendencies of having eaten meat all my life. Now at that moment, with that understanding, I am able to say, “No, I don’t want this non-vegetarian item.” So, do I need to apply that understanding every single time there is this opportunity for me to eat non-veg or in one instance where I have understood?

Acharya Prashant: You don’t need to consciously apply any understanding, that is not really needed. You just need to be present to understanding. There is a difference there. Application is instantaneous and unpredictable. If you try to consciously apply, if you try to deliberately plan an execution, then it will be distorted. Knowing or realization is about just being open to realizing, and you will realize because it is easy and it is your nature. You don’t have to do something to realize, you just have to be free to realize.

It’s like conversating with me at this moment. What are you doing to understand? What are you doing to understand as we talk this moment? What are you doing? Nothing in particular, right? In fact, if you are occupied doing something then it would be difficult to understand. That’s the nature of life, understanding just happens. Without planning, without preparation, without a method, it just happens. Just as right now, there is this relationship, this connectivity. Things are just happening, are they not? One just understands, there is no process to it. At most you can say, there is a mystery to it. This mystery you can call as ‘consciousness’ or if you go deeper then you can call ‘awareness’, if you want to give it a more dramatic name you can call it God.

It’s just happening, right? Look at the magic — I do not know how I am speaking and you do not know how you are listening, but it’s happening. I do not know where the words are coming from, you do not know where the words are going to, but there is a flow, and we are related. And such a tremendous thing is going on here without either party knowing how it is going on. This is…