If Spiritual understanding fails to change life

Acharya Prashant
6 min readMay 10, 2020

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

Questioner: Acharya Ji, why all this understanding has not brought about radical change in the way I operate? Why do I go back to my old patterns? Why being at a place of ‘not knowing’ is scary for the mind? Why does the mind fall back to it’s usual unconscious ways?

Why does spiritual understanding fail to bring a change in life?

Acharya Prashant: Alok (the questioner), I was driving yesterday and stopped at a place for tea. When I restarted the car, I found that it was not smoothly accelerating. And then I looked at the dashboard, and the dashboard quickly told me what was going on.

The handbrake was still pulled up, so obviously there was trouble. So now I know that the handbrake stands applied. I also know the complete history of what is happening. In a flash I could remember that when I parked the car, I pulled the handbrake.

All that could be known by way of knowledge or information about the hand brake, is known. I also happened to be a student of engineering so I know the way the brakes operate. I know which cylinder gets activated when I pull the brakes or jam the brakes, and what kind of effect does my action have upon the tires. In fact I am reasonably well-educated.

I also know that there is a critical speed and the critical co-efficient of friction, after which if I jam the breaks, the vehicle would start skidding. See I know so much, I am so knowledgeable. I also know that there is something called ‘anti-skid’ braking system, or ‘anti-lock’ braking system. And that prevents the vehicle from skidding away.

And to some extent I also know how the ABS operates. See I know so much. I know how the brakes operate in general, I know where the brake-lever is. I remember when I pulled the brake-lever. I also know how this particular brake, and the brakes in general operate. I know so much.

I have read the stuff from two, three, four, five books. And I have also just now observed for myself that what the books say is not just bookish stuff, it actually happens. See my car is just not accelerating. So my knowledge is not merely bookish, it is experiential. I am seeing the effect of…

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