On Advaita Vedanta: Compassion does not weep with the other; compassion cleanses the other

Acharya Prashant
5 min readApr 8, 2022

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

Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, today I was reading about brain and conditioning. Our brain is affected by experiences all the time, and these experiences put the brain in a certain form and cause deformities also. I have some memories of some people that do not allow me to feel free. I feel a certain uneasiness when I think about them. What is kṣamā or forgiveness? What is dayā or compassion? Kindly show me some light on this.

Acharya Prashant (AP): Forgiveness is to not have the need to forgive. As long as there is a need to forgive, it means you are still sticking to the small things in the brain; hurts, distortions — you are still talking about those little things. You feel offended. Because you feel offended, so the question of forgiving the other person arises: “Should I forgive, should I not forgive?”

Real forgiveness is when you have gone beyond the little things of the brain and have totally forgotten the hurt. That which you are calling permanent distortion of the brain is nothing but the attachment of ‘I’-self to all the little taints. The distortion does not just stay on; the distortion stays on because you get attached to it.

It’s like something staining your clothes or your skin. Do you know how the stain happens? Something in the cloth reacts with the spoiling agent, the dirt; actually, a friendship happens. If I put some grease on this kurta — the grease is different from the kurta, they are two different entities — how does it happen that grease meets the kurta, and then the grease doesn’t come off? How do the two become one? The two become one because a bond develops; it’s a chemical bond. Actually, chemistry takes place. They become brother and sister, or friends, or mother and son, or husband and wife. That’s how the cloth gets distorted. That’s how the brain gets distorted.

The brain develops a friendship with the nonsense of the past, and a chemical bond develops. On one side of the chemical bond, is the memory of the past. Who is on the other side of the bond? You, the ‘I’. The ‘I’ is getting bonded with, attached with that memory. The ‘I’ has developed a definition with…

Acharya Prashant