On Advaita Vedanta: From the gross to the subtle

Acharya Prashant
8 min readApr 15, 2022

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

क्रियानाशाद्भवेच्छिन्तानाशोऽस्माद्वासनाक्षयः ।
वासनाप्रक्षयो मोक्षः सा जीवन्मुक्तिरिष्यते ॥

vāsanāprakṣayo mokṣaḥ sā jīvanmuktiriṣyate

The destruction of action leads to that of thought; thence results the dwindling of innate impulse (to act). The obliteration of innate impulse is liberation; it is held to be freedom in life.

~ Adhyatma Upanishad, Verse 12

✥ ✥ ✥

Questioner (Q): I am aware that I have innate impulses like anger, greed, fright, fear, and attachments. Kindly help me understand what is this process of dwindling innate impulses, as mentioned in this verse.

Acharya Prashant (AP): It is the path, the method that proceeds from the gross and goes towards the subtle. This method is for those who cannot begin from the subtle-most.

There is the path of realization. The path of realization says, begin from your center, begin from your heart, Ātman; let that guide and dictate your mind; let that which comes from your Heart shape your thoughts, and then let your mind dictate your actions; let your thoughts seamlessly transform into your actions. The flow is from the center, radially outwards. You start from the Heart, you go to the mind, and then you go to the gross actions. The movement is from the most subtle to the gross.

And then contrasted to that is the path, the way, the method that is mentioned in this verse. Why is a contrasting method needed? Because most people cannot start from the Heart. Most people are so out of touch with their Hearts that they cannot listen to the Heart; they are no more in sync. You tell them, “Please start from your Heart, do what God says”; they will be perplexed because they have lost the faculty to listen to their Heart.