On Advaita Vedanta: The mind is your shadow

Acharya Prashant
4 min readApr 22, 2022

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

Questioner (Q): You mentioned that mumukṣā (deep desire for liberation) is what matters when we choose a path for liberation. But the mind is always playing games. Once I do things against its comfort, it tries to make up stories, and create random, non-existent problems for me. Should I listen to my mind? Should I ignore it? Should I be neutral with what it does and just watch? Please guide.

Acharya Prashant (AP): This is how you are looking at it: You are saying that whenever you try for liberation, whenever you move towards liberation, the mind tries to disturb and distract you. You are saying it cooks up stories, it creates random, non-existent problems, and it starts playing various games to disturb and distract you. That may not really be the case.

You see, it’s like this. The mind has had experiences. It proceeds only on the basis of experiences it has had; it has nothing else. The little self, the ego is nothing without time. And what it has been doing through the course of time? It has been interacting with the world. Time means a relationship now and a relationship then; something happening right now and something happening later on. That is time.

So, the mind is full of experiences, and the mind’s experience has been such that whenever it has wanted to quench its thirst, it has never had pure water available. It has never experienced pure water at all. Probably pure water is something that cannot be experienced. So, what has the mind had? Soda water. So, what has the mind learned? That when you are thirsty, you should have soda water.

Even in soda water, what is the mind really looking for? Water. So, it drinks the soda, and in the soda, what is it that it finds useful? The water. But it does not know water; water has been outside experience. What has been within the experience? Soda water. So, now the mind’s conditioning is: when thirsty, get soda water, or some coke or some canned juice.

Now, it’s your mind, not really separate from you. I say the mind is your own shadow, which means your fundamental desire and that of the mind cannot be too different; in fact, they are just the same. It’s just that you exist as ‘I’ and the mind…