Self-knowledge and Mind

Acharya Prashant
10 min readMay 18, 2021

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

Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, what is Self-learning and Self-knowing, and how are they connected with the mind?

Acharya Prashant (AP): It is a little different. The mind exists only when you are unnecessarily associated with the brain, otherwise, there is nothing called the mind. There is the brain, and the brain is an instrument of Prakriti. (Indicating various objects kept on the table in front of him) Just like this is there, just like this is there, similarly the brain is there. But when the ego principle — that little self, the little thing that keeps calling itself as the ‘I’ — gets associated with the body, and therefore the brain, then something called the mind comes into being; otherwise, there is nothing called the mind. Otherwise, there is just the brain and the Prakritik activity of the brain.

Mind is not even needed. Mind is when ‘I’ becomes an interloper, an unnecessary trespasser. Leave the brain alone and it will think, it will think without ‘I’; but if you are associated with the brain, identified with the body, then your thoughts will be all I-centred. In the middle of every thought, there would be ‘I’. “So, Israel is fighting Palestine” — even this thought would have a very strong I-center. You would not be able to look at the situation dispassionately, with any kind of detachment. Anything happening anywhere, any thought about anything; would impinge on the ‘I’.

Because this ‘I’ is so insecure and this ‘I’ is so lonely, it wants to have a relationship with everything; and this is called mental activity then. This is no more brain activity, now this is mental activity.

The activity of the brain is necessary to sustain the organism. If there is no activity in the brain, your heart won’t beat properly. Who tells the heart to beat properly? The brain. If the brain activity is not proper, then your hands won’t move properly. In fact, if your brain gets hit somewhere, you may get paralyzed in the leg. Now your leg has not been hit, what has been hit? The brain. But, what has been paralyzed? Leg. So, brain activity is alright.

Thought too is just a pure movement in Prakriti, exactly as pure as the flow of a mountain river. Doesn’t a mountain river flow? In…

Acharya Prashant