To Witness is not to think about witnessing

Acharya Prashant
4 min readApr 19, 2020

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

Questioner: Sir, one day, when I was taking a bath, I was applying soap. So, there was a moment I realized the one who is applying the soap and to whom it is getting applied, both are in someway different, and in some ways one. There was another moment, I was taking the shower and I asked myself: why am I not getting wet? I identify myself that I am Ravi. I am standing in the bathroom, and I looked at everything around, then I am the person who is getting the soap and who is getting the bath.

But when I feel that I am looking at this, then I am the person who is doing all the activity. How to manage this. Because this is very confusing situation to me. Who is doing the activity and to whom the activity is done?

Acharya Prashant: There is nothing to be managed here. What you are talking of is a thought. You want to keep thinking like this, you can keep repeating this thought. To witness the bath, is to take the bath fully and to be totally clean. In the bathroom, if you are thinking like this, you will come out with shampoo on your head. Witnessing does not mean, that one thinks that he is the witnesser.

Witnessing means that while taking a bath, just take the bath and don’t think of this and that. That is witnessing. Otherwise, you can keep repeating this thought. If that is your definition of witnessing, that I am not getting wet. Conventionally what you are saying, is not misplaced. Yes of course, that is also the way it has conventionally been put: the witness is the one who cannot become wet by water.

We all know what Krishna said in Gita about Atman, what is it? The Fire cannot burn it. The weapons cannot pierce it. What you are saying is in that league. It belongs to that kind of literature, which is all very right.

But what Krishna is saying is not a product of thought. What you are saying is a thought that you are having in the bathroom. So even though the words appear similar, but their genesis is very different.

Q: Sometimes when I touch my skull, I wonder how this can form from a single cell. This voice and everything are from one single cell. And the cell is transformed into this big thing. If I look…

Acharya Prashant