15 June 2013


(This was my fourth Toastmasters speech)
(Tostmasters Speech 4; 569 words; 7 minutes.)

Rene Descartes——17th century French mathematician and philosopher, now known as Father of Modern Philosophy——asked an important question to himself: How can I prove my existence? It is possible that it was a Friday evening, and he was in a downtown bar, Or maybe he was on the wrong side of forties, when men tend to ask such questions. Nevertheless, he came up with an important axiom: Cogito ergo sum. In english: I think, therefore I am. Somebody is asking the question——How can I prove my existence? That somebody must exist, to ask such a question. Hence I exist.

Earlier he had rejected the validity of senses by  Wax theory. Wax has certain color and texture. But when you bring it near to a flame, wax changes its properties; hence, our senses deceive. Only a thinking mind can tell us what is right and what is wrong.

Thus Descartes identified ‘I’ with mind. And, this has been carried on for centuries now. We say a person is intelligent, solves crossword puzzles, solves Rubik's cubes, IQ over 150 etc. We identify people with mind.

Now, Eckhart Tolle——spiritual leader, New York times best selling writer of The Power of Now and A New Earth——says, Descartes was wrong. We are not our mind. Mind is just a tool. Like a hand or an eye. If you don’t use it properly, it’ll use you.

Compulsive thinking
Human beings are compulsive thinkers. As I give this speech your mind is somewhere else——Mortgage, bills, children, appraisals, health etc. Also, mind has this ability to dig out past incidents and blow them up, out of proportion. Mind plays past events again and again.

How could she say I look fat?

That was probably an off-hand remark. But our mind digs it out, adds emotions, and repeats it again and again.

This activity exhausts us.

The solution: disassociation with the mind. Observe the mind chatter. You thought about mortgage right after you woke up in the morning. Now you are thinking again at lunch. Observe that. Gradually mind chatter reduces.

Another solution is to live in the PRESENT.

Babies live in the present. They don’t know the concept of time: Past and Future. So are the animals——Dogs and Cats. They live in the present. They are just happy to see US, when we return from work.  Only adult human beings are tangled in Time.

We worry about the past that can not be changed. We have an illusion that things would become better in future. But only thing we can do is live NOW.

Creativity needs the presence. You cannot think about mortgage and write a poem. That’s why you feel relaxed, when you indulge in an activity that needs complete presence. Because the mind is not thinking.

Right NOW you don’t have any problems. Of course you need to take care of mortgage, bills, children. But right NOW as I speak we don’t have any problems. If a tornado to hit this building, we’ll take appropriate action. Run to a safe area. Call 911. Our mind is capable of doing the right thing.

So compulsive thinking is not necessary. By not thinking, you are relaxing the mind. You are creating a distance between 2 thoughts. At first you’ll find short periods of silence. When you practice this, gradually the distance increases. You become AWARE. When you are 100% AWARE, you become enlightened.

Thank you.


  1. Dear Ravi,
    Descartes was wrong indeed. 'I' is a very confusing word. There are so many levels that can all, correctly, be summarized by that word. In fact, mind itself is not a well-defined term.

    Why do you think that dogs and cats live in the present only? Do you think they have no concept of time? Do they not remember things?

    1. Hello Pranit. There's something called 'psychological time', which in simpler terms nothing but collection of memories.

      Only human beings, worry about past, and hope for things to go right in future--animals don't do that.

      Ekhart Tolle has made a few interesting similar observations in his book A New Earth.