Commentaries on Living 
Chapter - 17
‘Love in Relationship’
THE PATH WENT by a farm and climbed a hill overlooking the various buildings, the cows with their calves, the chickens, the horses, and many farm machines. It was a pleasant path, wandering through the woods, and it was often used by deer and other wild animals who left their footprints here and there in the soft earth. When it was very still, the voices from the farm, the laughter and the sound of the radio, would be carried to quite a distance. It was a well-kept farm and there was an air of tidiness about it. Often the voices were raised in anger, followed by the silence of children. There was a song among the trees and the angry voices even broke through this song. Suddenly, a woman came out of the house, banging the door; she went over to the cow-shed and began beating a cow with a stick. The sharp noise of this beating came up the hill.
How easy it is to destroy the thing we love! How quickly a barrier comes between us, a word, a gesture, a smile! Health, mood and desire cast a shadow, and what was bright becomes dull and burdensome. Through usage we wear ourselves out, and that which was sharp and clear becomes wearisome and confused. Through constant friction, hope and frustration, that which was beautiful and simple becomes fearful and expectant. Relationship is complex and difficult, and few can come out of it unscathed. Though we would like it to be static, enduring, continuous, relationship is a movement, a process which must be deeply and fully understood and not made to conform to an inner or outer pattern. Conformity, which is the social structure, loses its weight and authority only when there is love. Love in relationship is a purifying process as it reveals the ways of the self. Without this revelation, relationship has little significance.
But how we struggle against this revelation! The struggle takes many forms: dominance or subservience, fear or hope, jealousy or acceptance, and so on and on. The difficulty is that we do not love; and if we do love we want it to function in a particular way, we do not give it freedom. We love with our minds and not with our hearts. Mind can modify itself, but love cannot. Mind can make itself invulnerable, but love cannot; mind can always withdraw, be exclusive, become personal or impersonal. Love is not to be compared and hedged about. Our difficulty lies in that which we call love, which is really of the mind. We fill our hearts with the things of the mind and so keep our hearts ever empty and expectant. It is the mind that clings, that is envious, that holds and destroys. Our life is dominated by the physical centres and by the mind. We do not love and let it alone, but crave to be loved; we give in order to receive, which is the generosity of the mind and not of the heart. The mind is ever seeking certainty, security; and can love be made certain by the mind? Can the mind, whose very essence is of time, catch love, which is its own eternity?
But even the love of the heart has its own tricks; for we have so corrupted our heart that it is hesitant and confused. It is this that makes life so painful and wearisome. One moment we think we have love, and the next it is lost. There comes an imponderable strength, not of the mind, whose sources may not be fathomed. This strength is again destroyed by the mind; for in this battle the mind seems invariably to be the victor. This conflict within ourselves is not to be resolved by the cunning mind or by the hesitant heart. There is no means, no way to bring this conflict to an end. The very search for a means is another urge of the mind to be the master, to put away conflict in order to be peaceful, to have love, to become something.
Our greatest difficulty is to be widely and deeply aware that there is no means to love as a desirable end of the mind. When we understand this really and profoundly, then there is a possibility of receiving something that is not of this world. Without the touch of that something, do what we will, there can be no lasting happiness in relationship. If you have received that benediction and I have not, naturally you and I will be in conflict. You may not be in conflict, but I will be; and in my pain and sorrow I cut myself off. Sorrow is as exclusive as pleasure, and until there is that love which is not of my making, relationship is pain. If there is the benediction of that love, you cannot but love me whatever I may be, for then you do not shape love according to my behaviour. Whatever tricks the mind may play, you and I are separate; though we may be in touch with each other at some points, integration is not with you, but within myself. This integration is not brought about by the mind at any time; it comes into being only when the mind is utterly silent, having reached the end of its own tether. Only then is there no pain in relationship.
Chapter - 18
‘The Known and the Unknown’
THE LONG EVENING shadows were over the still waters, and the river was becoming quiet after the day. Fish were jumping out of the water, and the heavy birds were coming to roost among the big trees. There was not a cloud in the sky, which was silver-blue. A boat full of people came down the river; they were singing and clapping, and a cow called in the distance. There was the scent of evening. A garland of marigold was moving with the water, which sparkled in the setting sun. How beautiful and alive it all was - the river, the birds, the trees and the villagers.
We were sitting under a tree, overlooking the river. Near the tree was a small temple, and a few lean cows wandered about. The temple was clean and well swept, and the flowering bush was watered and cared for. A man was performing his evening rituals, and his voice was patient and sorrowful. Under the last rays of the sun, the water was the colour of newborn flowers. Presently someone joined us and began to talk of his experiences. He said he had devoted many years of his life to the search for God, had practised many austerities and renounced many things that were dear. He had also helped considerably in social work, in building a school, and so on. He was interested in many things, but his consuming interest was the finding of God; and now, after many years, His voice was being heard, and it guided him in little as well as big things. He had no will of his own, but followed the inner voice of God. It never failed him, though he often corrupted its clarity; his prayer was ever for the purification of the vessel, that it might be worthy to receive.
Can that which is immeasurable be found by you and me? Can that which is not of time be searched out by that thing which is fashioned of time? Can a diligently practised discipline lead us to the unknown? Is there a means to that which has no beginning and no end? Can that reality be caught in the net of our desires? What we can capture is the projection of the known; but the unknown cannot be captured by the known. That which is named is not the unnameable, and by naming we only awaken the conditioned responses. These responses, however noble and pleasant, are not of the real. We respond to stimulants, but reality offers no stimulant: it is.
The mind moves from the known to the known, and it cannot reach out into the unknown. You cannot think of something you do not know; it is impossible. What you think about comes out of the known, the past, whether that past be remote, or the second that has just gone by. This past is thought, shaped and conditioned by many influences, modifying itself according to circumstances and pressures, but ever remaining a process of time. Thought can only deny or assert it cannot discover or search out the new. Thought cannot come upon the new. But when thought is silent, then there may be the new - which is immediately transformed into the old, into the experienced, by thought. Thought is ever shaping, modifying, colouring according to a pattern of experience. The function of thought is to communicate but not to be in the state of experiencing. When experiencing ceases, then thought takes over and terms it within the category of the known. Thought cannot penetrate into the unknown, and so it can never discover or experience reality.
Disciplines, renunciations, detachment, rituals, the practice of virtue - all these, however noble, are the process of thought; and thought can only work towards an end, towards an achievement, which is ever the known. Achievement is security, the self-protective certainty of the known. To seek security in that which is nameless is to deny it. The security that may be found is only in the projection of the past, of the known. For this reason the mind must be entirely and deeply silent; but this silence cannot be purchased through sacrifice, sublimation or suppression. This silence comes when the mind is no longer seeking, no longer caught in the process of becoming. This silence is not cumulative, it may not be built up through practice. The silence must be as unknown to the mind as the timeless; for if the mind experiences the silence, then there is the experiencer who is the result of past experiences, who is cognizant of a past silence; and what is experienced by the experiencer is merely a self-projected repetition. The mind can never experience the new, and so the mind must be utterly still.
The mind can be still only when it is not experiencing, that is, when it is not terming or naming, recording or storing up in memory. This naming and recording is a constant process of the different layers of consciousness, not merely of the upper mind. But when the superficial mind is quiet, the deeper mind can offer up its intimations. When the whole consciousness is silent and tranquil, free from all becoming, which is spontaneity then only does the immeasurable come into being. The desire to maintain this freedom gives continuity to the memory of the becomer, which is a hindrance to reality. Reality has no continuity; it is from moment to moment, ever new, ever fresh. What has continuity can never be creative.
The upper mind is only an instrument of communication it cannot measure that which is immeasurable. Reality is not to be spoken of; and when it is, it is no longer reality.
This is meditation.
Chapter - 19
‘The Search for Truth’
HE HAD COME a very long way, many thousands of miles by boat and plane. He spoke only his own language, and with the greatest of difficulties was adjusting himself to this new and disturbing environment. He was entirely unaccustomed to this kind of food and to this climate; having been born and bred in a very high altitude, the damp heat was telling on him. He was a well-read man, a scientist of sorts, and had done some writing. He seemed to be well acquainted with both Eastern and Western philosophies, and had been a Roman Catholic. He said he had been dissatisfied with all this for a long time, but had carried on because of his family. His marriage was what could be considered a happy one, and he loved his two children. They were in college now in that faraway country, and had a bright future. But this dissatisfaction with regard to his life and action had been steadily increasing through the years, and a few months ago it had reached a crisis. He had left his family, making all the necessary arrangements for his wife and children, and now here he was. He had just enough money to carry on, and had come to find God. He said that he was in no way unbalanced, and was clear in his purpose.
Balance is not a matter to be judged by the frustrated, or by those who are successful. The successful may be the unbalanced; and the frustrated become bitter and cynical, or they find an escape through some self-projected illusion. Balance is not in the hands of the analysts; to fit into the norm does not necessarily indicate balance. The norm itself may be the product of an unbalanced culture. An acquisitive society, with its patterns and norms, is unbalanced, whether it is of the left or of the right, whether its acquisitiveness is vested in the State or in its citizens. Balance is non-acquisitiveness. The idea of balance and non-balance is still within the field of thought and so cannot be the judge. Thought itself, the conditioned response with its standards and judgments, is not true. Truth is not an idea, a conclusion.
Is God to be found by seeking him out? Can you search after the unknowable? To find, you must know what you are seeking. If you seek to find, what you find will be a sell-projection; it will be what you desire, and the creation of desire is not truth. To seek truth is to deny it. Truth has no fixed abode; there is no path, no guide to it, and the word is not truth. Is truth to be found in a particular setting, in a special climate, among certain people? Is it here and not there? Is that one the guide to truth, and not another? Is there a guide at all? When truth is sought, what is found can only come out of ignorance, for the search itself is born of ignorance. You cannot search out reality; you must cease for reality to be.
"But can I not find the nameless? I have come to this country because here there is a greater feeling for that search. Physically one can be more free here, one need not have so many things; possessions do not overpower one here as elsewhere. That is partly why one goes to a monastery. But there are psychological escapes in going to a monastery, and as I do not want to escape into ordered isolation, I am here, living my life to find the nameless. Am I capable of finding it?"
Is it a matter of capacity? Does not capacity imply the following of a particular course of action, a predetermined path, with all the necessary adjustments? When you ask that question, are you not asking whether you, an ordinary individual, have the necessary means of gaining what you long for? Surely, your question implies that only the exceptional find truth, and not the everyday man. Is truth granted only to the few, to the exceptionally intelligent? Why do we ask whether we are capable of finding it? We have the pattern, the example of the man who is supposed to have discovered truth; and the example, being elevated far above us, creates uncertainty in ourselves. The example thus assumes great significance and there is competition between the example and ourselves; we also long to be the record-breaker. Does not this question, "Have I the capacity?" arise out of one’s conscious or unconscious comparison of what one is with what one supposes the example to be?
Why do we compare ourselves with the ideal? And does comparison bring understanding? Is the ideal different from ourselves? Is it not a self-projection, a homemade thing, and does it not therefore prevent the understanding of ourselves as we are? Is not comparison an evasion of the understanding of ourselves? There are so many ways of escaping from ourselves, and comparison is one of them. Surely, without the understanding of oneself, the search for so-called reality is an escape from oneself. Without self-knowledge, the god that you seek is the god of illusion; and illusion inevitably brings conflict and sorrow. Without self-knowledge, there can be no right thinking; and then all knowledge is ignorance which can only lead to confusion and destruction. Self-knowledge is not an ultimate end; it is the only opening wedge to the inexhaustible.
"Is not self-knowledge extremely difficult to acquire, and will it not take a very long time?"
The very conception that self-knowledge is difficult to acquire is a hindrance to self-knowledge. If I may suggest, do not suppose that it will be difficult, or that it will take time; do not predetermine what it is and what it is not. Begin. Self-knowledge is to be discovered in the action of relationship; and all action is relationship. Self-knowledge does not come about through self-isolation, through withdrawal; the denial of relationship is death. Death is the ultimate resistance. Resistance, which is suppression, substitution or sublimation in any form, is a hindrance to the flow of self-knowledge; but resistance is to be discovered in relationship, in action. Resistance, whether negative or positive, with its comparisons and justifications, its condemnations and identifications, is the denial of what is. What is is the implicit; and awareness of the implicit, without any choice, is the unfoldment of it. This unfoldment is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is essential for the coming into being of the unknown, the inexhaustible.
Chapter - 20
IT WAS A lovely garden, with sunken lawns and old shady trees. The house was large, with spacious rooms, airy and well proportioned. The trees gave shelter to many birds and many squirrels, and to the fountain came birds of every size, sometimes eagles, but mostly crows, sparrows and noisy parrots. The house and garden were secluded, the more so as they were enclosed within high, white walls. It was pleasant within those walls, and beyond them was the noise of the road and the village. The road passed the gates, and a few yards along that road was the village, on the outskirts of a large town. The village was foul, with open gutters along its main, narrow lane. The houses were thatched, the front steps decorated, and children were playing in the lane. Some weavers had stretched out long strands of gay-coloured threads to make cloth, and a group of children were watching them at work. It was a cheerful scene, bright, noisy and smelly. The villagers were freshly washed, and they had very little on for the climate was warm. Towards evening some of them got drunk and became loud and rough.
It was only a thin wall that separated the lovely garden from the pulsating village. To deny ugliness and to hold to beauty is to be insensitive. The cultivation of the opposite must ever narrow the mind and limit the heart. Virtue is not an opposite; and if it has an opposite, it ceases to be virtue. To be aware of the beauty of that village is to be sensitive to the green, flowering garden. We want to be aware only of beauty, and we shut ourselves off from that which is not beautiful. This suppression merely breeds insensitivity, it does not bring about the appreciation of beauty. The good is not in the garden, away from the village, but in the sensitivity that lies beyond both. To deny or to identify leads to narrowness, which is to be insensitive. Sensitivity is not a thing to be carefully nurtured by the mind, which can only divide and dominate. There is good and evil; but to pursue the one and to avoid the other does not lead to that sensitivity which is essential for the being of reality.
Reality is not the opposite of illusion, of the false, and if you try to approach it as an opposite it will never come into being. Reality can be only when the opposites cease. To condemn or identify breeds the conflict of the opposites, and conflict only engenders further conflict. A fact approached unemotionally, without denying or justifying, does not bring about conflict. A fact in itself has no opposite; it has an opposite only when there is a pleasurable or defensive attitude. It is this attitude that builds the walls of insensitivity and destroys action. If we prefer to remain in the garden, there is a resistance to the village; and where there is resistance there can be no action, either in the garden or towards the village. There may be activity, but not action. Activity is based on an idea, and action is not. Ideas have opposites, and movement within the opposites is mere activity, however prolonged or modified. Activity can never be liberating.
Activity has a past and a future, but action has not. Action is always in the present, and is therefore immediate. Reform is activity, not action, and what is reformed needs further reform. Reformation is inaction, an activity born as an opposite. Action is from moment to moment, and, oddly enough, it has no inherent contradiction; but activity, though it may appear to be without a break, is full of contradiction. The activity of revolution is riddled with contradictions and so can never be liberate. Conflict, choice, can never be a liberating factor. If there is choice, there is activity and not action; for choice is based on idea. Mind can indulge in activity, but it cannot act. Action springs from quite a different source.
The moon came up over the village, making shadows across the garden.
Chapter - 21
‘The Individual and Society’
WE WERE WALKING along a crowded street. The sidewalks were heavy with people, and the smell of exhaust from the cars and buses filled our nostrils. The shops displayed many costly and shoddy things. The sky was pale silver, and it was pleasant in the park as we came out of the noisy thoroughfare. We went deeper into the park and sat down.
He was saying that the State, with its militarization and legislation, was absorbing the individual almost everywhere, and that worship of the State was now taking the place of the worship of God. In most countries the State was penetrating into the very intimate lives of its people; they were being told what to read and what to think. The State was spying upon its citizens, keeping a divine eye on them, taking over the function of the Church. It was the new religion. Man used to be a slave to the Church, but was now a slave of the State. Before it was the Church, and now it was the State that controlled his education; and neither was concerned with the liberation of man.
What is the relationship of the individual to society? Obviously, society exists for the individual, and not the other way round. Society exists for the fruition of man; it exists to give freedom to the individual so that he may have the opportunity to awaken the highest intelligence. This intelligence is not the mere cultivation of a technique or of knowledge; it is to be in touch with that creative reality which is not of the superficial mind. Intelligence is not a cumulative result, but freedom from progressive achievement and success. Intelligence is never static; it cannot be copied and standardized, and hence cannot be taught. Intelligence is to be discovered in freedom.
The collective will and its action, which is society, does not offer this freedom to the individual; for society, not being organic, is ever static. Society is made up, put together for the convenience of man; it has no independent mechanism of its own. Men may capture society, guide it, shape it, tyrannize over it, depending upon their psychological states; but society is not the master of man. It may influence him, but man always breaks it down. There is conflict between man and society because man is in conflict within himself; and the conflict is between that which is static and that which is living. Society is the outward expression of man. The conflict between himself and society is the conflict within himself. This conflict, within and without, will ever exist until the highest intelligence is awakened.
We are social entities as well as individuals; we are citizens as well as men, separate becomers in sorrow and pleasure. If there is to be peace, we have to understand the right relationship between the man and the citizen. Of course, the State would prefer us to be entirely citizens; but that is the stupidity of government. We ourselves would like to hand over the man to the citizen; for to be a citizen is easier than to be a man. To be a good citizen is to function efficiently within the pattern of a given society. Efficiency and conformity are demanded of the citizen, as they toughen him, make him ruthless; and then he is capable of sacrificing the man to the citizen. A good citizen is not necessarily a good man; but a good man is bound to be a right citizen, not of any particular society or country. Because he is primarily a good man, his actions will not be anti-social, he will not be against another man. He will live in co-operation with other good men; he will not seek authority, for he has no authority; he will be capable of efficiency without its ruthlessness. The citizen attempts to sacrifice the man; but the man who is searching out the highest intelligence will naturally shun the stupidities of the citizen. So the State will be against the good man, the man of intelligence; but such a man is free from all governments and countries.
The intelligent man will bring about a good society; but a good citizen will not give birth to a society in which man can be of the highest intelligence. The conflict between the citizen and the man is inevitable if the citizen predominates; and any society which deliberately disregards the man is doomed. There is reconciliation between the citizen and the man only when the psychological process of man is understood. The State, the present society, is not concerned with the inner man, but only with the outer man, the citizen. It may deny the inner man, but he always overcomes the outer, destroying the plans cunningly devised for the citizen. The State sacrifices the present for the future, ever safeguarding itself for the future; it regards the future as all-important, and not the present. But to the intelligent man, the present is of the highest importance, the now and not the tomorrow. What is can be understood only with the fading of tomorrow. The understanding of what is brings about transformation in the immediate present. It is this transformation that is of supreme importance, and not how to reconcile the citizen with the man. When this transformation takes place, the conflict between the man and the citizen ceases.
Chapter - 22
IN THE OPPOSITE seat sat a man of position and authority. He was well aware of this, for his looks, his gestures, his attitude proclaimed his importance. He was very high up in the Government, and the people about him were very obsequious. He was saying in a loud voice to somebody that it was outrageous to disturb him about some minor official task. He was rumbling about the doings of his workers, and the listeners looked nervous and apprehensive. We were flying far above the clouds, eighteen thousand feet, and through the gaps in the clouds was the blue sea. When the clouds somewhat opened up, there were the mountains covered with snow, the islands and the wide, open bays. How far away and how beautiful were the solitary houses and the small villages! A river came down to the sea from the mountains. It flowed past a very large town, smoky and dull, where its waters became polluted, but a little farther on they were again clean and sparkling. A few seats away was an officer in uniform, his chest covered with ribbons, confident and aloof. He belonged to a separate class that exists all over the world.
Why is it that we crave to be recognized, to be made much of, to be encouraged? Why is it that we are such snobs? Why is it that we cling to our exclusiveness of name, position, acquisition? Is anonymity degrading, and to be unknown despicable? Why do we pursue the famous, the popular? Why is it that we are not content to be ourselves? Are we frightened and ashamed of what we are, that name, position and acquisition become so all-important? It is curious how strong is the desire to be recognized, to be applauded. In the excitement of a battle, one does incredible things for which one is honoured; one becomes a hero for killing a fellow man. Through privilege, cleverness, or capacity and efficiency, one arrives somewhere near the top - though the top is never the top, for there is always more and more in the intoxication of success. The country or the business is yourself; on you depend the issues, you are the power. Organized religion offers position, prestige and honour; there too you are somebody, apart and important. Or again you become the disciple of a teacher, of a guru or Master, or you co-operate with them in their work. You are still important, you represent them, you share their responsibility, you have and others receive. Though in their name, you are still the means. You may put on a loincloth or the monk’s robe, but it is you who are making the gesture, it is you who are renouncing.
In one way or another, subtly or grossly, the self is nourished and sustained. Apart from its antisocial and harmful activities, why has the self to maintain itself? Though we are in turmoil and sorrow, with passing pleasures, why does the self cling to outer and inner gratifications, to pursuits that inevitably bring pain and misery? The thirst for positive activity as opposed to negation makes us strive to be; our striving makes us feel that we are alive, that there is a purpose to our life, that we shall progressively throw off the causes of conflict and sorrow. We feel that if our activity stopped, we would be nothing, we would be lost, life would have no meaning at all; so we keep going in conflict, in confusion, in antagonism. But we are also aware that there is something more, that there is an otherness which is above and beyond all this misery. Thus we are in constant battle within ourselves. The greater the outward show, the greater the inward poverty; but freedom from this poverty is not the loincloth. The cause of this inward emptiness is the desire to become; and, do what you will, this emptiness can never be filled. You may escape from it in a crude way, or with refinement; but it is as near to you as your shadow. You may not want to look into this emptiness, but nevertheless it is there. The adornments and the renunciations that the self assumes can never cover this inward poverty. By its activities, inner and outer, the self tries to find enrichment, calling it experience or giving it a different name according to its convenience and gratification. The self can never be anonymous; it may take on a new robe, assume a different name, but identity is its very substance. This identifying process prevents the awareness of its own nature. The cumulative process of identification builds up the self, positively or negatively; and its activity is always self-enclosing, however wide the enclosure. Every effort of the self to be or not to be is a movement away from what it is. Apart from its name, attributes, idiosyncrasies, possessions, what is the self? Is there the "I," the self, when its qualities are taken away? It is this fear of being nothing that drives the self into activity; but it is nothing, it is an emptiness.
If we are able to face that emptiness, to be with that aching loneliness, then fear altogether disappears and a fundamental transformation takes place. For this to happen, there must be the experiencing of that nothingness - which is prevented if there is an experiencer. If there is a desire for the experiencing of that emptiness in order to overcome it, to go above and beyond it, then there is no experiencing; for the self, as an identity, continues. If the experiencer has an experience, there is no longer the state of experiencing. It is the experiencing of what is without naming it that brings about freedom from what is.
Chapter - 23
WE WERE HIGH up in the mountains and it was very dry. There had been no rain for many months, and the little streams were silent. The pine trees were turning brown, and some were already dead, but the wind was among them. The mountains stretched out, fold after fold, to the horizon. Most of the wild life had gone away to cooler and better pastures; only the squirrels and a few jays remained. There were other smaller birds, but they were silent during the day. A dead pine was bleached white after many summers. It was beautiful even in death, graceful and strong without the blur of sentiment. The earth was hard and the paths were rocky and dusty.
She said that she had belonged to several religious societies, but had finally settled down in one. She had worked for it, as a lecturer and propagandist, practically all over the world. She said she had given up family, comfort and a great many other things for the sake of this organization; she had accepted its beliefs, its doctrines and precepts, had followed its leaders, and tried to meditate. She was regarded highly by the members as well as by the leaders. Now, she continued, having heard what I had said about beliefs, organizations, the dangers of self-deception, and so on, she had withdrawn from this organization and its activities. She was no longer interested in saving the world, but was occupying herself with her small family and its troubles, and took only a distant interest in the troubled world. She was inclined to be bitter, though outwardly kind and generous, for she said her life seemed so wasted. After all her past enthusiasm and work, where was she? What had happened to her? Why was she so dull and weary, and at her age so concerned with trivial things?
How easily we destroy the delicate sensitivity of our being. The incessant strife and struggle, the anxious escapes and fears, soon dull the mind and the heart; and the cunning mind quickly finds substitutes for the sensitivity of life. Amusements, family, politics, beliefs and gods take the place of clarity and love. Clarity is lost by knowledge and belief and love by sensations. Does belief bring clarity? Does the tightly enclosing wall of belief bring understanding? What is the necessity of beliefs, and do they not darken the already crowded mind? The understanding of what is does not demand beliefs, but direct perception, which is to be directly aware without the interference of desire. It is desire that makes for confusion, and belief is the extension of desire. The ways of desire are subtle, and without understanding them belief only increases conflict, confusion and antagonism. The other name for belief is faith, and faith is also the refuge of desire.
We turn to belief as a means of action. Belief gives us that peculiar strength which comes from exclusion; and as most of us are concerned with doing, belief becomes a necessity. We feel we cannot act without belief, because it is belief that gives us something to live for, to work for. To most of us, life has no meaning but that which belief gives it; belief has greater significance than life, We think that life must be lived in the pattern of belief; for without a pattern of some kind, how can there be action? So our action is based on idea, or is the outcome of an idea; and action, then, is not as important as idea.
Can the things of the mind, however brilliant and subtle, ever bring about the completeness of action, a radical transformation in one’s being and so in the social order? Is idea the means of action? Idea may bring about a certain series of actions, but that is mere activity; and activity is wholly different from action. It is in this activity that one is caught; and when for some reason or other activity stops, then one feels lost and life becomes meaningless, empty. We are aware of this emptiness, consciously or unconsciously, and so idea and activity become all-important. We fill this emptiness with belief, and activity becomes an intoxicating necessity. For the sake of this activity, we will renounce; we will adjust ourselves to any inconvenience, to any illusion.
The activity of belief is confusing and destructive; it may at first seem orderly and constructive, but in its wake there is conflict and misery. Every kind of belief, religious or political, prevents the understanding of relationship, and there can be no action without this understanding.
Chapter - 24
IT WAS A powerful motor and well tuned; it took the hills easily, without a stutter, and the pick-up was excellent. The road climbed steeply out of the valley and ran between orchards of orange and tall, wide-spreading walnut trees. On both sides of the road the orchards stretched for fully forty miles, up to the very foot of the mountains. Becoming straight, the road passed through one or two small towns, and then continued into the open country, which was bright green with alfalfa. Again winding through many hills, the road finally came out on to the desert.
It was a smooth road, the hum of the motor was steady, and the traffic was very light. There was an intense awareness of the country, of the occasional passing car, of the road signals, of the clear blue sky, of the body sitting in the car; but the mind was very still. It was not the quietness of exhaustion, or of relaxation, but a stillness that was very alert. There was no point from which the mind was still; there was no observer of this tranquillity; the experiencer was wholly absent. Though there was desultory conversation, there was no ripple in this silence. One heard the roar of the wind as the car sped along, yet this stillness was inseparable from the noise of the wind, from the sounds of the car, and from the spoken word. The mind had no recollection of previous stillnesses, of those silences it had known; it did not say, "This is tranquillity." There was no verbalization, which is only the recognition and the affirmation of a somewhat similar experience. Because there was no verbalization, thought was absent. There was no recording, and therefore thought was not able to pick up the silence or to think about it; for the word "stillness" is not stillness. When the word is not, the mind cannot operate, and so the experiencer cannot store up as a means of further pleasure. There was no gathering process at work, nor was there approximation or assimilation. The movement of the mind was totally absent.
The car stopped at the houses. The barking of the dog, the unpacking of the car and the general disturbance in no way affected this extraordinary silence. There was no disturbance, and the stillness went on. The wind was among the pines, the shadows were long, and a wildcat sneaked away among the bushes. In this silence there was movement, and the movement was not a distraction. There was no fixed attention from which to be distracted. There is distraction when the main interest shifts; but in this silence there was absence of interest, and so there was no wandering away. Movement was not away from the silence but was of it. It was the stillness, not of death, of decay, but of life in which there was a total absence of conflict. With most of us, the struggle of pain and pleasure, the urge of activity, gives us the sense of life; and if that urge were taken away, we should be lost and soon disintegrate. But this stillness and its movement was creation ever renewing itself. It was a movement that had no beginning and so had no ending; nor was it a continuity. Movement implies time; but here there was no time. Time is the more and the less, the near and the far, yesterday and tomorrow; but in this stillness all comparison ceased. It was not a silence that came to an end to begin again; there was no repetition. The many tricks of the cunning mind were wholly absent.
If this silence were an illusion the mind would have some relationship to it. It would either reject it or cling to it, reason it away or with subtle satisfaction identify itself with it; but since it has no relationship to this silence, the mind cannot accept or deny it. The mind can operate only with its own projections, with the things which are of itself; but it has no relationship with the things that are not of its own origin. This silence is not of the mind, and so the mind cannot cultivate or become identified with it. The content of this silence is not to be measured by words.
Chapter - 25
‘Renunciation of Riches’
WE WERE SITTING in the shade of a large tree, overlooking a green valley. The woodpeckers were busy and there were ants in a long line scurrying back and forth between two trees. The wind was from the sea, bringing the smell of a distant fog. The mountains were blue and dreamy; often they had seemed so close, but now they were far away. A small bird was drinking from the little pool made by a leaky pipe. Two grey squirrels with large bushy tails were chasing each other up and down a tree; they would climb to the top and come spinning down with mad speed almost to the ground, and then go up again.
He was once a very rich man and had renounced his riches. He had great many possessions and had enjoyed the burden of their responsibility, for he was charitable and not too hard of heart. He gave without stint and forgot what he gave. He was good to his helpers and saw to their benefits, and made money easily in a world that was bent on moneymaking. He was unlike those whose bank accounts and investments are bigger than themselves, who are lonely and afraid of people and their demands, who shut themselves off in the peculiar atmosphere of their wealth. He was not a threat to his family nor did he yield easily, and he had many friends, but not because he was rich. He was saying that he had given up his possessions because it had struck him one day, as he was reading something, how vastly stupid were his moneymaking and his wealth. Now he had but few things and was trying to lead a simple life to find out what it was all about and whether there was something beyond the appetites of the physical centres.
To be content with little is comparatively easy; to be free from the burden of many things is not difficult when one is on a journey looking for something else. The urgency of inward search clears away the confusion of many possessions, but being free from outer things does not mean a simple life. Outer simplicity and order do not necessarily mean inner tranquillity and innocence. It is good to be simple outwardly, for it does give a certain freedom, it is a gesture of integrity; but why is it that we invariably begin with the outer and not with the inner simplicity. Is it to convince ourselves and others of our intention? Why do we have to convince ourselves. Freedom from things needs intelligence, not gestures and convictions; and intelligence is not personal. If one is aware of all the implications of many possessions, that very awareness liberates, and then there is no need for dramatic assertions and gestures. It is when this intelligent awareness is not functioning that we resort to disciplines and detachments. The emphasis is not on much or little, but on intelligence; and the intelligent man, being content with little, is free from many possessions.
But contentment is one thing and simplicity is quite another. The desire for contentment or for simplicity is binding. Desire makes for complexity. Contentment comes with the awareness of what is, and simplicity with the freedom from what is. It is well to be outwardly simple, but it is far more important to be inwardly simple and clear. Clarity does not come through a determined and purposeful mind; the mind cannot create it. The mind can adjust itself, can arrange and put its thoughts in order; but this is not clarity or simplicity.
The action of will makes for confusion; because will, however sublimated, is still the instrument of desire. The will to be, to become, however worth while and noble, may have a directive, may clear a way amidst confusion; but such a process leads to isolation, and clarity cannot come through isolation. The action of will may temporarily light up the immediate foreground, necessary for mere activity, but it can never clear up the background; for will itself is the outcome of this very background. The background breeds and nourishes the will, and will may sharpen the background, heighten its potentialities; but it can never cleanse the background.
Simplicity is not of the mind. A planned simplicity is only a cunning adjustment, a defence against pain and pleasure; it is a self-enclosing activity which breeds various forms of conflict and confusion. It is conflict that brings darkness, within and without. Conflict and clarity cannot exist together; and it is freedom from conflict that gives simplicity, not the overcoming of conflict. What is conquered has to be conquered again and again, and so conflict is made endless. The understanding of conflict is the understanding of desire. Desire may abstract itself as the observer, the one who understands; but this sublimation of desire is only postponement and not understanding. The phenomenon of the observer and the observed is not a dual process, but a single one; and only in experiencing the fact of this unitary process is there freedom from desire, from conflict. The question of how to experience this fact should never arise. It must happen; and it happens only when there is alertness and passive awareness. You cannot know the actual experience of meeting a poisonous snake by imagining or speculating about it while sitting comfortably in your room. To meet the snake you must venture out beyond the paved streets and artificial lights.
Thought may record but it cannot experience the freedom from conflict; for simplicity or clarity is not of the mind.
Chapter - 26
‘Repetition and Sensation’
THE ROAR AND smell of the city came in through the open window. In the large square garden, people were sitting in the shade reading the news, the global gossip. Pigeons strutted about their feet looking for titbits, and children were playing on the green lawns. The sun made beautiful shadows.
He was a reporter, quick and intelligent. He not only wanted an interview, but also wanted to discuss some of his own problems. When the interview for his newspaper was over, he talked of his career and what it was worth - not financially, but its significance in the world. He was a big man, clever, capable and confident. He was climbing rapidly in the newspaper world, and in it there was a future for him.
Our minds are stuffed with so much knowledge that it is almost impossible to experience directly. The experience of the experience is after the pattern of others, of the religious and social authorities. We are the result of the thoughts and influences of others; we are conditioned by religious as well as political propaganda. The temple, the church and the mosque have a strange, shadowy influence in our lives, and political ideologies give apparent substance to our thought. We are made and destroyed by propaganda. Organized religions are first-rate propagandists, every means being used to persuade and then to hold.
We are a mass of confused responses, and our centre is as uncertain as the promised future. Mere words have an extraordinary significance for us; they have a neurological effect whose sensations are more important than what is beyond the symbol. The symbol, the image, the flag, the sound, are all important; substitution, and not reality, is our strength. We read about the experiences of others, we watch others play, we follow the example of others, we quote others. We are empty in ourselves and we try to fill this emptiness with words, sensations, hopes and imagination; but the emptiness continues.
Repetition, with its sensations, however pleasant and noble, is not the state of experiencing; the constant repetition of a ritual, of a word, of a prayer, is a gratifying sensation to which a noble term is given. But experiencing is not sensation, and sensory response soon yields place to actuality. The actual, the what is, cannot be understood through mere sensation. The senses play a limited part, but understanding or experiencing lies beyond and above the senses. Sensation becomes important only when experiencing ceases; then words are significant and symbols dominate; then the gramophone becomes enchanting. Experiencing is not a continuity; for what has continuity is sensation, at whatever level. The repetition of sensation gives the appearance of a fresh experience, but sensations can never be new. The search of the new does not lie in repetitive sensations. The new comes into being only when there is experiencing; and experiencing is possible only when the urge and the pursuit of sensation have ceased. The desire for the repetition of an experience is the binding quality of sensation, and the enrichment of memory is the expansion of sensation. The desire for the repetition of an experience, whether your own or that of another, leads to insensitivity, to death. Repetition of a truth is a lie. Truth cannot be repeated, it cannot be propagated or used. That which can be used and repeated has no life in itself, it is mechanical, static. A dead thing can be used, but not truth. You may kill and deny truth first, and then use it; but it is no longer truth. The propagandists are not concerned with experiencing; they are concerned with the organization of sensation, religious or political, social or private. The propagandist, religious or secular, cannot be a speaker of truth.
Experiencing can come only with the absence of the desire for sensation; the naming, the terming must cease. There is no thought process without verbalization; and to be caught in verbalization is to be a prisoner to the illusions of desire.
Chapter - 27
‘The Radio and Music’
IT IS OBVIOUS that radio music is a marvellous escape. Next door, they kept the thing going all day long and far into the night. The father went off to his office fairly early. The mother and daughter worked in the house or in the garden; and when they worked in the garden the radio blared louder. Apparently the son also enjoyed the music and the commercials, for when he was at home the radio went on just the same. By means of the radio one can listen endlessly to every kind of music, from the classical to the very latest; one can hear mystery plays, news, and all the things that are constantly being broadcast. There need be no conversation, no exchange of thought, for the radio does almost everything for you. The radio, they say, helps students to study; and there is more milk if at milking time the cows have music.
The odd part about all this is that the radio seems to alter so little the course of life. It may make some things a little more convenient; we may have global news more quickly and hear murders described most vividly; but information is not going to make us intelligent. The thin layer of information about the horrors of atomic bombing, about international alliances, research into chlorophyll, and so on, does not seem to make any fundamental difference in our lives. We are as war-minded as ever, we hate some other group of people, we despise this political leader and support that, we are duped by organized religions, we are nationalistic, and our miseries continue; and we are intent on escapes, the more respectable and organized the better. To escape collectively is the highest form of security. In facing what is, we can do something about it; but to take flight from what is inevitably makes us stupid and dull, slaves to sensation and confusion.
Does not music offer us, in a very subtle way, a happy release from what is? Good music takes us away from ourselves, from our daily sorrows, pettiness and anxieties, it makes us forget; or it gives us strength to face life, it inspires, invigorates and pacifies us. It becomes a necessity in either case, whether as a means of forgetting ourselves or as a source of inspiration. Dependence on beauty and avoidance of the ugly is an escape which becomes a torturing issue when our escape is cut off. When beauty becomes necessary to our well-being, then experiencing ceases and sensation begins. The moment of experiencing is totally different from the pursuit of sensation. In experiencing there is no awareness of the experiencer and his sensations. When experiencing comes to an end, then begin the sensations of the experiencer; and it is these sensations that the experiencer demands and pursues. When sensations become a necessity, then music, the river, the painting are only a means to further sensation. Sensations become all-dominant, and not experiencing. The longing to repeat an experience is the demand for sensation; and while sensations can be repeated, experiencing cannot.
It is the desire for sensation that makes us cling to music, possess beauty. Dependence on outward line and form only indicates the emptiness of our own being, which we fill with music, with art, with deliberate silence. It is because this unvarying emptiness is filled or covered over with sensations that there is the everlasting fear of what is, of what we are. Sensations have a beginning and an end, they can be repeated and expanded; but experiencing is not within the limits of time. What is essential is experiencing, which is denied in the pursuit or sensation. Sensations are limited, personal, they cause conflict and misery; but experiencing, which is wholly different from the repetition of an experience, is without continuity. Only in experiencing is there renewal, transformation.
Chapter - 28
THE SHADOWS WERE dancing on the green lawn; and though the sun was hot, the sky was very blue and soft. From across the fence a cow was looking at the green lawn and at the people. The gathering of people was strange to her, but the green grass was familiar, though the rains were long gone and the earth was burnt brown. A lizard was picking off flies and other insects on the trunk of an oak. The distant mountains were hazy and inviting.
She said, under the trees after the talk, that she had come to listen in case the teacher of teachers spoke. She had been very earnest, but now that earnestness had become obstinacy. This obstinacy was covered over by smiles and by reasonable tolerance, a tolerance that had been very carefully thought out and cultivated; it was a thing of the mind and so could be inflamed into violent, angry intolerance. She was big and soft-spoken; but there lurked condemnation, nourished by her convictions and beliefs. She was suppressed and hard, but had given herself over to brotherhood and to its good cause. She added, after a pause, that she would know when the teacher spoke, for she and her group had some mysterious way of knowing it, which was not even to others. The pleasure of exclusive knowledge was so obvious in the way she said it, in the gesture and the tilt of the head.
Exclusive, private knowledge offers deeply satisfying pleasure. To know something that others do not know is a constant source of satisfaction; it gives one the feeling of being in touch with deeper things which afford prestige and authority. You are directly in contact, you have something which others have not, and so you are important, not only to yourself, but to others. The others look up to you, a little apprehensively, because they want to share what you have; but you give, always knowing more. You are the leader, the authority; and this position comes easily, for people want to be told, to be led. The more we are aware that we are lost and confused, the more eager we are to be guided and told; so authority is built up in the name of the State, in the name of religion, in the name of a Master or a party leader.
The worship of authority, whether in big or little things, is evil, the more so in religious matters. There is no intermediary between you and reality; and if there is one, he is a perverter, a mischief maker, it does not matter who he is, whether the highest saviour or your latest guru or teacher. The one who knows does not know; he can know only his own prejudices, his self-projected beliefs and sensory demands. He cannot know truth, the immeasurable. position and authority can be built up, cunningly cultivated, but not humility. Virtue gives freedom; but cultivated humility is not virtue, it is mere sensation and therefore harmful and destructive; it is a bondage, to be broken again and again.
It is important to find out, not who is the Master, the saint, the leader, but why you follow. You only follow to become something, to gain, to be clear. Clarity cannot be given by another. Confusion is in us; we have brought it about, and we have to clear it away. We may achieve a gratifying position, an inward security, a place in the hierarchy of organized belief; but all this is self-enclosing activity leading to conflict and misery. You may feel momentarily happy in your achievement, you may persuade yourself that your position is inevitable, that it is your lot; but as long as you want to become something, at whatever level, there is bound to be misery and confusion. Being as nothing is not negation. The positive or negative action of will, which is desire sharpened and heightened, always leads to strife and conflict; it is not the means of understanding. The setting up of authority and the following of it is the denial of understanding. When there is understanding there is freedom, which cannot be bought, or given by another. What is bought can be lost, and what is given can be taken away; and so authority and its fear are bred. Fear is not to be put away by appeasements and candles; it ends with the cessation of the desire to become.
Chapter - 29
HE HAD PRACTISED a number of years what he called meditation; he had followed certain disciplines after reading many books on the subject, and had been to a monastery of some kind where they meditated several hours a day. He was not sentimental about it, nor was he blurred by the tears of self-sacrifice. He said that, though after these many years his mind was under control, it still sometimes got out of control; that there was no joy in his meditation; and that the self-imposed disciplines were making him rather hard and arid. Somehow he was very dissatisfied with the whole thing. He had belonged to several so-called religious societies, but now he had finished with them all and was seeking independently the God they all promised. He was getting on in years and was beginning to feel rather weary.
Right meditation is essential for the purgation of the mind, for without the emptying of the mind there can be no renewal. Mere continuity is decay. The mind withers away by constant repetition, by the friction of wrong usage, by sensations which make it dull and weary. The control of the mind is not important; what is important is to find out the interests of the mind. The mind is a bundle of conflicting interests, and merely to strengthen one interest against another is what we call concentration, the process of discipline. Discipline is the cultivation of resistance, and where there is resistance there is no understanding. A well-disciplined mind is not a free mind, and it is only in freedom that any discovery can be made. There must be spontaneity to uncover the movements of the self, at whatever level it may be placed. Though there may be unpleasant discoveries, the movements of the self must be exposed and understood; but disciplines destroy the spontaneity in which discoveries are made. Disciplines, however exacting, fix the mind in a pattern. The mind will adjust itself to that for which it has been trained; but that to which it adjusts itself is not the real. Disciplines are mere impositions and so can never be the means of denudation. Through self-discipline the mind can strengthen itself in its purpose; but this purpose is self-projected and so it is not the real. The mind creates reality in its own image, and disciplines merely give vitality to that image.
Only in discovery can there be joy - the discovery from moment to moment of the ways of the self. The self, at whatever level it is placed, is still of the mind. Whatever the mind can think about is of the mind. The mind cannot think about something which is not of itself; it cannot think of the unknown. The self at any level is the known; and though there may be layers of the self of which the superficial mind is not aware, they are revealed in the action of relationship; and when relationship is not confined within a pattern, it gives an opportunity for self-revelation. Relationship is the action of the self, and to understand this action there must be awareness without choice; for to choose is to emphasize one interest against another. This awareness is the experiencing of the action of the self, and in this experiencing there is neither the experiencer nor the experienced. Thus the mind is emptied of its accumulations; there is no longer the "me," the gatherer. The accumulations, the stored-up memories are the "me; the "me" is not an entity apart from the accumulations. The "me" separates itself from its characteristics as the observer, the watcher, the controller, in order to safe- guard itself, to give itself continuity amidst impermanency. The experiencing of the integral, unitary process frees the mind from its dualism. Thus the total process of the mind, the open as well as the hidden, is experienced and understood - not piece by piece, activity by activity, but in its entirety. Then dreams and everyday activities are ever an emptying process. The mind must be utterly empty to receive; but the craving to be empty in order to receive is a deep-seated impediment, and this also must be understood completely, not at any particular level. The craving to experience must wholly cease, which happens only when the experiencer is not nourishing himself on experiences and their memories.
The purgation of the mind must take place not only on its upper levels, but also in its hidden depths; and this can happen only when the naming or terming process comes to an end. Naming only strengthens and gives continuity to the experiencer, to the desire for permanency, to the characteristic of particularizing memory. There must be silent awareness of naming, and so the understanding of it. We name not only to communicate, but also to give continuity and substance to an experience, to revive it and to repeat its sensations. This naming process must cease, not only on the superficial levels of the mind, but throughout its entire structure. This is an arduous task, not to be easily understood or lightly experienced; for our whole consciousness is a process of naming or terming experience, and then storing or recording it. It is this process that gives nourishment and strength to the illusory entity, the experiencer as distinct and separate from the experience. Without thoughts there is no thinker. Thoughts create the thinker, who isolates himself to give himself permanency; for thoughts are always impermanent.
There is freedom when the entire being, the superficial as well as the hidden, is purged of the past. Will is desire; and if there is any action of the will, any effort to be free, to denude oneself, then there can never be freedom, the total purgation of the whole being. When all the many layers of consciousness are quiet, utterly still, only then is there the immeasurable, the bliss that is not of time, the renewal of creation.
Chapter - 30
EVEN AT THAT altitude the heat was penetrating. The windowpanes felt warm to the touch. The steady hum of the plane’s motor was soothing, and many of the passengers were dozing. The earth was far below us, shimmering in the heat, an unending brown with an occasional patch of green. Presently we landed, and the heat became all but unbearable; it was literally painful, and even in the shade of a building the top of one’s head felt as if it would burst. The summer was well along and the country was almost a desert. We took off again and the plane climbed, seeking the cool winds. Two new passengers sat in the opposite seats and they were talking loudly; it was impossible not to overhear them. They began quietly enough; but soon anger crept into their voices, the anger of familiarity and resentment. In their violence they seemed to have forgotten the rest of the passengers; they were so upset with each other that they alone existed, and none else.
Anger has that peculiar quality of isolation; like sorrow, it cuts one off, and for the time being, at least, all relationship comes to an end. Anger has the temporary strength and vitality of the isolated. There is a strange despair in anger; for isolation is despair. The anger of disappointment, of jealousy, of the urge to wound, gives a violent release whose pleasure is self-justification. We condemn others, and that very condemnation is a justification of ourselves. Without some kind of attitude, whether of self-righteousness or self-abasement, what are we? We use every means to bolster ourselves up; and anger, like hate, is one of the easiest ways. Simple anger, a sudden flare-up which is quickly forgotten, is one thing; but the anger that is deliberately built up, that has been brewed and that seeks to hurt and destroy, is quite another matter. Simple anger may have some physiological cause which can be seen and remedied; but the anger that is the outcome of a psychological cause is much more subtle and difficult to deal with. Most of us do not mind being angry, we find an excuse for it. Why should we not be angry when there is ill-treatment of another or of ourselves? So we become righteously angry. We never just say we are angry, and stop there; we go into elaborate explanations of its cause. We never just say that we are jealous or bitter, but justify or explain it. We ask how there can be love without jealousy, or say that someone else’s actions have made us bitter, and so on.
It is the explanation, the verbalization, whether silent or spoken, that sustains anger, that gives it scope and depth. The explanation silent or spoken, acts as a shield against the discovery of ourselves as we are. We want to be praised or flattered, we expect something; and when these things do not take place, we are disappointed, we become bitter or jealous. Then, violently or softly, we blame someone else; we say the other is responsible for our bitterness. You are of great significance because I depend upon you for my happiness, for my position or prestige. Through you, I fulfil, so you are important to me; I must guard you, I must possess you. Through you, I escape from myself; and when I am thrown back upon myself, being fearful of my own state, I become angry. Anger takes many forms: disappointment, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, and so on.
The storing up of anger, which is resentment, requires the antidote of forgiveness; but the storing up of anger is far more significant than forgiveness. Forgiveness is unnecessary when there is no accumulation of anger. Forgiveness is essential if there is resentment; but to be free from flattery and from the sense of injury, without the hardness of indifference, makes for mercy, charity. Anger cannot be got rid of by the action of will, for will is part of violence. Will is the outcome of desire, the craving to lie; and desire in its very nature is aggressive, dominant. To suppress anger by the exertion of will is to transfer anger to a different level, giving it a different name; but it is still part of violence. To be free from violence, which is not the cultivation of non-violence, there must be the understanding of desire. There is no spiritual substitute for desire; it cannot be suppressed or sublimated. There must be a silent and choiceless awareness of desire; and this passive awareness is the direct experiencing of desire without an experiencer giving it a name.
Chapter - 31
HE SAID HE had gone into the question very thoroughly, had read as much as he could of what had been written on the subject, and he was convinced that there were Masters in different parts of the world. They did not show themselves physically except to their special disciples, but they were in communication with others through other means. They exerted a beneficent influence and guided the leaders of the world’s thought and action, though the leaders themselves were unaware of it; and they brought about revolution and peace. He was convinced, he said, that each continent had a group of Masters, shaping its destiny and giving it their blessing. He had known several pupils of the Masters - at least they had told him they were, he added guardedly. He was entirely earnest and desired more knowledge about the Masters. Was it possible to have direct experience, direct contact with them?
How still the river was! Two brilliant little kingfishers were flying up and down close to the bank and just above the surface; there were some bees gathering water for their hives, and a fisherman’s boat lay in the middle of the stream. The trees along the river were thick with leaves, and their shadows were heavy and dark, in the fields the newly planted rice was a vivid green, and there were white ricebirds calling. It was a very peaceful scene, and it seemed a pity to talk over our petty little problems. The sky was the tender blue of evening. The noisy towns were far away; there was a village across the river, and a winding path went meandering along the bank. A boy was singing in a clear, high voice which did not disturb the tranquility of the place.
We are an odd people; we wander in search of something in far-off places when it is so close to us. Beauty is ever there, never here; truth is never in our homes but in some distant place. We go to the other side of the world to find the Master, and we are not aware of the servant; we do not understand the common things of life, the everyday struggles and joys, and yet we attempt to grasp the mysterious and the hidden. We do not know ourselves, but we are willing to serve or follow him who promises a reward, a hope, a Utopia. As long as we are confused, what we choose must also be confused. We cannot perceive clearly when we are half-blind; and what we then see is only partial and so not real. We know all this, and yet our desires, our cravings are so strong that they drive us into illusions and endless miseries.
Belief in the Master creates the Master, and experience is shaped by belief. Belief in a particular pattern of action, or in an ideology, does produce what is longed for; but at what cost and at what suffering! If an individual has capacity, then belief becomes a potent thing in his hands, a weapon more dangerous than a gun. For most of us, belief has greater meaning than actuality. The understanding of what is does not require belief; on the contrary, belief, idea, prejudice, is a definite hindrance to understanding. But we prefer our beliefs, our dogmas; they warm us, they promise, they encourage. If we understood the way of our beliefs and why we cling to them, one of the major causes of antagonism would disappear.
The desire to gain, individually or for a group, leads to ignorance and illusion, to destruction and misery. This desire is not only for more and more physical comforts, but also for power: the power of money, of knowledge, of identification. The craving for more is the beginning of conflict and misery. We try to escape from this misery through every form of self-deception, through suppression, substitution and sublimation; but craving continues, perhaps at a different level. Craving at any level is still conflict and pain. One of the easiest of escapes is the guru, the Master. Some escape through a political ideology with its activities, others through the sensations of ritual and discipline, and still others through the Master. Then the means of escape become all-important, and fear and obstinacy guard the means. Then it does not matter what you are; it is the Master who is important. You are important only as a servant, whatever that may mean, or as a disciple. To become one of these, you have to do certain things, conform to certain patterns, undergo certain hardships. You are willing to do all this and more, for identification gives pleasure and power. In the name of the Master, pleasure and power have become respectable. You are no longer lonely, confused, lost; you belong to him, to the party, to the idea. You are safe.
After all, that is what most of us want: to be safe, to be secure. To be lost with the many is a form of psychological security; to be identified with a group or with an idea, secular or spiritual, is to feel safe. That is why most of us cling to nationalism, even though it brings; increasing destruction and misery; that is why organized religion has such a strong hold on people, even though it divides and breeds antagonism. The craving for individual or group security brings on destruction, and to be safe psychologically engenders illusion. Our life is illusion and misery, with rare moments of clarity and joy, so anything that promises a haven we eagerly accept. Some see the futility of political Utopias and so turn religious, which is to find security and hope in Masters, in dogmas, in ideas. As belief shapes experience, the Masters become an inescapable reality. Once it has experienced the pleasure which identification brings, the mind is firmly entrenched and nothing can shake it; for its criterion is experience.
But experience is not reality. Reality cannot be experienced. It is. If the experiencer thinks he experiences reality, then he knows only illusion. All knowledge of reality is illusion. Knowledge or experience must cease for the being of reality. Experience cannot meet reality. Experience shapes knowledge, and knowledge bends experience; they must both cease for reality to be.