Commentaries on Living 
Chapter - 69
‘Cause and Effect’
"I KNOW YOU HAVE healed," he said, "and will you not heal my son? He is nearly blind. I have seen a few doctors, and they can do nothing. They advise me to take him to Europe or America, but I am not a rich man and I cannot afford it. Will you not please do something? He is our only child, and my wife is heart-stricken."
He was a petty official, poor but educated, and like all of his group he knew Sanskrit and its literature. He kept on saying that it was the boy’s karma that he should suffer and theirs too. What had they done to deserve this punishment? What evil had they committed, in a previous life or in the earlier part of this one, to have to bear such pain? There must be a cause for this calamity, hidden in some past action.
There may be an immediate cause for this blindness which the physicians have not yet discovered; some inherited disease may have brought it about. If the doctors cannot discover the physical cause, why do you seek a metaphysical one in the distant past?
"By seeking the cause I may be better able to understand the effect."
Do you understand anything by knowing its cause? By knowing why one is afraid, is one free of fear? One may know the cause, but does that in itself bring understanding? When you say that you will understand the effect by knowing the cause, you mean that you will take comfort in knowing how this thing has come about, do you not?
"Of course, that is why I want to know what action in the past has produced this blindness. It will certainly be most comforting."
Then you want comfort and not understanding.
"But are they not the same thing? To understand is to find comfort. What is the good of understanding if there is no joy in it?"
Understanding a fact may cause disturbance, it does not necessarily bring joy. You want comfort, and that is what you are seeking. You are disturbed by the fact of your son’s ailment, and you want to be pacified. This pacification you call understanding. You start out, not to understand, but to be comforted; your intention is to find a way to quiet your disturbance, and this you call the search for the cause. Your chief concern is to be put to sleep, to be undisturbed, and you are seeking a way to do it. We put ourselves to sleep through various ways: God, rituals, ideals, drink, and so on. We want to escape from disturbance, and one of the escapes is this search for the cause.
"Why shouldn’t one seek freedom from disturbance? Why shouldn’t one avoid suffering?"
Through avoidance is there freedom from suffering? You may shut the door on some ugly thing, on some fear; but it is still there behind the door, is it not? What is suppressed, resisted, is not understood, is it? You may suppress or discipline your child, but surely that does not yield the understanding of him. You are seeking the cause in order to avoid the pain of disturbance; with that intention you look, and naturally you will find what you are seeking. There is a possibility of being free of suffering only when one observes its process, when one is aware of every phase of it, cognizant of its whole structure. To avoid suffering is only to strengthen it. The explanation of the cause is not the understanding of the cause. Through explanation you are not freed from suffering; the suffering is still there, only you have covered it over with words, with conclusions, either your own or those of another. The study of explanations is not the study of wisdom; when explanations cease, then only is wisdom possible. You are anxiously seeking explanations which will put you to sleep, and you find them; but explanation is not truth. Truth comes when there is observation without conclusions, without explanations, without words. The observer is built out of words, the self is made up of explanations, conclusions, condemnations, justifications, and so on. There is communion with the observed only when the observer is not; and only then is there understanding, freedom from the problem.
"I think I see this; but is there not such a thing as karma?"
What do you mean by that word?
"Present circumstances are the result of previous actions, immediately past or long removed. This process of cause and effect, with all its ramifications, is more or less what is meant by karma."
That is only an explanation, but let us go beyond the words. Is there a fixed cause producing a fixed effect? When cause and effect are fixed, is there not death? Anything static, rigid, specialized, must die. The specialized animals soon come to an end, do they not? Man is the unspecialized, and so there is a possibility of his continued existence. That which is pliable endures; that which is not pliable is broken. The acorn cannot become anything but an oak tree; the cause and the effect are in the acorn. But man is not so completely enclosed, specialized; hence, if he does not destroy himself through various ways, he can survive. Are cause and effect fixed, stationary? When you use the word "and" between cause and effect, does it not imply that both are stationary? But is cause ever stationary? Is effect always unchangeable? Surely, cause-effect is a continuous process, is it not? Today is the result of yesterday, and tomorrow is the result of today; what was cause becomes effect, and what was effect becomes cause. It is a chain-process, is it not? One thing flows into another, and at no point is there a halt. It is a constant movement, with no fixation. There are many factors that bring about this cause-effect-cause movement.
Explanations, conclusions, are stationary, whether they are of the right or of the left, or of the organized belief called religion. When you try to cover the living with explanations, there is death to the living, and that is what most of us desire; we want to be put to sleep by word, by idea, by thought. Rationalization is merely another way to quiet the disturbed state; but the very desire to be put to sleep, to find the cause, to seek conclusions, brings disturbance, and so thought is caught in a net of its own making. Thought cannot be free nor can it ever make itself free. Thought is the result of experience, and experience is always conditioning. Experience is not the measure of truth. Awareness of the false as the false is the freedom of truth.
Chapter - 70
WHEN THE TRAIN started there was still light, but the shadows were lengthening. The town wound itself around the railway line. People came out to watch the train go by, and passengers waved to their friends. With a great roar we began to cross the bridge over a broad, curving river; it was several miles wide at this point, and the other shore was just visible in the fast-fading light. The train crossed the bridge very slowly, as though it were picking its way along; the spans were numbered, and there were fifty-eight of them between the two shores. How beautiful were those waters, silent, rich and deeply flowing ! There were islands of sand that looked pleasantly cool in the distance. The town, with its noise, dust and squalor, was being left behind, and the clean evening air was coming in through the windows; but there would be dust again as soon as we left the long bridge.
The man in the lower berth was very talkative, and as we had a whole night before us, he felt he had a right to ask questions. He was a heavy-built man with large hands and feet. He began by talking about himself, his life, his troubles and his children. He was saying that India should become as prosperous as America; this overpopulation must be controlled, and the people must be made to feel their responsibility. He talked of the political situation and the war, and ended with an account of his own travels.
How insensitive we are, how lacking in swift and adequate response, how little free to observe! Without sensitivity, how can there be pliability and a quickening perception; how can there be receptivity, an understanding free of striving? The very striving prevents understanding. Understanding comes with high sensitivity, but sensitivity is not a thing to be cultivated. That which is cultivated is a pose, an artificial veneer; and this coating is not sensitivity, it is a mannerism, shallow or deep according to influence. Sensitivity is not a cultural effect, the result of influence; it is a state of being vulnerable, open. The open is the implicit, the unknown, the imponderable. But we take care not to be sensitive; it is too painful, too exacting, it demands constant adjustment, which is consideration. To consider is to be watchful; but we would rather be comforted, put to sleep, made dull. The newspapers, the magazines, the books, through our addiction to reading, leave their dulling imprint; for reading is a marvellous escape, like drink or a ceremony. We want to escape from the pain of life, and dullness is the most effective way: the dullness brought about by explanations, by following a leader or an ideal, by being identified with some achievement, some label or characteristic. Most of us want to be made dull, and habit is very effective in putting the mind to sleep. The habit of discipline, of practice, of sustained effort to become - there are respectable ways of being made insensitive.
"But what could one do in life if one were sensitive? We would all shrivel up, and there would be no effective action."
What do the dull and insensitive bring to the world? What is the outcome of their "effective" action? Wars, confusion within and without, ruthlessness and increasing misery for themselves and so for the world. The action of the unwatchful inevitably leads to destruction, to physical insecurity, to disintegration. But sensitivity is not easy to come by; sensitivity is the understanding of the simple, which is highly complex. It is not a withdrawal, a shrivelling up, an isolating process. To act with sensitivity is to be aware of the total process of the actor.
"To understand the total process of myself will take a long time, and meanwhile my business will go to ruin and my family will starve."
Your family will not starve; even if you have not saved up enough money, it is always possible to arrange that they shall be fed. Your business will undoubtedly go to ruin; but disintegration at other levels of existence is already taking place. You are only concerned with the outward break-up, you do not want to see or know what is happening within yourself. You disregard the inner and hope to build up the outer; yet the inner is always overcoming the outer. The outer cannot act without the fullness of the inner; but the fullness of the inner is not the repetitious sensation of organized religion nor the accumulation of facts called knowledge. The way of all these inner pursuits must be understood for the outer to survive, to be healthy. Do not say that you have no time, for you have plenty of time; it is not a matter of lack of time, but of disregard and disinclination. You have no inward richness, for you want the gratification of inner riches as you already have that of the outer. You are not seeking the wherewithal to feed your family, but the satisfaction of possessing. The man who possesses, whether property or knowledge, can never be sensitive, he can never be vulnerable or open. To possess is to be made dull, whether the possession is virtue or coins. To possess a person is to be unaware of that person; to seek and to possess reality is to deny it. When you try to become virtuous, you are no longer virtuous; your seeking virtue is only the attainment of gratification at a different level. Gratification is not virtue, but virtue is freedom.
How can the dull, the respectable, the unvirtuous be free? The freedom of aloneness is not the enclosing process of isolation. To be isolated in wealth or in poverty, in knowledge or in success, in idea or in virtue, is to be dull, insensitive. The dull, the respectable cannot commune; and when they do, it is with their own self-projections. To commune there must be sensitivity, vulnerability, the freedom from becoming, which is freedom from fear. Love is not a becoming, a state of "I shall be". That which is becoming cannot commune, for it is ever isolating itself. Love is the vulnerable; love is the open, the imponderable, the unknown.
Chapter - 71
‘Clarity in Action’
IT WAS A lovely morning, pure after the rains. There were tender new leaves on the trees, and the breeze from the sea had set them dancing. The grass was green and lush, and the cattle were hungrily eating it up, for after a few months there would not be a blade of it left. The fragrance of the garden filled the room, and children were shouting and laughing. The palm trees had golden coco-nuts, and the banana leaves, large and swaying, were not yet torn by age and wind. How beautiful the earth was, and what a poem of colour! Fast the village, beyond the big houses and the groves, was the sea, full of light and with thunderous waves. Far out there was a small boat, a few logs tied together, with a solitary man fishing.
She was quite young, in her twenties, and recently married, but the passing years were already leaving their mark upon her. She said she was of good family, cultured and hard working; she had taken her M.A. with honours, and one could see that she was bright and alert. Once started, she spoke easily and fluently, but she would suddenly become self-conscious and silent. She wanted to unburden herself, for she said she had not talked to anyone about her problem, not even to her parents. Gradually, bit by bit, her sorrow was put into words. Words convey meaning only at a certain level; they have a way of distorting, of not giving fully the significance of their symbol, of creating a deception that is entirely unintentional. She wanted to convey much more than merely what the words meant, and she succeeded; she could not speak of certain things, however hard she tried, but her very silence conveyed those pains and unbearable indignities of a relationship that had become merely a contract. She had been struck and left alone by her husband, and her young children were hardly companions. What was she to do? They were now living apart, and should she go back?
What a strong hold respectability has on us! What will they say? Can one live alone, especially a woman, without their saying nasty things? Respectability is a cloak for the hypocrite; we commit every possible crime in thought, but outwardly we are irreproachable. She was courting respectability, and was confused. It is strange how, when one is clear within oneself, whatever may happen is right. When there is this inward clarity, the right is not according to one’s desire, but whatever is is right. Contentment comes with the understanding of what is. But how difficult it is to be clear!
"How am I to be clear about what I should do?"
Action does not follow clarity: clarity is action. You are concerned with what you should do, and not with being clear. You are torn between respectability and what you should do, between the hope and what is. The dual desire for respectability and for some ideal action brings conflict and confusion, and only when you are capable of looking at what is, is there clarity. What is is not what should be, which is desire distorted to a particular pattern; ‘what is’ is the actual, not the desirable but the fact. Probably you have never approached it this way; you have thought or cunningly calculated, weighing this against that, planning and counter-planning, which has obviously led to this confusion which makes you ask what you are to do. Whatever choice you may make in the state of confusion can only lead to further confusion. See this very simply and directly; if you do, then you will be able to observe what is without distortion. The implicit is its own action. If what is is clear, then you will see that there is no choice but only action, and the question of what you should do will never arise; such a question arises only when there is the uncertainty of choice. Action is not of choice; the action of choice is the action of confusion.
"I am beginning to see what you mean: I must be clear in myself, without the persuasion of respectability, without self-interested calculation, without the spirit of bargaining. I am clear, but it is difficult to maintain clarity, is it not?"
Not at all. To maintain is to resist. You are not maintaining clarity and opposing confusion: you are experiencing what is confusion, and you see that any action arising from it must inevitably be still more confusing. When you experience all this, not because another has said it but because you see it directly for yourself, then the clarity of ‘what is’ is there; you do not maintain clarity, it is there.
"I quite see what you mean. Yes, I am clear; it is all right. But what of love? We don’t know what love means. I thought I loved, but I see I do not."
From what you have told me, you married out of fear of loneliness and through physical urges and necessities; and you have found that all this is not love. You may have called it love to make it respectable, but actually it was a matter of convenience under the cloak of the word "love". To most people, this is love, with all its confusing smoke: the fear of insecurity, of loneliness, of frustration, of neglect in old age, and so on. But all this is merely a thought process, which is obviously not love. Thought makes for repetition, and repetition makes relationship stale. Thought is a wasteful process, it does not renew itself, it can only continue; and what has continuity cannot be the new, the fresh. Thought is sensation, thought is sensuous, thought is the sexual problem. Thought cannot end itself in order to be creative; thought cannot become something other than it is, which is sensation. Thought is always the stale, the past, the old; thought can never be new. As you have seen, love is not thought. Love is when the thinker is not. The thinker is not an entity different from thought; thought and the thinker are one. The thinker is the thought.
Love is not sensation; it is a flame without smoke. You will know love when you as the thinker are not. You cannot sacrifice yourself, the thinker, for love. There can be no deliberate action for love, because love is not of the mind. The discipline, the will to love, is the thought of love; and the thought of love is sensation, Thought cannot think about love, for love is beyond the reaches of the mind. Thought is continuous, and love is inexhaustible. That which is inexhaustible is ever new, and that which has continuance is ever in the fear of ending. That which ends knows the eternal beginning of love.
Chapter - 72
"ALL THIS TALK about psychology, the inner workings of the mind, is a waste of time; people want work and food. Are you not deliberately misleading your audiences when it is obvious that the economic situation must first be attacked? What you say may ultimately be effective, but what is the good of all this stuff when people are starving? You can’t think or do anything without having a full stomach."
One must of course have something in the stomach to be able to carry on; but to have food for all, there must be a fundamental revolution in the ways of our thinking, and hence the importance of attacking the psychological front. To you, an ideology is far more important than the production of food. You may talk about feeding the poor and of having consideration for them, but are you not much more concerned with an idea, with an ideology?
"Yes, we are; but an ideology is only a means of gathering people together for collective action. Without an idea there can be no collective action; the idea, the plan comes first, and then action follows."
So you also are concerned with psychological factors first, and from that what you call action will follow. You do not mean, then, that to talk of psychological factors is deliberately to mislead the people. What you mean is that you have the only rational ideology, so why bother to consider further? You want to act collectively for your ideology, and that is why you say any further consideration of the psychological process is not only a waste of time but also a deviation from the main issue, which is the setting up of a classless society with work for all, and so on.
"Our ideology is the result of wide historical study, it is history interpreted according to facts; it is a factual ideology, not like the superstitious beliefs of religion. Our ideology has direct experience behind it, not mere visions and illusions."
The ideologies or dogmas of organized religions are also based on experience, perhaps that of the one who has given out the teachings. They also are founded on historical facts. Your ideology may be the outcome of study, of comparison, of accepting certain facts and denying others, and your conclusions may be the product of experience; but why reject the ideologies of others as being illusory when they also are the result of experience? You gather a group around your ideology, as do others around theirs; you want collective action, and so do they in a different way. In each case, what you call collective action springs from an idea; you are both concerned with ideas, positive or negative, to bring about collective action. Each ideology has experience behind it, only you refute the validity of their experience, and they refute the validity of yours. They say that your system is impractical, will lead to slavery, and so on, and you call them warmongers and say that their system must inevitably lead to economic disaster. So both of you are concerned with ideologies, not with feeding people or bringing about their happiness. The two ideologies are at war and man is forgotten.
"Man is forgotten to save man. We sacrifice the present man to save the future man."
You liquidate the present for the future. You assume the power of Providence in the name of the State as the Church has done in the name of God. You both have your gods and your holy book; you both have the true interpreters, the priests - and woe to anyone who deviates from the true and the authentic! There is not much difference between you, you are both very similar; your ideologies may vary, but the process is more or less the same. You both want to save the future man by sacrificing the present man - as though you knew all about the future, as though the future were a fixed thing and you had the monopoly of it! Yet you are both as uncertain of tomorrow as any other. There are so many imponderable facts in the present that make the future. You both promise a reward, a Utopia, a heaven in the future; but the future is not an ideological conclusion. Ideas are always concerned with the past or the future, but never with the present. You cannot have an idea about the present, for the present is action, the only action there is. All other action is delay, postponement, and so no action at all; it is an avoidance of action. Action based on an idea, either of the past or of the future, is inaction; action can only be in the present, in the now. Idea is of the past or of the future, and there can be no idea of the present. To an ideologist the past or the future is a fixed state, for he himself is of the past or of the future. An ideologist is never in the present; to him, life is always in the past or in the future, but never in the now. Idea is ever of the past, threading its way through the present to the future. For an ideologist the present is a passage to the future and so not important; the means do not matter at all, but only the end. Use any means to get to the end. The end is fixed, the future is known, therefore liquidate anyone who stands in the way of the end.
"Experience is essential for action, and ideas or explanations come from experience. Surely you do not deny experience. Action without the framework of idea is anarchical, it is chaos, leading straight to the asylum. Are you advocating action without the cohesive power of idea? How can you do anything without the idea first?"
As you say, the idea, the explanation, the conclusion, is the outcome of experience; without experience there can be no knowledge; without knowledge there can be no action. Does idea follow action, or is there idea first and then action? You say experience comes first, and then action, is that it? What do you mean by experience?
"Experience is the knowledge of a teacher, of a writer, of a revolutionary, the knowledge which he has gathered from his studies and from experiences, either his own or those of another. From knowledge or experience ideas are constructed, and from this ideological structure flows action."
Is experience the only criterion, the true standard of measurement? What do we mean by experience? Our talking together is an experience; you are responding to stimuli, and this response to challenge is experience, is it not? Challenge and response are almost a simultaneous process; they are a constant movement within the framework of a background. It is the background that responds to challenge, and this responding to challenge is experience, is it not? The response is from the background, from a conditioning. Experience is always conditioned, and so then is idea. Action based on idea is conditioned, limited action. Experience, idea, in opposition to another experience, idea, does not produce synthesis but only further opposition. Opposites can never produce a synthesis. An integration can take place only when there is no opposition; but ideas always breed opposition, the conflict of the opposites. Under no circumstances can conflict bring about a synthesis.
Experience is the response of the background to challenge. The background is the influence of the past, and the past is memory. The response of memory is idea. An ideology built out of memory, called experience, knowledge, can never be revolutionary. It may call itself revolutionary, but it is only a modified continuity of the past. An opposite ideology or doctrine is still idea, and idea must ever be of the past. No ideology is the ideology; but if you said that your ideology is limited, prejudiced, conditioned, like any other, no one would follow you. You must say it is the only ideology that can save the world; and as most of us are addicted to formulas, to conclusions, we follow and are thoroughly exploited, as the exploiter is also exploited. Action based on an idea can never be a freeing action, but is always binding. Action towards an end, a goal, is in the long run inaction; in the short view it may assume the role of action, but such action is self-destructive, which is obvious in our daily life.
"But can one ever be free from all conditioning? We believe it is not possible."
Again, the idea, the belief imprisons you. You believe, another does not believe; you are both prisoners to your belief, you both experience according to your conditioning. One can find out if it is possible to be free only by inquiring into the whole process of conditioning, of influence. The understanding of this process is self-knowledge. Through self-knowledge alone is there freedom from bondage, and this freedom is devoid of all belief, all ideology.
Chapter - 73
THE VILLAGE WAS dirty, but there was tidiness around each hut. The front steps were washed and decorated daily, and inside the hut was clean though somewhat smoky from the cooking. The whole family was there, father, mother and children, and the old lady must have been the grandmother. They all seemed so cheerful and strangely contented. Verbal communication was impossible, as we did not know their language. We sat down, and there was no embarrassment. They went on with their work, but the children came near, a boy and a girl, and sat down, smiling. The evening meal was nearly ready, and there was not too much of it. As we left, they all came out and watched; the sun was over the river, behind a vast, solitary cloud. The cloud was on fire and made the waters glow like remembered forest fires.
The long rows of huts were divided by a wide-ish path, and on each side of the path were open, filthy gutters where every imaginable horror was being bred. One could see white worms struggling in the black slime. Children were playing on the path, completely absorbed in their games, laughing and shouting, indifferent to every passer-by. Along the embankment of the river, palms stood out against the burning sky. Pigs, goats and cattle were wandering about the huts, and the children would push a goat or a withered cow out of the way. The village was settling down for the coming darkness, and the children too were becoming quiet as their mothers called them.
The large house had a lovely garden with high, white walls all around it. The garden was full of colour and bloom, and a great deal of money and care must have gone into it. It was extraordinarily peaceful in that garden; everything was flourishing, and the beauty of the large tree seemed to protect all the other things that were growing. The fountain must have been a delight to the many birds, but how it was quietly singing to itself, undisturbed and alone. Everything was enclosing itself for the night.
She was a dancer, not by profession but by choice. She was considered by some to be a fairly good dancer. She must have felt proud of her art, for there was arrogance about her, not only the arrogance of achievement but also that of some inner recognition of her own spiritual worth. As another would be satisfied with outward success, she was gratified by her spiritual advancement. The advance of the spirit is a self-imposed deception, but it is very gratifying. She had jewels on, and her nails were red; her lips were painted the appropriate colour. She not only danced, but also gave talks on art, on beauty, and on spiritual achievement. Vanity and ambition were on her face; she wanted to be known both spiritually and as an artist, and now the spirit was gaining.
She said she had no personal problems, but wanted to talk about beauty and the spirit. She did not care about personal problems, which were stupid anyhow, but was concerned with wider issues. What was beauty? Was it inner or outer? Was it subjective or objective, or a combination of both? She was so sure of her ground, and surety is the denial of the beautiful. To be certain is to be self-enclosed and invulnerable. Without being open, how can there be sensitivity?
"What is beauty?"
Are you waiting for a definition, for a formula, or do you desire to inquire?
"But must one not have the instrument for inquiry? Without knowing, without explanations, how can one inquire? We must know where we are going before we can go."
Does not knowledge prevent inquiry? When you know, how can there be inquiry? Does not the very word "knowing" indicate a state in which inquiry has ceased? To know is not to inquire; so you are merely asking for a conclusion, a definition. Is there a measure for beauty? Is beauty the approximation to a known or an imaginary pattern? Is beauty an abstraction without a frame? Is beauty exclusive, and can the exclusive be the integrated? Can the outer be beautiful without inner freedom? Is beauty decoration, adornment? Is the outward show of beauty an indication of sensitivity? What is it that you are seeking? A combination of the outer and the inner? How can there be outer beauty without the inner? On which do you lay emphasis
"I lay emphasis on both; without the perfect form, how can there be perfect life? Beauty is the combination of the outer and the inner."
So you have a formula for becoming beautiful. The formula is not beauty, but only a series of words. Being beautiful is not the process of becoming beautiful. What is it that you are seeking?
"The beauty of both form and spirit. There must be a lovely vase for the perfect flower."
Can there be inner harmony, and so perhaps outer harmony, without sensitivity? Is not sensitivity essential for perception either of the ugly or the beautiful? Is beauty the avoidance of the ugly?
"Of course it is."
Is virtue avoidance, resistance? If there is resistance, can there be sensitivity? Must there not be freedom for sensitivity? Can the self-enclosed be sensitive? Can the ambitious be sensitive, aware of beauty? Sensitivity, vulnerability to what is, is essential, is it not? We want to identify ourselves with what we call the beautiful and avoid what we call the ugly. We want to be identified with the lovely garden and shut our eyes to the smelly village. We want to resist and yet receive. Is not all identification resistance? To be aware of the village and the garden without resistance, without comparison, is to be sensitive. You want to be sensitive only to beauty, to virtue, and resist evil, the ugly. Sensitivity, vulnerability is a total process, it cannot be cut off at a particular gratifying level.
"But I am seeking beauty, sensitivity."
Is that really so? If it is, then all concern about beauty must cease. This consideration, this worship of beauty is an escape from what is, from yourself, is it not? How can you be sensitive if you are unaware of what you are, of what is? The ambitious, the crafty, the pursuers of beauty, are only worshipping their own self-projections. They are wholly self-enclosed, they have built a wall around themselves; and as nothing can live in isolation, there is misery. This search for beauty and the incessant talk of art are respectable and highly regarded escapes from life, which is oneself.
"But music is not an escape."
It is when it replaces the understanding of oneself. Without the understanding of oneself, all activity leads to confusion and pain. There is sensitivity only when there is the freedom which understanding brings - the understanding of the ways of the self, of thought.
Chapter - 74
THE LITTLE PUPPIES were plump and clean, and were playing in the warm sand. There were six of them, all white and light brown. The mother was lying a little away from them in the shade. She was thin and worn out, and so mangy that she had hardly a hair on her. There were several wounds on her body, but she wagged her tail and was so proud of those round puppies. She probably would not survive for more than a month or so. She was one of those dogs that prowl about, picking up what they can from the filthy streets or around a poor village, always hungry and always on the run. Human beings threw stones at her, chased her from their door, and they were to be avoided. But here in the shade the memories of yesterday were distant, and she was exhausted; Besides, the puppies were being petted and talked to. It was late afternoon; the breeze from across the wide river was fresh and cooling, and for the moment there was contentment. Where she would get her next meal was another matter, but why struggle now?
Past the village, along the embankment, beyond the green fields and then down a dusty and noisy road, was the house in which people were waiting to talk over. They were of every type: the thoughtful and the eager, the lazy and the argumentative, the quick-witted and those who lived according to definitions and conclusions. The thoughtful were patient, and the quick-witted were sharp with those who dragged; but the slow had to come with the fast. Understanding comes in flashes, and there must be intervals of silence for the flashes to take place; but the quick are too impatient to allow space for these flashes. Understanding is not verbal, nor is there such a thing as intellectual understanding. Intellectual understanding is only on the verbal level, and so no understanding at all. Understanding does not come as a result of thought, for thought after all is verbal. There is no thought without memory, and memory is the word, the symbol, the process of image-making. At this level there is no understanding. Understanding comes in the space between two words, in that interval before the word shapes thought. Understanding is neither for the quick-witted nor for the slow, but for those who are aware of this measureless space.
"What is disintegration? We see the rapid disintegration of human relationship in the world, but more so in ourselves. How can this falling apart be stopped? How can we integrate?"
There is integration if we can be watchful of the ways of disintegration. Integration is not on one or two levels of our existence, it is the coming together of the whole. Before that can be, we must find out what we mean by disintegration, must we not? Is conflict an indication of disintegration? We are not seeking a definition, but the significance behind that word.
"Is not struggle inevitable? All existence is struggle; without struggle there would be decay. If I did not struggle towards a goal I would degenerate. To struggle is as essential as breathing."
A categorical statement stops all inquiry. We are trying to find out what are the factors of disintegration, and perhaps conflict, struggle, is one of them. What do we mean by conflict, struggle?
"Competition, striving, making an effort, the will to achieve, discontent, and so on."
Struggle is not only at one level of existence, but at all levels. The process of becoming is struggle, conflict, is it not? The clerk becoming the manager, the vicar becoming the bishop, the pupil becoming the Master - this psychological becoming is effort, conflict.
"Can we do without this process of becoming? Is it not a necessity? How can one be free of conflict? Is there not fear behind this effort?"
We are trying to find out, to experience, not merely at the verbal level, but deeply, what makes for disintegration, and not how to be free of conflict or what lies behind it. Living and becoming are two different states, are they not? Existence may entail effort; but we are considering the process of becoming, the psychological urge to be better, to become something, the struggle to change what is into its opposite. This psychological becoming may be the factor that makes everyday living painful, competitive, a vast conflict. What do we mean by becoming? The psychological becoming of the priest who wants to be the bishop, of the disciple who wants to be the Master, and so on. In this process of becoming there is effort, positive or negative; it is the struggle to change what is into something else, is it not? I am this, and I want to become that, and this becoming is a series of conflicts. When I have become that, there is still another that, and so on endlessly. This becoming that is without end, and so conflict is without end. Now, why do I want to become something other than what I am?
"Because of our conditioning, because of social influences, because of our ideals. We cannot help it, it is our nature."
Merely to say that we cannot help it puts an end to discussion. It is a sluggish mind that makes this assertion and just puts up with suffering, which is stupidity. Why are we so conditioned? Who conditions us? Since we submit to being conditioned, we ourselves make those conditions. Is it the ideal that makes us struggle to become that when we are this? Is it the goal, the Utopia, that makes for conflict? Would we degenerate if we did not struggle towards an end?
"Of course. We would stagnate, go from bad to worse. It is easy to fall into hell but difficult to climb to heaven."
Again we have ideas, opinions about what would happen, but we do not directly experience the happening. Ideas prevent understanding, as do conclusions and explanations. Do ideas and ideals make us struggle to achieve, to become? I am this, and does the ideal make me struggle to become that? Is the ideal the cause of conflict? Is the ideal wholly dissimilar from what is? If it is completely different, if it has no relationship with what is, then what is cannot become the ideal. To become, there must be relationship between what is and the ideal, the goal. You say the ideal is giving us the impetus to struggle, so let us find out how the ideal comes into being. Is not the ideal a projection of the mind?
"I want to be like you. Is that a projection?"
Of course it is. The mind has an idea, perhaps pleasurable, and it wants to be like that idea, which is a projection of your desire. You are this, which you do not like, and you want to become that, which you like. The ideal is a self-projection; the opposite is an extension of what is; it is not the opposite at all, but a continuity of what is, perhaps somewhat modified. The projection is self-willed, and conflict is the struggle towards the projection. What is projects itself as the ideal and struggles towards it, and this struggle is called becoming. The conflict between the opposites is considered necessary, essential. This conflict is the what is trying to become what it is not; and what it is not is the ideal, the self-projection. You are struggling to become something, and that something is part of yourself. The ideal is your own projection. See how the mind has played a trick upon itself. You are struggling after words, pursuing your own projection, your own shadow. You are violent, and you are struggling to become non-violent, the ideal; but the ideal is a projection of what is, only under a different name. This struggle is considered necessary, spiritual, evolutionary, and so on; but it is wholly within the cage of the mind and only leads to illusion.
When you are aware of this trick which you have played upon yourself, then the false as the false is seen. The struggle towards an illusion is the disintegrating factor. All conflict, all becoming is disintegration. When there is an awareness of this trick that the mind has played upon itself, then there is only what is. When the mind is stripped of all becoming, of all ideals, of all comparison and condemnation, when its own structure has collapsed, then the what is has undergone complete transformation. As long as there is the naming of what is there is relationship between the mind and what is; but when this naming process - which is memory, the very structure of the mind - is not, then what is is not. In this transformation alone is there integration.
Integration is not the action of will, it is not the process of becoming integrated. When disintegration is not, when there is no conflict, no struggle to become, only then is there the being of the whole, the complete.
Chapter - 75
‘Fear and Escape’
WE WERE STEADILY climbing, without any perceptible movement. Below us was a vast sea of clouds, white and dazzling, wave upon wave as far as the eye could see. They looked so astonishingly solid and inviting. Occasionally, as we climbed higher in a wide circle there were breaks in this brilliant foam, and far below was the green earth. Above us was the clear blue sky of winter, soft and immeasurable. A massive range of snow covered mountains stretched from north to south, sparkling in the brilliant sun. These mountains reached an elevation of over fourteen thousand feet, but we had risen above them and were still climbing. They were a familiar range of peaks, and they looked so near and serene. The higher peaks lay to the north, and we shot off to the south, having reached the required altitude of twenty thousand feet.
The passenger in the next seat was very talkative. He was unfamiliar with those mountains, and had dozed as we climbed; but now he was awake and eager for a talk. It appeared that he was going out on some business for the first time; he seemed to have many interests, and spoke with considerable information about them. The sea was now below us, dark and distant, and a few ships were dotted here and there. There was not a tremor of the wings, and we passed one lighted town after another along the coast. He was saying how difficult it was not to have fear, not particularly of a crash, but of all the accidents of life. He was married and had children, and there was always fear - not of the future alone, but of everything in general. It was a fear that had no particular object, and though he was successful, this fear made his life weary and painful. He had always been rather apprehensive, but now it had become extremely persistent and his dreams were of a frightening nature. His wife knew of his fear, but she was not aware of its seriousness.
Fear can exist only in relation to something. As an abstraction, fear is a mere word, and the word is not the actual fear. Do you know specifically of what you are afraid?
"I have never been able to lay my finger on it, and my dreams too are very vague; but threading through them all there is fear. I have talked to friends and doctors about it, but they have either laughed it off or otherwise not been of much help. It has always eluded me, and I want to be free of the beastly thing."
Do you really want to be free, or is that just a phrase?
"I may sound casual, but I would give a great deal to be rid of this fear. I am not a particularly religious person, but strangely enough I have prayed to have it taken away from me. When I am interested in my work, or in a game, it is often absent; but like some monster it is ever waiting, and soon we are companions again."
Have you that fear now? Are you aware now that it is somewhere about? Is the fear conscious or hidden?
"I can sense it, but I do not know whether it is conscious or unconscious."
Do you sense it as something far away or near - not in space or distance, but as a feeling?
"When I am aware of it, it seems to be quite close. But what has that got to do with it?"
Fear can come into being only in relation to something. That something may be your family, your work, your preoccupation with the future, with death. Are you afraid of death?
"Not particularly, though I would like to have a quick death and not a long-drawn-out one. I don’t think it is my family that I have this anxiety about, nor is it my job."
Then it must be something deeper than the superficial relationships that is causing this fear. One may be able to point out what it is, but if you can discover it for yourself it will have far greater significance. Why are you not afraid of the superficial relationships?
"My wife and I love each other; she wouldn’t think of looking at another man, and I am not attracted to other women. We find completeness in each other. The children are an anxiety, and what one can do, one does; but with all this economic mess in the world, one cannot give them financial security, and they will have to do the best they can. My job is fairly secure, but there is the natural fear of anything happening to my wife."
So you are sure of your deeper relationship. Why are you so certain?
"I don’t know, but I am. One has to take some things for granted, hasn’t one?"
That’s not the point. Shall we go into it? What makes you so sure of your intimate relationship? When you say that you and your wife find completeness in each other, what do you mean?
"We find happiness in each other: companionship, understanding, and so on. In the deeper sense, we depend on each other. It would be a tremendous blow if anything happened to either of us. We are in that sense dependent."
What do you mean by "dependent"? You mean that without her you would be lost, you would feel utterly alone, is that it? She would feel the same; so you are mutually dependent.
"But what is wrong with that?"
We are not condemning or judging, but only inquiring. Are you sure you want to go into all this? You are quite sure? All right, then let’s go on.
Without your wife, you would be alone, you would be lost in the deepest sense; so she is essential to you, is she not? You depend on her for your happiness, and this dependence is called love. You are afraid to be alone. She is always there to cover up the fact of your loneliness, as you cover up hers; but the fact is still there, is it not? We use each other to cover up this loneliness; we run away from it in so many ways, in so many different forms of relationship, and each such relationship becomes a dependence. I listen to the radio because music makes me happy, it takes me away from myself; books and knowledge are also a very convenient escape from myself. And on all these things we depend.
"Why should I not escape from myself? I have nothing to be proud of, and by being identified with my wife, who is much better than I am, I get away from myself."
Of course, the vast majority escape from themselves. But by escaping from yourself, you have become dependent. Dependence grows stronger, escapes more essential, in proportion to the fear of what is. The wife, the book, the radio, become extraordinarily important; escapes come to be all-significant, of the greatest value. I use my wife as a means of running away from myself, so I am attached to her. I must possess her, I must not lose her; and she likes to be possessed, for she is also using me. There is a common need to escape, and mutually we use each other. This usage is called love. You do not like what you are, and so you run away from yourself, from what is.
"That is fairly clear. I see something in that, it makes sense. But why does one run away? What is one escaping from?"
From your own loneliness, your own emptiness, from what you are. If you run away without seeing what is, you obviously cannot understand it; so first you have to stop running, escaping and only then can you watch yourself as you are. But you cannot observe what is if you are always criticizing it, if you like or dislike it. You call it loneliness and run away from it; and the very running away from what is is fear. You are afraid of this loneliness, of this emptiness, and dependence is the covering of it. So fear is constant; it is constant as long as you are running away from what is. To be completely identified with something, with a person or an idea, is not a guarantee of final escape, for this fear is always in the background. It comes through dreams, when there is a break in identification; and there is always a break in identification, unless one is unbalanced.
"Then my fear arises from my own hollowness, my insufficiency. I see that all right, and it is true; but what am I to do about it?"
You cannot do anything about it. Whatever you do is an activity of escape. That is the most essential thing to realize. Then you will see that you are not different or separate from that hollowness. You are that insufficiency. The observer is the observed emptiness. Then if you proceed further, there is no longer calling it loneliness; the terming of it has ceased. If you proceed still further, which is rather arduous, the thing known as loneliness is not; there is a complete cessation of loneliness, emptiness, of the thinker as the thought. This alone puts an end to fear.
"Then what is love?"
Love is not identification; it is not thought about the loved. You do not think about love when it is there; you think about it only when it is absent, when there is distance between you and the object of your love. When there is direct communion, there is no thought, no image, no revival of memory; it is when the communion breaks, at any level, that the process of thought, of imagination, begins. Love is not of the mind. The mind makes the smoke of envy, of holding, of missing, of recalling the past, of longing for tomorrow, of sorrow and worry; and this effectively smothers the flame. When the smoke is not, the flame is. The two cannot exist together; the thought that they exist together is merely a wish. A wish is a projection of thought, and thought is not love.
Chapter - 76
‘Exploitation and Activity’
IT WAS EARLY in the morning and the cheerful birds were making an awful lot of noise. The sun was just touching the tree tops, and in the deep shade there were still no patches of light. A snake must recently have crossed the lawn, for there was a long, narrow clearing of the dew. The sky had not yet lost its colour, and great white clouds were gathering. Suddenly the noise of the birds stopped, then increased with warning, scolding cries as a cat came and lay down under a bush. A big hawk had caught a white-and-black bird, and was tearing at it with its sharp, curving beak. It held its prey with eager ferocity, and became threatening as two or three crows came near. The hawk’s eyes were yellow with narrow black slits and they were watching the crows and us without blinking.
"Why shouldn’t I be exploited? I don’t mind being used for the cause, which has great significance, and I want to be completely identified with it. What they do with me is of little importance. You see, I am of no account. I can’t do much in this world, and so I am helping those who can. But I have a problem of personal attachment which distracts me from the work. It is this attachment I want to understand."
But why should you be exploited? Are you not as important as the individual or the group that is exploiting you?
"I don’t mind being exploited for the cause, which I consider has great beauty and worth in the world. Those with whom I work are spiritual people with high ideals, and they know better than I do what should be done."
Why do you think they are more capable of doing good than you are? How do you know they are "spiritual," to use your own word, and have wider vision? After all, when you offered your services, you must have considered this matter; or were you attracted, emotionally stirred, and so gave yourself to the work?
"It is a beautiful cause, and I offered my services because I felt that I must help it."
You are like those men who join the army to kill or to be killed for a noble cause. Do they know what they are doing? Do you know what you are doing? How do you know that the cause you are serving is "spiritual"?
"Of course you are right. I was in the army for four years during the last war; I joined it, like many other men, out of a feeling of patriotism. I don’t think I considered then the significance of killing; it was the thing to do, we just joined. But the people I am helping now are spiritual."
Do you know what it means to be spiritual? For one thing, to be ambitious is obviously not spiritual. And are they not ambitious?
"I am afraid they are. I had never thought about these things, I only wanted to help something beautiful."
Is it beautiful to be ambitious and cover it up with a lot of high-sounding words about Masters, humanity, art, brotherhood? Is it spiritual to be burdened with self-centredness which is extended to include the neighbour and the man across the waters? You are helping those who are supposed to be spiritual, not knowing what it is all about and willing to be exploited.
"Yes, it is quite immature, isn’t it? I don’t want to be disturbed in what I am doing, and yet I have a problem; and what you are saying is even more disturbing."
Shouldn’t you be disturbed? After all, it is only when we are disturbed, awakened, that we begin to observe and find out. We are exploited because of our own stupidity, which the clever ones use in the name of the country, of God, of some ideology. How can stupidity do good in the world even though the crafty make use of it? When the cunning exploit stupidity, they also are stupid, for they too do not know where their activities are leading. The action of the stupid, of those who are unaware of the ways of their own thought, leads inevitably to conflict confusion and misery.
Your problem may not necessarily be a distraction. Since it is there, how can it be?
"It is disturbing my dedicated work."
Your dedication is not complete since you have a problem which you find distracting. Your dedication may be a thoughtless action, and the problem may be an indication, a warning not to get caught up in your present activities
"But I like what I am doing."
And that may be the whole trouble. We want to get lost in some form of activity; the more satisfying the activity, the more we cling to it. The desire to be gratified makes us stupid and gratification at all levels is the same; there is no higher and lower gratification. Though we may consciously or unconsciously disguise our gratification in noble words, the very desire to be gratified makes us dull, insensitive. We get satisfaction, comfort psychological security through some kind of activity; and gaining it, or imagining that we have gained it, we do not desire to be disturbed. But there is always disturbance - unless we are dead, or understand the whole process of conflict, struggle. Most of us want to be dead, to be insensitive, for living is painful; and against that pain we build walls of resistance, the walls of conditioning. These seemingly protecting walls only breed further conflict and misery. Is it not important to understand the problem rather than to find a way out of it? Your problem may be the real, and your work may be an escape without much significance.
"This is all very disturbing, and I shall have to think about it very carefully."
It was getting warm under the trees and we left. But how can a shallow mind ever do good? Is not the doing of "good" the indication of a shallow mind? Is not the mind, however cunning, subtle, learned, always shallow? The shallow mind can never become the unfathomable; the very becoming is the way of shallowness. Becoming is the pursuit of the self-projected. The projection may be verbally of the highest, it may be an extensive vision, scheme or plan; yet it is ever the child of the shallow. Do what it will, the shallow can never become the deep; any action on its part, any movement of the mind at any level, is still of the shallow. It is very hard for the shallow mind to see that its activities are vain, useless. It is the shallow mind that is active, and this very activity keeps it in that state. Its activity is its own conditioning. The conditioning, conscious or hidden, is the desire to be free from conflict, from struggle, and this desire builds walls against the movement of life, against unknown breezes; and within these walls of conclusions, beliefs, explanations, ideologies, the mind stagnates. Only the shallow stagnate, die.
The very desire to take shelter through conditioning breeds more strife, more problems; for conditioning is separating, and the separate, the isolated cannot live. The separate, by joining itself to other separates, does not become the whole. The separate is always the isolated, though it may accumulate and gather, expand, include and identify. Conditioning is destructive, disintegrating; but the shallow mind cannot see the truth of this, for it is active in search of truth. This very activity hinders the receiving of truth. Truth is action, not the activity of the shallow, of the seeker, of the ambitious. Truth is the good, the beautiful, not the activity of the dancer, of the planner, of the spinner of words. It is truth that liberates the shallow, not his scheme to be free. The shallow, the mind can never make itself free; it can only move from one conditioning to another, thinking the other is more free. The more is never free, it is conditioning, an extension of the less. The movement of becoming, of the man who wants to become the Buddha or the manager, is the activity of the shallow. The shallow are ever afraid of what they are; but what they are is the truth. Truth is in the silent observation of what is, and it is truth that transforms what is.
Chapter - 77
‘The Learned or The Wise?’
THE RAINS HAD washed away the dust and heat of many months, and the leaves were sparklingly clean, with new leaves beginning to show. All through the night the frogs filled the air with their deep croaking; they would take a rest, and start again. The river was swift-flowing, and there was softness in the air. The rains were not over by any means. Dark clouds were gathering, and the sun was hidden. The earth, the trees and the whole of Nature seemed to be waiting for another purification. The road was dark brown, and the children were playing in the puddles; they were making mud-pies, or building castles and houses with surrounding walls. There was joy in the air after months of heat, and green grass was beginning to cover the earth. Everything was renewing itself.
This renewal is innocence.
The man considered himself vastly learned, and to him knowledge was the very essence of life. Life without knowledge was worse than death. His knowledge was not about one or two things, but covered a great many phases of life; he could talk with assurance about the atom and Communism, about astronomy and the yearly flow of water in the river, about diet and overpopulation. He was strangely proud of his knowledge and, like a clever showman, he brought it to impress; it made the others silent and respectful. How frightened we are of knowledge, what awesome respect we show to the knower! His English was sometimes rather difficult to understand. He had never been outside of his own country, but he had books from other countries. He was addicted to knowledge as another might be to drink or to some other appetite.
"What is wisdom, if it is not knowledge? Why do you say that one must suppress all knowledge? Is not knowledge essential? Without knowledge, where would we be? We would still be as the primitives, knowing nothing of the extraordinary world we live in. Without knowledge, existence at any level would be impossible. Why are you so insistent in saying that knowledge is an impediment to understanding?"
Knowledge is conditioning. Knowledge does not give freedom. One may know how to build an airplane and fly to the other end of the world in a few hours, but this is not freedom. Knowledge is not the creative factor, for knowledge is continuous, and that which has continuity can never lead to the implicit, the imponderable, the unknown. Knowledge is a hindrance to the open, to the unknown. The unknown can never be clothed in the known; the known is always moving to the past; the past is ever overshadowing the present, the unknown. Without freedom, without the open mind, there can be no understanding. Understanding does not come with knowledge. In the interval between words, between thoughts, comes understanding; this interval is silence unbroken by knowledge, it is the open, the imponderable, the implicit.
"Is not knowledge useful, essential? Without knowledge, how can there be discovery?"
Discovery takes place, not when the mind is crowded with knowledge, but when knowledge is absent; only then is there stillness and space, and in this state understanding or discovery comes into being. Knowledge is undoubtedly useful at one level, but at another it is positively harmful. When knowledge is used as a means of self-aggrandizement, to puff oneself up, then it is mischievous, breeding separation and enmity. Self-expansion is disintegration, whether in the name of God, of the State, or of an ideology. Knowledge at one level, though conditioning, is necessary: language, technique, and so on. This conditioning is a safeguard, an essential for outer living; but when this conditioning is used psychologically, when knowledge becomes a means of psychological comfort, gratification, then it inevitably breeds conflict and confusion. Besides, what do we mean by knowing? What actually do you know?
"I know about a great many things."
You mean you have lots of information, data about many things. You have gathered certain facts; and then what? Does information about the disaster of war prevent wars? You have, I am sure, plenty of data about the effects of anger and violence within oneself and in society; but has this information put an end to hate and antagonism?
“Knowledge about the effects of war may not put an immediate end to wars, but it will eventually bring about peace. People must be educated, they must be shown the effects of war, of conflict."
People are yourself and another. You have this vast information, and are you any less ambitious, less violent, less self-centred? Because you have studied revolutions, the history of inequality, are you free from feeling superior, giving importance to yourself? Because you have extensive knowledge of the world’s miseries and disasters, do you love? Besides, what is it that we know, of what have we knowledge?
"Knowledge is experience accumulated through the ages. In one form it is tradition, and in another it is instinct, both conscious and unconscious. The hidden memories and experiences, whether handed down or acquired, act as a guide and shape our action; these memories, both racial and individual, are essential, because they help and protect man. Would you do away with such knowledge?"
Action shaped and guided by fear is no action at all. Action which is the outcome of racial prejudices, fears, hopes, illusions, is conditioned; and all conditioning, as we said, only breeds further conflict and sorrow. You are conditioned as a brahmin in accordance with a tradition which has been going on for centuries; and you respond to stimuli, to social changes and conflicts, as a brahmin. You respond according to your conditioning, according to your past experiences, knowledge, so new experience only conditions further. Experience according to a belief, according to an ideology, is merely the continuation of that belief, the perpetuation of an idea. Such experience only strengthens belief. Idea separates, and your experience according to an idea, a pattern, makes you more separative. Experience as knowledge, as a psychological accumulation, only conditions, and experience is then another way of self-aggrandizement. Knowledge as experience at the psychological level is a hindrance to understanding.
"Do we experience according to our belief?"
That is obvious, is it not? You are conditioned by a particular society - which is yourself at a different level - to believe in God, in social divisions; and another is conditioned to believe that there is no God, to follow quite a different ideology. Both of you will experience according to your beliefs, but such experience is a hindrance to the unknown. Experience, knowledge, which is memory, is useful at certain levels; but experience as a means of strengthening the psychological "me," the ego, only leads to illusion and sorrow. And what can we know if the mind is filled with experiences, memories, knowledge? Can there be experiencing if we know? Does not the known prevent experiencing? You may know the name of that flower, but do you thereby experience the flower? Experiencing comes first, and the naming only gives strength to the experience. The naming prevents further experiencing. For the state of experiencing, must there not be freedom from naming, from association, from the process of memory?
Knowledge is superficial, and can the superficial lead to the deep? Can the mind, which is the result of the known, of the past, ever go above and beyond its own projection? To discover, it must stop projecting. Without its projections, mind is not. Knowledge, the past, can project only that which is the known. The instrument of the known can never be the discoverer. The known must cease for discovery; the experience must cease for experiencing. Knowledge is a hindrance to understanding.
"What have we left if we are without knowledge, experience, memory? We are then nothing."
Are you anything more than that now? When you say, "Without knowledge we are nothing," you are merely making a verbal assertion without experiencing that state, are you not? When you make that statement there is a sense of fear, the fear of being naked. Without these accretions you are nothing - which is the truth. And why not be that? Why all these pretensions and conceits? We have clothed this nothingness with fancies, with hopes, with various comforting ideas; but beneath these coverings we are nothing, not as some philosophical abstraction, but actually nothing. The experiencing of that nothingness is the beginning of wisdom.
How ashamed we are to say we do not know! We cover the fact of not knowing with words and information. Actually, you do not know your wife, your neighbour; how can you when you do not know yourself? You have a lot of information, conclusions, explanations about yourself, but you are not aware of that which is, the implicit. Explanations, conclusions, called knowledge, prevent the experiencing of what is. Without being innocent, how can there be wisdom? Without dying to the past how can there be the renewing of innocence? Dying is from moment to moment; to die is not to accumulate; the experiencer must die to the experience. Without experience, without knowledge, the experiencer is not. To know is to be ignorant; not to know is the beginning of wisdom.