Commentaries on Living 
Chapter - 78
‘Stillness and Will’
THERE WAS HARDLY anyone on the long, curving beach. A few fishermen were going back to their village among the tall palms. As they walked they made thread, rolling the cotton on their naked thighs and winding it on the bobbin; it was a very fine thread, and strong. Some of them walked with ease and grace, and others with dragging feet. They were ill-fed, thin, and burnt dark by the sun. A boy passed by singing, with long, cheerful strides; and the sea came rolling in. There was no strong breeze, but it was a heavy sea, with thunderous waves. The moon, almost full was just rising out of the blue-green water, and the breakers were white against the yellow sands.
How essentially simple life is, and how we complicate it! Life is complex, but we do not know how to be simple with it. Complexity must be approached simply, otherwise we shall never understand it. We know too much, and that is why life eludes us; and the too much is so little. With that little we meet the immense; and how can we measure the immeasurable? Our vanity dulls us, experience and knowledge bind us, and the waters of life pass us by. To sing with that boy, to drag wearily with those fishermen, to spin thread on one’s thigh, to be those villagers and that couple in the car - to be all that, not as a trick of identity, needs love. Love is not complex, but the mind makes it so. We are too much with the mind, and the ways of love we do not know. We know the ways of desire and the will of desire, but we do not know love. Love is the flame without the smoke. We are too familiar with the smoke; it fills our heads and heats, and we see darkly. We are not simple with the beauty of the flame; we torture ourselves with it. We do not live with the flame, following swiftly wherever it may lead. We know too much, which is always little, and we make a path for love. Love eludes us, but we have the empty frame. Those who know that they do not know are the simple; they go far, for they have no burden of knowledge.
He was a sannyasi of some repute; he had the saffron robe and the distant look. He was saying that he had renounced the world many years ago and was now approaching the stage when neither this world nor the other world interested him. He had practised many austerities, driven the body hard and fast, and had extraordinary control over his breathing and nervous system. This had given him a great sense of power, though he had not sought it.
Is not this power as detrimental to understanding as the power of ambition and vanity? Greed, like fear, breeds the power of action. All sense of power, of domination, gives strength to the self, to the "me" and the "mine; and is not the self a hindrance to reality?
"The lower must be suppressed or made to conform to the higher. Conflict between the various desires of the mind and the body must be stilled; in the process of control, the rider tastes power, but power is used to climb higher or go deeper. Power is harmful only when used for oneself, and not when used to clear the way for the supreme. Will is power, it is the directive; when used for personal ends it is destructive, but when used in the right direction it is beneficial. Without will, there can be no action."
Every leader uses power as a means to an end, and so does the ordinary man; but the leader says that he is using it for the good of the whole, while the everyday man is just out for himself. The goal of the dictator, of the man of power, of the leader, is the same as that of the led; they are similar, one is the expansion of the other; and both are self-projections. We condemn one and praise the other; but are not all goals the outcome of one’s own prejudices, inclinations, fears and hopes? You use will, effort, power, to make way for the supreme; that supreme is fashioned out of desire, which is will. Will creates its own goal and sacrifices or suppresses everything to that end. The end is itself, only it is called the supreme, or the State, or the ideology.
"Can conflict come to an end without the power of will?"
Without understanding the ways of conflict and how it comes into being, of what value is it merely to suppress or sublimate conflict, or find a substitute for it? You may be able to suppress a disease, but it is bound to show itself again in another form. Will itself is conflict, it is the outcome of struggle; will is purposive, directed desire. Without comprehending the process of desire, merely to control it is to invite further burning, further pain. Control is evasion. You may control a child or a problem, but you have not thereby understood either. Understanding is of far greater importance than arriving at an end. The action of will is destructive, for action towards an end is self-enclosing, separating, isolating. You cannot silence conflict, desire, for the maker of the effort is himself the product of conflict, of desire. The thinker and his thoughts are the outcome of desire; and without understanding desire, which is the self placed at any level, high or low, the mind is ever caught in ignorance. The way to the supreme does not lie through will, through desire. The supreme can come into being only when the maker of effort is not. It is will that breeds conflict, the desire to become or to make way for the supreme. When the mind which is put together through desire comes to an end, not through effort, then in that stillness, which is not a goal, reality comes into being.
"But is not simplicity essential for that stillness?"
What do you mean by simplicity? Do you mean identification with simplicity, or being simple?
"You cannot be simple without identifying yourself with that which is simple, externally as well as inwardly."
You become simple, is that it? You are complex, but you become simple through identification, through identifying yourself with the peasant or with the monk’s robe. I am this, and I become that. But does this process of becoming lead to simplicity, or merely to the idea of simplicity? Identification with an idea called the simple is not simplicity, is it? Am I simple because I keep on asserting that I am simple, or keep on identifying myself with the pattern of simplicity? Simplicity lies in the understanding of what is, not in trying to change what is into simplicity. Can you change what is into something it is not? Can greed, whether for God, money or drink, ever become non-greed? What we identify ourselves with is always the self-projected, whether it is the supreme, the State or the family. Identification at any level is the process of the self.
Simplicity is the understanding of what is, however complex it may appear. The what is, is not difficult to understand, but what prevents understanding is the distraction of comparison, of condemnation, of prejudice, whether negative or positive, and so on. It is these that make for complexity. What is is never complex in itself, it is always simple. What you are is simple to understand, but it is made complex by your approach to it; so there must be an understanding of the whole process of approach, which makes for complexity. If you do not condemn the child, then he is what he is and it is possible to act. The action of condemnation leads to complexity; the action of what is is simplicity.
Nothing is essential for stillness but stillness itself; it is its own beginning and its own end. No essential bring it about, for it is. No means can ever lead to stillness. It is only when stillness is something to be gained, achieved, that the means become essential. If stillness is to be bought, then the coin becomes important; but the coin, and that which it purchases, are not stillness. Means are noisy, violent, or subtly acquisitive, and the end is of like nature, for the end is in the means. If the beginning is silence, the end is also silence. There are no means to silence; silence is when noise is not. Noise does not come to an end through the further noise of effort, of discipline, of austerities, of will. See the truth of this, and there is silence.
Chapter - 79
THE BABY HAD been crying all night, and the poor mother had been doing her best to quiet him. She sang to him, she scolded him, she petted and rocked him; but it was no good. The baby must have been teething, and it was a weary night for the whole family. But now the dawn was coming over the dark trees, and at last the baby became quiet. There was a peculiar stillness as the sky grew lighter and lighter. The dead branches were clear against the sky, slender and naked; a child called, a dog barked, a lorry rattled by, and another day had begun. Presently the mother came out carrying the baby, carefully wrapped, and walked along the road past the village, where she waited for a bus. Presumably she was taking him to the doctor. She looked so tired and haggard after that sleepless night, but the baby was fast asleep.
Soon the sun was over the tree tops, and the dew sparkled on the green grass. Far away a train whistled, and the distant mountains looked cool and shadowy. A large bird flew noisily away, for we had disturbed her brooding. Our approach must have been very sudden, for she hadn’t had time to cover her eggs with dry leaves. There were over a dozen of them. Even though uncovered they were hardly visible, she had so cleverly concealed them, and now she was watching from a distant tree. We saw the mother with her brood a few days later, and the nest was empty.
It was shady and cool along the path, which led through the damp woods to the distant hilltop, and the wattle was in bloom. It had rained heavily a few days before, and the earth was soft and yielding. There were fields of young potatoes, and far down in the valley was the town. It was a beautiful, golden morning. Beyond the hill the path led back to the house.
She was very clever. She had read all the latest books, had seen the latest plays, and was well informed about some philosophy which had become the latest craze. She had been analysed and had apparently read a great deal of psychology, for she knew the jargon. She made a point of seeing all the important people, and had casually met someone who brought her along. She talked easily and expressed herself with poise and effect. She had been married, but had had no children; and one felt that all that was behind her, and that now she was on a different journey. She must have been rich, for she had about her that peculiar atmosphere of the wealthy. She began right away by asking, "In what way are you helping the world in this present crisis?" It must have been one of her stock questions. She went on to ask, more eagerly, about the prevention of war, the effects of Communism, and the future of man.
Are not wars, the increasing disasters and miseries, the outcome of our daily life? Are we not, each one of us, responsible for this crisis? The future is in the present; the future will not be very different if there is no comprehension of the present. But do you not think that each one of us is responsible for this conflict and confusion?
"It may be so; but where does this recognition of responsibility lead? What value has my little action in the vast destructive action? In what way is my thought going to affect the general stupidity of man? What is happening in the world is sheer stupidity, and my intelligence is in no way going to affect it. Besides, think of the time it would take for individual action to make any impression on the world."
Is the world different from you? Has not the structure of society been built up by people like you and me? To bring about a radical change in the structure, must not you and I fundamentally transform ourselves? How can there be a deep revolution of values if it does not begin with us? To help in the present crisis, must one look for a new ideology, a new economic plan? Or must one begin to understand the conflict and confusion within oneself, which, in its projection, is the World? Can new ideologies bring unity between man and man? Do not beliefs set man against man? Must we not put away our ideological barriers - for all barriers are ideological - and consider our problems, not through the bias of conclusion and formulas, but directly and without prejudice? We are never directly in relationship with our problems, but always through some belief or formulation. We can solve our problems only when we are directly in relationship with them. It is not our problems which set man against man, but our ideas about them. Problems bring us together, but ideas separate us.
If one may ask, why are you so apparently concerned about the crisis?
"Oh, I don’t know. I see so much suffering, so much misery, and I feel something must be done about it."
Are you really concerned, or are you merely ambitious to do something?
"When you put it that way, I suppose I am ambitious to do something in which I shall succeed."
So few of us are honest in our thinking. We want to be successful, either directly for ourselves, or for the ideal, the belief with which we have identified ourselves. The ideal is our own projection, it is the product of our mind, and our mind experiences according to our conditioning. For these self-projections we work, we slave away and die. Nationalism, like the worship of God, is only the glorification of oneself. It is oneself that is important, actually or ideologically, and not the disaster and the misery. We really do not want to do anything about the crisis; it is merely a new topic for the clever, a field for the socially active and for the idealist.
Why are we ambitious?
"If we were not, nothing would get done in the world. If we were not ambitious we would still be driving about in horse carriages. Ambition is another name for progress. Without progress, we would decay, wither away."
In getting things done in the world, we are also breeding wars and untold miseries. Is ambition progress? For the moment we are not considering progress, but ambition. Why are we ambitious? Why do we want to succeed, to be somebody? Why do we struggle to be superior? Why all this effort to assert oneself, whether directly, or through an ideology or the State? Is not this self-assertion the main cause of our conflict and confusion? Without ambition, would we perish? Can we not physically survive without being ambitious?
"Who wants to survive without success, without recognition?"
Does not this desire for success, for applause, bring conflict both within and without? Would being free of ambition mean decay? Is it stagnation to have no conflict? We can drug ourselves, put ourselves to sleep with beliefs, with doctrines, and so have no deep conflicts. For most of us, some kind of activity is the drug. Obviously, such a state is one of decay, disintegration. But when we are aware of the false as the false, does it bring death? To be aware that ambition in any form, whether for happiness, for God, or for success, is the beginning of conflict both within and without, surely does not mean the end of all action, the end of life.
Why are we ambitious?
"I would be bored if I were not occupied in striving to achieve some kind of result. I used to be ambitious for my husband, and I suppose you would say it was for myself through my husband; and now I am ambitious for myself through an idea. I have never thought about ambition, I have just been ambitious."
Why are we clever and ambitious? Is not ambition an urge to avoid what is? Is not this cleverness really stupid, which is what we are? Why are we so frightened of what is? What is the good of running away if whatever we are is always there? We may succeed in escaping, but what we are is still there, breeding conflict and misery. Why are we so frightened of our loneliness, of our emptiness? Any activity away from ‘what is’ is bound to bring sorrow and antagonism. Conflict is the denial of what is or the running away from what is; there is no conflict other than that. Our conflict becomes more and more complex and insoluble because we do not face what is. There is no complexity in what is, but only in the many escapes that we seek.
Chapter - 80
THE SKY WAS heavy with clouds and the day was warm, though the breeze was playing with the leaves. There was distant thunder, and a sprinkling of rain was laying the dust on the road. The parrots were flying about wildly, screeching their little heads off, and a big eagle was sitting on the topmost branch of a tree, preening itself and watching all the play that was going on down below. A small monkey was sitting on another branch, and the two of them watched each other at a safe distance. Presently a crow joined them. After its morning toilet the eagle remained very still for a while, and then flew off. Except for the human beings, it was a new day; nothing was like yesterday. The trees and the parrots were not the same; the grass and the shrubs had a wholly different quality. The remembrance of yesterday only darkens today, and comparison prevents perception. How lovely were those red and yellow flowers! Loveliness is not of time. We carry our burdens from day to day, and there is never a day without the shadow of many yesterdays. Our days are one continuous movement, yesterday mingling with today and tomorrow; there is never an ending. We are frightened of ending; but without ending, how can there be the new? Without death, how can there be life? And how little we know of either! We have all the words, the explanations, and they satisfy us. Words distort ending, and there is ending only when the word is not. The ending that is of words we know; but the ending without words, the silence that is not of words, we never know. To know is memory; memory is ever continuous, and desire is the thread that binds day to day. The end of desire is the new. Death is the new, and life as continuance is only memory, an empty thing. With the new, life and death are one.
A boy was walking with long strides, singing as he walked. He smiled at all those he passed and seemed to have many friends. He was ill-clad, with a dirty cloth around his head, but he had a shining face and bright eyes. With his rapid strides he passed a fat man wearing a cap. The fat man waddled, head down, worried and anxious. He did not hear the song the boy was singing, nor even glance at the singer. The boy strode on through the big gates; passing the beautiful gardens and crossing the bridge over the river, he rounded a bend towards the sea, where he was joined by some companions, and as darkness gathered they all began to sing together. The lights of a car lit up their faces, and their eyes were deep with unknown pleasures. It was raining heavily now, and everything was dripping wet.
He was a doctor not only of medicine but also of psychology. Thin, quiet and self-contained, he had come from across the seas, and had been long enough in this country to be used to the sun and the heavy rains. He had worked, he said, as a doctor and psychologist during the war, and had helped as much as his capacity allowed, but he was dissatisfied with what he had given. He wanted to give much more, to help much more deeply; what he gave was so little, and there was something missing in it all.
We sat without a word for a long period while he gathered the pressures of his distress. Silence is an odd thing. Thought does not make for silence, nor does it build it up. Silence cannot be put together, nor does it come with the action of will. Remembrance of silence is not silence. Silence was there in the room with throbbing stillness, and the talk did not disturb if. The talk had meaning in that silence, and silence was the background of the word. Silence gave expression to thought, but the thought was not silence. Thinking was not, but silence was; and silence penetrated, gathered and gave expression. Thinking can never penetrate, and in silence there is communion.
The doctor was saying that he was dissatisfied with everything: with his work, with his capacities, with all the ideas he had so carefully cultivated. He had tried the various schools of thought, and was dissatisfied with them all. During the many months since he had arrived here, he had been to various teachers, but had come away with still greater dissatisfaction. He had tried many isms, including cynicism, but dissatisfaction was still there.
Is it that you are seeking satisfaction and have not so far found it? Is the desire for satisfaction causing discontent? Searching implies the known. You say you are dissatisfied, and yet you are searching; you are looking for satisfaction, and you have not yet found it. You want satisfaction, which means that you are not dissatisfied. If you were really dissatisfied with everything, you would not be seeking a way out of it. Dissatisfaction which seeks to be satisfied soon finds what it wants in some kind of relationship with possessions, with a person, or with some ism.
"I have been through all that yet I am completely dissatisfied."
You may be dissatisfied with outward relationships, but perhaps you are seeking some psychological attachment that will give full satisfaction.
"I have been through that too, but I am still dissatisfied."
I wonder if you really are? If you were wholly discontented, there would be no movement in any particular direction, would there? If you are thoroughly dissatisfied with being in a room, you do not seek a bigger room with nicer furniture; yet this desire to find a better room is what you call dissatisfaction. You are not dissatisfied with all rooms, but only with this particular one, from which you want to escape. Your dissatisfaction arises from not having found complete satisfaction. You are really seeking gratification, so you are constantly on the move, judging, comparing, weighing, denying; and naturally you are dissatisfied. Is this not so?
"It looks that way, doesn’t it?"
So you are really not dissatisfied; it is simply that you have not so far been able to find complete and lasting satisfaction in anything. That is what you want: complete satisfaction, some deep inner contentment that will endure.
"But I want to help, and this discontent prevents me from giving myself to it completely."
Your goal is to help and to find complete gratification in it. You really do not want to help, but to find satisfaction in helping. You look for gratification in helping, another looks for it in some ism, and yet another in some kind of addiction. You are looking for a completely satisfying drug which for the time being you call helping. In seeking to equip yourself to help, you are equipping yourself to be completely gratified. What you really want is lasting self-gratification.
With most of us, discontent finds an easy contentment. Discontent is soon put to sleep; it is soon drugged, made quiet and respectable. Outwardly you may have finished with all isms, but psychologically, deep down, you are seeking something that you can hold on to. You say you have finished with all personal relationship with another. It may be that in personal relationship you have not found lasting gratification, and so you are seeking relationship with an idea, which is always self-projected. In the search for a relationship that will be completely gratifying, for a secure refuge that will weather all storms, do you not lose the very thing that brings contentment? Contentment, perhaps, is an ugly word, but real contentment does not imply stagnation, reconciliation, appeasement, insensitivity. Contentment is the understanding of what is, and what is is never static. A mind that is interpreting, translating what is, is caught in its own prejudice of satisfaction. Interpretation is not understanding.
With the understanding of what is comes inexhaustible love, tenderness, humility. Perhaps that is what you are in search of; but that cannot be sought and found. Do what you will, you will never find it. It is there when all search has come to an end. You can search only for that which you already know, which is more gratification. Searching and watching are two different processes; one is binding, and the other brings understanding. Search, having always an end in view, is ever binding; passive watchfulness brings understanding of what is from moment to moment. In the what is from moment to moment there is ever an ending; in search there is continuity. Search can never find the new; only in ending is there the new. The new is the inexhaustible. Love alone is ever renewing.
Chapter - 81
‘Wisdom Is Not Accumulation of Knowledge’
THE CABIN WAS high up in the mountains, and to get there one had to cross the wide desert by car, passing through many towns, and through luxuriant orchards and rich farms that had been reclaimed from the desert by irrigation and hard work. One town was especially pleasant with green lawns and big shady trees, for nearby was a river that came down from the distant mountains into the very heart of the desert. Beyond this town, following the cascading river, the road led on towards the snowy peaks. The earth was now rocky, bare and sunburnt, but there were many trees along the river’s banks. The road curved in and out, rising higher and higher, and passing through forests of ancient pines with the scent of the sun among them. The air had become cool and fresh, and soon we arrived at the cabin.
After a couple of days, when it had got used to us, a red-and-black squirrel would come and sit on the window-sill and somewhat scold us. It wanted nuts. Every visitor must have fed it; but now visitors were few, and it was eager to store up for the coming winter. It was a very active, cheerful squirrel, and it was always ready to gather what it could for the many cold and snowy months ahead. Its home was in the hollow of a tree that must have been dead for many years. It would grab a nut, race across to the huge trunk, climb up it noisily, scolding and threatening, disappear into a hole, and then come down again with such speed that one thought it would fall; but it never did. We spent a morning giving it a whole bag of nuts; it became very friendly and would come right into the room, its fur shining and its large beady eyes sparkling. Its claws were sharp, and its tail very bushy. It was a gay, responsible little animal, and it seemed to own the whole neighbourhood, for it kept off all the other squirrels.
He was a pleasant man, and eager for wisdom. He wanted to collect it as that squirrel gathered nuts. Though he was not too well-to-do, he must have travelled a good bit, for he seemed to have met many people in many countries. He had apparently read very extensively also, for he would bring out a phrase or two from some philosopher or saint. He said he could read Greek easily and had a smattering of Sanskrit. He was getting old and was eager to gather wisdom.
Can one gather wisdom?
"Why not? It is experience that makes a man wise, and knowledge is essential for wisdom."
Can a man who has accumulated be wise?
"Life is a process of accumulation, the gradual building up of character, a slow unfoldment. Experience, after all, is the storing up of knowledge. Knowledge is essential for all understanding."
Does understanding come with knowledge, with experience? Knowledge is the residue of experience, the gathering of the past. Knowledge, consciousness, is always the past; and can the past ever understand? Does not understanding come in those intervals when thought is silent? And can the effort to lengthen or accumulate those silent spaces bring understanding?
"Without accumulation, we would not be; there would be no continuity of thought, of action. Accumulation is character, accumulation is virtue. We cannot exist without gathering. If I did not know the structure of that motor, I would be unable to understand it; if I did not know the structure of music, I would be unable to appreciate it deeply. Only the shallow enjoy music. To appreciate music, you must know how it is made, put together. Knowing is accumulation. There is no appreciation without knowing the facts. Accumulation of some kind is necessary for understanding, which is wisdom."
To discover, there must be freedom, must there not? If you are bound, weighed down, you cannot go far. How can there be freedom if there is accumulation of any kind? The man who accumulates, whether money or knowledge, can never be free. You may be free from the acquisitiveness of things, but the greed for knowledge is still bondage, it holds you. If a mind that is tethered to any form of acquisition capable of wandering far and discovering? Is virtue accumulation? Can a mind that is accumulating virtue ever be virtuous? Is not virtue the freedom from becoming? Character may be a bondage too. Virtue can never be a bondage, but all accumulation is.
"How can there be wisdom without experience?"
Wisdom is one thing, and knowledge another. Knowledge is the accumulation of experience; it is the continuation of experience, which is memory. Memory can be cultivated, strengthened, shaped, conditioned; but is wisdom the extension of memory? Is wisdom that which has continuance? We have knowledge, the accumulation of ages; and why are we not wise, happy, creative? Will knowledge make for bliss? Knowing, which is the accumulation of experience, is not experiencing. Knowing prevents experiencing. The accumulation of experience is a continuous process, and each experience strengthens this process; each experience strengthens memory, gives life to it. Without this constant reaction of memory, memory would soon fade away. Thought is memory, the word, the accumulation of experience. Memory is the past, as consciousness is. This whole burden of the past is the mind, is thought. Thought is the accumulated; and how can thought ever be free to discover the new? It must end for the new to be.
"I can comprehend this up to a point; but without thought, how can there be understanding?"
Is understanding a process of the past, or is it always in the present? Understanding means action in the present. Have you not noticed that understanding is in the instant, that it is not of time? Do you understand gradually? Understanding is always immediate, now, is it not? Thought is the outcome of the past; it is founded on the past, it is a response of the past. The past is the accumulated, and thought is the response of the accumulation. How, then, can thought ever understand? Is understanding a conscious process? Do you deliberately set out to understand? Do you choose to enjoy the beauty of an evening?
"But is not understanding a conscious effort?"
What do we mean by consciousness? When are you conscious? Is consciousness not the response to challenge, to stimulus, pleasant or painful? This response to challenge is experience. Experience is naming, terming, association. Without naming, there would be no experience, would there? This whole process of challenge, response, naming, experience, is consciousness, is it not? Consciousness is always a process of the past. Conscious effort, the will to understand, to gather, the will to be, is a continuation of the past, perhaps modified, but still of the past. When we make an effort to be or to become something, that something is the projection of ourselves. When we make a conscious effort to understand, we are hearing the noise of our own accumulations. It is this noise that prevents understanding.
“Then what is wisdom?"
Wisdom is when knowledge ends. Knowledge has continuity; without continuity there is no knowledge. That which has continuity can never be free, the new. There is freedom only to that which has an ending. Knowledge can never be new; it is always becoming the old. The old is ever absorbing the new and thereby gaining strength. The old must cease for the new to be.
"You are saying, in other words, that thought must end for wisdom to be. But how is thought to end?"
There is no ending to thought through any kind of discipline, practice, compulsion. The thinker is the thought, and he cannot operate upon himself; when he does, it is only a self-deception. He is thought, he is not separate from thought; he may assume that he is different, pretend to be dissimilar, but that is only the craftiness of thought to give itself permanency. When thought attempts to end thought it only strengthens itself. Do what it will, thought cannot end itself. It is only when the truth of this is seen that thought comes to an end. There is freedom only in seeing the truth of what is, and wisdom is the perception of that truth. The what is, is never static, and to be passively watchful of it there must be freedom from all accumulation.
Chapter - 82
IT WAS A long, wide canal, leading from the river into lands that had no water. The canal was higher than the river, and the water which entered it was controlled by a system of locks. It was peaceful along that canal; heavy-laden barges moved up and down it, and their white triangular sails stood out against the blue sky and the dark palms. It was a lovely evening, calm and free, and the water was very still. The reflections of the palms and of the mango trees were so sharp and clear that it was confusing to distinguish the actual from the reflection. The setting sun made the water transparent, and the glow of evening was on its face. The evening star was beginning to show among the reflections. The water was without a movement, and the few passing villagers, who generally talked so loud and long, were silent. Even the whisper among the leaves had stopped. From the meadow came some animal; it drank, and disappeared as silently as it had come. Silence held the land, it seemed to cover everything.
Noise ends, but silence is penetrating and without end. One can shut oneself off from noise, but there is no enclosure against silence; no wall can shut it out, there is no resistance against it. Noise shuts all things out, it is excluding and isolating; silence includes all things within itself. Silence, like love, is indivisible; it has no division of noise and silence. The mind cannot follow it or be made still to receive it. The mind that is made still can only reflect its own images, and they are sharp and clear, noisy in their exclusion. A mind that is made still can only resist, and all resistance is agitation. The mind that is still and not made still is ever experiencing silence; the thought, the word, is then within the silence, and not outside of it. It is strange how, in this silence, the mind is tranquil, with a tranquility that is not formed. As tranquillity is not marketable, has no value, and is not usable, it has a quality of the pure, of the alone. That which can be used is soon worn out. Tranquillity does not begin or end, and a mind thus tranquil is aware of a bliss that is not the reflection of its own desire.
She said she had always been agitated by something or other; if it was not the family, it was the neighbour or some social activity. Agitation had filled her life, and she had never been able to find the reason for these constant upheavals. She was not particularly happy; and how could one be with the world as it was? She had had her share of passing happiness, but all that was in the past and now she was hunting for something that would give a meaning to life. She had been through many things which at the time seemed worth while, but which afterwards faded into nothingness. She had been engaged in many social activities of the serious kind; she had ardently believed in the things of religion, had suffered because of death in her family, and had faced a major operation. Life had not been easy with her, she added, and there were millions of others in the world like herself. She wanted to go beyond all this business, whether foolish or necessary and find something that was really worth while.
The things that are worth while are not to be found. They cannot be bought, they must happen; and the happening cannot be cunningly planned. Is it not true that anything that has deep significance always happens, it is never brought about? The happening is important, not the finding. The finding is comparatively easy, but the happening is quite another matter. Not that it is difficult; but the urge to seek, to find, must wholly stop for the happening to take place. Finding implies losing; you must have in order to lose. To possess or be possessed is never to be free to understand.
But why has there always been this agitation, this restlessness? Have you seriously inquired into it before?
"I have attempted it half-heartedly, but never purposely. I have always been distracted."
Not distracted, if one may point out; it is simply that this has never been a vital problem to you. When there is a vital problem, then there is no distraction. Distraction does not exist; distraction implies a central interest from which the mind wanders; but if there is a central interest, there is no distraction. The mind’s wandering from one thing to another is not distraction, it is an avoidance of what is. We like to wander far away because the problem is very close. The wandering gives us something to do, like worry and gossip; and though the wandering is often painful, we prefer it to what is. Do you seriously wish to go into all this, or are you merely playing around with it?
"I really want to go through to the very end of it. That is why I have come."
You are unhappy because there is no spring that keeps the well full, is that it? You may once have heard the whisper of water on the pebbles, but now the riverbed is dry. You have known happiness, but it has always receded, it is always a thing of the past. Is that spring the thing you are groping after? And can you seek it, or must you come upon it unexpectedly? If you knew where it was, you would find means to get to it; but not knowing, there is no path to it. To know it is to prevent the happening of it. Is that one of the problems?
"That definitely is. Life is so dull and uncreative, and if that thing could happen one wouldn’t ask for anything more."
Is loneliness a problem?
"I don’t mind being lonely, I know how to deal with it. I either go out for a walk, or sit quietly with it till it goes. Besides, I like being alone."
We all know what it is to be lonely: an aching, fearsome emptiness that cannot be appeased. We also know how to run away from it, for we have all explored the many avenues of escape. Some are caught in one particular avenue, and others keep on exploring; but neither are in direct relationship with what is. You say you know how to deal with loneliness. If one may point out, this very action upon loneliness is your way of avoiding it. You go out for a walk, or sit with loneliness till it goes. You are always operating upon it, you do not allow it to tell its story. You want to dominate it, to get over it, to run away from it; so your relationship with it is that of fear.
Is fulfilment also a problem? To fulfil oneself in something implies the avoidance of what one is, does it not? I am puny; but if I identify myself with the country, with the family, or with some belief, I feel fulfilled, complete. This search for completeness is the avoidance of what is.
"Yes, that is so; that is also my problem."
If we can understand what is, then perhaps all these problems will cease. Our approach to any problem is to avoid it; we want to do something about it. The doing prevents our being in direct relationship with it, and this approach blocks the understanding of the problem. The mind is occupied with finding a way to deal with the problem, which is really an avoidance of it; and so the problem is never understood, it is still there. For the problem, the what is, to unfold and tell its story fully, the mind must be sensitive, quick to follow. If we anaesthetize the mind through escapes, through knowing how to deal with the problem, or through seeking an explanation or a cause for it, which is only a verbal conclusion, then the mind is made dull and cannot swiftly follow the story which the problem, the what is, is unfolding. See the truth of this and the mind is sensitive; and only then can it receive. Any activity of the mind with regard to the problem only makes it dull and so incapable of following, of listening to the problem. When the mind is sensitive - not made sensitive, which is only another way of making it dull - then the what is, the emptiness, has a wholly different significance.
Please be experiencing as we go along, do not remain on the verbal level.
What is the relationship of the mind to what is? So far, the what is has been given a name, a term, a symbol of association, and this naming prevents direct relationship, which makes the mind dull, insensitive. The mind and what is are not two separate processes, but naming separates them. When this naming ceases, there is a direct relationship: the mind and the what is, are one. The what is, is now the observer himself without a term, and only then is the what is transformed; it is no longer the thing called emptiness with its associations of fear, and so on. Then the mind is only the state of experiencing, in which the experiencer and the experienced are not. Then there is immeasurable depth, for he who measures is gone. That which is deep is silent, tranquil, and in this tranquillity is the spring of the inexhaustible. The agitation of the mind is the usage of word. When the word is not, the measureless is.
Chapter - 83
HE WAS AN oldish man, but well preserved, with long, grey hair and a white beard. He had lectured about philosophy at universities in different parts of the world. He was very scholarly and quiet. He said he did not meditate; nor was he religious in the ordinary sense. He was concerned with knowledge only; and though he lectured on philosophy and religious experiences, he hadn’t any of his own nor was he looking for any. He had come to talk over the question of time.
How difficult it is for the man of possessions to be free! It is a great hardship for a rich man to put aside his wealth. Only when there are other and greater inducements will he forgo the comforting realization that he is a rich man; he must find the fulfilment of his ambition at another level before he will let go the one he has. To the rich man, money is power, and he is the wielder of it; he may give away large sums, but he is the giver.
Knowledge is another form of possession, and the man of knowledge is satisfied with it; for him it is an end in itself. He has a feeling - at least this one had - that knowledge will somehow solve our problems if only it can be spread, thick or thin, around the world. It is much more difficult for the man of knowledge to be free from his possessions than for the man of wealth. It is strange how easily knowledge takes the place of understanding and wisdom. If we have information about things, we think we understand; we think that knowing or being informed about the cause of a problem will make it non-existent. We search for the cause of our problems, and this very search is the postponement of understanding. Most of us know the cause; the cause of hate is not very deeply hidden, but in looking for the cause we can still enjoy its effects. We are concerned with the reconciliation of effects, and not with the understanding of the total process. Most of us are attached to our problems, without them we would be lost; problems give us something to do, and the activities of the problem fill our lives. We are the problem and its activities.
Time is a very strange phenomenon. Space and time are one; the one is not without the other. Time to us is extraordinarily important, and each one gives to it his own particular significance. Time to the savage has hardly any meaning, but to the civilized it is of immense significance. The savage forgets from day to day; but if the educated man did that, he would be put in an asylum or would lose his job. To a scientist, time is one thing; to a layman, it is another. To an historian, time is the study of the past; to a man on the stock market, it is the ticker; to a mother, it is the memory of her son; to an exhausted man, it is rest in the shade. Each one translates it according to his particular needs and satisfactions, shaping it to suit his own cunning mind. Yet we cannot do without time. If we are to live at all, chronological time is as essential as the seasons. But is there psychological time, or is it merely a deceptive convenience of the mind? Surely, there is only chronological time, and all else is deception. There is time to grow and time to die, time to sow and time to reap; but is not psychological time, the process of becoming, utterly false?
"What is time to you? Do you think of time? Are you aware of time?"
Can one think of time at all except in the chronological sense? We can use time as a means, but in itself it has little meaning, has it not? Time as an abstraction is a mere speculation, and all speculation is vain. We use time as a means of achievement, tangible or psychological. Time is needed to go to the station, but most of us use time as a means to a psychological end, and the ends are many. We are aware of time when there is an impediment to our achievement, or when there is the interval of becoming successful. Time is the space between what is and what might, should, or will be. The beginning going towards the end is time.
"Is there no other time? What about the scientific implications of time-space?"
There is chronological and there is psychological time. The chronological is necessary, and it is there; but the other is quite a different matter. Cause-effect is said to be a time process, not only physically but also psychologically. It is considered that the interval between cause and effect is time; but is there an interval? The cause and the effect of a disease may be separated by time, which is again chronological; but is there an interval between psychological cause and effect? Is not cause-effect a single process? There is no interval between cause and effect. Today is the effect of yesterday and the cause of tomorrow; it is one movement, a continuous flowing. There is no separation, no distinct line between cause and effect; but inwardly we separate them in order to become, to achieve. I am this, and I shall become that. To become that, I need time - chronological time used for psychological purposes. I am ignorant, but I shall become wise. Ignorance becoming wise is only progressive ignorance; for ignorance can never become wise, any more than greed can ever become non-greed. Ignorance is the very process of becoming.
Is not thought the product of time? Knowledge is the continuation of time. Time is continuation. Experience is knowledge, and time is the continuation of experience as memory. Time as continuation is an abstraction, and speculation is ignorance. Experience is memory, the mind. The mind is the machine of time. The mind is the past. Thought is ever of the past; the past is the continuation of knowledge. Knowledge is ever of the past; knowledge is never out of time, but always in time and of time. This continuation of memory, knowledge, is consciousness. Experience is always in the past; it is the past. This past in conjunction with the present is moving to the future; the future is the past, modified perhaps, but still the past. This whole process is thought, the mind. Thought cannot function in any field other than that of time. Thought may speculate upon the timeless, but it will be its own projection. All speculation is ignorance.
"Then why do you even mention the timeless? Can the timeless ever be known? Can it ever be recognized as the timeless?"
Recognition implies the experiencer, and the experiencer is always of time. To recognize something, thought must have experienced it; and if it has experienced it, then it is the known. The known is not the timeless, surely. The known is always within the net of time. Thought cannot know the timeless; it is not a further acquisition, a further achievement; there is no going towards it. It is a state of being in which thought, time, is not.
"What value has it?"
None at all. It is not marketable. It cannot be weighed for a purpose. Its worth is unknown.
"But what part does it play in life?"
If life is thought, then none at all. We want to gain it as a source of peace and happiness, as a shield against all trouble, or as a means of uniting people. It cannot be used for any purpose. Purpose implies means to an end, and so we are back again with the process of thought. Mind cannot formulate the timeless, shape it to its own end; it cannot be used. Life has meaning only when the timeless is; otherwise life is sorrow, conflict and pain. Thought cannot solve any human problem, for thought itself is the problem. The ending of knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is not of time, it is not the continuation of experience, knowledge. Life in time is confusion and misery; but when that ‘which is’ is the timeless, there is bliss.
Chapter - 84
A LARGE DEAD animal was floating down the river. On it there were several vultures, tearing away at the carcass; they would fight off the other vultures till they had their fill, and only then would they fly away. The others waited on the trees, on the banks, or hovered overhead. The sun had just risen, and there was heavy dew on the grass. The green fields on the other side of the river were misty, and the voices of the peasants carried so dearly across the water. It was a lovely morning, fresh and new. A baby monkey was playing around the mother among the branches. It would race along a branch, leap to the next one and race back again, or jump up and down near the mother. She was bored by these antics, and would come down the tree and go up another. When we began to climb down, the baby would run and cling to her, getting on her back or swinging under her. It had such a small face, with eyes that were full of play and frightened mischief.
How frightened we are of the new, of the unknown! We like to remain enclosed in our daily habits, routines, quarrels and anxieties. We like to think in the same old way, take the same road, see the same faces and have the same worries. We dislike to meet strangers, and when we do we are aloof and distraught. And how frightened we are to encounter an unfamiliar animal. We move within the walls of our own thought; and when we do venture out, it is still within the extension of those walls. We have never an ending, but always nourish the continuous. We carry from day to day the burden of yesterday; our life is one long, continuous movements and our minds are dull and insensitive.
He could hardly stop weeping. It was not controlled or retrained weeping, but a sobbing that shook his whole body. He was a youngish man, alert with eyes that had seen visions. He was unable to speak for some time; and when at last he did, his voice shook and he would burst into great sobs, unashamed and free. Presently he said:
"I haven’t wept at all since the day of my wife’s death. I don’t know what made me cry like that, but it has been a relief. I have wept before, with her when she was alive, and then weeping was as cleansing as laughter; but since her death everything has changed. I used to paint, but now I can’t touch the brushes or look at the things I have done. For the last six months I also have seemed to be dead. We had no children, but she was expecting one; and now she is gone. Even now I can hardly realize it, for we did everything together. She was so beautiful and so good, and what shall I do now? I am sorry to have burst out like that, and GOD knows what made me do it; but I know it is good to have cried. It will never be the same again, though; something has gone out or my life. The other day I picked up the brushes, and they were strangers to me. Before, I didn’t even know I held a brush in my hand; but now it has weight, it is cumbersome. I have often walked to the river, wanting never to come back; but I always did. I couldn’t see people, as her face was always there. I sleep, drink and eat with her, but I know it can never be the same again. I have reasoned about it all, tried to rationalize the event and understand it; but I know she is not there. I dream of her night after night; but I cannot sleep all the time, though I have tried. I dare not touch her things, and the very smell of them drives me almost crazy. I have tried to forget, but do what I will, it can never be the same again. I used to listen to the birds, but now I want to destroy everything. I can’t go on like this. I haven’t seen any of our friends since then, and without her they mean nothing to me. What am I to do?"
We were silent for a long time.
Love that turns to sorrow and to hate is not love. Do we know what love is? Is it love that, when thwarted, becomes fury? Is there love when there is gain and loss?
"In loving her, all those things ceased to exist. I was completely oblivious of them all, oblivious even of myself. I knew such love, and I still have that love for her; but now I am aware of other things also, of myself, of my sorrow, of the days of my misery."
How quickly love turns to hate, to jealousy, to sorrow! How deeply we are lost in the smoke, and how distant is that which was so close! Now we are aware of other things, which have suddenly become so much more important. We are now aware that we are lonely, without a companion, without the smile and the familiar sharp word; we are aware of ourselves now, and not only of the other. The other was everything, and we are nothing; now the other is not, and we are that which is. The other is a dream, and the reality is what we are. Was the other ever real, or a dream of our own creation, clothed with the beauty of our own joy which soon fades? The fading is death, and life is what we are. Death cannot always cover life, however much we may desire it; life is stronger than death. The ‘what is’ is stronger than what is not. How we love death, and not life! The denial of life is so pleasant, so forgetting. When the other is, we are not; when the other is, we are free, uninhibited; the other is the flower, the neighbour, the scent, the remembrance. We all want the other, we are all identified with the other; the other is important, and not ourselves. The other is the dream of ourselves; and upon waking, we are what is. The what is, is deathless, but we want to put an end to what is. The desire to end gives birth to the continuous, and what is continuous can never know the deathless.
"I know I cannot go on living like this, a half-death. I am not at all sure that I understand what you are saying. I am too dazed to take anything in."
Do you not often find that, though you are not giving your full attention to what is being said or to what you are reading, there has nevertheless been a listening, perhaps unconsciously, and that something has penetrated in spite of yourself? Though you have not deliberately looked at those trees, yet the image of them suddenly comes up in every detail - have you never found that happening? Of course you are dazed from the recent shock; but in spite of that, as you come out of it, what we are saying now will be remembered and then it may be of some help. But what is important to realize is this: when you come out of the shock, the suffering will be more intense, and your desire will be to escape, to run away from your own misery. There are only too many people who will help you to escape; they will offer every plausible explanation, conclusions which they or others have arrived at, every kind of rationalization; or you yourself will find some form of withdrawal, pleasant or unpleasant, to drown your misery. Till now you have been too close to the event, but as the days go by you will crave for some kind of consolation: religion, cynicism, social activity, or some ideology. But escapes of any kind, whether God or drink, only prevent the understanding of sorrow.
Sorrow has to be understood and not ignored. To ignore it is to give continuity to suffering; to ignore it is to escape from suffering. To understand suffering needs an operational, experimental approach. To experiment is not to seek a definite result. If you seek a definite result, experiment is not possible. If you know what you want, the going after it is not experimentation. If you seek to get over suffering, which is to condemn it, then you do not understand its whole process; when you try to overcome suffering, your only concern is to avoid it. To understand suffering, there must be no positive action of the mind to justify or to overcome it: the mind must be entirely passive, silently watchful, so that it can follow without hesitation the unfolding of sorrow. Mind cannot follow the story of sorrow if it is tethered to any hope, conclusion or remembrance. To follow the swift movement of what is, the mind must be free; freedom is not to be had at the end, it must be there at the very beginning.
"What is the meaning of all this sorrow?"
Is not sorrow the indication of conflict, the conflict of pain and pleasure? Is not sorrow the intimation of ignorance? Ignorance is not lack of information about facts; ignorance is unawareness of the total process of oneself. There must be suffering as long as there is no understanding of the ways of the self; and the ways of the self are to be discovered only in the action of relationship.
"But my relationship has come to an end."
There is no end to relationship. There may be the end of a particular relationship; but relationship can never end. To be is to be related, and nothing can live in isolation. Though we try to isolate ourselves through a particular relationship, such isolation will inevitably breed sorrow. Sorrow is the process of isolation.
"Can life ever be what it has been?"
Can the joy of yesterday ever be repeated today? The desire for repetition arises only when there is no joy today; when today is empty, we look to the past or to the future. The desire for repetition is desire for continuity, and in continuity there is never the new. There is happiness, not in the past or in the future, but only in the movement of the present.
Chapter - 85
‘Sensation and Happiness’
WE WERE HIGH up over the green sea, and the noise of the propellers beating the air and the roar of the exhaust made talking difficult. Besides, there were some college boys going to a athletic meet on the island; one of them had a banjo, and he played upon it and sang for many hours. He egged on the others, and they all joined in singing together. The boy with the banjo had a good voice, and the songs were American, songs of the crooners and the cowboys, or jazz. They did it all very well, just like the gramophone records. They were an odd group, concerned only with the present; they had not a thought of anything but immediate enjoyment. Tomorrow held all the troubles: job, marriage, old age and death. But here, high over the sea, it was American songs and picture papers. The lightning among the dark clouds they ignored, and they never saw the curve of the land as it pursued the sea, nor the distant village in the sun.
The island was almost below us now. It was green and sparkling, freshly washed by the rains. How neat and orderly everything was from that altitude! The highest hill was flattened, and the white waves had no movement. A brown fishing boat with sails was hurrying before the storm; she would reach safety, for the port was in sight. The winding river came down to the sea, and the soil was golden brown. At that height one saw what was happening on both sides of the river, and the past and the future met. The future was not hidden, though it lay around the bend. At that height there was neither the past nor the future; curving space did not conceal either the time of sowing or the time of reaping.
The man in the next seat began to talk of the difficulties of life. He complained of his job, the incessant travelling, the inconsiderateness of his family, and the futility of modern politics. He was on his way to some far-off place, and was rather sad at leaving his home. As he talked he became more and more serious, more and more concerned about the world and particularly about himself and his family.
"I would like to go away from it all to some quiet place, work a little, and be happy. I don’t think I have been happy in all my life, and I don’t know what it means. We live, breed, work and die, like any other animal. I have lost all enthusiasm, except for making money, and that too is becoming rather boring. I am fairly good at my job and earn a good salary, but what it is all about I haven’t the vaguest idea. I would like to be happy, and what do you think I can do about it?"
It is a complex thing to understand, and this is hardly the place for a serious talk.
"I am afraid I have no other time; the moment we land I must be off again. I may not sound serious, but there are spots of seriousness in me; the only trouble is, they never seem to get together. I am really quite serious at heart. My father and my older relations were known for their earnestness, but the present economic conditions don’t allow one to be completely serious. I have been drawn away from all that, but I would like to get back to it and forget all this stupidity. I suppose I am weak and grumbling about circumstances; but all the same, I would like to be really happy."
Sensation is one thing, and happiness is another. Sensation is always seeking further sensation, ever in wider and wider circles. There is no end to the pleasures of sensation; they multiply, but there is always dissatisfaction in their fulfilment; there is always the desire for more, and the demand for more is without end. Sensation and dissatisfaction are inseparable, for the desire for more binds them together. Sensation is the desire for more and also the desire for less. In the very act of the fulfilment or sensation, the demand for more is born. The more is ever in the future; it is the everlasting dissatisfaction with what has been. There is conflict between what has been and what will be. Sensation is always dissatisfaction. One may clothe sensation in religious garb, but it is still what it is: a thing of the mind and a source of conflict and apprehension. Physical sensations are always crying for more; and when they are thwarted, there is anger, jealousy, hatred. There is pleasure in hatred, and envy is satisfying; when one sensation is thwarted, satisfaction is found in the very antagonism that frustration has brought.
Sensation is ever a reaction, and it wanders from one reaction to another. The wanderer is the mind; the mind is sensation. The mind is the storehouse of sensation, pleasant and unpleasant, and all experience is reaction. The mind is memory, which alter all is reaction. Reaction or sensation can never be satisfied; response can never be content. Response is always negation, and what is not, can never be. Sensation knows no contentment. Sensation, reaction must always breed conflict, and the very conflict is further sensation. Confusion breeds confusion. The activity of the mind, at all its different levels, is the furthering of sensation; and when its expansion is denied, it finds gratification in contraction. Sensation, reaction, is the conflict of the opposites; and in this conflict of resistance and acceptance, yielding and denying, there is satisfaction which is ever seeking further satisfaction.
Mind can never find happiness. Happiness is not a thing to be pursued and found, as sensation. Sensation can be found again and again, for it is ever being lost; but happiness cannot be found. Remembered happiness is only a sensation, a reaction for or against the present. What is over is not happiness; the experience of happiness which is over is sensation, for remembrance is the past and the past is sensation. Happiness is not sensation.
Have you ever been aware of being happy?
"Of course I have, thank God, otherwise I would not know what it is to be happy."
Surely, what you were aware of was the sensation of an experience which you call happiness; but that is not happiness. What you know is the past, not the present; and the past is sensation, reaction, memory. You remember that you were happy; and can the past tell what happiness is? It can recall but it cannot be. Recognition is not happiness; to know what it is to be happy, is not happiness. Recognition is the response of memory; and can the mind, the complex of memories, experiences, ever be happy? The very recognition prevents the experiencing.
When you are aware that you are happy, is there happiness? When there is happiness, are you aware of it? Consciousness comes only with conflict, the conflict of remembrance of the more. Happiness is not the remembrance of the more. Where there is conflict, happiness is not. Conflict is where the mind is. Thought at all levels is the response of memory, and so thought invariably breeds conflict. Thought is sensation, and sensation is not happiness. Sensations are ever seeking gratifications. The end is sensation, but happiness is not an end; it cannot be sought out.
"But how can sensations come to an end?"
To end sensation is to invite death. Mortification is only another form of sensation. In mortification, physical or psychological, sensitivity is destroyed, but not sensation. Thought that mortifies itself is only seeking further sensation, for thought itself is sensation. Sensation can never put an end to sensation; it may have different sensations at other levels, but there is no ending to sensation. To destroy sensation is to be insensitive, dead; not to see, not to smell, not to touch is to be dead, which is isolation. Our problem is entirely different, is it not? Thought can never bring happiness; it can only recall sensations, for thought is sensation. It cannot cultivate, produce, or progress towards happiness. Thought can only go towards that which it knows, but the known is not happiness; the known is sensation. Do what it will, thought cannot be or search out happiness. Thought can only be aware of its own structure, its own movement when thought makes an effort to put an end to itself, it is only seeking to be more successful, to reach a goal, an end which will be more gratifying. The more is knowledge, but not happiness. Thought must be aware of its own ways, of its own cunning deceptions. In being aware of itself, without any desire to be or not to be, the mind comes to a state of inaction. Inaction is not death; it is a passive watchfulness in which thought is wholly inactive. It is the highest state of sensitivity. When the mind is completely inactive at all its levels, only then is there action. All the activities of the mind are mere sensations, reactions to stimulation, to influence, and so not action at all. When the mind is without activity, there is action; this action is without cause, and only then is there bliss.
Chapter - 86
‘To See the False as the False’
IT WAS A beautiful evening. The sky was flaming red behind the rice fields, and the tall, slender palms were swaying in the breeze. The bus loaded with people was making a lot of noise as it climbed the little hill, and the river wound round the hill as it made its way to the sea. The cattle were fat, the vegetation was thick, and there was an abundance of flowers. Plump little boys were playing in a field, and the little girls looked on with astonished eyes. There was a small shrine nearby, and someone was lighting a lamp in front of the image. In a solitary house the evening prayers were being said, and the room was lighted by a lamp which was not too bright. The whole family had gathered there, and they all seemed to be enjoying their prayers. A dog was fast asleep in the middle of the road, and a cyclist went round it. It was getting dark now, and the fireflies lit up the faces of the people who silently passed by. One was caught in a woman’s hair, giving her head a soft glow.
How kind we naturally are, especially away from the towns, in the fields and the small villages! Life is more intimate among the less educated, where the fever of ambition has not yet spread. The boy smiles at you, the old woman wonders, the man hesitates and passes by. A group stops its loud talk and turns to look with surprised interest, and a woman waits for you to pass her. We know so little of ourselves; we know, but we do not understand; we know, but we have no communion with another. We do not know ourselves. And how can we know another? We can never know another, we can only commune with another. We can know the dead, but never the living; what we know is the dead past, not the living. To be aware of the living, we must bury the dead in ourselves. We know the names of trees, of bird, of shops, but what do we know of ourselves beyond some words and appetites? We have information, conclusions about so many things; but there is no happiness, no peace that is not stagnant. Our lives are dull and empty, or so full of words and activity that it blinds us. Knowledge is not wisdom, and without wisdom there is no peace, no happiness.
He was a young man, a professor of some kind, dissatisfied, worried and burdened with responsibilities. He began by narrating his troubles, the weary lot of man. He had been well educated, he said - which was mostly a matter of knowing how to read and gathering information from books. He stated that he had been to as many of the talks as he could, and went on to explain that for years he had been trying to give up smoking, but had never been able to give it up entirely. He wanted to give it up because it was expensive as well as stupid. He had done everything he could to stop smoking, but had always come back to it. This was one of his problems, among others. He was intense, nervous and thin.
Do we understand anything if we condemn it? To push it away, or to accept it, is easy; but the very condemnation or acceptance is an avoidance of the problem. To condemn a child is to push him away from you in order not to be bothered by him; but the child is still there. To condemn is to disregard, to pay no attention; and there can be no understanding through condemnation.
"I have condemned myself for smoking, over and over again. It is difficult not to condemn."
Yes, it is difficult not to condemn, for our conditioning is based on denial, justification, comparison and resignation. This is our background, the conditioning with which we approach every problem. This very conditioning breeds the problem, the conflict. You have tried to rationalize away the smoking, have you not? When you say it is stupid, you have thought it all out and come to the conclusion that it is stupid. And yet rationalization has not made you give it up. We think that we can be free from a problem by knowing its cause; but the knowing is merely information, a verbal conclusion. This knowledge obviously prevents the understanding of the problem. Knowing the cause of a problem and understanding the problem are two entirely different things.
"But how else can one approach a problem?"
That is what we are going to find out. When we discover what the false approach is, we shall be aware of the only approach. The understanding of the false is the discovery of the true. To see the false as the false is arduous. We look at the false through comparison, through the measure of thought; and can the false be seen as the false through any thought process? Is not thought itself conditioned and so false?
"But how can we know the false as the false without the thought process?"
This is our whole trouble, is it not? When we use thought to solve a problem, surely we are using an instrument which is not at all adequate; for thought itself is a product of the past, of experience. Experience is always in the past. To see the false as the false, thought must be aware of itself as a dead process. Thought can never be free, and there must be freedom to discover, freedom from thought.
"I don’t quite see what you mean."
One of your problems is smoking. You have approached it with condemnation, or you have tried to rationalize it away. This approach is false. How do you discover that it is false? Surely, not through thought, but by being passively watchful of how you approach the problem. Passive watchfulness does not demand thought; on the contrary, if thought is functioning there can be no passivity. Thought functions only to condemn or justify, to compare or accept; if there is a passive watchfulness of this process, then it is perceived as what it is.
"Yes, I see that; but how does this apply to my smoking?"
Let us experiment together to find out if one can approach the problem of smoking without condemnation, comparison, and so on. Can we look at the problem afresh, without the past overshadowing it? It is extremely difficult to look at it without any reaction, is it not? We seem unable to be aware of it passively, there is always some kind of response from the past. It is interesting to see how incapable we are of observing the problem as though it were new. We carry along with us all our past efforts, conclusions, intentions; we cannot look at the problem except through these curtains.
No problem is ever old, but we approach it with the old formulations, which prevent our understanding it. Be passively watchful of these responses. Just be passively aware of them, see that they cannot solve the problem. The problem is real, it is an actuality, but the approach is utterly inadequate. The inadequate response to what is breeds conflict; and conflict is the problem. If there is an understanding of this whole process, then you will find that you will act adequately with regard to smoking.