Commentaries on Living [2]

Chapter - 10
Devotion and Worship

A MOTHER WAS beating her child, and there were painful screams. The mother was very angry, and while she was beating she was talking to it violently. When presently we came back she was caressing the child, hugging as though she would squeeze the life out of it. She had tears in her eyes. The child was rather bewildered, but was smiling up at the mother.

Love is a strange thing, and how easily we lose the warm flame of it! The flame is lost, and the smoke remains. The smoke fills our hearts and minds, and our days are spent in tears and bitterness. The song is forgotten, and the words have lost their meaning; the perfume has gone, and our hands are empty. We never know how to keep the flame clear of smoke, and the smoke always smothers the flame. But love is not of the mind, it is not in the net of thought, it cannot be sought out, cultivated, cherished; it is there when the mind is silent and the heart is empty of the things of the mind.

The room overlooked the river, and the sun was upon its waters.

He was by no means foolish, but was full of emotion, an exuberant sentiment in which he must have taken delight, for it seemed to give him great pleasure. He was eager to talk; and when a green golden bird was pointed out to him, he turned on his sentiment and gushed over it. Then he talked of the beauty of the river, and sang a song about it. He had a pleasant voice, but the room was too small. The green-golden bird was joined by another, and the two sat very close together, preening themselves.

"Is not devotion a way to God? Is not the sacrifice of devotion the purification of the heart? Is not devotion an essential part of our life?"

What do you mean by devotion?

"Love of the highest; the offering of a flower before the image, the symbol of God. Devotion is complete absorption, it is a love that excels the love of the flesh. I have sat for many hours at a time, completely lost in the love of God. In that state I am nothing and I know nothing. In that state all life is a unity, the sweeper and the king are one. It is a wondrous state. Surely you must know it."

Is devotion love? Is it something apart from our daily existence? Is it an act of sacrifice to be devoted to an object, to knowledge, to service, or to action? Is it self-sacrifice when you are lost in your devotion? When you have completely identified yourself with the object of your devotion, is that self-abnegation? Is it selflessness to lose yourself in a book, in a chant, in an idea? Is devotion the worship of an image, of a person, of a symbol? Has reality any symbol? Can a symbol ever represent truth? Is not the symbol static, and can a static thing ever represent that which is living? Is your picture you?

Let us see what we mean by devotion. You spend several hours a day in what you call the love, the contemplation of God. Is that devotion? The man who gives his life to social betterment is devoted to his work; and the general, whose job is to plan destruction, is also devoted to his work. Is that devotion? If I may say so, you spend your time being intoxicated by the image or idea of God, and others do the same thing in a different way. Is there a fundamental distinction between the two? Is it devotion that has an object?

"But this worship of God consumes my whole life. I am not aware of anything but God. He fills my heart."

And the man who worships his work, his leader, his ideology, is also consumed by that with which he is occupied. You fill your heart with the word `God', and another with activity; and is that devotion? You are happy with your image your symbol, and another with his books or music; and is that devotion? Is it devotion to lose oneself in something? A man is devoted to his wife for various gratifying reasons; and is gratification devotion? To identify oneself with one's country is very intoxicating; and is identification devotion?

"But giving myself over to God does nobody any harm. On the contrary, I both keep out of harm's way and do no harm to others."

That at least is something; but though you may not do any outward harm, is not illusion harmful at a deeper level both to you and to society?

"I am not interested in society. My needs are very few; I have controlled my passions and I spend my days in the shadow of God."

Is it not important to find out if that shadow has any substance behind it? To worship illusion is to cling to one's own gratification; to yield to appetite at any level is to be lustful.

"You are very disturbing, and I am not at all sure that I want to go on with this conversation. You see, I came to worship at the same altar as yourself; but I find that your worship is entirely different, and what you say is beyond me. But I would like to know what is the beauty of your worship. You have no pictures, no images, and no rituals, but you must worship. Of what nature is your worship?"

The worshipper is the worshipped. To worship another is to worship oneself; the image, the symbol, is a projection of oneself. After all, your idol, your book, your prayer, is the reflection of your background; it is your creation, though it be made by another. You choose according to your gratification; your choice is your prejudice. Your image is your intoxicant, and it is carved out of your own memory; you are worshipping yourself through the image created by your own thought. Your devotion is the love of yourself covered over by the chant of your mind. The picture is yourself, it is the reflection of your mind. Such devotion is a form of self-deception that only leads to sorrow and to isolation, which is death.

Is search devotion? To search after something is not to search; to seek truth is not to find it. We escape from ourselves through search, which is illusion; we try in every way to take flight from what we are. In ourselves we are so petty, so essentially nothing, and the worship of something greater than ourselves is as petty and stupid as we are. Identification with the great is still a projection of the small. The more is an extension of the less. The small in search of the large will find only what it is capable of finding. The escapes are many and various but the mind in escape is still fearful, narrow and ignorant.

The understanding of escape is the freedom from what is. The what is can be understood only when the mind is no longer in search of an answer. The search for an answer is an escape from what is. This search is called by various names, one of which is devotion; but to understand what is, the mind must be silent.

"What do you mean by `what is`?"
The what is is that which is from moment to moment. To understand the whole process of your worship, of your devotion to that which you call God, is the awareness of what is. But you do not desire to understand what is; for your escape from what is, which you call devotion, is a source of greater pleasure, and so illusion becomes of greater significance than reality. The understanding of what is does not depend upon thought, for thought itself is an escape. To think about the problem is not to understand it. It is only when the mind is silent that the truth of what is unfolds.

"I am content with what I have. I am happy with my God, with my chant and my devotion. Devotion to God is the song of my heart, and my happiness is in that song. Your song may be more clear and open, but when I sing my heart is full. What more can a man ask than to have a full heart? We are brothers in my song, and I am not disturbed by your song."

When the song is real there is neither you nor I, but only the silence of the eternal. The song is not the sound but the silence. Do not let the sound of your song fill your heart.

Chapter - 11

HE WAS A school principal with several college degrees. He had been very keenly interested in education, and had also worked hard for various kinds of social reform; but now, he said, though still quite young, he had lost the spring of life. He carried on with his duties almost mechanically, going through the daily routine with weary boredom; there was no longer any zest in what he did, and the drive which he had once felt was completely gone. He had been religiously inclined and had striven to bring about certain reforms in his religion, but that too had dried up. He saw no value in any particular action.


"All action leads to confusion, creating more problems, more mischief. I have tried to act with thought and intelligence, but it invariably leads to some kind of mess; the several activities in which I have engaged have all made me feel depressed, anxious and weary, and they have led nowhere. Now I am afraid to act, and the fear of doing more harm than good has caused me to withdraw from all save the minimum of action."

What is the cause of this fear? Is it the fear of doing harm? Are you withdrawing from life because of the fear of bringing about more confusion? Are you afraid of the confusion that you might create, or of the confusion within yourself? If you were clear within yourself and from that clarity there were action, would you then be fearful of any outward confusion which your action might create? Are you afraid of the confusion within or without?

"I have not looked at it in this way before, and I must consider what you say."

Would you mind bringing about more problems if you were clear in yourself? We like to run away from our problems, by whatever means, and thereby we only increase them. To expose our problems may appear confusing, but the capacity to meet the problems depends on the clarity of approach. If you were clear, would your actions be confusing?

"I am not clear. I don't know what I want to do. I could join some ism of the left or of the right but that would not bring about clarity of action. One may shut one's eyes to the absurdities of a particular ism and work for it, but the fact remains that there is essentially more harm than good in the action of all isms. If I were very clear within myself, I would meet the problems and try to clear them up. But I am not clear. I have lost all incentive for action."

Why have you lost incentive? Have you lost it in the over expenditure of limited energy? Have you exhausted yourself in doing things that have no fundamental interest for you? Or is it that you have not yet found out what you are genuinely interested in?

"You see, after college I was very keen on social reform, and I ardently worked at it for some years; but I began to see the pettiness of it, so I dropped it and took up education. I really worked hard at education for a number of years, not caring for anything else; but that too I finally dropped because I was getting more and more confused. I was ambitious, not for myself, but for the work to succeed; but the people with whom I worked were always quarrelling, they were jealous and personally ambitious."

Ambition is an odd thing. You say you were not ambitious for yourself, but only for the work to succeed. Is there any difference between personal and so-called impersonal ambition? You would not consider it personal or petty to identify yourself with an ideology and work ambitiously for it; you would call that a worthy ambition, would you not? But is it? Surely, you have only substituted one term for another, `impersonal' for `personal; but the drive, the motive is still the same. You want success for the work with which you are identified. For the term `I' you have substituted the term `work', `system', `country', `God', but you are still important. Ambition is still at work, ruthless, jealous, feudal. Is it because the work was not successful that you dropped it? Would you have carried on if it had been?

"I don't think that was it. The work was fairly successful, as any work is if one gives time, energy and intelligence to it. I gave it up because it led nowhere; it brought about some temporary alleviation, but there was no fundamental and lasting change."

You had the drive when you were working, and what has happened to it? What has happened to the urge, the flame? Is that the problem?

"Yes, that is the problem. I had the flame once, but now it is gone."

Is it dormant, or is it burnt out through wrong usage so that only ashes are left? Perhaps you have not found your real interest. Do you feel frustrated? Are you married?

"No, I do not think I am frustrated, nor do I feel the need of a family or of the companionship of a particular person. Economically I am content with little. I have always been drawn to religion in the deep sense of the word, but I suppose I wanted to be `successful' in that field too."

If you are not frustrated, why aren't you content just to live?

"I am not getting any younger, and I don't want to rot, to vegetate."

Let us put the problem differently. What are you interested in?

Not what you should be interested in, but actually?

"I really don't know."

Aren't you interested in finding out?

"But how am I to find out?"

Do you think there is a method, a way to find out what you are interested in? It is really important to discover for yourself in what direction your interest lies. So far you have tried certain things, you have given your energy and intelligence to them, but they have not deeply satisfied you. Either you have burnt yourself out doing things that were not of fundamental interest to you, or your real interest is still dormant, waiting to be awakened. Now which is it?

"Again, I don't know. Can you help me to find out?"

Don't you want to know for yourself the truth of the matter? If you have burnt yourself out, the problem demands a certain approach; but if your fire is still dormant, then the awakening of it is important. Now which is it? Without my telling you which it is, don't you want to discover the truth of it for yourself? The truth of what is is its own action. If you are burnt out, then it is a matter of healing, recuperating; lying creatively fallow. This creative fallowness follows from the movement of cultivating and sowing; it is inaction for complete future action. Or it may be that your real interest has not yet been awakened. Please listen and find out. If the intention to find out is there, you will find out, not by constant inquiry, but by being clear and ardent in your intention. Then you will see that during the waking hours there is an alert watchfulness in which you are picking up every intimation of that latent interest, and that dreams also play a part. In other words, the intention sets going the mechanism of discovery.

"But how am I to know which interest is the real one? I have had several interests, and they have all petered out. How do I know that what I may discover to be my real interest won't also peter out?"

There is no guarantee, of course; but since you are aware of this petering out, there will be alert watchfulness to discover the real. If I may put it this way you are not seeking your real interest; but being in a passively watchful state, the real interest will show itself. If you try to find out what your real interest is, you will choose one as against another you will weigh, calculate, judge. This process only cultivates opposition; you spend your energies wondering if you have chosen rightly, and so on. But when there is passive awareness, and not a positive effort on your part to find, then into that awareness comes the movement of interest. Experiment with this and you will see.

"If I am not too hasty, I think I am beginning to sense my genuine interest. There is a vital quickening, a new elan."

Chapter - 12
Education and Integration

IT WAS A beautiful evening. The sun was setting behind huge, black clouds, and against them stood a clump of tall, slender palms. The river had become golden, and the distant hills were aglow with the setting sun. There was thunder, but towards the mountains the sky was clear and blue. The cattle were coming back from pasture, and a little boy was driving them home. He couldn't have been more than ten or twelve, and though he had spent the whole day by himself, he was singing away and occasionally flicking the cattle that wandered off or were too slow. He smiled, and his dark face lit up. Stopping out of curiosity, and distantly eager, he began to ask questions. He was a village boy and would have no education; he would never be able to read and write, but he already knew what it was to be alone with himself. He did not know that he was alone; it probably never even occurred to him, nor was he depressed by it. He was just alone and contented. He was not contented with something, he was just contented. To be contented with something is to be discontented. To seek contentment through relationship is to be in fear. Contentment that depends on relationship is only gratification. Contentment is a state of non-dependency. Dependency always brings conflict and opposition. There must be freedom to be content. Freedom is and must always be at the beginning; it is not an end, a goal to be achieved. One can never be free in the future. Future freedom has no reality, it is only an idea. Reality is what is; and passive awareness of ‘what is’ is contentment.

The professor said he had been teaching for many years, ever since he graduated from college, and had a large number of boys under him in one of the governmental institutions. He turned out students who could pass examinations, which was what the government and the parents wanted. Of course, there were exceptional boys who were given special opportunities, granted scholarships, and so on, but the vast majority were indifferent, dull, lazy, and somewhat mischievous. There were those who made something of themselves in whatever field they entered, but only very few had the creative flame. During all the years he had taught, the exceptional boys had been very rare; now and then there would be one who perhaps had the quality of genius, but it generally happened that he too was soon smothered by his environment. As a teacher he had visited many parts of the world to study this question of the exceptional boy, and everywhere it was the same. He was now withdrawing from the teaching profession, for after all these years he was rather saddened by the whole thing. However well boys were educated, on the whole they turned out to be a stupid lot. Some were clever or assertive and attained high positions, but behind the screen of their prestige and domination they were as petty and anxiety-ridden as the rest.

"The modern educational system is a failure, as it has produced two devastating wars and appalling misery. Learning to read and write and acquiring various techniques, which is the cultivation of memory, is obviously not enough, for it has produced unspeakable sorrow. What do you consider to be the end purpose of education?"

Is it not to bring about an integrated individual? If that is the `purpose' of education, then we must be clear as to whether the individual exists for society or whether society exists for the individual. If society needs and uses the individual for its own purposes, then it is not concerned with the cultivation of an integrated human being; what it wants is an efficient machine, a conforming and respectable citizen, and this requires only a very superficial integration. As long as the individual obeys and is willing to be thoroughly conditioned, society will find him useful and will spend time and money on him. But if society exists for the individual, then it must help in freeing him from its own conditioning influence. It must educate him to be an integrated human being.

"What do you mean by an integrated human being?"

To answer that question one must approach it negatively, obliquely; one cannot consider its positive aspect.

"I don't understand what you mean."

Positively to state what an integrated human being is, only creates a pattern, a mould, an example which we try to imitate; and is not the imitation of a pattern, an indication of disintegration? When we try to copy an example, can there be integration? Surely, imitation is a process of disintegration; and is this not what is happening in the world? We are all becoming very good gramophone records; we repeat what so-called religions have taught us, or what the latest political, economic, or religious leader has said. We adhere to ideologies and attend political mass-meetings; there is mass-enjoyment of sport, mass-worship, mass-hypnosis. Is this a sign of integration? Conformity is not integration, is it?

"This leads to the very fundamental question of discipline. Are you opposed to discipline?"

What do you mean by discipline?

"There are many forms of discipline: the discipline in a school, the discipline of citizenship the party discipline the social and religious disciplines and self-imposed discipline. Discipline may be according to an inner or an outer authority."

Fundamentally, discipline implies some kind of conformity, does it not? It is conformity to an ideal, to an authority; it is the cultivation of resistance, which of necessity breeds opposition. Resistance is opposition. Discipline is a process of isolation, whether it is isolation with a particular group, or the isolation of individual resistance. Imitation is a form of resistance, is it not?

"Do you mean that discipline destroys integration? What would happen if you had no discipline in a school?"

Is it not important to understand the essential significance of discipline, and not jump to conclusions or take examples? We are trying to see what are the factors of disintegration, or what hinders integration. Is not discipline in the sense of conformity, resistance, opposition, conflict, one of the factors of disintegration? Why do we conform? Not only for physical security, but also for psychological comfort, safety. Consciously or unconsciously, the fear of being insecure makes for conformity both outwardly and inwardly. We must all have some kind of physical security; but it is the fear of being psychologically insecure that makes physical security impossible except for the few. Fear is the basis of all discipline: the fear of not being successful, of being punished, of not gaining, and so on. Discipline is imitation, suppression, resistance, and whether it is conscious or unconscious, it is the result of fear. Is not fear one of the factors of disintegration?

"With what would you replace discipline? Without discipline there would be even greater chaos than now. Is not some form of discipline necessary for action?"

Understanding the false as the false, seeing the true in the false, and seeing the true as the true, is the beginning of intelligence. It is not a question of replacement. You cannot replace fear with something else; if you do, fear is still there. You may successfully cover it up or run away from it, but fear remains. It is the elimination of fear, and not the finding of a substitute for it, that is important. Discipline in any form whatsoever can never bring freedom from fear. Fear has to be observed, studied, understood. Fear is not an abstraction; it comes into being only in relation to something, and it is this relationship that has to be understood. To understand is not to resist or oppose. Is not discipline, then, in its wider and deeper sense, a factor of disintegration? Is not fear, with its consequent imitation and suppression, a disintegrating force?

"But how is one to be free from fear? In a class of many students, unless there is some kind of discipline - or, if you prefer, fear - how can there be order?"

By having very few students and the right kind of education. This, of course, is not possible as long as the State is interested in mass-produced citizens. The State prefers mass-education; the rulers do not want the encouragement of discontent, for their position would soon be untenable. The State controls education, it steps in and conditions the human entity for its own purposes; and the easiest way to do this is through fear, through discipline, through punishment and reward, Freedom from fear is another matter; fear has to be understood and not resisted, suppressed, or sublimated.

The problem of disintegration is quite complex, like every other human problem. Is not conflict another factor of disintegration?

"But conflict is essential, otherwise we would stagnate. Without striving there would be no progress no advancement, no culture. Without effort, conflict, we would still be savages."

Perhaps we still are. Why do we always jump to conclusions or oppose when something new is suggested? We are obviously savages when we kill thousands for some cause or other, for our country; killing another human being is the height of savagery. But let us get on with what we were talking about. Is not conflict a sign of disintegration?

"What do you mean by conflict?"

Conflict in every form: between husband and wife, between two groups of people with conflicting ideas, between what is and tradition, between what is and the ideal, the should be, the future. Conflict is inner and outer strife. At present there is conflict at all the various levels of our existence, the conscious as well as the unconscious. Our life is a series of conflicts, a battleground - and for what? Do we understand through strife? Can I understand you if I am in conflict with you? To understand there must be a certain amount of peace. Creation can take place only in peace, in happiness, not when there is conflict, strife. Our constant struggle is between what is and what should be, between thesis and antithesis; we have accepted this conflict as inevitable, and the inevitable has become the norm, the true - though it may be false. Can what is be transformed by the conflict with its opposite? I am this, and by struggling to be that, which is the opposite, have I changed this? Is not the opposite, the antithesis, a modified projection of what is? Has not the opposite always the elements of its own opposite? Through comparison is there understanding of what is? Is not any conclusion about what is a hindrance to the understanding of what is? If you would understand something, must you not observe it, study it? Can you study it freely if you are prejudiced in favour of or against it? If you would understand your son must you not study him, neither identifying yourself with nor condemning him? Surely, if you are in conflict with your son, there is no understanding of him. So, is conflict essential to understanding?

"Is there not another kind of conflict, the conflict of learning how to do a thing, acquiring a technique? One may have an intuitive vision of something, but it has to be made manifest, and carrying it out is strife, it involves a great deal of trouble and pain."

A certain amount, it is true; but is not creation itself the means? The means is not separate from the end; the end is according to the means. The expression is according to creation; the style is according to what you have to say. If you have something to say, that very thing creates its own style. But if one is merely a technician, then there is no vital problem.

Is conflict in any field productive of understanding? Is there not a continuous chain of conflict in the effort, the will to be, to become, whether positive or negative? Does not the cause of conflict become the effect, which in its turn becomes the cause? There is no release from conflict until there is an understanding of what is. The what is can never be understood through the screen of idea; it must be approached afresh. As the ‘what is’ is never static, the mind must not be bound to knowledge, to an ideology, to a belief, to a conclusion. In its very nature, conflict is separative as all opposition is; and is not exclusion, separation, a factor of disintegration? Any form of power, whether individual or of the State, any effort to become more or to become less, is a process of disintegration. All ideas, beliefs, systems of thought, are separative, exclusive. Effort, conflict, cannot under any circumstances bring understanding, and so it is a degenerating factor in the individual as well as in society.

"What, then, is integration? I more or less understand what are the factors of disintegration, but that is only a negation. Through negation one cannot come to integration. I may know what is wrong, which does not mean that I know what is right."

Surely, when the false is seen as the false, the true is. When one is aware of the factors of degeneration, not merely verbally but deeply, then is there not integration? Is integration static, something to be gained and finished with? Integration cannot be arrived at; arrival is death. It is not a goal, an end, but a state of being; it is a living thing, and how can a living thing be a goal, a purpose? The desire to be integrated is not different from another desire, and all desire is a cause of conflict. When there is no conflict, there is integration. Integration is a state of complete attention. There cannot be complete attention if there is effort, conflict, resistance, concentration. Concentration is a fixation; concentration is a process of separation, exclusion, and complete attention is not possible when there is exclusion. To exclude is to narrow down, and the narrow can never be aware of the complete. Complete, full attention is not possible when there is condemnation, justification or identification, or when the mind is clouded by conclusions, speculations, theories. When we understand the hindrances, then only is there freedom. Freedom is an abstraction to the man in prison; but passive watchfulness uncovers the hindrances, and with freedom from these, integration comes into being.

Chapter - 13

THE RICE WAS ripening, the green had a golden tinge, and the evening sun was upon it. There were long, narrow ditches filled with water, and the water caught the darkening light. The palm trees hung over the rice fields all along their edge, and among the palms there were little houses, dark and secluded. The lane meandered lazily through the rice fields and palm groves. It was a very musical lane. A boy was playing the flute, with the rice field before him. He had a clean, healthy body, well-proportioned and delicate, and he wore only a clean white cloth around his loins; the setting sun had just caught his face, and his eyes were smiling. He was practicing the scale, and when he got tired of that, he would play a song. He was really enjoying it, and his enjoyment was contagious. Though I sat down only a little distance away from him, he never stopped playing. The evening light, the green-golden sea of the field, the sun among the palms, and this boy playing his flute, seemed to give to the evening an enchantment that is rarely felt. Presently he stopped playing and came over and sat beside me; neither of us said a word, but he smiled and it seemed to fill the heavens. His mother called from some house hidden among the palms; he did not respond immediately, but at the third call he got up, smiled, and went away. Further along the path a girl was singing to some stringed instrument, and she had a fairly nice voice. Across the field someone picked up the song and sang with full-throated ease, and the girl stopped and listened till the male voice had finished it. It was getting, dark now. The evening star was over the field, and the frogs began to call.

How we want to possess the coconut, the woman, and the heavens! We want to monopolize, and things seem to acquire greater value through possession. When we say, `It is mine' the picture seems to become more beautiful, more worthwhile; it seems to acquire greater delicacy, greater depth and fullness. There is a strange quality of violence in possession. The moment one says, `It is mine', it becomes a thing to be cared for, defended, and in this very act there is a resistance which breeds violence. Violence is ever seeking success; violence is self-fulfilment. To succeed is always to fail. Arrival is death and travelling is eternal. To gain, to be victorious in this world, is to lose life. How eagerly we pursue an end! But the end is everlasting, and so is the conflict of its pursuit. Conflict is constant overcoming, and what is conquered has to be conquered again and again. The victor is ever in fear, and possession is his darkness. The defeated, craving victory, loses what is gained, and so he is as the victor. To have the bowl empty is to have life that is deathless.

They had been married for only a short time and were still without a child. They seemed so young, so distant from the marketplace, so timid. They wanted to talk things over quietly, without being rushed and without the feeling that they were keeping others waiting. They were a nice looking couple, but there was strain in their eyes; their smiles were easy, but behind the smile was a certain anxiety. They were clean and fresh, but there was a whisper of inner struggle. Love is a strange thing, and how soon it withers, how soon the smoke smothers the flame! The flame is neither yours nor mine; it is just flame, clear and sufficient; it is neither personal nor impersonal; it is not of yesterday or tomorrow. It has healing warmth and a perfume that is never constant. It cannot be possessed, monopolized, or kept in one's hand. If it is held, it burns and destroys, and smoke fills our being; and then there is no room for the flame.

He was saying that they had been married for two years, and were now living quietly not far from a biggish town. They had a small farm, twenty or thirty acres of rice and fruit, and some cattle. He was interested in improving the breed, and she in some local hospital work. Their days were full, but it was not the fullness of escape. They had never tried to run away from anything - except from their relations, who were very traditional and rather tiresome. They had married in spite of family opposition, and were living alone with very little help. Before they married they had talked things over and decided not to have children.


"We both realized what a frightful mess the world is in, and to produce more babies seemed a sort of crime. The children would almost inevitably become mere bureaucratic officials, or slaves to some kind of religious-economic system. Environment would make them stupid, or clever and cynical. Besides, we had not enough money to educate children properly."

What do you mean by properly?

"To educate children properly we would have to send them to school not only here but abroad. We would have to cultivate their intelligence, their sense of value and beauty, and help them to take life richly and happily so that they would have peace in themselves; and of course they would have to be taught some kind of technique which wouldn't destroy their souls. Besides all this, considering how stupid we ourselves were, we both felt that we should not pass on our own reactions and conditioning to our children. We didn't want to propagate modified examples of ourselves."

Do you mean to say you both thought all this out so logically and brutally before you got married? You drew up a good contract; but can it be fulfilled as easily as it was drawn up? Life is a little more complex than a verbal contract, is it not?

"That is what we are finding out. Neither of us has talked about all this to anyone else either before or since our marriage, and that has been one of our difficulties. We didn't know anybody with whom we could talk freely, for most older people take such arrogant pleasure in disapproving or patting us on the back. We heard one of your talks, and we both wanted to come and discuss our problem with you. Another thing is that, before our marriage, we vowed never to have any sexual relationship with each other."

Again, why?

"We are both very religiously inclined and we wanted to lead a spiritual life. Ever since I was a boy I have longed to be un- worldly, to live the life of a sannyasi. I used to read a great many religious books, which only strengthened my desire. As a matter of fact, I wore the saffron robe for nearly a year."

And you too?

"I am not as clever or as learned as he is, but I have a strong religious background. My grandfather had a fairly good job, but he left his wife and children to become a sanyasi, and now my father wants to do the same; so far my mother has won out, but one day he too may disappear, and I have the same impulse to lead a religious life."

Then, if I may ask, why did you marry?

"We wanted each other's companionship," he replied; "we loved each other and had something in common. We had felt this ever since our very young days together, and we didn't see any reason for not getting officially married. We thought of not marrying and living together without sex, but this would have created unnecessary trouble. After our marriage everything was all right for about a year, but our longing for each other became almost intolerable. At last it was so unbearable that I used to go away; I couldn't do my work, I couldn't think of anything else, and I would have wild dreams. I became moody and irritable, though not a harsh word passed between us. We loved and could not hurt each other in word or act; but we were burning for each other like the midday sun, and we decided at last to come and talk it over with you. I literally cannot carry on with the vow that she and I have taken. You have no idea what it has been like."

And what about you?

"What woman doesn't want a child by the man she loves? I didn't know I was capable of such love, and I too have had days of torture and nights of agony. I became hysterical and would weep at the least thing, and during certain times of the month it became a nightmare. I was hoping something would happen, but even though we talked things over, it was no good. Then they started a hospital nearby and asked my help, and I was delighted to get away from it all. But it was still no good. To see him so close every day..." She was crying now with her heart. "So we have come to talk it all over. What do you say?"

Is it a religious life to punish oneself? Is mortification of the body or of the mind a sign of understanding? Is self-torture a way to reality? Is chastity denial? Do you think you can go far through renunciation? Do you really think there can be peace through conflict? Does not the means matter infinitely more than the end? The end may be, but the means is. The actual, the what is, must be understood and not smothered by determinations, ideals and clever rationalizations. Sorrow is not the way of happiness. The thing called passion has to be understood and not suppressed or sublimated, and it is no good finding a substitute for it. Whatever you may do, any device that you invent, will only strengthen that which has not been loved and understood. To love what we call passion is to understand it. To love is to be indirect communion; and you cannot love something if you resent it, if you have ideas, conclusions about it. How can you love and understand passion if you have taken a vow against it? A vow is a form of resistance, and what you resist ultimately conquers you. Truth is not to be conquered; you cannot storm it; it will slip through your hands if you try to grasp it. Truth comes silently, without your knowing. What you know is not truth, it is only an idea, a symbol. The shadow is not the real.

Surely, our problem is to understand ourselves and not to destroy ourselves. To destroy is comparatively easy. You have a pattern of action which you hope will lead to truth. The pattern is always of your own making, it is according to your own conditioning, as the end also is. You make the pattern and then take a vow to carry it out. This is an ultimate escape from yourself. You are not that self-projected pattern and its process; you are what you actually are, the desire, the craving. If you really want to transcend and be free of craving, you have to understand it completely, neither condemning nor accepting it; but that is an art which comes only through watchfulness tempered with deep passivity.

"I have read some of your talks and can follow what you mean. But what actually are we to do?"

It is your life, your misery, your happiness, and dare another tell you what you should or should not do? Have not others already told you? Others are the past, the tradition, the conditioning of which you also are a part. You have listened to others, to yourself, and you are in this predicament; and do you still seek advice from others, which is from yourself? You will listen, but you will accept what is pleasing and reject what is painful, and both are binding. Your taking a vow against passion is the beginning of misery, just as the indulgence of it is; but what is important is to understand this whole process of the ideal, the taking of a vow, the discipline, the pain, all of which is a deep escape from inward poverty, from the ache of inward insufficiency, loneliness. This total process is yourself.
"But what about children?"

Again, there is no `yes' or `no'. The search for an answer through the mind leads nowhere. We use children as pawns in the game of our conceit, and we pile up misery; we use them as another means of escape from ourselves. When children are not used as a means, they have a significance which is not the significance that you, or society, or the State may give them. Chastity is not a thing of the mind; chastity is the very nature of love. Without love, do what you will, there can be no chastity. If there is love, your question will find the true answer.

They remained in that room, completely silent, for a long time. Word and gesture had come to an end.

Chapter - 14
The Fear of Death

ON THE RED earth in front of the house there were quantities of trumpet-like flowers with golden hearts. They had large, mauve petals and a delicate scent. They would be swept away during the day, but in the darkness of night they covered the red earth. The creeper was strong with serrated leaves which glistened in the morning sun. Some children carelessly trod on the flowers, and a man getting hurriedly into his car never even looked at them. A passer-by picked one, smelt it, and carried it away, to be dropped presently. A woman who must have been a servant came out of the house, picked a flower, and put it in her hair. How beautiful those flowers were, and how quickly they were withering in the sun!

"I have always been haunted by some kind of fear. As a child I was very timid, shy and sensitive, and now I am afraid of old age and death. I know we must all die but no amount of rationalizing seems to calm this fear. I have joined the Psychical Research Society, attended a few séances and read what the great teachers have said about death; but fear of it is still there. I even tried psychoanalysis, but that was no good either. This fear has become quite a problem to me; I wake up in the middle of the night with frightful dreams, and all of them are in one way or another concerned with death. I am strangely frightened of violence and death. The war was a continual nightmare to me, and now I am really very disturbed. It is not a neurosis, but I can see that it might become one. I have done everything that I possibly can to control this fear; I have tried to run away from it, but at the end of my escape I have not been able to shake it off. I have listened to a few rather stupid lectures on reincarnation, and have somewhat studied the Hindu and Buddhist literature concerning it. But all this has been very unsatisfactory, at least to me. I am not just superficially afraid of death, but there is a very deep fear of it."

How do you approach the future, the tomorrow death? Are you trying to find the truth of the matter, or are you seeking reassurance, a gratifying assertion of continuity or annihilation? Do you want the truth, or a comforting answer?

"When you put it that way, I really do not know what I am afraid of; but the fear is both there and urgent."

What is your problem? Do you want to be free from fear, or are you seeking the truth regarding death?

"What do you mean by the truth regarding death?"

Death is an unavoidable fact; do what you will, it is irrevocable, final and true. But do you want to know the truth of what is beyond death?

"From everything I have studied and from the few materializations I have seen at séances, there is obviously some kind of continuity after death. Thought in some form continues, which you yourself have asserted. Just as the broadcasting of songs, words and pictures requires a receiver at the other end, so thought which continues after death needs an instrument through which it can express itself. The instrument may be a medium, or thought may incarnate itself in another manner. This is all fairly clear and can be experimented with and understood; but even though I have gone into this matter fairly deeply, there is still an unfathomable fear which I think is definitely connected with death."

Death is inevitable. Continuity can be ended, or it can be nourished and maintained. That which has continuity can never renew itself, it can never be the new, it can never understand the unknown. Continuity is duration, and that which is everlasting is not the timeless. Through time, duration, the timeless is not. There must be ending for the new to be. The new is not within the continuation of thought. Thought is continuous movement in time; this movement cannot enclose within itself a state of being which is not of time. Thought is founded on the past, its very being is of time. Time is not only chronological but it is thought as a movement of the past through the present to the future; it is the movement of memory, of the word, the picture, the symbol, the record, the repetition. Thought, memory, is continuous through word and repetition. The ending of thought is the beginning of the new; the death of thought is life eternal. There must be constant ending for the new to be. That which is new is not continuous; the new can never be within the field of time. The new is only in death from moment to moment. There must be death every day for the unknown to be. The ending is the beginning, but fear prevents the ending.

"I know I have fear, and I don't know what is beyond it."

What do we mean by fear? What is fear? Fear is not an abstraction; it does not exist independently, in isolation. It comes into being only in relation to something. In the process of relationship, fear manifests itself; there is no fear apart from relationship. Now what is it that you are afraid of? You say you are afraid of death. What do we mean by death? Though we have theories, speculations, and there are certain observable facts, death is still the unknown. Whatever we may know about it, death itself cannot be brought into the field of the known; we stretch out a hand to grasp it, but it is not. Association is the known, and the unknown cannot be made familiar; habit cannot capture it, so there is fear.

Can the known, the mind, ever comprehend or contain the unknown? The hand that stretches out can receive only the knowable, it cannot hold the unknowable. To desire experience is to give continuity to thought; to desire experience is to give strength to the past; to desire experience is to further the known. You want to experience death, do you not? Though living, you want to know what death is. But do you know what living is? You know life only as conflict, confusion, antagonism, passing joy and pain. But is that life? Are struggle and sorrow life? In this state which we call life we want to experience something that is not in our own field of consciousness. This pain, this struggle, the hate that is enfolded in joy, is what we call living; and we want to experience something which is the opposite of what we call living. The opposite is the continuation of what is, perhaps modified. But death is not the opposite. It is the unknown. The knowable craves to experience death, the unknown; but, do what it will, it cannot experience death, therefore it is fearful. Is that it?

"You have stated it clearly. If I could know or experience what death is while living, then surely fear would cease."

Because you cannot experience death, you are afraid of it. Can the conscious experience that state which is not to be brought into being through the conscious? That which can be experienced is the projection of the conscious, the known. The known can only experience the known; experience is always within the field of the known; the known cannot experience what is beyond its field. Experiencing is utterly different from experience. Experiencing is not within the field of the experiencer; but as experiencing fades, the experiencer and the experience come into being, and then experiencing is brought into the field of the known. The knower, the experiencer, craves for the state of experiencing, the unknown; and as the experiencer, the knower, cannot enter into the state of experiencing, he is afraid. He is fear he is not separate from it. The experiencer of fear is not an observer of it; he is fear itself, the very instrument of fear.

"What do you mean by fear? I know I am afraid of death. I don't feel that I am fear, but I am fearful of something. I fear and am separate from fear. Fear is a sensation distinct from the `I' who is looking at it, analysing it. I am the observer, and fear is the observed. How can the observer and the observed be one?"

You say that you are the observer, and fear is the observed. But is that so? Are you an entity separate from your qualities? Are you not identical with your qualities? Are you not your thoughts, emotions, and so on? You are not separate from your qualities, thoughts. You are your thoughts. Thought creates the I `you', the supposedly separate entity; without thought, the thinker is not. Seeing the impermanence of itself, thought creates the thinker as the permanent, the enduring; and the thinker then becomes the experiencer, the analyser, the observer separate from the transient. We all crave some kind of permanency and seeing impermanence about us, thought creates the thinker who is supposed to be permanent. The thinker then proceeds to buildup other and higher states of permanency: the soul, the atman, the higher self, and so on. Thought is the foundation of this whole structure. But that is another matter. We are concerned with fear. What is fear? Let us see what it is.

You say you are afraid of death. Since you cannot experience it, you are afraid of it. Death is the unknown, and you are afraid of the unknown. Is that it? Now, can you be afraid of that which you do not know? If something is unknown to you, how can you be afraid of it? You are really afraid not of the unknown, of death, but of loss of the known, because that might cause pain, or take away your pleasure, your gratification. It is the known that causes fear, not the unknown. How can the unknown cause fear? It is not measurable in terms of pleasure and pain: it is unknown.

Fear cannot exist by itself, it comes in relationship to something. You are actually afraid of the known in its relation to death, are you not? Because you cling to the known, to an experience, you are frightened of what the future might be. But the `what might be', the future, is merely a reaction, a speculation, the opposite of what is. This is so, is it not?

"Yes, that seems to be right."

And do you know what is? Do you understand it? Have you opened the cupboard of the known and looked into it? Are you not also frightened of what you might discover there? Have you ever inquired into the known, into what you possess?

"No, I have not. I have always taken the known for granted. I have accepted the past as one accepts sunlight or rain. I have never considered it; one is almost unconscious of it, as one is of one's shadow. Now that you mention it, I suppose I am also afraid to find out what might be there."

Are not most of us afraid to look at ourselves? We might discover unpleasant things, so we would rather not look, we prefer to be ignorant of what is. We are not only afraid of what might be in the future, but also of what might be in the present. We are afraid to know ourselves as we are, and this avoidance of what is is making us afraid of what might be. We approach the so-called known with fear, and also the unknown, death. The avoidance of what is, is the desire for gratification. We are seeking security, constantly demanding that there shall be no disturbance; and it is this desire not to be disturbed that makes us avoid what is and fear what might be. Fear is the ignorance of what is, and our life is spent in a constant state of fear.

"But how is one to get rid of this fear?"

To get rid of something you must understand it. Is there fear, or only the desire not to see? It is the desire not to see that brings on fear; and when you don't want to understand the full significance of what is, fear acts as a preventive. You can lead a gratifying life by deliberately avoiding all inquiry into what is, and many do this; but they are not happy, nor are those who amuse themselves with a superficial study of what is. Only those who are earnest in their inquiry can be aware of happiness; to them alone is there freedom from fear.

"Then how is one to understand what is?"

The ‘what is’ is to be seen in the mirror of relationship, relationship with all things. The what is cannot be understood in withdrawal, in isolation; it cannot be understood if there is the interpreter, the translator who denies or accepts. The what is can be understood only when the mind is utterly passive, when it is not operating on what is.

"Is it not extremely difficult to be passively aware?"

It is, as long as there is thought.

Chapter - 15
The Fusion of The Thinker and His Thoughts

IT WAS A small pond, but very beautiful. Grass covered its banks, and a few steps went down to it. There was a small, white temple at one end, and all around it were tall, slender palms. The temple was well built and well cared for; it was spotlessly clean, and at that hour, when the sun was well behind the palm grove, there was no one there, not even the priest, who treated the temple and its contents with great veneration. This small, decorative temple gave to the pond an atmosphere of peace; the place was so still, and even the birds were silent. The slight breeze that stirred the palms was dying down, and a few clouds floated across the sky, radiant with the evening sun. A snake was swimming across the pond, in and out among the lotus leaves. The water was very clear, and there were pink and violet lotuses. Their delicate scent clung close to the water and to the green banks. There was not a thing stirring now, and the enchantment of the place seemed to fill the earth. But the beauty of those flowers! They were very still, and one or two were beginning to close for the night, shutting out the darkness. The snake had crossed the pond, come up the bank, and was passing close by; its eyes were like bright, black beads, and its forked tongue was playing before it like a small flame, making a path for the snake to follow.

Speculation and imagination are a hindrance to truth. The mind that speculates can never know the beauty of what is; it is caught in the net of its own images and words. However far it may wander in its image making, it is still within the shadow of its own structure and can never see what is beyond itself. The sensitive mind is not an imaginative mind. The faculty to create pictures limits the mind; such a mind is bound to the past, to remembrance, which makes it dull. Only the still mind is sensitive. Accumulation in any form is a burden; and how can a mind be free when it is burdened? Only the free mind is sensitive; the open is the imponderable, the implicit the unknown. Imagination and speculation impede the open, the sensitive.

He had spent many years, he said, in search of truth. He had been the round of many teachers, many gurus, and being still on his pilgrimage, he had stopped here to inquire. Bronzed by the sun and made lean by his wanderings, he was an ascetic who had renounced the world and left his own faraway country. Through the practice of certain disciplines he had with great difficulty learned to concentrate, and had subjugated the appetites. A scholar, with ready quotations, he was good at argument and swift in his conclusions. He had learned Sanskrit, and its resonant phrases were easy for him. All this had given a certain sharpness to his mind; but a mind that is made sharp is not pliable free.

To understand, to discover, must not the mind be free at the very beginning? Can a mind that is disciplined, suppressed, ever be free? Freedom is not an ultimate goal; it must be at the very beginning, must it not? A mind that is disciplined, controlled, is free within its own pattern; but that is not freedom. The end of discipline is conformity; its path leads to the known, and the known is never the free. Discipline with its fear is the greed of achievement.

"I am beginning to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with all these disciplines. Though I have spent many years in trying to shape my thoughts to the desired pattern, I find that I am not getting anywhere."

If the means is imitation, the end must be a copy. The means makes the end, does it not? If the mind is shaped in the beginning, it must also be conditioned at the end; and how can a conditioned mind ever be free? The means is the end; they are not two separate processes. It is an illusion to think that through a wrong means the true can be achieved. When the means is suppression, the end also must be a product of fear.

"I have a vague feeling of the inadequacy of disciplines, even when I practice them, as I still do; they are now all but an unconscious habit. From childhood my education has been a process of conformity, and discipline has been almost instinctive with me ever since I first put on this robe. Most of the books I have read, and all the gurus I have been to, prescribe control in one form or another, and you have no idea how I went at it. So what you say seems almost a blasphemy; it is really a shock to me, but it is obviously true. Have my years been wasted?"

They would have been wasted if your practices now prevented understanding, the receptivity to truth, that is, if these impediments were not wisely observed and deeply understood. We are so entrenched in our own make-believe that most of us dare not look at it or beyond it. The very urge to understand is the beginning of freedom. So what is our problem?

"I am seeking truth, and I have made disciplines and practices of various kinds the means to that end. My deepest instinct urges me to seek and find, and I am not interested in anything else."

Let us begin near to go far. What do you mean by search? Are you looking for truth? And can it be found by seeking? To seek truth, you must know what it is. Search implies a fore knowledge, something already felt or known, does it not? Is truth something to be known, gathered and held? Is not the intimation of it a projection of the past and so not truth at all, but a remembrance? Search implies an outgoing or an inward process, does it not? And must not the mind be still for reality to be? Search is effort to gain the more or the less, it is negative or positive acquisitiveness; and as long as the mind is the concentration, the focus of effort, of conflict, can it ever be still? Can the mind be still through effort? It can be made still through compulsion; but what is made can be unmade.

"But is not effort of some kind essential?"

We shall see. Let us inquire into the truth of search. To seek, there must be the seeker, an entity separate from that which he seeks. And is there such a separate entity? Is the thinker, the experiencer, different or separate from his thoughts and experiences? Without inquiring into this whole problem, meditation has no meaning. So we must understand the mind, the process of the self. What is the mind that seeks, that chooses, that is fearful, that denies and justifies? What is thought?

"I have never approached the problem in this way, and I am now rather confused; but please proceed."

Thought is sensation, is it not? Through perception and contact there is sensation; from this arises desire, desire for this and not for that. Desire is the beginning of identification, the `mine' and the `not-mine'. Thought is verbalized sensation; thought is the response of memory the word, the experience, the image. Thought is transient changing, impermanent, and it is seeking permanency. So thought creates the thinker, who then becomes the permanent; he assumes the role of the censor, the guide, the controller, the moulder of thought. This illusory permanent entity is the product of thought, of the transient. This entity is thought; without thought he is not. The thinker is made up of qualities; his dualities cannot be separated from himself. The controller is the controlled, he is merely playing a deceptive game with himself. Till the false is seen as the false, truth is not.
"Then who is the seer, the experiencer, the entity that says, `I understand'?"

As long as there is the experiencer remembering the experience, truth is not. Truth is not something to be remembered, stored up, recorded, and then brought out. What is accumulated is not truth. The desire to experience creates the experiencer, who then accumulates and remembers. Desire makes for the separation of the thinker from his thoughts; the desire to become, to experience, to be more or to be less, makes for division between the experiencer and the experience. Awareness of the ways of desire is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation.

"How can there be a fusion of the thinker with his thoughts?"

Not through the action of will, nor through discipline, nor through any form of effort, control or concentration, nor through any other means. The use of a means implies an agent who is acting, does it not? As long as there is an actor, there will be a division. The fusion takes place only when the mind is utterly still without trying to be still. There is this stillness, not when the thinker comes to an end, but only when thought itself has come to an end. There must be freedom from the response of conditioning, which is thought. Each problem is solved only when idea, conclusion is not; conclusion, idea, thought, is the agitation of the mind. How can there be understanding when the mind is agitated? Earnestness must be tempered with the swift play of spontaneity. You will find, if you have heard all that has been said, that truth will come in moments when you are not expecting it. If I may say so, be open, sensitive, be fully aware of what is from moment to moment. Don't build around yourself a wall of impregnable thought. The bliss of truth comes when the mind is not occupied with its own activities and struggles.

Chapter - 16
The Pursuit of Power

THE COW WAS in labour, and the two or three people who regularly attended to her milking, feeding and cleaning were with her now. She was watching them, and if one went away for any reason, she would gently call. At this critical time she wanted all her friends about her; they had come and she was content, but she was labouring heavily. The little calf was born and it was a beauty, a heifer. The mother got up and went round and round her new baby, nudging her gently from time to time; she was so joyous that she would push us aside. She kept this up for a long time till she finally got tired. We held the baby to suckle, but the mother was too excited. At last she calmed down, and then she wouldn't let us go. One of the ladies sat on the ground, and the new mother lay down and put her head in her lap. She had suddenly lost interest in her calf, and her friends were more to her now. It had been very cold, but at last the sun was coming up behind the hills, and it was getting warmer.

He was a member of the government and was shyly aware of his importance. He talked of his responsibility to his people; he explained how his party was superior to and could do things better than the opposition, how they were trying to put an end to corruption and the black market, but how difficult it was to find incorruptible and yet efficient people, and how easy it was for outsiders to criticize and blame the government for the things that were not being done. He went on to say that when people reached his age they should take things more easily; but most people were greedy for power, even the inefficient. Deep down we were all unhappy and out for ourselves, though some of us were clever at hiding our unhappiness and our craving for power. Why was there this urge to power?

What do we mean by power? Every individual and group is after power: power for oneself, for the party, or the ideology. The party and the ideology are an extension of oneself. The ascetic seeks power through abnegation, and so does the mother through her child. There is the power of efficiency with its ruthlessness, and the power of the machine in the hands of a few; there is the domination of one individual by another, the exploitation of the stupid by the clever, the power of money, the power of name and word, and the power of mind over matter. We all want some kind of power, whether over ourselves or over others. This urge to power brings a kind of happiness, a gratification that is not too transient. The power of renunciation is as the power of wealth. It is the craving for gratification for happiness, that drives us to seek power. And how easily we are satisfied! The ease of achieving some form of satisfaction blinds us. All gratifications blinding. Why do we seek this power?

"I suppose primarily because it gives us physical comforts, a social position, and respectability along recognized channels."

Is the craving for power at only one level of our being? Do we not seek it inwardly as well as outwardly? Why? Why do we worship authority, whether of a book, of a person, of the State, or of a belief? Why is there this urge to cling to a person or to an idea? It was once the authority of the priest that held us, and now it is the authority of the expert, the specialist. Have you not noticed how you treat a man with a title, a man of position, the powerful executive? Power in some form seems to dominate our lives: the power of one over many, the using of one by another, or mutual use.

"What do you mean by using another?"

This is fairly simple, is it not? We use each other for mutual gratification. The present structure of society, which is our relationship with each other, is based on need and usage. You need votes to get you into power; you use people to get what you want, and they need what you promise. The woman needs the man, and the man the woman. Our present relationship is based on need and use. Such a relationship is inherently violent, and that is why the very basis of our society is violence. As long as the social structure is based on mutual need and use, it is bound to be violent and disruptive; as long as I use another for my personal gratification, or for the fulfilment of an ideology with which I am identified, there can only be fear, distrust and opposition. Relationship is then a process of self-isolation and disintegration. This is all painfully obvious in the life of the individual and in world affairs.

"But it is impossible to live without mutual need!"

I need the postman, but if I use him to satisfy some inner urge, then the social need becomes a psychological necessity and our relationship has undergone a radical change. It is this psychological need and usage of another that makes for violence and misery. Psychological need creates the search for power, and power is used for gratification at different levels of our being. The man who is ambitious for himself or for his party, or who wants to achieve an ideal, is obviously a disintegrating factor in society.

"Is not ambition inevitable?"

It is inevitable only as long as there is no fundamental transformation in the individual. Why should we accept it as inevitable? Is the cruelty of man to man inevitable? Don't you want to put an end to it? Does not accepting it as inevitable indicate utter thoughtlessness?

"If you are not cruel to others, someone else will be cruel to you, so you have to be on top."

To be on top is what every individual, every group, every ideology is trying to do, and so sustaining cruelty, violence. There can be creation only in peace; and how can there be peace if there is mutual usage? To talk of peace is utter nonsense as long as our relationship with the one or with the many is based on need and use. The need and use of another must inevitably lead to power and dominance. The power of an idea and the power of the sword are similar; both are destructive. Idea and belief set man against man, just as the sword does. Idea and belief are the very antithesis of love.

"Then why are we consciously or unconsciously consumed with this desire for power?"

Is not the pursuit of power one of the recognized and respectable escapes from ourselves, from what is? Everyone tries to escape from his own insufficiency, from his inner poverty, loneliness, isolation. The actual is unpleasant, but the escape is glamourous and inviting. Consider what would happen if you were about to be stripped of your power, your position, your hard earned wealth. You would resist it, would you not? You consider yourself essential to the welfare of society, so you would resist with violence, or with rational and cunning argumentation. If you were able voluntarily to set aside all your many acquisitions at different levels, you would be as nothing, would you not?

"I suppose I would - which is very depressing. Of course I don't want to be as nothing."

So you have all the outer show without the inner substance, the incorruptible inward treasure. You want your outward show, and so does another, and from this conflict arise hate and fear, violence and decay. You with your ideology are as insufficient as the opposition, and so you are destroying each other in the name of peace, sufficiency, adequate employment, or in the name of God. As almost everyone craves to be on top, we have built a society of violence, conflict and enmity.
"But how is one to eradicate all this?"

By not being ambitious, greedy for power, for name, for position; by being what you are, simple and a nobody. Negative thinking is the highest form of intelligence.

"But the cruelty and violence of the world cannot be stopped by my individual effort. And would it not take infinite time for all individuals to change?"

The other is you. This question springs from the desire to avoid your own immediate transformation, does it not? You are saying, in effect, "What is the good of my changing if everyone else does not change?" One must begin near to go far. But you really do not want to change; you want things to go on as they are, especially if you are on top, and so you say it will take infinite time to transform the world through individual transformation. The world is you; you are the problem; the problem is not separate from you; the world is the projection of yourself. The world cannot be transformed till you are. Happiness is in transformation and not in acquisition.

"But I am moderately happy. Of course there are many things in myself which I don't like, but I haven't the time or the inclination to go after them."

Only a happy man can bring about a new social order; but he is not happy who is identified with an ideology or a belief, or who is lost in any social or individual activity. Happiness is not an end in itself. It comes with the understanding of what is. Only when the mind is free from its own projections can there be happiness. Happiness that is bought is merely gratification; happiness through action, through power, is only sensation; and as sensation soon withers, there is craving for more and more. As long as the more is a means to happiness, the end is always dissatisfaction, conflict and misery. Happiness is not a remembrance; it is that state which comes into being with truth, ever new, never continuous.