First and Last Freedom
Chapter - 5
Action and Idea
I SHOULD LIKE TO discuss the problem of action. This may be rather abstruse and difficult at the beginning but I hope that by thinking it over we shall be able to see the issue clearly, because our whole existence, our whole life, is a process of action.
Most of us live in a series of actions, of seemingly unrelated, disjointed actions, leading to disintegration, to frustration. It is a problem that concerns each one of us, because we live by action and without action there is no life, there is no experience, there is no thinking. Thought is action; and merely to pursue action at one particular level of consciousness, which is the outer, merely to be caught up in outward action without understanding the whole process of action itself, will inevitably lead us to frustration, to misery.
Our life is a series of actions or a process of action at different levels of consciousness. Consciousness is experiencing, naming and recording. That is consciousness in challenge and response, which is experiencing, then terming or naming, and then recording, which is memory. This process is action, is it not? Consciousness is action; and without challenge, response, without experiencing, naming or terming, without recording, which is memory, there is no action.
Now action creates the actor. That is the actor comes into being when action has a result, an end in view. If there is no result in action, then there is no actor; but if there is an end or a result in view, then action brings about the actor. Thus actor, action, and end or result, is a unitary process, a single process, which comes into being when action has an end in view. Action towards a result is will; otherwise there is no will, is there? The desire to achieve an end brings about will, which is the actor - I want to achieve, I want to write a book, I want to be a rich man, I want to paint a picture.
We are familiar with these three states: the actor, the action, and the end. That is our daily existence. I am just explaining what is; but we will begin to understand how to transform what is only when we examine it clearly, so that there is no illusion or prejudice, no bias with regard to it. Now these three states which constitute experience - the actor, the action, and the result - are surely a process of becoming. Otherwise there is no becoming, is there? If there is no actor, and if there is no action towards an end, there is no becoming; but life as we know it, our daily life, is a process of becoming. I am poor and I act with an end in view, which is to become rich. I am ugly and I want to become beautiful. Therefore my life is a process of becoming something. The will to be is the will to become, at different levels of consciousness, in different states, in which there is challenge, response, naming and recording. Now this becoming is strife, this becoming is pain, is it not? It is a constant struggle: I am this, and I want to become that.
Therefore, then, the problem is: Is there not action without this becoming? Is there not action without this pain, without this constant battle? If there is no end, there is no actor because action with an end in view creates the actor. But can there be action without an end in view, and therefore no actor - that is without the desire for a result? Such action is not a becoming, and therefore not a strife. There is a state of action, a state of experiencing, without the experiencer and the experience. This sounds rather philosophical but it is really quite simple.
In the moment of experiencing, you are not aware of yourself as the experiencer apart from the experience; you are in a state of experiencing. Take a very simple example: you are angry. In that moment of anger there is neither the experiencer nor the experience; there is only experiencing. But the moment you come out of it, a split second after the experiencing, there is the experiencer and the experience, the actor and the action with an end in view - which is to get rid of or to suppress the anger. We are in this state repeatedly, in the state of experiencing; but we always come out of it and give it a term, naming and recording it, and thereby giving continuity to becoming.
If we can understand action in the fundamental sense of the word then that fundamental understanding will affect our superficial activities also; but first we must understand the fundamental nature of action. Now is action brought about by an idea? Do you have an idea first and act afterwards? Or does action come first and then, because action creates conflict, you build around it an idea? Does action create the actor or does the actor come first?
It is very important to discover which comes first. If the idea comes first, then action merely conforms to an idea, and therefore it is no longer action but imitation, compulsion according to an idea. It is very important to realize this; because, as our society is mostly constructed on the intellectual or verbal level, the idea comes first with all of us and action follows. Action is then the handmaid of an idea, and the mere construction of ideas is obviously detrimental to action. Ideas breed further ideas, and when there is merely the breeding of ideas there is antagonism, and society becomes top-heavy with the intellectual process of ideation. Our social structure is very intellectual; we are cultivating the intellect at the expense of every other factor of our being and therefore we are suffocated with ideas.
Can ideas ever produce action, or do ideas merely mould thought and therefore limit action? When action is compelled by an idea, action can never liberate man. It is extraordinarily important for us to understand this point. If an idea shapes action, then action can never bring about the solution to our miseries because, before it can be put into action, we have first to discover how the idea comes into being. The investigation of ideation, of the building up of ideas, whether of the socialists, the capitalists, the communists, or of the various religions, is of the utmost importance, especially when our society is at the edge of a precipice, inviting another catastrophe, another excision. Those who are really serious in their intention to discover the human solution to our many problems must first understand this process of ideation.
What do we mean by an idea? How does an idea come into being? And can idea and action be brought together? Suppose I have an idea and I wish to carry it out. I seek a method of carrying out that idea, and we speculate, waste our time and energies in quarrelling over how the idea should be carried out. So, it is really very important to find out how ideas come into being; and after discovering the truth of that we can discuss the question of action. Without discussing ideas, merely to find out how to act has no meaning.
Now how do you get an idea - a very simple idea, it need not be philosophical, religious or economic? Obviously it is a process of thought, is it not? Idea is the outcome of a thought process. Without a thought process, there can be no idea. So I have to understand the thought process itself before I can understand its product, the idea. What do we mean by thought? When do you think? Obviously thought is the result of a response, neurological or psychological, is it not? It is the immediate response of the senses to a sensation, or it is psychological, the response of stored-up memory. There is the immediate response of the nerves to a sensation, and there is the psychological response of stored-up memory, the influence of race, group, guru, family, tradition, and so on - all of which you call thought. So the thought process is the response of memory, is it not? You would have no thoughts if you had no memory; and the response of memory to a certain experience brings the thought process into action. Say, for example, I have the stored-up memories of nationalism, calling myself a Hindu. That reservoir of memories of past responses actions, implications, traditions, customs, responds to the challenge of a Mussulman, a Buddhist or a Christian, and the response of memory to the challenge inevitably brings about a thought process. Watch the thought process operating in yourself and you can test the truth of this directly. You have been insulted by someone, and that remains in your memory; it forms part of the background. When you meet the person, which is the challenge, the response is the memory of that insult. So the response of memory, which is the thought process, creates an idea; therefore the idea is always conditioned - and this is important to understand. That is to say the idea is the result of the thought process, the thought process is the response of memory, and memory is always conditioned. Memory is always in the past, and that memory is given life in the present by a challenge. Memory has no life in itself; it comes to life in the present when confronted by a challenge. And all memory, whether dormant or active, is conditioned, is it not?
Therefore there has to be quite a different approach. You have to find out for yourself, inwardly, whether you are acting on an idea, and if there can be action without ideation. Let us find out what that is: action which is not based on an idea.
When do you act without ideation? When is there an action which is not the result of experience? An action based on experience is, as we said, limiting, and therefore a hindrance. Action which is not the outcome of an idea is spontaneous when the thought process, which is based on experience, is not controlling action; which means that there is action independent of experience when the mind is not controlling action. That is the only state in which there is understanding: when the mind, based on experience, is not guiding action: when thought, based on experience, is not shaping action. What is action, when there is no thought process? Can there be action without thought process? That is I want to build a bridge, a house. I know the technique, and the technique tells me how to build it. We call that action. There is the action of writing a poem, of painting, of governmental responsibilities, of social, environmental responses. All are based on an idea or previous experience, shaping action. But is there an action when there is no ideation?
Surely there is such action when the idea ceases; and the idea ceases only when there is love. Love is not memory. Love is not experience. Love is not the thinking about the person that one loves, for then it is merely thought. You cannot think of love. You can think of the person you love or are devoted to - your guru, your image, your wife, your husband; but the thought, the symbol, is not the real which is love. Therefore love is not an experience.
When there is love there is action, is there not?, and is that action not liberating? It is not the result of mentation, and there is no gap between love and action, as there is between idea and action. Idea is always old, casting its shadow on the present and we are ever trying to build a bridge between action and idea. When there is love - which is not mentation, which is not ideation, which is not memory, which is not the outcome of an experience, of a practised discipline - then that very love is action. That is the only thing that frees. So long as there is mentation, so long as there is the shaping of action by an idea which is experience, there can be no release; and so long as that process continues, all action is limited. When the truth of this is seen, the quality of love, which is not mentation, which you cannot think about, comes into being.
One has to be aware of this total process, of how ideas come into being, how action springs from ideas, and how ideas control action and therefore limit action, depending on sensation. It doesn't matter whose ideas they are, whether from the left or from the extreme right. So long as we cling to ideas, we are in a state in which there can be no experiencing at all. Then we are merely living in the field of time in the past, which gives further sensation, or in the future, which is another form of sensation. It is only when the mind is free from idea that there can be experiencing.
Ideas are not truth; and truth is something that must be experienced directly, from moment to moment. It is not an experience which you want - which is then merely sensation. Only when one can go beyond the bundle of ideas - which is the `me', which is the mind, which has a partial or complete continuity - only when one can go beyond that, when thought is completely silent, is there a state of experiencing. Then one shall know what truth is.
Chapter - 6
BELIEF AND KNOWLEDGE are very intimately related to desire; and perhaps, if we can understand these two issues, we can see how desire works and understand its complexities.
One of the things, it seems to me, that most of us eagerly accept and take for granted is the question of beliefs. I am not attacking beliefs. What we are trying to do is to find out why we accept beliefs; and if we can understand the motives, the causation of acceptance, then perhaps we may be able not only to understand why we do it, but also be free of it. One can see how political and religious beliefs, national and various other types of beliefs, do separate people, do create conflict, confusion, and antagonism - which is an obvious fact; and yet we are unwilling to give them up. There is the Hindu belief the Christian belief, the Buddhist - innumerable sectarian and national beliefs, various political ideologies, all contending with each other, trying to convert each other. One can see, obviously, that belief is separating people, creating intolerance; is it possible to live without belief? One can find that out only if one can study oneself in relationship to a belief. Is it possible to live in this world without a belief - not change beliefs, not substitute one belief for another, but be entirely free from all beliefs, so that one meets life anew each minute? This, after all, is the truth: to have the capacity of meeting everything anew, from moment to moment, without the conditioning reaction of the past, so that there is not the cumulative effect which acts as a barrier between oneself and that which is.
If you consider, you will see that one of the reasons for the desire to accept a belief is fear. If we had no belief, what would happen to us? Shouldn't we be very frightened of what might happen? If we had no pattern of action, based on a belief - either in God, or in communism, or in socialism, or in imperialism, or in some kind of religious formula, some dogma in which we are conditioned - we should feel utterly lost, shouldn't we? And is not this acceptance of a belief the covering up of that fear - the fear of being really nothing, of being empty? After all, a cup is useful only when it is empty; and a mind that is filled with beliefs, with dogmas, with assertions, with quotations, is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind. To escape from that fear - that fear of emptiness, that fear of loneliness, that fear of stagnation, of not arriving, not succeeding, not achieving, not being something, not becoming something - is surely one of the reasons, is it not?, why we accept beliefs so eagerly and greedily. And, through acceptance of belief, do we understand ourselves? On the contrary. A belief, religious or political, obviously hinders the understanding of ourselves. It acts as a screen through which we are looking at ourselves. And can we look at ourselves without beliefs? If we remove those beliefs, the many beliefs that one has, is there anything left to look at? If we have no beliefs with which the mind has identified itself, then the mind, without identification, is capable of looking at itself as it is - and then, surely, there is the beginning of the understanding of oneself.
It is really a very interesting problem, this question of belief and knowledge. What an extraordinary part it plays in our life! How many beliefs we have! Surely the more intellectual, the more cultured, the more spiritual, if I can use that word, a person is, the less is his capacity to understand. The savages have innumerable superstitions, even in the modern world. The more thoughtful, the more awake, the more alert are perhaps the less believing. That is because belief binds, belief isolates; and we see that is so throughout the world, the economic and the political world, and also in the so-called spiritual world. You believe there is God, and perhaps I believe that there is no God; or you believe in the complete state control of everything and of every individual, and I believe in private enterprise and all the rest of it; you believe that there is only one Saviour and through him you can achieve your goal, and I don't believe so. Thus you with your belief and I with mine are asserting ourselves. Yet we both talk of love, of peace, of unity of mankind, of one life - which means absolutely nothing; because actually the very belief is a process of isolation. You are a Brahmin, I a non-Brahmin; you are a Christian, I a Mussulman, and so on. You talk of brotherhood and I also talk of the same brotherhood, love and peace; but in actuality we are separated, we are dividing ourselves. A man who wants peace and who wants to create a new world, a happy world, surely cannot isolate himself through any form of belief. Is that clear? It may be verbally, but, if you see the significance and validity and the truth of it, it will begin to act.
We see that where there is a process of desire at work there must be the process of isolation through belief because obviously you believe in order to be secure economically, spiritually, and also inwardly. I am not talking of those people who believe for economic reasons, because they are brought up to depend on their jobs and therefore will be Catholics, Hindus - it does not matter what - as long as there is a job for them. We are also not discussing those people who cling to a belief for the sake of convenience. Perhaps with most of us it is equally so. For convenience, we believe in certain things. Brushing aside these economic reasons, we must go more deeply into it. Take the people who believe strongly in anything, economic, social or spiritual; the process behind it is the psychological desire to be secure, is it not? And then there is the desire to continue. We are not discussing here whether there is or there is not continuity; we are only discussing the urge, the constant impulse to believe. A man of peace, a man who would really understand the whole process of human existence, cannot be bound by a belief, can he? He sees his desire at work as a means to being secure. Please do not go to the other side and say that I am preaching non-religion. That is not my point at all. My point is that as long as we do not understand the process of desire in the form of belief, there must be contention, there must be conflict, there must be sorrow, and man will be against man - which is seen every day. So if I perceive, if I am aware, that this process takes the form of belief, which is an expression of the craving for inward security, then my problem is not that I should believe this or that but that I should free myself from the desire to be secure. Can the mind be free from the desire for security? That is the problem - not what to believe and how much to believe. These are merely expressions of the inward craving to be secure psychologically, to be certain about something, when everything is so uncertain in the world.
Can a mind, can a conscious mind, can a personality be free from this desire to be secure? We want to be secure and therefore need the aid of our estates, our property and our family. We want to be secure inwardly and also spiritually by erecting walls of belief, which are an indication of this craving to be certain. Can you as an individual be free from this urge, this craving to be secure, which expresses itself in the desire to believe in something? If we are not free of all that, we are a source of contention; we are not peacemaking; we have no love in our hearts. Belief destroys; and this is seen in our everyday life. Can I see myself when I am caught in this process of desire, which expresses itself in clinging to a belief? Can the mind free itself from belief - not find a substitute for it but be entirely free from it? You cannot verbally answer "yes" or "no" to this; but you can definitely give an answer if your intention is to become free from belief. You then inevitably come to the point at which you are seeking the means to free yourself from the urge to be secure. Obviously there is no security inwardly which, as you like to believe, will continue. You like to believe there is a God who is carefully looking after your petty little things, telling you whom you should see, what you should do and how you should do it. This is childish and immature thinking. You think the Great Father is watching every one of us. That is a mere projection of your own personal liking. It is obviously not true. Truth must be something entirely different.
Our next problem is that of knowledge. Is knowledge necessary to the understanding of truth? When I say "I know", the implication is that there is knowledge. Can such a mind be capable of investigating and searching out what is reality? And besides, what is it we know, of which we are so proud? Actually what is it we know? We know information; we are full of information and experience based on our conditioning, our memory and our capacities. When you say "I know", what do you mean? Either the acknowledgement that you know is the recognition of a fact, of certain information, or it is an experience that you have had. The constant accumulation of information, the acquisition of various forms of knowledge, all constitutes the assertion "I know", and you start translating what you have read, according to your background, your desire, your experience. Your knowledge is a thing in which a process similar to the process of desire is at work. Instead of belief we substitute knowledge. "I know, I have had experience, it cannot be refuted; my experience is that, on that I completely rely; these are indications of that knowledge. But when you go behind it, analyse it, look at it more intelligently and carefully, you will find that the very assertion "I know" is another wall separating you and me. Behind that wall you take refuge, seeking comfort, security. Therefore the more knowledge a mind is burdened with, the less capable it is of understanding.
I do not know if you have ever thought of this problem of acquiring knowledge - whether knowledge does ultimately help us to love, to be free from those qualities which produce conflict in ourselves and with our neighbours; whether knowledge ever frees the mind of ambition. Because ambition is, after all, one of the qualities that destroy relationship, that put man against man. If we would live at peace with each other surely ambition must completely come to an end - not only political, economic, social ambition, but also the more subtle and pernicious ambition, the spiritual ambition - to be something. Is it ever possible for the mind to be free from this accumulating process of knowledge, this desire to know?
It is a very interesting thing to watch how in our life these two, knowledge and belief, play an extraordinarily powerful part. Look how we worship those who have immense knowledge and erudition! Can you understand the meaning of it? If you would find something new, experience something which is not a projection of your imagination, your mind must be free, must it not? It must be capable of seeing something new. Unfortunately, every time you see something new you bring in all the information known to you already, all your knowledge, all your past memories; and obviously you become incapable of looking, incapable of receiving anything that is new, that is not of the old. Please don't immediately translate this into detail. If I do not know how to get back to my house, I shall be lost; if I do not know how to run a machine, I shall be of little use. That is quite a different thing. We are not discussing that here. We are discussing knowledge that is used as a means to security, the psychological and inward desire to be something. What do you get through knowledge? The authority of knowledge, the weight of knowledge, the sense of importance, dignity, the sense of vitality and what-not? A man who says "I know", "There is`' or "There is not" surely has stopped thinking, stopped pursuing this whole process of desire.
Our problem then, as I see it, is that we are bound, weighed down by belief, by knowledge; and is it possible for a mind to be free from yesterday and from the beliefs that have been acquired through the process of yesterday? Do you understand the question? Is it possible for me as an individual and you as an individual to live in this society and yet be free from the belief in which we have been brought up? Is it possible for the mind to be free of all that knowledge, all that authority? We read the various scriptures, religious books. There they have very carefully described what to do, what not to do, how to attain the goal, what the goal is and what God is. You all know that by heart and you have pursued that. That is your knowledge, that is what you have acquired, that is what you have learnt; along that path you pursue. Obviously what you pursue and seek, you will find. But is it reality? is it not the projection of your own knowledge? It is not reality. Is it possible to realize that now - not tomorrow, but now - and say "I see the truth of it", and let it go, so that your mind is not crippled by this process of imagination, of projection?
Is the mind capable of freedom from belief? You can only be free from it when you understand the inward nature of the causes that make you hold on to it, not only the conscious but the unconscious motives as well, that make you believe. After all, we are not merely a superficial entity functioning on the conscious level. We can find out the deeper conscious and unconscious activities if we give the unconscious mind a chance, because it is much quicker in response than the conscious mind. While your conscious mind is quietly thinking, listening and watching, the unconscious mind is much more active, much more alert and much more receptive; it can, therefore, have an answer. Can the mind which has been subjugated, intimidated, forced, compelled to believe, can such a mind be free to think? Can it look anew and remove the process of isolation between you and another? Please do not say that belief brings people together. It does not. That is obvious. No organized religion has ever done that. Look at yourselves in your own country. You are all believers, but are you all together? Are you all united? You yourselves know you are not. You are divided into so many petty little parties, castes; you know the innumerable divisions. The process is the same right through the world - whether in the east or in the west - Christians destroying Christians, murdering each other for petty little things, driving people into camps and so on, the whole horror of war. Therefore belief does not unite people. That is so clear. If that is clear and that is true, and if you see it, then it must be followed. But the difficulty is that most of us do not see, because we are not capable of facing that inward insecurity, that inward sense of being alone. We want something to lean on, whether it is the State, whether it is the caste, whether it is nationalism, whether it is a Master or a Saviour or anything else. And when we see the falseness of all this, the mind then is capable - it may be temporally for a second - of seeing the truth of it; even though when it is too much for it, it goes back. But to see temporarily is sufficient; if you can see it for a fleeting second, it is enough; because you will then see an extraordinary thing taking place. The unconscious is at work, though the conscious may reject. It is not a progressive second; but that second is the only thing, and it will have its own results, even in spite of the conscious mind struggling against it.
So our question is: Is it possible for the mind to be free from knowledge and belief? Is not the mind made up of knowledge and belief? Is not the structure of the mind belief and knowledge? Belief and knowledge are the processes of recognition, the centre of the mind. The process is enclosing, the process is conscious as well as unconscious. Can the mind be free of its own structure? Can the mind cease to be? That is the problem. Mind, as we know it, has belief behind it, has desire, the urge to be secure, knowledge, and accumulation of strength. If, with all its power and superiority, one cannot think for oneself there can be no peace in the world. You may talk about peace, you may organize political parties, you may shout from the housetops; but you cannot have peace; because in the mind is the very basis which creates contradiction, which isolates and separates. A man of peace, a man of earnestness, cannot isolate himself and yet talk of brotherhood and peace. It is just a game, political or religious, a sense of achievement and ambition. A man who is really earnest about this, who wants to discover, has to face the problem of knowledge and belief; he has to go behind it, to discover the whole process of desire at work, the desire to be secure, the desire to be certain.
A mind that would be in a state in which the new can take place - whether it be the truth, whether it be God, or what you will - must surely cease to acquire, to gather; it must put aside all knowledge. A mind burdened with knowledge cannot possibly understand, surely, that which is real, which is not measurable.
Chapter - 7
FOR MOST OF US, our whole life is based on effort, some kind of volition. We cannot conceive of an action without volition, without effort; our life is based on it. Our social, economic and so-called spiritual life is a series of efforts, always culminating in a certain result. And we think effort is essential, necessary.
Why do we make effort? Is it not, put simply, in order to achieve a result, to become something, to reach a goal? If we do not make an effort, we think we shall stagnate. We have an idea about the goal towards which we are constantly striving; and this striving has become part of our life. If we want to alter ourselves, if we want to bring about a radical change in ourselves, we make a tremendous effort to eliminate the old habits, to resist the habitual environmental influences and so on. So we are used to this series of efforts in order to find or achieve something, in order to live at all.
Is not all such effort the activity of the self? Is not effort self-centred activity? If we make an effort from the centre of the self, it must inevitably produce more conflict, more confusion, more misery. Yet we keep on making effort after effort. Very few of us realize that the self-centred activity of effort does not clear up any of our problems. On the contrary, it increases our confusion and our misery and our sorrow. We know this; and yet we continue hoping somehow to break through this self-centred activity of effort, the action of the will.
I think we shall understand the significance of life if we understand what it means to make an effort. Does happiness come through effort? Have you ever tried to be happy? It is impossible, is it not? You struggle to be happy and there is no happiness, is there? Joy does not come through suppression, through control or indulgence. You may indulge but there is bitterness at the end. You may suppress or control, but there is always strife in the hidden. Therefore happiness does not come through effort, nor joy through control and suppression; and still all our life is a series of suppressions, a series of controls, a series of regretful indulgences. Also there is a constant overcoming, a constant struggle with our passions, our greed and our stupidity. So do we not strive, struggle, make effort, in the hope of finding happiness, finding something which will give us a feeling of peace, a sense of love? Yet does love or understanding come by strife? I think it is very important to understand what we mean by struggle, strife or effort.
Does not effort mean a struggle to change what is into what is not, or into what it should be or should become? That is we are constantly struggling to avoid facing what is, or we are trying to get away from it or to transform or modify what is. A man who is truly content is the man who understands what is, gives the right significance to what is. That is true contentment; it is not concerned with having few or many possessions but with the understanding of the whole significance of what is; and that can only come when you recognize what is, when you are aware of it, not when you are trying to modify it or change it.
So we see that effort is a strife or a struggle to transform that which is into something which you wish it to be. I am only talking about psychological struggle, not the struggle with a physical problem, like engineering or some discovery or transformation which is purely technical. I am only talking of that struggle which is psychological and which always overcomes the technical. You may build with great care a marvellous society, using the infinite knowledge science has given us. But so long as the psychological strife and struggle and battle are not understood and the psychological overtones and currents are not overcome, the structure of society, however marvellously built, is bound to crash, as has happened over and over again.
Effort is a distraction from what is. The moment I accept what is there is no struggle. Any form of struggle or strife is an indication of distraction; and distraction, which is effort, must exist so long as psychologically I wish to transform what is into something it is not.
First we must be free to see that joy and happiness do not come through effort. Is creation through effort, or is there creation only with the cessation of effort? When do you write, paint or sing? When do you create? Surely when there is no effort, when you are completely open, when on all levels you are in complete communication, completely integrated. Then there is joy and then you begin to sing or write a poem or paint or fashion something. The moment of creation is not born of struggle.
Perhaps in understanding the question of creativeness we shall be able to understand what we mean by effort. Is creativeness the outcome of effort, and are we aware in those moments when we are creative? Or is creativeness a sense of total self-forgetfulness, that sense when there is no turmoil, when one is wholly unaware of the movement of thought, when there is only a complete, full, rich being? is that state the result of travail, of struggle, of conflict, of effort? I do not know if you have ever noticed that when you do something easily, swiftly, there is no effort, there is complete absence of struggle; but as our lives are mostly a series of battles, conflicts and struggles, we cannot imagine a life, a state of being, in which strife has fully ceased.
To understand the state of being without strife, that state of creative existence, surely one must inquire into the whole problem of effort. We mean by effort the striving to fulfil oneself, to become something, don't we? I am this, and I want to become that; I am not that, and I must become that. In becoming `that', there is strife, there is battle, conflict, struggle. In this struggle we are concerned inevitably with fulfilment through the gaining of an end; we seek self-fulfilment in an object, in a person, in an idea, and that demands constant battle, struggle, the effort to become, to fulfil. So we have taken this effort as inevitable; and I wonder if it is inevitable - this struggle to become something? Why is there this struggle? Where there is the desire for fulfilment, in whatever degree and at whatever level, there must be struggle. Fulfilment is the motive, the drive behind the effort; whether it is in the big executive, the housewife, or a poor man, there is this battle to become, to fulfil, going on.
Now why is there the desire to fulfil oneself? Obviously, the desire to fulfil, to become something, arises when there is awareness of being nothing. Because I am nothing, because I am insufficient, empty, inwardly poor, I struggle to become something; outwardly or inwardly I struggle to fulfil myself in a person, in a thing, in an idea. To fill that void is the whole process of our existence. Being aware that we are empty, inwardly poor, we struggle either to collect things outwardly, or to cultivate inward riches. There is effort only when there is an escape from that inward void through action, through contemplation, through acquisition, through achievement, through power, and so on. That is our daily existence. I am aware of my insufficiency, my inward poverty, and I struggle to run away from it or to fill it. This running away, avoiding, or trying to cover up the void, entails struggle, strife, effort.
Now if one does not make an effort to run away, what happens? One lives with that loneliness, that emptiness; and in accepting that emptiness one will find that there comes a creative state which has nothing to do with strife, with effort. Effort exists only so long as we are trying to avoid that inward loneliness, emptiness, but when we look at it, observe it, when we accept what is without avoidance, we will find there comes a state of being in which all strife ceases. That state of being is creativeness and it is not the result of strife. But when there is understanding of what is, which is emptiness, inward insufficiency, when one lives with that insufficiency and understands it fully, there comes creative reality, creative intelligence, which alone brings happiness.
Therefore action as we know it is really reaction, it is a ceaseless becoming, which is the denial, the avoidance of what is; but when there is awareness of emptiness without choice, without condemnation or justification, then in that understanding of what is there is action, and this action is creative being. You will understand this if you are aware of yourself in action. Observe yourself as you are acting, not only outwardly but see also the movement of your thought and feeling. When you are aware of this movement you will see that the thought process, which is also feeling and action, is based on an idea of becoming. The idea of becoming arises only when there is a sense of insecurity, and that sense of insecurity comes when one is aware of the inward void. If you are aware of that process of thought and feeling, you will see that there is a constant battle going on, an effort to change, to modify, to alter what is. This is the effort to become, and becoming is a direct avoidance of what is. Through self-knowledge, through constant awareness, you will find that strife, battle, the conflict of becoming, leads to pain, to sorrow and ignorance. It is only if you are aware of inward insufficiency and live with it without escape, accepting it wholly, that you will discover an extraordinary tranquillity, a tranquillity which is not put together, made up, but a tranquillity which comes with understanding of what is. Only in that state of tranquillity is there creative being.
Chapter - 8
WE SEE CONTRADICTION in us and about us; because we are in contradiction, there is lack of peace in us and therefore outside us. There is in us a constant state of denial and assertion - what we want to be and what we are. The state of contradiction creates conflict and this conflict does not bring about peace - which is a simple, obvious fact. This inward contradiction should not be translated into some kind of philosophical dualism, because that is a very easy escape. That is by saying that contradiction is a state of dualism we think we have solved it - which is obviously a mere convention, a contributory escape from actuality.
Now what do we mean by conflict, by contradiction? Why is there a contradiction in me? - this constant struggle to be something apart from what I am. I am this, and I want to be that. This contradiction in us is a fact, not a metaphysical dualism. Metaphysics has no significance in understanding what is. We may discuss, say, dualism, what it is, if it exists, and so on; but of what value is it if we don't know that there is contradiction in us, opposing desires, opposing interests, opposing pursuits? I want to be good and I am not able to be. This contradiction, this opposition in us, must be understood because it creates conflict; and in conflict, in struggle, we cannot create individually. Let us be clear on the state we are in. There is contradiction, so there must be struggle; and struggle is destruction, waste. In that state we can produce nothing but antagonism, strife, more bitterness and sorrow. If we can understand this fully and hence be free of contradiction, then there can be inward peace, which will bring understanding of each other. The problem is this. Seeing that conflict is destructive, wasteful, why is it that in each of us there is contradiction? To understand that, we must go a little further. Why is there the sense of opposing desires? I do not know if we are aware of it in ourselves - this contradiction, this sense of wanting and not wanting, remembering something and trying to forget it in order to find something new. Just watch it. It is very simple and very normal. It is not something extraordinary. The fact is, there is contradiction. Then why does this contradiction arise?
What do we mean by contradiction? Does it not imply an impermanent state which is being opposed by another impermanent state? I think I have a permanent desire, I posit in myself a permanent desire and another desire arises which contradicts it; this contradiction brings about conflict, which is waste. That is to say there is a constant denial of one desire by another desire, one pursuit overcoming another pursuit. Now, is there such a thing as a permanent desire? Surely, all desire is impermanent - not metaphysically, but actually. I want a job. That is I look to a certain job as a means of happiness; and when I get it, I am dissatisfied. I want to become the manager, then the owner, and so on and on, not only in this world, but in the so-called spiritual world - the teacher becoming the principal, the priest becoming the bishop, the pupil becoming the master.
This constant becoming, arriving at one state after another, brings about contradiction, does it not? Therefore, why not look at life not as one permanent desire but as a series of fleeting desires always in opposition to each other? Hence the mind need not be in a state of contradiction. If I regard life not as a permanent desire but as a series of temporary desires which are constantly changing, then there is no contradiction.
Contradiction arises only when the mind has a fixed point of desire; that is when the mind does not regard all desire as moving, transient, but seizes upon one desire and makes that into a permanency - only then, when other desires arise, is there contradiction. But all desires are in constant movement, there is no fixation of desire. There is no fixed point in desire; but the mind establishes a fixed point because it treats everything as a means to arrive, to gain; and there must be contradiction, conflict, as long as one is arriving. You want to arrive, you want to succeed, you want to find an ultimate God or truth which will be your permanent satisfaction. Therefore you are not seeking truth, you are not seeking God. You are seeking lasting gratification, and that gratification you clothe with an idea, a respectable-sounding word such as God, truth; but actually we are all seeking gratification, and we place that gratification, that satisfaction, at the highest point, calling it God, and the lowest point is drink. So long as the mind is seeking gratification, there is not much difference between God and drink. Socially, drink may be bad; but the inward desire for gratification, for gain, is even more harmful, is it not? If you really want to find truth, you must be extremely honest, not merely at the verbal level but altogether; you must be extraordinarily clear, and you cannot be clear if you are unwilling to face facts.
Now what brings about contradiction in each one of us? Surely it is the desire to become something, is it not? We all want to become something: to become successful in the world and, inwardly, to achieve a result. So long as we think in terms of time, in terms of achievement, in terms of position, there must be contradiction. After all, the mind is the product of time. Thought is based on yesterday, on the past; and so long as thought is functioning within the field of time, thinking in terms of the future, of becoming, gaining, achieving, there must be contradiction, because then we are incapable of facing exactly what is. Only in realizing, in understanding, in being choicelessly aware of what is, is there a possibility of freedom from that disintegrating factor which is contradiction.
Therefore it is essential, is it not, to understand the whole process of our thinking, for it is there that we find contradiction. Thought itself has become a contradiction because we have not understood the total process of ourselves; and that understanding is possible only when we are fully aware of our thought, not as an observer operating upon his thought, but integrally and without choice - which is extremely arduous. Then only is there the dissolution of that contradiction which is so detrimental, so painful.
So long as we are trying to achieve a psychological result, so long as we want inward security, there must be a contradiction in our life. I do not think that most of us are aware of this contradiction; or, if we are, we do not see its real significance. On the contrary, contradiction gives us an impetus to live; the very element of friction makes us feel that we are alive. The effort, the struggle of contradiction, gives us a sense of vitality. That is why we love wars, that is why we enjoy the battle of frustrations. So long as there is the desire to achieve a result, which is the desire to be psychologically secure, there must be a contradiction; and where there is contradiction, there cannot be a quiet mind. Quietness of mind is essential to understand the whole significance of life. Thought can never be tranquil; thought, which is the product of time, can never find that which is timeless, can never know that which is beyond time. The very nature of our thinking is a contradiction, because we are always thinking in terms of the past or of the future; therefore we are never fully cognizant, fully aware of the present.
To be fully aware of the present is an extraordinarily difficult task because the mind is incapable of facing a fact directly without deception. Thought is the product of the past and therefore it can only think in terms of the past or the future; it cannot be completely aware of a fact in the present. So long as thought, which is the product of the past, tries to eliminate contradiction and all the problems that it creates, it is merely pursuing a result, trying to achieve an end, and such thinking only creates more contradiction and hence conflict, misery and confusion in us and, therefore, about us.
To be free of contradiction, one must be aware of the present without choice. How can there be choice when you are confronted with a fact? Surely the understanding of the fact is made impossible so long as thought is trying to operate upon the fact in terms of becoming, changing, altering. Therefore self-knowledge is the beginning of understanding; without self-knowledge, contradiction and conflict will continue. To know the whole process, the totality of oneself, does not require any expert, any authority. The pursuit of authority only breeds fear. No expert, no specialist, can show us how to understand the process of the self. One has to study it for oneself. You and I can help each other by talking about it, but none can unfold it for us, no specialist, no teacher, can explore it for us. We can be aware of it only in our relationship - in our relationship to things, to property, to people and to ideas. In relationship we shall discover that contradiction arises when action is approximating itself to an idea. The idea is merely the crystallization of thought as a symbol, and the effort to live up to the symbol brings about a contradiction.
Thus, so long as there is a pattern of thought, contradiction will continue; to put an end to the pattern, and so to contradiction, there must be self-knowledge. This understanding of the self is not a process reserved for the few. The self is to be understood in our everyday speech, in the way we think and feel, in the way we look at another. If we can be aware of every thought, of every feeling, from moment to moment, then we shall see that in relationship the ways of the self are understood. Then only is there a possibility of that tranquillity of mind in which alone the ultimate reality can come into being.
Chapter - 9
What Is the Self?
Do WE KNOW WHAT we mean by the self? By that, I mean the idea, the memory, the conclusion, the experience, the various forms of nameable and un-nameable intentions, the conscious endeavour to be or not to be, the accumulated memory of the unconscious, the racial, the group, the individual, the clan, and the whole of it all, whether it is projected outwardly in action or projected spiritually as virtue; the striving after all this is the self. In it is included the competition, the desire to be. The whole process of that is the self; and we know actually when we are faced with it that it is an evil thing. I am using the word `evil' intentionally, because the self is dividing: the self is self-enclosing: its activities, however noble, are separative and isolating. We know all this. We also know those extraordinary moments when the self is not there, in which there is no sense of endeavour, of effort, and which happens when there is love.
It seems to me that it is important to understand how experience strengthens the self. If we are earnest, we should understand this problem of experience. Now what do we mean by experience? We have experience all the time, impressions; and we translate those impressions, and we react or act according to them; we are calculating, cunning, and so on. There is the constant interplay between what is seen objectively and our reaction to it, and interplay between the conscious and the memories of the unconscious.
According to my memories, I react to whatever I see, to whatever I feel. In this process of reacting to what I see, what I feel, what I know, what I believe, experience is taking place, is it not? Reaction, response to something seen, is experience. When I see you, I react; the naming of that reaction is experience. If I do not name that reaction it is not an experience. Watch your own responses and what is taking place about you. There is no experience unless there is a naming process going on at the same time. If I do not recognize you, how can I have the experience of meeting you? It sounds simple and right. Is it not a fact? That is if I do not react according to my memories, according to my conditioning, according to my prejudices, how can I know that I have had an experience?
Then there is the projection of various desires. I desire to be protected, to have security inwardly; or I desire to have a Master, a guru, a teacher, a God; and I experience that which I have projected; that is I have projected a desire which has taken a form, to which I have given a name; to that I react. It is my projection. It is my naming. That desire which gives me an experience makes me say: "I have experience", "I have met the Master", or "I have not met the Master". You know the whole process of naming an experience. Desire is what you call experience, is it not?
When I desire silence of the mind, what is taking place? What happens? I see the importance of having a silent mind, a quiet mind, for various reasons; because the Upanishads have said so, religious scriptures have said so, saints have said it, and also occasionally I myself feel how good it is to be quiet, because my mind is so very chatty all the day. At times I feel how nice, how pleasurable it is to have a peaceful mind, a silent mind. The desire is to experience silence. I want to have a silent mind, and so I ask "How can I get it?" I know what this or that book says about meditation, and the various forms of discipline. So through discipline I seek to experience silence. The self, the `me', has therefore established itself in the experience of silence.
I want to understand what is truth; that is my desire, my longing; then there follows my projection of what I consider to be the truth, because I have read lots about it; I have heard many people talk about it; religious scriptures have described it. I want all that. What happens? The very want, the very desire is projected, and I experience because I recognize that projected state. If I did not recognize that state, I would not call it truth. I recognize it and I experience it; and that experience gives strength to the self, to the `me', does it not? So the self becomes entrenched in the experience. Then you say "I know", "the Master exists", '`there is God" or "there is no God; you say that a particular political system is right and all others are not.
So experience is always strengthening the `me'. The more you are entrenched in your experience, the more does the self get strengthened. As a result of this, you have a certain strength of character, strength of knowledge, of belief, which you display to other people because you know they are not as clever as you are, and because you have the gift of the pen or of speech and you are cunning. Because the self is still acting, so your beliefs, your Masters, your castes, your economic system are all a process of isolation, and they therefore bring contention. You must, if you are at all serious or earnest in this, dissolve this centre completely and not justify it. That is why we must understand the process of experience.
Is it possible for the mind, for the self, not to project, not to desire, not to experience? We see that all experiences of the self are a negation, a destruction, and yet we call them positive action, don't we? That is what we call the positive way of life. To undo this whole process is, to you, negation. Are you right in that? Can we, you and I, as individuals, go to the root of it and understand the process of the self? Now what brings about dissolution of the self? Religious and other groups have offered identification, have they not? "Identify yourself with a larger, and the self disappears", is what they say. But surely identification is still the process of the self; the larger is simply the projection of the `me', which I experience and which therefore strengthens the `me'.
All the various forms of discipline, belief and knowledge surely only strengthen the self. Can we find an element which will dissolve the self? Or is that a wrong question? That is what we want basically. We want to find something which will dissolve the `me', do we not? We think there are various means, namely, identification, belief, etc; but all of them are at the same level; one is not superior to the other, because all of them are equally powerful in strengthening the self the `me'. So can I see the `me' wherever it functions, and see its destructive forces and energy? Whatever name I may give to it, it is an isolating force, it is a destructive force, and I want to find a way of dissolving it. You must have asked this yourself - "I see the `I' functioning all the time and always bringing anxiety, fear, frustration, despair, misery, not only to myself but to all around me. Is it possible for that self to be dissolved, not partially but completely?" Can we go to the root of it and destroy it? That is the only way of truly functioning, is it not? I do not want to be partially intelligent but intelligent in an integrated manner. Most of us are intelligent in layers, you probably in one way and I in some other way. Some of you are intelligent in your business work, some others in your office work, and so on; people are intelligent in different ways; but we are not integrally intelligent. To be integrally intelligent means to be without the self. Is it possible?
Is it possible for the self to be completely absent now? You know it is possible. What are the necessary ingredients, requirements? What is the element that brings it about? Can I find it? When I put that question "Can I find it?" surely I am convinced that it is possible; so I have already created an experience in which the self is going to be strengthened, is it not? Understanding of the self requires a great deal of intelligence, a great deal of watchfulness, alertness, watching ceaselessly, so that it does not slip away. I, who am very earnest, want to dissolve the self. When I say that, I know it is possible to dissolve the self. The moment I say “I want to dissolve this", in that there is still the experiencing of the self; and so the self is strengthened. So how is it possible for the self not to experience? One can see that the state of creation is not at all the experience of the self. Creation is when the self is not there, because creation is not intellectual, is not of the mind, is not self-projected, is something beyond all experiencing. So is it possible for the mind to be quite still, in a state of non-recognition, or non-experiencing, to be in a state in which creation can take place, which means when the self is not there, when the self is absent? The problem is this, is it not? Any movement of the mind, positive or negative, is an experience which actually strengthens the `me'. Is it possible for the mind not to recognize? That can only take place when there is complete silence, but not the silence which is an experience of the self and which therefore strengthens the self.
Is there an entity apart from the self which looks at the self and dissolves the self? Is there a spiritual entity which supercedes the self and destroys it, which puts it aside? We think there is, don't we? Most religious people think there is such an element. The materialist says, "It is impossible for the self to be destroyed; it can only be conditioned and restrained - politically, economically and socially; we can hold it firmly within a certain pattern and we can break it; and therefore it can be made to lead a high life, a moral life, and not to interfere with anything but to follow the social pattern, and to function merely as a machine". That we know. There are other people, the so-called religious ones - they are not really religious, though we call them so - who say, "Fundamentally, there is such an element. If we can get into touch with it, it will dissolve the self".
Is there such an element to dissolve the self? Please see what we are doing. We are forcing the self into a corner. If you allow yourself to be forced into the corner, you will see what will happen. We should like there to be an element which is timeless, which is not of the self, which, we hope, will come and intercede and destroy the self - and which we call God. Now is there such a thing which the mind can conceive? There may be or there may not be; that is not the point. But when the mind seeks a timeless spiritual state which will go into action in order to destroy the self is that not another form of experience which is strengthening the `me'? When you believe, is that not what is actually taking place? When you believe that there is truth, God, the timeless state, immortality, is that not the process of strengthening the self? The self has projected that thing which you feel and believe will come and destroy the self. So, having projected this idea of continuance in a timeless state as a spiritual entity, you have an experience; and such experience only strengthens the self; and therefore what have you done? You have not really destroyed the self but only given it a different name, a different quality; the self is still there, because you have experienced it. Thus our action from the beginning to the end is the same action, only we think it is evolving, growing, becoming more and more beautiful; but, if you observe inwardly, it is the same action going on, the same `me' functioning at different levels with different labels, different names.
When you see the whole process, the cunning, extraordinary inventions, the intelligence of the self, how it covers itself up through identification, through virtue, through experience, through belief, through knowledge; when you see that the mind is moving in a circle, in a cage of its own making, what happens? When you are aware of it, fully cognizant of it, then are you not extraordinarily quiet - not through compulsion, not through any reward, not through any fear? When you recognize that every movement of the mind is merely a form of strengthening the self when you observe it, see it, when you are completely aware of it in action, when you come to that point - not ideologically, verbally, not through projected experiencing, but when you are actually in that state - then you will see that the mind, being utterly still, has no power of creating. Whatever the mind creates is in a circle, within the field of the self. When the mind is non-creating there is creation, which is not a recognizable process. Reality, truth, is not to be recognized. For truth to come, belief, knowledge, experiencing, the pursuit of virtue - all this must go. The virtuous person who is conscious of pursuing virtue can never find reality. He may be a very decent person; but that is entirely different from being a man of truth, a man who understands. To the man of truth, truth has come into being. A virtuous man is a righteous man, and a righteous man can never understand what is truth because virtue to him is the covering of the self the strengthening of the self because he is pursuing virtue. When he says "I must be without greed", the state of non-greed which he experiences only strengthens the self. That is why it is so important to be poor, not only in the things of the world but also in belief and in knowledge. A man with worldly riches or a man rich in knowledge and belief will never know anything but darkness, and will be the centre of all mischief and misery. But if you and I, as individuals, can see this whole working of the self, then we shall know what love is. I assure you that is the only reformation which can possibly change the world. Love is not of the self. Self cannot recognize love. You say "I love; but then, in the very saying of it, in the very experiencing of it, love is not. But, when you know love, self is not. When there is love, self is not.
Chapter - 10
WHAT IS FEAR? Fear can exist only in relation to something, not in isolation. How can I be afraid of death, how can I be afraid of something I do not know? I can be afraid only of what I know. When I say I am afraid of death, am I really afraid of the unknown, which is death, or am I afraid of losing what I have known? My fear is not of death but of losing my association with things belonging to me. My fear is always in relation to the known, not to the unknown.
My inquiry now is how to be free from the fear of the known, which is the fear of losing my family, my reputation, my character, my bank account, my appetites and so on. You may say that fear arises from conscience; but your conscience is formed by your conditioning, so conscience is still the result of the known. What do I know? Knowledge is having ideas, having opinions about things, having a sense of continuity as in relation to the known, and no more. Ideas are memories, the result of experience, which is response to challenge. I am afraid of the known, which means I am afraid of losing people, things or ideas, I am afraid of discovering what I am, afraid of being at a loss, afraid of the pain which might come into being when I have lost or have not gained or have no more pleasure.
There is fear of pain. Physical pain is a nervous response, but psychological pain arises when I hold on to things that give me satisfaction, for then I am afraid of anyone or anything that may take them away from me. The psychological accumulations prevent psychological pain as long as they are undisturbed; that is I am a bundle of accumulations, experiences, which prevent any serious form of disturbance - and I do not want to be disturbed. Therefore I am afraid of anyone who disturbs them. Thus my fear is of the known, I am afraid of the accumulations, physical or psychological, that I have gathered as a means of warding off pain or preventing sorrow. But sorrow is in the very process of accumulating to ward off psychological pain. Knowledge also helps to prevent pain. As medical knowledge helps to prevent physical pain, so beliefs help to prevent psychological pain, and that is why I am afraid of losing my beliefs, though I have no perfect knowledge or concrete proof of the reality of such beliefs. I may reject some of the traditional beliefs that have been foisted on me because my own experience gives me strength, confidence, understanding; but such beliefs and the knowledge which I have acquired are basically the same - a means of warding off pain.
Fear exists so long as there is accumulation of the known, which creates the fear of losing. Therefore fear of the unknown is really fear of losing the accumulated known. Accumulation invariably means fear, which in turn means pain; and the moment I say "I must not lose" there is fear. Though my intention in accumulating is to ward off pain, pain is inherent in the process of accumulation. The very things which I have create fear, which is pain.
The seed of defence brings offence. I want physical security; thus I create a sovereign government, which necessitates armed forces, which means war, which destroys security. Wherever there is a desire for self-protection, there is fear. When I see the fallacy of demanding security I do not accumulate any more. If you say that you see it but you cannot help accumulating, it is because you do not really see that, inherently, in accumulation there is pain.
Fear exists in the process of accumulation and belief in something is part of the accumulative process. My son dies, and I believe in reincarnation to prevent me psychologically from having more pain; but, in the very process of believing, there is doubt. Outwardly I accumulate things, and bring war; inwardly I accumulate beliefs, and bring pain. So long as I want to be secure, to have bank accounts, pleasures and so on, so long as I want to become something, physiologically or psychologically, there must be pain. The very things I am doing to ward off pain bring me fear, pain.
Fear comes into being when I desire to be in a particular pattern. To live without fear means to live without a particular pattern. When I demand a particular way of living that in itself is a source of fear. My difficulty is my desire to live in a certain frame. Can I not break the frame? I can do so only when I see the truth: that the frame is causing fear and that this fear is strengthening the frame. If I say I must break the frame because I want to be free of fear, then I am merely following another pattern which will cause further fear. Any action on my part based on the desire to break the frame will only create another pattern, and therefore fear. How am I to break the frame without causing fear, that is without any conscious or unconscious action on my part with regard to it? This means that I must not act, I must make no movement to break the frame. What happens to me when I am simply looking at the frame without doing anything about it? I see that the mind itself is the frame, the pattern; it lives in the habitual pattern which it has created for itself. Therefore, the mind itself is fear. Whatever the mind does goes towards strengthening an old pattern or furthering a new one. This means that whatever the mind does to get rid of fear causes fear.
Fear finds various escapes. The common variety is identification, is it not? - identification with the country, with the society, with an idea. Haven't you noticed how you respond when you see a procession, a military procession or a religious procession, or when the country is in danger of being invaded? You then identify yourself with the country, with a being, with an ideology. There are other times when you identify yourself with your child, with your wife, with a particular form of action, or inaction. Identification is a process of self-forgetfulness. So long as I am conscious of the `me' I know there is pain, there is struggle, there is constant fear. But if I can identify myself with something greater, with something worthwhile, with beauty, with life, with truth, with belief, with knowledge, at least temporarily, there is an escape from the `me', is there not? If I talk about "my country" I forget myself temporarily, do I not? If I can say something about God, I forget myself? If I can identify myself with my family, with a group, with a particular party, with a certain ideology, then there is a temporary escape.
Identification therefore is a form of escape from the self, even as virtue is a form of escape from the self. The man who pursues virtue is escaping from the self and he has a narrow mind. That is not a virtuous mind, for virtue is something which cannot be pursued. The more you try to become virtuous, the more strength you give to the self, to the `me'. Fear, which is common to most of us in different forms, must always find a substitute and must therefore increase our struggle. The more you are identified with a substitute, the greater the strength to hold on to that for which you are prepared to struggle, to die, because fear is at the back.
Do we now know what fear is? Is it not the non-acceptance of what is? We must understand the word `acceptance'. I am not using that word as meaning the effort made to accept. There is no question of accepting when I perceive what is. When I do not see clearly what is, then I bring in the process of acceptance. Therefore fear is the non-acceptance of what is. How can I, who am a bundle of all these reactions, responses, memories, hopes, depressions, frustrations, who am the result of the movement of consciousness blocked, go beyond? Can the mind, without this blocking and hindrance, be conscious? We know, when there is no hindrance, what extraordinary joy there is. Don't you know when the body is perfectly healthy there is a certain joy, well-being; and don't you know when the mind is completely free, without any block, when the centre of recognition as the `me' is not there, you experience a certain joy? Haven't you experienced this state when the self is absent? Surely we all have.
There is understanding and freedom from the self only when I can look at it completely and integrally as a whole; and I can do that only when I understand the whole process of all activity born of desire which is the very expression of thought - for thought is not different from desire - without justifying it, without condemning it, without suppressing it; if I can understand that, then I shall know if there is the possibility of going beyond the restrictions of the self.