Commentaries on Living 
Chapter - 46
Why this Urge to Possess?
IT HAD BEEN raining for days, and it still didn't look as though it were going to clear up. The hills and the mountains were under dark clouds, and the green shore across the lake was hidden by a thick fog. There were puddles everywhere, and the rain came through the half-open windows of the car. Leaving the lake behind and winding its way into the hills, the road passed a number of little towns and hamlets, and then climbed the side of a mountain. By now the rain had stopped, and as we went higher, the snow-clad peaks began to show themselves, sparkling in the morning sun.
Presently the car stopped, and you walked along a footpath that led away from the road, among the trees and into the open meadows. The air was still and cold, and it was surprisingly silent; there were not the usual cows with their bells. You met no other human beings on that path but in the damp earth there were the footprints of heavy shoes with rows of nails. The path was not too soggy, but the pines were heavy with rain. Coming to the edge of a cliff, you could see far below a stream flowing from the distant glaciers. It was fed by several waterfalls, but their noise didn't reach that far, and there was complete silence.
You couldn't help being quiet too. It wasn't an enforced quietness; you became quiet naturally and easily. Your mind no longer went on its endless wanderings. Its outward movement had stopped, and it was on an inward journey, a journey that led to great heights and astonishing depths. But soon even this journey stopped, and there was neither an outward nor an inward movement of the mind. It was completely still, yet there was movement - a movement wholly unrelated to the going out and the coming back of the mind, a movement that had no cause, no end, no centre. It was a movement within the mind, through the mind, and beyond the mind. The mind could follow all its own activities, however intricate and subtle, but it was unable to follow this other movement, which did not originate from itself.
So the mind was still. It was not made still; its stillness had not been arranged nor was it brought about by any desire to be still. It was simply still, and because it was still, there was this timeless movement. The mind could never capture it and put it among its remembrances; it would if it could, but there was no recognition of this movement. The mind did not know it, for it had never known it; therefore the mind was still, and this timeless movement went on beyond recall.
The sun was now behind the distant peaks, which were again covered by the clouds.
"I have been looking forward to this talk for many days, and now that I'm here, I don't know where to begin."
He was a young man, rather tall and lean, and he carried himself well. He had been to college, he said, but didn't do very well there, only just scraping through, and it was thanks to his father's wire-pulling that he had managed to get a good job. His job had a future, as every job had if you worked hard, but he wasn't too keen on it; he would stay on and that was about all. What with all this mess the world was in, it didn't seem to matter much anyway. He was married, and had a small son - rather a nice child, and surprisingly intelligent, he added, considering the mediocrity of his parents. But when the boy grew up, he would probably become like the rest of the world, chasing success and power, if by that time there was still a world left. "As you see I can easily enough talk about some things, but what I really want to talk about seems so complex and difficult. I have never before talked about it to anyone not even to my wife and I suppose that makes it all the harder to talk about it now; but if you have patience, I will come to it."
He paused for a moment or two, and then went on.
"I am an only son, and was rather pampered. Though I am fond of literature, and would like to write I have neither the gift nor the drive to carry it through. I am not entirely stupid, and could make something of my life, but I have one consuming problem: I want to possess people, body and soul. It's not just possession that I seek, but complete domination. I can't bear that there should be any freedom for the person possessed. I have watched others, and though they also are possessive, it's all so lukewarm, without any real intensity behind it. Society and its notion of good manners hold them within bounds. But I have no bounds; I just possess, without any qualifying adjectives. I don't think anyone can know what agonies I go through, to what tortures I subject myself. It isn't mere jealousy, it's literally hell-fire. Something will have to snap, though so far nothing has. Outwardly I manage to control myself, and I probably seem normal enough; but I am raging inside. Please don't think I'm exaggerating; I only wish I were."
What makes us want to possess, not only people, but things and ideas? Why this urge to own, with all its struggle and pain? And when once we do possess, it doesn't put an end to the problem, but only awakens other issues. If one may ask, do you know why you want to possess, and what possession means?
"To possess property is different from possessing people. As long as our present government lasts, the personal ownership of property will be permitted - not too much, of course, but at least a few acres, a house or two, and so on. You can take measures to safeguard your property, to keep it in your own name. But with people it's different. You can't pin them down, or lock them up. Sooner or later they slip out of your grasp, and then the torture begins."
But why this urge to possess? And what do we mean by possessing? In possessing, in feeling that you own, there is pride, a certain sense of power and prestige, is there not? There is pleasure in knowing that something is yours, be it a house, a piece of cloth or a rare picture. The possession of capacity, talent, the ability to achieve, and the recognition that it brings - these also give you a sense of importance, a secure outlook on life. As far as people are concerned, to possess and to be possessed is often a mutually satisfactory relationship. There is also possession in terms of beliefs, ideas, ideologies, is there not?
"Aren't we entering too wide a field?"
But possession implies all this. You may want to possess people, another may possess a whole series of ideas, while someone else may be satisfied with owning a few acres of land; but however much the objects may vary, all possession is essentially the same, and each will defend what he owns - or in the very yielding of it, will possess something else at another level. Economic revolution may limit or abolish the private ownership of property, but to be free from the psychological ownership of people or ideas is quite another matter. You may get rid of one particular ideology but you will soon find another. At all costs, you must possess.
Now, is there ever a moment when the mind is not possessing or being possessed? And why does one want to possess?
"I suppose it is because in owning one feels strong, safe; and of course there's always a gratifying pleasure in ownership, as you say. I want to possess persons for several reasons. For one thing, having power over another gives me a feeling of importance. In possession there's also a sense of well-being; one feels comfortably secure."
Yet with it all there is conflict and sorrow. You want to keep on with the pleasure of possessing, and avoid the pain of it. Can this be done?
"Probably not, but I go on trying. I ride on the stimulating wave of possession, knowing perfectly well what is going to happen; and when the fall comes, as it always does, I pick myself up and get on the next wave."
Then you have no problem, have you?
"I want this torture to end. Is it really impossible to possess completely and forever?"
It seems impossible with regard to property and ideas; and isn't it much more so in regard to people? Property, ideologies and deep-rooted traditions are static, fixed, and they can be defended for long periods of time through legislation and various forms of resistance; but people are not like that. People are alive; like you, they also want to dominate, to possess or be possessed. In spite of codes of morality and the sanctions of society, people do slip out of one pattern of possession into another. There's no such thing as complete possession of anything at any time. Love is never possession or attachment.
"Then what am I to do? Can I be free from this misery?"
Of course you can, but that's entirely another matter. You are aware that you possess; but are you ever aware of a moment when the mind is neither possessing nor being possessed? We possess because in ourselves we are nothing, and in possessing we feel we have become somebody. When we call ourselves Americans, German, Russians, Hindus, or what you will, the label gives us a sense of importance, so we defend it with the sword and with the cunning mind. We are nothing but what we possess - the label, the bank account, the ideology, the person - and this identification breeds enmity and endless strife.
"I know all this well enough; but you said something which struck a chord in me. Am I ever aware of a moment when the mind is neither possessing nor being possessed? I don't think I am."
Can the mind cease possessing, or being possessed by, the past and the future? Can it be free from both the influence of experience and the urge to experience?
"Is that ever possible?"
You will have to find out; you will have to be fully aware of the ways of your own mind. You know the truth of possession, its sorrow and pleasure, but you stop there and try to overcome the one by the other. You do not know a moment when the mind is neither possessing nor being possessed, when it is totally free from the influence of what has been, and from the desire to become. To inquire into and discover for yourself the truth of this freedom is the liberating factor, and not the will to be free.
"Am I capable of such difficult inquiry and discovery? In a curious way, I am. I have been cunning and purposeful in possessing, and with that same energy I can now begin to inquire into the freedom of the mind. I should like to come back, if I may, after I have experimented with this."
Chapter - 47
Desire and the Pain of Contradiction
TWO MEN WERE engaged in digging a long, narrow grave. It was fine, sandy soil, without too much clay, and the digging was easy. Now they were trimming the corners and making it neat all round. Some palm trees overhung the grave, and they had big bunches of golden coconuts. The men wore only loincloths, and their bare bodies were shining in the early morning sun. The light soil was still damp from the recent rains, and the leaves of the trees, stirred by a gentle breeze, were sparkling in the clear morning air. It was a lovely day, and as the sun had only just come over the treetops it still wasn't too hot. The sea was pale blue and very calm, and the white waves were coming in lazily. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the waning moon was in mid-heaven. The grass was very green, and the birds were everywhere, calling to each other in different notes. There was great peace over the land.
Across the narrow ditch the men placed two long planks, and across these in turn a solid rope. Their bright loincloths and dark, sun-burnt bodies had given life to the empty grave; but now they were gone, and the soil was quickly drying in the sun. It was quite a big cemetery, without much order, but well-kept. The rows of white slabs with names carved upon them had been dis-coloured by the many rains. Two gardeners worked there all day long, watering, trimming, planting and weeding. One was tall, and the other was short and plump. Except for a cloth on their heads against the burning sun, they too wore only loincloths, and their skin was nearly black. On rainy days the soiled cloth around their loins was still their only garment, and the rains washed their dark bodies. The tall one was now watering a flowering bush which he had just planted. From a large round, earthenware pot with a narrow neck, he was sprinkling the water over the leaves and flowers. The pot glistened in the sun as the muscles in his dark body moved with ease, and the way he stood had grace and dignity. It was a beautiful thing to watch. The shadows were long in the morning sun.
Attention is a strange thing. We never look but through a screen of words, explanations and prejudices; we never listen save through judgments, comparisons and remembrances. The very naming of the flower, or the bird, is a distraction. The mind is never still to look, to listen. The moment it looks, it is off on its restless wanderings; in the very act of listening there is an interpretation, a recollection, an enjoyment, and attention is denied. The mind may be absorbed by the thing it sees or listens to, as a child is by a toy, but this is not attention. Nor is concentration attention, for concentration is the way of exclusion and resistance. There is attention only when the mind is not absorbed by an inward or outward idea or object. Attention is the complete good. He was a middle-aged man, nearly bald, with clear observant eyes, and his face was lined with worry and anxiety. The father of several children, he explained that his wife had died with the birth of the last child, and now they were all living with some relative. Although he was still employed, his salary was small, and it was difficult to make ends meet, but somehow they got through each month without too much strain. The eldest son was earning his own way, and the second was in college. He himself came of a family that had the austere traditions of many centuries, and this background now stood him in good stead. But for the coming generation, things were going to be very different; the world was changing rapidly, and the old traditions were crumbling. In any case, life would have its own way, and it was futile to grumble. He hadn't come to talk about his family, or the future, but about himself.
"Ever since I can remember, I seem to have been in a state of contradiction. I have always had ideals, and have always fallen far short of them. From my earliest years I have felt a pull towards the monastic life, the life of solitude and meditation, and I have ended up with a family. I once thought that I would like to be a scholar, but instead I have become an office drudge. My whole life has been a series of disturbing contrasts, and even now I am in the midst of self-contradictions which bother me greatly; for I want to be at peace with myself, and I don't seem able to harmonize these conflicting desires. What am I to do?"
Surely, there can never be a harmony or integration of opposing desires. Can you harmonize hate and love? Can ambition and the desire for peace ever be brought together? Mustn't they always be contradictory?
"But cannot conflicting desires be brought under control? Cannot these wild horses be tamed?"
You have tried, haven't you?
"Yes, for many years."
And have you succeeded?
"No, but that is because I haven't properly disciplined desire, I haven't tried hard enough. The fault is not with discipline, but with him who fails in discipline."
Is not this very disciplining of desire the breeder of contradiction? To discipline is to resist, to suppress; and is not resistance or suppression the way of conflict? When you discipline desire, who is the `you' that is doing the disciplining?
"It's the higher self."
Is it? Or is it merely one part of the mind trying to dominate the other, one desire suppressing another desire? This suppression of one part of the mind, by another which you call the `higher self', can only lead to conflict. All resistance is productive of strife. However much one desire may suppress or discipline another, that so-called higher desire breeds other desires which soon are in revolt. Desire multiplies itself; there isn't just one desire. Haven't you noticed this?
"Yes, I have noticed that in disciplining a particular desire, other desires spring up around it. You have to go after them one by one."
And so spend a lifetime pursuing and holding down one desire after another - only to find at the end that desire still remains. Will is desire, and it can tyrannically dominate all other desires; but what is thus conquered has to be conquered again and again. Will can become a habit; and a mind that functions in the groove of habit is mechanical, dead.
"I'm not sure I understand all the finer points of what you are explaining, but I am aware of the entanglements and contradictions of desire. If there were only one contradiction in me, I could put up with its strife, but there are several of them. How am I to be at peace?"
To understand is one thing, and to desire to be at peace is another. With understanding there does come peace, but the mere desire to be at peace only strengthens desire, which is the source of all conflict. A strong, dominant desire never brings peace but only builds an imprisoning wall around itself.
"Then how is one to get out of this net of self-contradictory desires?"
Is the `how' an inquiry, or the demand for a method by which to put an end to contradiction?
"I suppose I am asking for a method. But isn't it only through the patient and rigorous practice of a proper method that one can end this strife?"
Again, any method implies an effort to control, suppress or sublimate desire, and in this effort, resistance in different forms, subtle or brutal, is built up. It's like living in a narrow passage that shuts you away from the vastness of life.
"You seem to be very much against discipline." I am only pointing out that a disciplined moulded mind is not a free mind. With the understanding of desire, discipline loses its significance. The understanding of desire is of far greater significance than discipline, which is mere conformity to a pattern.
"If there's to be no discipline, then how is the mind to be free from desire, which brings all these contradictions?"
Desire does not bring contradictions. Desire is contradiction. That is why it's important to understand desire.
"What do you mean by understanding desire?"
It is to be aware of desire, without naming it, without rejecting or accepting it. It is to be simply aware of desire, as you would be of a child. If you would understand a child you must observe it, and such observation is not possible if there's any sense of condemnation, justification or comparison. Similarly, to understand desire, there must be this simple awareness of it.
"Will there then be the cessation of self-contradiction?"
Is it possible to guarantee anything in these matters? And this very urge to be sure, safe - is it not another form of desire?
Sir, have you ever known a moment when there has been no self-contradiction? "Perhaps in sleep, but not otherwise."
Sleep is not necessarily a state of peace or of freedom from self-contradiction - but that's another matter.
Why have you never known such a moment? Haven't you experienced total action - an action involving your mind and your heart well as your body, the totality of your whole being?
"Unfortunately, I have never known such a pure moment. Complete self-forgetfulness must be a great bliss, but it has never happened to me, and I think very few are ever blessed in that manner."
Sir, when the self is absent, do we not know love - not the love that is called personal or impersonal, worldly or divine, but love without the interpreting mind?
"Sometimes, when I am sitting at my desk in the office, a strange feeling of `otherness' does come over me - but it's such a rare thing. I only it would last and not fade away."
How acquisitive we are! We want to hold that which cannot be held; we want to remember that which is not the stuff of memory. All this wanting, pursuing, reaching, which is the desire to be, to become, makes for contradiction, the building up of the self. The self can never know love; it can only know desire, with its contradictions and miseries. Love is not a thing to be pursued, to be gained; it is not to be bought through the practice of virtue. All such pursuits are the ways of the self, of desire; and with desire there is always the pain of contradiction.
Chapter - 48
What Am I to Do?
THE WIND WAS blowing fresh and cool. It was not the dry air of the surrounding semi-desert, but came from the mountains far away. Those mountains were among the highest in the world, a great chain of them running from north-west to south-east. They were massive and sublime, an incredible sight when you saw them in the early morning, before the sun was on the sleeping land. Their towering peaks, glowing a delicate rose, were startlingly clear against the pale blue sky. As the sun climbed higher the plains were covered with long shadows. Soon those mysterious peaks would disappear in the clouds, but before they withdrew, they would leave their blessing on the valleys, the rivers and the towns. Though you could no longer see them, you could feel that they were there, silent, immense and timeless.
A beggar was coming down the road, singing; he was blind, and a child was leading him. People passed him by, and occasionally someone would drop a coin or two into the tin he was holding in one hand; but he went on with his song, heedless of the rattle of the coins. A servant came out of a big house, dropped a coin in the tin, muttered something, and went back again, shutting the gate behind him. The parrots were off for the day in their crazy and noisy flight. They would go to the fields and the woods, but towards evening they would return for the night to the trees along the road; it was safer there, though the street-lights were almost among the leaves. Many other birds seemed to remain all day in the town and on a big lawn some of them were trying to catch the sleepy worms. A boy went by, playing his flute. He was lean and barefooted; there was a swagger in his walk, and his feet didn't seem to mind where they trod. He was the flute, and the song was in his eyes. Walking behind him, you felt that he was the first boy with a flute in all the world. And, in a way, he was; for he paid no attention to the car that rushed past, nor to the policeman standing at the corner, heavy with sleep, nor to the woman with a bundle on her head. He was lost to the world but his song went on.
And now the day had begun.
The room was not very large, and the few who had come rather crowded it. They were of all ages. There was an old man with his very young daughter, a married couple, and a college student. They evidently didn't know each other, and each was eager to talk about his own problem, but without wanting to interfere with the others. The little girl sat beside her father, shy and very quiet; she must have been about ten. She had on fresh clothes, and there was a flower in her hair. We all sat for a while without saying a word. The college student waited for age to speak, but the old man preferred to let others speak first. At last, rather nervously, the young man began.
"I am now in my last year at college, where I have been studying engineering, but somehow I don't seem to be interested in any particular career. I simply don't know what I want to do. My father, who is a lawyer, doesn't care what I do as long as I do something of course, since I am studying engineering, he would like me to be an engineer; but I have no real interest in it. I have told him this, but he says the interest will come when once I get working at it for a livelihood. I have several friends who studied for different careers, and who are now earning their own way; but most of them are already becoming dull and weary, and what they will be like a few years hence, God only knows. I don't want to be like that - and I'm sure I will be, if I become an engineer. It isn't that I'm afraid of the exams, I can pass them easily enough, and I'm not boasting. I just don't want to be an engineer, and nothing else seems to interest me either. I have done a spot of writing, and have dabbled in painting but that kind of thing doesn't carry very far. My father is only concerned with pushing me into a job, and he could get me a good one; but I know what will happen to me, if I accept it. I feel like throwing up everything and leaving college without waiting to take the final exams."
That would be rather silly wouldn't it? After all you are nearly through college; why not finish it? There's no harm in that, is there?
"I suppose not. But what am I to do then?"
Apart from the usual careers, what would you really like to do? You must have some interest, however vague it may be. Somewhere, deep down, you know what it is, don't you?
"You see, I don't want to become rich; I have no interest in raising a family, and I don't want to be a slave to a routine. Most of my friends who have jobs, or who have embarked upon a career, are tied to the office from morning till night; and what do they get out of it? A house, a wife some children - and boredom. To me, this is really a frightening prospect, and I don't want to be caught in it; but I still don't know what to do."
Since you have thought so much about all this, haven't you tried to find out where your real interest lies? What does your mother say?
"She doesn't care what I do as long as I am safe, which means being securely married and tied down; so she backs father up. On my walks I have thought a great deal about what I would really like to do, and I have talked it over with friends. But most of my friends are bent on some career or other, and it's no good talking to them. Once they are caught in a career, whatever it may be, they think it's the right thing to do - duty, responsibility, and all the rest of it. I just don't want to get caught in a similar treadmill that's all. But what is it I would really like to do? I wish I knew."
Do you like people?
"In a vague sort of way, why do you ask?"
Perhaps you might like to do something along the line of social work.
"Curious you should say that. I have thought of doing social work, and for a time I went around with some of those who have given their lives to it. Generally speaking, they are a dry, frustrated lot, frightfully concerned about the poor, and ceaselessly active in trying to improve social conditions but unhappy inside. I know one young woman who would give her right eye to get married and lead a family life, but her idealism is destroying her. She's caught in the routine of doing good works, and has become dreadfully cheerful about her boredom. It's all idealism without flare, without inward joy."
I suppose religion, in the accepted sense, means nothing to you?
"As a boy I often used to go with my mother to the temple, with its priests, prayers and ceremonies, but I haven't been there for years."
That too becomes a routine, a repetitious sensation, a living on words and explanations. Religion is something much more than all that. Are you adventurous? "Not in the usual meaning of that word - mountain climbing, polar exploration, deep-sea diving, and so on. I'm not being superior, but to me there's something rather immature about all that. I could no more climb mountains than hunt whales."
What about politics?
"The ordinary political game doesn't interest me. I have some Communist friends, and have read some of their stuff, and at one time I thought of joining the party; but I can't stomach their double talk, their violence and tyranny. These are the things they actually stand for, whatever may be their official ideology and their talk of peace. I went through that phase quickly."
We have eliminated a great deal, haven't we? If you don't want to do any of these things, then what's left?
"I don't know. Am I still too young to know?"
It's not a matter of age, is it? Discontent is part of existence, but we generally find a way to tame it, whether through a career through marriage, through belief, or through idealism and good works. One way or another, most of us manage to smother this flame of discontent don't we? After successfully smothering it, we think at last we are happy - and we may be, at least for the time being. Now, instead of smothering this flame of discontent through some form of satisfaction, is it possible to keep it always burning? And is it then discontent?
"Do you mean I should remain as I am, dissatisfied with everything about me and within myself, and not seek some satisfying occupation that will let this fire burn out? Is that what you mean?"
We are discontented because we think we should be contented; the idea that we should be at peace with ourselves makes discontentment painful. You think you ought to be something, don't you? - a responsible person, a useful citizen, and all the rest of it. With the understanding of discontent, you may be these things and much more. But you want to do something satisfying, something which will occupy your mind and so put an end to this inner disturbance; isn't that so?
"It is in a way, but I now see what such occupation leads to."
The occupied mind is a dull, routine mind; in essence, it's mediocre. Because it's established in habit, in belief, in a respectable and profitable routine, the mind feels secure, both inwardly and outwardly; therefore it ceases to be disturbed. This is so isn't it?
"In general, yes. But what am I to do?" You may discover the solution if you go further into this feeling of discontent. Don't think about it in terms of being contented. Find out why it exists, and whether it shouldn't be kept burning. After all, you are not particularly concerned about earning a livelihood, are you?
"Quite bluntly, I am not. One can always live somehow or other."
So that's not your problem at all. But you don't want to be caught in a routine, in the wheel of mediocrity; isn't that what you are concerned about?
"It looks like it, sir."
Not to be thus caught demands hard work, incessant watching, it means coming to no conclusions from which to continue further thinking; for to think from a conclusion is not to think at all. It's because the mind starts from a conclusion, from a belief, from experience, from knowledge, that it gets caught in routine, in the net of habit, and then the fire of discontent is smothered.
"I see that you are perfectly right, and I now understand what it is that has really been on my mind. I don't want to be like those whose life is routine and boredom, and I say this without any sense of superiority. Losing oneself in various forms of adventure is equally meaningless; and I don't want to be merely contented either. I have begun to see, however vaguely, in a direction which I never knew even existed. Is this new direction what you were referring to the other day in your talk when you spoke of a state, or a movement, which is timeless and ever creative?"
Perhaps. Religion is not a matter of churches, temples, rituals and beliefs; it's the moment-by moment discovery of that movement, which may have any name, or no name.
"I'm afraid I have taken more than my share of the available time," he said, turning to the others. "I hope you don't mind."
"On the contrary," replied the old man. "I for one have listened very attentively, and have profited a great deal; I, too, have seen something beyond my problem. In listening quietly to the troubles of another, our own burdens are sometimes lightened."
He was silent for a minute or two, as if considering how to express what he wanted to say.
"Personally, I have reached an age," he went on, "when I no longer ask what I am going to do; instead, I look back and consider what I have done with my life. I too went to college, but I was not as thoughtful as our young friend here. Upon graduating from college, I went in search of work, and once having found a job, I spent the next forty years and more in earning a livelihood and maintaining a rather large family. During all that time I was caught in the office routine to which you have referred, and in the habits of family life, and I know its pleasures and tribulations, its tears and passing joys. I have grown old with struggle and weariness, and in recent years there has been a fast decline. Looking back on all that, I now ask myself, `What have you done with your life? Apart from your family and your job, what have you actually accomplished?"
The old man paused before answering his own question.
"Over the years, I joined various associations for the improvement of this and that; I belonged to several different religious groups, and left one for another; and I hopefully read the literature of the extreme left, only to find that their organization is as tyrannically authoritarian as the church. Now that I have retired, I can see that I have been living on the surface of life; I have merely drifted. Though I struggled a little against the strong current of society, in the end I was pulled along by it. But don't misunderstand me. I'm not shedding tears over the past; I don't bemoan the things that have been. I am concerned with the few years that I still have left. Between now and the fast-approaching day of my death, how am I to meet this thing called life? That is my problem."
What we are is made up of what we have been; and what we have been also shapes the future, without definitely giving line and substance to every thought and action. The present is a movement of the past to the future.
"What has been my past? Practically nothing at all. There have been no great sins, no towering ambition, no overwhelming sorrow no degrading violence. My life has been that of the average man, neither hot nor cold; it has been an even flow, a thoroughly mediocre life. I have built up a past in which there's nothing to be either proud or ashamed of. My whole existence has been dull and empty, without much meaning. It would have been the same, had I lived in a palace, or in a village hut. How easy it is to slip into the current of mediocrity! Now, my question is, can I stem in myself this current of mediocrity? Is it possible to break away from my pettily enlarging past?"
What is the past? When you use the word `past', what does it signify? "It seems to me that the past is chiefly a matter of association and memory."
Do you mean the totality of memory, or just the memory of everyday incidents? Incidents that have no psychological significance, while they may be remembered, do not take root in the soil of the mind. They come and go; they do not occupy or burden the mind. Only those remain which have psychological significance. So what do you mean by the past? Is there a past that remains solid, immovable, from which you can cleanly and sharply break away?
"My past is made up of a multitude of little things put together, and its roots are shallow. A good shock like a strong wind, could blow it away."
And you are waiting for the wind. Is that your problem?
"I'm not waiting for anything. But must I go on like this for the rest of my days? Can I not break away from the past?"
Again, what is the past from which you want to break away? Is the past static, or is it a living thing? If it's a living thing, how does it get its life? Through what means does it revive itself? If it's a living thing, can you break away from it? And who is the `you' that wants to break away?
"Now I'm getting confused," he complained. "I have asked a simple question, and you counter it by asking several more complicated ones. Would you kindly explain what you mean?"
You say, sir, that you want to be free from the past. What is this past?
"It consists of experiences and the memories one has of them."
Now, these memories, you say, are on the surface, they are not deep-rooted. But may not some of them have roots deep in the unconscious?
"I don't think I have any deep-rooted memories. Tradition and belief have deep roots in many people, but I follow them only as a matter of social convenience. They don't play a very significant part in my life."
If the past is to be dismissed so easily, there's no problem; if only the outer husk of the past remains, which can be brushed off at any time, then you have already broken away. But there's more to the problem than that isn't there? How are you to break through your mediocre life? How are you to shatter the pettiness of the mind? Isn't this also your problem, sir? And surely, the `how' in this case is a furtherance of inquiry, not the demand for a method. It's the practising of a method, based on the desire to succeed, with its fear and authority, that has brought about pettiness in the first place.
"I came with the intention of dispelling my past, which is without much significance, but I am being confronted with another problem."
Why do you say that your past is without much significance?
"I have drifted on the surface of life, and when you drift, you can't have deep roots, even in your family. I see that to me life hasn't meant very much; I have done nothing with it. Only a few years are now left to me, and I want to stop drifting, I want to make something of what remains of my life. Is this at all possible?"
What do you want to make of your life? Doesn't the pattern of what you want to be, evolve from what you have been? Surely, your pattern is a reaction from what has been; it is an outcome of the past.
"Then how am I to make anything of life?"
What do you mean by life? Can you act upon it? Or is life incalculable, and not to be held within the boundaries of the mind? Life is everything, isn't it? Jealousy, vanity, inspiration and despair; social morality, and the virtue which is outside the realm of cultivated righteousness; knowledge gathered through the centuries; character, which is the meeting of the past with the present; organized beliefs, called religions, and the truth that lies beyond them; hate and affection; love and compassion which are not within the field of the mind all this and more is life, is it not? And you want to do something with it, you want to give it shape, direction, significance. Now, who is the `you' that wants to do all this? Are you different from that which you seek to change?
"Are you suggesting that one should just go on drifting?"
When you want to direct, to shape life, your pattern can only be a cording to the past; or, being unable to shape it, your reaction is drift. But the understanding of the totality of life brings about its own action, in which there is neither drifting nor the imposition of a pattern. This totality is to be understood from moment to moment. There must be the death of the past moment.
"But am I capable of understanding the totality of life?" he ask anxiously.
If you do not understand it, no one else can understand it for you. You cannot learn it from another.
"How shall I proceed?" Through self-knowledge; for the totality, the whole treasure of life, lies within yourself.
"What do you mean by self-knowledge?"
It is to perceive the ways of your own mind; it is to learn about your cravings, your desires, your urges and pursuits, the hidden as well as the open. There is no learning where there is the accumulation of knowledge. With self-knowledge, the mind is free to be still. Only then is there the coming into being of that which is beyond the measure of the mind.
The married couple had been listening the whole time; they had been awaiting their turn, but never interrupted, and only now the husband spoke up.
"Our problem was that of jealousy, but after listening to what has already been said here, I think we may be capable of resolving it. Perhaps we have understood more deeply by quietly listening than we would have by asking questions."
Chapter - 49
Fragmentary Activities and Total Action
TWO CROWS WERE fighting, and they meant business. They were flopping about on the ground with their wings locked, and their sharp, black beaks were tearing at each other. One or two of their companions were cawing at them from a nearby tree, and suddenly the whole neighbourhood of crows was there, making an awful noise and trying to stop the fight. There must have been dozens of them, but in spite of their anxious and angry calls, the fight went on. A shout didn't stop it; then a loud clap of the hands scared them all away, even the fighters, who continued to fly at each other in and out among the branches of the surrounding trees. But it was all over. A black cow tied to a stake had placidly looked in the direction of the fight, and then gone on with her feeding. She was a small animal, as cows go, and very friendly, with big, limpid eyes.
A procession came along the road. It was a funeral. Half a dozen cars were led by a hearse, in which could be seen the coffin, a highly polished affair with many silver fittings. Arriving at the cemetery, all the people got out of their cars, and the coffin was carried slowly to the grave, which had been dug earlier that morning. Twice around the grave they went, and then carefully laid the coffin on two solid planks which spanned the open trench. All knelt as the priest pronounced his blessing, and the coffin was gently lowered into its final resting place. There was a long pause; then each one threw in a handful of the freshly dug soil, and the diggers, in their bright loincloths, began shoveling it into the grave, which was soon filled. A wreath of white flowers, already withering in the hot sun, was placed upon the grave, and the people then solemnly departed.
It had been raining recently, and the grass in the cemetery was dazzlingly green. All around it were palm and banana trees, and flowering bushes. It was a pleasant place, and children would come to play on the grass under the trees, where there were no graves. Early in the morning, long before the sun was up, there was heavy dew on the grass and the tall palms stood out against the starlit sky. The breeze from the north was fresh and it brought with it the long moan of a distant train. Otherwise it was very quiet; there were no lights in the surrounding houses, and the rattle of Lorries on the road had not yet begun.
Meditation is the flowering of goodness; it is not the cultivation of goodness. What is cultivated never endures; it passes away, and has to be started again. Meditation is not for the meditator. The meditator knows how to meditate; he practises, controls, shapes, struggles, but this activity of the mind is not the light of meditation. Meditation is not put together by the mind; it`s the total silence of the mind in which the centre of experience, of knowledge, of thought, is not. Meditation is complete attention without an object in which thought is absorbed. The meditator can never know the goodness of meditation.
No longer young, he was a man well-known for his political idealism and his good works. Deep in his heart there was the hope of finding something far greater than these, but he was one of those to whom righteous action had always been the indication of goodness. He was constantly embroiled in reform, which he regarded as the means to an ultimate end: the goodness of society. An odd mixture of piety and activity, he lived in the shell of his own well-reasoned thought; yet he had heard a whisper of something beyond it. He had come with a friend, who was active with him in social reform. The friend was a short, wiry man, and there was about him an air of aggression held in check. He must have seen that aggression is not the right way to proceed, but he couldn't quite cover it up; it was behind his eyes, and it showed unknowingly when he smiled. As we sat down together in that room, neither of them seemed to notice the delicate blossom that a passing breeze had brought in through the window. It was lying on the floor, and the sun was upon it.
"My friend and I have not come here to discuss political action," the first one began. "We are well aware of what you think about it. To you, action is not political reformatory or religious; there is only action, a total action. But most of us do not think like that. We think in compartments, which are sometimes watertight, and sometimes pliable, yielding; but our action is always fragmentary. We just don't know what total action is. We know only the activities of the part, and we hope by putting these various parts together to make the whole."
Is it ever possible to make the whole by assembling the parts, except in mechanical things? There you have a blueprint, a design to help you to put the parts together. Have you a similar design by which to bring about the perfection of society?
"We have," the friend replied.
Then you already know what the future will be for man?
"We are not so conceited as all that, but we do want certain obvious reforms brought about, to which no one can object."
Surely, reform will always be fragmentary. To be active in doing `good' without understanding total action is in the long run to do harm, isn't it?
"What is total action?"
It is certainly not a putting together of various separate activities. To understand total action, fragmentary activity must cease. It's impossible to see at one sweep the whole expanse of the heavens by going from one small window to another. One must abandon all windows, mustn't one?
"That sounds fine intellectually, but when you see the hungry the miserably poor, you boil inside and want to do something."
Which is most natural. But mere reform is always in need of further reform, and to carry on these various fragmentary activities, without understanding total action, seems so mischievous and destructive.
"How are we to understand this total action of which you speak?" asked the other.
Obviously, one has first to abandon the part, the fragmentary, which is the group, the nation, the ideology. Holding on to these, one hopes to understand the whole, which is impossible. It is like an ambitious man trying to love. To love, the desire for success, for power and position, must cease. One can't have both. Similarly, the mind, whose very thinking is fragmentary, is incapable of discovering this total action.
"Then how can one ever discover it at all?" demanded the friend.
There is no formula for its discovery. The feeling of being whole, complete, is very different from the intellectual description of it. We don't feel this total being, and we try to bring together the fragments, hoping thereby to have the whole. Sir, if one may ask, why do you do anything?
"I feel and think, and action flows from it."
Doesn't this lead to contradiction in your various activities?
"Often it does, but one can avoid that contradiction by sticking to a definite course of action."
In other words, you shut out all activities which have no relation to the one you have chosen. Sooner or later, won't this create confusion?
"Perhaps. But what is one to do?" he asked rather irritably.
Is that merely a verbal question, or do you begin to feel that sticking to a chosen pattern of action is exclusive and harmful? It is because you don't feel the necessity for total action that you play around with activities which are contradictory. But to feel the necessity for total action, you must inquire deeply within yourself. There's no inquiry if there's no humility. To learn there must be humility; but you already know, and how can a man who knows be humble? When there's humility you can't be a reformer, or a politician.
"Then we can't do anything, and we shall be driven into slavery by those of the extreme left whose ideology promises a paradise on earth! They will take power and liquidate us. But such an eventuality can definitely be avoided through intelligent legislation, through reform, and through the gradual socialization of industry. This is what we are after."
"But what about humility?" asked the first one. "I see its importance, but how is one to come by it?"
Surely, not through a method. To practise humility is to cultivate pride. A method implies success, and success is arrogance. The difficulty is that most of us want to be somebody, and this partial, reformatory activity gives us an opportunity to satisfy that urge. Economic or political revolution is still partial, fragmentary, leading to further tyranny and misery, as has recently been shown. There's only one total revolution, the religious, and it has nothing to do with organized religion, which is another form of tyranny. But why is there no humility?
"For the simple reason that if one were humble, one would not be able to do anything," asserted the friend. "Humility is for the recluse, not for the man of action."
You haven't moved away from your conclusions, have you? You came with them, and you will leave with them; and to think from conclusions is obviously not to think at all.
"What prevents humility?" asked the first one.
Fear. Fear of saying "I don't know; fear of not being a leader, of not being important; fear of not being in the show, whether it be the traditional show, or the latest ideology.
"Am I afraid?" he asked musingly.
Can another answer that question? Mustn't one discover the truth of the matter for oneself?
"I suppose I have been in the limelight for so long that I have taken it for granted that the activities in which I am engaged are the good and the true. You are perfectly right. There's a certain amount of modification and adjustment on our part, but we dare not think too deeply, because we want to be among the leaders, or at least with the leaders; we don't want to be the forgotten men."
Surely, all this indicates that you are really not interested in the people, but in ideologies, schemes and Utopias. You do not love the people, or feel sympathy for them; you love yourself, through your personal identification with certain theories, ideals and reformatory activities. You remain, clothed in a different respectability. You help the people in the name of something, for the good of something. You are actually concerned, not with helping the people, but with advancing the plan or the organization which you assert will help the people. Isn't this where your real interest lies?
They remained silent and departed.
Chapter - 50
Freedom from the Known
IT WAS A very clear, starry night. There was not a cloud in the sky. The dull roar of the neighbouring city had subsided, and there was a great stillness, unbroken even by the hoot of an owl. The waning moon was just above the tall palms, which were very still, bewitched by the silence. Orion was well up in the western sky, and the Southern Cross was over the hills. Not a house had a light in it, and the narrow road was deserted and dark.
Suddenly, from somewhere among the trees, there came the sound of wailing. At first it was muted, and produced a strange impression of mystery and fear. As it drew nearer, the wailing became sharp and noisy, and it sounded artificial; the sadness didn't ring quite true. Into the open at last came a procession of people with lamps, and the wailing went on louder than ever. They were carrying on their shoulders what appeared, in the pale moonlight to be a dead body. Going slowly along a path that crossed the open ground and turned to the right, the procession disappeared again among the trees. The wailing grew fainter, and finally stopped. Again there was complete silence - that strange silence which comes when the world is asleep, and which has a quality of its own. It wasn't the silence of the forest, of the desert, of far, isolated places; nor was it the silence of a fully awakened mind. It was the silence of toil and weariness, of sorrow and the surface flutter of joy. This silence would pass with the coming dawn, and would return with the coming again of the night.
The next morning our host inquired, "Did that procession last night disturb you?"
What was it?
"When someone is seriously ill, they call an M.D., but to be on the safe side, they also bring in a man who is supposed to be able to drive away the evil of death. After chanting over the sick man and doing all kinds of fantastic things, the exorcist himself lies down and gives every appearance of going through the pangs of death. Then he is tied on a litter, carried in a procession with much wailing to the burial or burning place, and left there. Presently his assistant unties the cords and he comes back to life; the chanting over the sick man is resumed, and then they all quietly go back to their homes. If the patient recovers, the magic has worked; if he does not, then the evil has been too strong."
The elderly man who had come was a sannyasi, a religious ascetic who had given up the world. His head was shaven, his only garment a newly-washed loincloth of saffron, and he carried a long staff, which he laid beside him as he sat on the floor with the ease of long practice. His body was slim and well-disciplined, and he leaned slightly forward as though he was listening, but his back was perfectly straight. He was very clean, his face was clear and fresh, and he had about him the dignity of otherworldliness. When he spoke he looked up, but otherwise he kept his eyes down. There was something very pleasant and friendly about him. He had travelled on foot all over the land going from village to village and from town to town. He walked only in the mornings, and towards evening, not when the sun was hot. Being a sannyasi and a member of the highest caste he had no trouble in getting food, for he was received with respect and fed with care. When, on rare occasions, he travelled by train, it was always without a ticket, for he was a holy man, and he had the air of one whose thoughts were not of this world.
"From one's youth the world has had little attraction, and when one left the family, the house, the property, it was for always. One has never returned. It has been an arduous life, and the mind is now well-disciplined. One has listened to spiritual teachers in the north and in the south; one has gone on pilgrimages to different shrines and temples, where there was holiness and right teaching. One has searched in the silence of secluded places, far from the haunts of men, and one knows the beneficial effects of solitude and meditation. One has witnessed the upheavals this country has passed through in recent years - the turning of man against man, of sect against sect, the killing, and the coming and going of the political leaders, with their schemes and promised benefits. The cunning and the innocent the powerful and the weak, the wealthy and the poor - they have always coexisted, and always will; for that is the way of the world."
He was silent for a minute or two, and then continued.
"In the talk of the other evening, it was said that the mind must be free from ideas, formulations, conclusions. Why?"
Can search begin from a conclusion, from that which is already known? Must not search begin in freedom?
"When there's freedom, is there any need to search? Freedom is the end of search."
Surely freedom from the known is only the beginning of search. Unless the mind is free from knowledge as experience and conclusion, there is no discovery, but only a continuance, however modified, of what has been. The past dictates and interprets further experience, thereby strengthening itself. To think from a conclusion, from a belief, is not to think at all.
"The past is what one is now and it is made up of the things that one has put together through desire and its activities. Is there a possibility of being free of the past?"
Isn't there? Neither the past nor the present is ever static, fixed, finally determined. The past is the result of many pressures, influences and conflicting experiences, and it becomes the moving present, which is also changing, being transformed under the ceaseless pressure of many different influences. The mind is the result of the past; it is put together by time, by circumstances, by incidents and experiences based on the past. But everything that happens to it, outwardly and inwardly, affects it. It does not continue as it was, nor will it be as it is.
"Is this always so?"
Only a specialized thing is set forever in a mould. The seed of rice will never, under any circumstances, become wheat, and the rose can never become the palm. But fortunately the human mind is not specialized, and it can always break away from what has been; it needn't be a slave to tradition.
"But karma is not so easily disposed of; that which has been built up through many lives cannot quickly be broken."
Why not? What has been put together through centuries or only yesterday, can be undone immediately.
"In what manner?"
Through the understanding of this chain of cause-effect. Neither cause nor effect is ever final, unchangeable - that would be everlasting enslavement and decay. Each effect of a cause is undergoing many influences from within and from without, it is constantly changing, and it becomes in its turn the cause of still another effect. Through the understanding of what is actually taking place, this process can be stopped instantaneously, and there is freedom from that which has been. Karma is not an ever-enduring chain; it's a chain that can be broken at any time. What was done yesterday can be undone today; there's no permanent continuance of anything. Continuance can and must be dissipated through the understanding of its process.
"All this is clearly seen, but there's another problem which must be clarified. It is this. Attachment to family and to property ceased long ago; but the mind is still attached to ideas, to beliefs, to visions."
"It was easy to shake off attachment to worldly things, but with the things of the mind, it's a different matter. The mind is made up of thought, and thought exists in the form of ideas and beliefs. The mind dare not be empty, for if it were empty, it would cease to be; therefore it is attached to ideas, to hopes, and to its belief in the things that lie beyond itself."
You say it was easy to shake off attachment to family and property. Why then is it not easy to be free of attachment to ideas and beliefs? Are not the same factors involved in each case? A man clings to family and property because without them he feels lost, empty, alone; and it is for the same reason that the mind is attached to ideas, visions, beliefs.
"That is so. Being physically alone, in solitary places, causes one no concern, for one is alone even among the multitude; but the mind shrinks from being without the things of the mind."
This shrinking is fear, is it not? Fear is caused, not by the fact of being outwardly or inwardly alone, but by anticipation of the feeling of being alone. We are afraid not of the fact, but of the anticipated effect of the fact. The mind foresees and is afraid of what might be.
"Then is fear always of the anticipated future and never of the fact?"
Isn't it? When there is fear of what has been, that fear is not of the fact itself, but of its being discovered, shown up, which again is in the future. The mind is afraid, not of the unknown, but of losing the known. There is no fear of the past; but fear is caused by the thought of what the effects of that past might be. One is afraid of the inner aloneness, the sense of emptiness, that might arise if the mind no longer had something to cling to; so there is attachment to an ideology, a belief, which prevents the understanding of what is.
"This also is clearly seen."
And must not the mind be alone, empty? Must it not be untouched by the past, by the collective, and by the influence of one's own desire?
"That is yet to be discovered."
Chapter - 51
Time, Habit and Ideals
THERE HAD BEEN heavy rains, several inches a day for over a week, and the river was running very high. It was already over its banks, and some of the villages were flooded. The fields were under water, and the cattle had to be moved to higher ground. A few more inches and it would be over the bridge, and then there would really be trouble; but just as it was reaching the danger point, the rains stopped and the river began to go down. Some monkeys who had taken refuge in the trees were isolated, and they would have to remain there for a day or so.
Early one morning, when the waters had subsided, we set out across the open country, which was flat almost up to the foot of the mountains. The road went past village after village, and past farms equipped with modern machines. It was spring, and along the road the fruit trees were in bloom. The car was running smoothly. There was the purr of the motor, and the hum of rubber tires on the road; and yet there was an extraordinary silence everywhere, among the trees, on the river, and over the planted earth.
The mind is silent only with the abundance of energy, when there is that attention in which all contradiction the pulling of desire in different directions, has ceased. The struggle of desire to be silent does not make for silence. Silence is not to be bought through any form of compulsion; it is not the reward of suppression or even sublimation. But the mind that is not silent is never free; and it is only to the silent mind that the heavens are opened. The bliss which the mind seeks is not found through its seeking, nor does it lie in faith. Only the silent mind can receive that blessing which is not of church or belief. For the mind to be silent, all its contradictory corners must come together and be fused in the flame of understanding. The silent mind is not a reflective mind. To reflect, there must be the watcher and the watched, the experiencer heavy with the past. In the silent mind there is no centre from which to become, to be, or to think. All desire is contradiction, for every centre of desire is opposed to another centre. The silence of the total mind is meditation.
He was a youngish man, with a large head, clear eyes and capable-looking hands. He spoke with ease and self-assurance, and he had brought along his wife, a dignified lady who evidently wasn't going to say anything. She had probably come under his persuasion, and preferred to listen.
"I have always been interested in religious matters," he said, "and early in the morning, before the children are up and the household bustle begins, I spend a considerable period of time in the practice of meditation. I find meditation very helpful in gaining control of the mind and in cultivating certain necessary virtues. I heard your discourse on meditation a few days ago, but as I am new to your teachings, I was not quite able to follow it. But that's not what I came to talk about. I came to talk about time - time as a means to the realization of the Supreme. As far as I can see, time is necessary for the cultivation of those qualities and sensibilities of mind which are essential, if enlightenment is to be attained. This is so, isn't it?"
If one begins by assuming certain things, is it then possible to seek out the truth of the matter? Do not conclusions prevent clarity of thought?
"I have always taken it for granted that time is necessary to attain liberation. This is what most of the religious books maintain, and I have never questioned it. One gathers that individuals here and there have realized that exalted state instantaneously; but they are only the few, the very few. The rest of us must have time, short or long, in which to prepare the mind to receive that bliss. But I quite see what you mean when you say that to think clearly, the mind must be free of conclusions."
And it is extremely arduous to be free of them, is it not?
Now, what do we mean by time? There is time by the clock, time as the past, the present and the future. There is time as memory, time as distance journeying from here to there, and time as achievement, the process of becoming something. All this is what we mean by time. And is it ever possible for the mind to be free of time, to go beyond its limitations? Let's begin with chronological time. Can one ever be free of time in the factual, chronological sense?
"Not if one wants to catch a train! To be sanely active in this world, and to maintain some kind of order, chronological time is essential."
Then there is time as memory, habit, tradition; and time as effort to achieve, to fulfil, to become. It obviously takes time to learn a profession, or acquire a technique. But is time also necessary for the realization of the Supreme?
"It seems to me that it is."
What is it that is achieving, realizing?
"I suppose it's what you call the `me'."
Which is a bundle of memories and associations, both conscious and unconscious. It's the entity who enjoys and suffers, who has practiced virtues, acquired knowledge, gathered experience, the entity who has known fulfilment and frustration, and who thinks there is the soul, the Atman, the Higher Self. This entity, this `me', this ego, is the product of time. Its very substance is time. It thinks in time, functions in time and builds itself up in time. This `me', which is memory, thinks that through time it will reach the Supreme. But its `Supreme' is something it has formulated, and is therefore also within the field of time, is it not?
"The way you unfold it, it does seem that the maker of effort and the end for which he is striving are equally within the sphere of time."
Through time you can achieve only that which time has created. Thought is the response of memory, and thought can realize only that which thought has put together.
"Are you saying, sir, that the mind must be free from memory, and from the desire to achieve to realize?"
We shall come to that presently. If we may, let us approach the problem differently. Take violence, for example, and the ideal of non-violence. It's said that the ideal of non-violence is a deterrent to violence. But is it? Let's say I am violent, and my ideal is not to be violent. There is an interval, a gap between what I actually am, and what I should be, the ideal. To cover this intervening distance takes time; the ideal is to be achieved gradually, and during this interval of the gradual approach I have the opportunity to indulge in the pleasure of violence. The ideal is the opposite of what I am, and all opposites contain the seeds of their own opposites. The ideal is a projection of thought, which is memory, and the practising of the ideal is a self-centred activity, just as violence is. It has been said for centuries, and we go on repeating, that time is necessary to be free from violence; but it's a mere habit, and there's no wisdom behind it. We are still violent. So time is not the factor of freedom; the ideal of non-violence does not free the mind from violence. And cannot violence just cease - not tomorrow or ten years hence?
"Do you mean instantaneously?"
When you use that word, aren't you still thinking or feeling in terms of time? Can violence cease, that's all, not in any given moment?
"Is such a thing possible?"
Only with the understanding of time. We are used to ideals, we are in the habit of resisting, suppressing, sublimating, substituting, all of which involves effort and struggle through time. The mind thinks in habits; it is conditioned to gradualism, and has come to regard time as a means of achieving freedom from violence. With the understanding of the falseness of that whole process, the truth of violence is seen, and this is the liberating factor, not the ideal, or time. "I think I understand what you are saying, or rather, I feel the truth of it. But isn't it very difficult to free the mind from habit?"
It is difficult only when you fight habit. Take the habit of smoking. To fight that habit is to give it life. Habit is mechanical, and to resist it is only to feed the machine give more power to it. But if you consider the mind and observe the formation of its habits, then with the understanding of the larger issue, the lesser becomes insignificant and drops away.
"Why does the mind form habits?"
Be aware of the ways of your own mind, and you will discover why. The mind forms habits in order to be secure, safe, certain, undisturbed, in order to have continuity. Memory is habit. To speak a particular language is a process of memory, habit; but what is expressed in the language, a series of thoughts and feelings, is also habitual, based on what you have been told, on tradition, and so on. The mind moves from the known to the known, from one certainty to another; so there's never freedom from the known.
This brings us back to what we started with. It's assumed that time is necessary for the realization of the Supreme. But what thought can think about is still within the field of time. The mind cannot possibly formulate the unknown. It can speculate about the unknown, but its speculation is not the unknown.
"Then the problem arises, how is one to realize the Supreme?"
Not by any method. To practise a method is to cultivate another set of time-binding memories; but realization is possible only when the mind is no longer in bondage to time.
"Can the mind free itself from its self-created bondage? Is not an outside agency necessary?"
When you look to an outside agency, you are back again in your conditioning, in your conclusions. Our only concern is with the question, "Can the mind free itself from its self-created bondage?" All other questions are irrelevant and prevent the mind from attending to that one question. There is no attention when there's a motive, the pressure to achieve, to realize; that is, when the mind is seeking a result, an end. The mind will discover the solution of this problem, not through arguments, opinions, convictions or beliefs, but through the very intensity of the question itself.