There is peace only in freedom. One who lives in slavery knows no peace.
Slavery stimulates restlessness, uneasiness, which is the essence of disharmony and disorder.
The world we are living in today is full of suffering, misery, uneasiness; expressed in aggression, exploitation of one another, and violence. Individually and collectively, at home in the family, and there at the periphery of collective life on the international level, our life is a story of mutual fear, aggression, and violence.
Man has been busy trying to put an end to violence, put an end to mutual exploitation, politically, economically, socially, culturally and for this purpose man, the human race, has been using thought, the thought structure. The human race has been busy using the mind with all its faculties of knowing, of feeling, of experiencing, of reacting, all the faculties of imagination, ideation, conceptualization, of deducing theories, constructing, ideologies, constructing collective structures, patterns of behavior.
If we look at the history of mankind for the last 5000 years or so, if not more, we will see how thought structure has been utilized, and this thought structure has given a lot to man. The inventions and discoveries in natural sciences – especially in physics, chemistry; leading to nuclear physics, – have enabled man to land on the moon. To travel from one end of the earth to the other is a matter of hours. Communication from the moon to the earth, is a matter of a few moments. In science and technology thought has enabled man to do fantastic things. A physicist in England who works with the BBC was telling me while I was there, that it will be possible in a very short time to have the television pictures in your room, without having the television set, without the box, without the screen; you just have the beams and the beams construct the images. You see the whole drama. You see the human beings constructed out of the beams; sitting in a corner of your room, giving you the information, enacting the play, giving you the concert and so on. Just working with beams, materialization of forms and their movements, controlled through sound and light energy.
So thought has given you science and technology with its fantastic achievements, philosophies, theologies, metaphysics. Sentiments, feelings, emotions have given music, art, sculpture and drama. The thought structure has enriched man’s life by giving him a world of symbols, languages, science of mathematics, geometry, engineering a. s. o. You and I live in that world created by thought. We have to live in it. That which has a form has a thought, and you have to move through the thought, which keeps you always with the word, the meaning of the word created by the human mind, and the sound of the word.
So while waking or while sleeping if you are in dream consciousness, you are with the word. That is one part of our life.
In spite of the fantastic achievements of the thought structure, it has not enabled man to discover his own totality, to uncover the mystery of life that is around him, life that is all-inclusive. Thought leads to choice, to exclusive activities, to a perception that is identified with a name, with a word. Thought leads to knowing and experiencing. Thought can never take into its embrace the wholeness of life.
Life is an indivisible homogeneous whole. Thought can look at pain, it can look at pleasure and imagine a tension between the two, it can never take into its sweep that which contains pleasure and pain as supplementary and complementary to each other. Thought can give exclusive experiences, fragmentary information, it never enables you to be with the whole, to be with the wholeness of life, to be with the totality of life.
Thought keeps you busy with the word and the word is not the thing, and to live is to be with that mysterious thing, that life, to be with that Is-ness, the such-ness, the totality, the wholeness, the indivisibility, the all-inclusiveness. Mind you, these are not words, empty shells, one is trying to convey something that one has seen and one has lived and one is living.
It is the life that liberates, not the description of life. It is the wholeness that heals, not thought about the wholeness. It is love that stimulates harmony and order; not feelings, sentiments and emotions.
It is absolutely necessary that one learns to set oneself free from the snare and trap of the word, the thought, and time that thought has created.
It is vitally necessary to be with life, to be in the fact of that organic relationship that one has with the universe.
We may read that one is organically related to universal life; if we don’t live that relationship then it is not going to enrich my life. Information and knowledge never enrich life. They may add more stuff to the memory.
Enrichment of memory is not the enrichment of life.
When one says one has to learn to set oneself free of the movement of mind, which is the movement of thought, which is the movement of time, one is not advocating an escape, or the luxury of isolation; one is only indicating the possibility of an inner revolution that can take place in the individual psyche.
We have experimented with the outer, the individual and the collective, we have experimented with change, with reform, with qualified and modified changes, changes in individual pattern of behavior, and changes in the nature of structures: the economic, the political a. s. o. That gives you an external polish, but that does not touch the core of your being and does not enable you to be free, to live that fact of freedom which is the essence of our being; hence such gatherings and hence such efforts at verbal communication to indicate something which cannot be communicated through the word.
Verbal communication is an effort towards non-verbal communion.
The word is not the thing, however beautiful and precise the words may be: from the Bible, the Vedas, the Zend-Avesta, the Quran, the Dhammapada, the Chinese Patriarchs, the Zen monks and masters, a sutra, an aphorism.
To see the word, to understand its meaning, and yet to be free of the word, that’s necessary.
To be able to use the symbols as they are, knowing full well the limitations of the symbols, sets you free of this trap of the symbols.
So I have to learn to be with life as it is, without identifying myself or life with any description of life given to me by scriptures in the past. So, soundlessness is life and I have to learn to be with that soundlessness. Timelessness is the nature of reality and I have to learn to be with that reality.
This sitting in silence, being with nature, these are only tender ways of self-education. Silence is not something negative, it’s not absence of verbalization, it is the substance of life.
Relationships have their beauty, their ugliness, their challenges, but relationships are the extensions of relaxation, the extensions of solitude or aloneness. So, one has to be alone to be with silence, solitude, and must give at least half of the time which you give to the earning of your livelihood to this self-education. The difficulty in doing this is, the fear that we suffer from.
The movement of thought gives me a sense of security, and when the thought does not move, the feelings and emotions do not stir, when there is no pressure of emotion and no tension of thought, when there is that indescribable stillness, then one feels insecure.
There is no other obstacle but this fear of being insecure.
We feel secure with the known and we are afraid of the unknown. We would like to find out if there is something called Divine, God; if there is something like infinity, eternity. We would like to discover that and yet we are afraid of it. We are afraid of being with the infinity and eternity without the word. We would like to be with eternity but not the naked eternity, the naked is-ness of life as it is.
I would like to be with it, when it is clothed with some description, but then you remain with the description, and the golden screen of words prevents you from looking at it as it is. So we want to look at it and we are afraid to look at it. We want to be with it and we are afraid of being with it. This inner split, this inner contradiction has to be resolved.
We would like to be free and we are afraid of freedom. If we are honest and watch ourselves we will find in the deep recesses of our mind fear of freedom, fear of the all-inclusiveness of life.
I would like to take a voyage on the vast oceans and yet I do not wish to leave the shores; I would like to have something that will keep me connected with the shores. I don’t want to be bound to it, I would like to be on the waters, but I would like to take with me something, some kind of rope, that will keep me connected. The moment I want to come back, the rope, the connection, will bring me back to the shores.
O no, I don’t wish to leave my welfare in the hands of life with a capital “L “.
I would like to keep it under the control of the I-consciousness, which knows what is the best for me, because I have calculated, analyzed and planned it. It’s only a question of projecting those ready-made results.
My dear friends, to live is not to project calculated results.
To live is not to extend your motivations and move on the periphery of human knowledge, the circumference, and go back to the center the moment you feel afraid of it.
To live is to be vulnerable to the movement of cosmic life around you. To live is to be vulnerable to the movement of totality of which you are a part, without creating a nest for yourself, without creating a refuge for you somewhere.
To live is to be totally insecure and vulnerable.
It requires humility to be and to let the life operate upon you.
You know the problem? We want to control all the movements, not only of ourselves, we would like to control the movements of life and how it has to operate upon us. That is the content of our bondage.
We would like to move around in the world. In the world of thoughts, philosophies, religions, metaphysics, what you will, as long as we can control the consequences of the movement, we can see the blue-print, we can see where it Is going to lead. So we want to move from a center with a direction pre-chosen by us, with an assurance of certain results and consequences that we can identify.
Please, let us be very honest. This can work in economic life. This can work to a very great extent on the material plane, the physical plane, to some extent on the mental level. But that which is non-mental, non-cerebral, that which is non-personal, non-individual, how can it be controlled by thought, by the me, by the ego?
Well, if I don’t want to control it by this ego, this self, I create a higher self, the soul, the Atman. I am busy, in the realm of the unknown, creating a new entity which will travel through birth and death, and which will have the same individuality and characteristics and which will reincarnate itself and so on.
One doesn’t like to see the nothingness of oneself.
One doesn’t like to see the immensity of life as it is and confess to oneself that we are simply nothing, that is to say: we are not the controlling, regulating, molding center.
When you say you are nothing, it means you are not the center, which can control the movements around you. It requires humility to be nothingness, to have no center, to have no direction.
To be vulnerable is to have no direction, no purpose, no motive. That is the content of spontaneity and innocence.
These are only words for us.
When I have to walk or to drive from here to Hilversum, I need a direction because Hilversum is situated In a certain place. It’s static. So it would be foolish saying: “Oh, I don’t need to know the direction”, but if you know the direction it saves you time and energy. So in the world of forms and objects you need a direction, you need a technique, a formula.
So there is a relative field of utility for the thought structure, for the capacity to know, to experience, to choose, to select directions, a. s. o. It’s a tiny part of our life, the movement with the form, with the name, with the colors, with the beings, a. s .o. That’s one part of life.
But there is the other part, to be with life that is not made by man. There is a man-made world in which we live and there is the universe untouched by man’s mind, unpolluted by man’s thought; and we are related there organically as we are related mentally to the man-made world.
To be born in a human form is a great responsibility, because there is complexity. You have to be simultaneously in two fields: the man-made field, and that which is not touched by man.
You have to live in the timeless with the awareness of timelessness, and handle the time as a symbol that man has created. You have to be with the silence, the Boundlessness that is the substance of life, and also to use the sound, the word, the language.
To have the grip over the particular and have the awareness of the total.
To have the awareness of the total, to have the awareness of silence, one has to be with it, in it. You have to plunge into it. You may read dozens of books about swimming and if you don’t lake a plunge In the pool, then you can give a discourse on how to swim without ever having experienced the ecstasy of being in the waters, the joy of it. Then your words will be empty shells.
You have to lake a plunge into it. You have to take a plunge into that, which thought has not touched.
That is silence.
One has to take a plunge into the vulnerability of innocency, vulnerability and insecurity of silence, where things will happen to me and I, the center, will not be able to operate upon it.
So in the non-action of the conditioned mind, in the non-action and non-movement of thought structure, life moves, it operates, it fills my being. It charges my being with a new vitality. It gives a depth to the being and charges it with vitality or energy that is neither physical nor psychological.
When the being is flooded with that energy there is freshness, not till then. There is a rejuvenation. In the freedom from thought, rejuvenation of the being takes place. So silence rejuvenates, it heals the worn-out and tired mind. When the being gets flooded with intelligence or a new sensitivity that also refreshes the intellect, sharpens your capacity, heightens your sensitivity.
This has happened to everyone who has taken a plunge. This is not the privilege of the few.
Why am I so much afraid of letting life operate upon me, letting silence operate upon me ?
Could it be that when life operates upon me, I cannot know about It. I cannot identify what is happening to me and describe it to myself.
Today, when something happens to me there are those ready-made words. Every movement of the brain has been registered, recorded, identified, given a name: this is fear, this is greed, this is anger. The movement of the energy has been given a name, as you give names to places – this is Blaricum, this is Laren – you give names to places, rivers, mountains, lakes. The movement of cerebral energy has been given names, its chemical effects have been analyzed. The psychological structure is a mapped-out area; immediately you can come out with a theory.
If you experience jealousy; well, “Freud says this”, “Jung says that”, Patanjali says that” and therefore it is explained, and I’m satisfied. And if you feel jealousy, ” do this says ethics, morality; Hinduism, Buddhism. Catholic religion, Protestant religion. They give me the remedy: either the religious, the psychiatric, the homoeopathic, the Ayur Vedic remedy. The feelings are given the names, the consequences are analyzed, and the remedies are supplied; how nice, we feel secure.
I’m not saying this in a derogatory sense. Let us see the facts as they are.
But when you plunge into silence, silence has not been measured. You, the center, the I, the me, the ego, does not move there, it has gone into non-action.
The movement that lakes place there, has no center and no circumference, you don’t know how to give it a name. The habit, deep rooted into the very blood. Is to identify every movement, register it, react to It.
And there is a movement where the center is helpless, does not move, cannot move.
So something is happening to the whole of your being. There is no fragmentary or partial movement. There is the movement of your totality in the totality, with the totality outside of you. It’s one whole movement.
So, no name, no possibility of reacting, and that frightens you. The awareness that you cannot identify any more and you cannot react to it, makes one feel helpless.
So this addiction to the measured, calculated movements with names, labels – addiction to that, identification with that – prevents you from having the pliability to denude yourself of all these and just be with the being-ness of life, with the is-ness of life.
Let it happen. Let it operate. The Inability to cash the happening into words and to trade upon it by communicating as an experience! So the I is jolly well aware that there will be no verbalization, no possibility of verbalization there. It holds back, it comes to the frontier of the word and stands there stay put. So it can talk about the other, and talk about the known, the unknown, but just be on the frontiers. Intellect makes a coward of a person.
Freedom is not difficult. Freedom, peace, harmony are there in the universe, still untouched by man; but one is afraid to be of it, in it, with it.
Supposing there is the willingness to take a plunge and I do spend some time in learning, educating myself, but then, whenever I am alone, the thoughts within me move, the feelings move, the memories come up. Let them come up, it is their nature. When I say “the thought comes up”, it Is the mind that is moving. I see them moving. That is to say, the mind is divided now; one part is observing, seeing, and the other part is getting exposed. Sitting before the mirror, you see your own reflection. The reflection has a form; you are seeing yourself, but there is that reflection in the mirror. When you sit silently, and you see the movement of the mind, you are seeing your own reflection there, and there is nothing to be worried or to get disturbed about the movement. As you see your own reflection in the mirror, you see the reflection of the stuff of the mind; the psychological structure, it moves and you see it.
If there is no impatience to change it, to control it, lo wish it away, to explain it, to interpret it, if there is the humility just to look at it, then that movement being a finite movement subsides on its own; without my doing anything to it, it subsides.
If you have ever been sitting before a life-size mirror – in the beginning you are looking at everything: you look at your body, at your hair, your eyes, the shape of your figure, the fall of the clothing, your feet, you look at every detail. When all the details have been looked at, and you are aware of the whole, then the eyes see and you are not looking at anything. The looking comes to an end there is only the seeing without the seer.
You are not looking at any particular, all the particulars have been looked at, there is only the seeing and awareness of your whole being. There is an awareness of the reflection, and of that which is reflected, When you were looking, you were looking at the reflection, you were busy with the reflection. But the looking comes to an end, and there is only seeing and awareness which is the movement of that perception.
There is a motiveless seeing, and the moment the perception is free of motivation, there is awareness. So when I am there and the movement comes: the thoughts, the memory, the experiences, I look at them; the observer and the observed. When the contents have been looked at in humility, the looking, the observing comes to an end, the observer and the observed comes to an end. What is left is only seeing or perception without the center. So one arrives at awareness, awareness of the whole mechanism of mind, the movement of mind, and awareness of that which is free of the mind.
I wanted to point out this morning that the vastness of life has not been captured by human languages. The vast infinity of life has not been captured in the word, in the thought structure. That which is outside the thought structure and free of words, is as much the substance of our life as the mind and the biological frame are.
We are a complex being. We are organic parts of the mystery of total live. So there is an analyzed and mapped-out part of our being and that too is not mapped-out completely. We don’t know the whole of even the biological structure. We don’t know what death is. We are discovering how little we know of ourselves, even biologically, but to some extent the biological structure, the psychological structure, is described, analyzed, defined, organized and standardized. That is one part of our being. We are busy with it, but we are getting tired of moving all the time in the prison-house of thought and memory.
There is no freedom there; the freedom is in the other, which has not been touched by thought. In silence there is freedom. In innocency there is love, and in humility there is intelligence.
Silence brings you directly in communion with the thing as it is, it doesn’t keep you busy with the word, the description. It brings you directly, intimately and immediately to the thing as it is, to life as it is.
So my friends, being with that solitude of silence, being with the limitless, nameless, measureless reality, creates a new balance, it refreshes the worn-out mind, and washes you clean of every manner of fear. You go back to your daily relationships innocently, tenderly; meeting the pain, the ugliness, the harshness of life, as you meet the beauty, the affection and the warmth of friendship.
You have to meet both.
Without any inhibition of imposing theories upon the facts, there you are, with the facts of life as they are. You go back to that; and when there is pain, there are tears, and when there is pleasure, there are the smiles, flickering like a blade of grass, that could be destroyed the next moment; but when pleasure visits, you smile, and when pain is there you go through it.
You don’t try to hold yourself back in the framework of theories, ideologies, values, norms and standards. With total abundance you meet the movement or life with a new balance, and that’s what we need.
The inner contradictions contained in modern civilization are beyond repairs. The organizations, institutions are crumbling down under the burden of the ideologies on which they were founded. In the east and the west, everything that was put together by man in thousands of years, is tumbling down. Not man. Man has got tremendous potentiality.
He has the conditioned as well as the unconditioned in him. The humane and the divine both contained within him.
So nothing shall destroy man. But the organizations, structures, institutions, the ideologies, the ways of behavior, the ideas about relationships that we have built together, are beyond repairing. They are collapsing, tumbling down, and we have to witness their tumbling down. It hurts the ego. We would like to find out some justification why man had created it. The individual ego can inflate and identify itself with the global human ego and it wants to find out some justification and defense. It feels hurt when it sees the destruction all around.
Not that one is justifying the violence. One is only stating a simple fact that the destruction we see around us was inherent in the processes, because there was something missing in the process; they were fragmentary, they were partial. So internationally one may do things here and there. It doesn’t mean if there is a famine don’t help the people and if there are earthquakes you don’t help the people. We do what is required intelligently, but being aware that the whole way of living that man has created in thousands of years requires a total transformation. Reforms are not going to help.
The very foundation of perception and the very source of response requires a total change, a mutation. Through the ashes of destruction a new quality of human approach has to be born, and that’s why those who are serious, who would like to find out the nature of psychic mutation, or an inner transformation, gather together and say: “Well, it’s no use complaining about the darkness, can I kindle a small light in my heart and live enlightened by that light”, otherwise the darkness, the violence, the chaos surrounding us will depress and lead us to self-pity, melancholia, cynicism and bitterness, it will iust push us down into passivity and inertia.
One who does not want to be bogged down into bitterness, cynicism or a psychology of helplessness, says “Let me find out what is beyond thought, beyond symbols, be there, grow into a new dimension and live and move from that”.
Through these three talks and the dialogue or discussion last evening, one has tried to put across as much as words could carry, the existence of the other, the measureless, the nameless, the timeless, the substance of our being of which we are not aware. One has tried to point out that it is possible while we are in the midst of our jobs, homes, relationships and responsibilities, to explore the other and grow into it.
That is the consummation of human growth. The awareness of the totality is the consummation of intelligence.
Man is the individual consciousness to the universe. Then you never feel lonely. You live with the people, you live with the word, you use the symbols and live in their limitations, and when there is no necessity to use any of the symbols and there is no necessity to move through the thought, – you are alone with your Beloved, with Life. You are never lonely, the darkness of fear no more hangs heavily on you.
So, the fearless love, manifesting itself as compassion and friendship, radiates and emanates. All this sounds like poetry, I can’t help It. Life is poetic. The understanding of the limitations of the mind is the beginning of awareness of the limitless. The understanding of the nature of bondage, is the beginning of the awareness of one’s freedom. And it is only the human beings living in the fact of freedom, who will create a new society.
Vimala Thakar – Mystery of Silence