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Chapter 63 - Living is action in relationship
Surely we all seek a way of life in which conflict has no place. Humanity has sought this in a monastery, has become a wandering monk or has withdrawn from the world into a cave, an ivory tower, hoping to find a way of life in which pain and sorrow have come to an end. But mankind has accepted war, inwardly and outwardly, as a way of life. Even the monk goes through various struggles, chaos and anxieties. We have accepted life as a battlefield in which we are not only against each other but are also divided within the limited consciousness of our own being. So we only know a way of living which is turmoil and an action which brings more anxieties and despairs.
Now we can ask whether there is any action at all that does not breed conflict. Action is not an ideological concept of what action should be. Action is the very doing in the present. Action is never what has been or what will be. What has been is the memory of action, and what will be is the projection through the present of what has been. We think out an action and carry it out in the present, modifying it if necessary; so action is something which has been worked out by thought in the past for us. Action, therefore, is never in the present, it is always in the shadow of the past. This shadow is memory, experience and knowledge, an ideology or a concept of what action should be. And so action never is.
This division of action as the past in the present to produce a result in the future is the work of thought. Thought is the outcome of the past and so thought is always old. There is nothing new in thought, so when thought dominates action it ceases to be action but is only a result, an effect. But living, feeling, relationship are always in the present, the present being the active movement. So there is always a contradiction between what is and what has been, and so this action always produces conflict.
When one sees this whole structure of what we call action, with its resultant conflicts, one asks oneself whether action can spring not out of thought but out of a state of mind that is utterly quiet and silent. Only then can action be not a result, and so not productive of pain and sorrow.
The emptying of the mind of the past is meditation; and then action is meditation. After all, living is action in relationship. For the mind to free itself from the image of the past is the action of meditation.