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Part II - Chapter 6 - Conversation with parents and teachers

Part II - Chapter 6 - Conversation with parents and teachers

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Beginnings of Learning

THERE IS NO sequence in meditation. There is no continuity for this implies time and space and action within that. Our whole psychological activity is within the field of time and space and from this follows action which is always incomplete. Our mind is conditioned to the acceptance of time and space. From here to there, the chain of this and that, is time-sequence. In this movement action will bring about contradiction and therefore conflict. This is our life. Can action ever be free of time, so that there are neither regrets nor anticipation, the backward and forward looking of action? Seeing is acting. It is not first understanding and then acting, but rather seeing which in itself is action. In this there is no element of time, so the mind is always free. Time and space are the way of thought which builds and nourishes the self, the me and the not-me, with all its demands for fulfilment, its resistance and fear of being hurt.

On this morning the quality of meditation was nothingness, the total emptiness of time and space. It is a fact and not an idea or the paradox of opposing speculations. One finds this strange emptiness when the root of all problems withers away. This root is thought, the thought that divides and holds. In meditation the mind actually becomes empty of the past, though it can use the past as thought. This goes on throughout the day and at night sleep is the emptiness of yesterday and therefore the mind touches that which is timeless.

The young man with the beard and very long hair said, "I am an idealist who is a revolutionary. I don't want to wait for the slow progress of humanity. I want a radical change as quickly as possible. There are appalling social injustices among both blacks and whites, among all minorities, and of course the politicians as they now are, are corrupt, self-seeking in the name of democracy, and hypocritical. I am violent by nature and I cannot see anyway except through violence to bring about a radical change in the social structure. I am an idealist in the sense that we will tear down the mess and let something new grow. The new is our ideal. I don't know what it will be, but as we destroy the old, we will find out. I know what you think of violence but this is neither here nor there. Most people in the world are already violent, full of antagonisms and we will use that to pull down the Establishment and make a new society. We are for freedom. We want to be free to express ourselves; each one must fulfil himself, and the present society denies all this. We are, of course, against all religions."

The idealist who is also a revolutionary, though he may talk convincingly about freedom, inevitably will bring about a dictatorship of the few or of the many. He will also create a personal cult and destroy totally every form of freedom. You may have observed this in the French and Russian revolutions. Your ideal which may come out of the ashes of the present structure will only be speculative and theoretical and on this speculative Utopia - call it what you like - you want to build a new society. This is what all the physical revolutionaries have done. They start off with equality, social justice, the withering of the state and so on, and end up with a tyrannical bureaucracy, insistence on conformity and the exercise of authority in the name of the state. Surely this is not what you want. You feel or think that through the destruction of the present social structure, you will find as you go along, without having a blueprint, a new structure which you think will have social justice, freedom for all, economic equality and so on. You hope to produce all this through violence. Violence can only breed more violence. You may be able through violence to destroy present systems but it will breed resistance and deep-rooted unwillingness to co-operate.

It appears you all want quick changes only outwardly. You want to end wars immediately, with which most of us agree, but as long as there are divisions of nationalities, of religious beliefs with their dogmas, there must be conflict. Any form of division will breed antagonism and hatred. We want to change the surface of things without going to the very heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is education. It is the total understanding of man and not an emphasis on one fragment of his life - whether it be technology or earning a livelihood.

We see that you are not listening to all this. If one may point it out, all the enthusiasts for outward change always brush aside the more fundamental issues. "What you say may be so, but all that will take time and we haven't time now to be properly educated. We must change the structure first in order to have proper education."

The postponement of fundamental questions makes for a greater superficiality of life, of everyday existence, and leads to various forms of escape, including violence - escapes through so-called religions, through entertainment. We are not dividing the outer and the inner. We are concerned with the total movement of life and education is part of this. As it is now, in almost every country there is some sort of military service. Instead of that it should be part of education to work in the social field. But this too is not the fundamental issue.

"You are not convincing me. You haven't shown me what to do and how to act in this murderous world."

We are not trying to convince you of anything. We are pointing to certain facts, certain truths which are neither yours nor mine. We are saying that to bring about a radical change in the social structure, fundamental questions must be answered; and in the very asking is the answer. The answer is the action; not in some distant future, but now. That is the greatest revolution. The greatest and the only revolution. To that you reply: we haven't time, we want to change the social structure immediately. If we may point it out, this reply is utterly immature. Man is not merely a social machine. He is concerned with love, concerned with sex, with fears. Yet without taking all that into account, you hope by transforming the scaffolding of the social structure to bring about a radical change. The activist is the extrovert. But what we are concerned with is neither extrovert nor introvert - which again is a very superficial division. What really concerns us is the change of the human mind. If this is not deeply understood, your revolution will be a reform and like every reform will need further reform.

"I'm bored with all this." A tall clean-shaven young man, in sloppy clothes spoke. "I'm not interested in this at all. But what does interest me - not as an escape - is really to find out what meditation is. Can we go into that?"

Sirs, you see how divided we all are. One occupied with your physical revolution, another with sex, another with art or writing, and another with the understanding of truth. All these fragmentations make man self-centred, confused and miserable. And you with your revolution hope to solve all these problems by changing the superficial structure. To that you will probably reply: change the environment and man will be different. But again that is only a partial answer, or the statement of a partial fact. We are concerned with the total understanding of man. And this is meditation. Meditation is not an escape from 'what is'. It is the understanding of it and going beyond it. Without understanding 'what is', meditation becomes merely a form of self-hypnosis and escape into visions and imaginative flights of fancy. Meditation is the understanding of the whole activity of thought which brings into being the "me", the self, the ego, as a fact. Then thought tries to understand the image which it has created, as though that self were something permanent. This self again divides itself into the higher and the lower and this division in turn brings conflict, misery and confusion. The knowing of the self is one thing and the understanding of how the self comes into being, is another. One presupposes the existence of the self as a permanent entity. The other, through observation, learns how the self is put together by thought. So the understanding of thought, its ways and its subtleties, its activities and its divisions, is the beginning of meditation. But if you consider the self a permanent entity, you are studying a self which is non-existent, for it is merely a bundle of memories, words and experiences. So self-knowing is not the knowledge of the self but seeing how the self has been put together and how this makes for the fragmentation of life. One must see very clearly this misunderstanding. There is no permanent self about which to learn. But learning about the ways of thought and its activities is to dissipate self-centred activity. This is the foundation of meditation. Without understanding this deeply and radically, meditation becomes merely a game for the foolish, with their absurd little visions, fanciful experiences and the mischief of power. This foundation implies awareness, the observation of what is, without any choice, to see without any prejudice actually what is going on, both outwardly and inwardly, without any control or decision. This attention is action which is not something separate by itself; for life is action. You don't have to become an activist, which again is a fragmentation of life. If we are really concerned with total action, not a fragmentary one, then total action comes with total attention, which is to see actually 'what is' both inwardly and outwardly. And that very seeing is the doing.

"But don't you need training in this? Some method to practise so as to become attentive, so as to become sensitive?"

That is what so-called schools of meditation offer, which is really quite absurd. Method implies a mechanical repetition of words, or of control, or of conformity. In this repetition the mind becomes mechanical. A mind that is mechanical is not sensitive. In seeing the truth of this mechanical process the mind is liberated and therefore is sensitive. The seeing is the attention. "But," said the young man, "I can't see clearly. How am I to do this?"

To see clearly there must be no choice, no prejudice, no resistance or escape. Find out if you have escapes, if you are choosing, if you have prejudices. Understand this. Then the mind can observe very clearly not only the skies, the world, but what is going on within you - the self. "But doesn't meditation bring about extraordinary experiences?"

Extraordinary experiences are totally irrelevant and dangerous. The mind being surfeited with experience wants wider, greater, more transcendent experience. The more is the enemy of the good. The good flowers only in the understanding of 'what is', not in wanting more or greater experiences. In meditation there are certain things that do happen, for which there are no words; and if you talk about them, then they are not the real.