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Part II - Chapter 8 - Conversation with parents and teachers

Part II - Chapter 8 - Conversation with parents and teachers

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Beginnings of Learning

MEDITATION IS NEVER the control of the body. There is no actual division between the organism and the mind. The brain, the nervous system and the thing we call the mind are all one, indivisible. It is the natural act of meditation that brings about the harmonious movement of the whole. To divide the body from the mind and to control the body with intellectual decisions is to bring about contradiction, from which arise various forms of struggle, conflict and resistance.

Every decision to control only breeds resistance, even the determination to be aware. Meditation is the understanding of the division brought about by decision. Freedom is not the act of decision but the act of perception. The seeing is the doing. It is not a determination to see and then to act. After all, will is desire with all its contradictions. When one desire assumes authority over another, that desire becomes will. In this there is inevitable division. And meditation is the understanding of desire, not the overcoming of one desire by another. Desire is the movement of sensation, which becomes pleasure and fear. This is sustained by the constant dwelling of thought upon one or the other. Meditation really is a complete emptying of the mind. Then there is only the functioning of the body; there is only the activity of the organism and nothing else; then thought functions without identification as the me and the not-me. Thought is mechanical, as is the organism. What creates conflict is thought identifying itself with one of its parts which becomes the me, the self and the various divisions in that self. There is no need for the self at any time. There is nothing but the body and freedom of the mind can happen only when thought is not breeding the me. There is no self to understand but only the thought that creates the self. When there is only the organism without the self, perception, both visual and non-visual, can never be distorted. There is only seeing 'what is' and that very perception goes beyond what is. The emptying of the mind is not an activity of thought or an intellectual process. The continuous seeing of what is without any kind of distortion naturally empties the mind of all thought and yet that very mind can use thought when it is necessary. Thought is mechanical and meditation is not.

It was very early and in the morning light two owls were sitting in the tamarind tree. They were small ones and always seemed to go in pairs. They had been crying all night, off and on, and one came to the window-sill and called to the other with a rattling note. The two on the branch had their hole in the tree. They were often there in the morning before they retired for the day, sitting there very grey and silent. Presently one would gently withdraw and disappear into the hole and the other would follow, but they made no noise. They only talked and rattled in the night. The tamarind tree not only sheltered the owls but also many parrots. It was a huge tree in the garden overlooking the river. There were vultures, crows and the green-golden flycatchers. The flycatchers would often come to the window-sill on the veranda, but you have to sit very still and not even move your eyes. They had a curious curving flight and they kept to themselves, unlike the crows that pestered the vultures. There were monkeys too that morning. They had been there in the distance but now they had all come closer to the house. They remained for a few days and after they left there was a lonely male who appeared every morning on the tallest of the tamarinds. He would climb to the highest branch and sit there looking at the river, at the villagers passing by and the cattle grazing. As the sun grew warmer, he would climb down slowly and disappear, and the next morning he would again be there as the sun came over the trees, making a golden path on the river. For two whole weeks he was there, lonely, aloof, watching. He had no companion and one morning he disappeared.

The students had returned. One of the boys asked, "Mustn't one obey one's parents? After all, they brought me up, they are educating me. Without money I couldn't come to this school, so they are responsible for me and I am responsible to them. It is this feeling of responsibility that makes me feel I must obey them. After all, they may know much better than I do what is good for me. They want me to be an engineer."

Do you want to be an engineer? Or are you merely studying engineering because your parents want it? "I don't know what I want to do. Most of us in this room don't know what we want to do. We have government scholarships. We can take any subject we like but our parents and society say that engineering is a good profession. They need engineers. But when you ask us what we want to do we become rather uncertain and this is confusing and disturbing."

You said that your parents are responsible for you and that you must obey them. You know what is happening in the West where there is no parental authority any more. There the young people don't want any authority, though they have their own peculiar kind. Does responsibility demand authority, obedience, accepting the wishes of parents or the demands of society? Doesn't responsibility mean having the capacity for rational conduct? Your parents think that you are not capable of this and so they feel called upon to watch over your behaviour, what you do, what you study and what you might become. Their idea of moral conduct is based upon their conditioning, upon their education, upon their beliefs, fears and pleasures. The past generation has built a social structure and they want you to conform to that structure. They think it is moral and they feel they know much more than you do. And you in your turn, if you conform will see that your children also conform. So gradually the authority of conformity becomes moral excellence. Is that what you are asking when you wonder if you should obey your parents?

You see what this obeying means? When you are very young you hear what your parents tell you. The constant repetition of your hearing what they say establishes the act of obedience. So obedience becomes mechanical. It is like a soldier who hears an order over and over again and complies, becomes subservient. And that is how most of us live. That is propaganda, both religious and worldly. So you see, a habit has been formed from childhood of hearing what your parents have told you, of what you have read. So hearing becomes the means of obedience. And now you are faced with the problem of whether you should obey or not obey: obey what others have said or obey your own urges. You want to hear what your desires say and that very hearing will make you obey your desires. Out of this arises opposition and resistance. So when you ask whether you should obey your parents there is a fear that if you didn't obey you might go wrong and that they might not give you money to be educated. In obedience there is always fear, and fear darkens the mind.

So instead of asking that question, find out if you can talk to your parents rationally and also find out what it means to hear. Can you hear without any fear what they say? And can you also listen to your own urges and desires without fear of going wrong? If you can listen quietly without fear you will find out for yourself whether you should obey, not only your parents, but every form of authority. You see, we have been educated in a most absurd way. We have never been taught the act of learning. A lot of information is poured into our heads and we develop a very small part of the brain which will help us to earn a livelihood. The rest of the brain is neglected. It is like the cultivation of a corner in a vast field and the rest of the field stays overgrown with weeds, thistles and thorns.

So now, how are you listening or hearing what we are saying? Will this hearing make you obey or will it make you intelligent, aware not only of the small corner but of the whole vast field? Neither your teachers nor your parents are concerned with the greatness of the field with all its content. But they are intensely, insanely concerned with the corner. The corner seems to give security and that is their concern. You may revolt against it - and people are doing this - but again those in revolt are concerned only with their piece of the corner. And so it goes on. So can you hear without obedience, without following? If you can, there will be sensitivity and concern for the whole field and this concern brings about intelligence. It is this intelligence which will act instead of the mechanical habit of obedience.

"Oh," said a girl, "but our parents love us. They don't want any harm for us. It is out of love they want us to obey, tell us what studies we must take, how to shape our lives."

Every parent says he loves his children. It is only the abnormal who hates his children or the abnormal child that really hates his parents. Every parent throughout the world says he loves his children, but does he? Love implies care, great concern not only when they are young, but to see that they have the right kind of education, that they are not killed in wars, and to see to a change in the social structure with its absurd morality. If the parents have love for their children they will see that they do not conform; they will see that they learn instead of imitate. If they really love them they will bring about vast changes so that you can live sanely, happily and securely. Not only you in this room but everyone all over the world. Love doesn't demand conformity. Love offers freedom. Not what you want to do, which is generally very shallow, petty and mean, but to understand, to listen freely, to listen without the poison of conformity. Do you think if parents really loved, that there would be war? From childhood you are taught to dislike your neighbour, told you are different from somebody else. You are brought up in prejudice so that when you grow up you become violent, aggressive, self-centred, and the whole cycle is repeated over again. So learn what it means to hear; learn to listen freely without accepting or denying, without conformity or resistance. Then you will know what to do. Then you will find out what goodness is and how it flowers. And it will never flower in any corner: it flowers only in the vast field of life, in the action of the whole field.