You are here
Rome - 30th Entry - 20th October 1973
It is the oldest living thing on the earth. It is gigantic in proportion, in its height and vast trunk. Among other redwood trees, which were also very old, this one was towering over them all; other trees had been touched by fire but this one had no marks on it. It had lived through all the ugly things of history, through all the wars of the world, through all the mischief and sorrow of man, through fire and lightning, through all the storms of time, untouched, majestic and utterly alone, with immense dignity. There had been fires but the bark of these redwood trees were able to resist them and survive. The noisy tourists had not come yet and you could be alone with this great silent one; it soared up to the heavens as you sat under it, vast and timeless. Its very years gave it the dignity of silence and the aloofness of great age. It was as silent as your mind was, as still as your heart, and living without the burden of time. You were aware of compassion that time had never touched and of innocency that had never known hurt and sorrow. You sat there and time passed you by and it would never come back. There was immortality, for death had never been. Nothing existed except that immense tree, the clouds and the earth. You went to that tree and sat down with it and every day for many days it was a benediction of which you were only aware when you wandered away. You could never come back to it asking for more; there was never the more, the more was in the valley far below. Because it was not a man-made shrine, there was unfathomable sacredness which would never again leave you, for it was not yours.
In the early morning when the sun had not yet touched the tops of the trees, the deer and the bear were there; we watched each other, wide-eyed and wondering; the earth was common to us and fear was absent. The blue jays and the red squirrels would come soon; the squirrel was tame and friendly. You had nuts in your pocket and it took them out of your hand; when the squirrel had had enough the two jays would hop down from the branches and the scolding would stop. And the day began.
Sensuality in the world of pleasure has become very important. Taste dictates and soon the habit of pleasure takes hold; though it may harm the whole organism, pleasure dominates. Pleasure of the senses, of cunning and subtle thought, of words and of the images of mind and hand is the culture of education, the pleasure of violence and the pleasure of sex. Man is moulded to the shape of pleasure, and all existence, religious or otherwise, is the pursuit of it. The wild exaggerations of pleasure are the outcome of moral and intellectual conformity. When the mind is not free and aware, then sensuality becomes a factor of corruption which is what is going on in the modern world. Pleasure of money and sex dominate. When man has become a second-hand human being, the expression of sensuality is his freedom. Then love is pleasure and desire. Organized entertainment, religious or commercial, makes for social and personal immorality; you cease to be responsible. Responding wholly to any challenge is to be responsible, totally committed. This cannot be when the very essence of thought is fragmentary and the pursuit of pleasure, in all its obvious and subtle forms, is the principal movement of existence. Pleasure is not joy; joy and pleasure are entirely different things; the one is uninvited and the other cultivated, nurtured; the one comes when the "me" is not and the other is time-binding; where the one is the other is not. Pleasure, fear and violence run together; they are inseparable companions. Learning from observation is action, the doing is the seeing.
In the evening when the darkness was approaching, the jays and the squirrels had gone to bed. The evening star was just visible and the noises of the day and memory had come to an end. These giant sequoias were motionless. They will go on beyond time. Only man dies and the sorrow of it.