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Series I - Chapter 37 - 'Idea and Fact'

Series I - Chapter 37 - 'Idea and Fact'

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Commentaries on Living

SHE HAD BEEN married for a number of years, but had had no children; she was unable to have them, and was gravely disturbed by this fact. Her sisters had children, and why was she cursed? She had been married quite young, as was the custom, and had seen a lot of suffering; but she had known quiet joy too. Her husband was some kind of bureaucrat in a big corporation or Government department. He too was concerned about their not having children, but it appeared that he was becoming reconciled to this fact; and besides, she added, he was a very busy man. One could see that she dominated him, though not too heavily. She leaned on him, and so she could not help dominating him. Since she had no children, she was trying to fulfil herself in him; but in this she was disappointed, for he was weak and she had to take charge of things. In the office, she said smilingly, he was considered a stickler, a tyrant who threw his weight around; but at home he was mild and easy going. She wanted him to fit into a certain pattern, and she was forcing him, of course very gently, into her mould; but he was not coming up to scratch. She had nobody to lean on and give her love to.

The idea is more important to us than the fact; the concept of what one should be has more significance than what one is. The future is always more alluring than the present. The image, the symbol, is of greater worth than the actual; and on the actual we try to superimpose the idea, the pattern. So we create a contradiction between what is and what should be. What should be is the idea, the fiction, and so there is a conflict between the actual and the illusion - not in themselves, but in us. We like the illusion better than the actual; the idea is more appealing, more satisfying, and so we cling to it. Thus the illusion becomes the real and the actual becomes the false, and in this conflict between the so-called real and the so-called false we are caught.

Why do we cling to the idea, deliberately or unconsciously, and put aside the actual? The idea, the pattern, is self-projected; it is a form of self-worship, of self-perpetuation, and hence gratifying. The idea gives power to dominate, to be assertive, to guide, to shape; and in the idea, which is self-projected, there is never the denial of the self, the disintegration of the self. So the pattern or idea enriches the self; and this is also considered to be love. I love my son or my husband and I want him to be this or that, I want him to be something other than he is.

If we are to understand what is, the pattern or idea must be put aside. To set aside the idea becomes difficult only when there is no urgency in the understanding of what is. Conflict exists in us between the idea and what is because the self-projected idea offers greater satisfaction than what is. It is only when what is, the actual, has to be faced that the pattern is broken; so it is not a matter of how to be free from the idea, but of how to face the actual. It is possible to face the actual only when there is an understanding of the process of gratification, the way of the self.

We all seek self-fulfilment, though in many different ways: through money or power, through children or husband, through country or idea, through service or sacrifice, through domination or submission. But is there self-fulfilment? The object of fulfilment is ever self-projected, self-chosen, so this craving to fulfil is a form of self-perpetuation. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the way of self-fulfilment is self-chosen, it is based on the desire for gratification, which must be permanent; so the search for self-fulfilment is the search for the permanency of desire. Desire is ever transient, it has no fixed abode; it may perpetuate for a time the object to which it clings, but desire in itself has no permanency. We are instinctively aware of this, and so we try to make permanent the idea, the belief, the thing, the relationship; but as this also is impossible, there is the creation of the experiencer as a permanent essence, the "I" separate and different from desire, the thinker separate and different from his thoughts. This separation is obviously false, leading to illusion.

The search for permanency is the everlasting cry of self-fulfilment; but the self can never fulfil, the self is impermanent, and that in which it fulfils must also he impermanent. Self-continuity is decay; in it there is no transforming element nor the breath of the new. The self must end for the new to be. The self is the idea, the pattern, the bundle of memories; and each fulfilment is the further continuity of idea, of experience. Experience is always conditioning; the experiencer is ever separating and differentiating himself from experience. So there must be freedom from experience, from the desire to experience. Fulfilment is the way of covering up inward poverty, emptiness, and in fulfilment there is sorrow and pain.