You are here
Series I - Chapter 48 - 'Stimulation'
"THE MOUNTAINS HAVE made me silent," she said. "I went to the Engadine and its beauty made me utterly silent; I was speechless at the wonder of it all. It was a tremendous experience. I wish I could hold that silence, that living, vibrant, moving silence. When you talk of silence, I suppose you mean this extraordinary experience I have had. I really would like to know if you are referring to the same quality of silence as I experienced. The effect of this silence lasted for a considerable period, and now I go back to it, I try to recapture and live in it."
You are made silent by the Engadine, another by a beautiful human form, and another by a Master, by a book, or by drink. Through outward stimulation one is reduced to a sensation which one calls silence and which is extremely pleasurable. The effect of beauty and grandeur is to drive away one's daily problems and conflicts, which is a release. Through outward stimulation, the mind is made temporarily quiet; it is perhaps a new experience, a new delight, and the mind goes back to it as a remembrance when it is no longer experiencing it. To remain in the mountains is probably not possible, as one has to be back for business; but it is possible to seek that state of quietness through some other form of stimulation, through drink, through a person, or through an idea, which is what most of us do. These various forms of stimulation are the means through which the mind is made still; so the means become significant, important, and we become attached to them. Because the means give us the pleasure of silence, they become dominant in our lives; they are our vested interest, a psychological necessity which we defend and for which, if necessary, we destroy each other. The means take the place of experience, which is now only a memory. 3 Stimulations may vary, each having a significance according to the conditioning of the person. But there is a similarity in all stimulations: the desire to escape from what is, from our daily routine, from a relationship that is no longer alive, and from knowledge which is always becoming stale. You choose one kind of escape, I another, and my particular brand is always assumed to be more worth while than yours; but all escape, whether in the form of an ideal, the cinema, or the church, is harmful, leading to illusion and mischief. Psychological escapes are more harmful than the obvious ones, being more subtle and complex and therefore more difficult to discover. The silence that is brought about through stimulation, the silence that is made up through disciplines, control, resistances, positive or negative, is a result, an effect and so not creative; it is dead.
There is a silence which is not a reaction, a result; a silence which is not the outcome of stimulation, of sensation; a silence which is not put together, not a conclusion. It comes into being when the process of thought is understood. Thought is the response of memory, of determined conclusions, conscious or unconscious; this memory dictates action according to pleasure and pain. So ideas control action, and hence there is conflict between action and idea. This conflict is always with us, and as it intensifies there is an urge to be free from it; but until this conflict is understood and resolved, any attempt to be free from it is an escape. As long as action is approximating to an idea, conflict is inevitable. Only when action is free from idea does conflict cease.
"But how can action ever be free from idea? Surely there can be no action without there being ideation first. Action follows idea, and I cannot possibly imagine any action which is not the result of idea."
Idea is the outcome of memory; idea is the verbalization of memory; idea is an inadequate reaction to challenge, to life. Adequate response to life is action, not ideation. We respond ideationally in order to safeguard ourselves against action. Ideas limit action. There is safety in the field of ideas, but not in action; so action is made subservient to idea. Idea is the self-protective pattern for action. In intense crisis there is direct action, freed from idea. It is against this spontaneous action that the mind has disciplined itself; and as with most of us the mind is dominant, ideas act as a brake on action and hence there is friction between action and ideation.
"I find my mind wandering off to that happy experience of the Engadine. Is it an escape to relive that experience in memory?,"
Obviously. The actual is your life in the present: this crowded street, your business, your immediate relationships. If these were pleasing and gratifying, the Engadine would fade away; but as the actual is confusing and painful, you turn to an experience which is over and dead. You may remember that experience, but it is finished; you give it life only through memory. It is like pumping life into a dead thing. The present being dull, shallow, we turn to the past or look to a self-projected future. To escape from the present inevitably leads to illusion. To see the present as it actually is, without condemnation or justification, is to understand what is, and then there is action which brings about a transformation in what is.