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Series I - Chapter 61 - ‘The Desire for Bliss’
THE SINGLE TREE on the wide green lawn was the centre of the little world which included the woods, the house and the small lake; the whole surrounding area seemed to flow towards the tree, which was high and spreading. It must have been very old, but there was a freshness about it, as though it had just come into being; there were hardly any dead branches, and its leaves were spotless, glistening in the morning sun. Because it was alone, all things seemed to come to it. Deer and pheasants, rabbits and cattle congregated in its shade, especially at midday. The symmetrical beauty of that tree gave a shape to the sky, and in the early morning light the tree appeared to be the only thing that was living. From the woods, the tree seemed far away; but from the tree, the woods, the house and even the sky seemed close – one often felt one could touch the passing clouds.
We had been seated under the tree for some time, when he came to join us. He was seriously interested in meditation, and said that he had practiced it for many years. He did not belong to any particular school of thought, and though he had read many of the Christian mystics, he was more attracted to the meditations and disciplines of the Hindu and Buddhist saints. He had realized early, he continued, the immaturity of asceticism, with its peculiar fascination and cultivation of power through abstinence, and he had from the beginning avoided all extremes. He had, however, practised discipline, an unvarying self-control, and was determined to realize that which lay through and beyond meditation. He had led what was considered to be a strict moral life, but that was only a minor incident, nor was he attracted to the ways of the world. He had once played with worldly things, but the play was over some years ago. He had a job of sorts, but that too was quite incidental.
The end of meditation is meditation itself. The search for something through and beyond meditation is end-gaining; and that which is gained is again lost. Seeking a result is the continuation of self-projection; result, however lofty, is the projection of desire. Meditation as a means to arrive, to gain, to discover, only gives strength to the meditator. The meditator is the meditation; meditation is the understanding of the meditator.
“I meditate to find ultimate reality, or to allow that reality to manifest itself. It is not exactly a result I am seeking, but that bliss which occasionally one senses. It is there; and as a thirsty man craves for water, I want that inexpressible happiness. That bliss is infinitely greater than all joy, and I pursue it as my most cherished desire.”
That is, you meditate to gain what you want. To attain what you desire, you strictly discipline yourself, follow certain rules and regulations; you lay out and follow a course in order to have that which is at the end of it. You hope to achieve certain results, certain well-marked stages, depending upon your persistence of effort, and progressively experience greater and greater joy. This well-laid-out course assures you of the final result. So your meditation is a very calculated affair, is it not?
“When you put it that way, it does seem, in the superficial sense, rather absurd; but deeply, what is wrong with it? What is wrong essentially with seeking that bliss? I suppose I do want a result for all my efforts; but again, why shouldn’t one?”
This desire for bliss implies that bliss is something final, everlasting, does it not? All other results have been unsatisfactory; one has ardently pursued worldly goals and has seen their transient nature, and now one wants the everlasting state, an end that has no ending. The mind is seeking a final and imperishable refuge; so it disciplines and trains itself, practises certain virtues to gain what it wants. It may once have experienced that bliss, and now it is panting after it like other pursuers of results, you are pursuing yours, only you have placed it at a different level; you may call it higher, but that is irrelevant. A result means an ending; arrival implies another effort to become. The mind is never at rest, it is always striving, always achieving, always gaining – and, of course, always in fear of losing. This process is called meditation. Can a mind which is caught in endless becoming be aware of bliss? Can a mind that has imposed discipline upon itself ever be free to receive that bliss? Through effort and struggle, through resistance and denials, the mind makes itself insensitive; and can such a mind be open and vulnerable? Through the desire for that bliss, have you not built a wall around yourself which the imponderable, the unknown, cannot penetrate? Have you not effectively shut yourself off from the new? Out of the old, you have made a path for the new; and can the new be contained in the old?
The mind can never create the new; the mind itself is a result, and all results are an outcome of the old. Results can never be new; the pursuit of a result can never be spontaneous; that which is free cannot pursue an end. The goal, the ideal, is always a projection of the mind, and surely that is not meditation. Meditation is the freeing of the meditator; in freedom alone is there discovery, sensitivity to receive. Without freedom, there can be no bliss; but freedom does not come through discipline. Discipline makes the pattern of freedom, but the pattern is not freedom. The pattern must be broken for freedom to be. The breaking of the mould is meditation. But this breaking of the mould is not a goal, a ideal. The mould is broken from moment to moment. The broken moment is the forgotten moment. It is the remembered moment that gives shape to the mould, and only then does the maker of the mould come into being, the creator of all problems, conflicts, miseries.
Meditation is freeing the mind of its own thoughts at all levels. Thought creates the thinker. The thinker is not separate from thought; they are a unitary process, and not two separate processes. The separate processes only lead to ignorance and illusion. The meditator is the meditation. Then the mind is alone, not made alone; it is silent, not made silent. Only to the alone can the causeless come, only to the alone is there bliss.