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Series I - Chapter 66 - 'Cessation of Thought'

Series I - Chapter 66 - 'Cessation of Thought'

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Commentaries on Living

HE WAS A scholar, well versed in the ancient literature, and made a practice of quoting from the ancients to top off his own thoughts. One wondered if he really had any thoughts independent of the books. Of course, there is no independent thought; all thought is dependent, conditioned. Thought is the verbalization of influences. To think is to be dependent; thought can never be free. But he was concerned with learning; he was burdened with knowledge and carried it highly. He began right away talking in Sanskrit, and was very surprised and even somewhat shocked to find that Sanskrit was not at all understood. He could hardly believe it. "What you say at the various meetings shows that you have either read extensively in Sanskrit, or have studied the translations of some of the great teachers," he said. When he found it was not so, and that there had not been any reading of religious, philosophical I or psychological books, he was openly incredulous.

It is odd what importance we give to the printed word, to so-called sacred books. The scholars, as the laymen, are gramophones; they go on repeating, however often the records may be changed. They are concerned with knowledge, and not with experiencing. Knowledge is an impediment to experiencing. But knowledge is a safe haven, the preserve of a few; and as the ignorant are impressed by knowledge, the knower is respected and honoured. Knowledge is an addiction, as drink; knowledge does not bring understanding. Knowledge can be taught, but not wisdom; there must be freedom from knowledge for the coming of wisdom. Knowledge is not the coin for the purchase of wisdom; but the man who has entered the refuge of knowledge does not venture out, for the word feeds his thought and he is gratified with thinking. Thinking is an impediment to experiencing; and there is no wisdom without experiencing. Knowledge, idea, belief, stand in the way of wisdom.

An occupied mind is not free, spontaneous, and only in spontaneity can there be discovery. An occupied mind is self-enclosing; it is unapproachable, not vulnerable, and therein lies its security. Thought, by its very structure, is self-isolating; it cannot be made vulnerable. Thought cannot be spontaneous, it can never be free. Thought is the continuation of the past, and that which continues cannot be free. There is freedom only in ending.

An occupied mind creates what it is working on. It can turn out the bullock cart or the jet plane. We can think we are stupid, and we are stupid. We can think we are God, and we are our own conception: "I am That." "But surely it is better to be occupied with the things of God than with the things of the world, is it not?"

What we think, we are; but it is the understanding of the process of thought that is important, and not what we think about. Whether we think about God, or about drink, is not important; each has its particular effect, but in both cases thought is occupied with its own self-projection. Ideas, ideals, goals, and so on, are all the projections or extensions of thought. To be occupied with one's own projections, at whatever level, is to worship the self. The Self with a capital "S" is still a projection of thought. Whatever thought is occupied with, that it is; and what it is, is nothing else but thought. So it is important to understand the thought process.

Thought is response to challenge, is it not? Without challenge, there is no thought. The process of challenge and response is experience; and experience verbalized is thought. Experience is not only of the past, but also of the past in conjunction with the present; it is the conscious as well as the hidden. This residue of experience is memory, influence; and the response of memory, of the past is thought.

"But is that all there is to thought? Are there not greater depths to thought than the mere response of memory?"

Thought can and does place itself at different levels, the stupid and the profound, the noble and the base; but it is still thought, is it not? The God of thought is still of the mind, of the word. The thought of God is not God, it is merely the response of memory. Memory is long-lasting, and so may appear to be deep; but by its very structure it can never be deep. Memory may be concealed, not in immediate view, but that does not make it profound. Thought can never be profound, or anything more than what it is. Thought can give to itself greater value, but it remains thought. When the mind is occupied with its own self-projection, it has not gone beyond thought, it has only assumed a new role, a new pose; under the cloak it is still thought.

"But how can one go beyond thought?"

That is not the point, is it? One cannot go beyond thought, for the "one," the maker of effort, is the result of thought. In uncovering the thought process, which is self-knowledge, the truth of what is puts an end to the thought process. The truth of what is is not to be found in any book, ancient or modern. What is found is the word, but not truth. "Then how is one to find truth?"

One cannot find it. The effort to find truth brings about a self-projected end; and that end is not truth. A result is not truth; result is the continuation of thought, extended or projected. Only when thought ends is there truth. There is no ending of thought through compulsion, through discipline, through any form of resistance. Listening to the story of what is brings its own liberation. It is truth that liberates, not the effort to be free.