You are here

Series I - Chapter 80 - 'Satisfaction'

THE SKY WAS heavy with clouds and the day was warm, though the breeze was playing with the leaves. There was distant thunder, and a sprinkling of rain was laying the dust on the road. The parrots were flying about wildly, screeching their little heads off, and a big eagle was sitting on the topmost branch of a tree, preening itself and watching all the play that was going on down below. A small monkey was sitting on another branch, and the two of them watched each other at a safe distance. Presently a crow joined them. After its morning toilet the eagle remained very still for a while, and then flew off. Except for the human beings, it was a new day; nothing was like yesterday. The trees and the parrots were not the same; the grass and the shrubs had a wholly different quality. The remembrance of yesterday only darkens today, and comparison prevents perception. How lovely were those red and yellow flowers ! Loveliness is not of time. We carry our burdens from day to day, and there is never a day without the shadow of many yesterdays. Our days are one continuous movement, yesterday mingling with today and tomorrow; there is never an ending. We are frightened of ending; but without ending, how can there be the new? Without death, how can there be life? And how little we know of either! We have all the words, the explanations, and they satisfy us. Words distort ending, and there is ending only when the word is not. The ending that is of words we know; but the ending without words, the silence that is not of words, we never know. To know is memory; memory is ever continuous, and desire is the thread that binds day to day. The end of desire is the new. Death is the new, and life as continuance is only memory, an empty thing. With the new, life and death are one.

A boy was walking with long strides, singing as he walked. He smiled at all those he passed and seemed to have many friends. He was ill-clad, with a dirty cloth around his head, but he had a shining face and bright eyes. With his rapid strides he passed a fat man wearing a cap. The fat man waddled, head down, worried and anxious. He did not hear the song the boy was singing, nor even glance at the singer. The boy strode on through the big gates; passing the beautiful gardens and crossing the bridge over the river, he rounded a bend towards the sea, where he was joined by some companions, and as darkness gathered they all began to sing together. The lights of a car lit up their faces, and their eyes were deep with unknown pleasures. It was raining heavily now, and everything was dripping wet.

He was a doctor not only of medicine but also of psychology. Thin, quiet and self-contained, he had come from across the seas, and had been long enough in this country to be used to the sun and the heavy rains. He had worked, he said, as a doctor and psychologist during the war, and had helped as much as his capacity allowed, but he was dissatisfied with what he had given. He wanted to give much more, to help much more deeply; what he gave was so little, and there was something missing in it all.

We sat without a word for a long period while he gathered the pressures of his distress. Silence is an odd thing. Thought does not make for silence, nor does it build it up. Silence cannot be put together, nor does it come with the action of will. Remembrance of silence is not silence. Silence was there in the room with throbbing stillness, and the talk did not disturb if. The talk had meaning in that silence, and silence was the background of the word. Silence gave expression to thought, but the thought was not silence. Thinking was not, but silence was; and silence penetrated, gathered and gave expression. Thinking can never penetrate, and in silence there is communion.

The doctor was saying that he was dissatisfied with everything: with his work, with his capacities, with all the ideas he had so carefully cultivated. He had tried the various schools of thought, and was dissatisfied with them all. During the many months since he had arrived here, he had been to various teachers, but had come away with still greater dissatisfaction. He had tried many isms, including cynicism, but dissatisfaction was still there.

Is it that you are seeking satisfaction and have not so far found it? Is the desire for satisfaction causing discontent? Searching implies the known. You say you are dissatisfied, and yet you are searching; you are looking for satisfaction, and you have not yet found it. You want satisfaction, which means that you are not dissatisfied. If you were really dissatisfied with everything, you would not be seeking a way out of it. Dissatisfaction which seeks to be satisfied soon finds what it wants in some kind of relationship with possessions, with a person, or with some ism.

"I have been through all that yet I am completely dissatisfied."

You may be dissatisfied with outward relationships, but perhaps you are seeking some psychological attachment that will give full satisfaction. "I have been through that too, but I am still dissatisfied."

I wonder if you really are? If you were wholly discontented, there would be no movement in any particular direction, would there? If you are thoroughly dissatisfied with being in a room, you do not seek a bigger room with nicer furniture; yet this desire to find a better room is what you call dissatisfaction. You are not dissatisfied with all rooms, but only with this particular one, from which you want to escape. Your dissatisfaction arises from not having found complete satisfaction. You are really seeking gratification, so you are constantly on the move, judging, comparing, weighing, denying; and naturally you are dissatisfied. Is this not so?

"It looks that way, doesn't it?"

So you are really not dissatisfied; it is simply that you have not so far been able to find complete and lasting satisfaction in anything. That is what you want: complete satisfaction, some deep inner contentment that will endure. "But I want to help, and this discontent prevents me from giving myself to it completely."

Your goal is to help and to find complete gratification in it. You really do not want to help, but to find satisfaction in helping. You look for gratification in helping, another looks for it in some ism, and yet another in some kind of addiction. You are looking for a completely satisfying drug which for the time being you call helping. In seeking to equip yourself to help, you are equipping yourself to be completely gratified. What you really want is lasting self-gratification.

With most of us, discontent finds an easy contentment. Discontent is soon put to sleep; it is soon drugged, made quiet and respectable. Outwardly you may have finished with all isms, but psychologically, deep down, you are seeking something that you can hold on to. You say you have finished with all personal relationship with another. It may be that in personal relationship you have not found lasting gratification, and so you are seeking relationship with an idea, which is always self-projected. In the search for a relationship that will be completely gratifying, for a secure refuge that will weather all storms, do you not lose the very thing that brings contentment? Contentment, perhaps, is an ugly word, but real contentment does not imply stagnation, reconciliation, appeasement, insensitivity. Contentment is the understanding of what is, and what is is never static. A mind that is interpreting, translating what is, is caught in its own prejudice of satisfaction. Interpretation is not understanding.

With the understanding of what is comes inexhaustible love, tenderness, humility. Perhaps that is what you are in search of; but that cannot be sought and found. Do what you will, you will never find it. It is there when all search has come to an end. You can search only for that which you already know, which is more gratification. Searching and watching are two different processes; one is binding, and the other brings understanding. Search, having always an end in view, is ever binding; passive watchfulness brings understanding of what is from moment to moment. In the what is from moment to moment there is ever an ending; in search there is continuity. Search can never find the new; only in ending is there the new. The new is the inexhaustible. Love alone is ever renewing.