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Series I - Chapter 86 - 'To See the False as the False'

Series I - Chapter 86 - 'To See the False as the False'

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Commentaries on Living

IT WAS A beautiful evening. The sky was flaming red behind the rice fields, and the tall, slender palms were swaying in the breeze. The bus loaded with people was making a lot of noise as it climbed the little hill, and the river wound round the hill as it made its way to the sea. The cattle were fat, the vegetation was thick, and there was an abundance of flowers. plump little boys were playing in a field, and the little girls looked on with astonished eyes. There was a small shrine nearby, and someone was lighting a lamp in front of the image. In a solitary house the evening prayers were being said, and the room was lighted by a lamp which was not too bright. The whole family had gathered there, and they all seemed to be enjoying their prayers. A dog was fast asleep in the middle of the road, and a cyclist went round it. It was getting dark now, and the fireflies lit up the faces of the people who silently passed by. One was caught in a woman's hair, giving her head a soft glow.

How kind we naturally are, especially away from the towns, in the fields and the small villages! Life is more intimate among the less educated, where the fever of ambition has not yet spread. The boy smiles at you, the old woman wonders, the man hesitates and passes by. A group stops its loud talk and turns to look with surprised interest, and a woman waits for you to pass her. We know so little of ourselves; we know, but we do not understand; we know, but we have no communion with another. We do not know ourselves. And how can we know another? We can never know another, we can only commune with another. We can know the dead, but never the living; what we know is the dead past, not the living. To be aware of the living, we must bury the dead in ourselves. We know the names of trees, of bird, of shops, but what do we know of ourselves beyond some words and appetites? We have information, conclusions about so many things; but there is no happiness, no peace that is not stagnant. Our lives are dull and empty, or so full of words and activity that it blinds us. Knowledge is not wisdom, and without wisdom there is no peace, no happiness.

He was a young man, a professor of some kind, dissatisfied, worried and burdened with responsibilities. He began by narrating his troubles, the weary lot of man. He had been well educated, he said - which was mostly a matter of knowing how to read and gathering information from books. He stated that he had been to as many of the talks as he could, and went on to explain that for years he had been trying to give up smoking, but had never been able to give it up entirely. He wanted to give it up because it was expensive as well as stupid. He had done everything he could to stop smoking, but had always come back to it. This was one of his problems, among others. He was intense, nervous and thin.

Do we understand anything if we condemn it? To push it away, or to accept it, is easy; but the very condemnation or acceptance is an avoidance of the problem. To condemn a child is to push him away from you in order not to be bothered by him; but the child is still there. To condemn is to disregard, to pay no attention; and there can be no understanding through condemnation. "I have condemned myself for smoking, over and over again. It is difficult not to condemn."

Yes, it is difficult not to condemn, for our conditioning is based on denial, justification, comparison and resignation. This is our background, the conditioning with which we approach every problem. This very conditioning breeds the problem, the conflict. You have tried to rationalize away the smoking, have you not? When you say it is stupid, you have thought it all out and come to the conclusion that it is stupid. And yet rationalization has not made you give it up. We think that we can be free from a problem by knowing its cause; but the knowing is merely information, a verbal conclusion. This knowledge obviously prevents the understanding of the problem. Knowing the cause of a problem and understanding the problem are two entirely different things.

"But how else can one approach a problem?"

That is what we are going to find out. When we discover what the false approach is, we shall be aware of the only approach. The understanding of the false is the discovery of the true. To see the false as the false is arduous. We look at the false through comparison, through the measure of thought; and can the false be seen as the false through any thought process? Is not thought itself conditioned and so false?

"But how can we know the false as the false without the thought process?"

This is our whole trouble, is it not? When we use thought to solve a problem, surely we are using an instrument which is not at all adequate; for thought itself is a product of the past, of experience. Experience is always in the past. To see the false as the false, thought must be aware of itself as a dead process. Thought can never be free, and there must be freedom to discover, freedom from thought.

"I don't quite see what you mean."

One of your problems is smoking. You have approached it with condemnation, or you have tried to rationalize it away. This approach is false. How do you discover that it is false? Surely, not through thought, but by being passively watchful of how you approach the problem. Passive watchfulness does not demand thought; on the contrary, if thought is functioning there can be no passivity. Thought functions only to condemn or justify, to compare or accept; if there is a passive watchfulness of this process, then it is perceived as what it is.

"Yes, I see that; but how does this apply to my smoking?"

Let us experiment together to find out if one can approach the problem of smoking without condemnation, comparison, and so on. Can we look at the problem afresh, without the past overshadowing it? It is extremely difficult to look at it without any reaction, is it not? We seem unable to be aware of it passively, there is always some kind of response from the past. It is interesting to see how incapable we are of observing the problem as though it were new. We carry along with us all our past efforts, conclusions, intentions; we cannot look at the problem except through these curtains.

No problem is ever old, but we approach it with the old formulations, which prevent our understanding it. Be passively watchful of these responses. Just be passively aware of them, see that they cannot solve the problem. The problem is real, it is an actuality, but the approach is utterly inadequate. The inadequate response to what is breeds conflict; and conflict is the problem. If there is an understanding of this whole process, then you will find that you will act adequately with regard to smoking.