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Series II - Chapter 3 - ‘The Fear Of Inner Solitude’
HOW NECESSARY it is to die each day, to die each minute to every thing to the many yesterdays and to the moment that has just gone by! Without death there is no renewing, without death there is no creation. The burden of the past gives birth to its own continuity, and the worry of yesterday gives new life to the worry of today.
Yesterday perpetuates today, and tomorrow is still yesterday. There is no release from this continuity except in death. In dying there is joy. This new morning, fresh and clear, is free from the light and darkness of yesterday; the song of that bird is heard for the first lime, and the noise of those children is not that of yesterday. We carry the memory of yesterday, and it darkens our being. As long as the mind is the mechanical machine of memory, it knows no rest, no quietude, no silence; it is ever wearing itself out. That which is still can be reborn, but anything that is in constant activity wears out and is useless. The well-spring is in ending, and death is as near as life.
She said she had studied for a number of years with one of the famous psychologists and had been analysed by him, which had taken considerable time. Though she had been brought up as a Christian and had also studied Hindu philosophy and its teachers, she had never joined any particular group or associated herself with any system of thought. As always, she was still dissatisfied, and had even put aside the psychoanalysis; and now she was engaged in some kind of welfare work. She had been married and had known all the misfortunes of family life as well as its joys.
She had taken refuge in various ways: in social prestige, in work, in money, and in the warm delight of this country by the blue sea. Sorrows had multiplied, which she could bear; but she had never been able to go beyond a certain depth, and it was not very deep.
Almost everything is shallow and soon comes to an end, only to begin again with a further shallowness. The inexhaustible is not to be discovered through any activity of the mind. “I have gone from one activity to another, from one misfortune to another, always being driven and always pursuing. Now that I have reached the end of one urge, and before I follow another which will carry me on for a number of years, I have acted on a stronger impulse, and here I am. I have had a good life, gay and rich. I have been interested in many things and have studied certain subjects fairly deeply; but somehow, after all these years, I am still on the fringe of things, I don’t seem able to penetrate beyond a certain point; I want to go deeper, but I cannot. I am told I am good at what I have been doing, and it is that very goodness that binds me. My conditioning is of the beneficent kind: doing good to others, helping the needy, consideration, generosity, and so on; but it is binding, like any other conditioning. My problems to be free, not only of this conditioning, but of all conditioning, and to go beyond. This has become an imperative necessity, not only from hearing the talks, but also from my own observation and experience. I have for the time being put aside my welfare work, and whether or not I shall continue with it will be decided later.”
Why have you not previously asked yourself the reason for all these activities? “It has never before occurred to me to ask myself why I am in social work. I have always wanted to help, to do good, and it wasn’t just empty sentimentality. I have found that the people with whom I live are not real, but only masks; it is those who need help that are real. Living with the masked is dull and stupid, but with the others there is struggle, pain.”
Why do you engage in welfare or in any other kind of work?
“I suppose it is just to carry on. One must live and act, and my conditioning has been to act as decently as possible. I have never questioned why I do these things, and now I must find out. But before we go any further, let me say that I am a solitary person; though I see many people, I am alone and I like it. There is something exhilarating in being alone.”
To be alone, in the highest sense, is essential; but the aloneness of withdrawal gives a sense of power, of strength, of invulnerability. Such aloneness is isolation, it is an escape, a refuge. But isn’t it important to find out why you have never asked yourself the reason for all your supposedly good activities? Shouldn’t you inquire into that?
“Yes, let us do so. I think it is the fear of inner solitude that has made me do all these things.”
Why do you use the word ‘fear’ with regard to inner solitude? Outwardly you don’t mind being alone, but from inner solitude you turn away. Why? Fear is not an abstraction, it exists only in relationship to something. Fear does not exist by itself; it exists as a word, but it is felt only in contact with something else. What is it that you are afraid of? “Of this inner solitude.”
There is fear of inner solitude only in relation to something else. You cannot be afraid of inner solitude, because you have never looked at it; you are measuring it now with what you already know. You know your worth, if one may put it that way, as a social worker, as a mother, as a capable and efficient person, and so on; you know the worth of your outer solitude. So it is in relation to all this that you measure or approach inner solitude; you know what has been, but you don’t know what is. The known looking at the unknown brings about fear; it is this activity that causes, fear.
“Yes, that is perfectly true. I am comparing the inner solitude with the things I know through experience. It is these experiences that are causing fear of something I have really not experienced at all.”
So your fear is really not of the inner solitude, but the past is afraid of something it does not know, has not experienced. The past wants to absorb the new, make of it an experience. But can the past, which is you, experience the new, the unknown? The known can experience only that which is of itself, it can never experience the new, the unknown. By giving the unknown a name, by calling it inner solitude, you have only recognized it verbally, and the word is taking the place of experiencing; for the word is the screen of fear. The term ‘inner solitude’ is covering the fact, the what is, and the very word is creating fear.
“But somehow I don’t seem to be able to look at it.”
Let us first understand why we are not capable of looking at the fact, and what is preventing our being passively watchful of it. Don’t attempt to look at it now, but please listen quietly to what is being said.
The known, past experience, is trying to absorb what it calls the inner solitude; but it cannot experience it, for it does not know what it is; it knows the term, but not what is behind the term. The unknown cannot be experienced. You may think or speculate about the unknown, or be afraid of it; but thought cannot comprehend it, for thought is the outcome of the known, of experience. As thought cannot know the unknown, it is afraid of it. There will be fear as long as thought desires to experience, to understand the unknown.
“Then what... ?”
Please listen. If you listen rightly, the truth of all this will be seen, and then truth will be the only action. Whatever thought does with regard to inner solitude is an escape, an avoidance of what is. In avoiding what is, thought creates its own conditioning which prevents the experiencing of the new, the unknown. Fear is the only response of thought to the unknown; thought may call it by different terms, but still it is fear. Just see that thought cannot operate upon the unknown, upon what is behind the term ‘inner solitude’. Only then does what is unfold itself, and it is inexhaustible.
Now, if one may suggest, leave it alone; you have heard, and let that work as it will. To be still after tilling and sowing is to give birth to creation.