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Series II - Chapter 50 - ‘Convictions--Dreams’
HOW BEAUTIFUL IS the earth with its deserts and rich fields, its forests, rivers and mountains, its untold birds and animals and human beings! There are villages filthy and diseased, where it has not rained enough for many seasons; the wells are all but dry and the cattle are skin and bones; the fields are cracked, and the ground-nut is withering away; the sugarcane is no longer planted, and the river has not flowed for several years. They beg they steal, and go hungry; they die waiting for the rains. Then there are the opulent cities with their clean streets and shiny new cars, their washed and well-dressed people, their endless shops filled with things, their libraries, universities and slums. The earth is beautiful and its soil, around the temple and in the arid desert, is sacred.
To imagine is one thing, and to perceive what is is another, but both are binding. It is easy to perceive what is, but to be free of it is another matter; for perception is clouded with judgment, with comparison, with desire. To perceive without the interference of the censor is arduous. Imagination builds the image of the self, and thought then functions within its shadows. From this self-concept grows the conflict between what is and what should be, the conflict in duality. perception of the fact and idea about the fact, are two entirely different states, and only a mind that is not bound by opinion, by comparative values, is capable of perceiving what is true.
She had come a long distance by train and bus, and the last bit she had had to walk; but as it was a cool day, the climb was not too much. “I have a rather pressing problem which I would like to talk over,” she said. “When two people who love each other are adamant in their diametrically opposed convictions, what is to be done? Must one or the other give in? Can love bridge this separating and destructive gap?”
If there were love, would there be these fixed convictions which separate and bind?
“Perhaps not, but it has now gone beyond the state of love; the convictions have become hard, brutal, unyielding. One maybe flexible, but if the other is not, there is bound to be an explosion. Can one do anything to avoid it? One may yield temporize, but if the other is wholly intransigent, life with that person becomes impossible, there is no relationship with him. This intransigence is leading to dangerous results, but the person concerned doesn’t seem to mind inviting martyrdom for his convictions. It all seems rather absurd when one considers the illusory nature of ideas; but ideas take deep root when one has nothing else. Kindliness and consideration vanish in the harsh brilliancy of ideas. The person concerned is completely convinced that his ideas, theories which he has got from reading, are going to save the world by bringing peace and plenty to all, and he considers that killing and destruction, when necessary, are justified as a means to that idealistic end. The end is all-important, and not the means; no one matters as long as that end is achieved.”
To such a mind, salvation lies in the destruction of those who are not of the same conviction. Some religions have in the past thought this to be the way to God, and they still have excommunications, threats of eternal hell, and so on. This thing you are talking about is the latest religion. We seek hope in churches, in ideas, in ‘flying saucers’, in Masters, in gurus, all of which only leads to greater misery and destruction. In oneself one has to be free from this intransigent attitude; for ideas, however great, however subtle and persuasive, are illusion, they separate and destroy. When the mind is no longer caught in the net of ideas, opinions, convictions, then there is something wholly different from the projections of the mind. The mind is not our last resort in resolving our problems; on the contrary, it is the maker of problems.
“I know that you do not advise people, sir, but all the same, what is one to do? I have been asking myself this question for many months, and I haven’t found the answer. But even now as I put that question I am beginning to see that there is no definite answer that one must live from moment to moment, taking things as they come and forgetting oneself. Then perhaps it is possible to be gentle, to forgive. But how difficult it is going to be!”
When you say ‘how difficult it is going to be’, you have already stopped living from moment to moment with love and gentleness. The mind has projected itself into the future, creating a problem – which is the very nature of the self. The past and the future are its sustenance. “May I ask something else? Is it possible for me to interpret my own dreams? Lately I have been dreaming a great deal and I know that these dreams are trying to tell me something, but I cannot interpret the symbols, the pictures that keep repeating themselves in my dreams. These symbols and pictures are not always the same, they vary, but fundamentally they all have the same content and significance – at least I think so, though of course I may be mistaken.”
What does that word ‘interpret’ mean with regard to dreams? “As I explained, I have a very grave problem which has been bothering me for many months, and my dreams are all concerned with this problem. They are trying to tell me something, perhaps give me a hint of what I should do, and if I could only interpret them correctly I would know what it is they are trying to convey.”
Surely, the dreamer is not separate from his dream; the dreamer is the dream. Don’t you think this is important to understand? “I don’t understand what you mean. Would you please explain?”
Our consciousness is a total process, though it may have contradictions within itself. It may divide itself as the conscious and the unconscious, the hidden and the open, in it there may be opposing desires values, urges, but that consciousness is nevertheless a total, unitary process. The conscious mind may be aware of a dream, but the dream is the outcome of the activity of the whole consciousness. When the upper layer of conscious- ness tries to interpret a dream which is a projection of the whole consciousness, then its interpretation must be partial, incomplete, twisted. The interpreter inevitably misrepresents the symbol, the dream.
“I am sorry, but this is not clear to me.”
The conscious, superficial mind is so occupied with anxiety, with trying to find a solution to its problem, that during the waking period it is never quiet. In so-called sleep, being perhaps somewhat quieter, less disturbed, it gathers an intimation of the activity of the whole consciousness. This intimation is the dream, which the anxious mind upon waking tries to interpret; but its interpretation will be incorrect, for it is concerned with immediate action and its results. The urge to interpret must cease before there can be the understanding of the whole process of consciousness. You are very anxious to find out what is the right thing to do with regard to your problem, are you not? That very anxiety is preventing the understanding of the problem and so there is a constant change of symbols behind which the content seems to be always the same. So, what now is the problem?
“Not to be afraid of whatever happens.”
Can you so easily put away fear? A mere verbal statement does not do away with anxiety. But is that the problem? You may wish to do away with fear, but then the ‘how’, the method, becomes important, and you have a new problem as well as the old one. So we move from problem to problem and are never free of them. But we are now talking of something wholly different, are we not? We are not concerned with the substitution of one problem for another.
“Then I suppose the real problem is to have a quiet mind.”
Surely, that is the only issue: a still mind. “How can I have a still mind?”
See what you are saying. You want to possess a still mind, as you would possess a dress or a house. Having a new objective, the stillness of the mind, you begin to inquire into the ways and means of getting it, so you have another problem on your hands. Just be aware of the utter necessity and importance of a still mind. Don’t struggle after stillness, don’t torture yourself with discipline in order to acquire it, don’t cultivate or practise it. All these efforts produce a result, and that which is a result is not stillness. What is put together can be undone. Do not seek continuity of stillness. Stillness is to be experienced from moment to moment; it cannot be gathered.