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Series II - Chapter 52 - 'Evaluation'

Series II - Chapter 52 - 'Evaluation'

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Commentaries on Living

MEDITATION IS a very important action in life; perhaps it is the action that has the greatest and deepest significance. It is a perfume that cannot easily be caught; it is not to be bought through striving and practice. A system can yield only the fruit it offers, and the system, the method, is based on envy and greed. Not to be able to meditate is not to be able to see the sunlight, the dark shadows, the sparkling waters and the tender leaf. But how few see these things! Meditation has nothing to offer; you may not come begging with folded hands. It doesn't save you from any pain. It makes things abundantly clear and simple; but to perceive this simplicity the mind must free itself, without any cause or motive, from all the things it has gathered through cause and motive. This is the whole issue in meditation. Meditation is the purgation of the known. To pursue the known in different forms is a game of self-deception, and then the meditator is the master, there is not the simple act of meditation. The meditator can act only in the field of the known; he must cease to act for the unknown to be. The unknowable doesn't invite you, and you cannot invite it. It comes and goes as the wind, and you cannot capture it and store it away for your benefit, for your use. It has no utilitarian value, but without it life is measurelessly empty.

The question is not how to meditate, what system to follow, but what is meditation? The 'how' can only produce what the method offers, but the very inquiry into what is meditation will open the door to meditation. The inquiry does not lie outside of the mind, but within the movement of the mind itself. In pursuing that inquiry, what becomes all-important is to understand the seeker himself, and not what he seeks. What he seeks is the projection of his own craving, of his own compulsions, desires. When this fact is seen, all searching ceases, which in itself is enormously significant. Then the mind is no longer grasping at something beyond itself, there is no outward movement with its reaction inwards; but when seeking has entirely stopped, there is a movement of the mind which is neither outward nor inward. Seeking does not come to an end by any act of will, or by a complex process of conclusions. To stop seeking demands great understanding. The ending of search is the beginning of a still mind.

A mind that is capable of concentration is not necessarily able to meditate. Self-interest does bring about concentration, like any other interest, but such concentration implies a motive, a cause, conscious or unconscious; there is always a thing to be gained or set aside, an effort to comprehend to get to the other shore. Attention with an aim is concerned with accumulation. The attention that comes with this movement towards or away from something is the attraction of pleasure or the repulsion of pain, but meditation is that extraordinary attention in which there is no maker of effort, no end or object to be gained. Effort is part of the acquisitive process, it is the gathering of experience by the experiencer. The experiencer may concentrate, pay attention, be aware; but the craving of the experiencer for experience must wholly cease, for the experiencer is merely an accumulation of the known.

There is great bliss in meditation.

He explained that he had studied philosophy and psychology, and had read what Patanjali had to say. He considered Christian thought rather superficial and given to mere reformation, so he had gone to the East, had practiced some kind of yoga, and was fairly familiar with Hindu thought. "I have read something of what you have been saying and I think I can follow it up to a certain point. I see the importance of not condemning, though I find it extremely difficult not to condemn; but I cannot understand at all when you say, 'Do not evaluate, do not judge'. All thinking, it seems to me, is a process of evaluation. Our life, our whole outlook, is based on choice, on values, on good and bad, and so on. Without values we would just disintegrate, and surely you do not mean that. I have tried to empty my mind of all norm or value, and for me at least it is impossible."

Is there thinking without verbalization, without symbols? Are words necessary to thinking? If there were no symbols, referents, would there be what we call thinking? Is all thinking verbal, or is there thinking without words? "I do not know, I have never considered the matter. As far as I can perceive, without images and words there would be nothing."

Shouldn't we find out the truth of this matter now, while we are here talking about it? Is it not possible to find out for oneself whether or not there is thinking without words and symbols?

"But in what way is this related to evaluation?"

The mind is made up of referents associations, images and words. Evaluation comes from this background. Words like God, love, Socialism, Communism, and so on, play an extraordinarily important part in our lives. Neurologically as well as psychologically words have significance according to the culture in which we are brought up. To a Christian certain words and symbols have enormous significance, and to a Moslem another set of words and symbols has an equally vital significance. Evaluation takes place within this area.

"Can one go beyond this area? And even if one can, why should one?"

Thinking is always conditioned; there is no such thing as freedom of thought. You may think what you like, but your thinking is and will always be limited. Evaluation is a process of thinking, of choice. If the mind is content, as it generally is, to remain within an enclosure, wide or narrow, then it is not bothered with any fundamental issue; it has its own reward. But if it would find out whether there is something beyond thought, then all evaluation must cease; the thinking process must come to an end.

"But the mind itself is part and parcel of this process of thinking, so by what effort or practice can thought be brought to an end?"

Evaluation condemnation, comparison, is the way of thought, and when you ask through what effort or method can the process of thinking be brought to an end, are you not seeking to gain something? This urge to practise a method or to make further effort is the outcome of evaluation, and is still a process of the mind. Neither by the practice of a method nor by any effort whatsoever can thought be brought to an end. Why do we make an effort?

"For the very simple reason that if we did not make an effort we would stagnate and die. Everything makes an effort, all nature struggles to survive."

Do we struggle just to survive, or do we struggle to survive within a certain psychological or ideological pattern? We want to be something; the urge of ambition, of fulfilment, of fear, shapes our struggle within the pattern of a society which has come about through the collective ambition, fulfilment and fear. We make effort to gain or to avoid. If we were concerned only with survival, then our whole outlook would be fundamentally different. Effort implies choice; choice is comparison, evaluation, condemnation. Thought is made up of these struggles and contradictions; and can such thought free itself from its own self-perpetuating barriers?

"Then there must be an outside agency, call it divine grace or what you will, that steps in and puts an end to the self-enclosing ways of the mind. Is this what you are indicating?"

How eagerly we want to achieve a satisfying state! If one may point out, sir, are you not concerned with arrival with achievement, with freeing the mind from a particular condition? The mind is caught in the prison of its own making, of its own desires and efforts, and every movement it makes, in any direction, is within the prison; but it is not aware of this, so in its pain and conflict it prays, it seeks an outside agency which will liberate it. It generally finds what it seeks, but what it has found is the outcome of its own movement. The mind is still a prisoner, only in a new prison which is more gratifying and comforting.

"But what in the name of heaven is one to do? If every movement of the mind is an extension of its own prison, then all hope must be abandoned."

Hope is another movement of thought caught in despair. Hope and despair are words that cripple the mind with their emotional content, with their seemingly opposing and contradictory urges. Is it not possible to stay in the state of despair, or any similar state, without rushing away from it to an opposite idea, or desperately clinging to the state which is called joyous hopeful, and so on? Conflict comes into being when the mind takes flight from the state called misery, pain, into another called hope, happiness. To understand the state in which one is, is not to accept it. Both acceptance and denial are within the area of evaluation.

"I am afraid I still do not grasp how thought can come to an end without some kind of action in that direction."

All action of will, of desire, of compulsive urge, is born of the mind, the mind that is evaluating, comparing, condemning. If the mind perceives the truth of this, not through argumentation, conviction, or belief, but through being simple and attentive, then thought comes to an end. The ending of thought is not sleep, a weakening of life a state of negation; it is an entirely different state.

"Our talk together has shown me that I have not thought very deeply about all this. Though I have read a great deal, I have only assimilated what others have said. I feel that for the first time I am experiencing the state of my own thinking and am perhaps able to listen to something more than mere words."