Ommen, Holland, 1929
This Camp-Fire and the chant accompanying it are in danger of becoming a superstition. I have been told, wherever I have been, that in order to speak in the evening I must have a Camp-Fire and must necessarily chant at it. I can foresee what is going to happen later on! However, I am going to chant a Sanskrit verse tonight because it has a lovely meaning, and not because it produces some mysterious effect.
I have been saying over and over again that in order to live truly, greatly, one must have full understanding of the purpose of life. That full understanding, from which alone come true ideas, leads to a life that is harmonious, to the incorruptibility of thought and the perfection of love. It will establish within each one the balance, the harmony which is true creation.
What is your life? If you analyse it impersonally, and examine it carefully, you will find that your life is bound by petty tyrannies and continual strife, by worries, depressions, uncertainties, vain hopes of achievement, by a begging and a crying, by discontentment and fruitless ambition, and pleasure that is bound by tears. That is the inward state of man, of every human being: a continual jostle and strife, a ceaseless endeavour. What is the cause of this? I maintain that your ideas of life do not correspond to that which is eternal. I am going to explain what I mean by this. I am not using vague terms to cover over what you do not understand.
I maintain that to live greatly, with ecstasy of purpose, you must have the root of your ideas in the eternal, the everlasting.
In order to conquer this uncertainty, this vast strife, this chaotic combativeness, your ideas, your life, your reason, your thoughts, your affections must have their being in that which is everlasting.
It is in your everyday life that you must realise that eternity. It is in your every action, your every thought, your every feeling, that men must behold that eternity. You cannot escape to another world in search of happiness. It is while living in this world that you must find truth. It is by the process of living in this world that you attain to the vastness of life. It is your daily thoughts, your daily love, and your daily deeds that create the struggle, the strife, the pleasure, the loneliness, and the corruptibility of life. It is with these that man is all the time struggling, and in his expressions of that struggle he steals the light of another and creates chaos around himself. It is only in finding truth that you change these expressions.
It is therefore necessary to discover truth; it must be established in the conduct of your life, in the way you treat people, in the way you think of people, in the actions that are born out of thought and out of affection. In that process alone lies truth, in the process of establishing incorruptibility, in attaining perfection of thought and of love, lies truth.
You must not make of this a religion, or a dogma, or a belief, but by the conduct of your life you must show that you understand, and that you have your thought, your affections, rooted in the eternal.
The eternal, I maintain, is liberation from all corruption, for corruption is a limitation. Therefore seek the incorruptibility of the self, the self within each one, by individual and not by collective effort, for in that incorruptibility of the self alone lies freedom. Freedom of the self is truth. Knowledge of the self is life eternal: it is liberation, that poise which is true creation. For the self is the eternal, it has no beginning and no end, no death and no birth: IT IS. The limited self, which exists in each one in corruption, is seeking to establish that incorruptibility which is truth. In the process of making that self incorruptible lies liberation. You must understand that, and from that understanding derive your ideas of life. Then whatever you do, whatever your actions, your thoughts and your feelings, they will bear the stamp of eternity. You are seeking your reasons for conduct; you are drawing your conclusions from the manifestations of the self, from the expressions, from the shadows. I maintain that this is wrong, and results in chaos around you. But if you would understand truth and establish your ideas in truth, you must seek that self and make that self incorruptible. From that truth alone you must draw your ideas and live continually focussed in that truth.
From that eternal spring which is the incorruptibility of the self, which is life, your deeds, your thoughts and your love must be born. Then shall you be as the rain that comes to the parched lands, making all things new and fresh, giving delight and ecstasy; destroying those perversions, those illusions, which men take as realities.
I am going to tell you of a little incident that happened to me last year, while I was in India. I went to see some friends off at a railway station -you cannot imagine what an Indian station is like, very noisy, rather dirty, even more than stations usually are. I saw a man hovering about wanting to speak to me. He was one of those people who draw the rickshaws -two-wheeled carts in which one man sits and another man draws him. At last he screwed up enough courage and came to speak to me. He asked me in very faltering, bad English where I lived, what I was doing, and whether I was seeing my brothers and sisters off. I explained to hint where I was staying; and finally he asked me if he might walk down the platform with me. He was nearly as shy as I was! Presently he took a cigarette out of his pocket and began to smoke it. After a few puffs he asked me whether I smoked; I said I didn't. He then looked at his cigarette for a while and said: "I suppose it is unnecessary to smoke", and I said: "Probably it is." This man, whose greatest pleasure probably was smoking, said: "From now on I am not going to smoke any more", and threw that cigarette away with a violence which really surprised me.
I am not telling you that incident to suggest that you should not smoke -that is beside the point. But one act of real understanding, with real depth of feeling, will put a man on a pinnacle of great vision, of great understanding, of great delight. As I have said in my talks, to discover that eternity which is the self in fulfilment, that harmony of poise between reason and love, it is necessary, from my point of view, to withdraw from all unessential things, and there must be a physical expression of that withdrawal. Please do not imagine that because things are unessential you should continue to indulge in them. I know many people will say, "I will continue to do these things because they are unessential." That may be a very convenient way of looking, at life, but rather you must, by the process of elimination, withdraw from all these unessential things, because they are absolutely childish, trivial, and absurd. By that withdrawal you will discover the true self and discipline that self. It is not through these complications, through these unessential things, but rather by their elimination, by putting them aside, that you find truth, that you find the true self, whereby the true process of self-discipline begins.
By self-discipline I do not mean repression, but rather self-discipline through understanding, which will lead you to liberation, that poise of reason and of love. If you would find truth, that discipline of the self, which is the seed of reason and love, must take place every moment of the day, must be focussed acutely in every thing that you do. Truth lies in the process, not in the attainment. While living, manifesting, working in the daily life you find it. In the training of that self lies the truth -in nothing else. The question of importance therefore is not the invention of a multitude of theories or philosophies, but rather the discovery of the "I" which is progressive and the making that progressive "I" incorruptible. In the education, the care, the encouraging of that 'T' towards freedom, towards that realm where there is no limitation of the self, lies truth. Having as your vision that liberation of which I speak, by the process of self-discipline, imposed upon yourself by yourself, not on account of reward or fear of punishment, lies the true attainment, the fulfilment, the incorruptibility of the self. All manifestation -I am not speaking in any philosophical sense, but I am using ordinary language- is the creation of the self, is the shadow of the self. If the self is impure, corruptible, then all manifestations of that self will be impure and corruptible. So you must seek the perfection, the incorruptibility of the self, for in that alone lies truth. You must withdraw from all unessential things, for they place a limitation on the self. You must come unburdened, free, unlimited: then that truth, which is neither far nor near, shall be discovered, and he who has discovered it will be a danger to all unrealities, to all falsities of life.
When you look around and consider, you will find that the group is ever opposed to the individual. When I use the term "individual" I speak of the man who is whole, complete within himself, as distinct from the group which claims that it exists in order to benefit the individual. In every department of thought and emotion you will find this group opposed to the individual. And yet the group itself is the individual, because the group is composed of individuals. I am going to concern myself with the individual, because it is the individual who creates chaos, strife around him. Within the individual -that is within everyone throughout the world, with rare exceptions- there is chaos, strife and crookedness. And yet the group is striving to establish order, serenity and straightness. In the heart of the group, that is in the heart of every individual composing the group, there is chaos, strife and struggle: so, to establish order, serenity and straightness we must look to the individual. The individual is of the greatest importance.
The individual is yourself, and it is in making that individual straight, serene, creative, that you will find true self-expression. It is the individual that you must consider at all times, but that does not mean that your consideration should be at the expense of your neighbour: for I maintain that from the very beginning of the unfoldment of the individual he must be a light unto himself, so that he will not cast a shadow across the face of another.
No one can make the individual straight, serene, creative, but himself. By creation I mean true self-expression, not the mere creation of ornaments, chairs, pictures and so on; these I do not consider true creation. The expression of the fulfilment, the fruition, the consummation of the self is, to my way of thinking, true creation. This can only be the result of individual perception. No organisation, no religious bodies, no external coercion, no seeking of help from without can make the individual straight, serene and truly creative, because the individual is absolutely free, he is absolutely responsible to himself -that thought I would like you to consider carefully because, if you do not understand that, everything else that I say will have a different meaning, will not be properly understood, will not be clear. Every individual in the world, whatever his circumstances may be, is absolutely and entirely responsible to himself. In the self alone, therefore, lies the possibility, the power of freeing himself entirely, wholly, unconditionally from the entanglements, the corruption of imperfect love. He is the only person who can conquer his own weakness, who can master his own passions, who can control his own desires, and who is entirely responsible for his own ambitions. It is of the utmost importance, if you would bring about order, serenity, clear thought and the happiness not only of the individual but of everyone in the world, to pay attention to the individual from the very beginning. Because if the individual is within himself chaotic, he creates chaos; if he is within himself crooked, he makes all things around him crooked; if he is within himself disturbed, he creates around him disturbance.
What is the individual desiring all the time? What is he seeking continually? What is he going after in his struggle, in his corruption, in his strife, in his tears and in his pleasures? He is seeking to break down the limitations placed by himself upon himself, so that he shall attain that liberation which is perfection, the incorruptibility of love and thought, which shall establish perfect harmony, which is happiness. Desire which everyone has, which is life itself, is continually encouraging, pushing, urging everyone forward; desire is ever seeking fulfilment in experience, because it wants an outlet, it wants an expression. Experience without a purpose is destructive, whereas experience with a purpose is truly creative. That is the reason why you must first establish within yourself the purpose of life, and then, after that establishment which will be for eternity, continuous without variation from generation to generation, that purpose will be the goal, the objective to which all desire -which is life itself- shall lead. If there be such a purpose -as I maintain there is, and that I have realised it- then every experience which is the fulfilment of a desire must strengthen, free the individual from that very desire. That is: when you have been through one experience it should be sufficient to free you from that particular kind of experience. So shall you break down all limitations and arrive at that liberation which is the fulfilment of all life.
Knowing therefore the purpose of life, and knowing that the individual is entirely and absolutely responsible to himself, you overcome fear of any kind. It is fear that throttles, suffocates every human being. It is the phantom which follows every human being as a shadow, because he does not realise that for every action, and the result of that action, for every desire, and the fulfilment of that desire, he is wholly responsible. With that realisation fear of every kind disappears, because the individual is absolutely master of himself.
When you have no fear you really begin to live. You live not in the future nor in the past, neither hoping for salvation in the future nor looking to the dead past for your strength, but -because you have no fear- in that moment of eternity, which is NOW.
It is NOW that matters, not the future nor the past. It is what you do, what you think, how you live and how you act NOW that has value. Truth is neither in the future nor in the past. The man who is not bound by fear lives entirely responsible to himself, concentrated in that moment which is NOW, which is eternity.
For such a man there is neither birth nor death. Most people are afraid of death because they are afraid to live. They are more concerned about death than about how to live in the immediate moment, which is eternity, which is NOW.
Knowing therefore, what is the future of every human being, of every individual, how he shall fulfil himself in liberation, which is the incorruptibility of the self, which is the harmony between reason and love -knowing that, it matters vitally, greatly, that you should live in the realisation of that greatness and of that beauty in the immediate present.
When there is suffering, when there are tears, when there is fear in your heart, of what value is it to know that all such things will disappear in the future. You want happiness, you want freedom at the present moment, not in some distant future. No one can give you happiness; no one can free you, except yourself. Along no path can you attain, nor through any religion or sect. Liberation lies within the individual; it is entirely within his control and comes at his behest alone.
Liberation, that happiness which is unvarying, serene, that perfection, is neither distant nor near, because perfection is where the individual is, it is within himself.
For the attainment of that harmony, which is the consummation of all life, which is the perfection of the self, all that the individual is, all that he does, what he thinks, how he behaves and in what manner he loves, is of importance. Not in the future nor in the past must he begin to attain that perfection, but in the very moment of clear thought, in the very moment of understanding -which is NOW.
I have said that for attainment to the realm of spirituality, to the land of truth, to freedom, there is no law, and I want to explain this further. Intelligence is the capacity to discern the essential and the non-essential. Intelligence is, from my point of view, the essence of all experience. By constant practice of this discernment, and by constantly keeping that intelligence awake, it attains its highest point in inspiration. Inspiration, therefore, has its roots in the eternal, in the everlasting, in truth. For a man who has fully developed this intelligence, who has reached the state of liberation, which I call the harmony of reason and of love, for him inspiration is not intermittent but continuous. That continuity of inspiration is what everyone is seeking. That continuity of happiness is what every man in the world is striving after. He seeks to establish within himself the unvarying, constant happiness which ever dwells in that harmony which is perfect poise.
Such being the state of liberation, such being the condition of truth, who can help you to attain and hold within yourself that continuity, without a break, without intermission, that vast unending fulfilment of life? No one can help you but yourself, because it is not something to be arrived at by the help of another, or through reliance on another. How then is an individual to attain? Life must perfect itself to attain liberation, that is the fulfilment of every individual life. By keeping your intelligence constantly awakened you learn to distinguish between what is fleeting and what is lasting, to discern the false in the falsehood, the truth in the true. But that highly awakened intelligence can only be the outcome of constant watchfulness, of awareness, of selfrecollectedness, and of self-discipline imposed upon yourself through the understanding of the purpose of life.
Throughout the world today, authority, external authority especially, is being thrown away. The younger generation, if you watch it, is getting rid of the authority imposed by their elders who are supposed to know better. That authority is being broken down, but there is still the authority to which man clings in his heart, for his spiritual growth, an authority which he must equally get rid of before he can develop his own intelligence to its highest point. You must become the only authority for yourself; the architect of your own intelligence and hence of your own life, in the light of that which is eternal. That, I say, is liberation, the harmony between reason and love. When you have attained that, all fear, derived from the lack of understanding, disappears. Therefore, by constructing your life on the understanding of the purpose of life, you establish for yourself a continuous happiness, you are putting out a root into that realm which is eternal. It is a question of individual effort, of individual struggle, constant awareness, and constant self-discipline. There can no longer be an authority from outside for right conduct: an authority in which to dwell, on which to lean. Whatever you build in the light of that eternity will remain, because it is well established, ever dwelling in liberation. To a man who has attained there is no cessation, no intermission, in that which is eternal, which is free.
In India it is considered auspicious, especially after a marriage, when the guests are going away, that it should rain, and as you are all going away from here tomorrow, I hope you will find this rain also auspicious.
I hope that this week has been rich in experience, has altered your whole outlook, has opened a new vista of thought and immense feeling, so that you will put forth new seeds into the world of manifestation, seeds which will grow and multiply and cover the land with their loveliness. Then you will cast no shadow across the face of another, or bring tears or transient rejoicing to the heart. I hope that everyone who has been here during this week and who has struggled to understand -and there are many, I am convinced- has been made more certain, more assured, more determined than when he came. For him henceforth there will be only one thing that matters and that is: to watch over, to care for that self on which all things depend, and from which all transformations arise. Do not interpret this in any selfish manner, for if you can make the purification and the incorruptibility of the self the only thing of importance, then your actions, your thoughts and your affections will bear the mark of incorruptibility.
If you, who have gathered here during this week, have, by examination, established within you certainty, assurance, clarity of thought, you will be the strong who will nourish, sustain and uphold those who are in sorrow. In that way only can you truly help, can you give the everlasting nourishment, the waters that shall quench all thirst, the balm that shall heal all wounds. Because you have been here, because you have struggled to understand, by that understanding, wherever you go, your friends, your neighbours, will spontaneously be transformed. Not the inventions or the enjoyment of philosophies and theories, but the way you live your life, with that understanding, in the world around you, is of value.
Like an eagle that descends to the valley, so must you go out of this Camp with real determination, with enthusiasm, with ecstasy, so that you will alter, you will uproot those unessential things that surround man and so place a limitation and a corruption upon him, and hence create sorrow and misery wherever he is. You must do this by careful watchfulness, by careful examination analysis, self-discipline of that self on which all things depend and from which all transformations arise. To be more determined, to be more eager, to search out the avenues, the secret sanctuaries of thought and thereby purify and make that self incorruptible, so that you shall give joy, happiness and understanding to others, are the only things which you can carry away from this Camp.
So I wish you all a happy journey, and I hope we shall meet again next year, everyone with greater determination, with greater enthusiasm, but with a different smile and a different walk, a different assurance of his own integrity and his own strength.
Ommen, Holland, 1929
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