Beginnings of Learning
The Beginnings of Learning Part II Chapter 5 Conversation with Parents and Teachers
MOST OF US do not seem to give sufficient importance to meditation. For most it is a passing thing in which some kind of experience is expected, some transcendental attainment, a fulfilment after all other attempts at fulfilment have failed. Meditation becomes a self-hypnotic movement in which appear various projections and symbols. But these are a continuity of what has been, perhaps modified or enlarged, but always within the area of some achievement. All this is rather immature and childish without great significance, and without breaking away from the established order - or disorder - of past events. These happenings become extraordinarily significant to a mind that is concerned with its own advancement, improvement and selfdetermined expectations. When the mind breaks through all this rubbish, which can only happen with self-knowing, then what happens can never be told to another. Even in the telling things have already changed. It is like describing a storm. It is already over the hills, the valleys, and gone beyond. And so the telling of it becomes something of the past and therefore no longer what is actually taking place. One can describe something accurately - an event - but the very accuracy of it becomes inaccurate when the thing has moved away. The accuracy of memory is a fact but memory is the result of something that has already happened. If the mind is following the flow of a river it has no time for description, nor for memory to gather itself. When this kind of meditation is going on a great many things take place which are not the projection of thought. Each event is totally new in the sense that memory cannot recognize it; and as it cannot recognize it, it cannot be gathered into words and memories. It is a thing that has never happened before. This is not an experience. Experience implies recognition, association and accumulation as knowledge. Obviously certain powers are released but these become a great danger as long as the self-centred activity goes on, whether these activities are identified with religious concepts or with personal tendencies.
Freedom from the self is absolutely necessary for the real thing to be. But thought is very cunning, extraordinarily subtle in its activities and unless one is tremendously aware, without any choice, of all these subtleties and cunning pursuits, meditation becomes the gaining of powers beyond the mere physical ones. Any sense of importance of any action of the self must lead inevitably to confusion and sorrow. That is why, before you consider meditation, begin with the understanding of yourself, the structure and the nature of thought. Otherwise you will get lost and your energies will be wasted. So to go far you must begin very near: and the first step is the last step.
The big room overlooked the blue Pacific. It was high on a cliff and from there you could see the waves breaking on the shore, white and spreading. It was very quiet though there were several young people there. We were all feeling rather shy. There were short-haired ones and long-haired, the bearded and the casual.
"First of all, if I may start out," said a young man with clean long hair and beard, "why should I earn my livelihood? Why should I make a career, knowing where it leads - property, bank account, a wife and children, and the utter middle-classness of it all? I don't want to be caught in that trap. If others want to, it is for them, but not for me. I don't mind being a beggar or asking people for a handout. I sleep in somebody's house and I have enough clothes to get along with. I have been all over the State for the past few years living this way and I like it. Let them all work if they wish and if they feel like supporting me - let them. I don't want to belong to any commune, to any group. I am free and I want to remain free. And I'm not against anyone - black or white. But I'm told this is exploitation: that while I'm young it is all right but when I'm in my thirties I'll begin to see I can't go on like this. I don't know what the future holds but I'm living from day to day and that's good enough. I would like your opinion on this."
Only fools offer opinions. You know the monks in Asia live this way: not in organized communities but as individuals going from village to village begging and being protected. In return they preach the good life: not the physical good life but a life of goodness. That is what they offer, unless they are criminals or exploiters. So what are you offering in return to those who feed you?
"Why should I offer anything in return? I have nothing to give them. I don't want to tell them how to live. Any sensible man knows when the way he is living is bourgeois, square, and it is up to them to break away from it. I have tried talking to people but they don't care. I don't want to offer anything in return for their food and clothes. Basically I have nothing to offer. I don't paint, I don't play a guitar. I don't do any of the things they like. I am entirely outside their circle. If I had something basic I would offer it without caring whether they took it. But I've nothing. I am just as confused as the rest of the world and probably just as miserable. I'm not a drop-out. I've been through college and I'm disgusted with the whole thing; with their hypocrisies and with their pretensions. But what bothers me a little is, I want to find - not God, that is a bourgeois concept - but something that is real. I've read some Eastern books about this but they all take off on theories and ideas. I want to feel something real in my guts which they can't touch or take away. I want to get to the heart of it as quickly as possible. I see the absurdity of instant illumination but I haven't the patience to go through the rigmarole of discipline, fasting, following some system. I want to go straight to it on the shortest road possible."
Surely this is possible: to see clearly `what is' without any distortion, without any motive, and go beyond it. If you see very clearly what is, you are already beyond it. And can you see very clearly what is? See not only the outward, the environment, the social morality, the bureaucratic sanctions, religious and worldly, but also inwardly? To see what is going on actually, without any choice, without any reservation. If you can, then the door is open. That is the shortest way and the most direct. Then you don't follow anybody. All systems are useless and the guru becomes a mischief maker. Can you do this? If you can, then the mind is free and the heart is full. Then you are a light to yourself.
Another spoke. "I am a drop-out. I dropped out of college. I took economics as my major and just before graduation I left. I saw what the professors were like, intriguing among themselves, playing politics for better positions. I saw their utter indifference to anything as long as they were secure in their professors' world. I didn't want to become like them. A few of us here in this room want to form a community. Most of us don't belong to anything. We have no sympathy with the battle that goes on between black and white; we welcome black and white, as you can see. We want to get a piece of land to live on, and we will. We can do things with our hands, we will cultivate it and sell things. But our question is, is it possible to live together without any conflict amongst ourselves, without any authority, and in great affection?"
A community is generally formed around an idea, a belief, or around someone who embodies that belief. The ideal or the Utopia becomes the authority and gradually some individual takes charge of it: guides, threatens and excommunicates. In this there is no co-operation at all; there is obedience which of course leads to disaster. Have you - if one may ask - considered this question of co-operation? If you have not, your community will inevitably fail. To live together and work together is one of the most difficult things. Each one wants to fulfil himself, become this or that, and therein lies the disruption of any co-operation. To work together implies the abnegation of the self without any motive. It is like learning together in which there is only function without any status. If you have this real understanding of the spirit of co-operation then it is bound to work. It isn't each one contributing something to the welfare of the community, but rather each one having this vital spark of understanding. Any personal motive or profit puts an end to the true quality of co-operation. Do you think that you and your friends have this? Or is it just that you want to start a community? That is like starting out on a boat, hoping to find an island, not knowing in what direction you are going, where you are going, but hoping to find somewhere somehow a happy land with a group of people who have no idea what to do with the land or themselves.
A young man with a sensitive face and hands said, "I am one of those who take drugs. I've taken them regularly for four or five years; not too much; probably every month or so. I am well aware what it is doing to me. I am not quite as sharp as I was. When I'm high I think I can do anything. I seem to have tremendous energy and there is no confusion. I see things sharply. I feel like a god on earth, perfect, without any problems, without any regrets. But I can't maintain that state all the time and I'm back on this mad earth. Now I need a stronger dose and where it is leading me I really don't know. I'm uneasy about it now. I can see myself gradually ending up in a mental hospital, and yet the pull of the other state is so strong that I seem to have no resistance. I'm young. I'm not a drop-out. I live with my parents. They know what I'm doing and want to help me stop it. I see a slow deterioration in myself. I experimented with it in the beginning because the others did. It was fun then, but now it has become a danger. You see how clearly I can explain all this? But yet there is part of me that has become slow, lethargic and ineffectual. It is these drug-gurus that have hooked me on it, promising an experience that is the real thing. I see now how easily we are deceived by these intellectuals. I don't want to end up in a mental hospital or prison, or lose my mind altogether."
If you see this so clearly, how it is damaging your brain and sensibilities and the subtleties of your life, why don't you drop it? Not for a day or two, but drop it completely? If you really see the danger of it, not verbally or romantically, the very seeing is the action that will put an end to it. But you must see it, not theorize about seeing. You must completely negate it. In this you will have the strength to do it, the vitality and energy. Then you will stop it without any resistance. It is this resistance that is the core of the matter. Don't build a resistance against it. Then you will be in conflict with the drug on one side and you on the other, with a wall of decision which only separates and increases conflict. Whereas if you really see it, see the tremendous danger of it as you would see the tremendous danger of a shark, or a rattlesnake, then you would drop it completely, instantly.
So, if we may suggest, don't decide not to take drugs, for decision is based on will, which is resistance with all its contradictions and conflicts. Being aware of this, you will then say it is impossible to give it up. Don't fight it but see actually the immense danger to the brain, to the whole nervous system, to the clarity of perception. That is all you have to do and nothing else: seeing is doing.
"May we all come back another day, Sir?"
Of course, as often as you like.
Beginnings of Learning
The Beginnings of Learning Part II Chapter 5 Conversation with Parents and Teachers
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