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The Only Revolution

India 1969

The Only Revolution India Part 10

Meditation is a movement in stillness. Silence of the mind is the way of action. Action born of thought is inaction, which breeds disorder. This silence is not the product of thought, nor is it the ending of the chattering of the mind. A still mind is possible only when the brain itself is quiet. The brain cells - which have been conditioned for so long to react, to project, to defend, to assert - become quiet only through the seeing of what actually is. From this silence, action which does not bring about disorder is possible only when the observer, the centre, the experiencer, has come to an end - for then the seeing is the doing. Seeing is possible only out of a silence in which all evaluation and moral values have come to an end.

This temple was older than its gods. They remained, prisoners in the temple, but the temple itself was far more ancient. It had thick walls and pillars in the corridors, carved with horses, gods and angels. They had a certain quality of beauty, and as you passed them you wondered what would happen if they all came alive, including the innermost god.

They said that this temple, especially the innermost sanctuary, went back far beyond the imagination of time. As you wandered through the various corridors, lit by the morning sun and with sharp, clear shadows, you wondered what it was all about - how man has made gods out of his own mind and carved them with his hands and put them into temples and churches and worshipped them.

The temples of the ancient times had a strange beauty and power. They seemed to be born out of the very earth itself. This temple was almost as old as man, and the gods in it were clothed in silks, garlanded, and awakened from their sleep with chants, with incense and with bells. The incense, which had been burned for many centuries past, seemed to pervade the whole of the temple, which was vast and must have covered several acres.

People seemed to have come here from all over the country, the rich and the poor, but only a certain class were allowed inside the sanctuary itself. You entered through a low stone door, stepping over a parapet which was worn down through time. Outside the sanctuary there were guardians in stone, and when you came into it there were priests, naked down to the waist, chanting, solemn and dignified. They were all rather well fed, with big tummies and delicate hands. Their voices were hoarse, for they had been chanting for so many years; and the God, or the Goddess, was almost shapeless. There must have been a face at one time but the features had almost gone. The jewels must have been beyond price.

When the chanting stopped there was a stillness as though the very earth had stopped in its rotation. In here there was no sunshine, and the light came only from the wicks burning in the oil. Those wicks had blackened the ceiling and the place was quite mysteriously dark.

All gods must be worshipped in mystery and in darkness, otherwise they have no existence.

When you came out into the open strong light of the sun and looked at the blue sky and the tall waving palm trees you wondered why it is that man worships himself as the image which he has made with his hands and mind. Fear, and that lovely blue sky, seemed so far apart.

He was a young man, clean, sharp of face, bright-eyed, with a quick smile. We sat on the floor in a little room overlooking a small garden. The garden was full of roses, from white to almost black. A parrot was on a branch, hanging upside down, with its bright eyes and red beak. It was looking at another much smaller bird.

He spoke English fairly well, but was rather hesitant in the use of words, and for the moment he seemed serious. He asked: "What is a religious life? I have asked various gurus and they have given the standard replies, and I would like, if I may, to ask you the same question. I had a good job, but as I am not married, I gave it up because I am drawn deeply by religion and want to find out what it means to lead a religious life in a world that is so irreligious."

Instead of asking what a religious life is, wouldn't it be better, if I may suggest it, to ask what living is? Then perhaps we may understand what a truly religious life is. The so-called religious life varies from clime to clime, from sect to sect, from belief to belief; and man suffers through the propaganda of the organized vested interests of religions. If we could set aside all that - not only the beliefs, the dogmas and rituals but also the respectability which is entailed in the culture of religion - then perhaps we could find out what a religious life is untouched by the thought of man.

But before we do that, let us, as we said, find out what living is. The actuality of living is the daily grind, the routine, with its struggle and conflict; it is the ache of loneliness, the misery and the squalor of poverty and riches, the ambition, the search for fulfilment, the success and the sorrow - these cover the whole field of our life. This is what we call living - gaining and losing a battle, and the endless pursuit of pleasure.

In contrast to this, or in opposition to this, there is what is called religious living or a spiritual life. But the opposite contains the very seed of its own opposite and so, though it may appear different, actually it is not. You may change the outer garment but the inner essence of what was and of what must be is the same. This duality is the product of thought and so it breeds more conflict; and the corridor of this conflict is endless. All this we know - we have been told it by others or we have felt it for ourselves and all this we call living.

The religious life is not on the other side of the river, it is on this side - the side of the whole travail of man. It is this that we have to understand, and the action of understanding is the religious act - not putting on ashes, wearing a loin cloth or a mitre, sitting in the seat of the mighty or being carried on an elephant.

The seeing of the whole condition, the pleasure and the misery of man, is of the first importance - not the speculation as to what a religious life should be. What should be is a myth; it is the morality which thought and fancy have put together, and one must deny this morality - the social, the religious and the industrial. This denial is not of the intellect but is an actual slipping out of the pattern of that morality which is immoral.

So the question really is: Is it possible to step out of this pattern? It is thought which has created this frightening mess and misery, and which has prevented both religion and the religious life. Thought thinks that it can step out of the pattern, but if it does it will still be an act of thought, for thought has no reality and therefore it will create another illusion.

Going beyond this pattern is not an act of thought. This must be clearly understood, otherwise you will be caught again in the prison of thought. After all, the "you', is a bundle of memory, tradition and the knowledge of a thousand yesterdays. So only with the ending of sorrow, for sorrow is the result of thought, can you step out of the world of war, hate, envy and violence. This act of stepping out is the religious life. This religious life has no belief whatsoever, for it has no tomorrow.

"Aren't you asking, sir, for an impossible thing? Aren't you asking for a miracle? How can I step out of it all without thought? Thought is my very being!"

That's just it! This very being, which is thought, has to come to an end. This very self-centredness with its activities must naturally and easily die. It is in this death alone that there is the beginning of the new religious life.

The Only Revolution

India 1969

The Only Revolution India Part 10

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