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The Only Revolution

India 1969

The Only Revolution India Part 7

Thought cannot conceive or formulate to itself the nature of space. Whatever it formulates has within it the limitation of its own boundaries. This is not the space which meditation comes upon. Thought has always a horizon. The meditative mind has no horizon. The mind cannot go from the limited to the immense, nor can it transform the limited into the limitless. The one has to cease for the other to be. Meditation is opening the door into spaciousness which cannot be imagined or speculated upon. Thought is the centre round which there is the space of idea, and this space can be expanded by further ideas. But such expansion through stimulation in any form is not the spaciousness in which there is no centre. Meditation is the understanding of this centre and so going beyond it. Silence and spaciousness go together. The immensity of silence is the immensity of the mind in which a centre does not exist. The perception of this space and silence is not of thought. Thought can perceive only its own projection, and the recognition of it is its own frontier.

You crossed the little stream over a rickety bridge of bamboo and mud. The stream joined the big river and disappeared into the waters of the strong current. The little bridge had holes in it and you had to walk rather carefully. You went up the sandy slope and passed the small temple and, a little further on, a well which was as old as the wells of the earth. It was at the corner of a village where there were many goats and hungry men and women wrapped around in dirty clothes, for it was quite cold. They fished in the big river, but somehow they were still very thin, emaciated, already old, some very crippled. In the village were weavers producing the most beautiful brocade and silk saris in dark dingy little rooms with small windows. It was a trade handed down from father to son, and middlemen and shopkeepers made the money.

You didn't go through the village but turned off to the left and followed a path which had become holy, for it was supposed that upon this path the Buddha had walked some 2,500 years ago, and pilgrims came from all over the country to walk on it. This path led through green fields, among mango groves, guava trees and through scattered temples. There was an ancient village, probably older than the Buddha, and many shrines and places where the pilgrims could spend the night. It had all become dilapidated; nobody seemed to care; the goats wandered about the place. There were large trees; one old tamarind, with vultures on top and a flock of parrots. You saw them coming in and disappearing into the green tree; they became the same colour as the leaves; you heard their screech but you could not see them.

On either side of the path stretched fields of winter wheat; and in the distance were villagers and the smoke of the fires over which they cooked. It was very still, the smoke going straight up. A bull, heavy, fierce-looking, but quite harmless, wandered through the fields, eating the grain as it was driven across the field by the farmer. It had rained during the night and the heavy dust was laid low. The sun would be hot during the day but now there were heavy clouds and it was pleasant to walk even in day-time, to smell the clean earth, to see the beauty of the land. It was a very old land, full of enchantment and human sorrow, with its poverty and those useless temples.

"You have talked a great deal about beauty and love, and after listening to you I see I don't know either what beauty is or what love is. I am an ordinary man, but I have read a great deal, both philosophy and literature. The explanations which they offer seem to be different from what you are saying. I could quote to you what the ancients of this country have said about love and beauty, and also how they have expressed it in the West, but I know you don't like quotations for they smack of authority. But, sir, if you are so inclined, we could go into this matter, and then perhaps I shall be able to understand what beauty and love may mean?"

Why is it that in our lives there is so little beauty? Why are museums with their pictures and statues necessary? Why do you have to listen to music? Or read descriptions of scenery? Good taste can be taught, or perhaps one has it naturally, but good taste is not beauty. Is it in the thing that has been put together - the sleek modern aeroplane, the compact tape-recorder, the modern hotel or the Greek temple - the beauty of line, of the very complex machine, or the curve of a beautiful bridge across a deep cavern?

"But do you mean that there is no beauty in things that are beautifully made and function perfectly? No beauty in superlative artistry?"

Of course there is. When you look at the inside of a watch it is really remarkably delicate and there is a certain quality of beauty in it, and in the ancient pillars of marble, or in the words of a poet. But if that is all beauty is, then it is only the superficial response of the senses. When you see a palm tree, single against the setting sun, is it the colour, the stillness of the palm, the quietness of the evening that make you feel the beautiful, or is beauty, like love, something that lies beyond the touch and the sight? Is it a matter of education, conditioning, that says: "This is beautiful and that is not"? Is it a matter of custom and habit and style that says: "This is squalor, but that is order and the flowering of the good"? If it is all a matter of conditioning then it is the product of culture and tradition, and therefore not beauty. If beauty is the outcome or the essence of experience, then to the man from the West and from the East, beauty is dependent upon education and tradition. Is love, like beauty, of the East or of the West, of Christianity or Hinduism, or the monopoly of the State or of an ideology? Obviously it is not any of this.

"Then what is it?"

You know, sir, austerity in self-abandonment is beauty. Without austerity there is no love, and without self-abandonment beauty has no reality. We mean by austerity not the harsh discipline of the saint or of the monk or of the commissar with their proud self-denial, or the discipline which gives them power and recognition - that is not austerity. Austerity is not harsh, not a disciplined assertion of self-importance. It is not the denial of comfort, or vows of poverty, or celibacy. Austerity is the summation of intelligence. This austerity can be only when there is self-abandonment, and it cannot be through will, through choice, through deliberate intent. It is the act of beauty that abandons, and it is love that brings the deep inward clarity of austerity. Beauty is this love, in which measurement has come to an end. Then this love, do what it will, is beauty.

"What do you mean, do what it will? If there is self-abandonment then there is nothing left for one to do."

The doing is not separate from what is. It is the separation that brings conflict and ugliness. When there is not this separation then living itself is the act of love. The deep inward simplicity of austerity makes for a life that has no duality. This is the journey the mind had to take to come upon this beauty without the word. This journey is meditation.

The Only Revolution

India 1969

The Only Revolution India Part 7

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