Commentaries on Living Series 1
Commentaries on Living Series I Chapter 41 'Awareness'
THERE WHERE IMMENSE clouds, like billowy white waves, and the sky was serene and blue. Many hundreds of feet below where we stood was the blue curving bay, and far off was the mainland. It was a lovely evening, calm and free, and on the horizon was the smoke of a steamer. The orange groves stretched to the foot of the mountain, and their fragrance filled the air. The evening was turning blue, as it always did; the air itself became blue, and the white houses lost their brilliance in that delicate colour. The blue of the sea seemed to spill over and cover the land, and the mountains above were also a transparent blue. It was an enchanted scene, and there was immense silence. Though there were a few noises of the evening, they were within this silence, they were part of the silence, as we were too. This silence was making everything new, washing away the centuries of squalor and pain from the heart of things; one's eyes were cleansed, and the mind was of that silence. A donkey brayed; the echoes filled the valley, and the silence accepted them. The end of the day was the death of all yesterdays, and in this death there was a rebirth, without the sadness of the past. Life was new in the immensity of silence.
In the room a man was waiting, anxious to talk things over. He was peculiarly intense, but sat quietly. He was obviously a city-dweller, and his smart clothes made him seem rather out of place in that small village and in that room. He talked of his activities, the difficulties of his profession, the trivialities of family life, and the urgency of his desires. All these problems he could grapple with as intelligently as another; but what really bothered him were his sexual appetites. He was married and had children, but there was more to it. His sexual activities had become a very serious problem to him and were driving him almost crazy. He had talked to certain doctors and analysts, but the problem still existed and he must somehow get to the bottom of it.
How eager we are to solve our problems! How insistently we search for an answer, a way out, a remedy! We never consider the problem itself, but with agitation and anxiety grope for an answer which is invariably self-projected. Though the problem is self-created, we try to find an answer away from it. To look for an answer is to avoid the problem - which is just what most of us want to do. Then the answer becomes all-significant, and not the problem. The solution is not separate from the problem; the answer is in the problem, not away from it. If the answer is separate from the main issue, then we create other problems: the problem of how to realize the answer, how to carry it out, how to put it into practice, and so on. As the search for an answer is the avoidance of the problem, we get lost in ideals, convictions, experiences, which are self-projections; we worship these homemade idols and so get more and more confused and weary. To come to a conclusion is comparatively easy; but to understand a problem is arduous, it demands quite a different approach, an approach in which there is no lurking desire for an answer.
Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem. This freedom gives the ease of full attention; the mind is not distracted by any secondary issues. As long as there is conflict with or opposition to the problem, there can be no understanding of it; for this conflict is a distraction. There is understanding only when there is communion, and communion is impossible as long as there is resistance or contention, fear or acceptance. One must establish right relationship with the problem, which is the beginning of understanding; but how can there be right relationship with a problem when you are only concerned with getting rid of it, which is to find a solution for it? Right relationship means communion, and communion cannot exist if there is positive or negative resistance. The approach to the problem is more important than the problem itself; the approach shapes the problem, the end. The means and the end are not different from the approach. The approach decides the fate of the problem. How you regard the problem is of the greatest importance, because your attitude and prejudices, your fears and hopes will colour it. Choiceless awareness of the manner of your approach will bring right relationship with the problem. The problem is self-created, so there must be self-knowledge. You and the problem are one, not two separate processes. You are the problem.
The activities of the self are frighteningly monotonous. The self is a bore; it is intrinsically enervating, pointless, futile. Its opposing and conflicting desires, its hopes and frustrations, its realities and illusions are enthralling, and yet empty; its activities lead to its own weariness. The self is ever climbing and ever falling down, ever pursuing and ever being frustrated, ever gaining and ever losing; and from this weary round of futility it is ever trying to escape. It escapes through outward activity or through gratifying illusions, through drink, sex, radio, books, knowledge, amusements, and go on. Its power to breed illusion is complex and vast. These illusions are homemade, self-projected; they are the ideal, the idolatrous conception of Masters and saviours, the future as a means of self-aggrandizement, and so on. In trying to escape from its own monotony, the self pursues inward and outward sensations and excitements. These are the substitutes for self-abnegation, and in the substitutes it hopefully tries to get lost. It often succeeds, but the success only increases its own weariness. It pursues one substitute after another, each creating its own problem, its own conflict and pain.
Self-forgetfulness is sought within and without; some turn to religion, and others to work and activity. But there is no means of forgetting the self. The inner or outward noise can suppress the self, but it soon comes up again in a different form, under a different guise; for what is suppressed must find a release. Self-forgetfulness through drink or sex, through worship or knowledge, makes for dependence, and that on which you depend creates a problem. If you depend for release, for self-forgetfulness, for happiness, on drink or on a Master, then they become your problem. Dependence breeds possessiveness, envy, fear; and then fear and the overcoming of it become your anxious problem. In the search for happiness we create problems, and in them we get caught. We find a certain happiness in the self-forgetfulness of sex, and so we use it as a means to achieve what we desire. Happiness through something must invariably beget conflict, for then the means is vastly more significant and important than happiness itself. If I get happiness through the beauty of that chair, then the chair becomes all-important to me and I must guard it against others. In this struggle, the happiness which I once felt in the beauty of the chair is utterly forgotten, lost, and I am left with the chair. In itself, the chair has little value; but I have given it an extraordinary value, for it is the means of my happiness. So the means becomes a substitute for happiness. When the means of my happiness is a living person, then the conflict and confusion, the antagonism and pain are far greater. If relationship is based on mere usage, is there any relationship, except the most superficial, between the user and the used? If I use you for my happiness, am I really related to you? Relationship implies communion with another on different levels; and is there communion with another when he is only a tool, a means of my happiness? In thus using another, am I not really seeking self-isolation, in which I think I shall be happy? This self-isolation I call relationship; but actually there is no communion in this process. Communion can exist only where there is no fear; and there is gnawing fear and pain where there is usage and so dependence. As nothing can live in isolation, the attempts of the mind to isolate itself lead to its own frustration and misery. To escape from this sense of incompleteness, we seek completeness in ideals, in people, in things; and so we are back again where we started, in the search for substitutes.
Problems will always exist where the activities of the self are dominant. To be aware which are and which are not the activities of the self needs constant vigilance. This vigilance is not disciplined attention, but an extensive awareness which is choiceless. Disciplined attention gives strength to the self; it becomes a substitute and a dependence. Awareness, on the other hand, is not self-induced, nor is it the outcome of practice; it is understanding the whole content of the problem, the hidden as well as the superficial. The surface must be understood for the hidden to show itself; the hidden cannot be exposed if the surface mind is not quiet. This whole process is not verbal, nor is it a matter of mere experience. Verbalization indicates dullness of mind; and experience, being cumulative, makes for repetitiousness. Awareness is not a matter of determination, for purposive direction is resistance, which tends towards exclusiveness. Awareness is the silent and choiceless observation of what is; in this awareness the problem unrolls itself, and thus it is fully and completely understood.
A problem is never solved on its own level; being complex, it must be understood in its total process. To try to solve a problem on only one level, physical or psychological, leads to further conflict and confusion. For the resolution of a problem, there must be this awareness, this passive alertness which reveals its total process.
Love is not sensation. Sensations give birth to thought through words and symbols. Sensations and thought replace love; they become the substitute for love. Sensations are of the mind, as sexual appetites are. The mind breeds the appetite, the passion, through remembrance, from which it derives gratifying sensations. The mind is composed of different and conflicting interests or desires, with their exclusive sensations; and they clash when one or other begins to predominate, thus creating a problem. Sensations are both pleasant and unpleasant, and the mind holds to the pleasant, thus becoming a slave to them. This bondage becomes a problem because the mind is the repository of contradictory sensations. The avoidance of the painful is also a bondage, with its own illusions and problems. The mind is the maker of problems, and so cannot resolve them. Love is not of the mind; but when the mind takes over there is sensation, which it then calls love. It is this love of the mind that can be thought about, that can be clothed and identified. The mind can recall or anticipate pleasurable sensations, and this process is appetite, no matter at what level it is placed. Within the field of the mind, love cannot be. Mind is the area of fear and calculation, envy and domination, comparison and denial, and so love is not. Jealousy, like pride, is of the mind; but it is not love. Love and the processes of the mind cannot be bridged over, cannot be made one. When sensations predominate, there is no space for love; so the things of the mind fill the heart. Thus love becomes the unknown, to be pursued and worshipped; it is made into an ideal, to be used and believed in, and ideals are always self-projected. So the mind takes over completely, and love becomes a word, a sensation. Then love is made comparative, "I love more and you love less." But love is neither personal nor impersonal; love is a state of being in which sensation as thought is wholly absent.
Commentaries on Living Series 1
Commentaries on Living Series I Chapter 41 'Awareness'
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