Exploration Into Insight
Exploration Into Insight 'The Nature of Despair'
P: Can we examine the roots of despair? It is a very real problem in our life. In a sense, the root of sorrow is the root of despair; it must be of the same nature.
K: I wonder what is despair. I have never felt it. Therefore, please convey it to me. What do you mean by `despair'?
P: A sense of utter futility.
K: Is that it - a sense of utter futility? I doubt that. It is not quite that. Not knowing what to do, would you call that despair?
R: The total absence of meaning and significance: is that what you mean?
FW: I would like to suggest `a state of paralysed hope'.
P: Despair, in a sense, has really nothing to do with hope.
K: Is it related to sorrow? Is it self-pity? I am questioning, I am not suggesting.
P: It is not self-pity. Self-pity is narrow in its dimension.
K: We are investigating. Is it related to sorrow? Is sorrow related to despair and the sense of deep self-pity that can't find a way out?
P: I feel all these descriptions are narrow.
K: They are narrow, but we will make them wider. Would you say it is the end of the road, reaching the end of the tether? If there is no way around something, you look somewhere else, but that doesn't mean despair.
FW: I could imagine that the mother whose child dies is desperate. K: Not quite. I won't call that desperate. I should think this is related to sorrow. P: Have we not all known despair?
K: I don't know. I am asking; tell me.
P: There is an utter and total sense of futility.
K: No, Pupul. Instead of `futility' use a more significant word - futility is so futile - put it another way.
R: I think it is the end of the tether.
K: End of hope, end of search, end of relationship. Does somebody else know despair?
FW: I think it is a blank wall.
K: Blank wall is not despair.
A: Something dies even before your body has died.
K: Is that despair?
Par: Utter helplessness.
B: Is there any relationship to sorrow? I think it is the bottom of sorrow, the pit of sorrow.
K: Balasundaram, you mean to say you have never known despair?
Par: It is the opposite of hope.
K: No, Doctor. Do you know what despair is? Could you tell me what it is?
Par: A state resulting from failures.
K: Failure? You are making it much too small. I think despair has rather a large canvas. I have talked to people who were in despair. Apparently, none of you know despair. Do you?
R: I don't think I know despair. I know what suffering is. K: I want to question. When we talk about despair, is it something profound or is it merely the end of one's tether?
P: You know despair. Now, tell us a little about it.
Par: Is it darkness?
K: No, sir. Do you know what despair is? A man who is suffering knows exactly what it means. He doesn't beat about the bush. He says I have suffered, I know my son is dead, and there is an appalling sense of isolation, loss, a sense of self-pity, a tremendous storm; it is a crisis. Would you say despair is a crisis?
JC: Yes, sir.
K: Don't please agree with me yet. Apparently, except for one or two, nobody seems to be in despair.
R: Is it a form of escape from suffering?
K: In despair, is jealousy involved, a sense of loss? I possess you and you suddenly drop me, build a wall against me, - is that part of despair? I am sorry this is something quite out of my depth. I am not saying it is valid or not valid; but I am just asking what is `despair'? What is the dictionary meaning?
FW: The root of the word comes from hope.
K: Have you been in despair, sir? Using the common word, which you and I use, do you know what it means - despair? Is it a deep sense of fear?
P: When you get to the depths of yourself, to the very root of yourself, do you think it is possible to distinguish between fear and despair?
K: No, then why do you use the word `despair'?
A: Sir, I think the word despair is distinct from the sense of fear.
P: When you hit the bottom, then it is very difficult to differentiate between fear, sorrow, despair. K: May I ask - not you personally - have you really reached the lowest depths of yourself? And when you do, is it despair?
P: Sir, when you ask that question, there can be no possible answer. How does one know the depths?
K: Is it a sense of helplessness or is it much more than that?
P: It is much more than that. Because in helplessness you have hope.
K: Therefore, it is something much more significant than hope. What is that feeling or what is that state where one feels completely, utterly in despair? Is it that no movement of any kind takes place, and since there is no movement, would you call that despair?
P: How do you differentiate?
K: Look, I love my son and he has gone to the dogs and I can't do anything. I can't even talk to him, I can't even approach him, I can't go near him, touch him. Would that state be despair? The word `desperate: desperate and despair. Would you consider to be desperate a state of despair?
FW: We sometimes say: `I desperately want something.' There is a projection in it that I want something.
P: There is an urgency towards a direction in that. There is no urgency towards anything in this.
FW: Then despair is not the proper word.
P: Despair is a very important word in living.
B: It is also lack of energy. To be in despair is not to be desperate for something - but to touch the nadir of energy they are all one.
P: When you plunge into depths, you cannot separate sorrow from despair. I do not think that the distinction is fundamentally valid.
S: Pupulji, when you started, you wanted to make a distinction between despair and sorrow. P: I am finding that when you go down, delve, the distinction between despair and sorrow does not exist.
K: Are you asking what is the root of sorrow?
P: No, sir. I find that it is not possible for me to divide sorrow from despair.
JC: Despair is a feeling of nothingness.
FW: But the root of the word must have some significance.
P: It may have no significance. A word may not cover its meaning. Sir, some people must have come to you in despair. There is the sorrow of nothingness, of despair.
K: Pupulji, are we saying despair is related to sorrow, related to that sense of total abnegation of all relationship?
P: Yes, a total anguish.
K: A total anguish, the total feeling of complete isolation which means having no access or no relationship to anything. Is despair related to sorrow, related to isolation, withholding?
JC: There is a finality to it, the end of all your hope or your expectation.
K: Have you, or anyone reached that point? The darkness of the soul, the Christians call it, the dark night of the soul? Would you call it that? Is that despair? That is much more potent than despair.
P: You can't tell me that I am at this level or that level.
K: May we begin this way, Pupul? Let us use the word and the depth of that word, the meaning of that word `sorrow' first. Begin with that.
P: In varying degrees, we all know sorrow.
K: Grief, a sense of helplessness, a sense of no way out. Does that bring about despair?
P: That is despair. Why do you object? K: I would not call it despair. Let us go slowly. Let us feel our way. My son is dead, and that is what I call sorrow. I have lost him. I will never see him again. I lived with him, we had played together, everything is gone and suddenly overnight I realize how utterly lonely I am. Would you call that feeling, that deep sense of loneliness, not having a companion, despair? Or, is it that sense of deep awareness, of a total lack of any kind of relationship with anybody, which is loneliness? Would you say that loneliness is despair?
P: You use a word to describe a situation, to fit a situation.
K: I will describe the situation.
P: You can use the word `sorrow' or you can use `despair' but the situation remains the same.
K: What is it, how to get out of it, what to do with it?
P: No, you have said `remain totally with sorrow'. Is sorrow the summation of all energy?
K: I don't follow.
P: You have said that in the depth of sorrow is the summation of all energy. This must be of the same nature.
K: I understand what you are saying. Last night K said sorrow is the essence of all energy, the quintessence of all energy. All energy is focused there; I think that's right. Now, is that a fact? Is that an actuality?
P: This morning, I certainly had a feeling of the other which I call despair. I certainly had it, total, absolute. Whatever statement I make now, will move me away.
K: Look, Pupul, I think I am getting it. My son is dead and I realize what is involved in that. That is a fact which can never be altered. Is the refusal to accept the actual fact despair? I totally, completely, accept that my son is dead. I can't do anything about it. He is gone. I remain with the fact. I don't call that despair, sorrow, I don't give it a name. I remain with the actual fact that he is finished. What do you say? Can you remain with that fact without any movement away from it?
P: Is the sorrow or despair also not an unalterable fact?
K: No... Let us look at it slowly, carefully. I loved my son and suddenly he is gone. The result of that is, there is a tremendous sense of energy which is translated as sorrow. Right? The word `sorrow' indicates this fact; only that fact remains. That is not despair.
Let us move away from that. I want to see what actually takes place when there is this enormous crisis and the mind realizes that any form of escape is a projection into the future, and remains with that fact without any movement. The fact is immovable. Can I remain, can the mind remain with that immovable fact and not move away from it? Let us make it very very simple. I am angry, furious because I have given my life to something and I find somebody has betrayed that, and I feel furious. That fury is all energy. You follow? I haven't acted upon that energy. It is a gathering of all your energy which is expressed in a fury of anger. Can I remain with that fury of anger? Not translate, not hit out, not rationalize, just hold it. Is it possible? What happens? I won't even call it despair.
A: Would you say it is a state of depression?
K: No, no. That is reaction. This I remain with. It is going to tell me. I am not going to call it depression. That means I am acting upon it.
A: I am saying that the patient is there, there is an infection and a fever. Now the fever is the symptom of that infection. In that way I have watched myself with anger without trying to do anything to it.
K: No, Achyutji, I don't mean that you watch it. You are that anger, you are that total fury and that total energy of that fury.
A: There is no energy. What goes with it is a feeling of total helplessness. K: No, sir. I think I understand what Pupulji is talking about, which is, I have come to realize that I am caught in a net of my own making, and I can't move, I am paralysed. Would that be despair?
JC: If a woman who can't swim sees her son drowning in the sea, then I think there is absolute despair, because she knows that he could be saved, but she is unable to do it. You follow?
K: Very well, sir. But I think we are getting away from something. We are now describing in different ways the meaning of despair, the meaning of sorrow, the meaning of all that.
A: The condition that you have described just now and what Pupulji was describing is different from anger. Anger is the reaction to somebody's else's behaviour. This is a reaction to your own situation.
K: It is not a reaction, but an awareness of one's own insufficiency and that insufficiency at its depth, not superficially, is despair, is that it?
FW: Isn't there much more than this? I question this awareness of insufficiency, because there is already the element of not wanting to accept that insufficiency.
P: How do you know?
FW: I have tried to gather from what you said.
K: Look, Fritz, either you feel it or it is not a fact. Would you say, if I may ask, have you ever felt totally insufficient?
FW: I can't remember. I don't know.
K: But I come to you and I say I have felt this total insufficiency and I want to understand it, it is boiling in me, I am in a desperate state about it. How would you tackle it? How would you help me go beyond it?
FW: I know something quite similar to that, for example most of the things in life I am unable to understand and I also see that my brain is completely inadequate to understand. So, if you mean that insufficiency, I am aware of that insufficiency.
K: Sir, I realize I am insufficient. I am aware of it. Then I try to fill it with various things. I know I am filling it and I see as I fill it, it is still empty, still insufficient. I have come to the point when I see that whatever I do, that insufficiency can never be wiped out; filled. That is real sorrow or despair. Is that it, Pupulji? Look, I want to get at something here. May I proceed? My son is dead. I am not only desperate, but I am in profound shock, profound sense of loss which I call sorrow. My instinctual response is to run away, is to explain, is to act upon it. Now, I realize the futility of that and I don't act. I won't call it sorrow, I won't call it despair, I won't call it anger, but I see the fact is the only thing; nothing else. Everything else is non-fact. Now, what takes place there? That's what I want to get at. If that is despair, if you remain with it without naming it, without recognizing it, if you remain with it totally without any movement of thought, what takes place? That's what we are going to discuss.
R: It is very difficult because thought says remain with it, and that is still thought.
K: No, that's an intellectual game. That is totally invalid. I meet an immovable fact and come to it with a desperate desire to move it, for whatever reason - love, affection, whatever motive, and so I battle against it, but the fact cannot be changed. Can I face the fact without any sense of hope, despair, all that verbal structure and just say, `Yes, I am what I am'? I think then some kind of explosive action takes place if I can remain there.
A: Sir, there is some purgation called for, before this happens. Some purgation of the heart is called for, as I see it.
K: I won`t call it purgation. See, Achyutji, you know what sorrow is, don't you? Can you remain with it without any movement? What takes place when there is no movement? I am getting it now - when my son is dead, that is an immovable irrevocable fact; and when I remain with it, which is also an immovable, irreconcilable fact, the two facts meet. P: In the profundity of sorrow without any known cause, there is nothing to react to, there is no incident to react to.
K: No analytical process is possible, I understand.
P: In a sense thought is paralysed there.
K: Yes, that's it. There is the immovable fact that my son is dead and also that I have no escape is another fact. So, when these two facts meet, what takes place?
P: As I said, the past is still there not because of any volition.
K: I understand.
P: Now, what is possible after that?
JC: Our lack of awareness will not allow two facts.
K: That's what I want to find out. Something must happen. I am questioning whether there are two facts or only one fact. The fact that my son is dead and the fact that I must not move away from it. The latter is not a fact. That is an idea, and therefore it is not a fact. There is only one fact. My son is dead. That is an absolute, immovable fact. It is an actuality. And I say to myself, I must not escape, I must meet it completely. And I say that is fact. I question if it is a fact. It is an idea. It is not a fact as is the fact that my son is dead. He is gone. There is only one fact. When you separate the fact from yourself and say, `I must meet it with all my attention,' that's non-fact. The fact is the other.
S: But my movement is a fact. Isn't it?
K: Is it a fact or is it an idea?
S: Not wanting to stay there, but moving away from that energy of anger or moving away from the energy of hurt, isn't it a fact?
K: Yes, of course. You remember, we discussed the other day - an abstraction can be a fact. I believe I am Jesus. That is a fact, as is the fact that I believe `I am a good man'. Both are facts; both are brought about by thought. That's all. Sorrow is not brought about by thought, but by an actuality which has been translated as sorrow.
S: Sorrow is not brought about by thought?
K: Wait, wait, go into it slowly. I am not sure. As I said, this is a dialogue, discussion. I say something. You must tear it up.
S: There are different types of sorrow.
K: No, no. My son is dead, that is a fact.
R: And the question is of meeting the fact that he is not there.
JC: Sorrow is not a fact?
K: My son is dead. That is a fact. And that fact reveals the nature of my relationship to him, my commitment to him, my attachment to him, etc. which are all non-facts.
P: Sir, that comes later. When my son dies, there is only one thing.
K: That's all I am saying.
P: Actually if your son is dead, in that moment can the mind move away?
K: For the moment it is paralysed, totally paralysed.
P: That is the moment.
K: No, look, my son is dead, and I am paralysed by it; both psychologically and physiologically I am in a state of shock. That shock wears off:
P: In a sense, the intensity of that state has already dissipated itself.
K: No. Shock is not a realization of the fact. It is a physical shock. Somebody has hit me on the head.
P: There is shock.
K: That's all. Paralysis has taken place, for a few days, for a few hours, few minutes. When a shock takes place, my consciousness is not functioning. P: Something is functioning.
K: No, just tears. It is paralysed. That is one state. But it is not a permanent state. It is a transient state out of which I am going to emerge.
P: But the moment I start coming out...
K: No, the shock I got, there I face reality.
P: How do you face reality?
K: Let us see. My brother or sister dies, and at the moment, that moment may last a few days or a few hours, it is a tremendous psychosomatic shock. There is no activity of the mind, no activity of consciousness. This is like being paralysed. That is not a state.
P: It is sorrow, that is the energy of sorrow. 4
K: That energy has been much too strong.
P: Any movement away dissipates that energy?
K: No, but the body cannot remain psychosomatically in a state of shock.
P: Then, how does it face sorrow?
K: I am coming to that. It is like a man who is paralysed and wanting to speak. He can't.
P: What takes place when shock goes?
K: You are waking up to the fact, the fact that your son is dead. Thought then begins, the whole movement of thought begins. There are tears. I say, `I wish I had behaved properly, I wish I had not said those last cruel words at the last minute.' Then, you begin to escape from that - `I would like to meet my brother in my next life, in the astral place.' I escape. I am saying if you don't escape and don't observe the fact as though different from yourself, then the observer is the observed.
P: The whole of that thing is that initial state of shock. K: I question that, Pupul. Go into it a bit more. It is a shock which the body and the psyche cannot tolerate, there is paralysis which has taken place.
P: But if there is energy?
K: It is too strong. It is much too strong. This is a fact.
P: Let us go slowly, sir.
K: Then, we are not talking about the same thing.
P: It is at the instant of death that there is a total realization of this. It then gets dissipated.
K: No, would you put it this way, Pupul? Leave aside death for the moment.
P: But that is also a total thing.
K: Wait, I am coming to that. When there is death, the tremendous shock has driven out everything. It is not the same as the mountain, that marvellous scenery. These two are entirely different.
P: It depends, sir, on the state of the mind.
K: It depends on the state of relationship.
P: And the state of mind when death actually takes place.
K: Yes. So what are we discussing? What are we having a dialogue about?
P: We are trying to discover how in this maximum energy-quotient which arises out of despair, death, sorrow; what is the chemical alchemy which transforms the energy which is seemingly destructive and hurtful into what you call passion. If one allows sorrow or despair to corrode one, which is a natural process, then you have brought in another element.
K: When energy is not dissipated through words, when the energy of the shock of some great event is not dissipated, that energy without a motive has quite a different significance. P: If I may ask, this holding it in consciousness...
K: It is not in consciousness.
P: Is it not in consciousness?
K: It is not in consciousness. If you hold it in your consciousness, it is part of thought. Your consciousness is put together by thought.
S: It has arisen in consciousness.
S: Then, what is it?
K: The holding of it, not running away from it, remaining with it.
P: What is the entity that does not move?
K: There is no entity.
P: Then what is it?
K: The entity is when there is movement away from the fact.
P: How does the entity end itself?
K: Look, Pupul, let us make it very simple, clear.
P: It is very important.
K: I agree, it is very interesting. There is a shock. The realization is gone out of the shock, there is sorrow. The very word `sorrow, is a distraction. The escape is a distraction away from the fact. To remain totally with that fact means no interference of the movement of thought; therefore, you are now not consciously holding it. I will repeat it. Consciousness is put together by thought. Content makes thought. The event of my son's death is not thought, but when I bring it into thought, it is within my consciousness. That is very important. I have discovered something.
P: Is the very force of that energy that which totally silences thought?
K: Put it that way if you like. Thought cannot touch it. But our conditioning, our tradition, our education is to touch it, change, modify, rationalize, run away from it, which is the activity of consciousness.
R: The crux of it seems to be giving a name to the form that it takes and that is the seed from which the rest of the distraction grows.
K: It is very interesting. I can't remember when my brother died. But from what Shiva Rao and others have told me, it seems that there was a shock period, and when K came out of it, he remained with that thing; he did not go to Dr. Besant and ask for help. So, now I can see how it happens. The shock; when the shock is over, you come to the fact that a tremendous event has taken place - death; not mine or yours, my brother's or your brother's, but death has taken place, which is an extraordinary event as is birth. Now, can one look at it, observe it without consciousness as thought entering into it?
P: Let us go back to sorrow. You have said: 'Sorrow is not born of thought.'
K: Yes. Sorrow is not born of thought. What do you say about it?
P: When the death of sorrow is, thought is not.
K: Wait, wait, Pupul. Sorrow is not the child of thought. That's what K said. Why? The word `sorrow' is thought. The word is not the thing, therefore that feeling of sorrow is not the word. When the word is used, it becomes thought.
JC: We are talking about a situation where there has been a shock. The access of that energy, the return to consciousness is sorrow.
K: I have named it as sorrow.
JC: That is the return to the state of sorrow.
K: No. There is shock. Then, there is the moving away from that shock.
P: If sorrow is stripped of the word...
K: Of course. That's why I want to be very clear. The word is not the thing, therefore that feeling of sorrow is not the word. If the word is not, thought is not.
P: Sorrow is one thing; even if you remove the word, the content is.
K: Of course. So, is it possible not to name it? The moment you name it, you bring it into consciousness.
S: Prior to naming, is the existing condition not part of consciousness? The word is `sorrow: the moment you name it as `sorrow', that is a different thing. The `what is' which is not named, is it part of consciousness?
K: We said consciousness is its content. Its content is put together by thought. An incident takes place where the energy shock drives out consciousness for a second or for days or months or whatever it is. Then, as the shock wears off, you begin to name the state. Then, you bring that into consciousness. But it is not in consciousness when it takes place.
Exploration Into Insight
Exploration Into Insight 'The Nature of Despair'
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