The Only Revolution
The Only Revolution Europe Part 17
It was a wide, luxuriant meadow with green hills round it. That morning it was brilliant, sparkling with dew, and the birds were singing to the heavens and to the earth. In this meadow with so many flowers, there was a single tree, majestic and alone. It was tall and shapely, and that morning it had a special meaning. It made a long, deep shadow, and between the tree and the shadow there was an extraordinary silence. They were communicating with each other - the reality and the unreality, the symbol and the fact. It was really a splendid tree with its late spring leaves all aflutter in the breeze, healthy, not worm-eaten yet; there was great majesty in it. It wasn't clothed in the robes of majesty but it was in itself splendid and imposing. With the evening it
would withdraw into itself, silent and unconcerned, though there might be a gale blowing; and as the sun rose it would wake up too and give out its luxuriant blessing over the meadow, over the hills, over the earth.
The blue jays were calling and the squirrels were very active that morning. The beauty of the tree in its solitude gripped your heart. It wasn't the beauty of what you saw; its beauty lay in itself. Though your eyes had seen more lovely things, it was not the accustomed eye that saw this tree, alone, immense and full of wonder. It must have been very old but you never thought of it as being old. As you went and sat in its shadow, your back against the trunk, you felt the earth, the power in that tree, and its great aloofness. You could almost talk to it and it told you many things. But there was always that sense of its being far away although you touched it and felt its harsh bark which had many ants going up it. This morning its shadow was very sharp and clear and seemed to stretch beyond the hills to other hills. It was really a place of meditation if you know how to meditate. It was very quiet, and your mind, if it was sharp, clear, also became quiet, uninfluenced by the surroundings, a part of that brilliant morning, with the dew still on the grass and on the reeds. There would always be that beauty there, in the meadow with that tree.
He was a middle-aged man, well kept, trim and dressed with good taste. He said he had travelled a great deal though not on any particular business. His father had left him a little money and he had seen a bit of the world, not only what lay upon it but also all those rare things in the very rich museums. He said he liked music and played occasionally He also seemed well-read. In the course of the conversation, he said: "There's so much violence, anger, and hatred of man against man. We seem to have lost love, to have no beauty in our hearts; probably we have never had it. Love has been made into such a cheap commodity, and artificial beauty has become more important than the beauty of the hills, the trees and the flowers. The beauty of children soon fades. I have been wondering about love and beauty. Do let us talk about it if you can spare a little time."
We were sitting on a bench by a stream. Behind us was a railway line and hills dotted with chalets and farmhouses.
Love and beauty cannot be separated. Without love there is no beauty; they are interlocked, inseparable. We have exercised our minds, our intellect, our cleverness, to such an extent, to such destructiveness, that they predominate, violating what may be called love. Of course, the word is not the real thing at all, any more than that shadow of the tree is the tree. We shan't be able to find out what that love is if we don't step down from our cleverness, our heights of intellectual sophistication, if we don't feel the brilliant water and are not aware of that new grass. Is it possible to find this love in museums, in the ornate beauty of church rituals, in the cinema, or in the face of a woman? Isn't it important for us to find out for ourselves how we have alienated ourselves from the very common things of life? Not that we should neurotically worship nature, but if we lose touch with nature doesn't it also mean that we are losing touch with
man, with ourselves? We seek beauty and love outside ourselves, in people, in possessions. They become far more important than love itself. Possessions mean pleasure, and because we hold on to pleasure, love is banished. Beauty is in ourselves, not necessarily in the things about us. When the things about us become more important and we invest beauty in them, then the beauty in ourselves lessens. So more and more, as the world becomes more violent, materialistic, the museums and all those other possessions become the things with which we try to clothe our own nakedness and our emptiness.
"Why do you say that when we find beauty in people and in things around us, and when we experience pleasure, it lessens the beauty and the love within us?"
All dependence breeds in us possessiveness, and we become the thing which we possess. I possess this house - I am this house. That man on horse-back going by is the pride of his possession, though the beauty and dignity of the horse are more significant than the man. So the dependence on the beauty of a line, or on the loveliness of a face, surely must diminish the observer himself; which doesn't mean that we must put away the beauty of a line or the loveliness of a face; it means that when the things outside us become of great meaning, we are inwardly poverty-ridden.
"You are saying that if I respond to that lovely face I am inwardly poor. Yet, if I do not respond to that face or to the line of a building I am isolated and insensitive."
When there is isolation there must, precisely, be dependence, and dependence breeds pleasure, therefore fear. If you don't respond at all, either there is paralysis, indifference, or a sense of despair which has come about through the hopelessness of continual gratification. So we are ever- lastingly caught in this trap of despair and hope, fear and pleasure, love and hate. When there is inward poverty there is the urge to fill it. This is the bottomless pit of the opposites, the opposites which fill our lives and create the battle of life. All these opposites are identical for they are branches of the same root. Love is not the product of dependence, and love has no opposite.
"Doesn't ugliness exist in the world? And isn't it the opposite of beauty?"
Of course there is ugliness in the world, as hate, violence, and so on. Why do you compare it to beauty, to non-violence? We compare it because we have a scale of values and we put what we call beauty at the top and ugliness at the bottom. Can you not look at violence non-comparatively? And if you do, what happens? You find you are dealing only with facts, not with opinions or with what should be, not with measurements. We can deal with what is and act immediately; what should be becomes an ideology and so is fanciful, and therefore useless. Beauty is not comparable, nor is love, and when you say: "I love this one more than that one", then it ceases to be love.
"To return to what I was saying, being sensitive one responds readily and without complications to the lovely face, to the beautiful vase. This unthinking response slides imperceptibly into dependence and pleasure and all the complications you are describing. Dependence therefore seems to me inevitable."
Is there anything inevitable - except, perhaps, death?
"If it is not inevitable, it means that I can order my conduct, which is therefore mechanical."
The seeing of the inevitable process is to be not mechanical. It is the mind that refuses to see what is that becomes mechanical. "If I see the inevitable, I still wonder where and how to draw the line?"
You don't draw the line, but the seeing brings its own action. When you say, "Where am I to draw the line?" it is the interference of thought which is frightened of being caught and wants to be free. Seeing is not this process of thought; seeing is always new, and fresh, and active. Thinking is always old, never fresh. Seeing and thinking are of two different orders altogether, and these two can never come together. So, love and beauty have no opposites and are not the outcome of inward poverty. Therefore love is at the beginning and not at the end.
The Only Revolution
The Only Revolution Europe Part 17
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