Speculation and imagination are a hindrance to truth. The mind that speculates can never know the beauty of what is; it is caught in the net of its own images and words. However far it may wander in its image making, it is still within the shadow of its own structure and can never see what is beyond itself. The sensitive mind is not an imaginative mind. The faculty to create pictures limits the mind; such a mind is bound to the past, to remembrance, which makes it dull. Only the still mind is sensitive. Accumulation in any form is a burden; and how can a mind be free when it is burdened? Only the free mind is sensitive; the open is the imponderable, the implicit the unknown. Imagination and speculation impede the open, the sensitive.
He had spent many years, he said, in search of truth. He had been the round of many teachers, many gurus, and being still on his pilgrimage, he had stopped here to inquire. Bronzed by the sun and made lean by his wanderings, he was an ascetic who had renounced the world and left his own faraway country. Through the practice of certain disciplines he had with great difficulty learned to concentrate, and had subjugated the appetites. A scholar, with ready quotations, he was good at argument and swift in his conclusions. He had learned Sanskrit, and its resonant phrases were easy for him. All this had given a certain sharpness to his mind; but a mind that is made sharp is not pliable free.
To understand, to discover, must not the mind be free at the very beginning? Can a mind that is disciplined, suppressed, ever be free? Freedom is not an ultimate goal; it must be at the very beginning, must it not? A mind that is disciplined, controlled, is free within its own pattern; but that is not freedom. The end of discipline is conformity; its path leads to the known, and the known is never the free. Discipline with its fear is the greed of achievement.
“I am beginning to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with all these disciplines. Though I have spent many years in trying to shape my thoughts to the desired pattern, I find that I am not getting anywhere.”
If the means is imitation, the end must be a copy. The means makes the end, does it not? If the mind is shaped in the beginning, it must also be conditioned at the end; and how can a conditioned mind ever be free? The means is the end, they are not two separate processes. It is an illusion to think that through a wrong means the true can be achieved. When the means is suppression, the end also must be a product of fear.
“I have a vague feeling of the inadequacy of disciplines, even when I practice them, as I still do; they are now all but an unconscious habit. From childhood my education has been a process of conformity, and discipline has been almost instinctive with me ever since I first put on this robe. Most of the books I have read, and all the gurus I have been to, prescribe control in one form or another, and you have no idea how I went at it. So what you say seems almost a blasphemy; it is really a shock to me, but it is obviously true. Have my years been wasted?”
They would have been wasted if your practices now prevented understanding, the receptivity to truth, that is, if these impediments were not wisely observed and deeply understood. We are so entrenched in our own make-believe that most of us dare not look at it or beyond it. The very urge to understand is the beginning of freedom. So what is our problem?
“I am seeking truth, and I have made disciplines and practices of various kinds the means to that end. My deepest instinct urges me to seek and find, and I am not interested in anything else.”
Let us begin near to go far. What do you mean by search? Are you looking for truth? And can it be found by seeking? To seek truth, you must know what it is. Search implies a fore knowledge, something already felt or known, does it not? Is truth something to be known, gathered and held? Is not the intimation of it a projection of the past and so not truth at all, but a remembrance? Search implies an outgoing or an inward process, does it not? And must not the mind be still for reality to be? Search is effort to gain the more or the less, it is negative or positive acquisitiveness; and as long as the mind is the concentration, the focus of effort, of conflict, can it ever be still? Can the mind be still through effort? It can be made still through compulsion; but what is made can be unmade.
“But is not effort of some kind essential?”
We shall see. Let us inquire into the truth of search. To seek, there must be the seeker, an entity separate from that which he seeks. And is there such a separate entity? Is the thinker, the experiencer, different or separate from his thoughts and experiences? Without inquiring into this whole problem, meditation has no meaning. So we must understand the mind, the process of the self. What is the mind that seeks, that chooses, that is fearful, that denies and justifies? What is thought?
“I have never approached the problem in this way, and I am now rather confused; but please proceed.”
Thought is sensation, is it not? Through perception and contact there is sensation; from this arises desire, desire for this and not for that. Desire is the beginning of identification, the ‘mine’ and the ‘not-mine’. Thought is verbalized sensation; thought is the response of memory the word, the experience, the image. Thought is transient changing, impermanent, and it is seeking permanency. So thought creates the thinker, who then becomes the permanent; he assumes the role of the censor, the guide, the controller, the moulder of thought. This illusory permanent entity is the product of thought, of the transient. This entity is thought; without thought he is not. The thinker is made up of qualities; his dualities cannot be separated from himself. The controller is the controlled, he is merely playing a deceptive game with himself. Till the false is seen as the false, truth is not.
“Then who is the seer, the experiencer, the entity that says, ‘I understand’?”
As long as there is the experiencer remembering the experience, truth is not. Truth is not something to be remembered, stored up, recorded, and then brought out. What is accumulated is not truth. The desire to experience creates the experiencer, who then accumulates and remembers. Desire makes for the separation of the thinker from his thoughts; the desire to become, to experience, to be more or to be less, makes for division between the experiencer and the experience. Awareness of the ways of desire is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation.
“How can there be a fusion of the thinker with his thoughts?”
Not through the action of will, nor through discipline, nor through any form of effort, control or concentration, nor through any other means. The use of a means implies an agent who is acting, does it not? As long as there is an actor, there will be a division. The fusion takes place only when the mind is utterly still without trying to be still. There is this stillness, not when the thinker comes to an end, but only when thought itself has come to an end. There must be freedom from the response of conditioning, which is thought. Each problem is solved only when idea, conclusion is not; conclusion, idea, thought, is the agitation of the mind. How can there be understanding when the mind is agitated? Earnestness must be tempered with the swift play of spontaneity. You will find, if you have heard all that has been said, that truth will come in moments when you are not expecting it. If I may say so, be open, sensitive, be fully aware of what is from moment to moment. Don’t build around yourself a wall of impregnable thought. The bliss of truth comes when the mind is not occupied with its own activities and struggles.