If you think it is important to know about yourself only because I or someone else has told you it is important , then I am afraid all communication between us comes to an end. But if we agree that it is vital that we understand ourselves completely , then you and I have a quite different relationship , then we can explore together with a happy , carefree and intelligent inquiry. But we may need to do this slowly (and as always attentively) as I have often unconsciously tried to move quick between my spontaneous thoughts in its own freeflow and with this there may seem to be few strands of continuity lost in between my expressions due to this inadvertent pace. Please bear up with the same.
I do not demand your faith. I am also not setting myself up as an authority. I have nothing to teach you as i am not a philosopher nor a learned “intellectual” – i have no new philosophy , no new system , no new path to reality, as there is no path to reality any more than to truth. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple.
If you do not follow somebody at times you perhaps feel lost and often lonely. Be lonely then. Why are you frightened of being alone? Because you are faced with yourself as you are and you find that you are empty, dull, ugly,isolated, guilty, and anxious – a petty, second hand entity. Face the fact, look at it do not run away from it. The moment you run away fear begins.
In inquiring into ourselves we are not isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. It is not an unhealthy process. Man throughout the world is caught up in the same daily problems as ourselves, so inquiring into ourselves we are not being in the least neurotic because there is no difference between the individual and the collective. That is an actual fact. I have created the world as I am. So let us not get lost in the battle between the part and the whole.
I must become aware of the total field as my own self, which is the consciousness of the individual and the society. It is only then when the mind goes beyond this individual and social consciousness , that I can become a light to myself that never goes out.
Now where do we begin to understand ourselves ? Here am I , and how do I study myself, observe myself, see what is taking place inside myself ? I can observe myself only in relationship because life is relationship. It is no use sitting in the corner and meditating about myself. I cannot exist by myself. I exist only in relationship to people , things and ideas, and in studying my relationship to outward things and people, as well as to inward things , I begin to understand myself. Every other form of understanding is merely an abstraction and I cannot study myself in abstraction. I am not an abstract entity. Therefore, I have to study myself in actuality – as I am not what I wish to be.
Understanding is not an intellectual process. Acquiring knowledge about yourself and learning about yourself are two very different things, for the knowledge you accumulate about yourself is always of the past and a mind which is burdened with the past is an incomplete and sorrowful mind. Learning about yourself is not like learning a language or a technology or a science that you obviously have to accumulate to remember. It would be absurd to begin all over again. but in the psychological field, learning about yourself is always in the present and knowledge is always in the past and as most of us live in the past and are satisfied with the past, knowledge becomes extraordinarily important to us. That is why we worship the erudite, the clever, the cunning. But if you are learning all the time , every minute , learning by watching and listening , learning by seeing and doing , then you will find that learning is a constant movement without the past.
If you say you will learn gradually about yourself, adding more and more, little by little , you are not studying yourself now as you are but through acquired knowledge. Learning implies a great sensitivity. There is no sensitivity if there is an idea, which is of the past , dominating the present. Then the mind is no longer quick , pliable , alert. Most of us are not sensitive even physically. We overeat , we do not bother about the right diet , we over smoke , and over drink so that our bodies become gross and insensitive. The quality of attention in the organism itself becomes dull. How can there be an alert and sensitive mind if the organism itself becomes dull and heavy. We may be sensitive about certain things that touch us personally but to be completely sensitive to all the implications of life demands there is no separation between the organism and the psyche. It is a total movement.
To understand anything you must live with it, you must observe it , you must know all its content , its nature , its structure , its movement. Have you ever tried living with yourself ? if so you will begin to see that your self is not a static state , its a fresh living state. And to live with a living thing your mind must also be alive. And it cannot be alive if it is caught in opinions , judgments and values.
In order to observe the movement of your own mind and heart , of your whole being , you must have a free mind , not a mind that agrees or disagrees , taking sides in an argument , disrupting over mere words but rather following with an intention to understand. a very difficult thing to do because most of us don’t know how to look at , or listen to , our own being any more than we know how to look at the beauty of a river or listen to the breeze amongst the trees.
When we condemn or justify we cannot see clearly , nor can we when our minds are endlessly chattering. Then we do not observe what is, we look only for the projections we have made of ourselves. Each of us have an image, that picture, entirely prevents us from seeing ourselves as we are.
It is one of the most difficult things in the world to look at anything simply. Because our minds are very complex we have lost the quality of simplicity. I don’t mean simplicity in clothes or in food wearing a loin cloth, or break a record fasting or any of the immature nonsense our so called modern saints cultivate, but the simplicity that can look directly at things without fear , that we can look at ourselves as we actually are without any distortion, to say when we lie we lie and not cover up for it or run away from it.
But how can we be free to look and learn when our minds , from the moment we are born to the moment we die , are shaped by a particular culture in the narrow pattern of “me” ? For centuries we have been conditioned by nationality, caste, class, tradition, religion, language, art, custom, dogmatic religious beliefs, every influence you can think of , therefore our responses to every problem is conditioned.
Are you aware you ( we ) are conditioned ? That is the first thing you need to ask , how do I free myself from the conditioned mind ? You may never be free of it if you ask ” I must be free of it “. You may fall into another trap of another form of conditioning. So are you aware you are conditioned ? Do you know that even when you look at a tree and say ” this is an oak tree” or “that is a Banyan Tree” , the naming of a tree which is a botanical knowledge has so conditioned your mind that the word comes in between you and actually seeing the tree. To come in contact with the tree you have to out your hand around the tree and the word will not help you to touch it ! The answer is you don’t see.
If you see the danger of your conditioning merely as an intellectual concept , you will never do anything about it. In seeing a danger as a mere idea there is conflict between the idea and action and that conflict takes away your energy. It is only when you see the conditioning and the danger of it immediately and as you see a precipice, that you act. So seeing is acting.
Most of us walk through life inattentively , reacting unthinkingly according to the environment in which we have been brought up and such reactions create only further bondage , further conditioning , but the moment you give your total attention to your conditioning you will see that you are free from your past completely, that it falls away from you naturally.