Indian Social Activist and Spiritual Teacher
Indian Social Activist and Spiritual Teacher
One of the by-products of the state of dhyan is that fearlessness is awakened. Fearlessness is very different from bravery. Bravery is an attribute of the mind, which can be and has been cultivated by the state, religion and family for their own purpose, but it is an attribute that can also be lost. Once fearlessness is awakened it can never be extinguished, fear no longer enters the mind. Fearlessness is awakened when man has faith either in his own understanding or has faith in the Universal Intelligence.
Those of us who have dedicated our lives to social action have considered our personal morality and ethics, our motives and habits, to be private territory. We not only want our personal motivations and habits cut off from public view, but from our own recognition as well. But in truth, the inner life is not a private or personal thing; it’s very much a social issue. The mind is a result of collective human effort. There is not your mind and my mind; it’s a human mind. It’s a collective human mind, organized and standardized through centuries. The values, the norms, the criteria are patterns of behavior organized by collective groups. There is nothing personal or private about them. We may close the doors to our rooms and feel that nobody knows our thoughts, but what we do in so-called privacy affects the life around us. If we spend our days victimized by negative energies and negative thoughts, if we yield to depression, melancholia, and bitterness, these energies pollute the atmosphere. Where then is privacy? We need to learn, as a social responsibility, to look at the mind as something that has been created collectively and to recognize that our individual expressions are expressions of the human mind.
When we come face-to-face with the actualities of human and planetary suffering, what does the powerful moment of truth do to us? Do we retreat into the comforts of theories and defense mechanisms, or are we awakened at the core of our being? Awareness of misery, without defense structures, will naturally lead to action. The heart cannot witness misery without calling the being to action, without activating the force of love. We may not act on a global or national scale; it may be only on a community or neighborhood scale—but act, respond, we must. Social responsibility flowers naturally when we perceive the world without the involvement of the ego-consciousness. When we relate directly to suffering, we are led to understanding and spontaneous action—but when we perceive the world through the ego, we are cut off from direct relationship, from communion that stirs the deepest level of our being.
Orderliness - One doesn't have to begin to learn how to be silent, but one has to begin with learning to function in an orderly, clear, unconfused way. Every cerebral movement has to be clear, precise and accurate. Accuracy, precision, is the breath of orderliness. So I learn to be precise and accurate. And in learning to be precise and accurate I learn to be totally present with everything that I do.
Through observation thoughts subside, hence the strain and pressure they cause on the neurological and chemical systems is also lifted. It is this tension that brings about anti-social behaviour.
Whether you try to influence the mind through ideas and concepts, or through discipline and vows, or through drugs, you are trying to stimulate artificially a state of silence. Perhaps if we are friendly with the mind, if we watch the mind, if we understand the mind, if we let it wander, let it roam about wherever it wants, let it exhaust its momentum by wandering, without scolding, without praising, without
People have generally followed one or the other of these two conventional approaches: religious groups concerned with inner growth and inner revolution, and social activist groups concerned with social service. Traditionally we have created boundaries, and exploration beyond our home territories has been only superficial. The social activists have staked out their territory, the outer life—the socioeconomic, political structures—and the spiritual people have staked out theirs—the inner world of higher dimensions of consciousness, transcendental experiences, and meditation. The two groups, throughout history, have been contemptuous of each other. The social activists consider the spiritual inquirers to be self-indulgent, and the inquirers consider the activists to be caught in a race of activity, denying the essence of living. Traditional spiritual leaders have divided life into worldly and spiritual, and have insisted that the world is illusion. They said, “This world is maya, is an illusion. So whatever action you take should be in relation to the absolute truth and not in relation to maya.” Thus a religious person sitting in meditation for ten hours a day need not mind the tyranny or the exploitation or the cruelties surrounding him. He would say, “That’s not my responsibility. It’s God’s responsibility. God has created the world. He or She will take care of it.”
To be ready for social responsibility, we will have to be mercilessly honest with ourselves. Wherever we are, we are responsible to resist injustice, to be willing to put our comforts, securities, our lives at stake in fearless non-cooperation with injustice and exploitation. If we adopt all the habit patterns of the enslaved—the fear, the acceptance of tyranny, the intellectual and emotional blindness to injustice—we deserve the inevitable consequences that are descending upon us in a dark storm cloud. If we are submissive, clinging to our small islands of security, naturally terror will reign. If we are willing to allow all others to perish—the peoples of other countries, races, castes, cultures, religions; the other creatures of the earth—so that we may flourish and endlessly increase our network of pleasures and comforts, obviously we are doomed to rot and decay. The callousness of letting others be abused so that our petty little lives will be undisturbed, so that all the comforts of a lovely home, pleasant meals, and good entertainment will not be threatened, portends doom for us all.
Yet as members of societies that are prepared for war, how can we set ourselves apart as peace-loving and the others as violent? This is, however, what we attempt to do. We see on the television or hear on the radio news about massacres and wars taking place in different countries, and we feel how stupid it is to wage war and wonder why the politicians and the statesmen don’t have the wisdom to stop all this nonsense. This is the reaction perhaps of every sensitive citizen of the world. But who wages war? Where are the roots of war? Are they in the minds of a handful of individuals ruling over their respective countries? Or are the roots of war in the systems that we have created and have been living by for centuries—the economic, the political, the administrative, the industrial systems? If we are not romantic and sentimental, and do not feel gratified just by reacting emotionally, by expressing how bad the wars are, but rather go deep, won’t we find the roots of war in the systems and structures that we have accepted?
Self-education begins by watching how we are using the energy and learning how not to waste it through.
Today, with the scars of our past failures marring our existence and the fears of the future weighing heavily on our spirits, we can no longer go on with this dangerous game of fragmentation. We can no longer escape the fact that we are all bonded, equal in wholeness. Science and technology have brought each of us into intimate relationship with all others. We are truly a global human family. Yet as a family, we have not learned how to live together in peace, to live without violence and exploitation. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Bertrand Russell wrote: “Man knows how to fly in the air like a bird, he knows how to swim in water like the fish, but how to live among other human beings, he does not know.”
Silence and Emptiness - In the dimension of silence the movement of thought goes on without creating the illusion of a thinker. The reception of the sensation and the interpretation of the objects surrounding you takes place without the interpreter. The movement of thought goes on without the thinker. There is no centre to say: "I like this and I dislike that, I prefer this and I have a hatred for that". So there is involuntary cerebral activity without the psychological recording or registering. The movement of thought, the movement of knowledge goes on in the body like the movement of breath, of blood. Silence implies the existence of the total human past within you, inside you. It also implies the movement of knowledge, thought, etc. without the knower, without the thinker. The absence of the knower, the thinker, the experiencer, the centre - is the essential part of what we call silence. And because there is no centre, no knower, no experiencer you call it emptiness.
Traditionally, there have been two separate approaches. One approach takes us toward the social, the economic, the political problems, and says, “Look here, unless the economic and political problems are solved, there will be no happiness and no peace, there will be no end to suffering. It is the responsibility of every individual to engage in solving these problems according to some ideology. Turning toward the inner life, the imbalances and impurities of the inner life, that is not so important, that can be taken care of later on, for it is a self-centered, egoistic activity. But the responsibility is toward the society, toward the human race, so keep aside all those problems of meditation and silence, inner sophistication, transformation for inner revolution—keep all that aside. First turn toward this.” And the other approach says, “The political and economic problems cannot be solved unless the individual is transformed totally. Be concerned with your psychological mutation, the inner, radical revolution. The political, the economic, the social problems can wait.”
Silence in Action - Sensitivity and Pain - To live requires energy and fearlessness, but we are brought up in a pleasure-hunting human race, and pain is something to be afraid of, to be driven away completely, to protect oneself from. But it is the pain and pleasure - the duality - together that make the whole, the wholeness of life. The more sensitive you are and the more you live from the depth of your being, the more vulnerable you are to life. The more sensitive you are and the more capable of loving human beings, the more you will be hurt; there is more sorrow, there is more pain. Psychological hurts, pain and sorrow accompany the sensitivity, intelligence and love. Love and sorrow go together. So, if there is physical or psychological pain, you live with it - not out of despair, not out of self-pity, not out of any weakness. You live with it because it is part of life, it is an expression of life.
Viewing the world as a large pieced-together collection of fragments, some of which are labeled as friend and others as foe, begins internally. We map out our internal territories with the same positive or negative designations as we do external territories, and wars go on there as they do in the world. Internally, we are divided against ourselves; the emotions want one thing, the intellect another, the impulses of the body yet another, and a conflict takes place which is no different in quality, although it is in scale, from that of the world wars. If we are not related to ourselves in wholeness, is it any surprise that we cannot perceive the wholeness of the world? If we believe ourselves each to be a patched-together, unmatched assortment of desirable and undesirable features, motives at odds with each other, undigested beliefs and prejudices, fears, and insecurities, will we not project all this on the world?
The call is not to one of the revolutionary formulas of the past; they have failed—why drag them out again even in new regalia? The challenge now is to create an entirely new, vital revolution that takes the whole of life into its sphere. We have never dared embrace the whole of life in all its awesome beauty; we’ve been content to perpetuate fragments, invent corners where we feel conceptually secure and emotionally safe. We could have our safe little nooks and niches were it not for the terrible mess we have made by attempting to break the cosmic wholeness into bite-size bits. It’s an ugly chaos we have created, and we try to remedy the complicated situation with the most superficial of patched-together cures.
We are related organically, and we have to live that relationship. To be attentive to the dynamics of the inner being is not creating a network of escapes to avoid responsibility. It is not continuing a false superiority that I am sensitive and you are not. It is simply recognizing that our personal relationships and collective relationships are miserable affairs, and that these relationships stimulate fear and anxieties and throw us on the defensive. However much we yearn for peace, emotionally we are not mature enough for peace, and our immaturity affects everything we do, every action we take, even the most worthy of actions.
The cleverness of the human mind has led us to the complex, horrifying, and all-encompassing crisis that we now face. The familiar solutions, based on a limited view of what a human being is, continue to fail, to be pathetically inadequate. Yet we pour vast resources into these tired solutions and feel that if we achieve a grand enough scale, the old solutions will meet the new challenges. Do we have the courage to see failures as failures and leave them to the past? Do we have the vitality to go beyond narrow, one-sided views of human life and to open ourselves to totality and wholeness? The call of the hour is to move beyond the fragmentary, to awaken to total revolution.
We are suffering throughout the world in the darkness of the misery we have created. By believing in the fragmentary and the superficial, we have failed to live together in peace and harmony, and so darkness looms very large on the horizon. It’s in such darkness that common people such as you and I feel the urgency to go deeper, to abandon superficial approaches that are inadequate and to activate the creative forces available to each of us as expressions of wholeness. The vast intelligence that orders the cosmos is available to all. The beauty of life, the wonder of living, is that we share creativity, intelligence, and unlimited potential with the rest of the cosmos. If the universe is vast and mysterious, we are vast and mysterious. If it contains innumerable creative energies, we contain innumerable creative energies. If it has healing energies, we also have healing energies. To realize that we are not simply physical beings on a material planet, but that we are whole beings, each a miniature cosmos, each related to all of life in intimate, profound ways, should radically transform how we perceive ourselves, our environments, our social problems. Nothing can ever be isolated from wholeness.
The elimination of inner disorder takes place in the lives of those who are interested in being truly creative, vital, and passionate whole human beings, and who recognize that inner anarchy and chaos drains energy and manifests in shabby, shoddy behavior in society. To be attentive requires tremendous love of living. It is not for those who choose to drift through life or for those who feel that charitable acts in society justify ugly inward ways of being. The total revolution we are examining is not for the timid or the self-righteous. It is for those who love truth more than pretense. It is for those who sincerely, humbly want to find a way out of this mess that we, each one of us, have created out of indifference, carelessness, and lack of moral courage.
We become aware of all that is happening within us, of the different emotions arising within us, for example if we begin to get angry we are aware of it and so the grip of anger loosens its hold over us.
The essence of religion is the personal discovery of the meaning of life, the meaning of truth. Religion is related to the unconditional, total freedom that truth confers on us. It is a revolution of the whole way of living. Religion moves us from the superficial layers of existence and encourages us to go deeper to the roots of life. It is an inward journey to the depths of our being.
We can become involved in many acts of social service, according to our resources, without ever moving one inch from the center of our private interests; in fact, the very act of social service typically enhances self-image and self-centeredness. But we cannot become involved in true social action, which strikes at the roots of problems in the society and in the human psyche, without moving away from ego-centered motivation. We must look deep into the network of personal motivations and discover what our priorities are. Our yearning for peace must be so urgent that we are willing to free ourselves from the immaturity of ego-centered action, willing to grow into the sane maturity required to face the complex challenges that affect our existence. If we are motivated by desire for acceptance either by the dominant culture or the counterculture, clarity of right action and passion of precise purpose will not be there. We may be praised for our contributions, but unless there is a deep awareness of the essence of our lives, a penetrating clarity about the meaning of human existence, our contributions will not penetrate to the roots of human misery.
The observation of the breathing rhythm is suggested as a support to those who cannot arrive at the spontaneous stillness of total mind without some support. But to depend upon the support for a long period is undesirable and unwarranted. One has to discover for oneself whether one is learning self-reliance through the support or not. Simple observation of the breathing rhythm culminates into silence or total awareness within a few weeks. Secondly the hour of silence should enable one to live in awareness throughout the day.
We have accepted the watertight compartments of society, the fragmentation of living as factual and necessary. We live in relationship to these fragments and accept the internalized divisions—the various roles we play, the contradictory value systems, the opposing motives and priorities—as reality. We are at odds with ourselves internally; we believe that the inner is fundamentally different from the outer, that what is me is quite separate from the not-me, that divisions among people and nations are necessary, and yet we wonder why there are tensions, conflicts, wars in the world. The conflicts begin with minds that believe in fragmentation and are ignorant of wholeness.