Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Vimala Thakar

Indian Social Activist and Spiritual Teacher

"Life is in the here and now. Either we meet it, we live it—or we miss it."

"A holistic approach is a recognition of the homogeneity and wholeness of life. Life is not fragmented; it is not divided. It cannot be divided into spiritual and material, individual and collective. We cannot create compartments in life—political, economic, social, environmental. Whatever we do or don’t do affects and touches the wholeness, the homogeneity. We are forever organically related to wholeness. We are wholeness, and we move in wholeness. The awareness of oneness refuses to recognize separateness. So the holistic approach de-recognizes all the fragmentation in the name of religion or spirituality, all the compartmentalization in the name of social sciences, all the division in the name of politics, all the separation in the name of ideologies. When we understand the truth, we won’t cling to the false. As soon as we recognize the false as the false, we no longer give any value to it. We de-recognize it in daily living. A psychic and psychological de-recognition of all manner of fragmentation is the beginning of positive social action."

"A spontaneous cessation of mental activity releases an absolutely new and dynamic energy. Silence increases the sensitivity of the total being. It refreshes the nervous system in an astounding way. As you come out totally replenished when you have had profound and innocent sleep, So do you come out totally renewed when you have had ceased to function through the ego in the hour of silence."

"Act On Your Understanding - Never argue with one's own understanding. The whisper of intelligence is always there, whatever you do. If you create a time lag between the whisper of intelligence and understanding in you and your action, then you are preventing the cerebral organ from growing into a new dimension. When you argue with intelligence, when you postpone acting according to understanding then there is confusion, the brain gets confused. The voice of understanding, the voice of intelligence has an insecurity about it. How do you know that it is the right thing? So we tend to ignore it. Instead we accept authority. We conform. But the brain cannot be orderly, competent, accurate and precise if you do not listen to it, if you have no respect. We are so busy with the outside world, and its compulsions, that the world that is inside us does not command that respect and reverence, that care and concern from us. So one has to be a disciple of one's own understanding, look upon that understanding as the master. Sometimes one may commit a mistake, it might be the whim of the ego and we might mistake the whim, the wish of the ego for the voice of silence and intelligence, but that we have to discover. Unless you commit mistakes, how do you learn to discriminate between the false and the true? In learning there is bound to be a little insecurity, a possibility of committing mistakes. Why should one be terribly afraid of committing mistakes? So instead of accepting the authority of habits and conditionings, while one is moving one watches, and when there is a suggestion, a whisper from within, from one's own intelligence, one does not neglect, ignore, or insult that. To eliminate the time lag between understanding and action is the way to grow into spontaneity."

"All our emotions and thoughts are conditioned reflexes, reactions."

"A tender, loving concern for all living creatures will need to arise and reign in our hearts if any of us is to survive. And our lives will be truly blessed only when the misery of one is genuinely felt to be the misery of all. The force of love is the force of total revolution. It is the unreleased force, unknown and unexplored as a dynamic for change."

"A new challenge awaits us at the beginning of the twenty-first century: to go beyond fragmentation, to go beyond the incompatible sets of values held even by serious-minded people, to mature beyond the self-righteousness of one’s accepted approaches and be open to total living and total revolution. In this era, to become a spiritual inquirer without social consciousness is a luxury that we can ill afford, and to be a social activist without a scientific understanding of the inner workings of the mind is the worst folly. Neither approach in isolation has had any significant success. There is no question now that an inquirer will have to make an effort to be socially conscious or that an activist will have to be persuaded of the moral crisis in the human psyche, the significance of being attentive to the inner life. The challenge awaiting us is to go much deeper as human beings, to abandon superficial prejudices and preferences, to expand understanding to a global scale, integrating the totality of living, and to become aware of the wholeness of which we are a manifestation."

"But being a religious person, I would like to question the validity of everything for myself. That is the essence of religion, which is humility. Not to accept anything unless you understand the meaning there of, personally in your life. If you accept without understanding, you will be imposing upon the mind. And then you are neither true to the mind, nor true to the meaning. The essence of religion, which is humility, lies in uncovering the meaning of life, uncovering the meaning of every moment, learning the meaning for ourselves."

"Because the source of human conflict, social injustice, and exploitation is in the human psyche, we must begin there to transform society. We investigate the mind, the human psyche, not as an end in itself, as a self-centered activity, but as an act of compassion for the whole human race. We must move deep to the source of decay in society so that the new structures and social systems we design will have a sufficiently healthy root system that they will have an opportunity to flourish. The structures of society need to be transformed, but the hidden motivations and assumptions on which the structures rest need to be transformed as well. The individual and collective values and motives that give sanction to the injustice and exploitation of modern society must become the focus of change as much as the socioeconomic and political structures. We no longer will be able to allow the motivations and values that underlie personal and collective behavior to remain hidden and unexamined. It serves no lasting purpose for us to change the surface structures and behaviors while the deep foundations remain decadent and unsound."

"Compassion does not manifest itself when we live on the surface of existence, when we try to piece together a comfortable life out of easily available fragments. Compassion requires a plunge to the depths of life—where oneness is reality and divisions merely an illusion. If we dwell at the superficial layers of being, we’ll be overly conscious of the apparent differences in human beings on the physical and mental level, and of the superficial difference in cultures and behavior. If we penetrate to the essentials, however, we will discover that there is nothing fundamental that differentiates any human being from another, or any human being from any other living creature. All are manifestations of life, created with the same life principles and nurtured by the same life-support systems. Oneness is absolute reality; differentiation has only transitory, relative reality."

"As we deepen in understanding, the arbitrary divisions between inner and outer disappear. The essence of life, the beauty and grandeur of life, is its wholeness. Life in reality cannot be divided into the inner and the outer, the individual and social. We may make arbitrary divisions for the convenience of collective life, for analysis, but essentially any division between inner and outer has no reality, no meaning."

"Compassion is a spontaneous movement of wholeness. It is not a studied decision to help the poor, to be kind to the unfortunate. Compassion has a tremendous momentum that naturally, choicelessly moves us to worthy action. It has the force of intelligence, creativity, and the strength of love. Compassion cannot be cultivated; it derives neither from intellectual conviction nor from emotional reaction. It is simply there when the wholeness of life becomes a fact that is truly lived."

"Even though our very survival is in question, we tend to look at the crisis superficially, emotionally, sentimentally. We have tried in subtle ways to absolve ourselves of any deep responsibility for the condition of the human family. We perceive ourselves, or our small identity groups, as truly sincere and peace-loving, and we ascribe to outsiders, to those apart, to power-hungry villains, responsibility for aggression and wars."

"Correct diet implies the right quality and quantity as well as the frequency of intake. Eating should be related to appetite. It should not cause any excitement, or emotional disturbance. It should be gone through peacefully and happily. One has to be very alert to see that everything one eats is fully digested. The body should not be burdened with undigested food. The cleanliness of all the internal organs is one of the most important factors of meditation."

"Eliminating Reactions - One will have to learn to reduce the area and the duration of reactions seeing the futility and seeing the harmfulness of this constant game of reacting, evaluating, comparing and judging. You reduce your rapport and contact with the past: the memory, the knowing, the conditioning, the motivations, the defenses. If one would be with nature, even half the time that one is with human beings, machines and gadgets, there would be an opportunity to enter into a non-reactional observation, a non-reactional attention. Then the brain would get some rest. When you are with nature: the birds, the lakes, the sunsets, the beautiful moonlight, when you are with the aloneness of the woods - then the comparative evaluating process has no scope. The motivations and defense-mechanisms become absolutely irrelevant andmeaningless when you are with nature. The reactional pattern has no function, and yet there is observation. So the cerebral organ grows into a new faculty of non-reactional sensitivity."

"Dhyan is not an activity but a state of being, a dimension of being. It is a state of motionlessness where the ego is dissolved and you have let it be dissolved, where there is no experiencing but only a state of non-knowing, non-doing. Some have described it as the dark night of the soul. There is no tension at all in this state; the space within is being activated. It is a very delicate state that has to be looked after. You need to be alone then and need time to adjust to it."

"Growing into Silence - The voluntary cessation, non-action of movement, can become possible if the brain, the cerebral organ, is not a restless, disorderly, chaotic brain."

"Four Approaches to Growing into Silence - Be precise, accurate and totally present with everything that one does. Expose oneself as much as one can to nature, to the universe, all that is not man-made. Be a disciple of one's own understanding. Keep the body and brain sensitive, alert and sharp."

"I am a simple person, a human being who has loved life and who has seen life as divinity itself. I have lived in love with life, madly in love with the human expression of life as divinity!"

"Generally we waste energy in unessential secondary things. This criminal waste leaves us tired and troubled at the end of the day. An overtired and emotionally disturbed person cannot sleep profoundly. The sacred night is wasted and you begin the next day with a sluggish body and a lethargic mind."

"If there is a willingness to face these unpleasant facts, and be with these facts, then we can proceed. If we enter into self-pity and depression, then negativity may lead to cynicism and bitterness against others and bitterness against the system. And releasing such negative energy does not help solve the problems. We have to stick with the facts as they are. Whether we like it or not, we are responsible participants in what is happening in the world."

"If we sanction violence in our hearts, we are going to cooperate with whomever is waging war. We are participants because psychologically we sanction violence. If we really want to put an end to warfare, we need to explore deep into the human psyche where the roots of violence have a stronghold. Unless we find the roots of violence, ambition, and jealousy, we will not find our way out of chaos. Failure to eliminate their roots will doom us to endless miserable repetitions of the failures of the past. We must see that the inner and the outer are delicately intertwined in a totality and that we cannot deal with the one successfully without the other. The structures and systems condition the inner consciousness, and the conditionings of the consciousness create the structures and systems. We cannot carve out one part of the relationship, make it bright and beautiful, and ignore the rest. The forces of human societal conditionings are powerfully entrenched; they will not be ignored."

"If I am aware of the nature of my reactions, and movement of my reactions, naturally that awareness will result in freedom from the reaction."

"Inner freedom from the past, from the thought structure, from the organized, standardized collective mind, is absolutely necessary if we are to meet one another without mistrust or distrust, without fear, to look at each other spontaneously, to listen to one another without any inhibition whatsoever. The study of mind and the exploration of inner freedom is not something utopian, is not something self-centered, but it is urgently necessary so that we as human beings can transcend the barriers that regimentation of thought has created between us. Then we will perceive ourselves, each as an unlabeled human being; not an Indian, an American, a capitalist, or a communist—but as a human being, a miniature wholeness. We have not yet learned to do that. We are together on this small planet, and yet we cannot live together. Physically we are near one another, and psychologically we are miles apart. Clearly the social responsibility for arriving at inner freedom is a very relevant issue. We study the mind because we want the harmony of peace to prevail, because we need the joy of love in our hearts, because we care about the quality of life our children will inherit. We do not undertake such study because we want something new and esoteric for the ego, some transcendental experiences to enhance our self-image. We study the mind as a social responsibility; we recognize that the roots of violence, injustice, exploitation, and greed are in the human psyche, and we turn our clear, precise, objective attention there."

"In a time when the survival of the human race is in question, to continue with the status quo is to cooperate with insanity, to contribute to chaos. When darkness engulfs the spirit of the people, it is urgent for concerned people to awaken, to rise to revolution."

"It is not sufficient that a few in society penetrate to the depths of living and offer fascinating accounts about the oneness of all beings. What is necessary in these critical times is that all sensitive and caring people make a personal discovery of the fact of oneness and allow compassion to flow in their lives. When compassion and realization of oneness becomes the dynamic of human relationship, then humankind will evolve."

"In the dimension of dhyan (meditation) you have let the activities of the mind come to an end"

"Meditation - If I am aware of the nature of my reactions, and movement of my reactions, naturally that awareness will result in freedom from the reaction. I cannot stop the reaction, because the reactions have been rooted in the sub-conscious, in the unconscious. I cannot prevent, I cannot renounce, I cannot check them. But if I am aware, simultaneously of the objective challenge, the subjective reactions and the causes of those reactions, then it results in freedom. Then the momentum of reaction will not carry me over with it, but I will be ahead of the reactions; I will not be a victim of my reaction, but I will see them as I see the objective challenge. That for me is meditation. All-inclusive attention while moving in life. Meditation does not involve any mental activity at all."

"Keeping the Body and Brain Sensitive, Alert and Sharp - It is necessary to keep the body sensitive, alert and sharp, to feed it and to clothe it correctly, properly; to give it a chance to go through exercises which will mobilize not only the muscles, but also the nerves and be careful that the body does not become sluggish; to feed it correctly - not over- nor under-feeding it; to allow it to have sleep, necessary for its health - not to over- nor under-sleep; not to expose it to too much brooding, worrying, anxiety, which are impotent ways of wasting energy; not entering into excesses of indulgence and not denying and suppressing in the name of austerity, religion or discipline; because the cerebral organ, the brain is woven into this biological structure. It is very important, because in a sluggish body, in a lazy body, you can't have a sharp, sensitive, alert brain, which would voluntarily go into non-action. Self-education is vitally necessary in order to enable the cerebral organ to function in an orderly, quiet way. When there is order, there is a quietness; an orderly person hardly gets excited. It is disorder that leads to excitement, enthusiasm, depression which is the other side of excitement, passivity which is the obverse of enthusiasm. When one has arrived at that orderliness in daily living, in whatever one does, then only one can talk about the brain voluntarily, relinquishing the outgoing and the ingoing movement, relinquishing voluntarily the hold upon the known and the unknown, the visible and the invisible, so that the infinite could be."

"Most of us are not aware of our motivations for living or our priorities for action. We drift with the tides of societal fashions, floating in and out of social concerns at the whim of societal dictates and on the basis of images created by the media or superficial, personal desires to be helpful, useful persons. We are used to living at the surface, afraid of the depths, and therefore our actions and concerns about humanity are shallow, fragile vessels easily damaged. Ultimately most of us are concerned chiefly with our small lives, our collection of sensual pleasures, our personal salvation, and our anxiety about sickness and death, rather than the misery created by collective indifference and callousness."

"Nothing in life is trivial. Life is whole wherever and whenever we touch it, and one moment or event is not less sacred than another."

"One has to begin with being introduced to one's own mind. To watch how the mind works, to watch how we live second-hand through emotions, feelings and sentiments. How we call them our own and identify ourselves with them. To watch all this, will be the beginning of meditation."

"Meditation is relaxation in action. Only that person can act out of his total being, who acts in relaxation. Tensions, fears and worries create inhibitions. A person who lives in constant conflict and tension starts seeking relaxation outside his daily life. He seeks silence outside his skin. He seeks perfection outside his daily relationships. We should be vigilant not to become victims of such unholy temptations. To penetrate through the daily routine and relationships; to understand them and to undergo a transformation through that understanding is the creative way of meditation."

"Meditation is meeting eternity in the present moment. It is resolving every problem as it comes. It is resolving every tension as it creeps in. It is facing the challenges of life in a non-fearful way."

"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."

"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."

"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.”"

"One has to watch the movements of the mind without trying to control or suppress it. One has to go through the phase of suffocation, embarrassment and void. It is an unavoidable experience of loneliness through which everyone has to go once in his life."

"One has to see that one does not waste the precious energy unwarrantedly. The energy that is built-in in childhood and youth is our capital. It should be conserved and used with care and concern."

"Self-education begins by watching how we are using the energy and learning how not to waste it through."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"The thoughts cannot be suppressed nor can they be thrown away anywhere, you can only watch them, not naming them as good or bad. Then you are free from the roles of an experiencer and an actor, you enter into the state of an observer of non-reactional attention."

"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."

"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."

"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 world today forces us to accept, at least intellectually, our oneness, our interrelatedness. And more and more people are awakening to the urgency of arresting the accelerating madness around us. As yet, however, our ways of responding are superficial, unequal to the complexities of the challenge. We do not take or even consider actions that threaten our security or alter our habitual ways of drifting through life. If we continue to live carelessly, indifferently, emphasizing private gain and personal indulgence, we are essentially opting for the suicide of humanity."