Joy and Creative Renewal
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at the Convent of the Cenacle, Grayshott, Hampshire on 30th May 1983
You may recollect that on Saturday evening I mentioned joy, and that creative renewal has been associated with that joy — that joy emerges out of creative renewal. But this joy has nothing to do with sensational delight or pleasure-seeking, because whatsoever belongs to the transcendent context can never be sought, for the very simple reason that it is something which is beyond our ordinary ken. And we function here and live here in terms of what comes within our ordinary ken. We may form ideas about it, we may talk about it, think about it, but those are mere ideas and talk and thoughts. They are not the reality although they might suggest that reality, suggest it, not to our brains, but by touching our inner consciousness, and this inner consciousness is a mystery. The innermost depth of consciousness in us is that which directly touches transcendence itself. And because of that touch, what belongs to the transcendent realm (in terms of joy, bliss and the peaceful state) can percolate down to us here in our ordinary everyday state. This spells a creative renewal, not a renewal of that which we already are and the way in which we already carry on, but a renewal which is of the nature of a complete and sudden transformation — a total transformation of the inner being altogether.
What we know, we know in terms of the activity of our senses and our brains. We form ideas, we have conceptions and we spin cobwebs of beliefs and thoughts, but they really obstruct that transcendence. They tend to prevent the direct touch (as we say in religious teaching, this direct seeing of the truth, of the reality) because that which is manifest in the world of things and affairs is something which is a constriction. It is a limitation of that which is the ultimately real and the source of being, the source of things, the source of the whole universe. Do you remember how Warren Kenton yesterday spoke about God making existence the mirror in which to see himself? That is a very neat way of putting it. But in making the mirror to see himself, the image which is formed is not the reality. What you see in the mirror is not the actuality, the actuality is something different. And it is this, which is something different, which cannot be sought. Consider the analogy again of the mirror and the image. The image cannot seek the person who is looking in the mirror. The person who is looking in the mirror can come closer and closer to that mirror until he bumps his nose into it, and image and everything disappear in consequence. So you see, this, the existential being, is like the image. The analogy must not be carried too far because the existential being, the psycho-physical organism and all its functioning, is actually transcendence embodied. It is transcendence which has become constricted. If you consider the scientific fact that the entire universe is the concretized expression of the ultimate energy, what that ultimate energy is, science itself does not know. It still asks the question, and the most modern scientists are beginning to see that, whilst they can ask the question, there is no answer possible to it in such terms as we (constituted as we are and with our particular faculties) could ever understand. It will always be a mystery. The more science has tried to penetrate into the origin of things of the manifested universe, the deeper the mystery becomes. Quantum mechanics, for example, has completely overthrown all the old concepts of classical physics. And this new world is something which is a tremendous mystery. The fact remains that the universal things of manifestation are the concretization of primordial energy. There is no escaping that fact. It is energy, pure energy itself (of which we know the secondary forms, or tertiary forms — electricity, magnetism, heat, light, mechanical energy, chemical energy). All these different energies are the secondary forms of ultimate energy which in itself is nondescript, which cannot be put to the test and which we cannot examine under a microscope or telescope or any instruments which we have made. Similarly, transcendence concretizes, and in that concretization there emerge all the grades of being and manifestation, so many grades which are quite outside the ken of mortals, and will remain outside the ken of all mortals until that change has taken place, through the evolutionary process, by which creatures will come into being, more marvellous than the human species, which will be able to sense those profounder and profounder grades.
We can talk like this, but what I am saying may be complete nonsense, or there may be, perhaps, just some chink of light hidden in it. It is possible through the dissolution of our selfness (particularly in this clinging to the idea of oneself as the subject who is the onlooker) that there comes into being an inner silence, a tremendous inner silence which produces a peculiar effect. That effect upon the psycho-physical organism may, sometimes, as it has done through the millennia (in exceptional cases) work itself out in terms of concept and word, as we understand concept and word.
And so our concepts and words can be just suggestive of that transcendent reality. But we must never try to give shape to it, give form to it. It is very easy to produce wonderful clear-cut systems like that but all those systems, whilst they are stimulating and intellectually exciting, we must not mistake for this ultimate reality. This source which became us and which is the power, not impels so much as attracts us back to itself. And in that is the fulfilment and liberation of man. So these things must not be sought, cannot be sought. There is no harm in trying to seek it because the time will come (because all our seeking is in space and time, and in terms of the material, the objective), when we will get tired of the seeking and then we will say, “Oh well, give it up, just let it be, let be what is”, and the What Is will then smile upon us and say, “All right, this is What Is”. And there in that single moment comes the sort of flash of revelation. Revelation can never be put into words. Transcendence speaks with the tongue of revelation and that is something which is completely beyond all thinking, feeling, speaking or representing (remember the word representing is re-presenting) in terms of pictures or statues or art or science or philosophy or anything. And yet, all these things which we do in our sphere could have that something in them through their purification which enables this curious touch with our innermost consciousness, with the ultimate reality.
So you see, the whole thing boils down again to what the great teachers have always taught as something specific that we human beings can do, and that is to carry out the task of purification. The purification, again, is something which must not be formulated too much, which must be formulated to the least possible extent, because every formulation is a fossilization when it goes too far. You have to be elastic, very elastic. You know, the healthy body has plenty of elasticity to it, but the psychological elasticity that is required of us is something immensely greater and profounder than the physical elasticity of the organism. We must be completely open and attentive with a total openness to everything. With that total openness we do not obstruct that which comes to us as a stimulus by our particular ideas, our thoughts and conceptions. This is utter freedom from all psychological restraint and all psychological control, and yet there is this element of control brought into existence by the fact that there are certain simple essentials that we have to observe, or shall we say try to observe. They are the simple moralities.
If you look at all the great religions what, essentially, do they tell us to do? As we might say, “What am I to do about it?” Everybody asks, “How do I get along?” Be harmless. It sounds simple “Oh well, that’s easy. I don’t want to hit anybody or squash the next fly”. That is not all of it. That may be just a tenth part of the letter ‘A’ of the whole alphabet of harmlessness. If you watch carefully the inner process that goes on, its terrible subtlety and the way we get deceived all the time with what is happening inside our own brains, we will discover that we are far from harmless. All these simple virtues are the most difficult to fulfil. This is why psychologically it is very wise to start with what is called the negative way. The positive way is to say, “Oh, love your neighbour as yourself”. How on earth are you going to love your neighbour as yourself? It implies for one thing to love yourself. Do I love myself? Can I love myself? No, ordinarily I cannot, I do not know myself. I dislike things in myself, I would like to smash up things in myself, get rid of things in myself. But are all those acts of harmlessness? Can I accept the whole of myself as I am psycho-physically? Can I accept the whole of myself and the whole of my living process and, like the lord who is the dominus, the lord of the house, protect, nurture. sustain and heal all that happens inside this house which is the psycho-physical organism, myself? Can I do that? I get impatient with myself, angry with myself. I criticize myself, I praise myself, get conceited and so forth. But all these acts, all these processes are not exactly harmless processes. So, how do I love myself? Consider again, “I demand so much from myself, oh, I’ve got to observe such and such a standard and behave and act in such and such a way. It’s not done to think or speak or do thus and thus”. All right, but how should I think and speak and do? I do not quite know. So I repress, suppress, beat down that which I say I should not do or speak or think. But that is not harmlessness, is it? That is not loving yourself. You cannot directly, positively, love because love in its reality, like truth or beauty or goodness or purity, is something which is essentially of a transcendent nature. And unless and until this sense of transcendence begins to stir inside me, to wake inside me, I cannot do anything about it. I cannot become virtuous. It sounds as if the whole business is so unhopeful. “Let’s pack up our traps and go home and enjoy life,” one might be inclined to say. But no, wait a minute, supposing I let myself just be, be quiet. Let the psychological turmoil calm down. See what a wonderful teacher we have in the English weather — days and days of rain and storms, what happens to them all? They cease. I cannot do anything about them, nor can you, can you? You cannot control the movement of the clouds and the deep depressions which come over the Atlantic from the continent. You cannot do anything about it, you just have to let be. Let be and observe, it will change in course of time. And in letting be and observing quietly there is liberated a strange sort of energy which in the ordinary way we know nothing about. It is an energy which pacifies the whole situation. And it brings peace and quiet, an inner silence which is full of song, not of cacophony. This is the extraordinary part of it.
Now, so much from the side of virtue and its activity. But there is another aspect which is essential if virtue is to function, and here we will come across an extraordinary thing. We can let be if we truly respect the organism, if we truly respect that which belongs to the finite, the temporal, the perishable and the mortal, if we truly respect it to start with. And in that regard, through respect for the finite and the mortal, there will gradually emerge a sense of the marvel, the awe of the transcendent, what in some religions has been called the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord has nothing to do with fear as we know it in terms of fear of daddy giving me a thorough good spanking for misbehaving, or the schoolmaster or the judge in the court sentencing me, it is not that kind of fear at all. This fear is a peculiar, happy sort of apprehensiveness, an apprehensiveness of “My goodness, what’s going to happen?” You are in a sense tremulous but you do not turn tail and fly away, you do not flee from this. This lion, this elephant, this tremendous monster is none other than transcendence itself, first making you afraid, and then you suddenly discover that it actually is the everlasting arms underneath, sustaining, nurturing, protecting you. And then there springs up, in its own extraordinary way, the love of the transcendent.
Respect the organism, and it brings forth the love of transcendence. When that love of the transcendent is there then the love of the self (oneself) also becomes true love of oneself. And harmlessness will inevitably and invariably attend that love. So you see, love of the transcendent implies an unreserved, an unconditional, total giving of one’s entire being to transcendence. That becomes easy. That love enables virtue to function rightly and strongly. You know the lovely statement we have, “Love maketh wise”. We all know that in the ordinary way in the world, especially this modern world, what people call love does not make them wise, it makes them extraordinarily foolish and stupid and wicked, self-seeking, self-indulging, inconsiderate and so on, and that is nothing to do with love. These are tremendous illusions and delusions.
But when this love of the transcendent just naturally springs up, it will come naturally and spontaneously, you do not have to seek it, it is there. It is omnipresent because transcendence is omnipresent. And it is omnipotent, not by any compulsion whatsoever, but by the fact that it can wait, in terms of eternity, until we have expended all that has to perish away in time. So this love makes active virtue possible, then virtue functions actively, quite naturally, spontaneously. It needs no formulating, it just happens, it gets done. There is no wastage of words, ideas, plans, thoughts or activities which are, in the long run, all self-indulgences and self-expressions, that is to say expressions which limit oneself and cut oneself off from this union with the totality. In this union with the totality one is not lost, but all the separateness, the isolativeness of one is completely out of the picture. It is that wonderful consumative, transmutative death, which takes the place of the selfness, the power which divides you from totality. When that goes, then you can love your neighbour as yourself. In fact you cannot avoid loving your neighbour as yourself. It is there because that has become the natural state.
So, virtue makes the possibility of this love of the transcendence emerging, and the love of transcendence makes the possibility for virtue to be active in our life. When that is the case then creative renewal can take place. All our renewals are procreative, they are according to pattern, they are related to the past, what has gone before. Although where geniuses are at work they point to the future also, they are only pointers to the future. In creative renewal, in the real sense, there is no relationship with a past. The past is suddenly transformed. This is magic, if you like, in the truest and the grandest sense of the word magic. It is miraculous. You do not have to search for the miraculous, you can if you like but you will never find it, it happens. We can stop it happening, we can let it happen, that is our particular responsibility. But this creative renewal means a total newness because there has been a complete transformation in one’s inner consciousness, a complete changing, and this is something which comes as a climax, as a fruition of human development and human endeavour (right endeavour, not the wrong sort of endeavour).
So, this complete newness of life, here and now whilst alive, takes place. In actual fact the entire universal process from split second to split second pulsates with this newness of creative renewal because that is how transcendence functions. The primordial creative energy functions in that way, that energy, which we do not know, which remains the unknowable, because it is beyond all that can be realized in terms of us human beings. What can be realized in terms of us human creatures, constituted as we are, is just one octave, one small octave of the total song of life.
There are many, many octaves of being like that. And the change is in the change of consciousness itself, that introduces a completely different thing that cannot be talked about. What can be talked about are our limits which end up with the sort of things that the great teachers and the great mystics have produced. It ends up there. But we must not think that that is the end, the transcendent itself, it is not.
Be satisfied with the shadows, with the shade so to say, because otherwise we would be completely burnt up if transcendence were suddenly to manifest in and through us. The human organism cannot stand that voltage, it is too tremendous.
There have been instances where genius has sometimes penetrated through sheer brilliance of perception into such realms, but in such cases those geniuses have suffered from insanity. So, do not tempt the Lord. That is important. Love, and love not “I” — the person wanting to love or getting at the loved one. Be quiet, let the Lord come to you. Let the beloved, the supreme beloved come to you. You just make a sign that you are willing. That is all and all the rest will happen by itself.