Making a Complete End of All Ill
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 23rd May 1971
When someone came to the Buddha enquiring and was sufficiently moved by what he heard, he asked the Buddha for ordination in the Buddhist sangha, the order. The Buddha would say, “Come, bhikkhu, well preached is the doctrine. Tread the Brahmacariya, the Brahma path, (literally, “the walking in Brahma”) for the complete ending of all ill.” This of course is a tremendous statement altogether. “For the complete ending of all ill.”
How is “ill” presented in Buddhism? In its external form it is presented as jāti, (we will deal with jāti a little later), as old age, as decrepitude, death, being associated with what one or whom one dislikes, not being associated with the people one likes, and so on. This is how ill is presented externally. This is called dukkha, suffering. But there is a profounder meaning to it, and that is that it is “far from the Infinite,” (kha, the Infinite, du, far from, spoilt, made bad). This of course straightaway lands us into the fact that our life here is not the expression of the Transcendent, of Perfection itself, of Nirvana. It is that fact that we have to deal with essentially. All these other things are secondary. Old age, death, they just come, and the millions of the world take those things in their stride willy-nilly, intelligently, or not so intelligently. So that is not so much the problem. Even the conflict, the misery we go through in life is not so much the problem. The problem is that our life here is something limited, constricted, twisted, in confusion and so forth. It does not express the Perfection of the Transcendent. This is the real pain, the real suffering in the spiritual sense.
Now the word jāti, usually translated as birth, means really the beginning of an appearance. Because, as far as we individuals are concerned, the beginning of our appearance in this world is our birth, as we commonly call it, jāti means birth. Jāti also has its connotations, its secondary meanings, which are in this particular context, I feel, rather more important. The moment there is an appearance, a finite, limited particular existence as such, it is conditioned. It is an expression of something which is conditioned, something which is imprisoned, and jāti really means the conditioned state, whatever that conditioned state may be. If you look at the Visuddhi-magga, the Path of Purity, which was written by Buddaghosa (an enormous tome, it runs into nearly a thousand pages of print, and Buddhaghosa produced thirty such tomes in his lifetime!), if you look at the Visuddhimagga, you will find Buddhaghosa clearly saying that when there is an appearance, or let me put it this way, when an appearance begins, people say that this is the birth of an entity. There is no such thing, he says. It is the beginning of an appearance, there is no entity involved in it. When that appearance which is the living body goes through death, people say that a person has died, goes somewhere and reappears again. Buddhaghosa says that these are incorrect ways of looking at it. To look at it properly, correctly, there is an appearance and there is a disappearance. Of what? An appearance and disappearance of conditioned factors, that is all. There is no entity involved in it. This is the meaning of jāti.
As long as there is a jāti, an appearance, living through time and space, having its particular sensations, its thoughts, its ideas, its discriminative consciousness, all of which are restricted and conditioned, there is the state of dukkha, the far from the Transcendent. We in our lives here, whilst we are alive, we experience this as confusion, as conflict, as pain, as sorrow, also as pleasure, uplift, exalted moods and all the rest of it. The whole realm of ambivalence we go through, and we are just tossed about this way and that way. This is the great ill for which the Buddha pointed out that its cause is craving and the destruction of craving was the way to realize Nirvana. Now, who realizes Nirvana? No one realizes Nirvana. The Nirvanic state is present as and when there is the destruction of craving. If the non-Nirvanic state in which, as I commonly say, I am, is got rid of, through purification, through understanding, through insight, through wisdom and through living the holy life, as it is simply called, if that is done then the Nirvanic state is manifest through this living person. But it is not I the living person who realizes Nirvana. The process by which that realization comes about, this isolative self-consciousness which abstracts the I as separate from you, completely vanishes.
This is what the Buddha taught and it is not exclusive to the Buddha’s teaching. You will find it in the teachings of all the great religions in some form or other, although as far as the verbal formulation goes it is most explicit in the Buddhist formulation. The other religions do not formulate it so explicitly. Even the Vedanta talks in a manner which gives the impression that there is the individual Ātma, the personal Ātma. But that is an impossibility. How can there be an individual Infinite? It denies the meaning of Infinity, it denies the meaning of Transcendence. My bit of Infinity! I might as well stake my claim for my bit of space! What is the good of staking such a claim? I can never get hold of it, no one can give it to me. So, to say “my Ātma” is to talk as the person who has not seen the Truth talks. It is the same in the theistic religions, when for instance the theistic religions present Man as body, and immortal soul and spirit, the verbal formulation is obviously faulty. The visible body is of course the limited and particular thing, but what is the meaning of my soul or my spirit? My bit of Infinity? Then Infinity has lost its meaning. It has become the measurable, it is my little bit, and it has to be measurable in order that I may claim it and possess it and keep hold of it. If it is Infinite I cannot hold it, it is the Infinity which hold this, the living body. So you see, in some form or other the real teaching is there but in Buddhism it comes out most explicitly.
Now let us go back to this particular point about putting aside objects of sense, the use of the senses, says the Buddha. It is a curious thing to say. How can you put aside the use of the senses? Understand it as the misuse of the senses. What happens? When I see some object which attracts me I am entranced by the general appearance of that object, whether it be a living person or an inanimate object or whatever it is. I am entranced by the general appearance and entranced by the particular aspects of it, which attract me very much. And what happens in consequence? There is a state of bondage, there is a uprising of desire to possess it, to enjoy it and so forth. And that of necessity comes to an end, and then there is an “Oh, it’s all over” feeling, and there is the craving, “Tomorrow I shall enjoy it again. I’ll go to such-and-such a place again and look at that wonderful tree or that wonderful person or whatever it is.”
So, craving grows that way. But if, whilst one is seeing the object, one sees it with wisdom, one realizes that at this moment there is that which I am seeing. But this is impermanent, it is passing away. It is something which must not be grasped, something to which I must not be attached. When one sees that way one is not misusing one’s senses. This does not mean that one does not enjoy in the true sense the actual process of seeing whilst the event is occurring. One enjoys it to the full in this way, that one is wholly sensitive to the fact of it, to the truth of it. You see that bowl of flowers there for instance. One enjoys it, one is perfectly aware of the whole fact which is there, and in that awareness there is an enjoyment which is true happiness. If you have true happiness you will not want to possess it, you will not want to be attached to it. That is the great point. When the experience is over, it is finished, there is a complete ending to it. It is this complete ending which makes for perfection. To die perfectly to that which you are living through is the perfect way of living through the thing. When Jesus says, “Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect,” do you know the word he uses, or rather what the New Testament uses, because the New Testament was in Greek, and he spoke in Aramaic? “Be ye ended, completed, finished, perfected”, that is the meaning. That means to completely die to the passing process. Do not be attached to it. Attachment binds and at the same time the opposite, aversion to the thing, also binds. Therefore be free from attachment and aversion. If one is free from attachment and aversion whilst the sense are active and working, then there is no ill state. This is what it means.
Consider the other part of it, putting aside all thoughts, feelings, stimuli, perceptions, intentions, preoccupations and deliberation of the mind concerned with objects of sense and the senses, putting aside all that. Whilst one is working, whilst one is moving through one’s everyday life, unquestionably there has to be deliberation and so forth with regard to one’s everyday work, and one’s everyday work is in terms of the objects of perception, the objects of sense and so forth. You cannot avoid that obviously. What does the Buddha mean, then, by putting aside all these in connection with the objects of sense? Not while you are actually at work, because you have to pay attention to the thing, and if you pay attention to your work in the office or in your teaching or whatever you are doing, then obviously there has to be deliberation about the objects of sense. But the deliberation, the intentions, the feelings, the memories and anticipations in relation to the objects of sense, our fantasies in other words, are what we have to put aside. Watch the fantasies and watch the way in which any sense object raises up fantasies. This is very important. If I look at my fantasies and really understand them, I will know myself, what I really am.
Modern psychiatrists want to analyse your dreams, they want to consider what you dream. Far more useful it is for each one of us, not so much to analyse, but to be truly mindful of our fantasies. Try it and see the result. At first it might cause considerable upset, horror at facing one’s own soul, one’s own emotional and intellectual processes. It is a horrifying sight. I know from experience. It’s a frightening sight, it’s an upsetting thing altogether. But the person who can face his own soul and quietly go on, he is the true hero. This is the only living context in which heroism has no element of evil in it. You look at every other act of heroism. There is conflict involved in it, there is perhaps destruction involved in it, there are terrible things involved in all that. Or there is the assertion of ego, which may appear to us to be determination and all the rest of it. But determination directed that way means that I, the separate individual, triumph, and triumph means triumph over, triumph against. Where is the harmony of life there? This is the only situation in which heroism has no evil, you face your soul and quietly go on your way with the task of purification.
Some people would attempt to put aside what we call the evil things, or whatever one is taught to put aside, by an act of will. But an act of will is a conflict. It does not bring a resolution of the difficulty and the problem. It is no true solution at all. One may say, “I practised looking at the desire, the thought, the feeling which rose up, and as I looked that particular urge just vanished away, was reduced to nothingness. But it comes up again a little later.” This is just what happens in most cases.
The question then is, how did we look at this? Did we just keep looking at it as we might keep looking at a naughty little boy trying to climb over your gate, and he catches your eye and just disappears? Then he comes again of course hoping that you are not looking this time and attempts to climb over your gate. It is that sort of situation. But when we look within ourselves and we look with sufficient intensity and continuity, not letting go of the thing, something else happens. Not only does that psychical energy which rose up and produced a disturbance subside, but one begins to understand the process, the life process, of that psychical energy. What did it originate from? Not merely just a superficial cause, this stimulus or that stimulus, or whatever it was. You go deeper and much deeper and see its origins, and seeing its origins thoroughly you will also see what it leads to. This seeing is far more than an intellectual seeing, far more than an analytical process. This is an important point. Understanding grows this way, and when you have really understood the thing, it ceases to trouble you. Merely seeing it externally, superficially does not solve the problem. You have to have this inward understanding in the depths, and then that is the end of that problem and any problem similar to it.
Recall our school days. A very good example here is when we studied geometry. We learnt the theorem, and we got full marks for just producing all the words. There was the premise, there were the logical steps, there was the conclusion, QED. All right, that was the end of that. Then we went on to the next part of the question, the problem which was set based upon this theorem. Now, instead of dashing off the whole thing exactly according to the books in two minutes, we started scratching our heads and saying, “Oh my goodness, how do I do this? I can’t see this, this is difficult, I can’t solve it, oh, and I’ve only got five minutes left!” And we chewed off our pens or pencils, and all the rest of it, you know the whole rigmarole that we went through. Why is that? Why is it that I went through all this and John Brown was able to solve the problem quite easily? What is the difference between him and me in this situation? He had fully understood the theorem, I only knew it superficially. Because of a good pictorial memory I could reproduce the words in the book and so forth, and therefore I reproduced the theorem correctly but I simply could not solve the problem. I did not know how to apply that theorem to the problem concerned, because I did not understand, really understand the theorem. If I take the trouble to fully understand that theorem, the premises, exactly what they mean, the logical steps one after the other, exactly what they mean, and therefore of course finally obviously the conclusion, and to understand the real meaning of that conclusion, then I have really understood the theorem and I do not find any difficulty in applying it to problems based upon that theorem.
It is the same with our inner life. Here the analogy applies I think very well. We have something uprising within us, something which causes trouble, conflict, difficulty and so forth, and we do not look at it in the right way, we do not understand it properly. We must look at it completely and wholly, holding our criteria, evaluations, standards, judgements in abeyance, and just look and keep looking with a mind that is empty of all conditioning factors, as far as we can possibly do so. And then there will be real understanding of what is happening. When that power of understanding comes to fruition (prajñā) then it is not that problem as a particular problem which is solved, but everything similar to it is solved for ever. Because when there is real understanding one is completely free of all grasping. One is free of all attachment, one is free of all conditioning in connection with that particular psychological state. But this is very hard work, it is extremely arduous. There are no short cuts to this. At first we cannot do anything about it, everything seems a mess. Gradually we begin to have a little light on the matter. We begin to understand certain things. But if we try to put that understanding into the mode of particular intellectual conclusions, then these will obstruct us next time the thing arises. Do not come to conclusions about it, no judgements, no condemnations. Just remain awake and watchful, awake and watchful. Has it not been said in the political sphere that the price of peace is eternal vigilance? Churchill used that phrase. The price of peace is eternal vigilance — eternal vigilance. This is the meaning of remaining awake, of being awake.
There are many factors involved in this. One is of course the question of interest. How seriously are we interested in this? Or are we interested in Nirvana after the fashion of a man who has, we’ll say, a fair amount of money? He looks in a shop window and he is attracted by an object and he can afford it and he goes and buys it, and there you are, “I’ve got it.” He has acquired an object, he possesses an object, and an object by itself is an inanimate thing. He looks at it at times, he gets pleasure, after a time perhaps he may get bored and give it away to somebody or sell it or something like that. But you see life becomes desultory that way, doesn’t it? It is just an aimless meandering, there is no real growing, no coming to fruition that way. If we are really interested in human fulfilment and fruition, then we will keep paying attention. It is a case of a real interest, what do we really care for, true fulfilment or the satisfaction of desires, ambitions and so on.
Now let us relate it to another point. We were talking about words last time and the significance of words. You know what words represent, limited, finite objects, they represent moods, they represent feelings, thoughts, a collection of words makes up ideas, and so forth. But all these things are particular, finite, mortal. They come into being, proceed and die. Words are confined to the realm of mortality, the realm of death. This is an important thing to bear in mind — words are confined to the realm of death.
In our everyday life what is it that obstructs or interferes with, intrudes upon a state of Transcendence, a state of complete harmony with the Infinite? Objects, the objects of sense, all sense perceptions. Whatsoever is sense perceived through sight, through hearing, through touch, through taste and through the discursive thought and speech process, is finite and limited. If we really see this, we will see why all the religions have admonished us to turn away from the indulgence of the senses. If it is the Infinite, if it is Transcendence, if it is God (which is another way of saying your true fulfilment as a human being), if that is our real concern then all these things are obstructions. Do we really understand this, do we more than just logically see it, because if something like this is presented to you and the intellect follows it logically and is compelled to give assent, your inclination will be against it? The inclination is our animal urge. Our animal urge is against it. This is a fact, isn’t it? We must face that fact.
Words, objects and senses are all mixed up in one complex of the finite, the limited, the particular, the realm of mortality, the realm of conflict and hence suffering and misery and all the rest of it. Is that quite clear? Because I want to lead on to this very important thing we call meditation.
Look at all the teachings with respect to meditation, contemplation, deep prayer, the unio mystica, communion, call it what you like. All the religions which have spoken about this, taught this, have pointed out that there is a complete cessation of words and thoughts as one enters or tries to enter into the state of deep prayer, contemplation, communion. There is a cessation of the flow of discursive thought and speech. Words come to an end. Take for example the Buddhist presentation which is a very concise and precise presentation, just as the presentation in Yoga is also very precise, and which you will find scattered through the Upaniṣads. Yoga is not something separate from all this. We talk of Hindu Yoga, Buddhist Yoga, they are all one thing.
Let us take the Upaniṣadic presentation. It is presented in four aspects, what they call the waking state (jāgrat) as we are now here, then the dreaming state, the dreamless slumber state and then the turīya, the fourth state as they call it, which is actually the Transcendent state. In the Buddhist presentation of the jhānas, we have, just for convenience of talking about it, first, second, third, fourth jhāna, and we also have four samāpattis. Samāpatti means coalescence, and it is very important to appreciate the meaning of samāpatti, a coalescence in which one enters into the state of the Infinite ākāśa (mind-space), Infinite vijñāna (discriminative consciousness), the plane of No-thing as it is called, of neither perception nor non-perception, and finally the complete cessation of all perception and feeling. Do not think therefore that these are in the Upaniṣadic presentation four rungs on a ladder or in the Buddhist presentation eight rungs on a ladder. It is convenient to talk of them as four avasthās, the waking, dreaming, dreamless slumber and the Transcendent, four avasthās, and the four jhānas and four samāpattis. It is convenient to talk of them in terms of number but their actual meaning is just this; that the intensity of your awareness, of Totality varies. They only represent a variation in the intensity of your awareness of Totality. Is that quite clear? As there is a variation in the intensity of awareness, certain factors go into the hinterland of consciousness. Here the Buddhist presentation is extremely valuable and helpful. They talk of first, second, third and fourth jhāna. Jhāna is the Sanskrit dhyāna and it simply means attention, giving attention, and this is what is commonly called the process of meditation, of contemplation.
In the first stage, there are certain factors present, applied thought and discursive thought, you choose an object of concentration, an object of attention. You keep your mind on it, but in this case you are talking about it. It is an analytical discursive process, trying to see what it is about, what this thing is, trying to discover its nature, its qualities and so forth. There is rapture associated with it (pīti, Pali), and you will physically experience this rapture in various ways. One of its simplest forms is that you get sort of goose flesh, the hairs on your body begin to stand up. When it gets to its end point, so to say, it can be so powerful, so it is said, that there could be actual physical levitation. I have never witnessed it myself and I am not one of those people who swallow things lock, stock and barrel, simply because it has been said, but I keep an open mind about it. I have never seen it. This is the rapture part.
Then there is sukha, happiness associated with it. This sukha, this happiness, has no relationship with pleasure in the sense of a pleasurable sensation which ordinarily comes into our life, a pleasurable sensation because we see something lovely or touch something fine or beautiful, and it’s a wonderful sensation, and so forth. It has no relationship to that. This is happiness pure and simple, happiness which has no beginning and no dying, no birth and no death. You get your first foretaste of what ultimately we call Nirvana right from the beginning, it is always there. Happiness is associated with it and a state of equanimity, a balance. Not the balance which is a seesaw equilibration, but the balance which is a true dynamic poise. You, the living being, are vibrating in a sense of harmony. These are factors present in what is described as the first jhāna. The next stage, the second jhāna, is the term applied to that condition where discursive thought has stopped. Have you ever experienced that actually? Being awake and mindful, but discursive thought has stopped. The flow of words is no longer present. Observe this, practise this. Do not try to stop it, you will never be able to do it that way. It will stop by itself. You just remain mindful and watchful, you remain still, quiet, unmoving in the mind. Then that flow of words stops.
Consider carefully; words, sense objects, sense experiences belong to the realm of the limited, the finite, the mortal. That has stopped. How are you aware? If mortality has ceased you are aware in terms of non-mortality, of immortality. More than twenty years ago I saw that this is the real meaning of immortality. It is the nirōdha, the stopping of this, that and the other which the Buddha talks, of, the stopping of mortality. But in which sense is mortality stopped? In terms of the movement of my awareness. My consciousness does not flit from one object which is held in the mind to another object, from one thought to another thought, from one perception, from one memory, from one anticipation to another. There is an extraordinary state of inward stillness. And then you begin to sense for the first time the meaning of thought-power, which is not the power of a string or words flowing along. But note carefully, stillness. The mind becomes more and more still and therefore the discursive thought process comes to its ending. Now you will see the raison d’être of the practice in Yoga. The body stillness, the utter and perfect stillness of the body is a concomitant of the utter and perfect stillness of the mind. If and when the mind and the body can realize complete stillness, (this stillness need not necessarily mean that the body is not moving, this is one of the mysteries, you can be walking and yet be in complete dynamic poise physically as well as mentally), then you are in that state where power, this immeasurable, this dimensionless, this Transcendent, this divine creative energy, this power functions through that person. You will not find this written anywhere.
You will find that it effects an extraordinary sense of release, an extraordinary sense of non-existence, an extraordinary sense of total being, a total being which cannot be separated from, extricated out of, complete awareness, an indescribable awareness. It is this sort of state in which the organism is, which is essential for what is known as the unio mystica. It is the state of the unio mystica. It is a state of transcendent peace, of happiness, of love. For the first time you will know love which you cannot put into words. You know that all thought, all speech, with respect to that love is just a shadow of the reality, all thought and speech about it is insubstantial. But it is a reality. You will naturally ask, “What is your evidence that it is a reality?” The evidence is just this, the transformation of your own being. When it happens you will know it has happened.
There is at least one type of experience in our ordinary mortal life which is something like that, when two people really experience that magic which is love, about which there is no question, no talk, no excitement even, but one just knows that this is it. Then you do not need evidence, you do not need proof, this is it, it is there.
And this is merely the second jhāna! In the third the rapture subsides. When the rapture subsides there is an intensification of that inward balance. And then with the subsiding of the rapture there is a subsiding of the happiness too. That happiness subsides and simultaneously with it the other dual of the ambivalent sphere, sorrow, subsides with it. This sorrow is the sorrow which is the clear understanding of the nature and the meaning of being far from the Transcendent, far from the Infinite. That is a sorrow personally that does not subside and disappear until this stage. There is still another sorrow, another dukkha, which never does and never must be allowed to do, the thing which has been called in Christian mysticism the Wound of Love, and quite rightly. Treasure that Wound. If that Wound ever heals, down you come back again to the sphere of conflicting mortality. That Wound of Love is the awakened state to the sorrow of the world, the suffering of the world. It is such a sensitivity that the sense of separateness from the world is completely out. It is not a case of my sorrow or his or her sorrow, it is the awareness that there is sorrow here. This is the banishment from one’s eternal home, the Transcendent, it is the awareness of that banishment, and as long as there is manifestation, there is appearance, there is jāti, the limited state, the conditioned state, constriction, imprisonment, there is not freedom.
Then in the fourth jhāna, there is the complete equanimity only, a state of extraordinary ease. What has happened to words? They have vanished altogether but they are latent within the living person. As long as there is an organism words are latent there, they have to be, because whatever the marvellous states you go through, whatever degree of Transcendence you realize, the brain traces are not obliterated. Whatsoever we have experienced, thought, felt, etc., makes its trace in the brain, and remember, with ten thousand million brain cells and all the innumerable pathways which are there, everything has made its impress. If you destroy the brain cells themselves, then of course it would go, but then you are that much less. Chop off my right arm and see how much I am diminished thereby in my effectiveness or usefulness, isn’t that so? So that is no way out. This is why suicide is no way out.
So the brain traces are not destroyed. So everything is there but in a state of peace now. And in that state of peace there is a transformation actually of the psychical nature of all those influences, conditions, states, impressions which left a brain trace. That gets transmuted. That is why it is said of the really Holy One (and he is the one who can enter these states) that all evil-mindedness is burnt out. This you get in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad for instance, sarvam pāpmanam, all evil-mindedness is burnt out. It is usually translated by the scholars as all evils are burnt out. It is not that all evils are burnt out, this evil and that evil and that evil. It is the whole thing, lock, stock and barrel, evil-mindedness itself is completely burnt out. The Upaniṣads give the hint. (Don’t talk to a philologist this way, he would say that you are talking nonsense, and he would be quite right, because philology does not accept all the Upaniṣadic statements along these lines!) The person, puruṣa, is the one in whom all evil-mindedness is burnt out. The word puruṣa they split up into purva, for the pu-, meaning formerly, and the uṣa comes from the root -uṣ, meaning to burn, and then the words sarvam pāpmanam follow. The puruṣa is one who has burnt out all evil-mindedness. That is the actual explanation which the Upaniṣads give, which is from the standpoint of a scientific philologist nonsense. For us it is of tremendous value. This is the meaning of person, one in whom all evil-mindedness is burnt out. Now you see why the theistic theologies have talked in terms of the Divine Person, God the Divine Person, God the All-Good, the Absolute Good. But this is what one realizes in these deep states of consciousness, and that individual himself is transformed, he is the Holy One.
The words are there in their latency but all evil associated with the words has vanished. Otherwise it is very much like taking the lift and going to the 60th floor and after you have gone to the 60th floor you can only come down again! “The Duke of York he had ten thousand men”, you know all that business, it becomes only that. But it isn’t that! That is in the dualistic realm, the realm of seesaw. Not that equilibration, but this poise, by which you are in complete and permanent Oneness with the Totality, takes place with the transmutation of the psychical nature. This transmutation of the psyche means that the soul has become completely healthy, just like a physical body can be completely healthy.
This is something of what lies before the individual who is truly serious and religious minded. We must see very clearly that there is nothing for me in it. It happens. This is the great thing. The particular me has become transformed into a pure vessel of gold to contain the nectar of Immortality, to let the Divine Life be contained in it and overflow, because it can’t contain. Any similes I give, any language I use is nonsense beside the Reality, you can sense that Reality yourselves.
But this is Religion, if you like, it deals with Transcendence. Through the years I have always said that the context of Religion is the context of Transcendence. But that comes to flower in the individual living being only insofar as he understands these teachings with regard to the senses, with regard to objects, with regard to pleasure above all. It is this pleasure drive that bedevils the whole situation. Watch the pleasure drive. Do not fight against it, do not indulge it. This is the problem, this is the thing which is so arduous that, to use a common-or-garden phrase, most people fall by the wayside! Have you noticed that one goes to an uplifting meeting, one is sort of lifted up by that, exalted, in a sublime state, and then one comes out of the place, one goes to such-and-such a restaurant and gorges till one gets indigestion next day! That’s all! Watch it. This is how we actually act, isn’t it? When we are exalted, when we are lifted up, we must remain at the bottom of the valley, lowly and humble, you cannot fall below that. If I remain at the bottom of the valley in my most exalted states, then indeed Eternal God is present here, and I know it. Then I am harmless and can do no wrong and no evil. There is nothing which weighs on my conscience, nothing which raises an inner conflict there.
This is true Yoga, yuj, the re-joining, the restoration into complete harmony with the whole.
I have told you all this today because I want to suggest something which, if you really care to, you can try. All this sort of hinged round the question of words, objects, mortality, and the release into Immortality. Not that objects and words will disappear, they will all be there, but you will be the Immortal in the midst of objects and words. You will be the Immortal embodied in mortal form.
So now, words. How many unnecessary words go out of me during the twenty four hours of the day? There are certain words which have to be used. You are in the office and the boss comes in and asks a question, and of course you have to answer it. Answer him in ten words if possible, better still in five, best of all in one! Yes or no is quite enough. Do not launch into vast speeches, it is quite unnecessary. If you want to ask for something from somebody, say, “Please may I have a pencil”, or whatever it is that is needed, that is all. Do not say why you want it, and you’ve lost it and you can’t find it and you’ve got to do all this, you see, because so-and-so said that I must have this, that and the other done by… absolutely mad! But this is precisely what we do. One word if possible. If unfortunately it is necessary, use two words, and beyond that is the state of misery with words! Just watch during the coming fortnight if we can be free of this vomiting out of torrents of words. That is purely on the physical plane, with the body, the audible speech. Watch also the torrent of words that goes through the brain night and day in response to the stimuli of objects, sense perceptions, desire for sense-indulgence and all the rest of it, all the fantasies centring on one’s ego, one’s vanity. Egoism and vanity are two of the most powerful forces that maintain the greater part of the business world. I have had this from a very dear friend of mine who is chairman of one of the big stores in this country. He is an old friend of mine and we often meet and have a few philosophical exchanges, and I asked him, “From your own experience if people were free of egoism and vanity, how much of the business world would come to an end?” He spent quite three or four minutes thinking and then he said, “It might be something like 95%.” 95% of the buying and selling of the business world would come to an end if egoism and vanity were out!
Consider how much of our silent talk is in terms of egoism, vanity, passion, malevolence, ill will. If you really are sensitive, compassion will come out of you. So practise during the fortnight, no longer pushing the stream of words.
Shall I read this quotation of what the Buddha says about idle talk? In fact he calls it low conversation. “Talk about kings, robbers, ministers of state, war, terrors, battles, foods, drinks, clothes, beds, gardens, perfumes, relatives and relationships, equipages, villages, towns, cities, countries, tales about women (and in modern times we ought to add, and men), and heroes, gossip at street corners or wells, ghost stories, desultory talk, speculation about the land and sea (and we should add in modern times, the Stock Exchange), about becoming and not becoming thus or thus.” This is just a little summary that I have made of all he says.
With regard to speech he says, “Putting away lying words, slander, harshness of speech.” Then he goes on, “Whatsoever word is blameless, pleasant to the ear, lovely, reaching to the heart, urbane (a curious thing to say), pleasing to the people, agreeable to the people, such are the words he speaks.” (He is talking of himself.)
If you want a really positive statement out of the Upaniṣads, it comes in the Varāha Upaniṣad: “Always practise silence.” That silence is represented in the awareness that oneself is the Ultimate Reality, Parabrahman. Two or three sentences later again, “Practise silence”, and the very next sentence again, “Always practise silence.” You see the importance of this silence, because that silence is the peace of Eternal Life, not of death. We have the symbol of it in terms of our cosmos, between the galaxies there is perfect silence, the silence which lies in the solitudes between the eternal stars.
Great to hear truths in plain English by a become one.
Gael Lpinfold, 25th November 2017