Realization of Truth is Changeless
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 6th November 1971
The Truth of religion is a wordless essence. It cannot be seen or acquired as an object of knowledge. It can only be realized in the sense of becoming that Truth. After such realization time and again there is communication by the person through whom that realization came into being to others who are profoundly concerned with this transcendent reality. That communication must of necessity be formulated in thought and in speech. The form of that thought will be, always is, wholly conditioned by the actual tradition of the people around, and the tradition in which he who has realized has grown up, by the thought-climate, so to say, of the particular age and the particular land in which that person lives. The unfortunate thing is that it is this formulation for the purpose of communication of this wordless essence, which is the realization of Transcendence, that form, that shape, that is held by the people who become interested and seek to know this Truth. But the form, the world, stands between the person and the Truth. Therefore realization, the becoming of the Truth, cannot take place. One holds to various doctrines, dogmas, ideas and so forth. Whenever any doctrine or dogma is presented to one, the content in the mind of the listener or reader is always his content and not the content of Mind, of the original promulgator. People don’t see this. This is what causes so much trouble, misery and so forth. Therefore one’s task is to see through the words, to know from the beginning that these words are an external garb, and the words are interpreted by a mind that is already a conditioned mind. And therefore one gets further and further away from the ultimate realization of Truth, without which there is no such thing as the flowering of either Man himself or of the religiousness within the Man.
Our task then, as we are here now, today, is to appreciate this fact first and foremost — that all that we have is an external garb. And we have not to cast it aside, which is a mistake that so many people make, but to utilize it with sufficient intelligence so that we can penetrate through that garb to the living reality, which that garb clothes and hides all too often. The penetration to the living reality means that we become free of merely seeing, or trying to see, Truth, as an object of knowledge from the distance, the perceiving subject. The separation between perceiving subject and perceived object must vanish, In this process there is involved our own thinking and speaking, our own form-making, and here intelligence lies in utilizing the thought-modes of today in order to get the right type of formulation, right in the sense that it is the most efficient medium of communication for us today. We all know how the world is casting aside its religious traditions, quite naturally. What they are casting aside is an outworn mode of expression. The Ultimate Truth remains the Ultimate Truth. It never changes because it is not subject to time, it was never born, it never grows, it never dies. It is eternally so. But all the forms of expression which are the means of communication between man and man, it is those which undergo change. They do undergo growth, otherwise our whole life would be just a meaningless repetition of the same old things. But we are living, we are alive, and if there is anything which specially characterizes what is living, it is growth. Change which is growth, change which is not merely fortuitous change, merely wavered movement, but meaningful movement, this is growth, the growth of the living. Therefore whilst the essence which is contained in the old formulations of religion does not change, our discovery of that essence is best expressed in terms of our own modern thought-modes and speech.
Bearing this in mind, let us look again at one or two of the things we were trying to consider last fortnight. Let me start with the word karma. We all know the word karma, we talk about the law of karma. We talk about it as the law of cause and effect. We associate the word essentially with causation, but our conception of causation is the old, outmoded conception of causation. Today’s knowledge compels us to put aside that outmoded conception of causation. That outmoded conception of causation was one that was limited to the world of finite, separate objects. But if one has penetrated more deeply and to some degree or other is aware, deeply aware, of wholeness and totality, then one is conscious of the becoming process, not in terms of the movements and activities of limited, finite objects or living creatures or persons, but in terms of a wholeness in which the limited, finite objects are integral parts and portions completely inter-related with the whole. When you look at it that way, you will see that there is at least one profounder way, the way of insight into what karma means and how it operates.
The word karma is derived from the root kṛi, meaning ‘to create’. Creation is the activity of Creative Power, the unknown absolute, indescribable, indeterminate Creative Power. Creation and Creative Power are not two separate things or separate realities. It is not as if “here is Creative Power and here is Creation, a consequence of Creative Power.” Creative power in itself has no meaning apart from Creation. Creative power and Creation lie within Eternity, not within finitude and time, for that which emerges in time grows and dies, but in that which expresses Eternity itself (and Creation expresses Creative Power), there is no beginning, proceeding, dying, it is out of the sphere of mortality. It lies within Immortality, it is itself Immortality, something which cannot be seen as an object of knowledge at a distance, something which comes into our awareness because we have become free of so many limitations within ourselves. So karma means continuous creation, and in that continuous creation, as such, there is no such thing as consequence, a consequence which is to be enjoyed or to be endured. Enjoyment, pleasure, progress, attainment and achievement of goals, and so forth, on the one hand, and their opposite on the other hand, all lie within the context of duality. We, being what we are, unawakened, unenlightened, are conscious of our living process in this limited way, in this dualistic way. We are subject to being caught up in the prison of time and the time consciousness. Time is a reality, but the reality of time is identical with the reality of Eternity. Eternity rides on the wings of time.
So, you see, this whole feeling and idea of causation and consequence is a short view. It holds within the limited context, within the context of mortality. It holds for and in the unenlightened, unawakened state. But when there is release from that, karma is not cause and effect, it is continuous Creation. It is the realization of that ultimate, absolute Creative Power, unknown, unknowable as an object of knowledge, that is, but realizable by becoming it. And the becoming takes place of course only in terms of consciousness, in terms of pure awareness, what the Upaniṣads called the Ātma, what the Buddha described as viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ anantaṃ sabbatopabhaṃ. For discriminative consciousness he used the term viññāṇa, and then contradicted the discriminativeness by saying anidassana, characterless, no differentiations, no distinctions, invisible therefore, ananta, endless, therefore beginningless, everywhere accessible, shining. But if it is accessible everywhere and shining everywhere the whole business of realization as an object of knowledge just vanishes like that. It is here now perpetually.
You see the extraordinary significance of all this. When one sees this (I am using the word see, but you know what I mean), when one realizes this with true insight, there comes complete freedom within oneself. There is a freedom from fear. “If I do this, I will get hurt.” The limited context of I and the self-orientation is out of the situation altogether. There is freedom from a merely intellectual acceptance of the fact of life that pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow will inevitably just follow each other. There is freedom from all that, and one really takes whatever is in one’s stride, without reacting any more in terms of attachment to the pleasurable, aversion to the displeasurable. Isn’t this freedom, and isn’t it a marvellous freedom? Isn’t this real strength, the strength which is infinite resilience, and isn’t that sort of strength the one and only real comfort? Is it not the one and only strength which is not a force which opposes that with which one disagrees or dislikes? So, understand karma as Creation itself, free of the petty conception of cause and consequence, for that petty conception has significance and meaning only for the self-oriented, therefore limited, and shut up within the bounds of mortality.
You may recall that we saw that the forces of karma, all the forces that constitute karma in our own individual lives, lie embedded in the psyche. Let us try and understand psyche and also Mind in its profound sense. The psyche has its roots in the physical organism, the body, that is the earth, the soil out of which emerges this which we call the psyche. The essential elements in the body which are the roots of psyche are brain and nerves, the ductless glands, blood. Without those there would be no manifestation in our lives which we in the ordinary way call psychical, or most of our mental processes. No body, no mind. I have never seen a mind walking down the Strand and greeting me, devoid of a body! And very fortunately I have never met a body totally devoid of mind! So you see these are the roots out of which grows psyche.
Psyche is personal to the living individual. It is very definitely your psyche, your whole psychical functioning within yourself, and the manifestation of your psychical life and activities to the outer world is specific and distinctive of you yourself As you change this psychical life and manifestation change with you. The organism is a psycho-physical organism in its wholeness.
What produces the abstract, the very highly refined, specifically intellectual, the purely mental aspects of our life in the world? This, I suggest, is due to the interaction of what we have called all these years Pure Mind, as Buddhism says, Mind only. In the teachings of Hermes Trismegistos you find the statement that “All-Father Mind created Man co-equal to Himself and fell in love with him as if Man were His own child.” This is a very interesting statement, the Supreme is called “All-Father Mind,” and this Mind which we have talked of before is, as you know, dimensionless, formless, non-finite, absolute, unknowable as such. This energy, which is the immeasurable, with which we cannot deal but which perpetually deals with us and the total universe, is a universal power, as universal in its activity at its own transcendent level as space is in our actual physical experience. This interacting through every living individual, man or woman, affects him in such a way as to give rise to what we call his particular psychical life, his mentality, as we say, his mind. In that sense we may talk of my mind or your mind or his mind, or whatever it is. But Mind as Mind is universal. Just as out of universal space and universal matter, which fundamentally is energy as modern science knows, just as out of that all the innumerable bodies which there are in the world come into being, so out of that One Only Universal Absolute Reality, Pure Mind, we see the manifestation of Mind in the limited, finite, separate mortals, because of the interaction of Mind and matter. And this is where in us Mind in its pure sense meets matter and is completely interlocked with it and produces a creature called Man.
You remember the meaning of the word Man, and especially the meaning of that word human, the happy Man, the happy Creative Thinker. Thought in its own reality, in its own transcendent level has nothing to do with our discursive chatter in which we indulge from the moment we are born until the moment we die, nothing to do with it. It is Creative Action. “And God said” should really be written “And God thought”, which is “God created”, and there was, at once. The Creative Power and Creation cannot be separated.
We have then all this within ourselves operating all the time. Every single stimulus, impression which comes from without or which arises from within makes its impress upon the psyche. Pure Mind also has its impress upon the psyche. Pure Mind is that sweetly compelling power which moves all Creation to its fulfilment, which out of chaos draws together all that is necessary in order that Cosmos emerges in Chaos, and it works to some fruition. This is Mind in its ultimate, absolute sense, Pure Mind. So that also makes its impress upon the psyche. Now the laws of the Spirit are absolute laws. The laws of the psycho-physical organism, the mortal and finite thing, which is part of this whole becoming process, are relative laws, because these laws of our psycho-physical life are continuously changing, however slowly, but they are changing in accordance with our own growth, our growth in the sense of the emergence of the enlightened, awakened pure awareness. (I am talking of growth in that sense).
So the laws of the psycho-physical organism, our moralities change. But they change only in one way, they change in the direction of greater refinement, greater sensitivity, greater purity and greater perfection, effortless, natural expression in action. That’s how they change. But the laws of the Spirit remain absolute always, because they are the unformulatable things. If we talk about them, there is only one way in which we can talk about them. They are the transcendent aspect of our ordinary everyday laws. For Pure Mind the law is “Thou shalt do no hurt.” It is Absolute at a transcendent level. “Thou shalt not grasp at anything.” In the world of affairs we say “Thou shalt not steal.” This is at the relative psycho-physical level. The law of the Spirit says “Thou shalt never self-indulge,” not because of a narrow, moralistic, prim and proper attitude, but because self-indulgence means fundamentally (and this is an actual fact) the obtrusion of an isolated, separative self-consciousness upon the world process. Perhaps this was one of the aspects of Lucifer’s sin, aspiring to equality with the Almighty. The moment he aspired to equality (it doesn’t matter whether it was the Almighty or a little mighty!), this meant that I and thou are separate, I am lesser, I want to be as good as you. Separation, cutting asunder the fundamental unity is the basic meaning of sin, and therefore Lucifer was given notice!
So now, the laws of the Spirit are absolute, Pure Mind knows this, and the fiat of Pure Mind is an absolute fiat. The psycho-physical being, self-conscious, is granted the power to say yea or nay, to co-operate, to be in tune with the Infinite or to strike a jarring note. I say that we have the power, but it must not be thought that this is always a power which can be deliberately with an awakened mind and perception exercised as we wish. It happens very largely simply because we are ignorant. After all, how can the ignorant person be expected to fulfil the law which he doesn’t know? He doesn’t even know the law, let alone the know-how of fulfilling the law. Therefore there is that other aspect, the aspect of infinite mercy, loving-kindness, patient forbearance through all time which comes into play, and counters the justice which asks for and ultimately allows to come about the strict fulfilment of Absolute Law. This is beautifully involved in the Qabalistic Ḥesed and Gevurah, Mercy and Judgement of Yahweh.
In each one of us there is that which knows — knows not in the ordinary sense of an object being known by a distant seeing subject, but knows because it is part of the nature of Mind. Knowledge is Pure Mind’s very nature. Pure Mind in us knows these laws. The psyche in its inner depth unconsciously knows. It knows right and wrong, good and evil and everything in its innermost depth. And in its innermost depth it is at one with Pure Mind. But the rest of the psyche, which is all tied up with this organism of animal descent, remember, dualistically functioning, living in the sphere of ambivalence and of conflict, produces the darkness, the turmoil, the mists, the fogs, and all the rest of it. But the nature of the organism as such is that every single stimulus makes its impress upon the psyche. The impress is not just a mechanical dead object, it is a living force all the time right in the psyche, it is embedded in the psyche. All these forces, plus that other Transcendent force which knows, are the source of the pattern of life which evolves throughout our lifetime. That pattern of life is the working out in actual expression of these living forces in play right within the depth of the psyche. You see how important the psyche becomes.
You all know that beautiful myth of Eros and Psyche. Psyche was the fairest of three daughters of a King and a Queen, so much so that the people worshipped her as the second goddess of Love. This made Aphrodite very jealous. She summoned her son Eros to make Psyche fall in love with some vile creature. What happened was that Eros himself fell in love with Psyche and, after a period which was very happy between them, Psyche’s sisters caused trouble. But later on after many adventures and unhappiness and so forth, everything came right and Eros and Psyche were married and lived happily ever afterwards, as the saying goes. This is Creative Power, Transcendent Love, Transcendent Creativeness, nothing to do with the word erotic or Eros in that sense which we have in our ordinary everyday life. And then there is parting and separation, but finally Psyche and Eros are united forever. Look at the significance of that. Eros is another form of Mind, Pure Mind, the Creative Power.
So you see the regeneration, the purification and the final consummation and fulfilment of the ordinary human being is essentially a psychical one This is why purification is absolutely indispensible. The living of the pure life is absolutely indispensible, otherwise the impure state steps in, and the fundamental impurity is to live in terms of ambivalence, therefore of conflict, therefore of separation from the Totality, therefore of self-orientation. When this has ceased and there is complete purity, then karma, even in the limited conception of the term, does not operate any more for the person. There is complete freedom, there is complete peace right within. That freedom is fully present though the body may be tortured and suffering imprisonment. But that inner awareness is totally calm and free. It is unconcerned with the movement of pleasure and pain, although the organism, because the living organism is a sensitive thing, a live, sensitive thing, suffers dreadfully. But that’s neither here nor there. Under those conditions it could not be otherwise. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
One does not have to summon up Transcendent Love and bring it to bear upon a situation in order that the image, the picture presented by the situation, is the picture of holiness. It is the actual state of Reality, of Truth. It hasn’t to be achieved. What has to be done, the task, is to become free of unholiness, and then holiness is there as such. When holiness is there, karma is pure Creation, the Creation which is, as they say in the Upaniṣads, the ānanda of Brahman, the bliss of the creative activity of the One and Only Supreme.
You see, I have tried to put out something which I hope will prove helpful in some way or other, to some degree or other, in enabling you to get free of so much unnecessary sorrow which we heap upon ourselves in life. This unnecessary sorrow is like so much muck, dirt, which we have thrust into the psyche, poisoning the life of the soul. It is just unnecessary. We can be free of that burden. There is an inevitable, unavoidable pain and sorrow in life. One is hurt purely through circumstance, physical conditions which are painful, hurtful. Well, of course they pain, they hurt. The other is that divine sorrow, that divine suffering which is the wound of love. One has so woken up to Truth, one is so sensitive and conscious of the suffering of all Creation, (the whole Creation groaneth, as it is said), that that sorrow you cannot push aside, you won’t push aside if you are that sensitive to its existence. But that love which is inextricably interwoven with pure wisdom you will absorb into your whole being continuously, because, when you absorb it into your whole being continuously like that, you are carrying out the task of vicarious atonement which is a reality in life. Christianity is not the only religion which has taught that vicarious atonement. You will find it in Mahayana Buddhism quite strongly expressed. One suffers for the sufferings of others, and one can cleanse the other’s being of so much unnecessary sorrow because of your sensitivity to it, the right sort of sensitivity; not the emotional, sensational, sentimental sensitivity of the person who is still conscious in terms of separation, thou and I, but of one who is so wholly aware that it is not a case of this person’s sorrow and that person’s sorrow, but of sorrow, so that the whole thing is absolved in that pure awareness. So the work of redemption goes on in that way. This is a tremendous reality. You find it put in various somewhat charming mythological forms. It was said of Jesus as well as of the Buddha that they descend into Hell in order to preach to the damned and save them. That is the form in which it is put.
But this unnecessary sorrow one can be free of, here, now. Look deeply, look intensely but pay attention without predetermining the shape of things, without imposing one’s own desire upon what ought to be. This is where we fall down.
This introduces another very important element. In which manner shall we be completely mindful then, alert, intensely aware? We have to be desirelessly mindful, this is the great thing. You watch your own process of mindfulness, being aware. Watch it very carefully. This is extremely difficult to see. You will discover that the mindfulness is self-oriented. “Ah, good, I’m being mindful, paying intense attention to this and the result will be such and such a desirable, pleasant result.” That’s in the hinterland, the devil who stands behind you. You have no physical eyes to see what’s behind you, you have to use the Third Eye, the eye of the selfless one, the egoless being. This is very important, desireless mindfulness. If you understand this, you will understand very deeply why the great religions have talked of complete desirelessness, to be free of good desires and bad desires alike, because our petty little good and bad desires all come within the ambivalent sphere which lies in the world of duality and conflict. You are free of that, you have transcended that. But in transcending it, remember, you wholly subsume into that Transcendent state that which is in the realm of duality. The conflict in fact now has undergone resolution, just as in Western music you resolve a discord. You don’t throw it out, you don’t get rid of it. (Cross out all the discords in the lovely music that you enjoy and you’ll have an unutterably dull and boring succession of sounds.) But you’ll live, then for the first time you will know what it means to be alive. When you are awakened to this and are aware of it, you will know what is meant by the phrase the living God, not merely a living good fellow who has thrown out his immortal twin, the living bad fellow. Then you get the wholeness, the true holiness. There then is one’s karma.
But until that, here now as we are, these forces, which are all embedded in the psyche (and they are living forces continuously in operation), influence mightily our pattern of life as it emerges. There are hundreds of millions in Asia, for example, who can’t claim much intelligence in this respect, they moan and they groan and they say, “Oh, well, you see, it is my karma”, and this, that and the other, because they have this stupid misconception of the truth and the reality of karma.
We get tempted, if we have energy and strength, to say, “Ah, I will work out my karma.” Don’t fall into that trap of conceit. I cannot work out my karma, I am presuming upon omniscience in that case. If I was as clever as that, I wouldn’t be having this karma at all to start with! I wouldn’t have been so foolish and ignorant and incapable and all the rest of it. No, the instrument of salvation lies in our power of attention. We can pay attention to what is, and if that attentiveness is a truly desireless mindfulness, which sees through the barrier of all the shapes and forms and is able to get at the truth, the reality itself, then salvation is here now. It is our power of attention which holds the secret. To what shall I give my attention? In the Kaṭha Upaniṣad the Lord of Death tells Naciketas, “Oh, you can have necklaces and dancing girls and all the rest of it,” and Naciketas says, “With you in sight, how is one to enjoy all these things? Keep your girls and your dancing and all the rest of it. I only want to know the Ultimate Truth.” To what will you give your attention? You give your attention, remember, only to that which you love. We all know from our own personal experience in life that when we do really fall in love it is not the least bit difficult, in fact it is impossible to be otherwise, it is impossible not to give attention to the object of love! You can’t get that object of love out of your nut, although very important business demands that you should! That’s human nature, isn’t it? It’s embedded in us, it is part of our being. Do you love Transcendence? Do you love Truth, Reality? Then you will naturally give your attention to it. Or, if you can’t quite do that, nibble at it a bit, taste it and see what Transcendence is like! Have a little nibble, you will like it, I tell you! And gradually you will like it so much that all the miserable accursed happiness of life and an affluent state and all the rest of it will just vanish away. All that dirt will be out, and the Temple of the Lord will be clean and then the Lord will reign eternally there.