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Being and Becoming

A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 18th December 1971


We will find that we are so tied up with the becoming process, we are so conscious of it all the time, that we are unable simply to be. Our state is one-sided all the time, tied up with the becoming process, a movement which is directional. If we look carefully at this becoming process in the mind as it goes on, we will find that it is all the time self-oriented; that is the point of reference of the becoming process. It is self-oriented, and the self-orientation is such that it cuts us off from the totality. In being cut off from the totality we lose our wholeness. We are not in full relationship with it, and the consequence is that, instead of simply being here and now, we are, as it were, like a straw tossed upon swirling waters. Notice how this drive to become this, that or the other dominates our whole life. I want to become a millionaire, I want to become a general, I want to become a clerk, a farmer, I want to become a holy man, an enlightened one, a leader of the people, one who ushers in a new order of society, and all the rest of it. All the time there is this drive, and we imagine that “Ah, this is my real vocation in life.” So all our energies are bent towards the fulfilment of the idea or ideas which arise in consequence of the drive of unconscious desire from within.

So this great becoming process, self-oriented, partial, leaves us, keeps us, in a state of strife, inward strife. We may become what we want to become, our ambitions may be fulfilled, but we fail therefore to be. If there is this preoccupation with becoming and the failure to be, then the purpose of our existence has never been fulfilled.

What is the meaning of “to be?” One would immediately quite naturally ask the question “To be what?” And most of the world would say “Oh, to be yourself.” But that surely is a mistaken answer. We are all being ourselves to the exclusion of the whole, all the time, hence the state of conflict in this becoming process. “To be” means selfless, egoless being. In this egoless being, not isolated from the whole, the purpose of one’s existence finds fulfilment all the time, not as a goal, as an end to be attained, some special work to be done or anything like that. All that gets included in the movement of life. When there is this balanced, harmonious movement of life, then being is stable, perpetually stable in the midst of becoming. Becoming is associated with time, being is in actual fact only in eternity. But eternity is carried on the wings of time, and this being is carried on the stream of becoming. When that happens there is harmony in one’s life, not according to our definitions of harmony — that is to say, our ought-to-be’s. We say to ourselves, “Ah, if such a state prevails, if I can do this, that or the other, all’s well in the garden, I am in a state of harmony.” Apparently a state of harmony, actually in a fool’s paradise. We know from our experience that we do go through such states. There comes a period when “Ah, precisely this is happening”, and then something comes along, and, lo and behold, everything is in turmoil and may even be rack and ruin, when it goes to the extreme. Caught up in the stream of becoming, the blind drives and urges in us are given particular shapes by thought, and we become the slaves of these particular shapes, our objectives in life. If we are free of our objectives in life, then life’s objective for each one of us will be fulfilled through us. It is a totally different situation. Then we do not fail to be.

You see how it is then, that state of being is not a static state. It is not a state in which one is actually caught up, imprisoned, in which one conforms to this, that or the other idea, one’s own or somebody else’s. It is in fact a live state. A live state is perpetually growing, and its growth is not to be understood in the sense of expansion. Its growth actually means a life-other-life alternation in the immediate now. Life is action, other-life is also action, which is the fruit of this action, which we call life. I am using the term other-life rather than the term death because death is so associated with finishing for us. It is not that. This vibrating life-other-life, action and the action which is the fruit of the first action, which in its turn becomes the seed of the next action, this perpetual vibrating goes on, and in that being is the totality, and the totality which is being includes and transcends our duals in our ordinary awareness, which is implied in our use of the words being and becoming.

We’ll follow this quietly and slowly. Between each pulse of life-other-life there is a transcendent stillness and silence. In that transcendent stillness and silence there is creative action, the great mystery, action which is not concerned with particular results. It throws out, it manifests this, that or the other, but it is unconcerned with the manifestation. It neither enjoys or suffers on account of creative action. It is pure creative action, it is Transcendence itself. And it takes place between two such pulses, each pulse being life-other-life, the next pulse life — other-life, and between the two is creation in that stillness and silence. Now this happens because there is no grasping whatsoever to any one creative pulse. This is the nature of being, in the ultimate, the supreme sense, this is Total Being, this is the kind of thing that those who realized it meant when they used words like YAHWEH or God or Brahman. So you see its utter indescribability. Now, here and now, we, living in this dualistic world, caught up in saṃsāra, in the birth-death pulse, vibration, birth-death state, we have to get into tune with that life-other-life, life-other-life state. What holds us down to the birth-death cage is the fact that we are isolatively self-aware, cut off from the totality. Therefore we are caught up in this becoming process only, and we have no vision, no sense, no power of responsivity to that transcendent state of being.

So the problem is, or, if you like, the task, is to move out of this birth-death disturbance into the life-other-life creative being. It is to this kind of thing that this whole question of the stillness and the silence is related. And the non-stillness, the non-silence is our ordinary state because we are caught up in this self-oriented, anchored-to-the-past thought process, the thought process which arises out of the state of ignorance, that is to say the unawakened-to-the-supreme-reality state. That is the state of ignorance which gives rise, as the Buddhists would say, to the whole of the paṭicca-samuppāda, the conformations as they are called, our volitions, which are all determined in terms of limitation, finitude, particularity, confined to birth-death all the time, and to our self-consciousness, the whole of the process of mentality, materiality which is embodied in our whole psycho-physical organism, the sense impressions, the sensations as such, the feelings, the craving, the hard core of craving which arises out of it, the grasping for particular things, which all belong to this birth-death realm, the conditional state when what we grasp at is realized, and the disruption of the conditioned state, its ending which is inevitable, and therefore death, the death which is just disruption, the wages of sin, the wages of the state of separation from the totality.

So we have to look deeply into ourselves, all the time, not just at meditation time, or dinner time, or whatever it is. We have to watch this becoming process very, very carefully. Just attend to it, neither indulge it nor fight against it. If I fight against it, I will fight against it because I already have in mind a preconceived desirable state, which is only a conditioned state and belongs to this same realm of death, this being caught up in the becoming process. And because we are caught up in the becoming process, all that is presented in the analytical form of greed, hate, delusion, jealousy, envy, avarice, ambition, and all the rest of it, which are the sources of sorrow and suffering, come into being. Watch this becoming process carefully. See how it is tied up with ambition in some form or other, whatever this ambition may be, to become the Holy One, the Enlightened One, to realize Nirvana, serve God, and all the rest of it. They are all ambitions. They are all ambitions because they are formulated by thought, the thought process, and thought is rooted in the dead past. It is that which is already known. And the dead past, as long as it is given life in our memory as such, is the obstruction to the free vibrating of life-other-life, creative reality. If one can awaken to this creative reality, then one awakens minus the self, the separate self. I cannot awake to the creative reality and still be I, that is to say the self-conscious, separated I. It is an awakening. The whole, the totality, has awoken through this instrument. This person who has awakened, as we say in common language, is only the instrument which now is free from all limitations of the conscious and the unconscious mind. He is the instrument through which the totality has awakened, and in this the instrument has truly succeeded in being.

Everything moves through space, all things, whether they be alive or inanimate, move through space. Try and imagine the impossible, supposing there were a hole in space, when anything is approaching that hole, how will it move? It will move round that hole and remain in space. If it entered that hole, it will cease to exist for ever and ever. Now, if I am like the hole in space, the swirl, the sorrow, the pain, the conflict of the total becoming process just goes round me and past me. But I as the hole in space can move anywhere I like. It is an extraordinary fantasy, but it may be suggestive. If I were like that hole in space, the most significant way in which I can talk about it is to say that I am totally empty, utterly void. And in that emptiness all I-ness and My-ness have utterly vanished.

Now let us look at it in a slightly different way. Instead of being a hole in space, I am myself the reality, which is space. We all think that we know what space is, but we don’t. We have ideas about it, which is different from knowing space in the supreme sense. If one realizes space, one is space — that is to say, although one is visible, tangible, an object, a human being living and moving on the earth, in the inner self one is totally empty. And that total emptiness will contain all sound, and the absence of sound. Try and get the feel of it. It will contain that totality. The duals will be there, they will be wholly subsumed in this emptiness, the emptiness will subsume the duals and simultaneously transcend them. When that is the case, you are actually completely in tune with this creative mystery, this transcendent reality, which is being.

What is the outstanding manifestation of becoming? Thoughts, feelings, words, language. The essential ingredients of all three are the sense impressions, visual images and the memory of them, and the consciousness of them, auditory forms, tactile forms, and so on. These sense impressions are remembered simply because they are finite, limited, particular, and having arisen they tend to crystallize and not leave you, the living being, in your innermost nature — you are not free to be creative. This creativeness is like the creativeness of Transcendence. You are not left free to be that.

If one can really begin to get even a glimmer of this, one will see why in all the religious disciplines this silence is so much emphasized, extolled. Consider the process which is supposed to take place as one enters the deeper and deeper states of consciousness. In Buddhist terms they are called the jhānas, or the Hindu word dhyānas, the different attentivenesses, how much deeper and deeper they become. And these attentivenesses, if you are a mystic, you would call states of communion, but they are states of attentiveness. When one is in the preliminary state of attentiveness, there is the movement of thought involved in it, feeling, ideas, words and so forth. And then, if one is still fully awake, which means fully sensitive, alive and not falling asleep, all that subsides and you begin to enter the emptiness. There are no words, no thoughts, no ideas, therefore no recognition of emptiness as emptiness, in the sense that “I am entering the emptiness.” You see how the isolative “I” gradually dissolves away, is removed. And you see, whatever the religious discipline may be, whether it be Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, born of the teachings of Lao Tzu, or in modern times of Krishnamurti (you read Krishnamurti very carefully, and you will find that he states in his own uniquely modern and original form precisely this) you dissolve away, the isolatively self-conscious “I” is out. To use Krishnamurti’s rather strong phrase, “You are nothing.” When he says “nothing”, he means it in a sense which is quite beyond the ordinary sense when we express our contempt of somebody by saying, “You are nothing, nobody, not worth a brass button.” Not that sort of thing — that is all in the plane of worldliness, in the rubbish heap of the becoming process. This Nothing is a Transcendent Nothing. You are nothing. But in saying that, both things have been said, that whatsoever I am in terms of worldly approval and value is really nothing. We are as dust in the eyes of God. No, we are less than the dust before the eyes of God. So it is a nothingness, and the counterpart of this nothing is the Transcendent No Thing, out of which emerge all things. So you see this continuous and excessive preoccupation with the becoming process is what prevents us from being. The becoming process means all worldliness, all worldly values, however exalted they may be, however sublime they may seem. They will seem sublime and exalted and so forth to us only because we are caught up in this cage of birth-death, beginning-ending, which is always self-oriented, and being self-oriented is the source of sorrow, of suffering, of ill, of disharmony. Put it in another form, it is the source of the illness of the soul, of the psyche, of the mind, use whichever word you like. And as long as there is the ill state of the mind, this psycho-physical organism is only subhuman. When the ill state of the mind is healed, then this person is a true human, the Son of Man, which is the same as saying the Son of God.

Now what is the meaning of stillness and silence for the true human? What is one of its supreme meanings? Such a person absorbs everything. He refuses nothing, absorbs everything. This is not to suggest for a moment that he indulges in everything. He definitely refuses wine, women and song as objects of enjoyment and pleasure, and all that sort of thing. But his inner sensitivity is awake to everything that comes to him. There is no rejection whatsoever, there is no preferential acceptance whatsoever. This is the full human. And it is this absorption which enables the redemptive process, the healing process, of the world-mind to go on. And this is one of the supreme meanings of the birth of Christ, the emergence of the Christ-consciousness. In terms of Yoga, we refer to this as anāhata. In terms of the Qabalah, we refer to this as raḥamim, which is compassion, or the other word for it, tiphereth, which is beauty. And it is this which is the Christ-consciousness centre, the Son of the Absolute, Ain-Soph, the Infinite, Pure Mind, Sahasrāra, use any terms you like.

Let us not say, “All this sounds so wonderful, it’s so distant, I will never be able to do it”. I haven’t got anything to do, except to let be. It is all here. This, you, I, me, we, are not excluded from the Transcendent whole, therefore it is not exactly correct to say, this is not for me. It is me, it is the very stuff of me. How else can it come out, how else could I even say these things? And it is just you, just me. The whole of sorrow, suffering, dukkha, noise, disturbance, disharmony is all absorbed right in here, at the level of the true man, the hu-man.

We are one week from Christmas. Let this be born right now, because if there is this condition of sensitivity, the awakened sensitivity, then we will be free from this pathetic drive in us to avoid pain, sorrow, difficulty and the undesirable, and to try and grasp at what is the pleasant, the joyful, the desirable. It will also relieve us from the struggle to find out the truth, discover the truth. We struggle to discover the truth because we are in such a state of ignorance that we have pushed truth out of our being as an outside object to be gained. It isn’t the case at all. Sri Kṛṣṇa in the Gītā, Jesus, so simply and beautifully in the Gospel, say “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.” I Am. But that I Am, here tiphereth, is not the isolative self-conscious “I am”, which is the object, whether living or not living, unrelated to the totality. This I Am is the one and only I Am. And in that sense no-one can deny it. It is the unabandonable, the undeniable. Then to say I Am does not absolutely imply the other, of whom one says You Are. In saying I Am, everything is included, in saying You Are or It Is, everything is included. Really feel this out, right now. Nothing to be rejected, nothing to be preferentially accepted, but just to be sensitive and remain sensitive. This is the one situation where you have to summon up all your viriya, your strength, your energy, your power from within, the power which is the passion, which is transcendent desire, which is the will of God, to use a theistic term. It is there, locked up in the organism, in the actual psycho-physical living organism. It is there in every single atom of our being, because the atom lives that way, this perpetual vibrating. But let the mind awaken to it. Don’t make a thought of it, because then it will be outside. One is still shut out from the rest. If there is a screen which stands between all of you and me, it is no good my catching hold of that screen and going about with it, because a screen is everlastingly in front of me, shutting me out from everybody else. Be free of the screen, throw it away. So you see the inevitable consequences, the freedom from pleasure, pain, joy, sorrow, the separate duals which are everlastingly in conflict.

Now be very careful. You know how the mind will react, he’s an imp inside us! The mind will react this way, “Ah, that’s right, I’ll do it, all will be well for me afterwards.” Be very careful. You may catch it consciously, but it is deep down in the unconscious. All the time it is there working. The point is, it is not confined to me because mind is not my property, it is not a particular organ which is specific to me. You’ve got your own heart and your own liver, I’ve got my heart and liver which are different from your heart and liver. But mind is different. It is not like that. It is one mind. If I catch it and deal with it in terms of what a person out of ignorance will say is my unconscious, I have to deal with the total unconscious. If you catch one thief in the state, and do what is necessary to prevent any thievery coming from him, you have not done the whole task, because there are lots of thieves. The whole thing has to be cleaned out. You see the meaning of vicarious at-one-ment. There is a very deep and powerful activity of vicariousness going on all the time. If that were not the case, our communication would be ineffective, wouldn’t it? Mind communicates with mind, heart communicates with heart, but it is not a case of just one mind communicating with another mind, as if you can label this bit of mind and say, “Ah, that’s Phiroz Mehta’s mind and this is some-one else’s mind.” It is not like that. It is just universal. You can’t compartment it out. All the time we are in a psychical atmosphere. See how we get caught in it. We know from our ordinary, everyday experience how easily we get caught up in a kind of universal gloom or depression which has settled over the whole city or country, as the case may be.

So this principle of vicariousness is at work, and if there is no refusal, if there is complete sensitivity, then the true human is the Redeemer in the real sense of all mankind. Through him who is in that state, silence and stillness and harmony in their reality, in their fullness, have come to realization.


Tim Surtell
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