Immaturity and Maturity
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 24th September 1972
In some ways we are all quite young. I do not mean young in the sense that we are full of the zest of life. May we always be young that way, especially where the mind is concerned. But we are young in the sense of being not quite mature. We are really immature. It is only the exceptional people in the world who reach maturity in the full human sense of the word. What I have specially in mind in using this word immature is just this. We are all concerned with becoming free of our pains and our problems. Wherein does the immaturity of this concern lie? Surely it is not natural that if a living person is in pain, physical and/or mental, and if he had problems he should not want to be free of them? Of course it is perfectly natural to want to be free of the pains and the problems. But do we, individual people all over the world, ever consider that what we call our pain, our problem, is just our pain or problem? The attitude and the approach is almost entirely self-centred. My pain I want to get rid of. Is there not something truer than that, greater than that? What about my neighbour’s pain, the pain of my society, the problems of the country, of the whole world? Does pain or a problem exist only in the atomistic sense? Or does it exist in the atomistic sense only because it manifests through individual people? Or does it exist also in the field sense, a field which is at least as large as the whole world, as far as our planet is concerned? Is not all the world suffering, full of problems, and are not your problem and my problem interconnected through the fact of our being interconnected, inescapably, inextricably through the psyche? So, if that is the case, if we become concerned only with our own pain or problem, there is no chance of dealing with it in the right way. Take an instance like national disaster, as we call it. Say a mighty earthquake takes place. There is no question of just your pain or my pain, it is everybody’s. But even in the face of such a situation, individuals do get most concerned with their own particular disaster. “My house went down before my eyes, my wife or child was engulfed in it.”
You see what I am getting at, this immaturity of the mind in that it is unawake to the wholeness, and the truth of our life is the total reality, not just an abstracted bit of it which is my bit. The abstracted bit has little meaning, significance, value or place apart from its integral setting in the Totality. This is something which needs very deep consideration all through our life. We tend to abstract ourselves out of the Totality, to separate ourselves. Surely is not this separativeness right at the root of all human problems? Consider how we actually live, how we unconsciously think of ourselves as just ourselves, I am John Smith, or I am Mary Brown. That is me, that is myself. The living organism which goes by one’s name is indeed precisely that living organism and not another living organism. That organism precisely is John or Mary, or whatever it is. But is that the whole truth?
What happens as the consequence of not seeing any further than one’s own nose? There is set up all through life this basic duality of self and not-self. This basic duality lies at the very root of our unease in every way. It is not confined to certain aspects of our life. It affects the whole of our life through and through, this mode of awareness of myself as the self, and everything else as the not-self. This is our real affliction, if you like, the prolific parent of all our conflicts, confusions, miseries, frustrations and so on. I am discriminatively conscious only. I am not wholly aware in the pure sense of the term, of the Totality, of which what I commonly call I (it is a convenient way of talking of myself) am an integral portion, integral, not separate. Integral means built into, built into in actual fact so completely and utterly that any element of exclusiveness, of separativeness immediately produces a dis-eased state both physically and mentally.
We may agree with this intellectually simply because we are, just to put it at a simple level, ordinary, educated, cultured people. We agree with it intellectually. But this intellectual agreement is a surface agreement. It is not a powerful enough force to affect the actual living process of our lives from moment to moment. We actually live contradicting that intellectual agreement. This is our trouble. We may ask then, “How is it that if I see it intellectually so clearly I can’t live it?” It is a very good question. There are very powerful unconscious forces at work. Most powerful of all is the fact that this physical body, this organism is descended from a primordial ancestor who had no awareness of Totality. The animal world, the plant world, our primordial ancestors, whoever they were, right at the very beginning of our evolution, they lived in tune with the whole as integral parts and portions unconsciously. This is the important point. They just naturally lived like that, they could not help it. If something threatened their physical well-being and preservation of their own self, then there arose a force, an energy in them, which immediately attempted to ward off that which threatened their own existence and to fight against it. There was war, there was conflict, one animal against another. It was as simple as that. We are descended from some primordial ancestor who was like that. And this, all the conditioned reflexes and instincts, the instinct for self-preservation and the preservation of the species and all that that entails, all that exists in the tens of billions of cells that compose our body. The cell itself is like that to start with. Its electro-chemistry works just that way. That’s how it has this pleasure-pain mechanism which says, “Beware, something is coming to hurt you, to destroy you,” or says, “This is all right, I can eat it, I can play with it,” and so forth.
So, this unconscious force is there in us, which more than counteracts the little awakening that we have had from within in terms of consciousness, of the Total Reality in which we are integrated. We as a human race (we may have been on the globe three or four million years, goodness knows how long, or however long it has been right up to now), we function in terms of this discriminative consciousness, myself and the not-self. We have to be extremely sensitive to this and very vividly conscious of myself, this body, my feelings, my ideas, my moods and so forth. But am I anywhere near so vividly conscious of the physical state, the feelings, the moods of the person who is nearest to me, perhaps even dearest to me? And if not, why not? Isn’t it curious? That sensitivity has not really come out, it has not grown. In other words, in one of the most important aspects of my being and life, I am immature. I am mature in self-centredness, in selfishness, I am immature in terms of Totality.
Why is this so very important for us human beings? It is only through us human beings that this new and marvellous, this unbelievably wonderful facet of the Earth’s whole life is emerging, namely coming to self-consciousness. We have gone into this in previous meetings. The Earth puts forth the plant world, life begins, there is the animal world, there is mind, there is feeling, there is psyche, psychical phenomenon and all the rest of it, and in man this light that shines in the darkness begins to glow. It is in a man that this happens. And of this light that shines in the darkness in each and every one of us its great significance is that it is the whole world which is coming to self-consciousness through each human being. We, the human beings, who are the vehicles, the instruments of this marvellous and miraculous thing, when you come to look at all its consequences and implications, and so forth, we human beings are yet so young, so immature that we are aware of self only in its most limited terms. “I, separate from you.” This is where the tragedy comes. When my self-consciousness is free from its isolativeness, then the spiritual eye is completely open and the mind and the heart of man are a perfect harmony of wisdom and love, and they are in harmony with the body and therefore of action. So we get wisdom, love and action in a perfect and a marvellous harmony together, in the true human, the happy creator, the one in whom all evil-mindedness, all ill states of mind are no more. The mind is really healthy, whole, mature.
When that is the case, what is the meaning of my problem or my pain? You see how utterly different it becomes. Consider for a moment how the people composing a society experience their problems and attempt to solve them. Our problems, as we say, are different problems. If I am a dustman, if I am a duke, if I am a civil servant, if I am a pianist, a housewife, a cook, if I am a thief or an assassin or a drunkard, I have my particular problems, don’t I? I seek to solve them, or wish they could be solved, in the way that I like, that I want them to be solved, in other words my particular desires are constantly interplaying and limiting, constricting the whole situation. The situation is one of confusion, disorder, misery. But I never see the actual forces at work, my dualistic consciousness, my particular limited desires and all the rest of it. I just don’t see that. I myself remain continuously in a state of conflict. My state of conflict is interacting with the other fellow’s state of conflict, which is of a different nature, because I am a philanthropist and he is a pianist, and this fellow is an assassin, so all our situations are entirely different. And the mess is truly unholy mess. The whole of the psychical world in which we live is in this kind of mess, let us make no mistake about it. All these conflicting energies, these energies which cannot be related to each other, (I am talking of all these ill energies, these evil energies), you cannot make a harmony of them. The desires of the immature can never be really satisfied, and if they can be satisfied sometime, somewhere, in a limited way, they are productive of sorrow. Your great oil magnate, or whoever he is, your world conqueror, etc. etc., what is it all? Cruelty, oppression, misery everywhere. That is all. Ego lust, vanity lust, love lust, pleasure lust, of all the senses and so forth, all these forces are at play. Do you wonder that the Tibetans called this world [???], meaning our good English word which we know so well, Hell. That is what this world is like, that is to say, in our psychical life. Physically it is not quite like that for the very simple reason that if the physical world were also like that, we just could not exist at all. We would be wiped out in any case, the whole world might blow up. But this is what we are like, this is how our problems function inside us as separate individuals, and make a complete mess of everything.
What is the meaning of the word problem? The situation arises and I find that I am unequal to it, I cannot cope with it, I do not know what to do about it. Why do I not know what to do about it? Because I have not got the know-how, because I am not able to understand what has become complicated and gone wrong. So essentially a problem means that which I have not understood. My mind is in a state of confusion, therefore I have a problem. All over the world we have this state of mind, the mind that is unable to understand, the seeing of fact as the fact in its fullness. What lies at the root of not being able to see the fact as the fact? Fundamentally this root of conflict, self and not-self, this isolative self-consciousness, this separative object consciousness, aware only of limited and finite particulars and unconscious of the right and actual relationships which subsist between them.
We have tried to see the heart of the matter and also the reason why, although we may give intellectual assent to the heart of the matter, we are unable to live it. This great unconscious force due to our natural evolution is still so powerful that it overrides our intellect trying to get at this light that shines in the darkness within us. The intellect by itself will never be able to do the needful. The cold, perceiving intellect, which is indispensable, needs the co-operation of sensitivity, this action of that part of the mind which is usually termed the heart in all religions and mystical writings. Hṛdaya means also the physical heart, true enough, but in this context of the religious life and understanding the truth of things, hṛdaya means that innermost essence of mind. This is a thing of sensitivity, intense sensitivity. The intellect is the formaliser, the verbaliser afterwards, to give it shape, to structure it. But to get at the real pulsating energy, this heart of the mind, is the thing. It means this intense sensitivity, you need both of them at work. When both of them work in harmony then this extraordinary thing happens. This isolativeness where our relationship with the world as a whole is concerned and our separateiveness insofar as the relationship of one object to another or one person to another is concerned, that vanishes. Then one sees and feels in terms of the whole. Now there is the possibility of harmony, of the mind being clear, no longer in the conflicting disharmonious state and therefore no longer incapable of understanding, because when the eye sees, when the ear hears, when the hand touches with love, there is understanding. This is the great point about it. But you see what has happened. Our answer to our problem (we can look at it as our personal individual problem or as the problem of all society or the world problem), the healing balm for our pain and misery, is one and one thing only, the Transcendent. Nothing which is limited, particularised, separate, by itself, in the context of the little, in the context of the imprisoned, the context of the sundered from the whole, will ever bring fruition in terms of human life. It is only the Transcendent which is the balm for any and every pain and sorrow, which brings about the resolution into harmony of any and every problem, confusion. Think in this connection of what all the great religions have taught. They have put it in some cases in metaphysical terms. In Hindu teachings for instance we find the great statements that Mūlaprakṛiti and Param-Brahman are an identity. Mūlaprakṛiti is primordial nature or the root of matter, if you like to use the word matter. Param-Brahman is Absolute Spirit or Ultimate Reality; you can translate it any way you like.
Whatever words we use will always be inadequate, but you can just get the feel of it sensitively. They are an identity, there is no separation between them. They are one and the same thing, the separation is brought about by me, due to my immaturity. Just as I raise up the duality of self and not-self, I raise up the duality of matter and spirit, of body and mind. There is no duality in terms of the actual whole Totality, no duality at all. It is my imperfections which make me mispicture the nature of Reality. Mūlaprakṛiti and Param-Brahman are an identity. Now sense this, really feel it immensely, really immensely. Nirvāṇa and Saṁsāra are an identity, as Mahayana very unequivocally states. Eckhart said, “Man is truly God, God is truly man.” Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” The Kingdom of Heaven implies the complete disappearance of limitation. There is no measurement here, there is only the Infinite, the utterly unlimited, the totally free, in which there is no possibility of besmirchment by licence. The Buddha said, “Look within, thou art Buddha.” What is the implication of “Thou art Buddha”? What does Siddhattha Gotama, who became the Buddha, say of himself? What did his great disciples like Kaccāna and the others say of him? “The Tathāgata, he who has gone thus, is the dhamma become”. He has become the Truth, the Law, the Absolute Reality. He is the Brahma-Become, so you will not find him anywhere, he is without trace, where will you go to find him? You, who have become this Truth, become the Whole Reality, are omnipresent. There is no possibility of confusion in your mind, you are omniscient — not omniscient in the sense of a super encyclopaedia, but omniscient in the sense that your mind is so pure and clear that you see the truth of things. When we really see this, not just emotionally thrill to it but sensitively, wholly feel it out, we become that truth, don’t we? What an extraordinary destiny is Man’s destiny therefore. In that state there is no such thing as my problem or my pain. Problems and pains come in the world, in the psychical, in the mental realm, just as cloudy weather and sunny weather come in the physical world. But he who is balanced, he who is a mature person does not need to ring up his psychiatrist and run off for a treatment because he has become so depressed with the cloudy weather! You just take it in your stride as a mature person. We wanted to play cricket today but the rain came down in torrents. The rain came down in torrents so we did not play today, we’ll play another day. You arrive at the other day as you take your strides through life, in your stride. The same thing happens in the realm of the mind. We take it in our stride. In the realm of the mind, unlike the physical realm, (this is where the physical and mental are different in nature and function), any one stride takes you through the entire realm of mind. The mind, the psyche, functions as a whole all the time, as a totality. The psyche has no separate organs, as the body has a liver and a heart and a kidney and what not. The whole psyche is in a state of confusion or of depression or of elation or of a sublime exhortation or whatever it is. The whole psyche is like that, you watch it carefully.
When this which is the Transcendent answer has become a reality for us, is wholly meaningful to us, then we do not need to worry anybody with our problems. We will need to go to other people to obtain the benefit of their skills and their know-how in all those aspects of life which are particularised aspects. If you want to learn chemistry, well of course you have to go to a place where there is a teacher of chemistry, where there is a laboratory, where there are the chemicals available, and you learn your chemistry, true enough. If you want to learn how to play golf, you go to somebody who is a very good golfer and you learn how to do it. If you go to a bad teacher, he cannot teach you very much, and he may put you on the wrong track because of his own ignorance. Then you have to give him up and go to somebody else. That is perfectly obvious. But where this inward life of the human being, our existence as human, as souls if you like to use the old-fashioned word, is concerned, there is nobody to go to. If we go to somebody, what do we do? We exchange information regarding our experience and our ideas. But usually and unfortunately we get the ideas as the truth. The ideas are only the wrapping for that vital throbbing energy, indefinable, unnameable, which is the Truth, and which is in you, in everything, in the whole universe all the time.
When I was born, and I believe when each and every one of you came into being at birth, we did not have to go to anybody whatsoever to learn how to suckle at our mother’s breast. You were hungry and you suckled, just naturally. When the life of the soul, the life of the spirit gets to this stage of naturalness, then the Transcendent answer is everlastingly present with us for any and every problem. When we really see that then we get free of this very unhappy situation when we wish our life were easy and free of difficulties and free of problems, and “I wish such-and-such things wouldn’t happen, they are such a nuisance, they are so unnecessary, and all the rest of it.” True, if you like, in the limited context, yes, they are a nuisance, but if it is the wholeness of life with which we are concerned, then, no, we just take the whole lot in our stride, as we have to in any case ultimately. There is no option to that. And then what happens? If the element of my problem, my pain is out of my consciousness, I am aware of pain. This is the world sorrow, it is there. Now I can be the light in the darkness, because I will have gone right past the littleness, the ignorance which makes me think in terms of “We must change this politically, that economically, this socially, this educationally in order to solve the problem.” Of course I will do this politically, that economically and so forth, but I will now do it in the light of the Totality. This is the world situation, the world problem. One remains balanced, one has no vested interests. The absence of vested interests is one of the real signposts to indicate that one is free from this duality of self and not-self. It does not mean that the Perfected Holy One will run away from the unhappy realities of the life of the world, politically, socially or any other way. If he has gifts that way in the political sphere, then he could contribute there and he will be wise enough to contribute only where it is necessary, it is called for and he is the one person who can just contribute that. Or it may be in the social sphere, in the educational sphere, philanthropy, healing, nursing, anywhere. But he does it in the light of Transcendence. Because he does it in the light of Transcendence, he truly heals. There is nothing which goes out from him which is a destructive, a binding or an evil element. Have we not seen that the great world teachers were all doctors, in the sense of teacher, and also that they were doctors, that is healers, of the mind fundamentally. The healer of the mind meant that this basic duality was truly out of consciousness. Consciousness was no longer just discriminative in the sense of separating oneself from anything else. So this is something which we must really wake up to, that the answer to all pain, to all problems, the real answer is only the Transcendent answer. The Transcendent answer can never be limited. It includes everything, it energizes every particular aspect of the manifestation of the Transcendent answer, that is in the field, educational, political or whatever it is. This is something which means that the person truly lives the holy life, he lives the whole life.
One last point which always needs emphasizing, the practical basis of it all, the indispensable basis, is the simple moralities, in thought and feeling, in word and in physical action, harmlessness, truthfulness, the utter absence of self-indulgence, self-centredness and all that. We have to be watchful, mindful and live them, and insofar as they are lived, this light of Transcendence shines through the human being who lives them and heals the world’s sorrow.