Let Life Come to Flower
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 3rd November 1973
It is very natural for us to react to conditions according as to whether they please or displease us, according as to whether they are in line with our desire for the moment or against it. Consider for a moment our reactions to the weather. If we have dark, grey skies over-clouded for a day or two or still worse for a long spell, then we feel depressed, but we forget that out of those dark clouds there comes rain, pure water, and under other conditions there comes snow, pure, white snow, out of the dark, displeasing clouds. And then, if the sun were to come out and you take a walk, you see the whole white expanse glittering in the sunshine, and you feel as if the wealth of the world with so many glittering diamonds was yours to enjoy. Of course we know it is an illusion, but it was the pleasure of the moment, and that attracts us. And then perhaps we feel rather patronising and condescending towards the dark clouds for having produced this. But you see the point that is involved there. Our sense of beauty, our response to life, the conditions of life, is a fragmentary one, it is not whole, it is not holy therefore, and this is certainly not exactly the functioning of the religious consciousness but of the worldly consciousness which is self-oriented and desire-driven. You see the point of this. It is this fragmentary, split-up worldly consciousness, desire-impelled, self-oriented, which is the root of sorrow, of conflict, of all our human problems, excepting of course those which Nature herself throws across our path in terms of earthquake or flood or something like that.
It is very important to realize how very deep-seated this is in us. We must watch our reactions throughout the day to all the conditions which prevail, and these reactions will show us what are the desires, the ambitions, the driving forces which animate us, what are the criteria, the evaluations which condition our minds in such a way that we cannot live completely through life as it is in its wholeness from moment to moment. The religious life means living life completely in its wholeness from moment to moment. And you will discover that, in the attempt to do this, the greater the extent to which we can see all our desires and ambitions and envies and fears and grasping and jealousy and all the rest of it, to the extent that we can see all that, see it is so clearly that psychologically we become freed of it in the process of seeing, only to that extent are we able to live life in its wholeness in the real sense, which means the human sense, the fully human sense, which also means the divine sense, the godly sense.
The old people always said that Man is God in the making. ‘God’ is a word which is going out of fashion. It will come back. These fashions are all confined within the sphere of mortality which is a circle just going round and round, and we are caught in this circle of fashion, intellectual fashions, moral fashions and God knows what other nonsense of a similar nature. Therefore truth and reality and life and our humanity in its profound and real sense are hidden over and have little chance of coming to fruition. It is important for us therefore to watch all these reactions carefully, and in the watching to be able to wake up to the fact that all these changing garbs of mortality are the ways in which Immortality is hidden and presents itself.
You have heard me say, “Eternity rides on the wings of Time.” Today I am using this phrase: “Immortality is garbed in all the changing ephemeral forms of mortality.” Now, if we really understand this and do not just have it as so many words in the brain, then we shall see the futility and the absurdity of searching for, seeking Transcendence or Reality or Truth. It is the unseekable, it is here perpetually. You cannot seek that in which you actually exist. You can see what obstructs the Reality, and in seeing the obstruction to the Reality, really seeing it, there is in that action from within oneself, in thought and feeling, in speech and in action, in deed, that which expresses the reality of that seeing, the truth of that seeing, and all that obstructs Transcendence is removed. It is as if one’s eyes which were closed just open. If the eyes are open, you see. If the eyes are not open, they don’t see. It is as simple as that, and it is as difficult as that, because to open the eye of the soul, of the mind and the heart, is extremely difficult. We are psychologically and mentally immature. We never arrive, the bulk of us, throughout the world, throughout the millennia, never arrive at psychological or mental maturity. In other words, we never realize our humanity.
Consider this thing together with me. Do not just hear the words, or either appreciate or depreciate, approve or disapprove the ideas or the thoughts. Consider this together, and bear in mind the meaning of the word ‘consider’ — con, ‘together with’, and sidus, sideris, meaning ‘a star’. What is a star? Essentially, a self-shining light. It does not depend upon anything outside for the light that it sends out. It lives its life, which means that innumerable atomic explosions are going on inside, immense energies are being continuously poured out, and the star makes no calculations about results, it has no ambitions, it has no purposes, it just lives itself out completely and fully, unselfly, un-self-ly, selflessly, and therefore it is a self-shining light as it burns away in that manner. So now, to consider means essentially to look closely, deeply into the self-shining light. Where is this self-shining light? In my words? Not at all. In your ideas, your beliefs, your convictions, the logical deductions from your experience? Not at all. This is not the self-shining light. That self-shining light is the reality of Transcendence itself functioning through you, and as it functions you burn away, I burn away. But that burning is free of any smoke that suffocates or hides the truth. It is a pure flame which never scorches but is the light itself, enlightening us on the way, on our way, which is from here-now from moment to moment, and never goes outside the here-now, which includes the Totality of all existence.
These are deep things to be fully aware of, which means to be fully awake to. We listen, the intellect takes in ideas, deals with them, and thinks that it knows. This is not knowing at all, this is wastepaper basket material. This self-shining light from within is the reality of Transcendence itself which burns us away and we must not obstruct that burning away. Now if that burning away is to be a true light and not a fire belching forth smoke and suffocating fumes, then that which burns must be pure, has to be pure. So again and again we come to this fundamental point about the religious life, which means the human life and nothing else. Saintship is the beginning of the human life, not the culmination. It is the beginning of the human life, the religious life, the spiritual life. If we are to be truly human and to burn away as a pure light, then there must be our own purity. We always come to this, the basic fundamental, the moralities, the plain, straightforward moralities, as the first and most important thing, not as something imposed upon ourselves from outside, not as something determined upon by us from within, because that which we predetermine and formulate in that manner always becomes a fossil, a conditioning, an obstruction to Reality. The ethical sense, this moral imperative within us, is something with which we are born. It is derived from that Transcendent universal virtue which is the creative power of Transcendence itself, continuously manifesting creation. This is virtue. (I am using words which have tremendous implications, but you must forgive me for that, you must work out the implications for yourself.) And it is this Transcendent virtue which is way and above beyond the conflict in the ambivalent sphere of what we call virtue and vice. This Transcendent virtue is the creative power of the universe, virtus, the strength of the man, the strength of the soul. The strength of the soul is a mystery, we do not know what it is, it is shapeless, it is formless, it is wordless, it is thoughtless. But every one of us is born with this sense. Whenever we do anything wrong, we know it. We don’t need the other fellow to tell us. But unfortunately we have the power of opposing truth, of opposing reality. Neither animal nor tree nor stone nor star can do that, only you and I can do it. This is the meaning of eating the forbidden fruit, the power of choice and to set oneself, the microcosm, against the macrocosm. See what a delightful mess we have made of the world in consequence, including our own lives! So we don’t need the other person to tell us this, we know it. Let it speak to us from within. And it will speak without argument, it has no use for logic, and it certainly is not illogical, because it is really always in tune with the eternal logic of life itself, and it transcends petty little knowing by the intellect. It certainly transcends all laid down, compulsively laid down, moralities. Morality is no morality as long as there is any compulsiveness involved in it. There will be tension involved in it because anything alive, anything which is in action, necessarily exercises a normal healthy tension. This is the sign of life. That is there. And it this tension which is the source, as well as the expression, of the dynamic drive within us. These are not very easy things, I admit, but try and be sensitive and just see what happens to you within yourself in consequence. So that is the real nature of morality, and you will find it will work unerringly.
Why does man have to struggle, to strive to live the simple, pure life, to be moral? Because he allows himself to be caught in this ambivalent sphere of virtue-vice, two conflicting things, love-hate, kindness-cruelty, right-wrong and all the rest of it. He is caught up in it, and his mind (which was at start like a really fine receiving set tuned to take in all the music that could come through it) is as if it has been given such a bashing that whatever comes through is a ghastly noise instead of music! This is what has happened to our minds. But observe it carefully, sensitively, without attempting to compel it in any way, and you will find that this natural purity will well out, because it has the power of Transcendent virtue behind it. Transcendent virtue is the origin, is the root of the moral imperative in us, and without it, as the fundamental basis in life, all attempted religious living is a fraud and is doomed to failure. You just cannot do it.
I mentioned certain other things earlier. Self-orientedness, desire, ambition, tied up with our vanities and our egoism, the passion to assert ourselves, to make a name, to convert the heathen and so forth, man’s tragic folly all along the line. Be free of the burden, it’s so easy. This burden which we carry we have made ourselves, we are not compelled to carry it. Just give the right sort of shrug and the whole bundle will fall down. But that is the difficulty, to give the right sort of shrug. And do you know one of the reasons why we cannot give the right sort of shrug in this matter? We are somewhat attached to, we are in love with, our own evil and our own sorrow. Make no mistake about it, the psyche is an extraordinary thing altogether. In the deep sub-conscious depths it functions in an extraordinary manner. But this is why attentiveness is required. You know all these things which I say, you know them just as well as I do. I am merely the mouth and the voice of the speech, of the silent speech of your own hearts. Your own heart knows the truth, it is there, and it knows it without the clutter of thoughts and beliefs and ideas and words. I am merely the mouth and the voice for that, that is all. I am not trying to give you truth. I used to in the days of my folly.
So let this just come out. You will of course immediately ask me, “But how do I let it come out?” Well, awake to the fact that each one of us is in love with the evil inside himself, with his own sorrow, with his own misdoing. We are attached to it, we are under the illusion that this is fun, this is pleasurable, this is ‘being with it’, like all the others. You can never ‘be with it’, never in any respect anywhere, under any circumstance, unless you are completely capable of standing alone, on your own feet. And one can stand alone on one’s own feet only if one is utterly pure. Don’t argue the fact, consider it, look into it, with an open mind and see if there is light. If you cannot see the light, be patient, just keep looking. Don’t look for anything, don’t look for the light, just be aware that there is light, it has to be seen. It will show itself. I say this because, if you or I predetermine the nature of that light, that truth, we shall see our own illusions and not recognise them as illusions. This is the point, this is the difficulty, this is how people get misled. You know the way people have turned to religion, to philosophy, to yoga, they follow this cult, that cult, they join this sect, that sect, they go through this discipline, that discipline, all in the hope and the desire, the passion, the greed, to obtain a desirable, pleasant result, a fulfilment. But this is precisely what defeats fulfilment.
I am sure so many of you must be good gardeners. What do you do with a garden, how do you grow a lovely garden? How does the tree, the plant, grow and flower out into its full beauty? All you do is that you see that the soil is right, you supply the necessities for the seed; if it is good seed, all right, plant it, and then you let it grow. This is the secret, no interference, you let it grow. I would be an awfully conceited fool if I thought that I made the tree grow and become beautiful and come to flower. It is Transcendence itself, this supreme, universal mystery which you cannot smell, touch, taste, see, control in any way. It is Transcendence itself which comes to flower in that tree. It is a thing of beauty, it is a thing of joy, and your mind and heart are at peace, and it is quiet as it communes with the beauty of that which has come to flower. But when you want to try to sell it, when you want to make a profit out of it, when you want to exploit it and so forth, then come evil, all sorts of chemicals in order to force the growth, to produce more, and this, that and the other. That tree, that plant, is compelled to be your slave. You have relegated it to the land of the Nibelungs. But in the first case there was love, there was pure love, undesirous, no ambitions or exploitation involved in it, no possessiveness involved in it. You have a natural gift for growing such-and-such plants, you love it, and it just happens, sweetly and beautifully, just as the whole universe happens sweetly and beautifully. And remember that that sweetly and beautifully includes the terrific, titanic explosions and so on of the great galaxies in collision, in order that you and I ultimately, nurslings of immortality, may come into being.
Now, are we good gardeners with ourselves? Do we not try to exploit ourselves? Are we not cursed from childhood onwards with competitiveness, various ambitions to become this, become the other, and above all to chase after this pleasure and that pleasure, and think it is fun and happiness and so forth, and being ‘with it’. Now, cast it all aside, just let it go into the rubbish dump. Stand on your own feet, completely pure, clean, alone, and in that aloneness you will find that you are ‘with it’ in its profoundest and truest sense all the time, that time itself, every moment of time, embodies the Eternity in which this creative activity goes on, which throws up all this beauty and fulfilment of your own life and of everything around you. But it necessitates that basis of absolute purity, never forget. And if there is this non-interference with the process of life, this intelligent observation of things as they are, this love of the heart which just naturally, quietly, unpossessively wells out and flows out, then all this will happen in your own being. It will absorb all the pleasure and pain that the circumstance and daily life throw up for us. No one can escape that, not God Almighty can escape that, it happens to him also! You will absorb all that, but in that absorption you will have the power to digest it rightly, and the healthy life process of you, the true human being, will be manifest, it will come to fruition, and it is fruition. It is my conceptions, my utter misconceptions in fact of what ought to be, of my fruition and fulfilment and so forth, which interfere with the true flowering. And therefore, instead of spreading forth, emanating a perfume of life, I am something of a stink in the world. Isn’t this true of so many millions and millions of us and has it not been true throughout the millennia? What is history but mainly (not entirely, as otherwise we would be wiped off the globe) a history of misery, of evil, of misdeeds, of mistakes, of stupidities, of cruelty and horror, of anything that is subhuman, bestial? And do you think we can stem that tide of evil by our preconceptions just by saying that, “This is not right”, and we say it is not right because it is unpleasant to me, fundamentally? (Never forget that!) If I really liked it, I would do it also myself. We cannot stem that tide by trying to deal with the external shape, the effects of this misdirection and misuse of our life energy, which is primarily in terms of self-orientedness and the slavery to desire, to ambition and to being caught up in this state of ignorance of the truth of things and of ourselves.
Talking of basic things, very fundamental things, things which are at the very root of our human existence, think of the meaning of the word ‘human’. Those of you who have heard me talk about this on previous occasions please bear with the repetition. This word ‘human’, hu-man, comes from the Sanskrit root man, and the verb is manyate, which means, as the dictionary puts it, ‘to think’. But our dictionary meaning of the word ‘think’ simply does not apply in this context, because our ordinary thinking process, our musing process, is merely a string of words which goes on silently in the brain, not audibly, it is not spoken aloud, but it is a string of words in the brain all the time. This is what we call ‘thinking’. Thought in this Transcendent context has nothing to do with it, it is not that. We have no word in the language, nor in any of the languages in the world to express this. We must try and get at it somehow. This ‘thinking’ or, let us use the word ‘minding’ (to ‘mind’ something), at root in its actual reality is creating, creating not in the sense of making something. It is creative energy itself, and creative energy does not exist apart on its own, saying, “Oh, well, I think on Monday morning I will create this, that or the other.” Not at all. Creative energy, creative action and creation are all synonymous.
This is something which you must really get, because this lies at the very root of all universal existence and growth and process and everything. The root man means that Divine conceiving (I am using the word ‘Divine’ not implying a personal God upstairs or downstairs, wherever he may be, sort of spinning out ideas) which is the creative energy in action, and it never ceases to be in action, and it throws out creation all the time. This is the meaning of statements as in the first chapter of Genesis for instance, “And God said, ‘let there be’, and there was.” He said ‘Let there be’, not ‘There ought to be’, or ‘There must be’. There are no other ways of expressing such things. But if you are sensitive and if you really enter into this depth in your inner consciousness, in the still, silent depths of the mind and the heart, you will suddenly wake up and you will thrill in response to this creative energy at work. And you will know what is the meaning of thought and thought-power. It is not wishful thinking or going through some silly little verbal ritual in your mind. Not at all. This is man, manyate. The prefix hu-, which is interchangeable with su-, sumanas or humanas, means ‘the happy creative thinker’. Why is the word ‘God’ always associated with bliss, always associated with creation? God the creator, God in heaven, blissful — it is a statement of what you are in your full human fulfilment, what I am in my true human fulfilment. This is the meaning. So you see that the context of the human is the Transcendent context itself, which is the real context of religion and religiousness and the whole of the religious life. Therefore to consider together as human beings means to be creating together all the time. Can you and I do that?
You see, something like that was the ancient, original relationship of the Perfected Holy One, the Teacher, and his close disciples, who in the Old Testament were named the Sons of the Prophets. The Buddha said of Sariputta that “he is the Son of my Mouth.” The Buddha gives away the secret in more literal language than anybody else did. That was one of the things that the Buddha did constantly, and that is why there was some considerable annoyance on the part of the established Brahmanical order, because he gave out the secrets quite openly, in plain psychological language. The Son of the Prophet, the Teacher and the disciples. And when they sat together, do you think that the Teacher, the Perfected Holy One, sat and gave instruction to his disciples like I used to do, as long as I worked professionally at school as a teacher, teaching the children chemistry? Not a bit. This ordinary teaching is imparting information, conveying knowledge to another person. It is nothing to do with that. It is a creative interplay, a timeless conjugative activity which is blissful creation, which never had a beginning and which can never have an end, because it transcends all time. For it is the source of both time and space and substance, and of every event and everything which happens throughout the universe. This is the deep meaning of humanity, of being a human being and of having this relationship, as spoken of in the old days, of the teacher and the disciple. ‘Discipulus’ (disciple) means ‘a learner’, and the teacher was a ‘doctor’, he who taught. We still use the word ‘doctor’, both in the ordinary academic sense — Ph. D. is a doctor of philosophy and so forth — and also as a doctor of medicine. Now medicine is a slightly better field, because you get the important point — he heals, he is supposed to heal. And what is that? He makes whole, makes complete. And how does he make whole, how does he make complete? He diagnoses what is wrong and gives something which will assist the inner life energy to come right by removing the obstructions. Note the process carefully. This is how healing, whole making takes place. It is not a mechanical job, it is not a put-together affair, because whatever is just put together can be taken apart. It is a re-integration. This is Yoga in the grand sense of the term. And again its fundamental basis is absolute purity.
So now, to consider together, to be in communion in this sense… So it is this creative activity which can be an extraordinary power for the purification of the psyche. But look at its implication, the total absence of all selfness on the part of everyone concerned. Then this magic, this miracle, this Transcendent activity can take place through us human beings. And it cannot take place through the animals or the trees in that way. The difference is this, it takes place in animals and plants and the earth and everything in its own way unconsciously. But through us as human beings it takes place not consciously but in terms of awakened awareness of communion. You see, this is the pure state, this is the state of love in its reality. If you can see this, if you can sense this, that is the end of all stupidity, trying to drown one’s sorrows in sex or anything like that, or in any other way, drink and drugs and taking a trip, as they call it, and all the rest of it, which is just plain evil, let us have no nonsense about it, absolutely and completely evil.
The weak-minded say that they will scientifically and objectively undertake an experiment. The nature of the undertaking is an indication of the person’s sanity. If a person undertakes an experiment to find out what happens to me if I fall down a five thousand foot precipice, you begin to have a few doubts about his sanity! You know, I have always said that the first rule of the spiritual life is, “Never take leave of good sense.” It is absolutely essential.
So now, this burden of sorrow which we all have. Have we seen enough to get an inkling of how to shrug our shoulders in the right way, to cast off that burden and just come clean, simple, happy, because this is happiness, not the chasing of pleasure, not the running away from or avoiding pain? For life will present those to us in the circumstance, and if it does not present those to us directly as such, it will present them to us in terms of the pain or the pleasure, the joy or the sorrow of those who are near and dear to us. And then, what will we do? Will we avert our eyes from our child’s or wife’s or husband’s or friend’s suffering, and still pretend to live the religious life, go to the meetings regularly, pay £5,000 a year subscription, and all that sort of nonsense? No, surely not. Here and now every one of us has the chance, so to say, to open one’s eyes. To use the Buddha’s words, “The doors of the deathless are open again.” Why use the word ‘again’? They are everlastingly open. But it sometimes needs a mouth and a voice to utter the speech that is in your own heart, singing, a singing speech, the song of life in your own heart. But the work is yours, no reliance upon the mouth and the voice. A composer might just as well rely upon his tape recorder or gramophone to produce music — oh no! He creates it, do not forget that. You are the composer, the creator and you have got to create that. No leaning upon a teacher, no having a teacher as an authority. And, as you know, I have always most positively disclaimed being a teacher or anything. I do not know anything which is superior or better than what you know yourself, absolutely not. We meet in love only, freely, quietly, not because you or I appreciate each other or have a personal affection for each other, not at all. Those are the worldly expressions, if you like. But where the Reality is concerned, this is Transcendence and that Transcendent Love, which is one of the supreme characteristics of Transcendence manifesting through you and through me. And that is all. It is as simple, it is as matter-of-fact, as that. You know, the great mystics through the ages have said that to deify is identical with to reify (res, rei, means ‘a thing’). To make divine is the same as to make the thing, not vacuity, but the thing. And the thing may manifest, and does manifest also as emptiness, as we call it, and the form in indissoluble relationship, one integrated whole. Do realize that.
The black clouds causing one depression and wishing it were otherwise and then the beauty of that snow and the beauty of the snow crystals… And you see how Nature manifests all along the line. It does not resist truth, reality, the creative process, it does not impose its own personal desire or will or anything upon the creative process. We are possessed of this power of personal desire and will. How shall we purify our desire, so that it ceases to be our desire, how shall we tame our will, so that it ceases to be our will and it is only the Divine Will in creative activity manifesting eternal beauty throughout all our life? That is the great thing, is it not? And it is here and now, open, available. You have to take it into yourself. If you are hungry or thirsty, you have to eat and drink. No one else can do it on your behalf, and, what’s more, you have got to digest it. How will you digest it rightly and not have a bellyache afterwards, intellectual and spiritual and all the rest of it? How will you do it? If the body is pure, if the body is healthy, the digestive juices will do their work, won’t they? If the mind is pure, morality will be the natural thing, that means. Then the mind will do all this work of digesting this spiritual power and energy. This is Yoga in the great sense of the term. There is nothing for me personally, nothing whatsoever. As I have said once before and as I have written in my new book† also, I am the shadow cast by the being of God as he stands in the way of his own eternal light. The words just came like that, do not ask me to explain them, you work them out. Otherwise I will answer as Browning answered his questioner as to what on earth he meant in Sordello! He said, “Well, there were two who knew the meaning when I wrote it, God and me. Now only God knows!”
So this is life in its reality, in its wholeness. Do not get caught in the beauty of the feeling, do not get excited about it. It is a wretched word which has come into the language everywhere for exploitive purposes. “Oh, this is so exciting!” Excitement is precisely the thing that knocks you flat on the ground instead of standing on your feet. Be perfectly calm and cool and collected and let Reality, in all its immensity, in all its greatness, in its universal aspect flow freely and easily through your own transparent being, emptied of all ill. And then the Infinite will be manifest through the finite, one of the miracles of our existence, the entire universe embodied in the atom, Eternity embodied in every moment of time. And when that is the case, time’s burden of sorrow (because time by itself means the accumulation of sorrow) must be out. Then Eternity will be embodied in time and the Infinite in the finite, and you will be the true human through whom Transcendence manifests.
† The Heart of Religion, Compton Russell, 1976