Death: Unification: Love
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 13th March 1976
The life of us who are in this world is a strange thing, and life in its Totality, its Transcendent Reality, is a most mysterious thing. We, here, see our life, our individual personal lives, as something which begins, comes into being, and then it proceeds. There is what we call growth, and then there is an ending, death. Life in its beginning for each of us we see as the consequence of union, of love. And then there is the process of growth which involves all the duals, the opposites, pleasure and pain, sickness and health, success and failure, joy and sorrow, and so on. And in that process there is conflict, there is disharmony, there is the absence of union, of love. And then comes death, something shattering, something unanswerable, stark and absolute. And, whether our communion, our communication, our mutual relationships in the process of our life, were happy or not — usually it is always a mixture of the two — if we have lived in close proximity, either as man and wife, or parent and child, or friend and friend, or whatever it is, if something deep has been experienced between us, then, when this shattering apparent darkness of death overwhelms us, somehow we come closest to the realization of union. This extraordinary mystery of life, Transcendent Love, Transcendent Wisdom, which pulsates in manifestation in our world as birth and death, as joy and sorrow, and so forth, becomes transmuted into something totally other than what we ordinarily know and experience, even in our sublimest moments, our most ecstatic moments, or in the moments of the most terrible suffering and misery and despair and grief.
In other words, for us as we are, this thing we call death which we cannot see and grasp and understand has a greater power of releasing the sense of Transcendence within us than anything else. In some extraordinary way we touch Ultimate Reality. But we do realise Transcendence when there is this shattering experience.
The question arises, what is it that keeps us in ignorance? What is it that makes the truth of things, the reality of Transcendence itself, a mystery to us, shut away from us? For in actual fact we are Transcendence embodied. Out of the Totality each of us comes, into that Totality we dissolve again. The final resolution, the final fulfilment of our life is through death, strange as it may sound. If we can see the real nature of death, then all the loss and sorrow associated with death disappears, and we see that death is life’s immortal twin.
Is it not my own ignorance, my own incapacity to be aware of the whole truth immediately here now, which makes me split the one reality of life, Eternal Life, into its two components, birth and death? Is it not my own incapacity to weld time and space together in my full consciousness, in my full awareness, which makes time uni-directional for me? And I remain bound in this prison-house of past, present and a future to come for me. If I only awake to the fact that I, the individual, am but a temporal manifestation of the One Total Reality, which ex-presses me, that is, presses me out of itself as a finite limited creature, and then reabsorbs me into its own overriding Totality at what I call death! Is it not my ignorance of that and my incapacity to be aware of that from moment to moment which makes me split up Eternity and see it as uni-directional time, a past, a present, a future? This is not to deny the fact that we human beings do experience life in terms of a beginning, a proceeding and a dying. But we separate the processes. We do not see that all three take place simultaneously from split second to split second.
Why don’t we see that? It is because, amongst other things, we desire to hold that which is here at the moment and not let it go. We are enamoured of that which we like which is here present, and we grasp it, we want it to stay like that. This is to deny the nature of life itself, which is a perpetual transmutation of the Totality, in which the state that was transmutes, and there is new creation immediately. This is what we cannot understand. So it is a shortcoming of our understanding which makes us break up Eternity into components which hold us in bondage, the components of birth, procedure and death.
That is one aspect of it. The other aspect is that we have fear in us. We feel insecure, and whatsoever is comfortable and pleasant in the moment therefore we desire to hold because we believe it spells security. But security in our sense really means stagnation, not growth, not transformation, not the change from one condition of eternal beauty and marvel into the very next manifestation of that same beauty and marvel. It is our fear; that fear is born of ignorance of course. We fear the unknown, so we desire to hold back the process of life. No one can do it. Therefore we suffer because of that.
And perhaps the third great cause is that we are captives of our pleasure drive, forgetting that every pleasure drive is in actuality a pleasure-pain drive. There is no pleasure without its associated pain, even if it is only the fact that the pleasurable experience in uni-directional time must of necessity come to an end in that particular shape and form. But if we can awake, awake to the reality of the nature of life which is this constant but discontinuous creative pulse in Eternity, if we can wake up to that, not merely as a thought — because a thought is merely a string of words which are impotent in themselves — if we can wake up to this inner consciousness, be actually aware of this pulsation, then the shattering nature of death, of change which we have not bargained for, disappears. We are under those conditions in tune with the universal pulse of creation.
This, please remember, is not a philosophy, not a new intellectual structure, an ivory tower in which we can take refuge. There is no such thing as taking refuge for the true human, for the truly wise one, the one who knows what love means, the one who knows how to be always in union with the Totality which is life. Now, at root it is our sense of separateness which holds us down in this unhappy state. We are aware of ourself as separate from all other selves and all other things and events and objects. We use the word universe, but throughout our lives we totally deny the meaning of the word Uni-verse, a One Reality. If we see, if we really feel in our innermost being, that every single thing is interrelated with everything else, if we really become conscious of that, our whole life would become utterly different, totally different. It does not mean that life would become a sort of wonderful lotus land where everything will be pleasant. That word pleasant, that word pleasure, is one of the curses upon man. Man chases pleasure, not knowing that the reality of happiness constitutes him. The truth of love, of wisdom, of beauty, of happiness, constitutes us. We do not know that. We may know it as so many words, as an idea to play with, but we do not really know it. If we really know, then we live according to that knowledge. Plato always insisted that no one should say that he knows anything unless he can do it or be it. When he can do it or be it, then he really knows it. This is an extraordinary meaning of the word know, to know by being that which you know. Then you are creative. You find that word know, the verb to know, used in that sense in Genesis, for instance, “And Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived.” Creation. That is the meaning of the word to know, vidyā as we say in India, the Sanskrit word, and vijjā, the Pali word. To know means to be fully awake in innermost consciousness to that which you say you know. And then you are that which you know, in mind and consciousness. You can’t be it physically of course. But in mind and consciousness you are completely awake to the full interrelationship, the full interaction with that which you know, whether it be a human being, a thing, a particular technique or skill or subject, or a stone or a mountain or anything you like.
Now, this is man’s destiny, to awake in this manner. Do not say, “But of course I mean that’s quite beyond me.” If I say, “Yes it is quite beyond me”, I have refused to accept, to acknowledge, to thrill to my divine destiny. And where this divine destiny is concerned, because it belongs to the realm of Transcendence itself, there is no such thing as measurement in terms of success or failure. Transcendence, the Lord God, the Unbecome, the Unmade, the Unborn, is not going to give you any marks or any credit, or subtract any marks or take away or give you a discredit, for what you and I commonly call success and failure out of our abysmal ignorance. Look, at this moment, you and I as we sit here, if we can be fully awake to everyone present, we are in a state of complete unity, of complete harmony, of a Transcendent awareness, of the Transcendent Reality that here is embodied in everyone, the Absolute Perfection. And this is the kind of awakening that is necessary. If we awaken in that way, then we are truly human. Before that we are subhuman. If we awaken in that way we transcend all the limitations imposed by the fact that we are confined in relativity, which means duality, multiplicity. There is nothing wrong with duality as such, with multiplicity as such. Variety is absolutely essential, because if there were no variety, how would you see beauty? You can’t. Variety therefore there must be, but at the same time there must be the overriding awareness of complete interrelationship. If that awareness is there, then you are utterly free from all delusion and from all illusions also. The variety is there, the particulars are there, but there is the overriding fact of complete interrelationship and interaction which makes for the unity of the universe. And so one releases oneself from imprisonment in the realm of relativity.
What is our great instrument of salvation, of release? It is our power of mindfulness. We have the power to pay attention. We are too enamoured of the idea of what must we do to obtain such-and-such a result. Be totally free of seeking results. You will never get your preconceived results. If you do, my condolences for you! Because a preconceived result simply means that you are stuck, in something limited. Life is not like that. Life is perpetually creative, and what is one of the hallmarks of creation? Freshness, newness, absolute wonder all along the line. If the sense of wonder is not there, and if you achieve something — “Oh, yes, yes, I calculated it out, thus and thus and thus, and brought it into being” — well, one might as well be on the dustheap, because it’s mechanical, it is a mere put-together, a mere synthetic product as such, not a living integration. Because that which is lovingly integrated always has that which utterly transcends anything that you thought of before. You see, thought is a deadener, if thought becomes your master. It is not by taking thought that you flower out. Ask all the buds on the trees and the bushes that you come across, ask all of them, “Have you thought exactly what sort of a flower you want to be?” And if they could speak your language they would say, “Lord, what a fool you are!” Of course not. Did you in your mother’s womb know what you would be when you were born and what you would grow into? Have you ever known at any time in your life what you are growing into? This is life, and this is how we have to see it.
Now in the realm of relativity we have therefore to be attentive all the time, mindful, and be mindful without condemnation or approval. If there is approval, you will find that awful snake in the grass comes in, you desire to possess that which you approve of. And whatsoever I try to possess is a thing which binds me. If I grasp at anything at all, it grasps me. This is what we never realize and therefore we are stuck there. It retards our progress, our growth. If a bud everlastingly wants to remain a bud, it will never be a flower. If an embryo everlastingly wants to be an embryo, it will never be a man or a woman. So, be attentive, free of condemnation on the one hand, because that implies enmity, that implies conflict, a denial of the unity, of that which is ill or evil with me. And if I want to grasp that which I think is good, that again is a denial of the process of creative life, and therefore of true unity between us. When one is free from both aversion and attachment, completely free from it, then you have the chance to be so attentive, so intelligently attentive, that you are part of this universal unity, you are awake to it, alive in that unity. When you see, you are the medium, the instrument through which the transmutative activity of Eternal Life takes place.
You have heard me use this phrase “creative action in Eternity” several times during the last two years at least. Creative action in Eternity is utterly different from what we ordinarily know and do. But you awake to the meaning of it in this sense, that you will be at one with it, without taking that phrase and spinning out cobwebs of thought about it. Whenever you spin out cobwebs of thought about anything, talking about it and about, as we say, you are just perishing really. So — this attentiveness, in which this unhappy separation between self and not self is completely out. And the root source of sorrow and conflict is out. And then you really are aware that birth, growth and death are all simultaneously present. But the incredible rapidity with which the whole transmutative process goes on is so great that in the ordinary way you can’t keep pace with it. That is why, because there is a time lag in our own consciousness due to our own sluggardliness — I am deliberately manufacturing that awkward word! — afterwards we make a thought structure, the past. We make a mental picture — “This is what it is now and let us hope it will be like this, that and the other in the future.” Your attention is distracted, you are not awake, you are not aware in the real sense then. Then death has its sting, and birth brings a temporary joy, together with all its associated anxieties and fears and problems and so forth.
You see, the solution of sorrow, of dukkha in the real sense is in this complete and absolute attentiveness. And if that is there, then we are truly humans, Happy Creators, because we are in tune with this creativity action in Eternity.