People go around assuming that things are things. And that the things that are things are the things that they imagine that they are. And then they get upset when those things disappear or turn into something else. But that’s the thing you see. All things are always on their way to becoming something else. You just can’t have a thing that doesn’t change. A thing that doesn’t change is not a thing. The condition of a thing being a thing is that it can’t remain as it is. You see if just one thing remained as it is, then everything would have to remain as it is. And if everything remained as it is then nothing could ever change. And if nothing ever changed you couldn’t have any things. Because you can’t have a thing that stays the same. It simply wouldn’t be a thing.
When somebody starts making extravagant pronouncements about the possibility of arriving at the place you never left there are generally two kinds of reactions. There is either complete bewilderment on the one hand or else people get tremendously excited and start running around madly looking for directions to get there. Of course, between you and me, neither will help much. However, if a person is moderately astute, he might rather look into what it is that creates the sense that he has not in fact already arrived at the place he never left. Why is it that he feels deep within that he has not yet arrived? What is this pervasive sense of restless incompleteness? Why does he feel like the apple is always dangling just out of reach?
Ideas are ubiquitous. Some people really like ideas. And others don’t. But whether you like them or not, it seems you can hardly get away from them. Now you might well say that you are somebody who doesn’t have to deal with them. But probably you’re just not seeing them. You see, first there’s the idea of the thing. And then there’s the thing. The idea comes first and then the thing follows. It follows just like a dog following a man in the street. The man goes around the corner. And what do you know? The dog goes round too. That’s how things are. So where do ideas come from? It’s difficult to say. But for what it’s worth, I’ve heard people say that for the most part you get them from other people. You inherit them or you acquire them. Or else you borrow them.
Just as some people are very keen on the idea of standing on your head, some people are very keen on the idea of renouncing the world. They seem to think that it’s a good idea and that you should take it up. Whether it is or not I suppose rather depends on how you see it. But if you examine the idea carefully you might conclude that such gestures are rather futile. Or even absurd. Absurd, because of the impossibility of it. After all, the world you may seek to renounce is actually in your own mind. And so, how on earth will you renounce it? You cannot renounce it any more than you can renounce your own mind. You can come to understand the world through careful observation and modify your activities accordingly, but that is not renunciation. That is called coming into the understanding of things. It is intelligence.
As all couturiers know, the quality of the dress is determined by the fineness of the fabric. In the same way the texture of the mind is determined by the subtlety and fluidity of the thinking. The pliability of the thinking determines the flexibility of the mind. When the mind is soft and flexible it can bend this way and that like a willow. Then you will also be able to bend like a willow. You will run on like running water. But when the mind is rigid and fixed, then how you see the world and existence will be rigid and fixed. You will see the world and your existence as merely something inconvenient that lies between you being here and where you imagine you ought to be. You will see it as a mountain to move out of your way.
When you are after a ladder you should know that there are all kinds of different lengths of ladder that you can buy. So, when you buy a ladder, you have to be careful. You have to make sure that the ladder you buy is long enough. That it is the kind of ladder that goes all the way up to where you want to go. I mean a ladder that is just a few inches short is no good is it? It won’t do the job. It will get you almost there. But it won’t get you quite to where you already are.
Everybody has a favourite mountain they like to climb. When I go out climbing, the mountain I like to climb is called Flat Mountain. It is a mountain that is completely flat. It is a mountain that has no north or south or east or west. It is a mountain that has no bottom or top. No matter how much you climb Flat Mountain you never reach the top. And no matter how far you descend down Flat Mountain you never reach the bottom. Even though you climb and climb and climb, the funny thing is that you never tire of climbing Flat Mountain.
Things move. Things that are things are things that are put together out of other things. They are things that are assembled. They can be disassembled and reassembled. They can be unassembled. They can be fixed and unfixed. Fastened and unfastened. They can be piled up and piled down. They can be moved around from here to there and back again. But the understanding of things that is intelligence has nothing to do with mechanics. It has nothing to do with winches and hoists. Or with the assembly of things big or small. The understanding of things belongs to the arena of the things that don’t move. Things that aren’t things don’t move.
Do things just happen? Or are the things that happen tied together like onions on a string? How do you pull one thing away and leave the other there? How do you unravel one thing from another? The foam from the wave. The wave from the tide. The tide from the current. The current from the water. How do you separate what happens from what has happened and what will happen? Do you think that such a thing can be done?
In your life certain things are laid down. Certain things have to happen. You cannot avoid them. And certain things must be done. If you don’t do the things that must be done then you cannot resolve. You cannot gather all the parts of you together and become one whole. That’s why you must do the things that must be done. You must complete what must be completed.