Discourses by Vimala Thakar at Dalhousie 1987 (part I)
Excerpts from talks given by Vimala Thakar at Dalhousie in 1987
The myth of separation
The physical body is a part of nature. It is part of the mineral world, the vegetable world, the animal kingdom and is governed by the laws of nature as other non-human species are governed. A sapling, a plant needs sunshine, water, food, protection until it becomes a huge tree and can take care of itself. As the non-human species need these things, in the same way the human body needs food, water, sunshine, clean air and security. It requires these for its existence. This is common to humanity and the entire manifest world.
Let us proceed and ask ourselves then if there is a mental entity called the “I”, the “me” as there is a physical body, a physical entity? You can see the bodies are given names to distinguish the “me” from the others. This myth of the separate psychological entity called the “ego”, the “self”, the “me” has been going on for the last few centuries and the time has come to question the validity of the assumption that there is a separate “I” or “me”.
If you observe the behaviour of the so called “ego” or “me”, you will observe that its behaviour is shaped by the whole of humanity. All the impulses, emotions and sentiments, you will see that they are common to the whole of humanity. They are so called individual human manifestations of something collective. Different cultures have their peculiar patterns of conditionings. The so called “ego”, the “self”, the “me” is the manifestation of these collective conditionings.
But in reality there is no such entity as the so called “ego” or “me”. The body has at least an appearance of an entity and you call it so and so. You give it a name. The name has no other significance except that it is attached to the body. But inside the body there is nothing like that. Obviously there is no psychological entity that is the “me”, the “ego”, the “I” that is separate from others.
The basic and fundamental mistake has been to transfer this idea of a separate entity from the physical to the psychological. The understanding of the nature of the psychological life is very important, otherwise these things will get converted into problems unnecessarily. It is the very idea that one has to acquire knowledge, or experience or liberation, transformation etc. which creates the whole paraphernalia, all in the name of sadhana.
Now suppose that you accept and understand that this is all only collective conditioning. Then the question arises, “What does one do?” Well, if you’ve really understood, then there is nothing to do. WHO is going to do? You?
Reality is not knowable, it is “feelable”, if you would allow me to use that word. Understanding makes you “feel” the quality of reality, the perfume of Reality.
One has to learn by observing oneself, to be in a state of relaxation, one has to learn how to be in that state of observation… Reaction free attentiveness has to be there. There is no method, no technique there. In looking how can there be a technique? Relaxation does not have any theories.
If that state of innocent looking is sustained, then the consciousness that “I am observing” disappears. It drops away. In the beginning there is a division, “that I am observing, that I am observing the movement of my mind”. But the consciousness merges with the intensity of the state of observation, and there remains only that state of attentiveness, without someone attending to something, without an observer observing something.
It is a state of observation without the observer, if you would like to use those terms. In the reaction-free, sensitive alertness, not attached to the centre as the “Me”, is the direct contact with “what is”. When the memory about what is, has gone into abeyance then only, there is the space in which you find yourself intimately in relation with “what is”. The theories about what is, the knowledge about it, prevents this contact. Please do see this.
When it goes into non-action, when it is held in abeyance, then there is the beautiful space of silence in which you are, where your whole being is face to face with “what is”, with reality. No words, no verbalization. You don’t look at the reality then through the experiences of other people, through the theories of the past. You as an emanation of the present, are with the timeless present in front of you. You, as part of the totality, are merged into the totality surrounding you.
The amusing thing about the human species is the lack of love and interest in the act of living. Human beings may spend fifty, sixty, ninety years on this planet without loving life and the act of living, as well as without loving the planet itself.
When there is no identification with the thought structure the neuro-chemical system containing the conditionings which you call thought, memory, knowledge, experience is totally and unconditionally relaxed. In the soil of unconditional relaxation there is no expectation, no waiting for something to happen.
If the system is allowed to be in that total relaxation, there is a marvellous emptiness of the consciousness. Then is released the energy of totality, of wholeness, which could be called “Intelligence” – the energy of perceptive receptivity, perceptive sensitivity. It has no conditionings, it has no contents. It is only in the release of that energy of totality, of perceptive sensitivity, of intelligence, that individuality can flower.
Meditation is not practicing any techniques or methods. How can one nurse such illusions that sitting down for hours, chanting certain mantras, or concentrating on something, is meditating?
Do you see that no psychological effort has any relevance? Cerebral effort only creates a new piece of knowledge, developing new experiences, esoteric, transcendental and the like. No effort has any relevance. Do you see that? If we see the irrelevance of all effort then will there not be a relaxation, instead of frustration? If you see that effort itself is irrelevant then naturally you relax, don’t you?
If the movement of the thought structure is allowed to relax and all the content created by human culture goes into non-action, then in the silence the unconditioned totality of energy begins to manifest. So the total energy – not differentiated as the individual and the collective begins to manifest in that particular body.
The voluntary relaxation of the conditioned energy, voluntary relaxation of what you call the personality, voluntary relaxation of the whole thought-structure, could be called or might have been called by some, the merging of the individual in the total. But even the word “merge” does not satisfy. There is no conscious effort to merge yourself into something. As long as there is an effort there is a centre making an effort. We are talking about relaxation. Relaxation is effortlessness, the sacred state of voluntary effortlessness. No effort in any direction whatsoever. As long as there is consciousness of a direction to go to, and a motivation to move from what is, there can’t be relaxation.
So by the term “merging” at least Vimala understands the voluntary relaxation, voluntary effortless relaxation. It is only in the state of effortlessness that all the conditionings incorporated in the neuro-chemical system, go into non-action. As long as there is an expectation, as long as there is an effort, there is the suspense of expectation. As long as there is a motivation, there is the feel of a direction – there is the desire to obtain. Hence all the conditionings contained in the neurological and chemical system are bound to function. It is the total past that will function.
The Life force and the mystery of life
I wonder if any one of you has ever noticed that life is a mystery. I wonder if you have ever felt the wholeness of life running through the innumerable varieties of expression. The infinite creativity contained in the life force is sacred, is holy. Life it seems to me is infinite creativity.
In the sacred emptiness of silence, flows the life force, the infinite creativity in the form of the human body without any resistance from any corner of that being.
When there is the ending of the momentum of the total human past, and there is a release as it were, from the prison house of the “Me” as a separate entity, then the creativity of the whole life can manifest its activation can flow through all the layers of that human form without any obstacle. The idea of “Me” and the identification with that idea of the “me”, is the greatest obstruction to the flow of creativity.
Words do not touch the essence of that mystery. It is only the sensitivity stimulated by the emptiness of silence that feels the presence of the mystery of life. You know thought is matter, and therefore thought is gross. Thought cannot feel the mystery, the sacredness. Thought is already corrupted by human motivations and that is why the human race has made futile efforts in bygone centuries to impose a direction for the movement of life, and impose purposes on the life force, impose purpose for the creativity. Why on earth should there be directions, purposes, missions, responsibilities – all these concepts, however relevant, only add to the gigantic prison-house which the thought structure is. Without that structure these concepts have no meaning.
The unused energy contained in each brain cell, blood cells, in each cavity of the body, in various parts of the body, gets activated in the ending of the movement of the conditioned energy in silence, in that total relaxation. And when the form is charged with the activation of the creative, contained in this limited form, like a magnet it attracts the creative energy existing in the emptiness of space around. When there is no resistance, then the outer and inner do not indicate any division, then the form becomes something transparent. The energy outside and the energy inside, perhaps they fuse together. It sounds so abstract but it is not.
The artificially created division – the psychological division of the inner and the outer, the particular and the total – that division comes to an end with the ending of the movement of thought. So then the person is like a drop of water in the ocean. Where is the outer and the inner then?
We had said that the wholeness of life runs through every manifestation. As soon as the idea of division, that the thought structure has created – of the “me” and the rest of life, of the “me” as a separate entity outside life, drops, then there is the wholeness. Once you understand this all artificiality drops away.
Creativity and Love
Creativity and love cannot be separated. Love is the energy of that creativity. A centre-free energy. A direction-free and motive-free energy. Surely love has no motive, has it? Love has no motivation. As there is no centre, there is nothing to gain and nothing to lose. Attachment has a centre, renunciation has a centre. Love is centre-free, direction-free, purpose-free movement of creativity.
Desire is an energy which is a motiveless force. It has no direction, no purpose. In that emptiness of the absolute ground of existence it burns bright as a flame. Desire as the essence of life is something very sacred. It seems to be the primal energy of life itself, of existence itself. Life and that energy cannot be separated.
Look there is the energy of electricity. You want to channel it, so that you can use it for your television, refrigerator and lamps. Electricity does not exist for all those purposes. You are exploiting and gearing that energy for serving those purposes. In the same way there is the primal energy of desire, without which life does not exist. The very power of movement is the result of this energy of desire. There would be no motion in life if there were no primal energy of desire.
The energy of desire is sacred. Life vibrates and pulsates with that. If you ask me how does that get activated in life, I would say that I don’t know. I only see life and that energy together. The dynamism of love is due to this energy of desire. Love is there as a dimension of your being. It is simply there. Whoever comes into its orbit feels that. So in the emptiness of the absolute ground of existence, love blossoms due to the energy of desire. It is very sacred, very holy.
Somehow religions have tried to kill this desire, suffocate it, strangle it. And therefore you don’t see any vitality or passion in the so called religious people. Not only in those that have claimed to have renounced the world, but even in the others, there is no vitality, no freshness, no passion. What is spiritual life, if the person is not bubbling with that energy, if the person is not bubbling with love, ever fresh, ever new, ever vital?
The primal energy of desire unrelated to any object is the breath of life. It is inexhaustible – infinite. Desire as the pulsation of life is something sacred and holy. It is immeasurable, infinite.
The science of physics tells you that the world was created out of nothingness. They talk about matter as only solidified energy. Energy solidified is called matter, which is perceptible to the eyes, touchable to the senses etc. But what we touch is perhaps a hundredth part of that matter. Because they say that what you call as matter is surrounded by shadow-matter. The language of physics is becoming the language of metaphysics. The distinction between the two has nearly melted away. They say, it is shadow-matter, which has a non-gravitational force. Matter which is solidified energy has a gravitational force and that is how things seem to be kept in order, in the orbit of the earth. But what we see as the world, and what we see as matter, is just a fragment of the reality. This shadow-matter has non-gravitational force and is infinitely more than what is seen by the senses. What we call our solid earth or matter is not even a hundredth part of the essential reality which is nothingness, which is space, which is a charged field of emptiness. The fields of emptiness charged with energy, are not magnetic energies – not the energies we know of.
Nothingness is the substance out of which the world is created. Nothingness is the source and the substance of the world we are living in. We are living in an era when the very perception of the world and life is fast changing.
In the space of silence, in the emptiness of silence, nothingness, the substance of reality gets highlighted as it were. You have moved away from the things, from the idea of objects, the concepts, the measurements. You have moved away from the artificially created world.
The world we have created is a super structure, grafted upon the reality of nothingness. The poetry of reality brings me to tears. We call it emptiness, we call it nothingness because we have no other words. The idea of “thingness”, of objectivity, is a creation of the human mind. And silence is freedom from that grafted superstructure.
Living with Nothingness and Emptiness
When there is the dimension of observation without the observer, that is to say the dimension of silence, one gets reduced to the reality of nothingness and nobodyness. So the nothingness within the human body and the consciousness and the nothingness outside the body they mingle into each other.
The challenge is living with the emptiness and letting the emptiness move in and through you. Emptiness is not an abstraction. It is the absence of identification. It is the absence of the process of knowing and experiencing. That is emptiness.
Perception without reference to memory and without the content of thought as knowledge, is an encounter of intelligence with the unknown. Perception uninhibited by the content of experience and memory, is an intimate contact with the unlimited and unmeasured reality.
It results in a non-verbalized awareness caused by the touch of the totality. It transcends even understanding which is grounded in words. The whole of the physical body gets permeated by the horizontal – vertical vibrations of awareness. It is qualitatively different from the sensitivity of alertness. It is unrelated to attentiveness.
Perception free of thought, and awareness free of attention are manifestations of a new holistic consciousness. It has no relation to the consciousness we associate with the mental plane.
Realization of the ground of existence awakens an effortless spontaneity as the dimension of consciousness. In that dimension there is no division of “I” and “you”. It is a non-individuated consciousness. The word freedom has no content in that realm. There is no centre which could drop anything or hold onto anything.