Excerpts from talks given by Vimala Thakar in Dalhousie in 1987
Destruction and annihilation
Those of you who are acquainted with the dominance of materialist philosophy in the world for the last couple of centuries, will be shocked to learn that there is nothing like a material world. Solid matter is an optical illusion. Matter is only solidified energy. Apart from energy there is nothing like matter.
Ordinary people (non-physicists) like you and me, find it extremely difficult to accept that there is no material world, that there are no objects separate from one another, that there is no solidity of inert matter. Instead there is only energy and the fields charged with energy. It is a revolution in the perspective of life and in the perspective of the whole cosmos.
Just as science is changing the perspective of life, in the oriental hemisphere of the world there has been quite a different perspective of life and the world. The science of spirituality, which was developed in the oriental parts of the world, says something very interesting. According to the Vedas, the Upanishads, the six systems of Indian philosophy, the Gita, there is nothing like destruction or annihilation.
The word destruction has a finality about it. It indicates the ending of something. A finality. But the Upanishads say, there is no ending – there is only the changing of form, there is an evolution in qualities. The manifestation of energy in form changes. It is not accepted that death is destruction. The physical body dies, is buried or cremated, reduced to ashes, the ashes are thrown in the water or buried in the ground. They change their form, get mingled with the earth and they become your crops and vegetables and fruits. Have you ever noticed how the cycle of life, how the movement of death enriches the movement of life?
So there’s nothing like annihilation or destruction in nature except the change in form and along with form, the change in colour, the shape etc. As we find it difficult to accept that there is nothing like matter and there are no objects – they are creations of the human brain in the same way, we cannot accept, generally speaking, that there is nothing like annihilation or destruction.
Even the material things are not ended, they are not annihilated. What about consciousness? Consciousness is an energy contained in the physical frame. Consciousness in an energy playing through the physical frame, how can it get destroyed?
The illusion of the annihilation of attachments
All the organized religions have been obsessed with the idea of destroying the conditionings which they looked upon as attachment. They looked upon knowledge as attachment, memory as attachment. They thought that attachment must be destroyed and they played tricks upon themselves. With this time-bound consciousness they created parallel conditionings. Change your clothes, change your name, call yourself a sanyasi. Instead of living in a house, build a hut, live in an ashram. So they created a parallel stream of conditionings.
So suppressing, repressing, denying – all these games created an appearance of destruction [of the conditionings]. But they were not destroyed. Every denial results in a perversion, every suppression results in an imbalance. Every denial, every suppression takes its toll on the human race. Have you not seen the sanyasis, those mahants sitting in the temples, mosques or guruwaras with scratched, scarred, scorched and mutilated consciousnesses, dried up lives, stiff and rigid? Every denial stimulates rigidity. Every suppression makes you stiff and inflexible. Life is strangled. Life gets suffocated.
Thought and intelligence
What I am trying to share with you is that annihilation and destruction is impossible and is not needed. What happens is that the self-generated momentum of the thought structure does not come to an end. It discontinues its movement without getting destroyed.
Can you destroy a thought? Thought has a vibrational existence. How do you destroy or annihilate a thought? Even when the body dies the energy of thought does not get destroyed. It mingles with the ether as vibrations.
Energy has vibrational existence. Thought energy or time-free consciousness has vibrational existence. In the non-movement of consciousness there is the activization of time-free, content-free consciousness or intelligence. That energy uses thought as an abode. It uses thought as an instrument of expression.
The construction of the thought structure is the content of human culture. Full of concepts, measurements and symbols representing them all, it is the wealth of the human race. As it is a self-aware energy, it can grasp the truth of its own organic limitations and can relax into the state of non-motion. The state of non-movement washes away the impurities and corrects the imbalances gathered through the movement of relationship.
As mind uses the gross physical frame and its senses for the fulfilment of its motives and purposes, intelligence uses the thought structure for its manifestation.
Ambition is something that can never be satisfied in life. More and more and more. Ambition does not feel satisfied until it creates a variety of needs. Quantitatively and qualitatively it goes on creating a demand for more and more. The present consumerist culture we are living in, is developing a psychology where the mental demand for an endless insatiable variety of physical needs and experiences is cultivated.
When comparison, competition and ambition are allowed to be mixed up, in the simple process of acquiring and satisfying basic physical needs, there also we can stimulate suffering. But this morning we are referring to psychological suffering apart from the complication we create on the physical level if we do not allow it to remain simple.
As long as there is psychological suffering there cannot be love. Human relationships are getting drier by the day – on the one hand, by the advance of mechanization and computerization of life, and on the other, in the name of religion and spirituality. We have not discovered a way of living where there can be love, humility and tenderness of heart. All the tenderness of heart is getting dried up. True religion is the flowering of the tenderness which is love, which is the beauty and elegance of humility.
Life as love
Life is beautiful because it is a mystery. The infinity of life is the content of that mystery. That is why for thousands of years, mankind has been investigating, probing the nature of reality, and the angles from which you can look at the reality never get exhausted.
To me, the religious life is the movement of love in daily living, in daily relationship. A religious life is the movement of meditation in daily living, in the travail of the innumerable relationships through which we pass. Meditation is the absence of a psychological involvement. It is the absence of psychological involvement with facts, with objects, with individuals, with experiences. It is the unconditional absence of psychological involvement. Love is the absence of psychological involvement.
Religious life, a life of movement of love or meditation in daily relationship has no particular direction. Can you imagine movement without direction? It pours itself into anyone or anything that comes into its orbit without any reservation because nothing is wanted back as a reward. Love does not care for your rewards. Love is its own fulfilment. It feels fulfilled in expressing itself. It does not want anything in exchange. It is not bargaining.
In love there is neither acceptance nor rejection. It is. Love knows no ownership. It neither knows indulgence nor renunciation.
We are not used even to hear about the naked truth through words, the words are a shadow of reality and yet they bring with them the momentum if “isness”. The momentum of the beingness of life is much more than any velocity or momentum that you can imagine or think of. You have measured the movement and velocity of thought and of light and you talk in terms of light years but the velocity of light, of sound, of thought is nothing before the tremendous momentum and dynamism of the reality which is vibrating without a direction, which has the horizontal and the vertical movement simultaneously. It has nowhere to go. There is nothing outside of the totality, the reality, the wholeness. You cannot stand outside of the totality and measure it. So the “isness” vibrates with intensity and the words are soaked in the “isness”. They bring that intensity and depth to which we are not used.
The ending of psychological knowledge is the ending of all presumptions, assumptions and the process of positing. The conditioned energy relaxes into non-action. There is no movement from the centre of the “me” in any direction whatsoever, not even in the direction of transcendence. No quantum jumps of the mind. Nothing ahead and nothing behind you.
When the imagination of the infinite and the eternity is wiped out completely, there is no movement of the psychological knowledge. By psychological knowledge I mean what all that the scriptures have told you, all that the teachers dead and alive have told you. You know the ending of psychological knowledge is something ferociously beautiful. There is no expectation that the divine is going to descend on you and bless you with some grace.
There is no tension of expectation, no movement of waiting for something to happen, no tension of waiting for some transformation to take place. No time, no continuity and no speculative relationship with the so-called infinity or eternity. If you brush aside all that, what remains? There remains perhaps simply an effortless alertness. There is the existential essence and the effortlessness.
There is no-thing in the emptiness of silence, there is nothing except the naked existence and the existential essence. To be filled with that silence, to be filled with the no-thingness of that emptiness, is an adventure.
It is necessary to see very clearly that the organized and standardized movement of thought, the effort of thought is not the instrument for the perception of reality, for the communion with reality. The vitality of life, the pulsation of life which we have described as desire, it cannot be captured by the movement of thought. Thought is not going to lead to the mystery of the life force.
Beyond the conditioned part of the mind there cannot be guidance. So religion requires the fearlessness of letting the thought movement fall into non-activity so as to open to communion with the essence of life itself.
Can you see that one can investigate and try to understand the mechanism of thought, but there cannot be inquiry of the beyond. The investigation, the inquiry is limited to the mechanized part of life. You can explore and investigate on the physical and psychological level because the inquiry involves words [mental formulations] and words are part of the mechanized or structured part of life. But the word can go no further. There cannot be a movement of inquiry as regards love, freedom and silence. The unconditioned dimension of life has no patterns, structures, divisions and no subject-object relationships.
Every mental effort in the name of religious inquiry becomes a new trap for the mind. A new trap for self-centred activity. And so then you start measuring how much you have attained, whether you have been transformed or not.
If you don’t do anything you simply live. You are alert and you are sensitive but you live without waiting for something to happen, without expecting some experience to take place. What happens to the quality of consciousness when it does not move in any direction and keeps away from the mechanistic movement? What will happen to the quality of consciousness? What will happen to that flame of life, that fire of desire when you do not relate it to any ideas of god or divinity?
It is very simple actually. Thought cannot capture love. Thought cannot create the natural innocence of spontaneity. Unless we live in the dimension of love and freedom, silence and spontaneity, there will not be the perfume of freedom about us and the vitality of love in us. So it is possible to use the mechanized, the structured in its relative context, and be free of it the rest of the time? It’s worth trying and finding out what happens to you.