I am married and have children,’ she said, ‘but I seem to have lost all love. I am slowly drying up. Although I engage in social activities, they are a kind of pastime, and I see their futility. Nothing seems to interest me deeply and fully. I recently took a long holiday from my family routine and social activities. I feel utterly dead, uncreative and depressed I am still young, but the future seems to be complete blackness. I have thought of suicide, but somehow I see the utter stupidity of it. I am getting more and more confused, and my discontent seems to have no end.’
Have you a definite problem, or are you merely discontented generally? There must be deep down some anxiety, some fear, and probably you are not aware of it. Do you want to know what it is?
Yes, that is why I have come to you. I really cannot go on the way I am. Nothing seems to be of any importance, and I get quite ill periodically. All I know is that I am in confusion and conflict, and I cannot seem to find a way out of it.’
When you say you are in conflict, it must be in relation to something: in relation to your husband, to your children, to your activities. If, as you say, your conflict is not with any of these, then it can only be between what you are and what you want to be, between the actual and the ideal, between ‘what is’ and the myth of ‘what should be’. You have an idea of what you should be, and perhaps the conflict and confusion arise from the desire to fit into this self-projected pattern. You are struggling to be something which you are not. Is that it?
‘I am beginning to see where I am confused. I think what you say is true.’
The conflict is between the actual and the myth, between that which you are and that which you would like to be. The pattern of the myth has been cultivated from childhood and has progressively widened and deepened, growing in contrast to the actual, and being constantly modified by circumstances. This myth, like all ideals, goals, utopias, is in contradiction to ‘what is’, the implicit, the actual; so the myth is an escape from that which you are. This escape inevitably creates the barren conflict of the opposites; and all conflict, inward or outward, is vain, futile, stupid, creating confusion and antagonism.
So, if I may say so, your confusion arises from the conflict between what you are and the myth of what you should be. The myth, the ideal, is unreal; it is a self-projected escape, it has no actuality. The actual is what you are. What you are is much more important than what you should be. You can understand ‘what is’, but you cannot understand ‘what should be’. There is no understanding of an illusion, there is only understanding of the way it comes into being. The myth, the fictitious, the ideal, has no validity; it is a result, an end, and what is important is to understand the process through which it has come into being.
To understand that which you are, whether pleasant or unpleasant, the myth, the ideal, the self-projected future state, must entirely cease. Then only can you tackle ‘what is’. To understand ‘what is’, there must be freedom from all distraction. Distraction is the condemnation or justification of ‘what is’. Distraction is comparison; it is resistance or discipline against the actual. Distraction is the very effort or compulsion to understand. All distractions are a hindrance to the swift pursuit of ‘what is’. ‘What is’ is not static; it is in constant movement, and to follow it the mind must not be tethered to any belief, to any hope of success or fear of failure. Only in passive yet alert awareness can that which is unfold. This unfoldment is not of time.
Excerpt from Commentaries on Living I