BENGALURU: It began to rain gently enough, but suddenly it was as though the heavens had opened and there was a deluge. In the street, the water was almost knee-deep, and it was well over the pavement. People were wading across the street, soaked to the skin, but they were enjoying this downpour. The garden beds were being washed out and the lawn was covered with several inches of brown water. A dark blue bird with fawn-coloured wings was trying to take shelter among the thick leaves, but it got wetter and wetter and shook itself so often. The downpour lasted for some time, and then stopped as suddenly as it had begun. All things were washed clean. How simple it is to be innocent!
Without innocence, it is impossible to be happy. The pleasure of sensations is not the happiness of innocence. Innocence is freedom from the burden of experience. It is the memory of experience that corrupts, and not the experiencing itself. Knowledge, the burden of the past, is corruption. The power to accumulate, the effort to become destroys innocence; and without innocence, how can there be wisdom? The merely curious can never know wisdom; they will find, but what they find will not be truth. The suspicious can never know happiness, for suspicion is the anxiety of their own being, and fear breeds corruption. Fearlessness is not courage but freedom from accumulation.
‘I have become a very successful moneymaker; my efforts in that direction have produced the results I wanted. But family life is not the same as making money or running an industry. At home there is a great deal of friction with very little to show for it, and one’s efforts in this field only seem to increase the mess. I am not complaining, for that is not my nature, but the marriage system is all wrong. We marry to satisfy our sexual urges, without really knowing anything about each other. We live in the same house and occasionally and deliberately produce a child, we are like strangers to each other, and the tension that only married people know is always there. I have done what I think is my duty, but it has not produced the best results, to put it mildly. We are both dominant and aggressive people, and it is not easy. Our efforts to cooperate have not brought about a deep companionship between us. Though I am very interested in psychological matters, it has not been of great help, and I want to go much more deeply into this problem.’
What do you mean by effort? ‘To strive after something. I have striven after money and position, and I have won both. I have also striven to have a happy family life, but this has not been very successful; so now I am struggling after something deeper.’
We struggle with an end in view; we strive after achievement; we make a constant effort to become something, positively or negatively. The struggle is always to be secure in some way, it is always towards something or away from something. Effort is really an endless battle to acquire, is it not?
Effort is a process of gathering knowledge, experience, efficiency, virtue, possessions, power, and so on; it is an endless becoming, expanding, growing. Effort towards an end, whether worthy or unworthy, must always bring conflict; conflict is antagonism, opposition, resistance. Is that necessary? Effort at the physical level may be necessary; the effort to build a bridge, to produce petroleum, coal, and so on, is or may be beneficial; but how the work is done, how things are produced and distributed, how profits are divided, is quite another matter. Effort to acquire for the individual, for the State, or for a religious organization, is bound to breed opposition. Without understanding this striving after acquisition, effort at the physical level will inevitably have a disastrous effect on society.
‘If we made no such effort, would we not just rot, disintegrate?’ Would we? So far, what have we produced through effort at the psychological level? ‘Not very much, I admit. Effort has been in the wrong direction. The direction matters, and rightly directed effort is of the greatest significance. It is because of the lack of right effort that we are in such a mess.’
So you say there is right effort and wrong effort, is that it? According to what criterion do you judge? What is your standard? Is it tradition, or is it the future ideal, the ‘ought to be’? ‘My criterion is determined by what brings results. It is the result that is important, and without the enticement of a goal we would make no effort.’ If the result is your measure, then surely you are not concerned with the means; or are you? ‘I will use the means according to the end. If the end is happiness, then a happy means must be found.’