BANGALURU :Is not the happy means the happy end? The end is in the means, is it not? So there is only the means. The means itself is the end, the result. ‘I have never before looked at it this way, but I see that it is so.’ We are inquiring into what is the happy means. If effort produces conflict, opposition within and without, can effort ever lead to happiness? If effort produces more problems, it is obviously destructive and disintegrating. Effort is for more in one direction, and for less in another. Effort is acquisition, negative or positive. We acquire the physical necessities, power, position, fame.
Now, what is it that we are seeking to acquire, apart from adequate food, clothing and shelter? One acquires money as a means to power, to certain social and psychological gratifications, as a means to the freedom to do what one wants to do. To be powerful is to dominate, to overcome, to suppress, to feel superior, to be efficient, and so on. It is one of the completest expressions of the self, whether it be the power of knowledge, the power over oneself, worldly power, or the power of abstinence. It is extraordinarily gratifying. You may seek gratification through power, another through drink, another through
worship, another through knowledge, and still another through trying to be virtuous. Each may have its own particular sociological and psychological effect, but all acquisition is gratification. Gratification at any level is sensation, is it not? We are making effort to acquire greater or more subtle varieties of sensation, which at one time we call experience, at another knowledge, at another love, at another the search for God or truth; and there is the sensation of being righteous, or of being the efficient agent of an ideology. Effort is to acquire gratification, which is sensation. You have found gratification at one level, and now you are seeking it at another; and so keep going. This constant desire for gratification for more and more subtle forms of sensation is called progress, but it is ceaseless conflict.
The search after ever-wider gratification is without end, and so there is no end to conflict, antagonism, and hence no happiness. ‘I see your point. You are saying that the search for gratification in any form is really the search for misery. Effort towards gratification is everlasting pain. But what is one to do? Give up seeking gratification and just stagnate?’ If one does not seek gratification, is stagnation inevitable? Is the state of non-anger necessarily a lifeless state? Surely, gratification at any level is sensation. Refinement of sensation is only the refinement of word. The word, the term, the symbol, the image, plays an extraordinarily important part in our lives, does it not? We may no longer seek the touch, the satisfaction of physical contact, but the word, the image becomes very significant. At one level we gather gratification through crude means, and at another through means that are more subtle and refined; but the gathering of words is for the same purpose as the gathering of things, is it not? Why do we gather?
‘Oh, I suppose it is because we are so discontented, so utterly bored with ourselves, that we will do anything to get away from our own shallowness. That is really so- and it just strikes me that I am exactly in that position.
This is rather extraordinary!’ Our acquisitions are a means of covering up our own emptiness; our minds are like hollow drums, beaten upon by every passing hand and making a lot of noise.
This is our life, the conflict of never-satisfying escapes and mounting misery. It is strange how we are never alone, never strictly alone. We are always with something, with a problem, with a book, with a person; and when we are alone, our thoughts are with us.
To be alone, naked, is essential. All escapes, all gatherings, all effort to be or not to be, must cease; and then only is there the aloneness that can receive the alone, the measureless. ‘How is one to stop escaping?’ By seeing the truth that all escapes only lead to illusion and misery. The truth frees; you cannot do anything about it. Your very action to stop escaping is another escape. The highest state of inaction is the action of truth.