All things were withdrawing into themselves. The trees were enclosing themselves in their own being; the birds were folding their wings to brood over their day’s wanderings; the river had lost its glow, and the waters were no longer dancing but quiet and closed. The mountains were distant and unapproachable, and man had withdrawn into his house. Night had come, and there was the stillness of isolation. There was no communion; each thing had closed itself, set itself apart. The flower, the sound, the talk-everything was unexposed, invulnerable. There was laughter, but it was isolated and distant; the talk was muffled and from within. Only the stars were inviting, open and communicating; but they too were very far away.
Thought is always an outward response, it can never respond deeply. Thought is always the outer; thought is always an effect, and thinking is the reconciliation of effects. Thought is always superficial, though it may place itself at different levels. Thought can never penetrate the profound, the implicit. Thought cannot go beyond itself, and every attempt to do so is its own frustration.
‘What do you mean by thought?’
Thought is response to any challenge; thought is not action, doing. Thought is an outcome, the result of a result; it is the result of memory. Memory is thought, and thought is the verbalisation of memory. Memory is experience. The thinking process is the conscious process, the hidden as well as the open. This whole thinking process is consciousness; the waking and the sleeping, the upper and the deeper levels are all part of memory, experience. Thought is not independent. There is no independent thinking; ‘independent thinking’ is a contradiction in terms. Thought, being a result, opposes or agrees, compares or adjusts, condemns or justifies, and therefore it can never be free. A result can never be free; it can twist about, manipulate, wander, go a certain distance, but it cannot be free from its own mooring.
Thought is anchored to memory, and it can never be free to discover the truth of any problem.
‘Do you mean to say that thought has no value at all?’
It has value in the reconciliation of effects, but it has no value in itself as a means to action. Action is revolution, not the reconciliation of effects. Action freed from thought, idea, belief, is never within a pattern. There can be activity within the pattern, and that activity is either violent, bloody, or the opposite; but it is not action The opposite is not action, it is a modified continuation of activity. The opposite is still within the field of result, and in pursuing the opposite, thought is caught within the net of its own responses. Action is not the result of thought; action has no relation to thought. Thought, the result, can never create the new; the new is from moment to moment, and thought is always the old, the past, the conditioned. It has value but no freedom. All value is limitation, it binds. Thought is binding, for it is cherished.
‘What relationship is there between consciousness and thought?’
Are they not the same? Is there any difference between thinking and being conscious? Thinking is a response; and is being conscious not also a response? When one is conscious of that chair, it is a response to a stimulus; and is not thought the response of memory to a challenge? It is this response that we call experience. Experiencing is challenge and response; and this experiencing together with the naming or recording of it, this total process, at different levels, is consciousness, is it not? Experience is the result, the outcome of experiencing. The result is given a term; the term itself is a conclusion, one of the many conclusions which constitute memory. This concluding process is consciousness. The conclusion, the result, is self-consciousness. The self is memory, the many conclusions; and thought is the response of memory.
Thought is always a conclusion; thinking is concluding, and therefore it can never be free. Thought is always the superficial, the conclusion. Consciousness is the recording of the superficial. The superficial separates itself as the outer and the inner, but this separation does not make thought any the less superficial.
‘But is there not something which is beyond thought, beyond time, something that is not created by the mind?’
Either you have been told about that state, have read about it, or there is the experiencing of it. The experiencing of it can never be an experience, a result; it cannot be thought about and if it is, it is a remembrance and not experiencing. You can repeat what you have read or heard, but the word is not the thing; and the word, the very repetition, prevents the state of experiencing. That state of experiencing cannot be as long as there is thinking; thought, the result, the effect, can never know the state of experiencing.
‘Then how is thought to come to an end?’
See the truth that thought, the outcome of the known, can never be in the state of experiencing. Experiencing is always the new; thinking is always of the old. See the truth of this, and truth brings freedom, freedom from thought, the result. Then there is that which is beyond consciousness, which is neither sleeping nor waking, which is nameless: it is.
Excerpt from Commentaries on Living I