He had come from some distance, and was eager to find out how to subdue the mind. He said that he had deliberately withdrawn from the world and was living a simple life with some relatives, devoting his time to the overcoming of the mind. He had practised a certain discipline for a number of years, but his mind was still not under control; it was always ready to wander off, like an animal on a leash. He had starved himself, but that did not help; he had experimented with his diet, and that had helped a little, but there was never any peace.
His mind was forever throwing up images, conjuring up past scenes, sensations and incidents; or it would think of how it would be quiet tomorrow. But tomorrow never came, and the whole process became quite nightmarish. On very rare occasions the mind was quiet, but the quietness soon became a memory, a thing of the past.
To desire to conquer is to give birth to further conflict. Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to find God, the pervading beauty of the world, the beauty of the rice field and the dirty village. I had a very promising career, had been abroad and all that kind of thing; but one morning I just walked out to find that stillness. I heard what you said about it the other day, and so I have come. To find God, you try to subdue the mind. But is calming your mind a way to God? We think that if we do certain things, practise virtue, pursue chastity, withdraw from the world, we shall be able to measure the measureless; so it’s just a bargain, isn’t it?
Your ‘virtue’ is a means to an end. But discipline is necessary to curb the mind, otherwise there is no peace. Discipline is a means to an end. But the end is the unknown. Truth is the unknown, it cannot be known; if it is known, it is not truth. If you can measure the immeasurable, then it is not. Our measurement is the word, and the word is not the real. Discipline is the means; but the means and the end are not two dissimilar things, are they? Surely, the end and the means are one; the means is the end, the only end; there is no goal apart from the means.
Violence as a means to peace is only the perpetuation of violence. The means is all that matters, and not the end; the end is determined by the means.
Discipline implies conformity to a pattern; you control in order to be this or that. Is not discipline, in its very nature, violence? Does not discipline imply the suppression of ‘what is’ in order to achieve a desired end? Suppression, substitution and sublimation only increase effort and bring about further conflict. You may succeed in suppressing a disease, but it will continue to appear in different forms until it is eradicated. Discipline is the suppression, the overcoming of ‘what is.’ Discipline is a form of violence; so through a ‘wrong’ means we hope to gain the ‘right’ end.
Freedom is at the beginning, not at the end; the goal is the first step, the means is the end. The first step must be free, and not the last. Discipline implies compulsion, subtle or brutal, outward or self-imposed; and where there is compulsion, there is fear. Fear, compulsion, is used as a means to an end, the end being love. Can there be love through fear? Love is when there is no fear at any level.
But without some kind of compulsion, some kind of conformity, how can the mind function at all? The very activity of the mind is a barrier to its own understanding. Understanding comes with the ending of the thought process, in the interval between two thoughts. You say the mind must be still, and yet you desire it to function. Surely, we are not concerned with discipline, control, suppression, resistance, but with the process and the ending of thought itself. Simply that thought is everlastingly enticed from one attraction to another, from one association to another, and is in constant agitation. Is it possible for thought to come to an end?
Again, listen without prejudice, without interposing any conclusions, either your own or those of another; listen to understand and not merely to refute or accept. Thought may place the thinker at a very high level and give a name to him, separate him from itself; yet the thinker is still within the process of thought, is he not? There is only thought, and thought creates the thinker; thought gives form to the thinker as a permanent, separate entity.
‘But how did thought arise?’ Through perception, contact, sensation, desire and identification; ‘I want,’ ‘I don’t want,’ and so on. Any form of compulsion, conscious or unconscious, is utterly futile, for it implies a controller, one who disciplines; and such an entity, as we see, is non-existent.
Thinking is the response of memory, of experience, of the past. This again must be perceived, not on the verbal level, but there must be an experiencing of it. Only then is there passive watchfulness in which the thinker is not, an awareness in which thought is entirely absent. Thought cannot come to an end save through passive watchfulness of every thought.
In this awareness, there is no watcher and no censor; without the censor, there is only experiencing. Only when the mind is experiencing is there stillness and silence; and only in that tranquility can the real come into being.