We are a Mass of Confused Responses

Published: 28th May 2015 06:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th May 2015 06:01 AM   |  A+A-


The roar and smell of the city came in through the open window. In the large square garden, people were sitting in the shade reading the news, the global gossip. Pigeons strutted about their feet looking for tidbits, and children were playing on the green lawns. The sun made beautiful shadows.

He was a reporter, quick and intelligent. He not only wanted an interview, but also wanted to discuss some of his own problems. When the interview for his newspaper was over, he talked of his career and what it was worth — not financially, but its significance in the world. He was a big man, clever, capable and confident. He was  climbing rapidly in the newspaper world, and in it there was a future for him.

Our minds are stuffed with so much knowledge that it is almost impossible to experience directly. The experience of pleasure and pain is direct, individual; but the understanding of the experience is after the pattern of others, of the religious and social authorities.

We are the result of the thoughts and influences of others; we are conditioned by religious as well as political propaganda. The temple, church and mosque have a strange, shadowy influence in our lives, and political ideologies give apparent substance to our thought. We are made and destroyed by propaganda. Organised religions are first-rate propagandists, every means being used to persuade and then to hold.

We are a mass of confused responses, and our centre is as uncertain as the promised future. Mere words have an extraordinary significance for us; they have a neurological effect whose sensations are more important than what is beyond the symbol. The symbol, the image, the flag, the sound, are all-important; substitution, and not reality, is our strength.

We read about the experiences of others, we watch others play, we follow the example of others, we quote others. We are empty in ourselves and we try to fill this emptiness with words, sensations, hopes and imagination; but the emptiness continues.

Repetition, with its sensations, however pleasant and noble, is not the state of experiencing; the constant repetition of a ritual, of a word, of a prayer, is a gratifying sensation to which a noble term is given. But experiencing is not sensation, and sensory response soon yields place to actuality. The actual, the ‘what is’, cannot be understood through mere sensation. The senses play a limited part, understanding or experiencing lies beyond and above the senses. Sensation becomes important only when experiencing ceases; then words are significant and symbols dominate. Experiencing is not a continuity; for what has continuity is sensation, at whatever level. The repetition of sensation gives the appearance  of a fresh experience, but sensations can never be new. The search of the new does not lie in repetitive sensations. The new comes into being only when there is experiencing; and experiencing is possible only when the urge and the pursuit of sensation have ceased.

The desire for the repetition of an experience is the binding quality of sensation, and the enrichment of memory is the expansion of sensation. The desire for the repetition of an experience, whether your own or that of another, leads to insensitivity, to death.

Repetition of a truth is a lie. Truth cannot be repeated, it cannot be propagated or used. That which can be used and repeated has no life in itself, it is mechanical, static.

You may kill and deny truth first, and then use it; but it is no longer truth. 

Experiencing can come only with the absence of the desire for sensation; the naming, the terming must cease. There is no thought process without verbalisation; and to be caught in verbalisation is to be a prisoner to the illusions of desire. 

 Excerpt from Commentaries on Living I

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