Sunday, December 27, 2009



IT WAS AN ENCHANTING WALK. The path from the house lay through the vineyard, and the grapes were just beginning to ripen; they were rich and full, and would yield a great deal of red wine. The vineyard was well-tended, and there were no weeds. Next came the beautifully-kept tobacco patch, long and wide. After the rain, the plants were beginning to blossom with pink flowers, neat and tidy; their faint smell of fresh tobacco, so different from the sickening smell of burnt tobacco, would become stronger in the hot sun. The long stem on which the flowers grew would presently be cut off to make the pale, silvery-green tobacco leaves, already quite large, grow still larger and richer by the time they were picked. Then they would be gathered together, classified, tied on long strings, and strung up in the long building behind the house, to dry evenly where the sun wouldn't touch them, but where there would be the evening breeze. Men with oxen were working in that tobacco patch even then, drawing a furrow between the long, straight rows of plants, to destroy the weeds. The soil had been carefully prepared and heavily manured, and weeds grew in it as richly as did the tobacco plants; but after all those weeks, there was not a single weed to be seen.
The path went on through an orchard of peach, pear, plum, greengage, nectarine and other trees, all laden with ripening fruit. In the evening there was a sweet scent in the air, and during the day, the hum of many bees. Beyond the orchard, the path led down a long slope, deep into thick, sheltering woods. Here the earth was soft under the feet with the dead leaves of many summers. It was very cool under the trees, for the sun had little chance to penetrate their thick foliage; the soil was always damp and sweet smelling, giving off the scent of rich humus. There were quantities of mushrooms, most of them the inedible variety. Here and there could be found the kind that can be eaten, but you had to look for them; they were more retiring, generally hidden under a leaf of the same color. The peasants would come early to pick them for the market, or for their own use.
There were hardly any birds in those woods, which spread for miles over the gently rolling hills. It was very quiet; there was not even the stirring of a breeze among the leaves. But there was always a move- ment of some kind in those woods, and that movement was part of the immense silence; it was not disturbing, and it seemed to add to the stillness of the mind. The trees, the insects, the spreading ferns, were not separate, something seen from the outside; they were part of that quietude, within and without. Even the muffled roar of a distant train was contained in that quietness. There was complete absence of resistance, and the bark of a dog, insistent and penetrating, seemed to heighten the stillness.
Beyond the woods was the lovely, curving river. It was not too wide or impressive, but wide enough to give space for the keen eye to see people on the opposite bank. All along both banks there were trees, mostly poplars, tall and stately, with their leaves aquiver in the breeze. The water was deep and cool, and always flowing. It was a beautiful thing to watch, so alive and rich. A lonely fisherman was sitting on a stool with a picnic basket beside him and a newspaper on his knee. The river brought contentment and peace, though the fish seemed to avoid the bait. The river would always be there, though there would be wars and men would die; it would always be nourishing the earth and men. Far away were the snow-covered mountains, and on a clear evening, when the setting sun was upon them, their lofty peaks could be seen like sunlit clouds.
Three or four of us were in the room, and just beyond the window was a wide, sparkling lawn. The sky was pale blue, with heavy, billowy clouds.
"Is it ever really possible," asked the man, "for the mind to free itself from its conditioning? If so, what is the state of a mind that has unconditioned itself? I have heard your talks over a period of several years, and have given a great deal of thought to the matter, yet my mind doesn't seem able to break away from the traditions and ideas that were implanted during childhood. I know that I am as conditioned as any other person. From childhood we are taught to conform - taught brutally, or with affection and gentle suggestions - until conforming becomes instinctive, and the mind is afraid of the insecurity of not conforming.
"I have a friend who grew up in a Catholic environment," he went on, "and of course she was told of sin, hellfire, the comforting joys of heaven, and all the rest of it. Upon reaching maturity, and after a great deal of reflection, she threw off the Catholic structure of thought; yet even now, in middle life, she finds herself influenced by the idea of hell, with its contagious fears. Though my background is superficially quite different, I, like her, am also afraid of not conforming. I see the absurdity of conforming, but I can't shake it off; and even if I could, I should probably be doing the same thing in another way - merely comforting to a new pattern."
"That's also my difficulty," added one of the ladies. "I see very clearly the many ways in which I am bound by tradition; but can I break away from my present bondage without being caught in a new one? There are people who drift from one religious organization to another, always seeking, never satisfied; and when at last they are satisfied, they become frightful bores. That's probably what will happen to me if I try to break away from my present conditioning: without knowing it, I shall be dragged into another pattern of life."
"As a matter of fact," went on the man, "most of us have never thought very deeply about how our mind is almost entirely shaped by the society and the culture in which we have grown up. We are unaware of our conditioning and just carry on, struggling, achieving, or being frustrated within the pattern of a given society. That's the lot of almost all of us, including the political and religious leaders. Unfortunately for me, perhaps, I came to hear several of your talks, and then the pain of questioning began. For some time I did not think about this matter very deeply, but suddenly I find myself becoming serious. I have been experimenting, and am now aware of many things in myself which I had never noticed before. If I may continue without everyone feeling that I am talking too much, I would like to go into this question of conditioning a little further."
When the others had assured him that they too were deeply interested in this subject, he went on.
"After having heard or read most of the things you have said, I realized how conditioned I am; and I likewise saw that one must be free from conditioning - not only from the conditioning of the superficial mind, but also from that of the unconscious. I perceived the absolute necessity of it. But what is actually taking place is this: the conditioning I received in my youth continues, and at the same time there is a strong desire to uncondition myself. So my mind is caught in this conflict between the conditioning of which I am aware, and the urge to be free from it. That's my actual position right now. How shall I proceed from there?" Does not the urge of the mind to free itself from its conditioning set going another pattern of resistance and conditioning? Having become aware of the pattern or mould in which you have grown up, you want to be free from it; but will not this desire to be free condition the mind again in a different manner? The old pattern insists that you conform to authority, and now you are developing a new one which maintains that you must not conform; so you have two patterns, one in conflict with the other. As long as there is this inner contradiction, further conditioning takes place.
"I know that the old pattern is quite absurd and dead, and that there must be freedom from it, otherwise my mind will go on in the same stupid way."
Let's be patient and go into it more. The old pattern has told you to conform, and for various reasons - fear of insecurity, and so on - you have conformed. Now, for reasons of a different kind, but in which there is still fear and the desire for security, you feel you must not conform. That's so, isn't it?
"Yes, that's so more or less. But the old is stupid, and I must be free from stupidity."
May I point out, sir, that you are not listening. You go on insisting that the old is bad, and you must have the new. But having the new is not the problem at all.
"That's my problem, sir."
Is it? You think so, but let's see. Please don't carry on with your own thoughts about the problem, but just listen, will you?
"I will try."
One conforms instinctively for various reasons: out of attachment, fear, the desire for reward, and so on. That is one's first response. Then somebody comes along and says that one must be free from conditioning, and there arises the urge not to conform. Do you follow?
"Yes sir, that's clear."
Now, is there any essential difference between the desire to conform, and the craving to be free of conformity?
"It seems as if there should be, but I really don't know. What do you say, sir?"
It is not for me to tell you, and for you to accept. Must you not find out for yourself whether there is any fundamental difference between these two seemingly opposing desires?
"How am I to find out?" By neither condemning the one nor eagerly pursuing the other. What is the state of the mind that is hungering after freedom from conformity, and rejecting conformity? Please don't answer me, but feel it out, actually experience that state. Words are necessary for communication, but the word is not the actual experience. Unless you really experience and understand that state, your efforts to be free will only bring about the formation of other patterns. Isn't that so?
"I don't quite understand."
Surely, not to put an end completely to the mechanism that produces patterns, moulds, whether positive or negative, is to continue in a modified pattern or conditioning.
"I can understand this verbally, but I don't really feel it."
To a hungry man, the mere description of food is valueless; he wants to eat.
There is the urge that makes for conformity, and the urge to be free. However dissimilar these two urges may seem to be, are they not fundamentally similar? And if they are fundamentally similar, then your pursuit of freedom is vain for you will only move from one pattern to another, endlessly. There is no noble or better conditioning; all conditioning is pain. The desire to be, or not to be, breeds conditioning, and it is this desire that has to be understood.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lady Sirenia

Wyndell's new (old) boat in paradise on the river

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kerry and Kimberly got married!

Wildman Walker (aka Super Whuffo) and Krazy Kim Kim getting
married. Next will be the native american spiritual connection....

Bald River Falls

Cruisin' along on a sailboat called Sirenia

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Void Within



SHE WAS CARRYING a large basket on her head, holding it in place with one hand; it must have been quite heavy, but the swing of her walk was not altered by the weight. She was beautifully poised, her walk easy and rhythmical. On her arm were large metal bangles which made a slight tinkling sound, and on her feet were old, worn-out sandals. Her sari was torn and dirty with long use. She generally had several companions with her, all of them carrying baskets, but that morning she was alone on the rough road. The sun wasn't too hot yet, and high up in the blue sky some vultures were moving in wide circles without a flutter of their wings. The river ran silently by the road. It was a very peaceful morning, and that solitary woman with the large basket on her head seemed to be the focus of beauty and grace; all things seemed to be pointing to her and accepting her as part of there own being. She was not a separate entity but part of you and me, and of that tamarind tree. She wasn't walking in front of me, but I was walking with that basket on my head. It wasn't an illusion, a thought-out, wished-for, and cultivated identification, which would be ugly beyond measure, but an experience that was natural and immediate. The few steps that separated us had vanished; time, memory, and the wide distance that thought breeds, had totally disappeared. There was only that woman, not I looking at her. And it was a long way to the town, where she would sell the contents of her basket. Towards evening she would come back along that road and cross the little bamboo bridge on her way to her village, only to appear again the next morning with her basket full.

He was very serious, and no longer young, but he had a pleasant smile and was in good health. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, he explained in somewhat halting English, of which he was rather shy, that he had been to college and taken his M.A., but had not spoken English for so many years that he had almost forgotten it. He had read a great deal of Sanskrit literature and Sanskrit words were frequently on his lips. He had come, he said, to ask several questions about the inward void, the emptiness of the mind. Then he began to chant in Sanskrit, and the room was instantly filled with a deep resonance, pure and penetrating. He went on chanting for some time, and it was a delight to listen. His face shone with the meaning he was giving to each word, and with the love he felt for what the word contained. He was devoid of any artifice, and was much too serious to put on a pose.

"I am very happy to have chanted those shlokas in your presence. To me they have great significance and beauty; I have meditated upon them for many years, and they have been to me a source of guidance and strength. I have trained myself not to be easily moved, but these shlokas bring tears to my eyes. The very sound of the words, with their rich meaning, fills my heart, and then life is not a travail and a misery. Like every other human being, I have known sorrow; there has been death and the ache of life. I had a wife who died before I left the comforts of my father's house, and now I know the meaning of voluntary poverty. I am telling you all this merely by way of explanation. I am not frustrated, lonely, or anything of that kind. My heart takes delight in many things; but my father used to tell me something about your talks, and an acquaintance has urged me to see you; and so here I am. "I want you to speak to me of the immeasurable void," he went on. "I have had a feeling of that void, and I think I have touched the hem of it in my wanderings and meditations."

Then he quoted a shloka to explain and to support his experience.
If it may be pointed out, the authority of another, however great, is no proof of the truth of your experience. Truth needs no proof by action, nor does it depend on any authority; so let's put aside all authority and tradition, and try to find out the truth of this matter for ourselves.

"That would be very difficult for me, for I am steeped in tradition - not in the tradition of the world, but in the teachings of the Gita, the Upanishads, and so on. Is it right for me to let all that go? Would that not be ingratitude on my part?"

Neither gratitude nor ingratitude are in any way involved; we are concerned with discovering the truth or the falseness of that void of which you have spoken. If you walk on the path of authority and tradition, which is knowledge you will experience only what you desire to experience, helped on by authority and tradition. It will not be a discovery; it will already be known a thing to be recognized and experienced. Authority and tradition may be wrong, they may be a comforting illusion. To discover whether that void is true or false, whether it exists or is merely another invention of the mind, the mind must be free from the net of authority and tradition.

"Can the mind ever free itself from this net?"

The mind cannot free itself, for any effort on its part to be free only weaves another net in which it will again be caught. Freedom is not an opposite; to be free is not to be free from something, it's not a state of release from bondage. The urge to be free breeds its own bondage. Freedom is a state of being which is not the outcome of the desire to be free. When the mind understands this, and sees the falseness of authority and tradition, then only does the false wither away.

"It may be that I have been induced to feel certain things by my reading, and by the thoughts based on such reading; but apart from all that, I have vaguely felt from childhood, as in a dream, the existence of this void. There has always been an intimation of it, a nostalgic feeling for it; and as I grew older, my reading of various religious books only strengthened this feeling, giving it more vitality and purpose. But I begin to realize what you mean. I have depended almost entirely on the description of the experiences of others, as given in the sacred Scriptures. This dependence I can throw off, since I now see the necessity of doing so; but can I revive that original, uncontaminated feeling for that which is beyond words?"

What is revived is not the living, the new; it is a memory, a dead thing, and you cannot put life into the dead. To revive and live on memory is to be a slave to stimulation, and a mind that depends on stimulation, conscious or unconscious, will inevitably become dull and insensitive. Revival is the perpetuation of confusion; to turn to the dead past in the moment of a living crisis is to seek a pattern of life which has its roots in decay. What you experienced as a youth, or only yesterday, is over and gone; and if you cling to the past, you prevent the quickening experience of the new.

"As I think you will realize, sir, I am really in earnest, and for me it has become an urgent necessity to understand and to be of that void. What am I to do?"

One has to empty the mind of the known; all the knowledge that one has gathered must cease to have any influence on the living mind. Knowledge is ever of the past, it is the very process of the past, and the mind must be free from this process. Recognition is part of the process of knowledge, isn't it?

"How is that?"

To recognize something, you must have known or experienced it previously, and this experience is stored up as knowledge, memory. Recognition comes out of the past. You may have experienced, once upon a time, this void, and having once experienced it, you now crave for it. The original experience came about without your pursuing it; but now you are pursuing it, and the thing that you are seeking is not the void, but the renewal of an old memory. If it is to happen again, all remembrance of it, all knowledge of it, must disappear. All search for it must cease, for search is based on the desire to experience.

"Do you really mean that I must not search it out? This seems incredible!"

The motive of search is of greater significance than the search itself. The motive pervades, guides and shapes the search. The motive of your search is the desire to experience the unknowable to know the bliss and the immensity of it. This desire has brought into being the experiencer who craves for experience. The experiencer is searching for greater, wider and more significant experience. All other experiences having lost their taste, the experiencer now longs for the void; so there is the experiencer, and the thing to be experienced. Thus conflict is set going between the two, between the pursuer and the pursued.

"This I understand very well, because it is exactly the state I am in. I now see that I am caught in a net of my own making."

As every seeker is, and not just the seeker after truth, God, the void, and so on. Every ambitious or covetous man who is pursuing power, position, prestige, every idealist, every worshipper of the State, every builder of a perfect Utopia - they are all caught in the same net. But if once you understand the total significance of search, will you continue to seek the void?

"I perceive the inward meaning of your question and I have already stopped seeking."

If this be a fact, then what is the state of the mind that is not seeking?

"I do not know; the whole thing is so new to me that I shall have to gather myself and observe. May I have a few minutes before we go any further?"

After a pause, he continued.

"I perceive how extraordinarily subtle it is; how difficult it is for the experiencer, the watcher, not to step in. It seems almost impossible for thought not to create the thinker; but as long as there is a thinker, an experiencer, there must obviously be separation from, and conflict with, that which is to be experienced. And you are asking, aren't you, what is the state of the mind when there is no conflict?"

Conflict exists when desire assumes the form of the experiencer and pursues that which is to be experienced; for that which is to be experienced is also put together by desire.

"Please be patient with me, and let me understand what you are saying. Desire not only builds the experiencer, the watcher, but also brings into being that which is to be experienced, the watched. So desire is the cause of the division between the experiencer and the thing to be experienced, and it is this division that sustains conflict. Now, you are asking, what is the state of the mind which is no longer in conflict, which is not driven by desire? But can this question be answered without the watcher who is watching the experience of desirelessness?"

When you are conscious of your humility, has not humility ceased? Is there virtue when you deliberately practise virtue? Such practice is the strengthening of self-centred activity, which puts an end to virtue. The moment you are aware that you are happy, you cease to be happy. What is the state of the mind which is not caught in the conflict of desire? The urge to find out is part of the desire which has brought into being the experiencer and the thing to be experienced, is it not?

"That's so. Your question was a trap for me, but I am thankful you asked it. I am seeing more of the intricate subtleties of desire."

It was not a trap, but a natural and inevitable question which you would have asked yourself in the course of your inquiry. If the mind is not extremely alert, aware, it is soon caught again in the net of its own desire.

"One final question: is it really possible for the mind to be totally free of the desire for experience, which sustains this division between the experiencer and the thing to be experienced?"

Find out, sir. When the mind is entirely free of this structure of desire, is the mind then different from the void?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Action and Idea


"Now these three states which constitute experience - the actor, the action, and the result - are surely a process of becoming. Otherwise there is no becoming, is there? If there is no actor, and if there is no action towards an end, there is no becoming; but life as we know it, our daily life, is a process of becoming. I am poor and I act with an end in view, which is to become rich. I am ugly and I want to become beautiful. Therefore my life is a process of becoming something. The will to be is the will to become, at different levels of consciousness, in different states, in which there is challenge, response, naming and recording. Now this becoming is strife, this becoming is pain, is it not? It is a constant struggle: I am this, and I want to become that. "

J. Krishnamurti "The First and Last Freedom"

-Action and Idea