What is your conception of absolute truth?
No conception about absolute truth is possible because every conception is bound to be relative. The absolute transcends every conceptualization; you cannot conceive it. You can live it, you can be in it, but no intellectual conception is possible about the absolute. All conceptions are bound to be erroneous because conception, as such, is relative. So I can not say what my conception of the absolute is. I can only say that no conception is possible. The moment you go beyond conceptions, you know the absolute. But even when you have known it, you cannot transform it into a conception.
The so-called religious mind is always conceptualizing, but the really religious man is one who has come to know the boundaries of intelligence, the boundaries of intellect, the boundary of conceptions. The absolute is beyond. Or you can say the beyondness is the absolute.
I am not a philosopher; I deny every type of philosophizing. The truly religious mind is a mind that is not philosophizing about the truth. Philosophizing is a sort of mentation: the mind is working. And through mind, no contact with the absolute is possible. Only when the mind ceases, when thinking ceases, the ego ceases, do you come in contact with it. The absolute is beyond ‘me’, beyond ‘you.’ Where philosophy ends, the absolute begins. Where conceptions end, the absolute begins.
What do you mean by ‘me’ and ‘you’?
These are conceptions, egocentric conceptions. When I say ‘me’ and ‘you’, I mean my mental process and your mental process. Unless these processes cease, we cannot be in contact with the absolute because these processes are the barrier. ‘I’ – as a thinking mind – is the barrier. But if I think of ‘I’ as an existential living unit and not as a thinking mind, then there is no barrier. Then there is no ‘I’ and ’you’; then the whole existence becomes one.
One ego is ‘I’ and the other ego is ‘you’. The absolute comes only when there is egolessness. ‘I’ cannot conceive of it; ‘I’ can only dissolve in it. You can dissolve in it, but you cannot conceive of it. A drop cannot conceive of the ocean. It can only conceive of a drop. That is its limitation. But a drop can become the ocean, it can drop into it and be one with it. Only then does it come to know the ocean – through becoming, not through thinking. It becomes one with it.
Conceptions are mental, part of language. The mind transforms reality into thoughts. If I love you, there is no ’I’ and there is no ’you’. Only love exists. We are two polarities of it: two extensions of one feeling, two waves of one feeling – coming and going. But when you conceive of love, love becomes a theory, a dead concept. Words, principles, philosophies, doctrines are there, but there is no love. The theory of love is not love any more than the theory of God is God. The word ‘God’ is not God.
I’m not saying whether the Hindu concept of absolute truth is right or wrong. I’m saying that conceptualization, as such, is wrong. We cannot conceive of the absolute; it is inconceivable. The moment one begins to think about it, there are only words. The truth is being lost. The truth can never become a word.
Then how is it that the scriptures of the Vedic religion – the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita – are able to describe the absolute?
They do not describe it. They deny all conceptualization. They tell you to jump into it. Not to try to conceive of it, but to jump into it.
When you talk about the Vedic religion… The moment one says ‘Vedic religion’, ‘Christian’, ‘Hindu’, ‘Muslim’, religion is lost. You cannot name it. Religion is religion, it is neither Vedic nor Christian. Nor can it be. Religion is not a sect, it is not sectarian. So when you say ‘Vedic religion’, you are destroying religion itself.
‘Veda’ means all-knowing!
If you say ‘all-knowing’, then the Bible is also the Vedas, then the Koran is also the Vedas. Then there is no need to mention a Vedic religion. It becomes absurd, irrelevant. If ‘Veda’ means knowledge, then if something is part of knowledge it is Vedic. What Mohammed said becomes part of the Vedas.
But then you can’t use the term ‘Vedic religion’. When you say ‘Vedic religion’, you mean knowledge as conceived, of by the Vedas. Then you confine it, a sect is created. But a sectarian mind is not a religious mind: it is basically irreligious. The mind wants to know, it tries to know. You search for meaning. But the moment you accept someone else as the authority, you deny your own individuality. It is a suicidal act. So once you say ‘Vedic’, you have lost something that is essential for religion.
You like the Vedas. That is quite another thing. You may love them that is something quite different. You may like the Bible, you may love it, but don’t be bound by it. Don’t make it a bondage, don’t be confined to it, because knowing is such a vast thing. Vedas and more Vedas may come and go, but the mind never ends. Vedas end, but the mind never ends. Knowing is infinite, but the Vedas are not infinite so a person who attaches himself to one particular creed is not a religious person at all.
To me, religion means an attitude of inclusion. There are three attitudes possible. The first is the scientific attitude: a mind that believes in analysis; a mind that believes in objectivity; a mind that believes in laboratories, experiments – not within but without; a mind that is concerned with the without of things.
Then there is the artistic attitude. A person who is not concerned with reality as truth but with reality as feeling, a person who is not concerned with the realization of reality but who is concerned with the expression of it; a participatory attitude toward the real, but devotional – a feeling attitude. Then there is the religious mind. In every way it is different from the scientific mind. It is not analytical; it is subjective.
When you say ’Vedas’, you become analytical. You have begun to divide religion. Religion is an attitude of synthesis. If you say that all that has been known is the Vedas, then there is no need to mention ‘the Vedic religion’ at all. Then Christ is a Vedic personality, Mohammed is, Confucius is.
Then I am, you are. But that is not what you mean. When you say ‘Vedic’ you have confined yourself to a particular scripture. The moment you mention the name, you have become sectarian. But the sectarian mind is so small that it can never be religious. A religious mind can only be limitless: untethered to anything, not clinging to anything, not confined to anything.
When I say ‘the attitude of a religious mind’, I mean a mind that is subjective, a mind that experiments with reality subjectively. I mean, taking the approach of seeking the within of things, not being concerned with the without. The seeking is subjective, inner. You become concerned with the ultimate, but you move toward it as an individual, not as a member of a sect.
You cannot move toward the ultimate if your attitude is sectarian, because the moment you become a member of a particular sect, your mind is burdened with particular conceptions, authorities, scriptures. Then you are not fresh, then you are not naked, you are not innocent. Your mind has become calculating. You are not ready to receive truth as it is. Rather, on the contrary, you have your own conception of truth to impose on reality. Now the truth must correspond to your scriptures, it must correspond with your conceptions. You are not open.
Are you saying that in the Gita when Lord Krishna says “I am the absolute truth” he is not speaking the truth?
Firstly, I don’t call him ‘Lord Krishna’. It is our conception that he is a lord. It is our conception that the Gita is a scripture, it is our conception that it is religious, it is our conception that everything that is said in it is true. These are our conceptions. The moment we conceive of a thing as a scripture, then everything that is said in it becomes authoritative, true. Then there is no need to think about it.
The truth can be known, but it cannot be expressed. Not even Krishna can express it. And the moment he expresses it, the truth becomes confined to words. If I have known the truth I can try to describe it, but it is never described. I can only try to describe the indescribableness of it.
The only way I can help you is to deny your formulations. I can only try to point out the limitations of your mind, of your information, your scriptures, your knowledge. If this much can be pointed out to you, then something is being indicated that is significant. So all that can be done is negative, never positive.
We may experience our own individual limitations, but we still try to conceive of the unlimited. We try to conceive of the absolute, we try to conceive of the infinite. We try to conceive of it through scriptures. It becomes absurd. It shows that we are not completely aware of our boundaries, the boundaries of our thinking, of our thoughts. We are not aware.
The mind feels satisfied if words can be fed to it. Then the illusion of knowledge is created. I can read the Gita, memorize it, go on continuing to memorize it, and feel that something is being known. No, nothing is being known. You are just computerizing your mind, you are feeding it with information. The words may have been true on the lips of Krishna, he may have known what he was talking about, but the moment it is said, the truth is not conveyed. Only words are conveyed, and we begin to cling to these words. The words become the basis of all our knowledge.
Words can never be the basis of knowing. One must go into total silence, one must go into total wordlessness. If that is not possible, then the absolute truth cannot be known. You will only go on knowing relative conceptions of it.
The scriptures are my authority. What is your authority for what you have been saying?
I am my own authority. How can I speak on anything else? How can my authority come from anything other than my own knowing? Even if you base what you say on the authority of the scriptures, that is your authority, not the authority of the scriptures. It is you who has decided to give the scriptures their authority.
From The Eternal Quest, Chapter eleven
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