Mount Abu; July 13, 1973
The brain, or the mind, is a sense organ like any other sense organ in the human body. And thinking, feeling, or willing, or, for that matter, any and every cerebral activity, is a sensual activity. This sense organ, the cerebral structure, is invisible; it is invisible but not intangible; it can be touched and felt through machines maneuvered by man. Thus thinking is as much a material activity or physical activity as any other known and identified physical activity. Just as you hear the sound of cars or perceive objects with the eyes and the optical nerves, and you call it audition or perception, in the same way the brain responds to the challenges and the situations that emerge in daily life. That response is called thinking, feeling or sentiment, according to its functional nature.
There is movement in the cerebral organ when you think or feel, when you experience emotions or sentiments. When you remember, recollect, contemplate, ponder, or think, there is a very subtle cerebral movement that spreads all over the body and affects the nervous system of the whole being. It is a movement. It is an activity. It consumes energy. It stimulates energy. So in concentration or in the state of attention or observation, a very subtle kind of movement goes on. It is not meditation. The state of experiencing is not the state of meditation; the state of thinking or feeling is not the state of meditation and in the same way, the state of observation or the state of bare, simple attention is still not the state of meditation.
We saw yesterday that movement indicates energy and energy is the property of matter. Energy exists in matter. If you analyze matter into atoms, electrons, and molecules, you will find that there is energy contained in the finest particle of matter. It is impossible to come across a particle of matter that has no energy and therefore no movement. Matter has energy and energy has movement. Thought is matter. Thinking is a material, sensual activity and has tremendous energy. It has a movement that has been measured by man, qualified, modified, sophisticated, regulated, and controlled by man. Culture and civilization regulate and control cerebral activity and, indirectly, psychophysical and physical activity. They regulate and control psychological and biological movement. The content of culture and civilization is to give cerebral activity a direction, to regulate it, to modify it, so sophisticate it, and so on, and so on. Thus in the state of attention, the brain is moving. The built-in movement of cognition goes on. As the eyes involuntarily see and the ears involuntarily hear, the brain involuntarily is in the state of attention. You may not look at an object, you may only see it, and yet your brain registers the form, the shape, the color, and tells you the name of the object according to your education, culture, and civilization. An Indian villager, for example, will not know what to call a spacecraft or spaceship. He will see a form in the sky. So the brain of a simple villager in India will register the shape, the color, perhaps the material of the spacecraft, but not the name. The villager has not had the education or the cultural upbringing. He does not know the thing. But still the brain registers the color, the shape, the size, the mass, the volume.
If a person does not know Indian music, he will not be able to tell you the raga, the melody, the tila, the time beats, and so on. The person will feel only the volume and perhaps the pitch, if he has the sensitivity. So the registration, the naming, the cognition by the brain take place according to the person’s education, culture, or the context of his life: urban life or agrarian life. But it is an involuntary activity of the brain. So the brain is in the state of attention, and whether you want it to or not, it identifies the shape, the size, the color, and perhaps the name. In other words, it is a response of the brain to the movement of life outside the skin. You don’t make an effort, but yet there is a movement, movement of the energy contained in the brain.
I am trying to share with you something that I have seen. We have been going step by step for the past couple of days into this very complex and subtle region of the human psyche. The brain indicates the color, the shape, the size, and even the name, but the sting of reaction, that is to say, the activity of the ego, the self, the me, does not take place. The distinction between concentration and attention has to be understood and grasped very clearly. In a state of concentration, you react. You resist. But in a state of attention there is no resistance. There is no analysis. There is no reaction of the ego.
In experiencing, the reactions are very gross and understandable by anyone. In concentration, the reactions are subtle, but still noticeable. In attention, there is no reaction, but movement is still there. When a human being sustains the state of attention and the intensity thereof for some time, intelligence begins to unfold itself. Just as out of a bud the flower blossoms and unfolds itself, so, too out of unconditional relaxation (the state of attention that is the involuntary cerebral activity through which one has to go), intelligence begins to unfold itself. Intelligence is the sensitivity of the whole body. Attention is a cerebral activity. Concentration includes psychological reaction in addition to cerebral activity. When the attention is sustained, the sensitivity of the whole body begins to unfold itself, to operate and function, so that there is no longer a cerebral activity, but the total existence becomes eloquent.
Awareness is the existential eloquence of the person, and yet the sensitivity, the intelligence expressing itself in awareness, is not meditation. I am aware of the things around me; I am aware of the stillness of my body; I am aware of the state of attention contained in me; I am aware of the vibrations outside and inside me. That is to say, the I, or the state of awareness, and the surroundings, or the life of which I am aware, are distinctly different from each other. In the state of attention, the brain is active; now the whole being acts and yet there is a distinction. I am aware of the totality, but even then I stand outside the totality to be aware of it.
You may be a witness to the whole universe. It indicates that you are trying to stand outside the universe to be aware of it. Thus awareness is still an individual movement: the individual stands apart from the universe; the individual stands apart from the cosmos. That movement of the individual may be in harmony with the universal movement, and it may be in harmony with the cosmic movement, but there is still movement taking place within the individual. The complex consciousness that man has enables him to be aware that he is in the state of awareness. In awareness, you feel the presence of the life around you; you feel the presence of the life within you. You feel the presence not of specific objects that you would count, compare, and evaluate, but you feel the presence of the totality within you and the totality outside you. You feel the coexistence of the individual totality, that is to say, the universe condensed in the human form; after all, that is what you are. So one is aware of the totality contained in the human form existing side by side with the totality outside the skin.
We are now in the region of what is most difficult to verbalize. When you say I am in the state of awareness, there is no attention or observation. They are left behind. Even in the state of awareness, it seems to me, movement is taking place in the individual. And movement, indicating energy contained in certain forms of matter, is within the field of time and space, and life is much vaster than time and space. Time and space are contained in life. Movement takes place within time and space. But life also exists outside time and space. The is-ness, the to-be-ness of life, has no movement in it. So human consciousness can take you from the field of experiencing, doing, concentrating, observing, and paying attention, to the state of awareness. The human consciousness, or psyche, can carry you up to the region of awareness. Beyond the state of awareness, there is no consciousness, no movement, no time and space. Perhaps that is the state that could be called the state of meditation, the state of samadhi. In meditation, there is no movement. Life has no movement: it is only matter that has movement. Movement and energy are the property of matter. Life is is-ness without any movement whatsoever. That which remains without movement can be called neither individual nor universal. It has no center and no circumference. Intellectual activity has a center, the me, the self, the ego. Awareness as the activity of the intelligence has the whole human body, the human individual, as the center. Beyond awareness, the individual is not at the center. Nothing moves out of the individual. Nothing emanates or radiates from the person. Just as in the state of observation there is no ego-centered activity, so in the state of awareness, the whole cerebral organ does not function. Beyond awareness, the individual entity and the movements contained in the individual entity are simply not there. I wish that I could verbalize this more fully.
In the state of meditation, the ocean of is-ness is left without a ripple. Even that metaphor is imperfect. If I liken it to vast space, even that metaphor does not satisfy me. Because compared to life, space is gross; compared to life, time is gross. The is-ness, the to-be-ness, the suchness of life is something for which one will have to find words to communicate. Mind you, this talk is not an effort to expound anything. This is only a very friendly sharing of something that one sees and something that one lives. But we will proceed with this tomorrow. We talked about concentration, attention, and awareness yesterday. We might talk about movement, vibration, and vibrationless is-ness tomorrow.
– Vimala Thakar
from Blossoms of Friendship. Motilal Banarsidass, 1973. Rodmell Press, 2003.
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