What is intensity?
It is important, because it is only through intensity that one arrives. When all your desires, when all your passions, fall and become one flame, it is intensity. When there is only one left inside you and your total being supports that one, it is intensity.
It is exactly what the word says: in tensity. The opposite word is ex tensity: you are spread out; you have a thousand and one desires, many fragmentary desires, one going to the north, one going to the south. You are being pulled apart. You are not one, you are a crowd. And if you are a crowd you will be miserable, if you are a crowd you will never feel any fulfillment. You don’t have any center. Intensity means creating a center in yourself.
There are two words which are significant to understand. One is ‘centrifugal’: it means arrows moving from the center going in different directions, extroversion. Small pieces, small parts of your being flying all over the place, in all directions, in all possible directions: that is centrifugal.
That’s how people are – they are centrifugal. Another word is ’centripetal’: when all the arrows are coming towards the center, when all the fragments are joined together. In the first you are falling apart, you are in a kind of de-centering. In the second you are falling together, a kind of integration arises. You are getting centered, concentrated IN: that is the meaning of intensity.
Sometimes you have known moments, in some danger… suddenly, in a dark night, you are faced with a naked sword, and you will know what intensity is. Suddenly ALL your thoughts will disappear, the crowd will become one. In that moment you will be one single individual.
The word ’individual’ means indivisible. You will be undivided, you will be a unity – not only a union but a unity. You will be utterly one. The death facing you has created the intensity.
Or in love sometimes…. You fall in love and there is an intensity. All else becomes irrelevant, peripheral. Only the love is all and the whole of your heart.
When such intensity arises in meditation it brings you to God; or in prayer, then it brings you to God.
The scene was the last Olympic Games. In the quarters of the American wrestling team stood John Mack, the trainer, warning his protégé, Mike ‘Bull’ Flamm, about the forthcoming match.
“You know,” Mack said, “the Soviet wrestler you are about to tackle, Ivan Katruvsky, is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world. But he really is not as good as you are. The only thing he’s got that makes him a terror is his pretzel-hold. If he once gets a man in his pretzel-hold, that man is doomed. He has used the pretzel-hold on twenty-seven competitors, and in each case his opponent gave up within ten seconds.
“So, listen to me, Bull, you have got to be damned careful. Never let him get you in that pretzel-hold. If he once clamps you in it, you’re a goner!”
Bull listened carefully to Mack’s instructions on how to avoid that crippling grip of Ivan’s. For the first three minutes of the bout, neither the American nor the Russian could gain an advantage. The crowd was on edge.
Then, suddenly, pandemonium broke loose – Bull Flamm had fallen into the clutches of Ivan’s pretzel-hold and was moaning in agony. Mack knew the match was lost, and he left the arena in deep gloom. Down the corridor, the echoes of Bull’s anguished cries still reached him.
And then, as Mack was about to enter his quarters, he heard an enormous shout arise from the stadium, a cheer the likes of which he had never heard in all his long experience. The stands were in absolute uproar. From the shouts, Mack knew that Bull had won the match, but he couldn’t understand it. What could have caused the unthinkable turnabout?
A minute later Flamm came trotting into the American dressing room. His trainer threw his arms around him, and said, “Bull, how in hell did you ever get out of that pretzel-hold?”
“Well,” answered Flamm, “he twisted me into such shapes that I never felt such agony in my life. I thought my bones were going to break. And as I was just about to faint I saw two balls hanging in front of me. With one desperate lunge, I bit those balls. Well, Mack, you can’t imagine what a man is capable of when he bites his own balls.”
From Wisdom of the Sands, V.1, Discourse #2
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