As I look in your eyes I never see you there – as if you are absent. You exist absently, and this is the core of all suffering. You can be alive without being at all present, and if you are not present your existence will become a boredom. And this is what has happened. So when I look in your eyes I don’t find you there. You have yet to come, you have yet to be. The situation is there, and the possibility is there – you can be there any moment – but yet you are not.
To become aware of this absence is to begin the journey towards meditation, towards transcendent.
If you are aware that somehow you are missing… you exist but you don’t know why, you don’t know how, you don’t know even who exists within you. This unawareness creates all suffering, because, unknowingly, whatsoever you do will bring suffering. It is not what you do that is basic; it is whether you do it with your presence or with your absence that is significant.
Whatsoever you do, if you can do it with your total presence, your life will become ecstatic; it will be bliss. If you do something without your presence there, absently, your life will be a suffering – bound to be. Hell means your absence.
So there are two types of seekers: one type of seeker is always in search of what to do. That seeker is on a wrong path, because the question is not of doing at all. The question is of being – what to be, how to be. So never think in terms of action and doing, because whatsoever you do, if you are absent it will be meaningless.
Whether you move in the world or you live in a monastery; whether you function in the crowd or you move to an isolated spot in the Himalayas will make no difference. You will be absent here and you will be absent there, and whatsoever you do – in the crowd or in the isolation – will bring suffering.
If you are not there, then whatsoever you do is wrong.
The second type, and the right type of seeker, is not in search of what to do, he is in search of how to be. The first thing is how to be.
One man came to Gautam Buddha. He was filled with much compassion, with much sympathy, and he asked Gautam Buddha, ‘What can I do to help the world?’
Buddha is reported to have laughed and said to the man, ‘You cannot do anything because you are not. How can you do anything when you are not? So don’t think of the world. Don’t think of how to serve the world, how to help others.’ Buddha said, ‘First be – and if you are, then whatsoever you do becomes a service, it becomes a prayer, it becomes compassion. Your presence is the turning point. Your being is the revolution.’
So these are the two paths: the path of action and the path of meditation. They are diametrically opposite. The path of action is basically concerned with you as a doer. It will try to change your actions; it will try to change your character, your morals, your relationships, but never you. The path of meditation is diametrically opposite. It is not concerned with your actions; it is directly and immediately concerned with you. What you do is irrelevant. What you are is relevant. And that is basic and primary, because all action springs from you.
Remember, your actions can be changed and modified, can even be replaced by diametrically opposite actions, but they are not going to change you. Any outward change will not bring the inner revolution, because the outward is superficial and the innermost core remains untouched; by what you do it remains untouched. But the vice versa brings the revolution: if the innermost core is different, the surface automatically changes. So think a basic question; only then can we enter these techniques of meditation.
Don’t be concerned with what you are doing. That may be a trick, that maya be a device to escape from the real problem. For example, you are violent. You can make every effort to be non-violent, thinking that by being non-violent you will become religious; by becoming non-violent you will come closer to the divine. You are cruel, and you may make every effort to be compassionate.
You can do it, and nothing will change and you will remain the same. Your cruelty will become a part of your compassion – and that is more dangerous. Your violence will become a part of your non-violence – that is more subtle. You will be violently non-violent. Your non-violence will have all the madness of violence, and through your compassion you will be cruel.
You can even kill through your compassion; people have killed. There are so many religious wars – they are fought in the mood of compassion. You can kill very compassionately, very non-violently; lovingly you can kill and murder, because you are killing for the sake of the person you are killing. You are killing him for himself, for his own sake, to help him.
You can change your actions, and this effort to change the actions may be just a device to escape the basic change. The basic change is this – first you must be. You must become more alert, more conscious of your being; only then a presence comes to you.
You never feel yourself, and even sometimes when you feel, you feel through others – through excitement, through stimulation, through reaction. Someone else is needed, and via someone else you can feel yourself. This is absurd. Alone, without excitement, with no one there to become a mirror, you fall in sleep, you get bored. You never feel yourself. There is no presence. You live absently.
This absent existence is the non-religious mind. To become filled with your own presence, with the light of your own being, is to become religious. So remember this as a basic point: that my concern is not with your actions. What you do is irrelevant. What you are – absent, present, aware, unaware – that’s my concern. And these techniques we will enter are techniques to make you more present, to bring you here and now.
Either someone else is needed for you to feel yourself, or the past is needed – through the past, through past memories, you can feel your identity. Or the future is needed – you can project in your dreams. You can project your ideals, future lives, moksha. Either you need past memories to feel that you are, or you need a future projection, or someone else, but you alone are never enough. This is the disease, and unless you alone become enough, nothing will be enough for you. And once you alone have become enough unto yourself, you have become victorious, the struggle is over. Now there will be no suffering any more. A point of no return has come.
Beyond this point there is beatitude, eternal bliss. Before this point you are bound to suffer, but the whole suffering, strangely, is your own doing. It is a miracle that you create your own suffering. No one else is creating it. If someone else is creating it then it is difficult to go beyond it. If the world is creating it then what can you do? But because you can do, it means no one else is creating your suffering – it is your own nightmare. And these are the basic elements of it.
The first thing: you go on thinking that you are, you believe that you are. This is simply a belief. You have never encountered yourself, you have never come face to face with yourself; you have never met yourself, there has been no meeting. You simply believe that you are. Throw this belief totally.
Know well that you are yet to be, that you are not, because with this false belief you will never be able to transform. On this false belief your whole life will become false.
Gurdjieff used to say to his disciples, ‘Don’t ask me what to do. You cannot do anything, because to do something first you will be needed. And you are not there, so who will do it? You can think about doing, but you cannot do anything.’
These techniques are to help you, to bring you back; to help you to create a situation in which you can meet yourself. Much will have to be destroyed – all that is wrong, all that is false. Before the real arises the false will have to leave; it must cease. And these are the false notions – that you are.
These are the false notions – that you are a soul, atma, you are Brahma. Not that you are not, but these notions are false.
Gurdjieff had to insist that there is no soul in you. Against all the traditions he insisted, ‘Man has no soul. Soul is simply a possibility – it can be, it may not be. It has to be achieved. You are simply a seed.’
And this emphasis is good. The possibility is there, the potentiality is there, but it is not yet actual.
And we go on reading the Gita and the Upanishads and the Bible, and we go on feeling that we are the soul – the seed thinking that it is the tree. The tree is hidden there, but it is yet to be uncovered.
And it is good to remember that you may remain a seed, and you may die a seed – because the tree cannot come, the tree cannot sprout by itself. You have to do something consciously about it, because only through consciousness it grows.
There are two types of growth. One is unconscious, natural growth: if the situation is there, the thing will grow. But the soul, the atma, the innermost being, the divine within you, is a different type of growth altogether. It is only through consciousness that it grows. It is not natural, it is supernatural.
Left to nature itself it will not grow; just left to evolution it will never evolve. You have to do something consciously; you have to make a conscious effort about it, because only through consciousness it grows. Once the consciousness is focused there, the growth happens. These techniques are to make you more conscious.
From The Book of Secrets, Discourse #49
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