The Complexity of Life – Vimala Thakar

Life is a complex phenomenon. I would like to go into the issue of this complexity this morning as it seems that you would prefer to have a talk.

Man is born in the midst of duality, duality that seems to have two poles, having an opposition or a contradiction between them. We are born in the midst of life where there is birth and death. To be born and to die. The event of birth gives an impression that the form, with a shape, with a color, with some contents has come into existence. And the event of death gives an impression that something is being destroyed. And in the midst of the events of birth and death, which no one can avoid, man has to live. He has to live in the midst of pleasure and pain that seem to be exclusive of each other, opposed to one another, contradictory to one another, pleasure being an agreeable sensation and pain being a disagreeable one. You can’t avoid either of these.

We have got the physical structure with the sense organs, the inner senses, and whenever the sense organs or the senses receive an impression, it is registered as either agreeable or disagreeable. So, you can’t avoid pleasure, you can’t avoid pain, if you want to live. And in the midst of these contradictory things, there seems to be a tension between the pleasure and pain. There seems to be a tension between birth and death. And man has the responsibility to live in the midst of that. Joy and sorrow. He has to live in the midst of sound and silence. And you can’t escape either the sound or the silence. We have to live in the midst of light and darkness. Light and shadow. The day and the night. And the day with the glorious light, and the night with the deep darkness around it seem to be exclusory of each other.

It is not necessary to elaborate upon this point, but if you look at human life, you will see the panorama of these apparently contradictory, apparently mutually exclusive points having a tension between them. And it is the responsibility of man to live in this duality without getting stuck up either in pain or pleasure, without getting attached either to birth or death, to the day or the night, to the light or the darkness. He has to live in the so-called waking consciousness during the day, and during the night he enters the sleep consciousness, the dream consciousness, the sleep consciousness. And both are necessary and both are inevitable. You can’t avoid.

And it seems to me that man gets stuck up either in pain or in pleasure. Either he hunts pleasure, and his whole life and living becomes a game of hunting pleasure, pleasurable situations, individuals that will give the pleasure. Or, he becomes obsessed with the idea of pain, and his whole life becomes a game of finding out situations, places, where he will have no pain. Either he hunts pleasure, or obsessed with the idea of pain, he becomes busy trying to avoid pain. That doesn’t happen anyway.

Pleasure and pain go together, one is the shadow of the other. Joy and sorrow accompany each other. Birth and death cannot be isolated. Birth is the beginning of death and death is the beginning of a new birth. The day is the beginning of the evening and the darkness, and the darkness of the night is the indication of a new dawn coming towards you.

So, to live is to be aware of both ends of the duality. Not to ignore either of these. To be aware that there is this duality, that you are born in the midst of duality, and you have to walk through the corridors of duality, in each field. He has to move through relationships where he has to act, where he has to respond, and he has to live with the relaxation. Relationship and relaxation. If he ignores either of these, if he does not get acquainted with either of these, or if he gets stuck up in either of these, then he misses the beauty of living. Or if he creates a philosophy out of pleasure or out of pain, and tries to find out a direction where he will find only pleasure and no pain, only joy and no sorrow, only the waking consciousness and no sleep, or only sleep and no waking consciousness, then he is going astray.

To live is to be vulnerable to the tension between these two poles of duality and yet to move through that in a simple, innocent, relaxed way. That is really the crux of the whole issue. To be religious is to be able to move through the duality in a non-dual approach. And a nondual approach for me implies an awareness of the two. As soon as you are aware of the two, you do not get bogged down in any one of them. So, the non-dual approach, the non-dual attitude, or the perception born of non-duality implies the content of this non-duality is the awareness of the two forms of duality – their nature and the inevitability of their existence.

Another duality comes to my mind, knowledge and innocency. You can’t escape knowledge because you are born with it; you have inherited it. But if you do not get acquainted with innocency, that is freedom from knowledge and the known, then the very burden of knowledge crushes you down. If you do not get acquainted with relaxation, the dimension of total abandonment, then relationships, instead of being opportunities for expressing your own being, become such a great burden that the mind begins to crumble under the burden of relationships.

So this morning, as we shall be parting from one another tomorrow, I would like to share with you this very fundamental issue. Meditation is a way of living where you are aware of this duality. You are not afraid of the tension between the duality. It’s a way of living in which you move into relationships with relaxation. Where you move into sound and speech with the substance of silence with you. Where you wake up in the morning with the freshness of profound sleep, and where you enter the profound sleep with the humility and innocence of a child, sleeping in the lap of his mother.

So, meditation is a new way of living. It’s a new state of being. And let us look at this and let us find out how one sets about it. The perspective of total life goes a very far way to determine the quality of your inner being, and determine the quality, the texture, the caliber of your relationship with other people. So, am I aware that I have to live between the two points of birth and death? Does the word death frighten me? Am I attached to the event of birth as if it is something auspicious, and have I been conditioned to look at death as something inauspicious? Something to weep over? To shed tears?

I hope you will see that the word death does not imply the killing that man indulges in, where one human being kills another human being, in the name of religion, in the name of ideology, in the name of country, in the name of race, under any name. But where man indulges in killing the other, it is not death; it is a murder. It may result in the fact of death but it is not. It hasn’t got the beauty and the grandeur of natural death.

I was twelve years old when I saw my grandfather die. He was a religious man. And six months before he died, he wrote letters to all his relatives that on such and such a day he will be departing, that has been ordained. He has to depart from the world. Would they come to share the festivity of his departure?

He was a prince in one of the States in central India. So, all his daughters and sons-in-law and sons, daughters-in-law and cousins, you know, an Indian family, and being a prince – all his friends, about 500 people went there. And there was a big feast. And I am not going into the details, just one incident that introduced me to the beauty and grandeur of death.

So, there was a big feast and he was serving all people, standing there with folded hands, receiving everyone, joyous like anything, no sickness, nothing. And he gave presents to all the 501 persons. And then he said, “May I take your leave?” And he went to his room, where he used to sit down for meditation, sitting cross-legged like this, and he departed, with a smile on his lips.

Of course, the grandmother and others really did not believe, they thought it was the whim of an old man, so they were humoring him. After half an hour, my father and maternal uncle, they entered the room, tried to find out, but he was gone. They invited the doctors. They thought he might be in samadhi so let us wait for another hour or two. Nothing. He had just departed. So, when I entered the room and looked at that figure, I said, “Ah, can death be that beautiful? Is this the way to die?” As a leaf drops from the tree, the dry leaf dropping away through the air to the earth, have you seen it? In the autumn? How the leaves take leave of the tree, the branches, the trunk. Death is as beautiful as birth. It has its own divinity and ecstasy, if one can enter into it, not succumbing to it out of fear, not shrinking, not trying to cling to life, resenting the act of death, then it becomes ugly.

So, am I aware that everything that is born, everything that has a form, has to go through the event of death? This awareness will bring new passion, new depth, to the event of living because you don’t know when you are going to die. There are certain things beyond the logical mathematics of man and that is why life is worth living. Love, for example, incalculable, unpredictable. The moment that it will dawn upon your heart and transform your whole being, you cannot mathematically work it out. Death, beauty, you do not know where and how you will come upon beauty.

So, the awareness of the fact of death, not somewhere there out, far away from me, but here with me, as I inhale and exhale breath. Birth-and-death is the inhaling and exhaling of life because it is included in the whole complexity of life. So not knowing when one is going to die, one is very alert and on one’s toes, very attentive to live the day or the moment that he has before him and with him. When postponement of anything becomes simply impossible. You don’t have to take a vow that I shall not postpone. It is the awareness of death, that brings about an alertness and sensitivity and you live and you go through what has to be done this moment, you go through it this moment, not out of a compulsion, not out of a vow, a discipline, that is intellectually imposed upon you, but the awareness gives a new dimension to your life. Either you say, “One day man has to die and so we don’t know when, so why not live any way, any how. Why does there have to be order, beauty, and efficiency, an aesthetical keenness? Why not live any way.” That is one approach that takes away all the charm and grace and grandeur of this opportunity of living. To live is an ecstasy. Or one can say that because I do not know when I am going to be confronted with death, why don’t I make the most of what I have, why don’t I make the best of this moment because what you call the now, the here, the “this moment” is the only eternity that you can meet. You cannot meet eternity in future, because future is only in the human mind, not in reality.

The division of life into past, present, and future is the creation of human mind, and it may be very convenient for arranging collective relationships, but out of human mind there is no reality. Tomorrows, or futures, or yesterdays, have no factual reality. What has factual reality is the isness of life, this moment, here and now. Even the words here, now, present moment are very defective because the here has no meaning unless you presuppose the there. The “this moment” becomes meaningless unless you postulate the “other moment.” The today, the now, all these are relative words. You know human languages are relative. So, these words are not really satisfactory words but one has to use them for a verbal communication.

So, the awareness of death brings a new vitality and a sense of urgency in living. I have this day, the now, the moment, these circumstances before me, and I have to live with them. Either I live it or I miss it. There is no third alternative. Either you live it or you miss it. And because death is inevitable, one doesn’t become sadistic, doesn’t want to pursue pain, or want to bring the death nearer. There are people trying to use death as an escape. Goodness me. As an escape from the responsibility of living. But once you know that both these two are inevitable facts, and if you recognize that life doesn’t begin with the birth and doesn’t end with the death, it’s a much bigger whole.

But man is born between these two points, as he is born between time and space, he’s born between these two points of birth and death. He has to live a kind of framework that is there. Being aware of the timelessness, he has to live in the midst of the calculated psychological time because he is living with human beings. And he has to converse with them. He has to have relationships with them.

So on the canvas of eternity, you have the paintings of time and space. But if you are not aware of the timelessness of life, if you are not aware that time is a symbol created by man for the convenience of collective life, then you will become a prisoner of the concept of time. Then you will worry so much about the tomorrow, the future, the next moment, that you will never open your eyes and look at this moment because you are concerned with the next.

You meet a person and you are concerned with how to meet this person in such a way that he is pleased with me and the relationship of friendship, or recognition and appreciation will continue. So, you are busy and concerned with the continuity part of relationships rather than the fact of this moment. So, you try to project an image before that person that will please him. There comes another person of a different temperament and then you are busy projecting another image to him or her so that that person is pleased. You are trying to convert relationships into investment for the future, so you don’t live them at this moment.

So, if one is not aware of the timelessness then he becomes a prisoner of the concept and idea of time, and he either worries about the future, or he is brooding about the past. And the factual reality slips out of his grip. So, one has to use time, being aware of the timelessness.

I hope you see that how there can be an approach where the apparent contradiction, or the apparent mutual exclusiveness, melts away into the two poles of duality becoming complimentary to one another, complementary to each other. Birth and death becoming intrinsic parts of one’s whole life, complimentary to each other. Time and timelessness being complimentary to each other. The appearance of contradiction and opposition withers away. The appearance of tension withers away when you look at these poles of duality, these two points of duality, and get acquainted with them, discover their nature.

To live is to be related, we have seen the other day. To be related with the nature, with the animals, with the birds, with the human beings, with the things that you use, with the houses that you build, the cars that you use, the machines that you use. It’s a relationship. And no one can escape relationships because in isolation there is only existence, not life. Life vibrates in and through relationships, as peace can live and vibrate only in movements. If there are no movements, there will be dead peace. Peace for living and operating requires the field of movement.

Relaxation requires the field of relationships to move and operate. Life requires the field of relationship to express itself. When I talk with another person, when I live with other people and react or respond to their behavior, then their behavior affects me, then only I know what I am, what kind of mind I have. What kind of feelings, sentiments, lusts or desires, or anger, or violence I have. You cannot hide it in relationships. Relationships are the mirror. You may believe yourself to be a very holy person, a very pure person, a very peaceful person, and you move into relationships either at the house, or in the office, or with friends, and the slightest thing that does not please you, and there you are disturbed, perturbed. Peace is shattered. You look upon yourself as a very loving, kind person, and then in relationships, something happens and anger bursts out, through the eyes, through a glance, through a gesture, through a word. Relationships reflect your inner being because you have to be there in a relationship. You have to react; you have to respond.

Now to live is to be related. To be related is to move with the things and beings around me without losing my inner equipoise, peace, sanity. That is the challenge of relationship. And I would like to go into this issue a little bit more.

Why do relationships disturb us? Why do relationships become a problem? They are a challenge but a challenge is not a problem. Challenges are like the ripples on the waters. Relationships bring up challenge. If I do not learn how to move into relationships then I will divide life into a period of relationship and a period of solitude. A period of relationship and a period of retreat. I say, “I am tired of being with the people so let me go now to a retreat. Let me go, let me withdraw.” We divide life then, fragment, separate it, but if I learn to move through relationships without losing my inner relaxation, without losing my inner sense of freedom and equipoise, then obviously relationships would not tire me. In the midst of relationships, I would be relaxing. A relaxed relationship will become a movement of relaxation.

This can happen if I can be with people without converting them into my means of security. When I get attached to you then I am converting you as a security. I feel that I need security so I want to depend upon you. I expect things from you. I expect agreement from you, recognition from you. There is no relaxation in a relationship when I get attached. There will be no relaxation in a relationship if I want to dominate over you and try to make out of you a carbon copy of myself.

This may sound simple but this is a very fundamental and serious issue, that in relationship we want to own and to possess the other people. Not only the husband, the wife, or the boyfriend, or the girlfriend, we want to own and possess even friends. To own them to possess them as you own a car. As you own a house or a tape recorder. So that you can play the tape recorder or drive the car whenever you get into a mood of doing that; whenever you get bored, you go to the tape recorder and play it. Or you feel bored and you get into a car and you just go out for a drive. In the same way, we want to utilize the human beings, to own them, to possess them, to feel satisfied that you have them. Secondly, to escape into those human beings whenever you feel bored with life, and thirdly, to dominate over them so that the ego, the self, the me gets gratified. These are the things that spoil, pollute or contaminate the relationship. Otherwise, relationships are not a bondage at all. Whether it is the relationship of husband, wife, children, parents, or it’s a relationship of friends, colleagues, working in an office or business, it is we who create the bondage out of the relationships.

There is no life without a relationship, but when I move into it, I say, “Now is this a nice person?” I wonder if I can have him or her as a friend. This is a nice person, there seems to be some similarity between us, now if we marry or if we live together then he or she belongs to me, and I belong to him. So, the attachment begins, not love, but attachment for the sake of security. An attachment makes you very suspicious. If the other person is talking to someone then you begin to suspect. Has he more affection for her? Has she more concern for him? Is he turning away from me? Attachment makes you very suspicious because you want to keep the person to whom you are attached bound to yourself with the chains of attachment. You want to keep the person, bind him to you, as you keep the things under a lock. You want to keep the person under the lock of relationship, and feel secure. Attachment, then the fear that you may lose the person; then fear making you suspicious; suspicion bringing in jealousy; jealousy bringing in anger. The chain reaction is there.

Can I move into relationships without being attached? Without expecting attachment from the other person? That is really the challenge. The crisis in human relationships is the lack of love – that keeps both the individuals in a relationship free. The crisis in the total human life today is the crisis in society, where the person wants freedom for himself, but by being attached to the other, he wants to keep the other person under his thumb, under his domination. Denying the freedom to the other, expecting every freedom for themselves. Expecting every protection for themself, denying that protection to the other, and this goes on in family or outside family. In an individual’s life and the life of society.

So relationships by themselves are not the bondage, but we create bondage out of them and then having lived a life of lust, of attachment, of domination, jealousy, suspicion, we say, “All these are worldly relationships. Now let me go and find out an ashram, a guru, and those disciples will be my gurubais and gurubhens, and so I will create a new atmosphere, a new circle of relationships which will be unworldly, non-worldly.” If I am attached to the father, to the husband, to the mother, to the wife, to the sister, it’s a worldly relationship, and if you get attached to a guru, a master, a teacher, that is a spiritual attachment. You see the silliness of it? You create them, leaving the home, giving up the house, and the property and everything. One moves and creates a field of new relationships where the same game of attachment, suspicion, jealousy, domination begins.

Mind you, the friend who is talking to you, is born and brought up in a country which is cluttered with so-called spiritual ashrams. You can’t visit a town, a city, or a village without so-called ashrams, where the monks, or the sannyasis, or the yogis are as ambitious as any worldly man. They have their competitions. They have their jealousies. They have their fights. And the means that they use for those fights are as foul as the means of the politicians whether they profess with antara or this yoga or that yoga. And these are not words spoken out of criticism for anyone. I have gone round the whole of India three times. There is not a district out of the 316 districts of India that I have not visited. Not that I would have done it, but I was working in a movement where it was necessary for me to travel. So, three times I have gone round the whole of India, the land of religions, visited the ashrams, gone up to the Himalayas. Up to the height of 16,000 feet I have climbed.

The search began at the age of five, you know. So, whatever I am talking, please don’t think that I am trying to criticize anyone. These are words written in the ink of blood. There may be exceptions; exceptions are everywhere. I am talking about giving up one form of relationship, running away from one field of relationship, and creating another field of attachment, jealousy, suspicion. That is what happens. So by giving it the name of a religious or spiritual relationship, the essence of attachment or jealousy or suspicion, that doesn’t change. The I and the me trying to capture what is mine. The attitude of ownership towards the relationship doesn’t change. Then we can fight over whether my teacher is superior or your teacher is superior. My God or your God. The organized religions have done it on a very large scale; individuals do it on a small scale. And the field of relationships has become a field of misery and suffering unnecessarily, unwarranted. In isolation there is no life so we have to discover the secret of getting related with other people, where one can live in freedom and let the other person live in freedom.

The mystery of relationship has to be uncovered. The secret of relationship is to be uncovered, and we shall go into it this morning, and I hope you will have patience and keep pace with me.

If I can move into a relationship of any kind whatsoever, if I can move into it in the simplicity of my being, without trying to project an image upon the other person, then the relationship does not become a problem. I am what I am. Let me get acquainted with myself and then talk to other people, live with them as I am. You know what it implies? Not to compare oneself with other people. A non-comparative approach is always a non-ambitious approach. But if I look at myself and I say, “Well, I am ugly and the other person is beautiful,” then I create a hurt, a wound in my mind maybe on the conscious level, maybe on the subconscious level. I say, “I am ugly and the other person is beautiful or handsome. I am brown and the other person is fair. I am short and the other is tall. I am dull and the other is brilliant.” If my perception of other human beings is polluted by this comparative approach then I will always compare myself with others. And I would like to pretend that I am as clever as the other person, so I will try to gather ideas, thoughts from books, from talks, from individuals, decorate my brain with it and show it off because I would like to show that I am clever, knowing full well that I am stupid. Knowing full well that I am not clever. But I would like to profess then I make an effort, a struggle for gathering, for collecting, storing it in memory, then the effort to produce it whenever I am with people, show it off. And you can’t deceive all people, cheat all people for all of the time, so you are afraid. Will he find out that I know only a little and I do not know about the other aspect? Will they find it out? Then you are always very tense lest people find out the shallowness of knowledge. Lest people find out the pettiness of the mind.

So if there is a comparative approach, if you are constantly comparing yourself with other people and trying to become like them, then you as you have no scope to live, to breath freely, to breath without any pressure and burden that you have imposed upon yourself. Then you will not be able to be in the beauty of your being because you are trying to shrink somewhere to look like someone else. You are trying to blow air into yourself to look like and behave like some other person. All the time you are playing the game of becoming someone else, trying to imitate the other person’s experiences, other person’s ways of living, other person’s types of living. You go on doing that.

Whether the boys, the girls in India try to imitate the styles of the occidentals or the occidental youths, the American, the European, tries to imitate the Indian, the oriental. It’s just the same. If you try to graft upon yourselves, because of a comparison, mind you, not out of understanding. When you understand something, and the value of it, and the understanding brings about an inner change in you that is a different matter. We are talking about a comparative approach, an ambitious approach, trying always to measure oneself according to other people. According to their judgements. That way lies fear in relationship. That way lies all the tension, and shyness, and embarrassment, and hesitation in relationship. You can never sing your song like a bird, perched upon a branch of a tree, and singing into the vast space of the skies. You’ll never sing your note in the vast space of freedom because you will always be on the defensive. So, to grow into a non-comparative approach to life is vitally necessary to be what I am, not measure myself in the terms of other people.

Secondly, when I have expressed myself as I am, and I find that it has displeased the other person, the person doesn’t like it, or when I express myself and something has gone wrong, that is the opportunity for me to learn. Something has gone wrong. When you are driving the car and the pressure on the accelerator is not enough, the nerves in the feet are not educated enough, so the pressure on the brake, the foot brake or the hand brake, or the accelerator, that is not sufficient; you can find the car wobbling. And don’t you say, “I can’t drive the car,” and so here I step out of it and I go. Or you have not taken care of the choke part, or the hands are not sensitive to handle the steering. One has to investigate nerves so that the movement of the body and the mind can be in such a way that it doesn’t hurt the other people, and it doesn’t do any damage or harm to the other person. If you can’t move into a relationship without doing harm to the other, obviously you have not learned how to be related. That is to say, how to live. Without friction, causing friction. If the other person is psychologically ill or sick, or hypersensitive, and he creates a harm or a hurt out of your simple behavior, you can’t help it but otherwise, a person has to find out a sensitive way of speaking and behaving in his own simplicity. And if his expression, his uncovering of the inner being, has done some harm, then that is the moment to learn. But as soon as we find out that something has gone wrong, the first desire is to find out the fault with the other person, throw the responsibility on the other person, and feel justified in what one has done. So one goes on the defensive, trying to justify one’s mistakes, defend one’s mistakes. This is the content of bondage, the temptation to defend your own mistakes that even your own intelligence can point out to you.

The moment you try to defend, to justify, to interpret to protect yourself, then relationships become a problem. What is wrong if I commit a mistake in a relationship? I am learning, I am living, I am growing. There might be a mistake. If you are terribly concerned that you always must do the right things, in the correct way, and you get very nervous and embarrassed, then there will be a paralysis of movement. You will always hesitate to move. So, there should be the humility and the simplicity to say to oneself, “Maybe there will be a mistake. Maybe something goes wrong. Doesn’t matter. I’ll find out. I’ll learn.”

To live is to learn, you know. If you don’t learn, you become stale. If you stop learning by the age of 25 or 30 and you feel that you know everything about life, and you have just to repeat certain patterns of behavior, day after day, then the behavior becomes mechanical and the persons become stale. There is no freshness about the person.

So, a non-comparative approach, and then the simplicity and the innocence to say to oneself, “Really, I don’t know how to live. I am learning. I don’t know how to live so there might be mistakes. And I will learn from the mistakes.” One can learn from failures, from successes, from mistakes. So, there is no fear when I am willing to learn. When I am willing to be exposed in a relationship as I am, so that I find out the factual reality of myself. I get acquainted with myself, then there is no fear.

And thirdly, if I do not want to dominate upon other people through expectations. There are many ways of dominating. One way is asking the people, “Do this. Do not do this. You must do this. You must not do this.” That is an overt and an obvious and very gross way of dictating things, dictating terms. The second way is of expecting agreement, acceptance, recognition, and appreciation. All the time one is expecting these things. And the moment you find that the other people do not agree or do not accept, or do not appreciate or recognize you, you feel hurt. People misunderstand you, misinterpret you, and you feel hurt.

People born in different cultures, having different temperaments, having different constitutional and psychological idiosyncracies, they are bound to behave in so many different ways. So, if one can act or respond in a relationship, without looking for a guarantee, looking for a security of appreciation, recognition, or the security of being interpreted correctly, then the relationships become a problem. You express yourself; you move into a relationship you do what you can and there is an end to it. It is up to the other person to respond, to receive, to understand, to misunderstand, to interpret, to misinterpret. It is up to the other person.

So, if one can feel the joy of expressing oneself in a relationship, enjoy doing it, if you can enjoy moving into a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship and expressing yourself, then you express spontaneously, fearlessly, with all the humility, whatever you are, and then it is finished for you. If the other person understands, there will be a slight smile on your lips, and if the other person does not understand, for a split second, the fact that it has not been understood may bring about a breath of sadness. That is the fact and the impact of the fact being sensitive to others. But you do not make an issue out of it. You do not make a grudge out of it. You do not nurse that he did not understand, she did this, he misunderstood, he cheated, she deceived. You know, you do not go on creating issues and grudges out of it. You do not nurse the hurt within and thereby carry the wounds, ever running wounds in the heart. And on the other hand, you do not create a grudge against the other person. If you create the grudge against the other person, you meet the other person after half an hour, or after two days, and you can’t look at him, because the memory of that incident of humiliation, or insult, or the hurt, or other misinterpretation, works like a screen. It is not you but the memory that looks at the other person, and naturally there is no relationship.

So it seems to me, the mystery of relationship is having a non-comparative, non-ambitious approach, realizing that a person can’t do anything more than expressing what he is and to have the humility to express that without any hypocrisy, without any pretensions, without trying to hide something that there is and pretend to show things that are not there. You cannot borrow the act of living, you know? The movement of living cannot be borrowed. Knowledge can be bought and borrowed, but like wisdom and understanding, this act of living, you cannot pretend the style, the experience of another person and feel satisfied that you have lived. It has got to be your original act of spontaneity. So, a non-comparative, non-ambitious approach, simplicity and innocency to face the mistakes if there be any, and the consequences if there be any, to shoulder the responsibility of what is, and, my dear friends, we don’t like it. In a relationship you get angry, but you like to feel that you are not an angry person. You are not an angry person. The other person is stupid, and he has made you angry. I hope you have noticed this. You know, I am not angry by nature, you know, but when those other people, they behave in such a stupid way, they make me angry. But my dear fellow, if there was no anger in you, how could anything on the Earth, cause it at all?

They are not the originators. Those occurrences, those events, those behaviors, those words are only instruments in bringing out what is there. But a person feels very pious, very religious, and he says, “No, I am not an angry person. I am a very peaceful person. But the circumstances, the situation, made me angry.” He wants to put the blame upon the other. And nowadays, it is very easy to throw the blame upon other people with the help of theories of psychoanalysis. I won’t go into it. But you throw the responsibility upon everyone else in the world and feel “poor me.” Then this “poor me” complex, martyr complex, self-pity, always leads to depressive psychosis, melancholia.

So, to have the robustness to shoulder the responsibility whenever mistakes take place, and say, “Yes, something went wrong. I wasn’t aware. I wasn’t alert.” To shoulder the responsibility of one’s own mistake and the consequences thereof, to have that robustness, then even the mistakes that you commit make your life glorified. But if you are afraid of committing mistakes, then you hesitate from living, shrink away from the act of living. Well, I can’t go into more details, but when you thus move in daily relationships, then a non-comparative, simple, humble approach keeps you relaxed. Then there is no dichotomy between the relationship here and the relaxation there. You move into relationships and through relationships in a relaxed way. With all the relaxation you move. Spontaneity is relaxation. You know the content of relaxation is humility, innocency, and spontaneity. So, there is no dichotomy between the two. There is no opposition or contradiction between the two.

And let me take one more point before we conclude the session. It is the same with speech and silence. Silence is a dimension of life as speech is. As sound is a dimension of life, silence also is a dimension. Out of silence, sound is born. Out of the emptiness of space, movement is born. We are always with the word, with the sound, chattering with others or with ourselves, and we never spend time in the dimension of silence.

So, the words in our mouth are worn out. They are hollow, shallow. They lose the vitality to have any effect upon the heart of the person to whom you speak, because the words are not nourished. On the nutrition of silence, the speech has only one nutrition and that is silence. It is not a negative something. It is not the rigidity of saying, “I won’t speak,” and take a vow of silence. Not that, but just to gather all the words, the speech, unto yourself, binding them up, you spend some time where there is no word, no activity, but only the isness of life.

With the silence, let me connect profound sleep. We are covering some points of duality, at least some points. We work in the day and we go to sleep in the night. In the sleep, there may be either the dream consciousness or profound sleep. Now in profound sleep, the body is totally relaxed, unconditionally relaxed, every limb, every fiber, nerve, neurone, neuron all relaxed. And the mind is relaxed. In profound sleep, you are not the man or the woman, the Indian, the Swedish, the Norwegian, the Hindu, the Catholic. In profound sleep, the maleness, the femaleness, the whole identification goes into abeyance. All your identifications go into abeyance in the phenomenon of profound sleep.

The breathing continues, the blood circulation continues, the involuntary activities continue. But they are not from the center of the I, the me, the ego. You don’t know what happens in profound sleep. But when you wake up, you find yourself refreshed, rejuvenated. It is a different energy, unconditioned energy, non-personal energy that operates in profound sleep. Not the energy of the me, the I, the energy of the thought, or the emotion, but it’s an entirely different energy which is neither personal or collective, individual or collective. And without profound sleep, you can’t work in the day. If you don’t get profound sleep, you consult a doctor and you take medicines for it. Because without profound sleep, the sanity, the order, the health cannot be sustained, cannot be retained. So as in profound sleep, though you do not know what is happening, and you are not doing anything at all, you are in the state of non-doing. You are in the state of non-action in profound sleep, but the growth takes place, the transformation, the change takes place. It is a field of happening. In waking hours is the field of doing. You do. You act. You move. There is a field of happening; there is this duality of doing and happening. If you say, “I am going to remain awake to find out what happens in profound sleep,” then there is no sleep. In profound sleep, it is not you who do something or you who act, but you are in a state of total vulnerability for the happening of growth to take place.

Profound sleep is a state of total vulnerability. In the same way, when you dive into, you plunge into, the waters of silence, once you are there, then you are in the field of happening, not doing. What shall I do when I sit silently? Don’t sit silently if you want to do something. Silence is an area where you are totally, wholly vulnerable to the life and the life forces that surround you, that are within you, and that are around you. You are vulnerable to them. You are vulnerable to the happenings. Vulnerable to the movement of the unconditioned, uninherited, non-personal energy which is beyond your control. You may call it intelligence; you may call it sensitivity, but it is an energy which you do not inherit which is the very nature of motion, life.

So in silence, a person is in the realm of happening. But the ego is so rigid, the me, the self, the ego is used to acting, reacting, doing, rejecting, having, not having, all this business throughout the waking hours, it doesn’t want to leave. It says, “I would like to experience what happens in silence.” So, it wants to stick to the center, and as long as there is a center there will be a circumference. If you take a piece of paper and put a point upon it, you have already created an invisible circumference around that point. So when you stick to the point of the ego, the self, the me, the circumference of your knowledge and inheritance is already there, and the whole thing moves. You are back in the trap of the mind.

So, in silence is when one can be in total abandonment, vulnerability, and it requires humility. If man feels that he is the doer of everything in his life, then he shall never understand what life is, because life is a mystery. There is doing of course, but there is happening, and as he has to move efficiently and competently in the area of doing with the help of knowledge, the mind, the brain, and the senses, he has to be with full abandonment, openness, vulnerability in the field of happening. When these two are balanced then there is a harmony in life. Then there is an equipoise in life.

A person who doesn’t know how to relax in silence is not very good at words, or speaking, because he doesn’t have the precision, the accuracy, the beauty, the music of sound and speech. His words are born of friction, of tension. They stink. They have an odor of frustration, or depression, or vanity, or pride. To have a pure chaste word like a dew drop of the morning. But if you are introduced to silence, when you are introduced to silence, then silence extends itself into speech as sleep extends itself into waking hours. So, if we remember the fact of sleep, the sleeping hours are as important, if not more, as the waking hours. What happens in profound sleep is as much a part of your total life as what you do. Life is not all doing. More happens to us than we can ever do, or we shall ever do to ourselves, because we are organically related to the universal life.

But I think I should stop now. It’s more than an hour and a quarter. I was trying to share with you the simple fact that man is born in the field of duality. This duality has been looked upon as having a tension. Duality has two poles, or two points, and man has looked upon these two points as mutually exclusive and contradictory to each other. And I question the validity of such a traditional approach. It seems to me that they are neither mutually exclusive nor are they contradictory but the two together make the whole life. The wholeness of life will be damaged if we have an attitude of carelessness, or contempt, or fear of death. If we have fear of death, we have polluted the whole issue of life and living because death and birth together make the life. If we are afraid of pain and attached to pleasure, then we have missed the whole beauty of life because with every pleasure there is pain. And as long as there are senses, you have to go through pleasure and pain, but if in the moment of pleasure, you can enter the state of joy and leave the pleasure of thought behind, then you are free from the duality of pleasure and pain.

So, we were saying this morning that these two points of duality are complimentary and supplementary to each other. They together make the whole life, and the awareness of the two poles of duality, the two points of duality, awareness of their nature and how they supplement and complement each other, that gives you a new vitality, a new passion from within. Then one is not obsessed with the tomorrow or one does not get bogged down in yesterdays. One is not bogged down in the past and not carried away by the future, but then one can remain with the expression of eternity which is the present moment here and now. The moment before you is condensed eternity. If you can uncover that moment and meet it there, and live there, the situation, the challenge, the relationship that is here and now — if you can live it, you have lived. If you say, “No, this is a difficult situation. Let me postpone.” If you go on postponing living to tomorrows, the tomorrow never comes.

So the awareness of the duality is the content of non-duality. Non-duality is not something separate that here is it duality and there it is non-duality. Our awareness of duality itself is the content of non-duality, as the awareness of the known, the limitations, the frontiers of the known, awareness of the mechanistic nature of the movement of the known, is already being with the unknown. There are not two categories that here it is the known and then you leave and give it up and go somewhere else to the unknown. It is the piercing through the known that brings out the quality of unknown. It is living through the time, being aware of the intrinsic limitations, that time is a concept. Living in time, being aware of the conceptual reality of time and factual reality of timelessness frees you from fear.

So, life is one indivisible whole. It’s a very complex one, and if we do not look at the complexity, investigate the nature of complexity, then we find that everything is complicated. It is not complicated. It is only complex, and we cannot turn back from the complexity of life into the so-called simplicity of primitivity. Understanding of complexity brings us into simplicity. The maturity of understanding is simplicity.

-Vimala Thakar

A talk given by Vimala Thakkar in 1974

Here you can listen to Vimala Thakar’s talk The Complexity of Life.

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

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