Is there any difference between the state of no-mind and being present?
Shunyam Kaveen, it is an intellectual question, nothing to do with your experience; because if you have experienced even a glimpse of no-mind, all questions including this will simply disappear.
Questions belong to the territory of the mind. No-mind means absolute silence – no question, no answer, no thought at all. Hence we call it no-mind.
First you have to understand the mind, because that’s where you are, that’s from where the question is arising. Unless you understand your space – the point from where you are raising the question – you will not be able, even intellectually, to comprehend some difference between no-mind and being present. There is no difference in experience, just two names for the same experience from two different aspects, two different angles.
No-mind is experienced within you. Nobody else can see it; it is purely subjective. With no-mind comes tremendous presence. When you are in the mind you are almost absent. The quantity of your presence or absence has to be measured by your consciousness. You have such a small layer of consciousness – that’s your only presence. Otherwise, ninety percent you are absent.
But the man of no-mind is one hundred percent present. You can feel his presence from the outside.
You cannot see his no-mind. The presence of his being is a radiation of a silent state within. That is beyond you, but if you are available, receptive, you can experience something of the tremendous presence of his being. In each of his gestures, in each of his looks, in each of his words, or even in his silence, you can be touched by his presence of being.
The presence of being comes into existence only when the person as such disappears. It is the melted state of the person – the presence – as if the flower has disappeared and only the fragrance has remained. You cannot catch hold of it, but you can be surrounded by it. Such people who have their being absolutely present – one hundred percent alert – are known in the world of language as having charisma. There is no other charisma. There is only one charisma and one charismatic aura and that aura comes from no-mind. But no-mind is the center within and the aura is the circumference of that mind, that no-mind.
When inside you everything becomes silent, you are no more as you used to be – a person. Now you are just a fragrance, a presence … But your presence has deepened. It has become a solid pillar of light.
Anybody who is intelligent is bound to feel something new that he has never experienced before. So these are two viewpoints: one is the inner experience of no-mind, and the other is from outside. It is the by-product of no-mind, the presence of being.
But first you have to understand the mind, because that’s where you are and that’s from where the journey has to start towards no-mind, culminating finally into a beautiful fragrance – awareness – a magic aura around you.
People have named it in different ways, because people are different. Somebody will say, “It is a hypnotic force.” Somebody will say, “It is something like magnetism.” Somebody will say, “It is mesmerism.” Somebody will say, “It is charisma.” Somebody will say, “We don’t know exactly what it is.” One thing is certain: it has a tremendous gravity, it pulls you towards itself. And if you ar courageous you can be drowned in it and you can be transformed in that drowning. It will be your death and your resurrection, both. As you are, you will die, as you should be, you will be born.
But mind is a very dark place. To comprehend light from there is almost like a blind man trying to comprehend light.
A young English gentleman returns from a stay at a stately home.
“How was your weekend?” asks a friend.
“Well,” he replies, “if the soup had been as warm as the wine, and the wine had been as old as the chicken, and the chicken had been as tender as the maid, and the maid had been as willing as the duchess, it would have been a perfect weekend.”
This is how the mind functions. If you look into your mind you will start laughing at your own mind. It is never in the present. It can’t have presence because the basic quality is missing. It is never in the present. Either it is in the past, which is no more – just a memory, a faded memory, a faraway echo; perhaps a dream that you had seen sometime, but not more than that – signatures on the water.
You have not even completed your signature and it has disappeared. That’s how the past goes on disappearing. You have not even lived it and it slips out of your hands. And then the mind goes on thinking about it.
So either the mind is past-oriented or it is future-oriented. Because it has missed the past, out of sheer necessity a projection arises about the future. The past is no more in your hands, it is gone, and gone forever. There is no way to bring it back. All that you can do is to project into the future whatever you wanted to do, however you wanted to live … Naturally, while you are thinking about the future, making it fuller than your yesterdays, you are missing the present moment.
Your mind moves like a pendulum from the past to the future, from the future to the past. It never stops just in the middle, where reality is. You are always real, but your mind is always unreal. You are always in the present, you cannot be anywhere else. But your mind is never here, it is all over the world. It will not be just at the point where you are. Except for that place, it can roam all over the world. It can go to the moon, it can go to Everest … Everything is possible for it, whether it is memory or imagination, but the mind has no contact with the present. Your body is far more present; it is totally different from your mind.
And very strangely, all the religions have condemned the body, not the mind; because they themselves were using the mind for the faraway future, farther away than ordinary people think about. You think about tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, or the next year at the most. But all the religions were thinking about a future beyond death. Their heaven and their hell and their God are all so far away from the present moment.
And remember: you will always be in the present moment. And the distance between you and those imaginary spaces in the future will remain the same. It won’t change.
Because all the religions were using mind as their foundation, they had to deny the body. It is very unfortunate, but nothing can be done about it. It has happened.
Your consciousness is exactly in the present, just like your body. So I am in favor of your body, because it shares one thing in common with your being: your being is in the present, your body is also in the present. Only the mind is continuously moving here and there, never coming home.
There is a reason for it not to come home: in the present the mind has no function. What can the mind do in the present? The mind’s capacities consist of memory, which is the past, or imagination, which is the future. That is the whole capacity of your mind. There is no place for the present moment. The mind will not know what to do.
In the present you cannot remember, you cannot imagine; in the present you can be! But in the present you can be only when mind is no longer functioning. Hence, my approach is totally different from all religions: I want you to respect your body, because it is in the present, and that will give you the clue – a direct route to your being; because the being is also in the present.
Just leave the mind aside … But we are against the body, we are very condemnatory of the body, not knowing at all that this condemnation of the body is breaking the bridge to your being. A man of authentic spirituality is deeply in love with his body, because he knows body shares many things with being. Mind shares nothing, either with body or with being. It is an absolute stranger that has been forcibly put into you by the culture, the religion, the society. They are using the mind to enslave you.
And because you are in the mind you continuously go on asking about things of which you have no experience. You don’t know what no-mind is, except a word. You don’t know what presence of being is, except that you have heard about it. Just words won’t do.
Move away from the mind … And when I say to move away from the mind, I am saying to move away from the inner chattering. That is the only disturbance that is preventing you from knowing yourself and this beautiful existence. Because your body is in the present, you are in the present, existence is in the present … They are all here-now. Only the mind is a strange phenomenon. But you have been manipulated by others so much … Your educational systems, your friends, your family – everybody is trying to make you a great mind. In other words, everybody is trying to pull you away from the present moment. […]
The mind is very impotent in a way. It cannot give you any existential juice, any existential experience, and that is the only thing that matters. So please move away from mind. Don’t ask the difference, because there is no difference between no-mind and being present. No-mind is the inner subjective experience and being present is available for everybody. It is the circumference and no-mind is the center. But they are both together. Neither the circumference can be without the center nor the center can be without the circumference.
But the circumference can be experienced, and that’s what has attracted millions of people to a man like Gautam Buddha or Chuang Tzu or Jesus or Moses … It was their integrity, their individuality, their solidity. In comparison to them, people felt hollow. They had immense presence. Other people looked just like shadows, without any souls.
George Gurdjieff started saying to his disciples for the first time in the whole of history – he just died in the year nineteen hundred and fifty … He started saying a very strange thing, and although it is not right, he is not wrong. He started saying to people, “You don’t have souls.” What he meant was: “You don’t have any presence, your being is hollow. Inside you there is nothing but darkness, unconsciousness, absence. Everything is absent.”
You have been told for centuries that you are born with a soul. It is absolutely wrong according to Gurdjieff. I know and he knows that what he is saying is not the truth, but it is a device. He is making you aware of your hollowness, of your emptiness, and he has chosen the best way to hit the nail on the head. He is saying, “You don’t have souls! Forget all that nonsense that tradition has been telling you. That was a deception, but you accepted the tradition that, ‘We have souls already, there is no need to seek and search.’”
He said, “You will have to create the soul, you cannot have it just through birth! Through birth you get only the body. Through your upbringing you get your mind. And through a conscious effort to transcend into the beyond, you will achieve the soul.”
He said definitively that only a very few people have lived with souls. And without a soul, what are you? A cabbage, a cauliflower? I have heard there is some difference between cabbages and cauliflowers. And the difference is that the cabbage is uneducated and the cauliflower has college degrees. But that does not make much difference – both are vegetables. Your life is a vegetation.
Of course I cannot agree with Gurdjieff as far as the truth is concerned. But I agree with him and his compassion – that he did not bother about the truth, he bothered more about you. He wanted to make you aware that unless you do something, you are not going to create a soul. Soul is your own creation. But he went too far. I am not ready to deny you the soul; I only deny you the awareness of it. You are born with the soul as you are born with the body. Mind is a social product. You are not born with the mind. That’s why a Mohammedan has a different mind and a Hindu has a different mind and a Christian has a different mind. You can see their differences of mind. […]
Every person gets a mind ready-made, and that mind is being forced into him by all methods and means. That is the only part that has not been given to you by existence. Existence has given you the body: love the body, rejoice in the body, let the body dance without any guilt and without any fear of these religions, and you will be coming closer to your being through the body.
Nobody has come closer to the being through the mind. Mind is the most arbitrary, artificial creation by the society to subdue the individual, to destroy his individuality, and to destroy the discovery of his own being.
You are born with the soul, but you are absolutely unaware of it – because of the mind. The mind never allows you to be in the present. That’s the reason my insistence on meditation is so strong – because meditation simply means a method to get rid of the mind.
The moment the mind is not there, suddenly you are in a new space: so fresh, so beautiful, so blissful. That is your soul; that is your no-mind. And once you have entered that space, that space starts growing around you and creates a certain energy field. That becomes your presence of being.
From Sat Chit Anand, Chapter 19
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