Letter 8

From the book "Letters to a young friend"

How lovely a river is. A country without a rich, wide flowing river is no country at all. To sit on the bank of a river and let the waters flow by, to watch the gentle ripples and hear the lapping of the ripples on the bank; to see the wind on the water making patterns; to see the swallows touching the water, the water catching insects; and in the distance, across the water, on the other bank, human voices or a boy playing the flute, of a still evening, quietens all the noise about one. Somehow, the waters seem to purify one, cleanse the dust of yesterday’s memories and give that quality to the mind of its own pureness, as the water in itself is pure. A river receives everything-the sewer, the corpses, the filth of the cities it passes, and yet it cleanses itself within a few miles. It receives everything and remains itself, neither caring nor knowing the pure from impure. It’s only the ponds, the little puddles that are soon contaminated, for they are not living, flowing, as the wide, sweet-smelling flowing rivers. Our minds are small puddles, soon made impure. It’s the little pond, called mind, that judges, weighs, analyzes, and yet remains the little pool of responsibility.

Thought has a root or roots, thought itself is the root. There must be reaction or otherwise there’s death; but to see that this reaction does not extend its root into the present or into the future is the problem. Thought is bound to arise, but to be aware of it and to end it immediately is essential. To think about thought, to examine it, to play around it, is to extend it, to give it root. This is really important to understand. To see how the mind thinks about thought is to react to the fact. The reaction is sadness and so on. To begin feeling sad, to think of the future return, to count the day, e.t.c., is to give root to the thought concerning the fact. So the mind establishes roots, and then how to root them out becomes another problem, another idea. To think of the future is to have roots in the soil of uncertainty.

To be really alone, not with yesterday’s memories and problems but to be alone and happy, to be alone without any outward or inward compulsion, is to let the mind be uninterfered. To be alone. To have a quality of love about a tree, protective and yet alone. We are losing the feeling for trees, and so we are losing love for man. When we can’t love nature, we can’t love man. Our Gods have become so small and petty and so is our love. In mediocrity we have our being, but there are the trees, the open heavens, and the inexhaustible riches of the earth.

You must have a clear mind, a free untethered mind; this is essential, you cannot have a clear, penetrating mind if there is fear of any sort. Fear clogs the mind. If the mind does not face its own self-created problems, it is not a clear, deep mind. To face its own peculiarities, to be aware of its urges, deeply and inwardly, to acknowledge all this without any resistance, is to have a profound and clear mind. Then only can there be a subtle mind, not merely a sharp mind. A subtle mind is a slow, hesitant mind; not a mind that concludes, judges, or formulates. This subtlety is essential. It must know to listen and to wait. To play with the deep. This is not to be got at the end, but this quality of the mind must be there from the very beginning. You may have it, give it a full and deep chance to flower.

To go into the unknown; to take nothing for granted, not to assume anything, to be free to find out, and then only can there be depth and understanding. Otherwise one remains on the surface. What is important is not to prove or disprove a point, but to find out the truth.

All idea of change or the truth of change is seen when there’s only “what is”. The “what is” is not different from the thinker. The thinker is that “what is”, the thinker is not separate from that “which is”.

It’s not possible to be at peace if there’s any kind of want, any hope for some future state. Suffering follows if there’s any want, life is generally full of want; even to have one want, even to know that one desire needs attention, and that is quite an affair. When found, don’t let it become a problem. To prolong the problem is to allow it to take root. Don’t let it take root. The one want is the one and only pain. It darkens life; there’s frustration and pain. Just be aware of it and be simple with it.

Letter 7

From the book "Letters to a young friend"

The mountains must be alone. It must be a lovely thing to have rain among the mountains and the rain drops on the placid lake. How the smell of the earth comes out when it rains and then there are the croakings of many frogs. There’s a strange enchantment in the tropics, when it rains. Everything is washed clean; the dust on the leaf is washed away; the rivers come to life and there is the noise of running waters. The trees put out green shoots, there is the new wild grass where there was barren earth; insects by the thousands come out from nowhere and the parched earth is fed and the earth seems satisfied and at peace. The sun seems to have lost its penetrating quality and the earth has become green; a place of beauty and richness. Man goes on making his own misery, but the earth is rich once again and there is enchantment in the air.

It is strange how most people want recognition and praise-to be recognized as a great poet, as a philosopher, something that boosts one’s ego. It gives great satisfaction but it has very little meaning. Recognition feeds one’s vanity and perhaps one’s pocket, and then what? It sets one apart and separation breeds its own problems, ever increasing. Though it may give satisfaction, recognition is not an end in itself. But most people are caught in the craving to be recognized, to fulfill, to achieve. And failure is then inevitable, with its accompanying misery. To be free of both success and failure is the real thing. From the beginning not to look for a result, to do the thing that one loves, and love has no reward or punishment. This is really a simple thing if there is love.

How little attention we pay to things about us, to observe and to consider. We are so self-centered, so occupied with out worries, with our own benefits, we have no time to observe and understand. This occupation makes our mind dull and weary, frustrated and sorrowful, and from sorrow we want to escape. As long as the self is active there must be weary dullness and frustration. People are caught in a mad race, in the grief of self-centered sorrow. This sorrow is deep thought-lessness. The thoughtful, the watchful are free from sorrow.

Letter 6

From the book "Letters to a young friend"

How clear the blue sky is, vast, timeless and without space. Distance and space is a thing of the mind; there and here are facts, but they become psychological factors with the urge of desire. The mind is a strange phenomenon. So complex by the many psychological compulsions. It is this that causes conflict and pain, the resistance and the acquisitions. To be aware of them, and let them pass by and not be entangled in them, is arduous. Life is a vast flowing river. The mind holds in its net the things of this river, discarding and holding. There should be no net. The net is of time and space, it is the net that creates here and there; happiness and unhappiness.

Pride is a strange thing, pride is small things and big things; in our possessions, in our achievements, in our virtues, pride or race, name and family; in capacity, in looks, in knowledge. We make all this feed this pride, or we run to humility. The opposite of pride is not humility-it is still pride, only it is called humility; the consciousness of being humble is a form of pride. The mind has to be something. It struggles to be this or that, it can never be in a state of nothingness. If nothingness is a new experience, it must have that experience, the very attempt to be still is another acquisition. The mind must go beyond all effort only then… 

Our days are so empty, filled with activities of every kind, business, speculation, meditation, sorrow and joy. But in spite of all these, our lives are empty. Strip a man of position, power or of money, what is he? He had all that show, outwardly, but he is empty, shallow, inwardly. One can’t have both, the inner and other riches. The inner fullness far outweighs the outer. One can be robbed of the outer, outer events can shatter what has been carefully built up; but the inner riches are incorruptible, nothing can touch them, for they have not been put together by the mind.

The desire to fulfill is very strong in people and they pursue it at any cost. This fulfillment, in every way and in any direction, sustains people; if fulfillment fails in one direction, then they try in another. But is there such a thing as fulfillment? Fulfillment may bring a certain satisfaction, but it soon fades away and again we are in the hunt. In the understanding of desire the whole problem of fulfillment ceases. Desire is effort to be, become, and with an ending to becoming the struggle to fulfill vanishes.

Γράμμα 5

From the book "Letters to a young friend"

It began to rain yesterday afternoon and how it poured last night. I have never heard anything like it. It was as if the heavens opened. There was extraordinary silence with it, the silence of weight, a great weight pouring itself on the earth.

It is always difficult to keep simple and clear. The world worships success, the bigger the better; the greater the audience the greater the speaker; the colossal super buildings, cars, aeroplanes and people. Simplicity is lost. The successful people are not the ones who are building a new world. To be a real revolutionary requires a complete change of heart and mind, and how few want to free themselves. One cuts the surface roots; but to cut the deep feeding roots of mediocrity, success, needs something more than words, methods, compulsions. There seem to be few, but they are the real builders-the rest labor in vain.

One is everlastingly comparing oneself with another, with what one is, with what one should be, with someone who is more fortunate. This comparison really kills. Comparison is degrading, it perverts one’s outlook. And on comparison one is brought up. All our education is based on it and so is our culture. So there is everlasting struggle to be something other than what one is. The understanding of what one is uncovers creativeness, but comparison breeds competitiveness, ruthlessness, ambition, which we thing brings about progress. Progress has only led so far to more ruthless wars and misery than the world has ever known. To bring up children without comparison is true education.

It seems strange to be writing, what seems so unnecessary. The thing that matters is here and you are there. The real things are always alike, so unnecessary to write about or talk about; and in the very act of writing or talking something happens to pervert it, spoil it. There are so many things that are said apart from the real thing. This urge to fulfill, which burns so many people, in small ways and big ways. This urge can be satisfied in some way or the other, and with satisfaction the deeper things fade away. That is what happens in most cases, does it not? Fulfillment of desire is such a small affair, however pleasant; but with its fulfillment, as it keeps on satisfying itself, routine, boredom sets in and the real thing fades away. It is the real thing that has to remain and the wonder of it is, it does-if there is no thought of fulfillment but just seeing things as they are.

We are so very seldom alone; always with people, with thoughts that crowd in, hopes that have not been fulfilled, or are going to be-recollections. To be alone is essential for man to be uninfluenced, for something uncontaminated to take place. For this aloneness there seems to be no time, there are too many things to do, too many responsibilities and so on. To learn to be quiet, is to have that flame.

Things may not be easy but the more one asks of life, the more fearful and painful it becomes. To live simply, uninfluenced, though everything and everyone is trying to influence, to be without varying moods and demands is not easy, but without a deep quiet life, all things are futile.

Letter 4

From the book "Letters to a young friend"

How strangely one is susceptible to an atmosphere, one needs a friendly tension, a sense of warm attention in which one can freely and naturally blossom. So few have this atmosphere; and so most are stunted, physically as well as psychologically. I am very surprised that you have survived without being perverted in that peculiar atmosphere. One can see why you were not utterly destroyed, spotted and twisted; outwardly you adjusted as rapidly as possible, inwardly you put yourself to sleep. It is inward insensitivity that saved you. If you had allowed yourself to be sensitive, inwardly awake, you couldn’t have stood it and so there would have been conflict and you would have broken down, been marked. Now, that you are inwardly awake and are clear, you have no conflict with the atmosphere. It is this conflict that makes for perversion. You will always remain unscarred if you are inwardly very alert and awake and warmly adjust to things externally.

Substitutes soon wither away. One may be worldly even though one has a few things. The desire for power in any form; the power of ascetic, the power of a big financier or the politician or the pope is worldly. The craving for power breeds ruthlessness and reemphasizes the importance of oneself, the self-expansive aggressiveness is in essence worldliness. Humility is simplicity, but the cultivated humility is another form of worldliness.

Very few are aware of their inward changes, setbacks, conflicts and distortions. Even if they are aware they try to push them aside or run away from them. Don’t you do it. I don’t think you will, but there is a danger of living with your thoughts and feelings too closely. One has to be aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, without anxiety, without pressure. The real revolution has taken place in your life, you should be very much aware of your thoughts and feelings – let them come out, don’t check them, don’t hold them back. Let them pour out, the gentle as well as the violent ones, but be aware of them.

Occupied with what are your desires, if you have any? The world is a good place, we do everything to get away from it through worship, prayer, our loves and fears. We don’t know whether we are rich or poor, we have never gone deep down into ourselves and discovered “what is.” We exist on the surface, satisfied with so little and made happy and unhappy by such small things. Our petty minds have petty problems and petty answers, and so we spend our days. We don’t love, and when we do it is always with fear and frustration, with sorrow and longing.

I was thinking how important it is to be innocent, to have an innocent mind. Experiences are inevitable, perhaps necessary; life is a series of experiences, but the mind need not be burdened with its own accumulative demands. It can wipe off each experience and keep itself innocent-unburdened. This is important, otherwise the mind can never be fresh, alert and pliable. The “how” to keep the mind pliable is not the problem; the “how” is the search for a method can never make the mind innocent; it can make it methodical, but never innocent, creative.

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