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CULTURE OF PEACE
The Illusion of Seeking Peace
S. C. Malik
The Crisis of Fragmentation
Modern civilization, since the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries, has persistently been subscribing to propositions which have logically led to the atomization of the whole fabric of human existence, experience and being. Analytic dismemberment has certainly produced enormous material wealth, but with it immense suffering, both physical and spiritual. However, it is evident that the hegemony of material and intellectual vested interests seems to preclude a basic reappraisal of this suicidal specialization, this mechanical model of thought which has long outlived its usefulness. The old paradigm continues to merely reinforce dormancy on a major part of the brain. It is time to end the stranglehold of linear, causal, mechanical orientation over the intellectual culture of our times. Any attempt to overcome this conditioning requires, primarily, a serious engagement with one’s self.
Some examples of the seminal concepts which have dominated our times, and which appear as self-evident axioms, are the various binary opposites (spirit versus matter, individual versus society, subjectivity versus objectivity, sacred versus secular, you versus me); the notions of linear time, the idea of development and progress, and the importance to techno-economic models. It was hoped that this fragmentary and mechanistic approach, along with science and technology, would usher in an era of plenty, followed by peace and happiness — a transformed quality of life for most of humankind by the end of the twentieth century.
Today, we know very well that these dreams and prophecies are true for only a few in the material sense, leave aside the unprecedented barbarism we see all around. Only a few have dared to question the underlying assumptions of modern society. It is crucial to closely scrutinize this kind of ‘unthinking thinking’, since that is where the cure for the contemporary malaise may be discovered. Unfortunately, those who control power, wealth and knowledge — whether in the East or the West — are not willing to give up the outdated formulations since, generally speaking, vested interests are seldom known to give up power to others. The pity is that those non-Euro-American civilizations who do have alternate world-views and life-styles available — such as cyclical time, a different notion of knowledge — are losing touch with their indigenous cultural psyches. The ‘modernized’ elite groups within these civilizations are equally responsible for ignoring contemporary scientific developments which in many ways indicate a convergence towards ancient speculative thought.
The causes of the contemporary crisis do not lie solely in the external world. It is abundantly clear that the psychological crisis (of loneliness and alienation) has entered into the very psyche of modern man. He has lost the ability to be in touch with the existential-experiential ontological states of human existence. The issue of fragmentation is in fact a psychological problem since it is like a crossing of wires in the brain which is at the root of the issues which one faces all around. The deep-rooted conditioning within the framework of confrontational dualities has resulted in contradiction and conflict not only in external situations but in the brain itself. Meaning thereby, the brain-mind complex is being pulled in two directions, not knowing which way to go; there is a dominance of the rational analytical half of the brain which is governed by language and semantics, which of necessity must create such confrontational conflicting dualities. In other words, while symbols and images are necessary for the universe of discourse in an intellectual sense, this is only half the story. This analytical approach is not sufficient to get one into the experiential right brain way of intuitive or holistic knowing — another kind of knowledge — and it certainly does not by itself lead to any experiential states of ‘happiness’, of any states of feeling like an integral being, of peace. Evidently the intellect by itself cannot create love, peace and harmony.
Cognition — how do we know what we know?
Normally, most of our lives are governed by unconscious implicit assumptions received from the socialization process which we take for granted. These premises are what allow us to know what we know, but not how we know it. In order to move in this direction we must have an encounter that delves deeply into some epistemological-ontological issues. This becomes imperative if one is to correct the suicidal path along which humankind is heading. Here one can only deal with it briefly, less in terms of academic philosophy and more as a personal encounter, a serious engagement with one’s self, within the context of ‘experiencing’, as has already been said. This brief exploration is crucial since it allows us to ponder over what and how we perhaps communicate, feel, think, experience and so on in everyday life. The three interrelated spheres are as follows:
In a holistic functioning, the three categories are totally integrated as one, in the full functioning of the mind. In normal functioning, operations are limited within the first category which is governed by the linear-hierarchical model. It is also dominated by causal concepts, of cause and effect logic. The second level also operates covertly and implicitly within the first sphere, i.e. feelings and sensations are triggered by thought, words, semantic categories; even though initially it appears as if this sphere is quite distinct from the first. The reverse is also likely, i.e. it is emotions and stimulus-response functions which stored as memory create thought statements — symbols and images which are considered crucial for the ‘survival’ of the individual and the collectivity. The linear model of course emphasizes the need for achievement, in order to reach a goal in the future — there is the domination of becoming over Be-ing. However, in this mode, there is a recurrence of similar problems that are recreated in new garbs — new structures, forms and contents that are rearranged every now and then — and thus, basically nothing new is allowed to manifest itself, i.e. holistic ideas and those about peace and harmony. This sphere of linearity and hierarchy only makes us believe we are making contributions.
As long as thinking is confined within old concepts and paradigms, it is an illusion to believe that transformations are taking place, whether ‘progress’ or ‘peace’. Since all ideas of change and transformation are confined within the old paradigm of ‘survival’, thinking about newer paradigms remains confined to the old box. Nothing new is possible, since one in fact is the paradigm which runs one’s life. It is like living in a prison, imagining creating peace and freedom outside, by painting pictures within the prison, without leaving it.
So, how is it possible to do away with this conditioning? The first step is to be aware of this primary problem, since it is in the very understanding of this dilemma — the very limitations of the box, this paradigm — that will allow one to step outside the limits. It lies thus in the awareness that the box may disappear, by not getting lost in the operationally created limits of the self and society. It implies being open to uncertainty, it is the wisdom of insecurity which helps create the possibility of the impossible. In fact, the new and limitless cannot be understood intellectually. All this is only possible by dropping the old, which functions by re-cognition. Only creativity is true cognition. In this sense of re-cognition, all knowing of the new once again becomes the old. To be open is to be beyond boundaries, to accept the idea of no-thingness. Here, thingness is equated to thinking, which as stored symbols is an object, a thing. Thus, the old way is to be comfortable in the knowledge of the known. It is this moving from something to something is limiting known to the known — whereas moving from something to nothing — known to the unknown — is to be living, i.e. dying from moment to moment, to all of yesterdays, is to be open to psychological uncertainty and hence it is a movement towards peace, harmony and true creativity.
Certainty is not creativity, it refers to security and survival. In its very effort to go beyond it creates more of the same, albeit it is shifted every time to another ‘higher’ level. It does not allow one to be in touch with the Source, the Be-ing, the Universal Oneness which allows one to share, to be equally related to all of Creation. On the other hand, becoming arises from a position which one wishes to defend, to be in the safe box believing one is secure in it. This kind of living is mere conceptual living, since the ego is all of these concepts, abstractions, reactions. These are the limitations which do not allow one to be in touch with one’s Be-ing, and therefore it causes incessant insecurity. The more one avoids insecurity, in trying to be secure, insecurity is only strengthened. One might well remember that there is no such thing as security psychologically, and certainty in other areas. In short, thinking about life is not living it, and one thus has to remind one’s self that thoughts have to be seen as subsets — material manifestation of Be-ingness — of the larger overarching category of Be-ing, and not the set.
Thoughts are about the past and future reconstructions, about the becoming, which make us believe that we are alive. It is this becoming, this movement of thought, which causes restlessness, this incessant seeking of what one has not got — away from ‘what is’ — this wanting, desiring, searching for certainty since per se abstractions and concepts are residues of incomplete experience, or ‘inexperienced-experience’. For example, this is why most of us easily recall painful and unpleasant experiences rather than good and beautiful times; because the latter are complete experiences by themselves and have little residue as thought (merely stored as information, and not as a recall system). Hence, by this very inherent logic, i.e. concepts are about something, and therefore in most of our lives it is thoughts that trigger off feelings and emotions — linguistic memory — is a kind of experiencing which becomes a secondary feature, not a primary or original experience. For example, the word anger triggers off the concomitant emotions. Thought then wishes to do away with anger, etc. in the future — ‘tomorrow and tomorrow we will make it better, more and more. . . peace. . . .’ This is the becoming game of thought in which one is caught up, and this indeed is the ever-receding mirage-like illusion. This seeking itself is what causes insecurity. It is in this way that modern man seeks goals that are perpetually about yesterdays and tomorrows and seldom about any experiential-existential states of the present or ‘now’. But can insecure individuals who make up society create a secure, peaceful and harmonious society?
Thinking, limited within the paradigm stated above, has only led humankind to do all kinds of ‘going through the motions’ with regard to its intentions for goodness, charity, peace and harmony and the like. This unconscious thinking — reactions — has only further increased disorder and chaos. Of course, for a while there appears to be satisfaction, a feeling of achievement. But soon the old problems return, despite reaching the moon — so to speak, humanity continues to wrestle with the same old problems. But what, one may ask, is Be-ingness? It is not a thing, it is manifested in things. It may not be known conceptually, but experientially-existentially by a Self which transcends the boundaries of the limited person, a shadow of the Be-ing. So, how do we know of it? It is like electricity, or light which is known through its effects, functions, use and behaviour. These, like Consciousness, are not known or seen empirically, directly, as an object. Be-ingness is the witnessing Consciousness, Self; it allows us to be aware, to ‘know’ choicelessly while at the same time allowing one to participate in the world. Each one of us knows it, as it is in the universe of experience of all of us.
The reference here is to primordial reality, experiencing per se, which does not arise out of any person. It is an impersonal experiencing that transcends both the experiencer and the experienced. The latter are peripheral and arise secondarily as shadows of the former, such as that these are commentaries afterwards on and about the unspeakable, the action. It is like listening to the commentary on a tennis or cricket match and believing it to be mistakenly to be the match — where action is taking place. Hence, what one speaks about the action is mostly taken to be the experiencing. This is where discrimination is required to be able to distinguish between these two distinct spheres, not confusing one for the other.
It is in this confusion of the different spheres that the error is further compounded when out of the long range of memories, thoughts of particular sets become the thinker, and this commentary is what says that there is a thinker separate from thought; forgetting that the experiencer is the memory itself — the thinker is thought itself. The problem is really of knowing who one is, not who one thinks one is; an identity problem. In this false identity, he/she seeks an experience, identifies with psychobiological reactions, arising out of previous knowledge only. These reaction are the ‘me’ and its extensions which incessantly move for endless goals, arising out of past experience. Normal actions are thus only reactions, and create in fact the illusion of action. This ‘acting’ is in fact inaction. True action lies in a kind of choiceless awareness. This implies the total functioning of all the three spheres, to be in the ‘here and now’ with no other purpose than to be aware, to be conscious, to be ‘awake’, to be ‘alive’. This perception itself is action. This itself is the transformation which arises out of the eternal ‘now’.
Nevertheless, even intellectual acceptance by a few puts pressure to work towards it by asking such questions as ‘how’ and why’ about holism, viz., ‘while I understand it intellectually, what is the practical way of doing it, going about it, and what is the discipline or path to tread whereby I may live this integral life so as to contribute to society, to go beyond personal-selfish goals?’, and so on. These apparently serious rhetorical questions seem very justifiable, yet they are still framed within the old ways because there is no philosophy or an ism to this holistic way of life; there is no new renaissance ‘out there’ to be achieved — another ‘heaven on earth’, another utopia.
This movement of thought from ‘here’ to ‘there’ is linear time, it needs to be remembered. The old conditioning functions very subtly, by means of such ‘logic’ and ‘rationality’ that it is not easily discerned in the new garbs that once again surreptitiously take over the new alternative. Within the paradigm of ‘survival’, it is necessary to preserve the old psychological security, of moving from the known (past) to the known (it is not really unknown since it is a projection from the past and is re-cognizable in a sense of what it ought to be like so that one is comfortable in these expectations that function strongly both at the personal and social levels) albeit modified (appearing as if ‘new’) in order to be ‘understood’. These are the assumptions on which most of human existence is maintained, giving a kind of security and familiarity.
But have we ever questioned all this, given the recent advances in the sciences, given the mystical insights, that this movement, this becoming, is always a repetition of the old, both psychologically and socially? The old perspective is deadly in its literal sense. Unless this false security is questioned, brought in front like a mirror in terms of one’s personal-existential-experiential lives by being here and now, no breakthrough is possible.
Peace — Integral Listening and Communication
The emphasis in this section is on communication and integral listening, it is about the silence which forms the background of true human communication. The context of this discussion is the beginning of the modern era, which starts from the seventeenth century. It is also important in an evolutionary sense, since during this period language along with all other associations begins to dominate human behaviour. It reflects an over-specialization of a distinctive area of the brain. In this way the positive advantages have also become detrimental to the further evolution of the human species. It is important to note the role of the cerebrum, which consists of two distinct halves. Each functions autonomously in sorting information received, i.e. the left side is more logical, rational and involved with the use of language, the right being more intuitive and syncretic. This is part of the evolutionary growth of bilateralism which gives success and survival advantage to the species, to get around, for animal species in general and man especially, in this integral development of the nervous system. But when the two halves, it has been studied, do not exchange information and get severed for one reason or another, then a dualistic or split personality is formed. This oppositional duality psychologically is the state man is in today; this neurotic, schizoid life, of saying one thing and doing another, etc.
To illustrate, one of the most conspicuous indications of this functional asymmetry, or laterism, is the phenomenon of ‘handedness’ (right or left). Dramatic evidence has come through the observation of the effect of damage to the respective hemispheres. If a part of the left hemisphere is affected by accident or disease it can seriously impair certain higher intellectual faculties such as speech, in a way that seems not to happen if the damage is sustained in the corresponding part of the right side. Today it is recognized that both hemispheres are involved in higher cognitive functioning, but there are a division of labour and fundamental modal differences between the two sides. The two hemispheres process information differently and are organized differently. It is not surprising, in view of the fact that they are separate entities, that they should have differing views of the world.
In spite of their marked differences there is a modal complementarity in the functions of the separate hemispheres: one could generalize and say that the left tends to think in words and the right in images, but the division and specialization of their respective talents go much farther than this. For example, the left side is associated with logical, verbal, rational, analytical, convergent, sequential and linear order of thinking: the right with intuitive, emotional, non-erbal, syncretic and divergent, simultaneous and spatial behaviour. There are fairly obvious risks attached to a brain that operates on a double-plan system, the most outstanding being the danger that the two separate mental domains might vie with each other for control over the organism. The most important bridge to avert this is the massive bundles of nerve fibres that establishes reciprocal connections between corresponding centres in each hemisphere — this is the corpus callosum that carries something analogous to a telecommunication system of the order of 200 million lines of cables. It is well to remember that the combination of the two systems are far more effective than one on its own. Even if one may see with one eye our stereoscopic vision is essential, so also is stereocognition necessary to function fully, in harmony and creativity. This is the only way one may respond to a universe and nature which is similarly organized but which may never be revealed except in its own style of dynamic functioning, in all its various dimensions.
Every individual brain is subtly organized in different ways, its psychic configurations creating unique patterns of ability and personality. Each individual psyche makes its own response to the inherent dualism of the mind/brain just as it responds to the cultural dualisms that are a feature of all social structures. In general these preferences are made as unconsciously as those of the left/right dominance determining reflex itself: we are quite ‘naturally’ of an artistic or scientific cast of mind, or, for that matter, political orientation. The divide between the East and West may also be seen, beginning with the seventeenth century, to be the dominance of the left brain activities as against the non-verbal, nonlogical and ‘fluid’ methods of eastern philosophies — the likes of which have disappeared in Western thought but are surprisingly perhaps making a return via the new vision of science itself. At any rate, it is worth mentioning that psychologists have noticed that the left brain has a distinct tendency to ‘take over’ and feel itself responsible for all the actions of an individual, even to the extent of rationalizing those decisions made by its right partner which it has played little or no part in making. There is surely an analogy in the functioning of modern society, of rulers, political and other authority — the experts and their systems — who claim to know that they know what is best and have an overbearing attitude. One of the philosophical problems thrown up by the confirmation of the dual mechanism of the brain concerns the nature of consciousness. If modern science — relativity and quantum theory — has cast doubts on the nature of space, time, matter and energy which are no longer tangible, solid ‘things’, then what is the self, if neither of the hemispheres are the separate selves that they pretend to be, nor can it be the corpus callosum, then what is it, this Self and Consciousness?
The over-specialization of cerebration restricted to the reptilian-mammalian areas of the brain is the source of a great deal of anguish and sorrow for humankind. This is obvious from the fact that one sees the tremendous need of so many to take to drugs, alcohol, sleeping pills, tranquillisers and so on. It is a clear indication of the urge to stop this incessant restlessness and agitation further provoked by the consumerist overkill of advertising. However, all external remedies of the serious crisis are futile, as we see from the self-evident destruction which is going on in the world despite all good intentions. The fundamental issue is an internal, psychic one. It may be called psychological or spiritual, but it is closely linked to the development of language and the framework of philosophies governing it. Modern man has lost the ability to listen, he simple hears; like he simply looks and no longer sees (as an insight).
This non-listening has given rise to two types of conceit, one of nations and the other of scholars who believe that what they know is as old as the world. The tacit, ubiquitous belief that recent Western logic represents the most reliable cognitive standpoint appears to characterize world wide culture. Has not listening, as ancient art, being gradually lost in the noisy inflation of discourse and by the infestation of pseudo-symbolic language, this constant chatter of thought uncontrolled? Or, conversely, could it be that the vital, ecological rationality has exhausted itself in its overwhelming production of talking since it is more interested in hunting than in cultivation? Has this intellectual heritage not caused the conceptual connections of other traditions to disappear? Has it not given rise to an idea of truth which is fitting for the vacuum it has produced?
In this more or less shared hegemonous cultural structure, the problem therefore is that of creating sufficient silence to at least hear the incessant rumbling of a cultural machinery — thought — that seems to have lost its original vitality as a result of its enormous success. No longer able to hear the noise it makes, there is alienation and a sense of desolation because of this logocentric dominant-orientation which denies even the earlier, the minor or unsuccessful traditions — that they ever existed, or have become totally irrelevant. No real dialogue is possible in this blindness. But the same holds true if there is an over-evaluation of the tradition that leads to cultural games and presentation of the real, or even imaginary cognitive values of that tradition. This approach is framed within the same game, and debates which are yes-and-no games within the dichotomies of rational and irrational, coherent and absurd. In this way one negates life itself by being dogmatic about such yes-no states. The question is not of making every tradition equal, or allowing everyone access to the highest knowledge; it is the domination of one form of knowing, a single way only, that is the problem. The balance of Yin-Yang is missing.
The creation of an empty space, or distance, within a dialogic relation might be the only way of letting the deeper meanings and implications of that relationship emerge. The nature of silence is as a gap or distance in which germinal meanings can be developed. (The hollow of the drum, the spokes of the wheel around nothing). This no-thing, this emptiness, can be compared with silence and is probably called ‘no-thing’ because it is not manifest or immediately perceptible: it is not a question of thoughts or emotionally tangible events but, possibly, only of that which organizes them from within and allows their springing to life. Silence is not an interval but that which unites sound.
It seems that civilized humans are no longer capable of a cognitive propensity for inner time as they are constantly suffering either from boredom or else from haste. Possibly much of the total yield of ‘cultural’ messages seems to be an antidote to the ever more serious problem of boredom in the sense that we are now inextricably tied to media of all kinds, everything becomes a performance intended for a show. It even becomes ‘necessary’ to change things into a show so that humans can have some di-version and thus de-flect attention from themselves, turning centrifugally toward external stimuli of any sort. Technological advances, for example, are geared to develop instruments designed to make everything faster — growth, exchange, elimination — and thus to ‘save’ time or delusionally even ‘produce’ it.
The technology of informatics and the achievement of ‘real time’ constitutes precisely the annulment of the time spent in waiting. In this way one moves even further away from biological time, undeniably contained within the limits of birth and death time and scanned by such rhythms as sleeping and waking, diastole and systole. Modern ‘time’ of rationality has lost all rhythmical flow and only speeds up in a planar, uniform and unhalting way. It is a notion of time that can be integrated more easily with a technology of treatment than with the prevention of pathological states. In a practice that is incapable of abbreviating, economizing or annulling time, the listening approach comes across with even greater relevance in the context of temporality. A listening dialogue is fertile inasmuch as it is willing to ignore time measures. In the absence of such an approach, cultural constraints do not allow creative thinking, and the human being can no longer really live his own awareness of time; the experience of death inevitably assumes the stereotypical appearance of the absurd. Thus the knowing subject is reluctant to let himself ‘die’ even when cognitive ‘death’ is equivalent to relinquishing familiar models in order to be able to seek models elsewhere, in a creative knowledge rather than in the mirroring of standard rationality. We palm off ‘having’ for ‘being’.
A Question of Identity
Sometime after World War II there was a great deal of assurance for humankind of the practical dimensions of the notion of ‘progress’ on a global scale, equated with high technology. It has not only led to a crisis of confidence but also to unprecedented barbaric inhumanities everywhere. Humankind is in the throes of a deep crisis not only externally but psychologically. The modern world’s predicament lies in the many unexamined assumptions that continue to govern its way of life, e.g. linear time, progress towards a certain state. However, there is the transformational world-view which the new science and ancient insights suggest, i.e. of a friendly universe, to be accepted, experienced and celebrated: Nature is an evolving eco-system of which you and me, the human species, are a part. This quest for seeking a unified field — scientific or otherwise — begins with one’s self, with personal yearning.
But is it possible in this search to make a peaceful whole from the parts, given the assumptions of separateness — dualities — to begin with both intellectually and socially? This ‘objective’ distancing has made man least responsible for nature and the planet, or for creating any overall harmony despite statements to the contrary. At the physio-psychological level the body-brain mechanism, being already a totality, is being hard put to understand all these goings-on. This conditioning is so deep-rooted, especially the identity as a separate self, that it causes agony and alienation, an empty feeling. Can this so-called separate self really discover any solid, stable ‘me’ or an answer to ‘who am I?’, leave aside peace? Nevertheless, the brain struggles to search for its real identity, and not finding one in what it has learnt within that limited dimension, it is thoroughly exasperated.
The inner psyche is still looking for its true identity, and no amount of external solutions will bring about any lasting peace or contentment. The organism is receiving contrary messages, or at least it knows that what is given is not so. But in the present trance-like conditioning one continues to grope in the hope of ‘tomorrow and tomorrow’, little realizing that mirages continuously recede and will never materialize. The first sign of awakening is to be aware of this false image, the false changes, this hope against hope, this untruth. This is the first step towards a new dimension which without being stated may bring about the 180-degree transformation that is so imperative in bringing about the shift in global consciousness. In the dynamic universal of perpetual motion, there are only moments of one state to another in the sense of a totality of NOWS, whichever way this may be defined. This enquiry and search is not to be subsumed in terms of a linear-time, linear-mind, framework, and not even the liberal cyclical time-framework, i.e. the search will lead one to in time, to the peace, love and truth when it will all be revealed once and for all!
In other words, in the process of discovery there is no ego just as is the case in any experiencing or a creative moment like an aesthetic one where the discovery and the experience are simultaneous. But the subsequent operation of putting the experience into words, to communicate it even for one’s self, these are all entrapped in the language and symbolism of the socio-cultural milieu one lives in. Even more so is this true when the psychological entity of the ‘me’ seeks explanations or gives a commentary on the experience of discovery; all this movement is that of time, thought, the me and the ego. The continuous one process is thus split up, fragmented; since language and symbols intrinsically as abstractions must do.
This saying one thing and doing another is the split-brain symptom of the current crisis which dominates modern times. The singularity of this state implies that the ego, the commentator believes, not lives, in knowing and searching, in sincerity, love and action — all of which it shall achieve soon in this manner of dangling the carrot in front of the donkey, and striking it from behind. Then, it says, it will all be over and finally there will be peace. Mostly, one is not even aware of such double-speak statements. Obviously, nothing will ever be right, specially reaching any of the goals mentioned so often: peace, love, and harmony. But this only perpetuates the known past that is projected into the future which is therefore the same as the past, of chasing a mirage. The only alternative is to stop this split between perception and action. The unity of the timeless and time must be seen not as any concept but as an awareness of waking up to ‘what is’. The game of splitting reality is then over. Then change of perception itself is action. The search in the present, NOW, is the important dimension. To see this game of one’s self and of the universe, is the awakening from the somnambulism of the split-brain fragmentation with which humankind is confronted today.
For the linear-mind, which is the me — ego — the question will arise, is this not another goal, to move beyond the duality by evolving yet another high-sounding philosophy of detachment, of being an observer, and suggesting one ought to be some kind of yogi? And if one agrees to all this, how does one achieve this state of awakening; what are the methods, and how, when, where does one know of it? These questions arise from the split linear-mind itself and the intellect has to realize its limitations without wanting to achieve any state. If there is any such state, it is beyond the intellect which the latter has itself to see. The awakening is of a larger context that sees the duality as a manifestation, as a dialogue, as an indicator of the non-dual, i.e. the linear dual aspect to be the shadow of the non-dual as one sees one’s own body’s shadow and therefore knows of the existence of the body which one cannot perceive physically as a whole as one sees another — the other being also a reflection of one’s self in another sense.
The point is that the shadow must realize that it cannot possibly become the substance, which it is struggling to become in this unconscious conditioning. The shadow perpetuates the dilemma by asking questions of how, when and where along with why; all this seeking, appearing very significant, creates the illusion of hard work, of a destination to be reached and taking one’s self very seriously. This is the nature of the finite self; these several selves in the world are trying to seek unity by false notions which only accentuate, reinforce its earlier states and conclusions. The psychological process is the same as that of an ‘expert’, who asserts authority — whether within the dialogue that is taking place most of the time in one’s head or outside — and all this is only a commentary on or about the actual, the experiential, and acts in terms of thought as a ‘censor’ which forms a socially conditioned personality, hardened as one grows up from the already given genetic and mental samskars, potentialities.
The personality, this ‘expert’, is basically lazy since it functions by being the authority that is constantly attempting to dominate both within and without. But it is an incomplete structure, and is therefore also inevitably dissatisfied, incomplete and wanting-desiring at the same time more and more without actually completing anything. The personality is like a bucket with a hole trying to measure the ocean without being aware that its handicaps are in-built. But all these games are basic to its existence, even its own denial, since all this splitting and duality perpetuate its self and are not merely seen as manifestation of the ONE. The split is from here to there, from the self to the other, of saying one thing and doing another, and separating perception from action. If this was not so, how would it perpetuate itself?
All that needs to be done is to drop the glasses, or the split mind, by simply being aware of the split and not doing anything about it. This is to state that one needs to know the limited role which the ‘who I think I am’ plays, and instead be aware of — be with it — a ‘who I am’. Most of modern man follows the former rather than the latter, wherein lies one’s Be-ingness. The crisis is that this split-level paradigm operates all the time, since who one is becomes this paradigm itself, at all of the inner and outer existences. The way to hell is paved with good intentions, one well knows. The above intellectual statements are meant as indicators for one to notice — the finger that points to the moon is not to be mistaken for the moon — to observe choicelessly, and it is this witnessing is what may create a sense of authenticity, sincerity, and creativity. The awareness, the awakening itself is the action; perception itself is action — when the split-eye glasses are removed, metaphorically speaking, everything becomes clear and transparent. This once again is nothing to be reached for, because this initial or first step is the last step. The impact is tremendous as the hold of the old paradigm diminishes. Now, to put it simply, everything, you and me, are okay. It is to be Here and Now, for the sake of the search, for joy, in whatever one is doing, or not.
All the external threats of ecological and nuclear disasters are symptoms of a deadly psychological disorder in the human brain itself which is the covert culprit that one is seldom aware of. It is clear that this awareness is necessary, and to see that modern civilization has continued in fact at a petty pace, with the illusion of ‘tomorrow and tomorrow’, even though it may appear as if giant steps have been taken. The giant step has to be radically different from what went before, i.e. it is a breakthrough from the past, a discontinuity, since creativity is of that order. When reptiles flew it was a clean break from this earth in a sense, suddenly new, not clinging to the old consciously. Psychologically this is what man has to do. Revolution is creation in this sense, a newness; the chick has to break the shell to come into its own, or the butterfly has to emerge from the larvae stage to become so. Are the stages connected? Yes and no!
Is Reality a paradox? From our limited angle and viewpoint it is, yet not by itself. It contains all the possibilities present in the universe at any given moment right now. It has always been so, except when we walk around in our boxes, with blinkers on. Like electricity, it is always available, except when it was suddenly discovered. There never was a time when it was not. The time has come in all walks of life to create a breakthrough in all spheres and this comes out of the uncertainty and insecurity which alone demands a new creation all the time. The dynamics of the universe and nature demands this, not being certain with one single notion of reality, of the past. It is not out of the past, yet emerging from it as if by standing on it and not being an effect of it. The need is to transcend duality, to a dimension which is unthinkable, so to speak, for that is the unknown. It is to make life a mystery once more, to live in uncertainty.
Life is living it, not thinking about it. Thinking about it is only part of it, and thinking, feeling, and experiencing are one process which we may classify separately but which are subsumed under a larger whole of Being. The falseness of the triad of known, knower and knowing needs correction. The constant need to be secure comes from Be-ingness, of the Self, of some inner unnameable core of existence, an effable experience which each one of us had even for a moment. This is what one wishes to seek, repeat, but which is not repeatable; these moments of aliveness when that ‘I’ is not. It comes and it is a discovery of one’s self only. This is the Oneness of the universe, alone, without a second that has to be discovered a new each moment like breathing afresh every time; that is, knowing-living moment to moment. We seem to forget that life is larger than its contents, it is not simply its contents. It is this shallow thinking that is causing incessant problems, and that is why not all the desire to create peace brings nothing but more wars, killings and violence. It is this wrong thinking which changes nothing externally. It is like trying to get love through the conditions of love, i.e., doing steps to know loving. But one knows that there is no mechanical way of knowing love; it happens and is then manifested as feeling and knowing, into action instantly and spontaneously. Nobody can know peace, love and harmony through doing, having, achieving it. It is by knowing it in a deep sense, thinking without duality, as one’s inner being, that creates it by itself because both body and mind have their own intelligence. The universal ‘I’ is intelligently manifested in the body, it is a holograph of the brain. It is not limited human thinking that is going to create peace and love, through some separate narrow view of each one of us as an island.
If our basic assumptions are not changed, we will continue to reinforce pre-existing notions, within the framework of the survival paradigm that dominates our psychological make-up. It continues to be so despite all attempts to change it, since we function within the old paradigm ‘box’ which one becomes. So that all attempts to refine, elaborate, modify are mere superficial movements governed by the underlying and hidden rules, say that of linear hierarchy and other notions which form the main focus of the reptilian-mammalian brain that is interested only in itself or its notion of survival. In short, the paradigm of survival, inheritance of the biological ancestral notions of survival, of scarcity with which we began in our evolution at some point of time, haunt us today. We may say that the reptilian and mammalian brain, which forms a small fraction of the human brain is still what dominates our thinking even though this is no longer necessary for a large part of humankind. But the older notions today are deeply culturally entrapped within the framework of the same hidden reality, and nothing radically different, a breakthrough, a mutation takes places. The search for ‘peace’ and ‘freedom’ remains thus a dream, since that is what everyone is pursuing, each one in his/her own way, in order to contribute to life, to make a difference. So, why does not anything happen? Because, the ultimate ‘urge’, ‘source’ has been forgotten, because all this is not considered ‘rational’, ‘reasonable’. But creation is out of no-thing, not something; peace and love come from such a creation, not by having it or doing it.
©1999 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi