Now as you do this, you begin to notice a rather curious change in your general feeling of life. You notice that there ceases to be what I would call an interruption or an interval between your experience and yourself.
You see, in our ordinary way of using our minds the chronic sense of strain, the chronic attempt to think about and make sense of what we are feeling is what we call our Ego.
If you say ‘I experience my own existence’, ‘I am aware constantly of a NOAA behind and receiving all that is known’, then you get this chronic sensation of their being and I itself who has all these experiences and that I or self is what we call the Ego.
And, this chronic sense of strain is our, you might call it, our psychological blocking against our experience, the thing that seems to divide us from an external World from the whole universe.
But when in this way the interval begins to diminish we begin to experience our World as ourselves. There is no interval there is no interruption between the knower and the known just as when we are completely absorbed listening to music or dancing to music. We are not aware of our separation from it, we go right with it.
And, so in the same way when the mind responds instantly to what the senses bring it seems almost as if the mind and what it experiences were one saying. Now in a way of course this is actually true, we can understand this theoretically but we don’t ordinarily really feel it.
For example, you know the old saying if a tree falls in a forest with nobody listening to it will there be any noise. Perhaps you know the limericks in which this problem is posed.There was a young man who said ‘God, I find it exceedingly odd that a tree as a tree simply ceases to be when there’s no one around in the quad.’And the answer was ‘Young man your astonishment odd. I’m always around in the quad. So the tree as a tree never ceases to be since observed by yours faithfully God.’
But this is a great philosophical puzzle for the Western World. Does what we know depend on their being in our.Now in a way obviously it does, because when a tree falls in the forest it suddenly makes vibrations in the air but those vibrations in the air do not become noise unless they vibrate an eardrum.
So, in the same way the light from the sun does not become light unless it falls on an eye, an eyeball. And two, we could say the the external World is full of hard things but nothing is hard except in relation to the soft surface of the Human skin. Nothing is heavy except in relation to Human muscles.
So, if there is not a Human organism the World does not appear to us at all as having many of the characteristics which we attach to an external World. In other words, we could say the sun is light but only because of eyes. Rocks are hard but only because of soft fingers. Falling rocks are noisy but only because of sensitive Human ears.
We can not form any idea at all of what the World would be like without an observing mind. Even such things as duration, the span of time depend upon the Human mind to appreciate them. States depends on a Human mind to observe the World from a particular position and so know that there are things which are distant from it.
Without this mind there could not be any World that we could think about or conceive or imagine in any way whatsoever. And so, this shows in a very clear way that our mind and the external World go together. They are inseparable differences taking a cigar which has two distinct ends but you cannot separate those ends.
If I would want to take one of these ends off and break the thing and throw it away it would still have another end, but would still be two ends there. I could never get rid of the situation of it having two ends.
So, you see that although the two ends are different there is just one object. And so in the same way, although that is a difference in a way between the knower and the known between man and the World nevertheless these two go together and they are fundamentally inseparable.
And therefore, when our Consciousness is responding instantly without any interval or interruption, without any, shall we say, stopping to think about it, then we have a situation in which we are actually realizing we are actually feeling the true physical relationship which exists between man and his environment.
And this we could call the experience of oneness or unity with the universe which is the function of meditation.
Now, I think it’s not difficult to see some very obvious values and this, because well if we live entirely in a World of thought, all the things that we pursue in life tend in a way to become arid and unsatisfactory, because we are living in an abstract World. In other words, nobody in his senses is going to eat and menu instead of dinner. Nobody in his senses is going to try and get a satisfactory diet of dollar bills.
And yet you see dollar bills and menus stand in the same relation on the one hand to wealth on the other hand to dinner. The same relation in which thought stands to reality. They represent it, they symbolize reality, but they are in no sense substitutions for it.
Yes, you can do a great deal of things if you have a lot of dollar bills but unless you exchange those dollar bills into real concrete worth they are of no value to you.
And so in the same way, if we try to live in the World of pure thought we begin to feel a strange unsatisfactory quality to the World and this living in pure thought is not something that is only done by you know professors and intellectuals and thinking people.
Perfectly ordinary people often live in the World of pure thought. As for example when we pursue certain goals in life when we say ‘I want to be successful’, ‘I want to be happy’. These are really abstractions because supposing you become enormously wealthy and you’re able to afford three cars and six houses, you can’t drive in three cars at once, you can’t live in six houses at once.
You have a symbol which we call prestige of your status but that is an abstract symbol. You can’t really you can’t each prestige you can’t eat success
And so, to overcome that kind of beguilement by the fantasies of thought. Not thinking is an important adjunct to thought. To be able every so often to cease the hubbub going on inside one’s head and to let talking to oneself stop and come to stones.
You didn’t of course sit in the meditation posture to do it. This is simply the way it’s done by Buddhists and Hindus. You could walk and sit in the ordinary way, you lie in the bathtub and you can lie on your back in bed before you get up in the morning to do it. Just let your mind alone and stop trying to make sense of the World.
So, there is really something to think about other and thought itself. It’s like if we wrote books about nothing to books. This is, I’m afraid what a great deal of scholarship is, books about books about books. So in this way, through meditation we come to that kind of profound peace which is exhibited in the faces of the Buddhists.
I remember particularly some words by Lafcadio Han in which he gives a marvellous description of the whole attitude which these faces represent.
‘Each Eidolon shaped by Human faith remains the shell of a truth eternally divine. And even the shell itself may hold a ghostly power. The soft serenity the passionless tenderness of these Buddha faces might yet give peace of soul to a West weary of Creed’s transformed into conventions, eager for the coming of another teacher to pertain. I have the same feeling for the high as for the low, for the morale as for the immoral, for the depraved as for the virtuous, for those holding sectarian views and false opinions, as for those whose beliefs are good.’