The little puppies were plump and clean and were playing in the warm sand. There were six of them, all white and light brown. The mother was lying a little away from them in the shade. She was thin and worn out, and so mangy that she had hardly a hair on her. There were several wounds on her body, but she wagged her tail and was so proud of those round puppies. She probably would not survive for more than a month or so. She was one of those dogs that prowl about, picking up what they can from the filthy streets or around a poor village, always hungry and always on the run. Human beings threw stones at her, chased her from their door, and they were to be avoided. But here in the shade the memories of yesterday were distant, and she was exhausted; Besides, the puppies were being petted and talked to. It was late afternoon; the breeze from across the wide river was fresh and cooling, and for the moment there was contentment. Where she would get her next meal was another matter, but why struggle now?
Past the village, along the embankment, beyond the green fields and then down a dusty and noisy road, was the house in which people were waiting to talk over. They were of every type: the thoughtful and the eager, the lazy and the argumentative, the quick-witted and those who lived according to definitions and conclusions. The thoughtful were patient, and the quick-witted were sharp with those who dragged, but the slow had to come with the fast.
Understanding comes in flashes, and there must be intervals of silence for the flashes to take place, but the quick are too impatient to allow space for these flashes. Understanding is not verbal, nor is there such a thing as intellectual understanding. Intellectual understanding is only on the verbal level, and so no understanding at all. Understanding does not come as a result of thought, for thought after all is verbal. There is no thought without memory, and memory is the word, the symbol, the process of image-making. At this level there is no understanding. Understanding comes in the space between two words, in that interval before the word shapes thought. Understanding is neither for the quick-witted nor for the slow, but for those who are aware of this measureless space.
‘What is disintegration? We see the rapid disintegration of human relationship in the world, but more so in ourselves. How can this falling apart be stopped? How can we integrate?’
There is integration if we can be watchful of the ways of disintegration. Integration is not on one or two levels of our existence; it is the coming together of the whole. Before that can be, we must find out what we mean by disintegration, must we not? Is conflict an indication of disintegration? We are not seeking a definition, but the significance behind that word.
‘Is not struggle inevitable? All existence is struggle; without struggle there would be decay. If I did not struggle towards a goal I would degenerate. To struggle is as essential as breathing.’
A categorical statement stops all inquiry. We are trying to find out what are the factors of disintegration, and perhaps conflict, struggle, is one of them. What do we mean by conflict, struggle?
‘Competition, striving, making an effort, the will to achieve, discontent, and so on.’
Struggle is not only at one level of existence, but at all levels. The process of becoming is struggle and conflict, is it not? The clerk becoming the manager, the vicar becoming the bishop, the pupil becoming the master – this psychological becoming is effort, conflict.
‘Can we do without this process of becoming? Is it not a necessity? How can one be free of conflict? Is there not fear behind this effort?’
We are trying to find out, to experience, not merely at the verbal level, but deeply, what makes for disintegration, and not how to be free of conflict or what lies behind it. Living and becoming are two different states, are they not? Existence may entail effort; but we are considering the process of becoming, the psychological urge to be better, to become something, the struggle to change what is into its opposite. This psychological becoming may be the factor that makes everyday living painful, competitive, a vast conflict. What do we mean by becoming? The psychological becoming of the priest who wants to be the bishop, of the disciple who wants to be the master, and so on. In this process of becoming there is effort, positive or negative; it is the struggle to change what is into something else, is it not? I am this, and I want to become that, and this becoming is a series of conflicts. When I have become that, there is still another that, and so on endlessly. This becoming is without end, and so conflict is without end. Now, why do I want to become something other than what I am?
‘Because of our conditioning, because of social influences, because of our ideals. We cannot help it; it is our nature.’
Merely to say that we cannot help it puts an end to discussion. It is a sluggish mind that makes this assertion and just puts up with suffering, which is stupidity. Why are we so conditioned? Who conditions us? Since we submit to being conditioned, we ourselves make those conditions. Is it the ideal that makes us struggle to become that when we are this? Is it the goal, the Utopia, that makes for conflict? Would we degenerate if we did not struggle towards an end?
‘Of course. We would stagnate, go from bad to worse. It is easy to fall into hell but difficult to climb to heaven.’
Again we have ideas, opinions about what would happen, but we do not directly experience the happening. Ideas prevent understanding, as do conclusions and explanations. Do ideas and ideals make us struggle to achieve, to become? I am this, and does the ideal make me struggle to become that? Is the ideal the cause of conflict? Is the ideal wholly dissimilar from what is? If it is completely different, if it has no relationship with what is, then what is cannot become the ideal. To become, there must be relationship between what is and the ideal, the goal. You say the ideal is giving us the impetus to struggle, so let us find out how the ideal comes into being. Is not the ideal a projection of the mind?
‘I want to be like you. Is that a projection?’
Of course it is. The mind has an idea, perhaps pleasurable, and it wants to be like that idea, which is a projection of your desire. You are this, which you do not like, and you want to become that, which you like. The ideal is a self-projection; the opposite is an extension of what is; it is not the opposite at all, but a continuity of what is, perhaps somewhat modified. The projection is self-willed, and conflict is the struggle towards the projection. What is projects itself as the ideal and struggles towards it, and this struggle is called becoming. The conflict between the opposites is considered necessary, essential. This conflict is what is trying to become what it is not; and what it is not is the ideal, the self-projection. You are struggling to become something, and that something is part of yourself. The ideal is your own projection. See how the mind has played a trick upon itself. You are struggling after words, pursuing your own projection, your own shadow. You are violent, and you are struggling to become non-violent, the ideal; but the ideal is a projection of what is, only under a different name. This struggle is considered necessary, spiritual, evolutionary, and so on; but it is wholly within the cage of the mind and only leads to illusion.
When you are aware of this trick which you have played upon yourself, then the false as the false is seen. The struggle towards an illusion is the disintegrating factor. All conflict, all becoming is disintegration. When there is an awareness of this trick that the mind has played upon itself, then there is only what is. When the mind is stripped of all becoming, of all ideals, of all comparison and condemnation, when its own structure has collapsed, then the what is has undergone complete transformation. As long as there is the naming of what is there is relationship between the mind and what is; but when this naming process – which is memory, the very structure of the mind – is not, then what is, is not. In this transformation alone is there integration.
Integration is not the action of will, it is not the process of becoming integrated. When disintegration is not, when there is no conflict, no struggle to become, only then is there the being of the whole, the complete.