It was a beautiful evening; the air was clean, the hills were blue, violet and dark purple; the rice fields had plenty of water and were a varying rich green from light to metallic to dark flashing green; some trees had already withdrawn for the night, dark and silent and others were still open and held the light of day. The clouds were black over the western hills, and to the north and east the clouds were full of the [reflection of the] evening sun which had set behind the heavy purple hills. There was no one on the road, the few that passed were silent and there wasn’t a patch of blue sky, clouds were gathering in for the night. Yet everything seemed to be awake, the rocks, the dry riverbed, the bushes in the fading light.
Meditation, along that quiet and deserted road came like a soft rain over the hills; it came as easily and naturally as the coming night. There was no effort of any kind and no control with its concentrations and distractions; there was no order and pursuit; no denial or acceptance nor any continuity of memory in meditation. The brain was aware of its environment but quiet without response, uninfluenced but recognizing without responding. It was very quiet and words had faded with thought. There was that strange energy, call it by any other name, it has no importance whatsoever, deeply active, without object and purpose; it was creation, without the canvas and the marble, and destructive; it was not the thing of human brain, of expression and decay. It was not approachable, to be classified and analysed, and thought and feeling are not the instruments of its comprehension. It was completely unrelated to everything and totally alone in its vastness and immensity. And walking along that darkening road, there was the ecstasy of the impossible, not of achievement, arriving, success and all those immature demands and responses, but the aloneness of the impossible. The possible is mechanical and the impossible can be envisaged, tried and perhaps achieved which in turn becomes mechanical. But the ecstasy had no cause, no reason. It was simply there, not as an experience but as a fact, not to be accepted or denied, to be argued over and dissected. It was not a thing to be sought after for there is no path to it. Everything has to die for it to be, death, destruction which is love.
A poor, worn-out labourer, in torn dirty clothes, was returning home with his bone-thin cow.
The sky was burning with fantastic colour, great splashes of incredible fire; the southern sky was aflame with clouds of exploding colour and each cloud was more intensely furious than the other. The sun had set behind the sphinx-shaped hill but there was no colour there, it was dull, without the serenity of a beautiful evening. But the east and the south held all the grandeur of a fading day. To the east it was blue, the blue of a morning-glory, a flower so delicate that to touch it is to break the delicate, transparent petals; it was the intense blue with incredible light of pale green, violet and the sharpness of white; it was sending out, from east to west, rays of this fantastic blue right across the sky. And the south was now the home of vast fires that could never be put out. Across the rich green of rice fields was a stretch of sugar cane in flower; it was feathery, pale violet, the tender light beige of a mourning dove; it stretched over and across the luscious green rice fields with the evening light through it to the hills, which were almost the same colour as the sugar-cane flower. The hills were in league with the flower, the red earth and the darkening sky, and that evening the hills were shouting with joy for it was an evening of their delight. The stars were coming out and presently there was not a cloud and every star shone with astonishing brilliance in a rain-washed sky. And early this morning, with dawn far away, Orion held the sky and the hills were silent. Only across the valley, the hoot of a deep-throated owl was answered by a light-throated one, at a higher pitch; in the clear still air their voices carried far and they were coming nearer until they seemed quiet among a clump of trees; then they rhythmically kept calling to each other, one at a lower note than the other till a man called and a dog barked.
It was meditation in emptiness, a void that had no border. Thought could not follow; it had been left where time begins, nor was there feeling to distort love. This was emptiness without space. The brain was in no way participating in this meditation; it was completely still and in that stillness going within itself and out of itself but in no way sharing with this vast emptiness. The totality of the mind was receiving or perceiving or being aware of what was taking place and yet it was not outside of itself, something extraneous, something foreign. Thought is an impediment to meditation but only through meditation can this impediment be dissolved. For thought dissipates energy and the essence of energy is freedom from thought and feeling.
It had become very cloudy, all the hills were heavy with them and clouds were piling up in every direction. It was spitting with rain and there wasn’t a blue patch anywhere; the sun had set in darkness and the trees were aloof and distant. There is an old palm tree that stood out against the darkening sky and whatever light there was held by it; the riverbeds were silent, their red sand moist but there was no song; the birds had become silent taking shelter among the thick leaves. A breeze was blowing from north-east and with it came more dark clouds and a spattering of rain but it hadn’t begun in earnest; that would come later in gathering fury. And the road in front was empty; it was red, rough, and sandy and the dark hills looked down on it; it was a pleasant road with hardly any cars and the villagers with their ox drawn carts going from one village to another; they were dirty, skeleton-thin, in rags, and their stomachs drawn in but they were wiry and enduring; they had lived like that for centuries and no government is going to change all this overnight. But these people had a smile, though their eyes were weary. They could dance after a heavy day’s labour and they had fire in them, they were not hopelessly beaten down. The land had not had good rains for many years and this may be one of those fortunate years which may bring more food for them and fodder for their thin cattle. And the road went on and joined at the mouth of the valley the big road with few buses and cars. And on this road, far away were the cities with their filth, industries, rich houses, temples and dull minds. But here on this open road, there was solitude and the many hills, full of age and indifference.
Meditation is the emptying the mind of all thought, for thought and feeling dissipate energy; they are repetitive, producing mechanical activities which are a necessary part of existence. But they are only part, and thought and feeling cannot possibly enter into the immensity of life. Quite a different approach is necessary, not the path of habit, association and the known; there must be freedom from these. Meditation is the emptying of the mind of the known. It cannot be done by thought or by the hidden prompting of thought, nor by desire in the form of prayer, nor through the self-effacing hypnotism of words, images, hopes and vanities. All these have to come to an end, easily, without effort and choice, in the flame of awareness.
And there walking on that road, there was complete emptiness of the brain, and the mind was free of all experience, the knowing of yesterday, though a thousand yesterdays have been. Time, the thing of thought, had stopped; literally there was no movement before and after; there was no going or arriving or standing still. Space as distance was not; there were the hills and bushes but not as high and low. There was no relationship with anything but there was an awareness of the bridge and the passer-by. The totality of the mind, in which is the brain with its thoughts and feelings, was empty; and because it was empty, there was energy, a deepening and widening energy without measure. All comparison, measurement belong to thought and so to time. The otherness was the mind without time; it was the breath of innocence and immensity. Words are not reality; they are only means of communication but they are not the innocence and the immeasurable. The emptiness was alone.
It had been a dull, heavy day; the clouds were pressing in and it had rained violently. The red riverbeds had some water in them but the land needed lots more rain for the big catchments, tanks, and the wells to get filled up; there would be no rains for several months and the hot sun would burn the land. Water was needed urgently for this part of the country and every drop was welcome. One had been indoors all day and it was good to get out. The roads were running with water, there was a heavy shower and under every tree there was a puddle and the trees were dripping with water. It was getting dark; the hills were visible, they were just dark against the sky, the colour of the clouds; the trees were silent and motionless, lost in their brooding; they had withdrawn and refused to communicate. One was aware, suddenly, of that strange otherness; it was there and it had been there, only there had been talks, seeing people and so on and the body had not had enough rest to be aware of the strangeness but on going out it was there and only then was there a realization that it had been there. Still it was unexpected and sudden, with that intensity which is the essence of beauty. One went with it down the road not as something separate, not as an experience, something to be observed and examined, to be remembered. These were the ways of thought but thought had ceased and so there was no experiencing of it. All experiencing is separative and deteriorating, it is part of the machinery of thought and all mechanical processes deteriorate. It was something, each time, totally new and that which is new has no relation whatsoever with the known, with the past. And there was beauty, beyond all thought and feeling.
There was no call of the owl across the silent valley; it was very early; the sun would not be over the hill for several hours yet. It was cloudy and no stars were visible; if the sky were clear, Orion would be this side of the house, facing west, but everywhere there was darkness and silence. Habit and meditation can never abide together; meditation can never become a habit; meditation can never follow the pattern laid down by thought which forms habit. Meditation is the destruction of thought and not thought caught in its own intricacies, visions and its own vain pursuits. Thought shattering itself against its own nothingness is the explosion of meditation. This meditation has its own movement, directionless and so is causeless. And in that room, in that peculiar silence when the clouds are low, almost touching the treetops, meditation was a movement in which the brain emptied itself and remained still. It was a movement of the totality of the mind in emptiness and there was timelessness. Thought is matter held within the bonds of time; thought is never free, never new; every experience only strengthens the bondage and so there is sorrow. Experience can never free thought; it makes it more cunning, and refinement is not the ending of sorrow. Thought, however astute, however experienced, can never end sorrow; it can escape from it but it can never end it. The ending of sorrow is the ending of thought. There is no one who can put an end to it [to thought], not its own gods, its own ideals, beliefs, dogmas. Every thought, however wise or petty, shapes the response to the challenge of limitless life and this response of time breeds sorrow. Thought is mechanical and so it can never be free; only in freedom there is no sorrow. The ending of thought is the ending of sorrow.