Thought cannot touch it with its words and symbols and the confusion it breeds; it is not a word that can take root in thought and be shaped by it. This bliss comes out of complete silence.
It was a lovely morning with fleeting clouds and a clear blue sky. It had rained, and the air was clean. Every leaf was new and the dreary winter was over; each leaf knew, in the sparkling sunshine, that it had no relation to last year’s spring. The sun shone through the new leaves, shedding a soft green light on the wet path that led through the woods to the main road that went on to the big city.
There were children playing about, but they never looked at that lovely spring day. They had no need to look, for they were the spring. Their laughter and their play were part of the tree, the leaf and the flower. You felt this, you didn’t imagine it. It was as though the leaves and the flowers were taking part in the laughter, in the shouting, and in the balloon that went by. Every blade of grass, and the yellow dandelion, and the tender leaf that was so vulnerable, all were part of the children, and the children were part of the whole earth. The dividing line between man and nature disappeared; but the man on the racecourse in his car, and the woman returning from market, were unaware of this. Probably they never even looked at the sky, at the trembling leaf, the white lilac. They were carrying their problems in their hearts, and the heart never looked at the children or at the brightening spring day. The pity of it was that they bred these children and the children would soon become the man on the racecourse and the woman returning from the market; and the world would be dark again. Therein lay the unending sorrow. The love on that leaf would be blown away with the coming autumn.
He was a young man with a wife and children. He seemed highly educated, intellectual, and good at the use of words. He was rather lean and sat comfortably in the arm-chair – legs crossed, hands folded on his lap and his glasses sparkling with the light of the sun from the window. He said he had always been seeking – not only philosophical truths but the truth that was beyond the word and the system.
I suppose you are seeking because you are discontented?
‘No, I am not exactly discontented. Like every other human being I am dissatisfied, but that’s not the reason for the search. It isn’t the search of the microscope, or of the telescope, or the search of the priest for his God. I can’t say what I’m seeking; I can’t put my finger on it. It seems to me I was born with this, and though I am happily married, the search still goes on. It isn’t an escape. I really don’t know what I want to find. I have talked it over with some clever philosophers and with religious missionaries from the East, and they have all told me to continue in my search and never stop seeking. After all these years it is still a constant disturbance.’
Should one seek at all? Seeking is always for something over there on the other bank, in the distance covered by time and long strides. The seeking and the finding are in the future – over there, just beyond the hill. This is the essential meaning of seeking. There is the present and the thing to be found in the future. The present is not fully active and alive and so, of course, that which is beyond the hill is more alluring and demanding. The scientist, if he has his eyes glued to the microscope, will never see the spider on the wall, although the web of his life is not in the microscope but in the life of the present.
‘Are you saying, sir, that it is vain to seek; that there is no hope in the future; that all time is in the present?’
All life is in the present, not in the shadow of yesterday or in the brightness of tomorrow’s hope. To live in the present one has to be free of the past, and of tomorrow. Nothing is found in the tomorrow, for tomorrow is the present, and yesterday is only a remembrance. So the distance between that which is to be found and that which is, is made ever wider by the search – however pleasant and comforting that search may be.
Constantly to seek the purpose of life is one of the odd escapes of man. If he finds what he seeks it will not be worth that pebble on the path. To live in the present the mind must not be divided by the remembrance of yesterday or the bright hope of tomorrow: it must have no tomorrow and no yesterday. This is not a poetic statement but an actual fact. Poetry and imagination have no place in the active present. Not that you deny beauty, but love is that beauty in the present which is not to be found in the seeking.
‘I think I’m beginning to see the futility of the years I have spent in the search, in the questions I have asked of myself and of others, and the futility of the answers.’
The ending is the beginning, and the beginning is the first step, and the first step is the only step.