We were flying at thirty-seven thousand feet smoothly and the plane was full. We had passed the sea and were approaching land; far below us was the sea and the land; the passengers never seemed to stop talking or drinking or flipping over the pages of a magazine; then there was a film. They were a noisy group to be entertained and fed; they slept, snored and held hands. The land was soon covered over by masses of clouds from horizon to horizon, space and depth and the noise of chatter. Between the earth and the plane were endless white clouds and above was the blue gentle sky. In the corner seat by a window you were widely awake watching the changing shape of the clouds and the white light upon them.
Has consciousness any depth or only a surface fluttering? Thought can imagine its depth, can assert that it has depth or only consider the surface ripples. Has thought itself any depth at all. Consciousness is made up of its content; its content is its entire frontier. Thought is the activity of the outer and in certain languages thought means the outside. The importance that is given to the hidden layers of consciousness is still on the surface, without any depths. Thought can give to itself a centre, as the ego, the “me”, and that centre has no depth at all; words, however cunningly and subtly put together, are not profound. The “me” is a fabrication of thought in word and in identification; the “me”, seeking depth in action, in existence, has no meaning at all; all its attempts to establish depth in relationship end in the multiplications of its own images whose shadows it considers are deep. The activities of thought have no depth; its pleasures, its fears, its sorrow are on the surface. The very word surface indicates that there is something below, a great volume of water or very shallow. A shallow or a deep mind are the words of thought and thought in itself is superficial. The volume behind thought is experience, knowledge, memory, things that are gone, only to be recalled, to be or not to be acted upon.
Far below us, down on the earth, a wide river was rolling along, with wide curves amid scattered farms, and on the winding roads were crawling ants. The mountains were covered with snow and the valleys were green with deep shadows. The sun was directly ahead and went down into the sea as the plane landed in the fumes and noise of an expanding city.
Is there depth to life, to existence at all? Is all relationship shallow? Can thought ever discover it? Thought is the only instrument that man has cultivated and sharpened, and when that’s denied as a means to the understanding of depth in life, then the mind seeks other means. To lead a shallow life soon becomes wearying, boring, meaningless and from this arises the constant pursuit of pleasure, fears, conflict and violence. To see the fragments that thought has brought about and their activity, as a whole, is the ending of thought. Perception of the whole is only possible when the observer, who is one of the fragments of thought, is not active. Then action is relationship and never leads to conflict and sorrow.
Only silence has depth, as love. Silence is not the movement of thought nor is love. Then only the words, deep and shallow, lose their meaning. There is no measurement to love nor to silence. What’s measurable is thought and time; thought is time. Measure is necessary but when thought carries it into action and relationship, then mischief and disorder begin. Order is not measurable, only disorder is. The sea and the house were quiet, and the hills behind them, with the wild flowers of Spring, were silent.