The Observer Is the Movement Away from ‘What Is’


P: The problem of duality and its ending cannot be understood unless we go into the nature of the thinker and the thought. Can we discuss this?

K: How do the Hindu thinkers, the Advaita philosophers deal with this problem?

P: Patañjali’s Yoga-sūtras postulate a state of liberation which has anchors, and a state of liberation which is without anchors. In one, the thinker is the prop; it is a state where the thinker has not ceased. In the other, there is a state where everything, including the thinker, has ceased.

The Buddhists talk of kṣaṇa-vāda, of time as instant, total and complete in itself, a state where the thinker has no continuity. The Advaitic philosophers talk of the cessation of duality and the attainment of non-duality. They go through a dualistic process to attain this non-dual state. Śaṅkara approaches this state of non-duality through negation (neti, neti). For the Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna, negation is absolute: If you say that there is God, he negates it; if you say that there is no God, he negates that also. Every statement is negated.

B: The Buddha says that what exists is ‘the solitude of reality’; you are the result of your thoughts.

P: The Buddha, Śaṅkara, Nāgārjuna have all talked about non-duality, but non-duality has become a concept; it has not affected the structure of the mind itself. In India, for centuries, the negative approach has been discussed, but it has not affected the human mind; the brain cells have remained dualistic; they operate in time and are caught in time. Though negation and the non-dual have been posited, there is no clue to apprehending these states. Why has non-duality not affected the mind of man? Can we go into it to see whether we can discover that which will trigger the non-dual state?

B: Scientific and technological developments have affected the minds of people. Man has discovered the non-dualistic state, but it has not affected his mind nor his life.

S: If every experience leaves a mark on the brain cells, what is the impact of the state of non-duality, of oneness? Why is a mutation not taking place in the relationship between the thinker and the thought?

P: Is the mechanism which records the technological the same mechanism which sees or perceives?

K: The fragment of the brain which deals with the technological, and the fragment which records and which perceives—

P: They seem to form the ego.

K: The technological and the recording fragment, these two, make up the ego; not the perceptive part.

P: I am including the perceptive part also. The recording is concerned with both—with the technological and with the perceptual.

K: That may be a verbal explanation.

P: The core of man never seems to get affected; the essential duality between the thinker and the thought continues.

K: Do you think that there is, basically, a duality? Or, is there only ‘what is’—the fact?

P: When you, sir, ask a question like that, the mind stands still and one says: Yes, it is so. Then the query starts: Am I not separate from S, from B? Though the mind says yes, it also queries a split second later. The moment you asked the question, my mind became still.

K: Why not stay there?

P: The query arises.

K: Why? Is it habit, tradition, conditioning? Is it in the very nature of the operation of the self? All that may be due to cultural imposition—to survive, to function and so on. Why bring that in when we are looking at facts, at whether there is a basic duality?

P: Are you saying that it may be a reflex action of the brain cells?

K: We are the result of our environment, of our society; we are the result of all our interactions—that is a fact also. I am asking myself: Is there a basic duality at the very core or, does duality arise only when the mind moves away from ‘what is’? When I do not move away from the basic non-dualistic quality of the mind, is there duality? Does the mind create duality when it is completely with ‘what is’?

I never think when I look at a tree. When I look at you, there is no division as the ‘me’ and the ‘you’. Words are used for linguistic and communicative purposes; the ‘me’ and the ‘you’ are somehow not rooted in me. So, where does the thinker separate from thought arise if the mind remains in ‘what is’, remains with pain? When there is no thinking of non-pain, there is the sense of suffering—that is ‘what is’; there is no feeling of wanting to be out of it. Where does duality arise? Duality arises when the mind says: I must be rid of pain. I have known states of non-pain, and I want to be in a state of non-pain. (pause)

You are a man and I am a woman. That is a biological fact. But is there a psychological dualism? Is there a basically dualistic state or does it arise only when the mind moves away from ‘what is’?

There is sorrow—my son is dead. I do not move away. Where is the duality? It is only when I say: I have lost my companion, my son, that duality comes into being. I wonder if this is right. I have pain—physical or psychological grief. A movement away from it is duality. The thinker is the movement away—the thinker that says: This should not be, and the thinker that also says: There should not be duality.

First see the fact that the movement away from ‘what is’ is the movement of the thinker, who brings in duality. In observing the fact of pain, why should there be a thinker? The thinker arises when there is a movement, either backwards or forwards. The thought that I had no pain yesterday—in that duality arises. Can the mind remain with the pain? Any movement away from it brings in the thinker.

The mind is asking itself: How does this dualistic attitude towards life arise? It is not asking for an explanation of how to go beyond it. I have had pleasure yesterday; it is finished. (pause) Is it not as simple as that?

P: Not really.

K: I think it is. You see, this implies non-comparative observation. Comparison is dualistic; measurement is dualistic—there is pain today; there is the comparison with the non-pain of tomorrow. But there is only one fact: the pain which the mind is going through now. Nothing else exists. Why have we complicated this? Why have we built tremendous philosophies around all this? Are we missing something? Is it that the mind does not know what to do and, therefore, moves away from the fact and brings duality into being? If it knew, would it bring about duality? Is the ‘what-to-do’ itself a dualistic process? Do you understand?

Let us look at it again. There is pain—physical or psychological. When the mind does not know what to do, in the non-dualistic sense of doing, it escapes. Can the mind caught in the trap, in the backward and the forward movement, deal with ‘what is’ in a non-dualistic way? Do you understand?

So we are asking: Can pain, the ‘what is’, be transformed without dualistic activity? Can there be a state of non-thinking, in which the thinker does not come into being at all?—the thinker who says: I had no pain yesterday and I will not have it tomorrow.

P: See what happens to us. What you say is right. But there is a lack of something within us; it may be strength, energy. When there is a crisis, the weight of that crisis is sufficient to plunge us into a state where there is no movement away from the crisis, but in everyday life we have trivial challenges.

K: If you really understood this, you would meet these little challenges.

P: In everyday life, we have the chattering, erratic movement of the thinker operating with its demands. What does one do with that?

K: I do not think you can do anything with that. That is irrelevant. That is the denial.

P: But that is very, very important. That is what our minds are. One does not have the capacity to negate that.

K: Listen, there is noise outside. I cannot do anything about it.

P: When there is a crisis, there is contact. In normal living there is no contact. I go out. I can look at a tree, and there is no duality. I can see colour without duality. But there is the other—the erratic nonsense part that is continuously chattering. When the thinker sees its functioning, it starts operating on it. The great negation is to let it alone.

K: Settle the primary factor: Observe pain without moving away from it. That is the only non-dualistic state.

P: Let us speak of the chattering mind instead of pain, because that is the fact at this moment. The noise of that horn, the chattering mind—that is ‘what is’.

K: You prefer this and do not prefer that, and thereby begins the whole circle.

P: The central point is the observation of ‘what is’ without moving away. The moving away creates the thinker.

K: The noise, the chattering, which was the ‘what is’, has gone, has faded away. But the pain remains. Pain has not gone. To go beyond pain non-dualistically is the issue. How is it to be done? Any movement away from ‘what is’ is dualistic, because in that there is the thinker operating on ‘what is’. Without the dualistic movement taking place, will that transform ‘what is’? Do you understand my question? That is, would the cessation of the dualistic movement transform ‘what is’?

P: Is it not really a dissolution of ‘what is’?

K: I know only ‘what is’, nothing else—not the cause.

P: That is so. One can see that when there is no movement away from pain, there is the dissolution of pain.

K: How does this happen? Why has man not come to this? Why has he fought pain with a dualistic movement? Why has he never understood or delved into pain without the dualistic movement? What happens when there is no movement away from pain—not what happens to the dissolution of pain, but what happens to the mechanism that operates? It is simple. Pain is the movement away. There is no pain where there is only listening. There is pain only when I move from the fact and say: This is pleasurable, this is not pleasurable. My son dies. That is an absolute, irrevocable fact. Why is there pain?

P: Because I loved him.

K: Look what has already happened unconsciously. I loved him. He has gone. The pain is the remembrance of my love for him. And he is no more. But the absolute fact is that he is gone. Remain with that fact. There is pain only when I say that he is no more, which is when the thinker comes into being and says: My son is no longer there; he was my companion, and all the rest of it.

S: It is not merely the memory of my son who is dead which is pain. There is loneliness now.

K: My son is dead. That is a fact. Then there is the thought of loneliness. Then there is my identification with him. All that is a process of thought and the thinker. But I have only one fact—my son is gone. Loneliness, the lack of companionship, despair, are all the result of thought, which creates duality, a movement away from ‘what is’. It does not need strength or determination not to move. The determination is dualistic.

There is only one thing: the fact and my movement away from the fact, away from ‘what is’. It is this which breeds bitterness, callousness, lack of love, indifference—which are all the product of thinking. The fact is my son is gone.

The non-perception of ‘what is’ breeds the thinker, which is dualistic action. When the mind falls again into the trap of dualistic action, that is ‘what is’. Remain with that, for any movement away from that is another dualistic action. The mind is always dealing with ‘what is’ as noise-no-noise. And ‘what is’, the fact, needs no transformation because it is already ‘the beyond’. Anger is ‘what is’. The dualistic movement of non-anger is away from ‘what is’. The movement from ‘what is’ is no longer anger. Therefore, once the mind has perceived, once it has had non-dualistic perception, it does not act from memory when anger arises again. The next time anger arises, that is ‘what is’. The mind is always dealing with ‘what is’. Therefore, the dualistic concept is totally wrong; it is fallacious.

P: This is tremendous action. The dualistic action is non-action.

K: You have to be simple. It is the mind that is not clever, that is not cunning, that is not trying to find substitutes for dualistic action, that can understand. Our minds are not simple enough. Though we all talk of simplicity, that simplicity is of the loincloth.

The non-dual means really the art of listening. You hear that dog barking—listen to it without any movement away from it; remain with ‘what is’. (pause) The man who remains with ‘what is’, and who never moves away from it, has no marks.

P: And when marks take place, to see them taking place. One act of perception removes the mark.

K: Quite right. That is the way to live.