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Crisis In Consciousness



  "How is such a mind to free itself from all this and be a total individual? I say it is only possible when there is serious, earnest study of oneself - the self being not the Atman or some so-called Higher Self because those again are just words. I am talking of the self of everyday existence, the self that gets angry, the self that is ambitious, that gets hurt, that wants to be seen, that is very keen, that says, `I must be secure', `I must consider my position', and so on. That is the only self we have. The Higher Self, the super-Atman is only an ideology, a concept, an unreality; and it is no good going after unreality for that leads to delusion. I know all the sacred books talk about the super-Atman, whatever that is, and for the man who is caught in the daily self it is a marvellous escape. The more he speculates, the more he writes about it, the more religious he thinks he is. But I say that if you can go into the self which we all know, the self of everyday movement, then through that self-knowledge, through careful analysis, careful observation, you will find that you are capable of breaking away from all influences which condition thought."  




  "So it is the mind which has to be understood, and that mind is the `me', that mind is the self - not some Higher Self. The mind invents the Higher Self and then says it is only a tool for the higher. Such thinking is absurd, immature. is the mind which invents all these avenues of escape and then proceeds from there to assert."  




  "So, what is this self which has such an extraordinary importance? Do not say that it is not important, that the only important thing is the Higher Self, and all that nonsense. Because if it had no importance we would not be fighting for jobs, we would not be killing each other, we would not be ambitious, frustrated, unhappy, in this whole field of isolated agony and loneliness."  




  "But you want to add to it that you are also something which you call the Atman or the Higher Self, the eternal, the spiritual entity. But again that is in the field of thought, is it not? Since you can think about it, it is related to thought and therefore still within the field of time. I hope you understand this."  




  "So the mind must be free, and that requires self-knowledge, to know yourself, to know all the reactions of the mind, to know what you think and the sources of your thought; not speculating, not asserting that there is the Atman or the Higher Self, which is only another escape. To actually find out about yourself - about your ambitions, your greed, your envy, vanity, struggle, cruelty, the thoughtless acts, the way you talk, the way you look at people - to know the whole of that is very difficult."  




  "Seeing that thought is transient, the mind creates the `I'-process, the `me' which it then calls the permanent, the everlasting, but which is still within the field of the mind, because the mind has created and can think about it. What the mind can think about is obviously within the field of the mind, which is the field of time; therefore it is not the timeless, the eternal, though you may call it the Atman, the Higher Self, or God. Your God is then a product of your thought; and your thought is the response of your conditioning, of your memories, of your experiences, which are all within the field of time."  




  "If there is no thinking, there is no `I' - though this is contrary to what you have always been told. You have accepted the idea that there is a permanent `I' - which you call the Atman, the Higher Self, and all the rest of it - that produces thought. To me this is sheer nonsense - it does not matter what the books say. What is important is for you to find out the truth of the matter for yourself. As long as there is this division of the thinker and the thought, as long as there is an experiencer who is experiencing, the mind is held within the frontiers of the recognizable, and is therefore limited."  




  "First see the truth that a mind that chooses out of confusion can only breed further confusion. That is one fact. Another fact is this: that when the mind says it is only partially confused and thinks there is a part of itself which is clear - the Higher Self, the Atman, and all that business - , it is still totally confused. The mind that says "There is a part of me which is not confused" is deceiving itself. If there were any part of you which is very clear, obviously that clarity would wipe away all confusion. Where there is clarity there is no darkness; there is only clarity. So it is sheer nonsense to think there is part of yourself, a spiritual essence, which is clear, and that only the material world is in a state of confusion. That idea is an invention of the mind which prevents you from looking at the fact. The fact is that there is only confusion, so you must be aware of this fact and not deceive yourself."  


  "Must there not be the understanding of what I am? And the understanding of what you are is the real inward going; it is not a reaction to or the rejection of outward going. But you do not know what you are. You think you are the Atman, the Higher Self, this or that; whereas you are actually the result of innumerable influences, of tradition, of various environmental pressures, and so on. The fact is that you are conditioned by the culture in which you were born."  


  "Look, sirs, the self as we know it is a limited thing, but it is also living, moving, and a mind that is conditioned, bound by tradition, a mind that says "There is a Higher Self and a lower self" and all the rest of it - such a mind cannot possibly understand the self. I am not using the word `self' in any significant spiritual sense; I mean by that word the self which functions daily, which thinks, feels, invents, hopes, wants, and is caught in conflict; the self which is biased, which speculates, judges, seeks."  


  "So memory, - the memory of every experience, of every thought, of every reaction - is a state of continuity, and that is what you are. If you say you are the Atman, the permanent soul, or the Higher Self, it is still within the field of the known, because you are merely repeating what you have been taught. You have read about the Atman and you like the idea it satisfies you, it gives you a certain comfort, because life is transient and you hope there will be something permanent."  


  "Ignorance is the state of a mind that has no comprehension of itself. You may quote the Gita, the Bible, the Koran, or whatever book you hold sacred, but if you don't know yourself the quotations will have no meaning. The clearing away of ignorance lies in the understanding of oneself - not the Higher Self, not the Paramatman and all the rest of the superstructure which the mind has built in order to escape from its own pettiness, but the self which is operating every day and which is torn by ambition, frustration, jealousy, envy, hate, fear."  


  "That is why self-knowledge is essential - not knowledge of the Higher Self, the Atman, and all that immature stuff, but knowledge of yourself, which is to see how your own mind is conditioned. Without perceiving the significance of knowledge and authority, it is impossible to know the totality of action in which there is no contradiction."  


  "So the mind has been trained for centuries to suppress, to discipline itself in an effort to overcome its own limitations; and though it may invent the idea of the soul, the Atman, the Higher Self, it is still within the confines of its own thought, within the limits of its own endeavour; therefore, what it calls reality is only a projection of its own delusion. With most of us, this is the actual state of the mind. And how is such a mind to be free?"  


  "The self is not a spiritual entity at all; it is purely the result of habits, experiences, memories, influences, an expression of the collective tradition and all the rest of it. It is a process of thinking based on memory, on knowledge, on experience, and, therefore it is mechanical. Whatever it thinks - whether it thinks of God, or of a piece of machinery, or of a job - , it is still within the confines of its own limitations. When you talk about the Higher Self, the Atman, the soul, the indwelling God, and so on, it is merely a habit; you are repeating what you have been taught."  


  "Yet without self-knowledge, do what you ill, there can be no freedom. By self- knowledge I mean an awareness and understanding of every movement of thought and feeling from moment to moment. I am not referring to the Higher Self and the lower self, to the Atman, the self that is supposed to be supreme, and all that business. I am talking about the mind that functions in everyday life, the mind that is enslaved, that is envious, ambitious, cruel, the mind that knows joy and sorrow, that is caught in a method, in a symbol, in an illusion."  


  "You want your soul to continue in the hereafter; you want your way of thinking, your way of living, your comforts, your vanities, to go on everlastingly. So your thought creates a permanent entity which you say is the thinker, and you give to the thinker various qualities, calling it the Atman, the Higher Self, and all the rest of it. But it is all within the field of thought, and thought is time, because thought is the reaction of memory - memory as knowledge or experience."  


  "By self-knowledge I mean the understanding of yourself, the understanding of your own behaviour, your own motives, prejudices, fears. I do not mean your ideas about the Atman, the Higher Self, and all that business, which is still within the field of thought, within the field of your conditioning."