I believe we are all searchers. We are like people on a pilgrimage who in one way or another are dissatisfied with the way their life appears to be going on. People who, however feebly, wish for something.
We are here because we believe in a certain possibility – the possibility of acquiring Being. And I hope and think we all realize that this will not happen by, itself.
But what is the basis of this teaching of ours?
It is this: that our growth, the growth of man, depends upon himself and `if he does not make for himself the choice to ask himself what does he exist for and struggles to exist in the way that is required of him, then nothing is likely to happen to him. He will just live an animal existence, or not even that, But if man asks himself the question, then’ he can serve. He can serve a very high purpose, and in serving that purpose he can become what he is destined to be, which is to be a Real Man.
So first of all we have to find, a starting point, and I wish to say to you that a starting point comes when a man begins to ask himself questions.
We must begin by looking at the difference between, in fact, a man who is in a state where is able to ask questions and a state in which he is not able to ask questions: if I don’t ask any, questions it means that life just takes me. It is unfortunately for us only too easy to remain passive and to consent to be used by life.
I cannot choose unless I ask myself a question. Therefore I say the first thing is for a man to begin to ask questions of himself. And ask questions in such a way that these questions affect him, not just with his head, but in the way that a man might ask a question if he was lost at sea and wanted to know which way to go to reach safety, to find a harbor.
A quest cannot just be something with which our minds happen to be curious. It is really an urge to find a new way of life. No one can change his situation unless he faces up very deeply to this question: How am I to change? And the question, How am I to find a new life, is a real question for him.
If you look inside yourself at this moment you can’t help but saying to yourself, But who is asking this question? Who is this person who is looking for another life? And you have to be very persistent, very determined to answer this question. You have to really look at it: who has come here? You cannot accept a ready-made answer but see how it is in reality. Who came here? Who is this “I”? Then you begin to look at the real question, Who am “I”?
At the beginning the answer appears to be very simple. You can say I have an identity. Here is my identity card with my picture in it. It shows a body. A body that eats, transforms energy, lives and dies. It does many other things as well. It has learnt a lot. It has learnt., for example, to speak, as I am speaking now. It can sit in a chair. It is a body that works with its hands and with. its feet.
We are what Mr. Bennett used to refer to as “embodied”. We have to face this first of all”: we are all embodied. But if you ask yourself, Do. I know my own body. Do I know what it can do and what it cannot do. Do I know how to use its powers and what are its powers, you will realize that you know very little about your own body. If you go further and ask yourself, Am I only this body, you will see that the answer is, no, I am not only this body, something else exists – thoughts for instance, exist in me.
You look at these thoughts and say Can “I” think? Do “I” think? And if you begin to ask yourself that kind of question you will realize that your thoughts, most often perhaps your dreams, are only the workings of a quite extraordinary machine, a quite extraordinary mechanism in your brain, which very often you don’t even notice and which very, very seldom you can control or direct. So you begin to see that “I” is not your thoughts.
When I look at my wishes, desires, likes and dislikes, I see that I am sensitive to some things and not sensitive to others. My state fluctuates. I have a whole life of emotions and feelings which are different from my thoughts, different from by body. I don’t know how they arise or where they go; they come and they go. I cannot claim that I made them come. And again I have to admit that I have no control over them. I cannot suddenly feel astonished, or feel sad or feel joyful.
Looking at all this I begin to see that I am not one. There is a life that goes on in, my thoughts, there’s a life that goes on in my body and a third life that goes on in ‘my feelings. So I have, to admit that. I know very little about how they affect one another, how they interact with one another. I can even perceive that they don’t all pull together.
If I look at this seriously, I begin to admit that I cannot be what I want to be. I cannot act As I wish to act. Again and again I find myself doing the things that I don’t wish to do. I don’t do things that I intend to do. I either fail to do them or even forget all about doing them. I begin to see how little power I have over myself. And I begin to see then why it is so: because I have no “I”. I am not one, I am not connected.
So you can see that just by following the question “Who am I?” you will begin to understand some of your practical problems.
It is going to be necessary to at least bring together some of these different parts of yourself to see if they can be related in the right sort of way. At least you must have this wish to be one and not many.