I wish to explain this morning one idea, and if we can grasp it, not so much as a fact, but deeply and significantly, I think then it will have a profound value in our lives. So please help me by thinking with me.
Most of us have created a concept of reality, of immortality, of a constant, eternal something. We have a vague inclination to seek what we call God, truth, perfection, and we are constantly striving to realize these ideals, these conceptions. To help us to attain these objectives, we have systems, modes of conduct, disciplines, meditations and various aids. These include the paraphernalia of churches, ceremonies, and other forms of worship, and all these are supposed to help us to realize those conceptions of reality that we have created for ourselves. So we have set in motion the process of want.
Now, there is in us a perpetual want, a continual striving after satisfaction which we call reality. We try to mould ourselves after a pattern, according to a particular system of conduct, of behaviour, which promises to give us the satisfying understanding of what we call reality, happiness.
This want is quite different from search. Wanting indicates an emptiness, a trying to become something, whereas true search leads to deep comprehension. Before we can understand what is truth, reality, or know if there be such a thing, we must discern what it is that is constantly seeking. What is it that is ever in the movement of want? What is it that is ever craving, pursuing attainment? Until we have understood this, want is an endless process which prevents true discernment; it is a constant striving without understanding, a blind following, a ceaseless fear with its many illusions.
So the question is not what is reality, God, immortality, and whether one should believe in it or not, but what is the thing that is striving, wanting, fearing and longing. What is it and why does it want? What is the centre in which this want has its being? What is the consciousness, the conception from which we start and in which we have our being? From this we must begin our inquiry. I am going to try to explain this process of want, which creates its own prison of ignorance; and please cross over the bridge of words, for the mere repetition of my phrases can have no lasting significance.
5th Talk in the Oak Grove 3rd May, 1936