Quote of the Day

Sep 14, 2022
We must often have wondered why life from birth to death is a process of constant struggle. Why is it that life, everyday existence is such a struggle, a constant battle with oneself, with one's neighbour, with one's ideas? Why this constant battle, this constant struggle? Is it necessary, or is there a different process? This conflict and struggle, this travail and battle with oneself and with one's neighbour, is it necessary for existence, for living? We see that life as we know it is an endless process of becoming, moving from what is to what is not, from anger to non-anger, from violence to peace, from hatred to love. Surely, becoming is a process of repetition in which there is always strife. We see that whatever we do in life, the struggle of becoming is continually repeating itself. This becoming is the cultivation of memory, is it not; and the cultivation of memory is called righteousness, Righteousness is a process of self-enclosure. This constant becoming - the clerk becoming the manager, the ignoble becoming the noble - , this constant strife, is a form of self-perpetuation.. We know this battle to become something: being attached, we want to become detached; being poor we want to become rich; being small, we want to become great; being petty, we seek to be deep, profound, worthwhile. There is this constant battle of becoming, and in becoming there is obviously the cultivation of memory. Without memory there is no becoming. I am angry, and I want to become non-angry; I want to possess the state of non-anger, and I struggle. This struggle is considered righteous. So, righteousness, this process of becoming, is obviously one of self-enclosure. The moment I wish to become something or to be something, emphasis is laid on the becoming, on the being; and hence there is this struggle. To this struggle we have given significance. We say it is righteous, it is noble. So, from birth to death we are caught in an endless struggle, and we have accepted this battle of becoming as worthwhile, as noble, as an essential part of existence.
Now, is life, existence, inevitably a process of struggle, pain, sorrow, a continuous battle? Surely, there is something wrong in this action of becoming, There must be a different approach, a different way of existence. I think there is; but it can be understood only when we understand the full significance of becoming. In becoming there is always repetition, and therefore the cultivation of memory, which is emphasis on the self, and the self in its very nature is travail, strife, battle. Now, virtue can never be a becoming. Virtue is being, in which there is no struggle. You cannot become virtuous; either you are, or you are not virtuous. You can always become righteous, but you can never become virtuous; because, virtue brings freedom, and you will notice that a righteous man is never free. This does not mean that a virtuous man is self-indulgent; but virtue, by its very nature, brings freedom, If you attempt to be virtuous, what happens? You merely become, righteous. Whereas, virtue necessarily brings freedom; because the moment you understand the process, the struggle of becoming, there is being, and therefor there is virtue.

Take, for example, mercy. You can never become merciful, can you? If you do, what happens? If you struggle to become merciful, if you try to become generous, kindly, what happens? In trying to become merciful, emphasis is laid on becoming, which means that emphasis is laid on the self - the `me' becoming something, and the `me' can never be merciful, can it? It can be clothed in righteousness, but it can never be virtuous. So, virtue is not righteousness; the righteous man can never be a virtuous man. Righteousness is always a process of self-enclosure; whereas virtue, in which there is no becoming, but being, is always free, open and orderly. Experiment with yourself and you will see that the moment you strive to become virtuous, merciful, generous, you are merely building a resistance; whereas, if you really understand the process of becoming, which is giving emphasis to the self, then you will find that there comes a confidence, a freedom, a being in which there is virtue.

Now, how is one to transform, to bring about this radical change from becoming to being? A person who is becoming and therefore striving, struggling, battling with himself - how is such a person to know that state of being which is virtue, which is freedom? I hope I am making the question clear. That is, I have been struggling for years to become something, not to be envious, to become non-envious; and how am I to shed, to drop the struggle, and just be? Because, as long as I struggle to become what I call righteous, I am obviously setting up a process of self enclosure; and there is no freedom in enclosure. So, all that I can do is to be aware, passively aware of my process of becoming. If I am shallow, I can be passively aware that I am shallow, without the struggle to become something. If I am angry, if I am jealous, if I am unmerciful, envious, I can just be aware of that and not contend with it. The moment we contend with a quality, we give emphasis to the struggle, and therefore strengthen the wall of resistance. This wall of resistance is considered righteousness; but for a righteous man, truth can never come into being. It is only to the free man that truth can come; and to be free, there cannot be the cultivation of memory, which is righteousness.

So, one has to be aware of this struggle, of this constant battle. Just be aware without contention, without condemnation; and if you are truly watchful, passively yet alertly aware, you will find that envy, jealousy, greed, violence and all these things, drop away, and there comes order - quietly, speedily, there comes order that is not righteous, that is not enclosing. For virtue is freedom, it is not a process of enclosure. It is only in freedom that truth can come into being. Therefore, it is essential to be virtuous, not righteous, because virtue brings order. It is only the righteous man that is confused, that is in conflict, it is only the righteous man that develops his will as a means of resistance; and a man of will can never find truth, because he is never free. Being, which is recognizing what is, accepting and living with what is - not trying to transform it, not condemning it - , brings about virtue; and in that there is freedom. Only when the mind is not cultivating memory, when it is not seeking righteousness as a means of resistance, is there freedom; and in that freedom there comes reality, the bliss of which must be experienced.
Bombay, India | March 7th 1948 Read full text