Many people feel that they must follow some system or method in order to reach spiritual perfection. This adds a kind of stress to those people’s psychology. There is also the associated expectation of spiritual success in the form of religious or other experiences as a result of the practices. Consequently, living in the ‘Now’ becomes unimportant. In other words, it is almost a matter of selling oneself to the future! Such a future exists only in one’s thought. People do not seem to realize that those approaches never bring about any fundamental transformation in one’s psychology; they only produce, as J. Krishnamurti says [Ref.1], a modified continuity which is mistaken for change. The ego remains intact.
Reflective people, however, move away from such involvements and wonder about what brings in the true change that would weaken the ego. Such a turn of mind starts an inwardly directed attention whose movement clicks with the age-old adage ”Know thyself.” An important characteristic of this state of mind is that one becomes charged with enthusiasm for sensing what lies beyond the apparent. The all-encompassing compassion that people feel as a result of a near death experience is sensed as a growing feeling in this field of awareness. Self-centered, utilitarian drives for personal salvation or aggrandizement begin to wane out. The emphasis is on discovery rather than on conformity to a system. That kind of search and discovery adds a strange quality to one’s life; the ego begins to take a back bench and progressively give way to the expressions of the Inner Being.
The essence of the above movement in self-awareness lies in deep passivity and in understanding the movement of life – its beauty and purity. It is not guided by self-satisfying notions of spiritual achievements and rewards. Humility is the very content of that passivity. Such passivity and the associated intrinsic transformation cannot be of value to the thought-ridden mind. While that transformation furthers itself and becomes all comprehensive, no correction in it will ever be needed.
The passive state of mind can be described as one in a state of non-action. It is not to be mistaken for inaction. In the Bhagawad Gita [Ref. 2], Lord Krishna differentiates between three things: inaction, action and non-action. He says, “While action is superior to inaction, Arjuna, non-action is superior to action.” It is clear that inaction refers to indolence and shirking one’s responsibilities, while non-action is a matter of inward passivity.
People who understand passivity and non-action do not identify themselves with any group. Each person there shines like a “Single Star in a Limpid Sky” – an expression used by J. Krishnamurti [Ref. 1] in connection with aloneness. It needs certain courage to remain alone inwardly. That unshakable confidence comes from the following:
- 1. Non-dependence on a system or person to provide the base for security and satisfaction.
- 2. Understanding that life is a friend who is always helping us move towards the Ultimate.
- 3. The sensing that each one of us is given all the resources needed to return Home, to Divinity.
- 4. Feeling the Inner Being’s inscrutable but unshakable support in daily life.
Factors as above bring a natural austerity to one’s life and so there is an unforced discipline in the conduct of such a person. Kindness and respect for everyone rule all that person’s actions. As of now, those who have moved into that region make a small minority on this planet. That is why there is so much violence in the world today, inflicted not only on man but on other beings as well. Some living Masters tell us that our urgent task in the present stage of human evolution is to go beyond the thought-ridden state of mind, thus freeing us from the harm that such a mind does to the individual and the collective.
We now see two examples from ancient writings where passivity of the mind is mentioned as an important occurrence before the Truth reveals itself.
In the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism [Ref. 3], passivity is implied in many verses. The well known quote in this connection is the statement, “The Tao straightens the crooked [when there is no interference from the mind]”; that is, when there is passivity.
In one of the ancient texts of India – the Kena Upanishad [Ref. 4] – the passivity aspect is mentioned as a quality of those whose psychology is close to Enlightenment. The following lines are taken from it:
“The seers seem to possess the secret of the rapt passivity in which is heard the supreme word faultlessly; they speak the language of the sons of Immortality. Its truth is entirely revelatory, entirely intuitive; its speech altogether a living breath of inspiration.”
Having said all this, we also note that this matter of passivity and non-action does not easily come by; it seems to be elusive, at least at the beginning. Nevertheless, with some interest in that direction, clarity streams in and grows steadily like the light of the dawn. Such a journey on the uncharted waters of Consciousness is a reward in itself. Related matters are covered in this website on spirituality.
Reference 1. Commentaries on Living – Second Series. Ed. by D. Rajagopal. Krishnamurti Foundation
of India, Chennai, India. 1991
Reference 2. Bhagawad Gita, Chapter 4
Reference 3. http://www.yellowbridge.com/onlinelit/daodejing22.php
Reference 4. http://www.aurobindo.ru/workings/sa/12/kena_e.pdf ; page 86.