Letter 4

From the book "Letters to a young friend"

How strangely one is susceptible to an atmosphere, one needs a friendly tension, a sense of warm attention in which one can freely and naturally blossom. So few have this atmosphere; and so most are stunted, physically as well as psychologically. I am very surprised that you have survived without being perverted in that peculiar atmosphere. One can see why you were not utterly destroyed, spotted and twisted; outwardly you adjusted as rapidly as possible, inwardly you put yourself to sleep. It is inward insensitivity that saved you. If you had allowed yourself to be sensitive, inwardly awake, you couldn’t have stood it and so there would have been conflict and you would have broken down, been marked. Now, that you are inwardly awake and are clear, you have no conflict with the atmosphere. It is this conflict that makes for perversion. You will always remain unscarred if you are inwardly very alert and awake and warmly adjust to things externally.

Substitutes soon wither away. One may be worldly even though one has a few things. The desire for power in any form; the power of ascetic, the power of a big financier or the politician or the pope is worldly. The craving for power breeds ruthlessness and reemphasizes the importance of oneself, the self-expansive aggressiveness is in essence worldliness. Humility is simplicity, but the cultivated humility is another form of worldliness.

Very few are aware of their inward changes, setbacks, conflicts and distortions. Even if they are aware they try to push them aside or run away from them. Don’t you do it. I don’t think you will, but there is a danger of living with your thoughts and feelings too closely. One has to be aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, without anxiety, without pressure. The real revolution has taken place in your life, you should be very much aware of your thoughts and feelings – let them come out, don’t check them, don’t hold them back. Let them pour out, the gentle as well as the violent ones, but be aware of them.

Occupied with what are your desires, if you have any? The world is a good place, we do everything to get away from it through worship, prayer, our loves and fears. We don’t know whether we are rich or poor, we have never gone deep down into ourselves and discovered “what is.” We exist on the surface, satisfied with so little and made happy and unhappy by such small things. Our petty minds have petty problems and petty answers, and so we spend our days. We don’t love, and when we do it is always with fear and frustration, with sorrow and longing.

I was thinking how important it is to be innocent, to have an innocent mind. Experiences are inevitable, perhaps necessary; life is a series of experiences, but the mind need not be burdened with its own accumulative demands. It can wipe off each experience and keep itself innocent-unburdened. This is important, otherwise the mind can never be fresh, alert and pliable. The “how” to keep the mind pliable is not the problem; the “how” is the search for a method can never make the mind innocent; it can make it methodical, but never innocent, creative.

“ Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem. „
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