IN THE LIFE we generally lead there is very little solitude. Even when we are alone our lives are crowded by so many influences, so much knowledge, so many memories of so many experiences, so much anxiety, misery and conflict that our mind become duller and duller, more and more insensitive, functioning in a monotonous routine. Are we ever alone? Or are we carrying with us all the burdens of yesterday?
     There is a rather nice story of two monks walking from one village to another and they come upon a young girl sitting on the bank of a river, crying. And one of the monks goes up to her and says, `Sister, what are you crying about?' She says, `You see that house over there across the river? I came over this morning early and had no trouble wading across but now the river has swollen and I can't get back. There is no boat.' `Oh,' says the monk, `that is no problem at all', and he picks her up and carries her across the river and leaves her on the other side. And the two monks go on together. After a couple of hours, the other monk says, `Brother, we have taken a vow never to touch a woman. What you have done is a terrible sin. Didn't you have pleasure, a great sensation, in touching a woman?' and the other monk replies, `I left her behind two hours ago. You are still carrying her, aren't you?' That is what we do. We carry our burdens all the time; we never die to them, we never leave them behind. it is only when we give complete attention to a problem and solve it immediately - never carrying it over to the next day, the next minute - that there is solitude. Then, even, if we live in a crowded house or are in a bus, we have solitude. And that solitude indicates a fresh mind, an innocent mind.
     To have inward solitude and space is very important because it implies freedom to be, to go, to function, to fly. After all, goodness can only flower in space just as virtue can flower only when there is freedom. We may have political freedom but inwardly we are not free and therefore there is no space. No virtue, no quality that is worth while, can function or grow without this vast space within oneself. And space and silence are necessary because it is only when the mind is alone, uninfluenced, untrained, not held by infinite varieties of experience, that it can come upon something totally new.
     One can see directly that it is only when the mind is silent that there is a possibility of clarity. The whole purpose of meditation in the East is to bring about such a state of mind - that is, to control thought, which is the same as constantly repeating a prayer to quieten the mind and in that state hoping to understand one's problems. But unless one lays the foundation, which is to be free from fear, free from sorrow, anxiety and all the traps one lays for oneself, I do not see how it is possible for a mind to be actually quiet. This is one of the most difficult things to communicate. Communication between us implies, doesn't it, that not only must you understand the words I am using but that we must both, you and I, be intense at the same time, not a moment later or a moment sooner and capable of meeting each other on the same level? And such communication is not possible when you are interpreting what you are reading according to your own knowledge, pleasure or opinions, or when you are making a tremendous effort to comprehend.
     It seems to me that one of the greatest stumbling blocks in life is this constant struggle to reach, to achieve, to acquire. We are trained from childhood to acquire and to achieve - the very brain cells themselves create and demand this pattern of achievement in order to have physical security, but psychological security is not within the field of achievement. We demand security in all our relationships, attitudes and activities but, as we have seen, there is actually no such thing as security. To find out for yourself that there is no form of security in any relationship - to realize that psychologically there is nothing permanent - gives a totally different approach to life. It is essential, of course, to have outward security - shelter, clothing, food - but that outward security is destroyed by the demand for psychological security.
     Space and silence are necessary to go beyond the limitations of consciousness, but how can a mind which is so endlessly active in its self-interest be quiet? One can discipline it, control it, shape it, but such torture does not make the mind quiet; it merely makes it dull. Obviously the mere pursuit of the ideal of having a quiet mind is valueless because the more you force it the more narrow and stagnant it becomes. Control in any form, like suppression, produces only conflict. So control and outward discipline are not the way, nor has an undisciplined life any value.
     Most of our lives are outwardly disciplined by the demands of society, by the family, by our own suffering, by our own experience, by conforming to certain ideological or factual patterns - and that form of discipline is the most deadening thing. Discipline must be without control, without suppression, without any form of fear. How is this discipline to come about? It is not discipline first and then freedom; freedom is at the very beginning, not at the end. To understand this freedom, which is the freedom from the conformity of discipline, is discipline itself. The very act of learning is discipline (after all the root meaning of the word discipline is to learn), the very act of learning becomes clarity. To understand the whole nature and structure of control, suppression and indulgence demands attention. You don't have to impose discipline in order to study it, but the very act of studying brings about its own discipline in which there is no suppression.
     In order to deny authority (we are talking of psychological authority, not the law) - to deny the authority of all religious organizations, traditions and experience, one has to see why one normally obeys - actually study it. And to study it there must be freedom from condemnation, justification, opinion or acceptance. Now we cannot accept authority and yet study it - that is impossible. To study the whole psychological structure of authority within ourselves there must be freedom. And when we are studying we are denying the whole structure, and when we do deny, that very denial is the light of the mind that is free from authority. Negation of everything that has been considered worthwhile, such as outward discipline, leadership, idealism, is to study it; then that very act of studying is not only discipline but the negative of it, and the very denial is a positive act. So we are negating all those things that are considered important to bring about the quietness of the mind.
     Thus we see it is not control that leads to quietness. Nor is the mind quiet when it has an object which is so absorb- ing that it gets lost in that object. This is like giving a child an interesting toy; he becomes very quiet, but remove the toy and he returns to his mischief-making. We all have our toys which absorb us and we think we are very quiet but if a man is dedicated to a certain form of activity, scientific, literary or whatever it is, the toy merely absorbs him and he is not really quiet at all.
     The only silence we know is the silence when noise stops, the silence when thought stops - but that is not silence. Silence is something entirely different, like beauty, like love. And this silence is not the product of a quiet mind, it is not the product of the brain cells which have understood the whole structure and say, `For God's sake be quiet; then the brain cells themselves produce the silence and that is not silence. Nor is silence the outcome of attention in which the observer is the observed; then there is no friction, but that is not silence.
     You are waiting for me to describe what this silence is so that you can compare it, interpret it, carry it away and bury it. It cannot be described. What can be described is the known, and the freedom from the known can come into being only when there is a dying every day to the known, to the hurts, the flatteries, to all the images you have made, to all your experiences - dying every day so that the brain cells themselves become fresh, young, innocent. But that innocency, that freshness, that quality of tenderness and gentleness, does not produce love; it is not the quality of beauty or silence.
     That silence which is not the silence of the ending of noise is only a small beginning. It is like going through a small hole to an enormous, wide, expansive ocean, to an immeasurable, timeless state. But this you cannot understand verbally unless you have understood the whole struc- ture of consciousness and the meaning of pleasure, sorrow and despair, and the brain cells themselves have become quiet. Then perhaps you may come upon that mystery which nobody can reveal to you and nothing can destroy. A living mind is a still mind, a living mind is a mind that has no centre and therefore no space and time. Such a mind is limitless and that is the only truth, that is the only reality.