Question: What is enlightenment?
Answer: Again this is one of those words that have come from India – to be enlightened. To be enlightened about what? Please let us be rational. For instance, one is enlightened about one’s relationship with another. That is, one has understood that one’s relationship with another is based on one’s image about the other, however intimate. That image has been put together through many years of constant reaction, indifference, comfort, nagging, all that goes on between man and woman. So the relationship is between the two images. That is what one calls relationship. Now, if one perceives the truth of this, one says one is enlightened about it.
Or, one is enlightened about violence; one sees clearly, without distortion, the whole movement of violence. Or one sees how sorrow arises, and the ending of sorrow is that one is enlightened about it. But we do not mean that. We mean something else: “I am enlightened, I will tell you about it, come to me”.
If we really go into what enlightenment, illumination, the voice of truth, is, then we must go carefully into the question of time. The so-called enlightened people have said that you come to it through time, gradually, life after life – if you believe in reincarnation – until you come to the point when you are enlightened – about everything. They say it is a gradual process of experience, knowledge, a constant movement from the past to the present and the future, a cycle.
Now, is enlightenment, the ultimate thing, a matter of time? Is it? Is it a gradual process, which means a process in time, the process of evolution, the gradual becoming? We must understand the nature of time, not chronological time, but the psychological structure which has accepted time: “I hope ultimately to get there”. The desire, which is part of hope, says, “I will ultimately get there”.
The so-called enlightened people are not enlightened, for the moment they say, “I am enlightened”, they are not. That is their vanity. It is like a man saying, “I am really humble” – when a man says that you know what he is. Real humility is not the opposite of vanity. When vanity ends the other is. Those who have said they are enlightened, say you must attain it, step by step, practice this, do that, don’t do this; become my pupil, I’ll tell you what to do, I’ll give you an Indian name, or a new Christian name, and so on. And you, an irrational human being, accept this nonsense.
So you ask, what is that supreme enlightenment? It is a mind that has no conflict, no sense of striving, of going, moving and achieving.
One must understand this question of psychological time, the constant becoming, or not becoming – which are the same. When that becoming is rooted in the mind it conditions all your thinking, all your activity; then it is a matter of using time as a means of achieving. But, is there such a thing as becoming? “I am violent, I will be non-violent”. That means that becoming is an idea. I am violent and I project the idea of not being violent, so I create duality; the violent and non-violent, and so there is conflict. Or I say, “I must control myself, I must suppress, I must analyse, I must go to a psychologist, I must have a psycho-therapist”.
Without creating the opposite the fact is violence. The fact. The non-violence is non-fact. If you see the truth that if I am violent, the concept of non-violence brings about this conflict between the opposites, the non-fact has no value. Now to observe the whole movement of violence, anger, jealousy, hatred, competition, imitation, conformity, do so without any direction, without any motive. If you do that, there is the end of violence, which is immediate perception and action.
So, one can see that illumination, the sense of ultimate reality, is not of time. This goes against the whole psychology of the religious world, the Christians with their souls, with their saviours, with their ultimate.
Perception is action, not perception, interval, then action. In the interval there arises the idea. The mind, the brain, the whole human nervous and psychological structure can be free of this burden of a million years of time, so that you see something clearly and therefore that action is invariably immediate. That action will be rational, not irrational. That action can be explained logically, sanely.
That ultimate thing, which is truth, is not to be achieved through time. It can never be achieved; it is there; or it is not there.
Source : Question and Answer Meeting No. 4 – Question No. 3, Saanen, Switzerland – 26th July, 1980