During my talks at the Renaissance Universal Club in Siliguri I said that civilization has been advancing. Whether people want it or not they will have to move ahead, they will have to advance. They should not remain static, either in body or mind but should move ceaselessly, because this very movement is not only the sign of life in a body, but also a sign of life in the mind, a symptom of advancement. While moving humans will have to pass through different stages. Human beings are born, and then die to be born again and to die again. In this process what does death mean? Life and death can be compared to taking a step. Lifting up the foot is life and placing it on the ground is death. In individual life, in individual movement, one is obliged to place the foot on the ground – this is the state of pause.
Many people may think, “Is it not possible to move avoiding the state of inertness? Could movement be unbroken?” Neither absolute speed or absolute pause are possible: speed and pause are always relative – the very existence of anything is relative. This universe is thronged with numerous relative factors – nothing is absolute. In our philosophy I have said somewhere that the stage when the foot is placed on the ground may be called “death” in common parlance, but it is not actual death. Actual physical death of human beings – when the dead body is buried or cremated – is not death in the real sense, but a state of pause in preparation for movement into the next step. While moving, if we do not place one foot on the ground, we cannot take the next step forward. So the left foot can only make the next step forward if the right foot makes the preparation by being placed on the ground. This is crucial for successful movement. Thus if we wish to say something about speed, or the characteristics of movement, we will have to acknowledge the necessity of the state of death, otherwise it will not be possible to move into the next stage. Moreover, the systaltic movement must be pulsative. One places the right foot on the ground and makes preparations for the movement of the left foot, which then is picked up and placed on the ground. The right foot then gathers momentum and takes its next step forward. Similarly, there is speed and pause in the psychic sphere too. In the state of pause people gather momentum for the next stage.
When people listen to something, that idea is not assimilated immediately. It only gets assimilated when the mind is in a state of pause. The subsequent expression takes place in the state of speed. When you reply to someone’s words, the matter heard by you enters through the ears, but is only assimilated when the mind is in a state of pause. Thereafter, when the mind is again in a state of speed, you give your reply by utilizing your vocal cords and mouth to produce sounds. Suppose someone said loudly, “Why did you do such a thing?” You heard this through the ears. After hearing this your mind reverted to a state of pause and then you assimilated the idea that someone was saying, “Why did you do such a thing?” Suppose someone says, “Coward, why are you running away?” The message is assimilated by you that someone is calling you a coward. Maybe you are actually a coward, but whether you will admit it or not will depend on the state of pause of your mind. Then in the subsequent stage of speed, you will say, “I won’t run away – never,” or you will say. “Do you think I’m going to stay here? Running away is the best thing to do.” Such things take place in the state of pause. This is how human beings will have to move through speed and pause.
Similarly, while doing Sádhaná in the spiritual sphere, the state of pause may come. Sometimes people say, “How strange! A few days ago I was having excellent meditation, but these days I can’t seem to concentrate at all. That’s very sad.” Or at times one may say, “The other day while meditating my body began to quiver. It was quite a pleasant experience. Why don’t I get the same experience today?” This sort of blissful experience during meditation or in concentration comes within the scope of assimilation. It becomes internalized. But if it does not find any expression within the mind, you can never experience it. Maybe after a few days you may experience an even greater bliss during incantation or meditation. All this means that even in the spiritual sphere also there is pause and speed.
In every sphere of life the same thing happens. This sort of experience is applicable to the individual body, mind and soul as much as it is to the collective mind, body and soul. In collective life the collective body, collective mind and collective soul follow the same pause and speed. During this period of systalsis, what is assimilated in a state of pause is expressed in the state of speed. Sometimes, in certain places, students read something out loud or a listener listens to something through the medium of the auditory sense organ - through the ear – but that listening or hearing alone is not enough. It has to be assimilated. Some people say, “Sh, sh,” or “Keep quiet. Let me listen!” This act of listening is not necessarily listening through the ears only; it is also an act of assimilation. No doubt the listeners listen through their ears, but in subsequent stages when they say, “Sh sh, let me listen please,” this listening is not enough. Here listening is also accompanied by assimilating.
Suppose there is some nice food item – say some Rasamalai or other delicious sweets. (Can you say who first invented these sorts of sweets? Sandesh was first invented by the confectioners of Sarai village in Hoogly District. Another sweet, Nimki, or triangular Nimki, is often found in sweet shops these days. In North India it is called Bangala Nimki and was also first invented by the famous Punt́úm Mayra of Sarai village.) Suppose you are offered a sweet and told to run as fast as you can. If you want to relish the full taste of the sweet you should not run. If you want to run fast you will not be able to taste the sweet properly. After running you would probably say, “Wait a moment, please. Let me take a rest for a while before I taste the sweet bit by bit”. While in a state of motion, the state of pause cannot occur; while running the speed of pulsation is so great that there is no chance of pause. That is why you would not be able to enjoy the complete taste of the sweet. Once you have finished running you will be able to relish the taste of the sweet.
In collective life human beings come to a stage where they prepare themselves for the next stage of speed. In India’s social life there have been long periods of pause. Sometimes during these pauses it appeared as though society would die forever, that it would never be able to raise its head again. During the last part of the British period of India it appeared as if the country had no future. The people wondered if the British would ever quit the country. Some thought that perhaps they would not, so what was the necessity of continuing the struggle for freedom? This thought frequented people’s minds. Behind all these thoughts was the state of pause, the stage of gathering momentum for the next phase.
In the social life of Bengal also there were long periods of pause followed by long periods of speed. During the Buddhist period there was a long period of speed. Then in the early part of the Hindu era the speed slackened. Later the speed picked up during the early part of the Pathan age. During the last part of the Moghul era there was no speed at all. Again, during the early part of the British rule there was tremendous speed, and again, during the last part of the British era, the speed lessened. Now there is no speed at all. But at sometime the speed will again pick up.
This speed and pause will continue. Pause means the gathering of momentum for speed in the subsequent phase. If one closely watches the effect of speed on a particular community or the entire humanity, one sees that generally people eulogize the period of speed. However, we cannot afford to ignore the state of pause, because by judging what the previous state of pause was like, we can discern the speed of the next phase.
There are some people who are pessimistic. They say that the society around us is very bleak, that it has no expression of vitality and that it seems that everyone is in a deep slumber. Pessimists say this because they have never made any detailed study of human history, nor do they care to. Had they done so, they would certainly be optimistic, because if they had looked carefully at the symptoms of pause, they would have realized that significant preparations were being made for the subsequent phase of speed. So under no circumstances should human beings be pessimistic. That is why I am always an incorrigible optimist, because I know that optimism is life.
10 March 1979, Calcutta