6. The Breaking of the Limits
We had set out in search of a self amid all this inner and outer machinery; we so much needed something other than this generic sum, this legal fiction, this curriculum vitae which is like a curriculum of death, this sum of actions and daily gestures adding up to zero or perpetually in hope of an inscrutable and elusive something, this crest of existence forever slipping away from under our feet and receding into the distance, toward another wave, the more or less happy repetition of the same old story, of the same "program" stored in the computer with our parents' chromosomes, our studies, our formative and deformative years; something that was not the attachë case we lug around everywhere, nor the stethoscope, nor the pen, not the sum of our feelings nor the sum of our changeless thoughts that leave us forever the same and alone in our little island of self which is not self, which is millions of things crammed into us from the outside, from around and above and below us, from life, from the world, from other beings - where is the self? What is me in all that? Where am I? The question had become so unbearable that one day we stepped outside - stepped into nothing, which was perhaps something, but it was everything, the only way out of the leaden island. Then, little by little, in the tiny empty interval between this shadow of mechanical self and that something, or nothing, which watches it all, we saw a flame of need grow in us, a need that became more and more intense and burning as the darkness grew thicker in and around us, an inexplicable flame leaping in that stifling nothingness. And slowly, very slowly, like a vague dawn emerging from under the night, like a faraway city wrapped in fog, we saw twinkling little lights start to appear, faint signs, so faint they looked like lights floating on a dark sea, which could have been ten feet or ten miles away, unless they were the reflection of stars or the phosphorescence of noctilucas beneath the waves. But even that nothing was already something in a world filled with such unsurpassed nothingness. So we persevered. The little flame of need settled in us (or was it outside us, or in our stead?); it became our companion, our presence amid an absence of everything, our gauge, our ever-burning intimacy. And the more it grew, calling out from within us, calling so desperately in this empty and suffocating nothing, the brighter the signs grew, twinkled a little everywhere beneath our steps, as if to say, "See? See?," as if calling the new world brought it to birth, as if something answered, became steadier, formed into lines, coordinates, channels, and we began to enter another country, another consciousness, another way of being - but where is "me" in all this, the one who directs and owns, that singular traveler, the center that is neither of the ape nor of man?
So we looked intently right and left: where is "me," who is "me"? . . . There is no me! Not a trace, not a single ripple of it. What is the use? There is this little shadow in front, which appropriated and piled up feelings, thoughts, powers, plans, like a beggar afraid of being robbed, afraid of destitution; it hoarded desperately on its island, yet kept dying of thirst, a perpetual thirst in the middle of the lovely sheet of water; it kept building lines of defense and fortresses against that overwhelming vastness. But we left the leaden island; we let the stronghold fall, which was not so strong as all that. We entered another current that seemed inexhaustible, a treasure giving itself unsparingly: why should we hold back anything from the present minute when at the next one there were yet other riches? Why should we think or plan anything when life organized itself according to another plan, which foiled all the old plans and, sometimes, for a second, in a sort of ripple of laughter, let us catch a glimpse of an unexpected marvel, a sudden freedom, a complete disengagement from the old program, a light and unfettered little law that opened all doors, toppled the ineluctable consequences and all the old iron laws with the flick of a finger, and left us stunned for a minute, on the threshold of an inconceivable expanse of sunlight, as though we had stepped into another solar system - which is perhaps not a system at all - as if breaking the mechanical limits inside had caused the same breaking of the mechanical limits outside. Maybe because the Machinery we are facing is one and the same: The world of man is what he thinks it; its laws are the result of his own constraint.
Yet this other way of being is not without logic, and that logic is what we should try to capture, if possible, if we want to pass consciously into the other state, not only in our inner life but in our outer one as well. We must know the rules of the passage.
To tell the truth, they do not reveal themselves easily - because they are too simple. It takes tireless experimenting, looking, observing, and above all - above all - looking at the microscopic. We imagine that the great primates of the past that were uncertainly progressing toward manhood must have discovered the secret of the other state gradually, in thousands of little split seconds, when they noticed that the mysterious little vibration that came between them and their mechanical act had the power to make their gesture and the result of their gesture different: a nonmaterial principle was surreptitiously starting to change matter and the laws of tree climbing. And, we further image, they were perhaps eventually struck by the insignificance of the movement that triggered such formidable consequences (which is why it escaped them for so long; it was too simple): "It" never concerned itself with big things, the great affairs of apes, but with minuscule gestures, the chance pebble one picks up on the edge of the path and holds a moment in one's palm, the ray of sun playing on one young sapling among millions of other identical but vain saplings in the forest. But that sapling and that pebble are looked at differently. And everything is in that difference.
Therefore, nothing is too small for the seeker of the new world; the slightest fluctuation of the inner vibratory state is carefully noted, along with the gesture that accompanies it, the circumstance that springs up or the face that passes. But we did say "vibration": thoughts have very little to do with this; they belong to the old mental acrobatics and are about as consequential for the new consciousness as tree climbing was for the first thought. It is more like a change of inner coloration, a play of fleeting shadows and sudden sunshine, of lightness and heaviness, a minute alteration of the rhythm - sharp jolts or leisurely flowings, abrupt pressures that compel our attention, sudden breaks in the clouds, moments of malaise, inexplicable sinkings.
Nothing is useless; there are no vain saplings in the forest, no nuisances, nothing to discard, no unhappy circumstances, no adverse locations, no untimely encounters, no unfortunate accidents - everything is good for the seeker of the new world, everything is his field of study . . . . It almost seems as though everything were given to him so he could learn the trade. Thus, the seeker begins to put his finger on the first rule of the passage: Everything is part of it. Everything points in that direction! There is no nuisance, no foes, no obstacles, no accidents, no negative things - everything is supremely positive, gives us signs, invites us to the discovery. There are no insignificant things, only moments of unconsciousness. There are no contrary circumstances, only wrong attitudes.
But, then, what is the attitude that brings the new consciousness, the look that makes a difference? The attitude is simple, we have said: one must first have severed all ties with the machine and live in the expanse behind. We say "behind," but to tell the truth we do not know whether there is front, back, top or bottom; it is only a distance from "ourselves," the old shadow, a sort of position both above and behind, as if that shadow were only part of a picture among many other things we looked at - but who does the looking, where is the Self that looks? . . . It is indeed a strange self, which is not myself. It feels as if "myself" were no longer inside the body, hanging in the center of the mental and vital spider web, but as if the body were inside myself, along with many other things. And as the disconnection from the machinery grows more absolute, this self seems even to extend outward, to touch many other points, apparently capable of living in many different places, without any concern for distance, as if it no longer depended on the sense organs and could, perhaps, live innumerably, here or there, depending on where the beam is focused. . . . It is an innumerable self.
The basic condition seems therefore to establish that clear little expanse "behind," that increasing flow: the medium must be clear, otherwise everything is distorted and there is no look at all, only the same old hodgepodge. But that clarity is only a basic condition for something else: the instrument is being cleansed to be used. And we come back to our question: What sort of look will "unearth" the new consciousness? . . . For it is indeed a matter of "unearthing": it is here, not millions of miles away in the heavens or in space. It is so close that we do not see it; it seems so much like nothing that we walk right past it, as the ape walked past the river a thousand times without noticing the torrent of energy that could change the world.
Our look is false because it perceives everything through the distorting prism of its routine, which is multifarious and subtle, made of thousands of years of habits which are as distorting in their deviltry as they are in their wisdom. This is the residue of the anthropoid, which had to erect barriers to protect his little life, his little family, his little clan, draw a line here, a line there, boundary markers, and generally insure his precarious existence by encasing it in a shell of individual and collective self. It follows that there is good and evil, right and wrong, useful and harmful, dos and don'ts - we have slowly become entangled in a huge police network in which we scarcely have the spiritual freedom to breathe - and even that air is polluted by countless decalogues that are barely one step above the pollution by the carbon monoxide of our engines. In short, we are forever "correcting" the world. But we are beginning to realize that this correction is not all that straight. Never for a moment do we stop putting our multicolored glasses on things in order to see them in the blue of our hopes, the red of our desires, the yellow of our morals and ready-made laws, and in black, in the endless grayness of a machinery that keeps grinding and grinding forever. The look - the true look - that will have the power to break free from this mental spell is therefore the one that will be able to cast itself on things clearly, without immediately "correcting" them: to rest here, upon this face, that circumstance or object the way one gazes at the infinite sea, without trying to solidify something - to let itself be carried by that tranquil and fluid infinity, to bathe in what we see, to sink into the thing, until slowly, as if from far away, from the depths of a tranquil sea, there emerges a perception of the thing seen, of the puzzling circumstance or face near us; a perception that is not a thought, not a judgment, hardly a sensation, but is like the true vibratory content of the thing, its special mode of being, its quality of being, its innermost music, its relation with the great Rhythm that flows everywhere. Then, slowly, the seeker of the new world will see a sort of little spark of pure truth in the heart of the object, circumstance, face or accident, a little cry of true being, a true vibration beneath all the black and yellow and blue and red coatings - something that is the truth of each thing, each being, each circumstance, each accident, as if the truth were everywhere, every instant, every step, only coated in black. The seeker will thus have put his finger on the second rule of the passage and the greatest of all the simple secrets: Look at the truth that is everywhere.
Armed with these two rules, firmly established in his sunlit position, that quiet clearing, the seeker of the new world moves within a greater self, perhaps infinite, which embraces this street and these beings and all the little gestures of the hour; he moves steadily on, as though carried by a great rhythm, which also carries the beings and things around him, the thousands of encounters sprung from nowhere and disappearing into the distance; he looks at this little walking shadow, which seems to have walked so long, walked for many lives perhaps, repeated the same small gestures, stumbled here and there, exchanged the same comments on the mood of the times; and it all seems so similar, so mixed with sweetness that this street and these beings and passing encounters seem to be cast from the same mold, issued from the depths of night, recalled from the same identical story, under the sky of Egypt or India or Vermont, today, yesterday or five thousand years ago - and what has really changed? There is a little being walking with his fire of truth, his fire of need, so intense amid the turmoil of time - a fire is perhaps the only thing that is truly he, a call of being from the depths of time, an unchanging cry amid the immense flow of things. And what is he calling for, this being; what is he crying for? Is he not in that vast and growing sunlight, in that rhythm carrying everything? He is and he is not. He has one foot in an untroubled eternity and the other stumbling and groping in the dark - the other in a little self of fire yearning to fill this second of time, this empty gesture, this step among thousands of similar steps, with a fullness of true existence as complete as all the millennia put together, with as unfailing an exactness as the crisscrossing of the stars above our heads; yearning for everything to be true, true, completely true and filled with meaning, in this enormous whirlwind of vanity; yearning for this line he crosses, this street he goes down, this hand he extends, this word he utters to be linked to the great flowing of the worlds, to the rhythm of the stars, to the lines, the countless lines that furrow this universe and form a total song, a truth filled with the whole and each fragment of the whole. So he looks at all these little passing things, he fills them with his fire of entreaty, he looks and looks at that little truth everywhere as if it were going to burst out, forced into being by his fire.
And it is true that the world starts changing before our eyes and that nothing is insignificant anymore, nothing is separate from the rest. We witness a great, total birth. Our simple look has strange extensions, our little gesture a reverberating echo. But here again, it is a timid birth; it is more like scattered little hints of birth. The seeker stops and stares at a scattering of little outbreaks, of happenings with no apparent connection, a little like the ancient hominid staring at a pliant branch here and a vine and a piece of flint over there before tying them into a bow and felling his prey in full career. He does not know the connections - they almost have to be invented. But our inventions are only a discovery of what is already there, like the river and the vine in the forest. A new world is a discovery of new connections. Now, ours is the age of introspection of the second kind, when the invention, the true invention, is no longer one that will bring two material objects together by means of the subtle phenomenon of thought, but one that will be able to bring together that same matter and the subtler phenomenon of a second degree of consciousness, silent and without thought. The task of our age is no longer to perfect matter through matter, to enlarge matter by adding more matter to it - we are already suffocating under the monstrous plethora which fetters us and which, at bottom, is only an "improvement" of the ape's technique - but to transform matter through that subtler power, or rather, perhaps, to make it reveal its own innate power of truth.
It is difficult to choose examples from those thousands of microscopic little experiences which one hardly knows whether to call experiences, coincidences or imaginations. Yet they keep cropping up, insisting, as if an invisible finger of light were guiding our steps, checking this gesture, exerting a subtle pressure on one point or another, until we understand - then the pressure is lifted and we move on to another point, which seems to come back again and again with the same obstinacy. An experience is a thousand experiences unaware of themselves. There is no recipe, no instruction sheet; the only way is to walk, stumble, walk more, until, all of a sudden, there is a little "ah!" which fills a thousand gaps at once.
There are two categories of "experiences," positive ones and negative ones, and they embrace everything from the little subjective entity that we are all the way to the great objective entity we move in. Then, at some point, this subjectivity and this objectivity melt, this little fragment of matter merges with the large one, and everything moves in a single movement. This is the breaking of the limits.
Among those innumerable beginning little bursts, the one that recurs most frequently is the interpenetration or interfusion of the inner and the outer, but in the opposite direction to that of materialistic mechanics. There, hitting our fingers results in a disorder in our inner substance; here, a disorder in our inner substance results in a blow in matter. This experience is repeated thousands of times, at every level of our being, so we clearly understand the process. It is negative at first, catching us in our weak spots, as if error were always the door to a greater truth. Thus, we have come out of our little clearing, once again snagged by the machine (one should say by pain, for it is truly a self of pain), and all the circumstances of life begin surreptitiously to change, sometimes even in a striking way which can go so far as a physical accident. Yet there was no evil thought, no old desire or restless agitation; there was only a little slipping into the old habit of being under a weight of anxiety, a darkening without apparent reason, a loss of the clear little ray. And everything starts grating, nothing accords, nothing meshes, every gesture is amiss, we twist an ankle on the stairway. We fall back into a sort of arduous effort, as if we were constantly pushing against a wall. So we stop for a moment, call back the silence, take one step back, rekindle that fire of need, which is really like a cry for air, and everything suddenly lightens, eases up, relaxes - the wall is gone. We have stepped back into the vastness, recaptured the rhythm, the little music in the depths of things; and all the circumstances start imperceptibly to turn in another direction, unexpected, light, casual, sprinkled with little smiles that flicker here and there, beckoning us. Sometimes, there is even a miraculous arrangement, but minuscule miracles that do not care to boast by displaying their power, that do not even want to be acknowledged, that only smile slightly if we point a finger at them, as if to say, "See how silly you are?"
Indeed, we feel quite silly. All of a sudden we step into an incredible landscape where little lights seem to twinkle softly everywhere, winking gleefully, almost mischievously at us, as if doors were opening up on every side, drops of treasure were glistening like dew everywhere. All at once, everything seems to follow another law, to live according to another rhythm, as though our eyes had seen wrongly for centuries and now they are seeing correctly, the world becomes true, everything is revealed, everything is a revelation! We could almost say, "Let it be this way," for the circumstance to become exactly as we have seen it at that instant, to obey our command, to adhere inexplicably, as if there were perfect, instantaneous coincidence between matter and the look that opened up in us - everything is possible, everything becomes possible. It looks like a miracle, but it is not a miracle. There is no miracle, only connections we do not grasp. And the experience is repeated until we grasp it. It is fleeting, whimsical, and eludes us when we try to capture it; it depends on something else. And we come back again and again to that something else, which seems like nothing, which is simple as a smile, light as a breeze, yielding as a flower in the sun - maybe that is what total openness is, a kind of assent full of sunshine, to everything, at every second? But, first, there is always a blossoming inside, something that opens up and communicates instantly and directly with matter, as if the point of truth in us had joined and touched the same points of truth in matter. It all flows without breaks; what "it" wants here, in this point of "self," is also wanted there, in that point of matter, because it is one and the same substance, one and the same will, one and the same global self, one and the same rhythm. Fabulous horizons open up before us for a second, then disappear. The seeker has stumbled upon an elusive secret that holds the marvel of the new world in seed as certainly as the first thought of the ape held the seed of Einstein's marvels - but this is an unfettered marvel, completely free and independent of all external mechanisms, a kind of spontaneous springing out from within. He has put his finger on the third golden rule of the passage: From within outward. Life is no longer the result of a manipulation of external phenomena, an addition and combination of different kinds of matter by the power of the mental machinery, but the unfolding of an inner phenomenon that manipulates matter's truth by the inner truth - an unfolding of the truth in truth and by the truth. And once again we are struck by the same phenomenon. These fleeting little bursts have nothing to do with "big things," the sensational and earthshaking affairs of men. They are humble miracles, one could say meticulous miracles of detail, as if the real key were there in the little stumbling everyday trifle caught by surprise, at ground level, as if, in fact, a victory won over a minute point of matter were more pregnant with consequences than all the trips to the moon and the huge revolutions of men - which in the end revolutionize nothing.
This new functioning seems indeed to be radically new. It is unlike any of the so-called spiritual or occult powers one can obtain by scaling the ladder of consciousness: these are not prophetic powers, or healing powers, or powers of levitation - the thousand and one poor powers that have never healed the world's poverty - they are not dazzling lights that command men's attention for an instant, only to leave them afterwards as they were before, half asleep and afflicted with cancer; not brief, compelling impositions from above that come and upset the laws of matter, only to let it fall back the next moment into its heavy and stubborn obstinacy. It is a new consciousness - new, entirely new, like a young shoot on the tree of the world - a direct power from matter to matter, without interference from above, without descending course, distorting intermediary or diluting passage. Truth here answers truth there, instantly and automatically. It is a global consciousness, innumerably and infinitesimally conscious of the truth of each point, each thing, each being, each second. We could say a divine consciousness of matter, the very one that one day cast this seed upon our good earth, and these millions of wild seeds, and these millions of stars, which knows perfectly every moment all the degrees of its unfolding, down to the tiniest leaf - everything harmonizes when one harmonizes with the Law. Because, in fact, there is only one Law, a Law of Truth.
Truth is supreme effectiveness.
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