Isolation and Death
Thought is preoccupied with security. When I consider death I am concerned about my attachments, I am concerned about losing all of those things associated with me – my wife, my child, my house, my knowledge, my job, my status in the community. Although we may enjoy forms of companionship – in the family, in the community and so on – selfhood is essentially isolating in nature; we are principally concerned with ourselves. Isolation is the by-product of the effort of the thinker and his thought to bring about security. Look at your life and the lives of others – this what we are all doing, concerned with our own little beliefs and objectives, concerned with our pleasures, our problems, our vanities, with how to get on in this world and how to derive some sense of security. Our concern for ourselves above all others inevitably separates us from one another. This creates a division between you and I and also between you and reality, and where there is this division there must be isolation and therefore fear. If I am concerned only about myself – with my ambitions, with what I can achieve or with how erudite I can become (because I want to be secure) – then I have isolated myself. Thought being concerned with its own security cultivates isolation and this isolation is its own form of death. We fear death because we fear being isolated from all that we know. Our fear of death is a fear of isolation.
Thought being concerned with itself and its own continuity will always try to escape death, the idea of all its attachments being taken away. Thought seeks forms of escape because death is its principal fear and so it inevitably tries to overcome this fear by escaping (thus breeding further fear). It is trying to overcome the prospect of the isolation that it assumes comes with death. But the self-orientated activity of the mind to overcome isolation is by its nature also isolating and so its defence against isolation can only ever increase that isolation, and with it the fear that comes with isolation. The activity of the mind to overcome death is its own form of death. The mind is playing tricks on itself and the by-product of its activity only goes on to reinforce that about which it is most afraid. All cultivated isolation is a form of death because in my effort to overcome my fear I have cut myself off from the world. I have thus become more isolated and more fearful. Thought is caught up in both what it fears and what it wishes to overcome, and because it is caught up in these projections it does not see the nature of how its principal activity to solve the problem of death – an activity which is isolating – actually strengthens the problem of death – which is isolation. In the light of this, can there be such a thing as psychological security? There cannot be psychological security through the processes of adjustment, seeking and achieving. In becoming there is no security, only anxiety; you may not achieve your goal. There is nothing secure in the structure of thought because all seeking for security can only ever increase insecurity. To seek security is to be concerned only about oneself, which is of course isolating. Having seen the truth of this the mind may ask ‘If there is no isolation, is there death? How is one to bring about the ending of isolation and therefore death?
Thought, fragmenting itself into both the thinker and its thought, thinks about its own security in order to overcome its fear of death. Thought separates itself as the thinker and thinks about another aspect of itself, this being its desire for security through the accumulation of things – like beliefs, knowledge, position or property. I fear death because I fear being separated from all that I love – my attachments, my knowledge, my memory – and it is my thinking about death which creates fragmentation in the mind. When thought thinks about something, anything, there must be fragmentation. There must be a thinker and its thought – that which thought thinks about. The ending of thought (thought being a fragment) is, to the mind, its own death. To the mind, death is the ending of all its fragments. Yet there is only death when there is fragmentation because it is only in fragmentation that there can be isolation. To the mind, the ending of fragmentation is death. Yet we are saying that this process of fragmentation is itself death. Which is right? It depends upon your perspective, upon who you are. What is your fundamental essence? Are you the thinker that sees the ending of thought to be death or are you the awareness that remains when all thought, all fragmentation, ceases, when isolation comes to an end?
The thinker, which is an organised fragment of thought as the ‘me’, is thinking about another, separate fragment (a thought, an idea – that which the ‘me’ is thinking about). This form of thinking, of focusing on one apparently separate fragment, prevents you from seeing the whole. If the mind is operating only from within fragments – from judgements, opinions or conclusions, for example – then how can it ever see the total, the undivided, the whole? It is only in the whole, the total, that there is life, that there is the unitary process of reality. There is no true living if one’s action, which is a defence against fear, leads to isolation because isolation is death, not living. There is no death when there is the seeing of the whole because when seeing the whole there is no fragmentation, no division and therefore no isolation. A mind that is free of the problem of isolation does not know what death is. There is only death when there is fragmentation because fragmentation is the activity which breeds isolation as the ‘me’ or the ‘you’ who are separate from reality. If there is no fragment, no ‘me’ or ‘you’, if there is action without belief or ideas, then there is no separation and so there cannot be isolation or death. Think about it. If I believe in this or that or if I am caught up in myself then there is death because I am isolated from the world. I am isolated from all the birds, the trees, the fish, the flowers, the animals; I am isolated from the whole essence of existence because I am caught up in psychological abstraction. Life exists in the real not in the abstract. If I can see the whole nature of thinking and can therefore see the world and the universe with all thought in abeyance; and if this silence can be effortless, then there is no death, there is only the whole. There is a deep connection with the whole, a relationship with the whole where there is only existence.
If death is isolation, then in the absence of isolation there is no death. What causes isolation is the process of thinking, thinking being fragmentation and therefore your separation from the whole as the observer and the observed, your sense of ‘me’ with its thoughts, its anxieties, complexities and troubles. If the mind can understand how the process of thinking causes fragmentation, and thus duality, then there can be awareness of the whole and the seeing of its truth with clarity. If you are looking at the whole from only a fragment (that being the ‘me’) how can there be true understanding? Surely to understand the whole, all parts, all fragments must cease. Now if there is thinking, there must be fragmentation. All logical thinking must think about something and if there is thinking there must be a thinker who thinks. So thought is fragmentation. Therefore time, which is thought in movement, must also be fragmentation. If time is fragmentation, can there be the understanding of the whole through the process of time or is the understanding of the whole immediate and beyond fragmentation? For the mind to see anything clearly fragmentation must cease, all thought must be quiet. You cannot understand anything if your mind is chattering, busy and full of noise. You can only understand something fully and deeply when the mind is completely quiet. And if you understand something, then your action in relation to that something will be immediate. If you understand that a cliff is dangerous you don’t go near it, your action is instantaneous. You don’t need to think about it, you see it clearly without time. Do you use words to understand the essence of a thing, when there is this pre-intellectual awareness of the essence of a thing like a flower or a tree or a mountain? Logical thought and reasoning comes only after the fact. So can you see the whole without thought, without fragmentation?
When there is the understanding of how time as thought is fragmentation, then the mind automatically quietens and is able to see the whole. There is the clarity of seeing the whole as a constant movement. There is understanding of how thought, thinking, can only ever be a part of this movement. There is the seeing of this clearly without the process of thought analysing, calculating and adjusting in the background; the mind is quiet and there is a deep knowing in every cell of your being; in your heart and your gut. Logical thought and reasoning may come after the seeing and touching of the whole, but in the actual moment of the whole there is complete clarity without thinking. There is no longer a thinker who thinks. There is no observer who observes. The mind is completely quiet and there is only observation; this awareness which is timeless, eternal and therefore beyond death.
When you realise the truth of fragmentation and the isolating nature of fragmentation, you will see that to put your thought into abeyance through effort only creates further fragmentation. The ‘me’, the controller, the enforcer, the censor is itself a fragment. See how discipline, control and effort are not the way. There is no ‘How?’ to end fragmentation, to ask ‘How?’ is fragmentation. For who is the entity that is asking? The asker must be a fragment. There is only the ending of fragmentation when there is the complete understanding of the structure of thought, and therefore fragmentation. There must be the seeing of it in its entirety, on the instant, without the need for logical dissection over time. To dissect, to analyse, to calculate and apply further logic, these are all fragmentary processes. When you see the truth of fragmentation – that when thought thinks it must think about something – you see the truth of the nature of thinking. All thinking ends and there is deep existential understanding of the whole. This is meditation. There is only the whole, only existence, only this continuing process where life and death are the same. There can only be death for thought. When there is no thought, no fragmentation, there is no mind to even ask what death is. There is only an awareness of ‘what is’ and ‘what is’ is both life and death, ‘what is’ is the constant movement of truth.