The psychological consciousness of the natural man functions in five different ways which form a single series.
- 1st mode:
- Deep sleep, without dreams. The mentality contains no images. A mode of functioning which is non-functioning.
- 2nd mode:
- Sleep with dreams.
- 3rd mode:
- Waking with reveries.
- 4th mode:
- Waking with definite thought that takes account of the real external present.
- 5th mode:
- Waking with pure intellectual thought.
Except in the first mode the mentality contains an imaginative film but of a kind which differs from the second to the fifth. An imaginative film, of whatever kind it may be, is characterised in one respect by the nature of its images; these may be concrete, particular, based on the concrete reality of the present or not present; or they may be abstract, general (based on general reality, to which the words 'present' and 'not present' no longer apply). An imaginative film is characterised in another respect, by the manner in which the images are arranged in it, the style of their association. Three styles can be distinguished: symbolical, realistic, pure intellectual.
The imaginative film, or, to put it in a simpler way, the thought of sleep-with-dreams, is characterised before all else by its symbolical style of association. In this symbolical style the meaning of the film does not lie in its form, in its expression; it lies behind the form, and this merely serves to indicate it. There is a difference between form, which is only a means, and informal substance, which is its aim (and at the same time evidently its principle).
The thought of waking-with-reveries is intermediary between the dream thought and the thought of man adapted to the real external present. It can be very near the dream thought, with the same apparent absurdity. It can also be constructed no longer in the symbolical style but in the realistic style such as we shall see in the fourth mode.
The realistic thought of man adapted to the real external present is composed of images which are no longer content to suggest meaning without containing it within themselves. These are concrete images which claim to have a real immediate meaning that is adequate for the concrete reality. The meaning of this thought lies less behind its expression than within it. We do not say, however, that the meaning of the thought does not lie at all behind its expression; indeed the meaning, which is the relative truth of the thought, is a manifestation of inexpressible primordial Truth; and this thought would be meaningless, would not even exist, if it had no meaning behind its form; it is by virtue of this latent meaning that the form contains a certain manifest and relative meaning.
Pure intellectual thought, in the man who reflects, who meditates, is no longer constructed in the realistic style but in the pure intellectual style. Its images are abstract and, in contrast to what applied to realistic thought, correspond with nothing that the sense-organs can perceive. The Hindus regard the mind as the sixth organ of sense; this view is very defensible, in the sense that the mind, like the sense-organs, transmits nothing that is not relative; but the mind differs in another respect from the sense-organs in that it alone transmits perceptions that are abstract and general. In this mode of thought the images pretend to much more than in realistic thought. Rejecting, categorically this time, the modest role of indirectly suggesting the truth, they claim to contain in themselves a meaning of general import. Formal expression is at its apogee, the substance behind the form is at its minimum.
Considering these five modes of thought spread out serially, we necessarily ask ourselves what hierarchy there is among them. Current opinion sees in the succession from the first mode to the fifth a progression; it rates the state of the man who deals with external reality above the state of the man who sleeps, and it rates the state of the man who meditates on general laws above the state of the man who deals with concrete reality.
This opinion is partially correct. But we will see first wherein it is wrong, wherein the Vedanta is right in regarding the state of deep sleep as superior to the state of sleep-with-dreams, and this as superior to the waking state. From the absence of thought (sleep-without-dreams) to pure intellectual thought (meditation), the perception of inexpressible truth claims more and more to take upon itself a mental form; but the mental form, or imaginative form, is comparable with the plane section of a volume. This section certainly gives information concerning the volume, but it differs from it radically; the more the section is made with ability and precision the more precise the information which it gives; but at the same time the pretention of the section to be the volume increases, and so the more precise the information given by the section, the more it deceives the person who considers it, and the less it tells him in reality. With the man who meditates (fifth mode) the error is at its greatest since he takes his images as adequate for objective reality of general import. With the man who deals with concrete reality the error is less since he takes his images as adequate for a lesser reality. The man who day-dreams deceives himself less in his turn; he is less pretentious; he does not confuse his 'reverie' with 'reality'. The error is less again with the man who dreams while sleeping; his images are more modest, they no longer claim to do more than indicate indirectly a truth which they do not possess in themselves.1 Finally, the man who sleeps without dreaming no longer deceives himself at all since the pretentions of his formal thought have vanished with the thoughts themselves.
[1. Note that the highest 'esoteric' teachings always and necessarily use symbols and myths.]
From the first mode of thought to the fifth there is, then, in a sense, degradation. The form seizes more and more firmly the sense of the thought, until informal and original substance becomes ever poorer behind the curtain of images. The images, less and less backed up, may be compared with banknotes against which the gold-reserve disappears.
This way of looking at the series of modes of thought, as a hierarchy successively graded down from the first mode to the fifth, would be the only and indisputable way if man had only to be regarded from the point of view of the moment. It is no longer so as soon as one regards man as being capable of evolution in duration. At the moment the man who sleeps profoundly deceives himself less than the one who meditates; but, if one considers duration, the man who meditates is superior to the one who sleeps profoundly because, in meditating, in playing to the utmost the illusory game of his state as a natural man (egotistical state shut up in the subject-object dualism), this man comes near to the instant of satori when the 'old' man, deluded, will disappear and will give place to the 'new man', in possession of the informal original thought (immanent and transcendent thought as compared with the five modes of ordinary thought).
As we will see later, the thought of the fifth mode, or meditative thought, cannot by itself release satori, but without this thought man could never find out how to obtain this release, and in consequence he could never obtain it. It is by using this thought, the most abstract, the most pretentious, and in a sense the most completely erroneous, that man can arrive at an understanding of the vanity of all his functions of perception and of research for intemporal realisation, and can understand how he ought finally to proceed in order to relax inwardly and to present himself thus, ready for the explosion of satori.
In short, in this series of the five modes of thought of the natural man, there are at the same time two inverse hierarchies. If one looks at the question from the point of view of the moment one sees the thought decline in value from the first mode to the fifth; if one looks at the question in duration, from the point of view of the man's possible metamorphosis, one sees the thought increase in value from the first to the fifth.
Let us point out, in a short digression, the analogy which exists between the evolution of the individual man and that of humanity. Some people maintain that, with the passing centuries, humanity progresses; others maintain that this scientific or intellectual progress is a sign of progressive decomposition. The truth, as always, conciliates the opposing points of view; in a sense there is degradation in proportion as the knowledge of humanity emerges from its informal state in order to crystallise itself in forms that are more and more expert and precise; in another sense there is progress by means of cyclic advance towards a collective explosion, analogous to individual satori (although at the same time very different) when an old humanity, learned and without wisdom, will die, and a new humanity, unlearned and wise, will be born.
Let us return to the modes of our individual thought and consider them from the angle of satori that we hope some day to obtain. In order that satori may be released, man should organise in his psyche certain favourable conditions that we shall see further on. But, to begin with, at the first stage, he ought by patient intellectual work to understand what are these favourable conditions and how to organise them. It is only with regard to this first stage that the five modes of thought differ in effective value, and that the fifth mode is the highest. The non-human animal is incapable of satori because he only possesses the first four modes of thought, and not the fifth. Abstract meditative thought is necessary in order to understand the vanity of all the direct efforts that man can make in order to satisfy fully and definitely the aspirations of his nature. This thought alone is capable of conceiving other new methods in view of this satisfaction, then to realise that these methods also are vain, and to succeed at last, after a long process of elimination, in reaching the heart of the problem.
But the primacy of meditative thought only applies to this preparatory phase of the acquisition of theoretical understanding. If we suppose now that the man has discovered the inner conditions which, by establishing themselves and growing within him, are ultimately going to lay him open to the explosion of satori, this man has at the same time discovered that none of his five modes of thought constitutes by itself these necessary inner conditions. He has understood that for this final phase of the inner labour the five modes of thought are equally ineffective; dreamless sleep is inefficacious because the Not-Self is absent from it; and the four following modes of thought are ineffective because, as soon as the mind works in order to take hold of reality, this formative instrument separates man from any immediate union with Informal Reality.
The condition necessary for the release of satori consists in a perception that we are going to try to demonstrate, and which is not natural or spontaneous in the ordinary man as are his five modes of thought.
In order to succeed in our attempt we shall have to make a few digressions. Let us study, to begin with, the circumstances of a certain psychological phenomenon which no doubt a good many men have experienced. One day, comfortably installed, I am in process of reading a book which takes up my attention without in any way reminding me of the preoccupations of this period of my life; I do not identify myself with any of the heroes of my book and I follow their adventures as a completely detached spectator. With regard to my personal life I am enjoying an absolute truce, my fears and my hopes have been expelled from my mind; the discourse represented by my book is, in my mind, purely a monologue, without any other voice intervening either to comment upon it or to interrupt it with reflections concerning my cares or my personal hopes. My body, very comfortable, does not send to my mind any message to trouble it and everything runs smoothly in me. Then the attention, already so slight and relaxed, that I was paying to my book, is removed from it altogether; at this moment the calm in me is so pure that it amounts to a veritable suspense (we will see in a moment suspense of what). Suddenly a sense-perception (an object which enters my field of vision, or a sound which reaches me) breaks this suspense; I see the object, or I hear the sound, as I never see or hear habitually; as if, habitually, forms and sounds only came to me through a screen which deformed them, whereas in this special moment, they come to me direct, in their pure reality. Still more interesting, my sense perception communicates to me simultaneously a knowledge of the outside world and of myself; in this moment I feel no longer any separation between the world and myself although they remain distinct; Not-Self and Self, while remaining two, are joined together to form a unity. Then, at the end of a few seconds, in the course of which I have mentally realised what I have just described, my new vision of things fades away and I return to my usual condition.
If one compares this experience with the accounts that certain Zen masters have left us of their satori, many points in common become obvious; great calm at first with a sensation of suspense in which the subject is as though awake and asleep at the same time, cessation of all mental agitation (the Zen monk says that he is then 'like an idiot, like an imbecile'), the role of a sense-perception in the release of a new perspective of everything, the suddenness of this release, and the impression of clarity and of unity in this new perspective. But there is otherwise a great difference; the experience of which we are speaking leaves nothing but a memory, whereas satori inaugurates a new life definitely freed from the dualistic-egotistical illusion.
How should we interpret these resemblances and these differences? First of all for what reason did this little transitory satori come to me? Because an exceptional tranquility is realised in my mind; my mind is functioning in the course of my reading, but in a uniform rhythm, regular, without jerks, weaving a film made of light images, without relief. These images even fade away in the end, and my mind turns in then on its centre without projecting anything onto the surface. At this moment the habitual spasm of the mind has disappeared although the mind continues to function (I am not in a state of deep sleep); thus relaxed without being asleep, my mind is able to receive, motionless, this non-dualist perception of existence to which it is habitually opposed on account of its agitation. It is like a prisoner living in a prison the door of which is made to open inwards, and who habitually pushes this door in order to open it. The more he pushes the less the door can open, but if he stops pushing for a moment the door opens by itself. Why, then, did not my little satori last? Because the conditions which allowed the releasing of it were based on an artifice; it is thanks to a momentary forgetfulness of my personal preoccupations that this perfect tranquility was realised in me; I had withdrawn outside the range of any circumstance that could concern my Ego. When, later, I became conscious of my little satori in saying to myself that it is to me that it has happened, all my egotistical life, which had been momentarily cast out of my mind, burst in again with all the usual consequences of its illusory agitation.
True, definitive, satori supposes that a perfect tranquility has been realised in the mind of a man who has not withdrawn from the circumstances that concern his Ego, but who, on the contrary, lives them fully.
How is that possible? And first in what exactly consists this tranquility of the mind? Something is in suspense, we have said, but what? It is not a suspending of all mental functioning, since the subject remains awake, since he does not sleep. The mind functions, it works. Only it works smoothly, without jerks. Something is stopped, but not the mind, only its jerks, the irregularities of its rhythm. With what then do these jerks correspond? They correspond with the emotions. The little satori of the experience described above happened to me because I had been for an hour or two without emotions; I had left outside my mind all images concerning my personal life, my book held my attention without moving me the least in the world, my body, being comfortable, kept quiet; I felt neither joy nor grief. It was this absence of emotion which conditioned the functioning, without jerks, of my mind, and it was this functioning which conditioned the sudden release in me of the non-dualistic consciousness of existence.
What then is emotion? We must know this in order to discover the means of eliminating emotion from our psyche. (We will speak later on of the reason that leads the natural man to rebel so violently, as a rule, when one speaks to him of eliminating the emotions of his psychic life.)
Emotion represents a short-circuit of man's vital energy flowing between his instinctive, negative centre and his intellectual, positive, centre. This short-circuit consists in a disintegration of the energy at a point which one regards as a third centre and which one calls the emotional centre. (After satori this point is no longer a centre similar to the others, situated on the same plane, but the apex of the triangle of his ternary synthesis.) The short-circuit that produces emotion occurs when the intellectual terminal is not insulated. To what does this lack of insulation of the intellectual terminal correspond? To the passivity of the mind in face of the ultimate problem of man's state as this problem is manifested in the present moment. All man's movements, interior and exterior, have a unique prime motor, his natural need to-be-as-a-distinct-entity, that is to say his natural need to 'exist', which resides in his instinctive centre; but man is not conscious of this need at the moment when this need comes into play in so far as it comes into play at the given moment. Man can be conscious of it theoretically, but not concretely, in so far as this need is experienced in the instant. Everything works in the man on the basis of a 'given-that-I-must-exist' which remains implicit; his mind can become actively conscious of all the manifestations of this primary need, but this consciousness of manifestation excludes consciousness of that which it manifests.
Let us try to say that again in another way. Behind everything that man experiences there is debated within him the illusory question of his being or his nullity, Man's attention is fascinated by the fluctuations of this dispute, and these appear to him unceasingly important and new; and he is unconscious of the dispute itself and of its constant monotony. Man is attentive to the forms of his psycho-somatic states, to their qualitative variations which are always new; he does not see, behind the formal manifestations of his momentary state, the quantitative variations of what we will call the in-formal sensation of his existence. If, at any moment, I wish to perceive, by means of an intuitive inward movement of perfect simplicity, the in-formal impression that I have of existing more or less, I can do so; but as soon as I cease to wish it I cease to do so and my attention is seized once again by formal perceptions. When I voluntarily perceive my in-formal sensation of existing (quantitatively variable), my mind is active concerning the ultimate reality of my condition at the concrete moment that I am living, and then my intellectual centre is insulated, and I experience no emotion. As soon as I cease this voluntary perception, which is unnatural, my intellectual centre ceases to be active, ceases to be insulated, and my emotions begin again.
My in-formal sensation of existing varies quantitatively, from annihilation to exaltation, but without a special effort I do not pay attention to that, though it is nevertheless that which is in question for me in my actual egotistical-dualistic condition. I am attentive to the mental forms which reveal my state, annihilated or exalted.
My mental passivity, seduced and held captive by the forms of my humour, constitutes a non-insulation of this centre which exposes it to emotional short-circuits, to jumps, to agitation (what the Hindus call 'the mad monkey').
The man who desires some day to obtain satori should train himself progressively to insulate his intellectual centre in order to protect it against emotional agitation. And he should do so, without eliminating or modifying artificially the circumstances which concern his Ego and which try to move him, fully in the course of his natural life as it comes to him. In order to do that he must unceasingly reawaken the possibility that he has (and which tends unceasingly to fall asleep again) of perceiving, beneath the forms pertaining to his states-of-mind, his in-formal sensation, more or less positive or negative, of existing. This attention does not lead to turning his back on concrete egotistical-dualistic life, but, on the contrary, to keeping himself in the very centre of his being, accomplishing it by living it in the motionless inner point at which appears the very first dualism, that of existence-non-existence. When man's attention is fixed exactly on this source of all his agitation, then and then only, tranquility begins for him. When this tranquility is firmly established the inner conditions are at last favourable for the opening of satori in which dualism is conciliated by integrating itself in a ternary synthesis.
It is clearly impossible to describe this presence within oneself which is the immediate and in-formal perception of the degree of existence at the moment, precisely on account of the in-formal character of this perception. Let us suppose that I ask you: 'How are you feeling at this moment?' You will ask in reply: 'From what point of view? Physically or morally?' I answer: 'From all points of view together, how do you feel?' You are silent for a couple of seconds, then you say, for example: 'Not so bad', or 'So-so', or 'Very well', or something else.... Of the two seconds during which you were silent the latter does not interest us for you were using it in order to put into a form of expression your perception of your total state-of-mind; you had then already slipped away from the inner presence which interests us. It is during the first second that you perceived what is really in question for you all the time, and of which you are habitually unconscious, being conscious only of forms which derive from this unconscious perception or of forms in connexion with which this unconscious perception exists. If someone, after having read this, tries to obtain the informal perception of which we are speaking, let him beware; there are a thousand ways of believing that one has it, whereas one has it not; in any case the mistake is the same and consists in one complication or another which comprises forms; one is not simpleminded enough. In-formal and immediate perception of existence is the simplest kind of perception there can be. Correctly carried out it can be obtained in the middle of the most intense external activity and without disturbing that; I do not have to turn away from what I am doing, but rather to feel myself existing in the very centre of the formal world of my activity and of the attention that I pay to it.
The natural man, as we have said above, is loath to envisage a diminution of his emotions. He resembles a caterpillar that can become a butterfly if it passes through the stage of a chrysalis. The caterpillar only moves along the ground. It cannot fly, or profit by the height dimension; but at least it moves; compared with this movement the immobility of the chrysalis might seem to it to be horrible. Nevertheless the temporary renouncement of an imperfect movement procures him ultimately a superior movement. Emotions are like the movement of the caterpillar; it is not flying but it resembles it and, with imagination, one succeeds in mistaking it for that. Man holds onto the bright sparks of his inner short-circuitings, and he has to reflect long and honestly in order to understand that these simple fireworks could never lead to anything. There is no real renunciation as long as one continues to attach value to that which one renounces.
We will take up again now, in another way, the whole problem studied in this essay.
That which popular language calls 'physical' and 'moral' corresponds with two domains which co-exist in us and which appear to us to be clearly different. The impressions by means of which I feel myself to be living, I range in my somatic or in my psychic life; for instance when I feel my life negatively, when I feel it is menaced, attacked, that may be through physical pain or through moral suffering. It is as though my 'being' presented two faces to make contact with the outside world, one somatic, the other psychic, and penetrated by the constructive or destructive influences of the outside world.
My impressions are released by the outside world, but I feel them well-up in myself; my physical pain may be due to a blow, but I feel that it springs from my body; my moral suffering may be due to any external event, but I feel that it takes its rise in what I call my 'soul'. If I try to see from where, in myself, these impressions come to me, I do not succeed; my painful somatic sensation reaches my consciousness from a source in which it is unconscious. It is the same with the moral suffering; I see clearly that this suffering is connected in me with such and such a mental image, but from where has this image risen up in my consciousness? Here also I have to reply, from an unconscious source. This source I conceive necessarily as the source of my life, and I conceive it as unique, for I have the intuitive impression of being one, a single synthesis beneath the duality of my reactive manifestations.
If I study thus, working up-stream, the flux of my somatic life and that of my psychic life, I see these two currents join together at the central point of a unique source. I understand then why the physical seems to react unceasingly on the moral, and the moral on the physical; and the notion of a third term, the notion of the synthetic 'being', unites the two parts which appeared to be separate. I realise that I did not properly understand the reactions of my two lives upon each other; in reality the outside world never directly touches my 'body' or my 'soul' in so far as I am aware of it; it always touches directly this central cross-roads from which my two conscious lives branch off; and it makes contact either through the somatic face which I present to it, or through the psychic face. Once the centre has been touched I shall experience impressions from it which can be situated above all in the domain (psychic or somatic) through which my profound centre has been touched, or even above all in the domain opposed to that by which the contact has taken place. This distribution of the impressions which are going to predominate, either in the physical domain or in the psychical domain, depends to some extent on the nature of the contact which comes from the outside world, but also to a great extent on the structure of the subject. To this corresponds the distinction that psychiatrists make between the obsessional neurotic type and the hysterical type; the obsessional neurotic has above all psychic impressions, the hysterical predominantly somatic impressions. A bad digestion will give sometimes to the 'psychic' man no abdominal impression, but only black thoughts; bad news is often expressed, where the hysterical subject is concerned, principally, or even uniquely, by physical discomfort.
The two domains, physical and psychic, are not really separated, and the problem of their apparent reciprocal reactions is not worth bothering about. It is useless to enquire what bridge links them together; no bridge joins them, but they are in direct contact at the point at which they are born, at the central unconscious cross-roads of my 'being'. These two kinds of manifestation reveal the same principle and they are not obliged to react one against the other; when I drink alcohol and it gives me cheerful thoughts, why speak of the reaction of my physical side on my moral? My centre has received a certain influence from the outside world, which has reached it via my somatic facet; then, crossing this central cross-roads, this influence expresses itself reactively at the same time in my somatic domain (gaiety). Good news, or the joyous animation of a meeting with friends, can, without the absorption of alcohol, produce in me exactly the same phenomena; it is because the influence which has reached my centre, although it has arrived this time via my psychic facet, has acted in the same manner and has so produced the same double reaction.
This central cross-roads of my 'being' is, as we have seen, unconscious. It is the original Unconscious from which flows all my consciousness. It should not be conceived as a mere absence of consciousness, but as the Absolute Thought which is up-stream of all conscious manifestation and from which this latter springs. It is the No-Mind of Zen, from which issue all our manifestations, mental and physical. We find again here the Creative Triad: above the psychic (positive force) and the physical (negative force) lies a superior conciliatory pole to which, by virtue of the apparent primacy of the inferior positive force over the negative, we ought to give the name of Absolute Mind (and not Absolute Matter), or, as in Zen, of No-Mind (and not No-Body).
With regard to these essential ideas we necessarily ask ourselves what difference there is between the natural man and the man who has attained 'realisation'. These two men exist by virtue of this central cross-roads at which sits their creative principle; basically there is no difference between them; and it is that moreover which Zen affirms. Zen affirms that these two men are identical in constitution and that the natural man lacks nothing; the man who has attained realisation has not acquired something which the natural man lacked. However, if these two men are identical, their manifestations differ. Why? Does it mean that the unconscious central crossroads has become conscious at the moment of satori? This would have no sense, the principle of consciousness being necessarily always above consciousness itself, outside it, unconscious. No, the true answer is otherwise: Let us say that everything happens in the natural man as though his central cross-roads were asleep, passive; and that everything happens in the man who has attained realisation as if his cross-roads were awake, active. It is relatively easy to imagine the sleeping crossroads of the natural man; it is indeed only a cross-roads, that is to say a place at which pass by all the influences coming from the outside world. Crossing this simple 'place', the influxes from without reach the secondary centres of the somatic and psychical domains, centres which respond to them by automatic reactions. The natural man, whose cross-roads is asleep, is an automaton. With the man who has attained realisation the central cross-roads is not asleep, the Absolute Original Thought is functioning there (although, once again, always unconsciously). This Thought interprets the influx that has come from without; conceiving things in their totality it sees this particular influx in the totality of the universal context; it sees it, then, in its relativity, that is to say that it sees it as it is really. It is to this vision, interpreted, 'enlightened' (the 'third eye' opened in the centre of the unconscious), and no longer to a vision deformed by lack of context, that the secondary centres are going to react now, and their reaction will be adequate to the reality. The natural man was a machine whose reflexes were conditioned by such and such a particular aspect of the outside world; the man who has attained realisation is a machine whose reflexes are conditioned by the totality of the cosmos as represented by such a particular aspect; he is identical with the Cosmic Principle (in so far as this manifests itself), and he manifests himself, like this Principle, in a pure independent invention.
This Absolute Thought, Universal, Unconscious, when it functions in the centre of man, constitutes Absolute Wisdom, incommensurable evidently with any formal intelligence; in fact this Wisdom is in-formal, preceding all form, and is the first cause of all form.
We have said that the Unconscious Universal Thought sleeps at the centre of the natural man, and that it is awakened at the centre of the man who has attained realisation. Let us see now that the sleep of this Absolute Thought knows degrees, and that these degrees are disposed in inverse order to the five modes of thought of the natural man. When the natural man sleeps without dreams, the Absolute Thought is as though awakened in him (more precisely, is not asleep) and this man is altogether like the man who has attained realisation; but this does not manifest at all in his consciousness because he has not at that time any consciousness; it is manifested only in the harmonious and re-creative operation of his vegetative life. As soon as this man begins to dream, that is to say as soon as his formal mind begins to function, that corresponds with a certain weakening of the Absolute Unconscious Thought, and the man is already less 'wise'. When this man awakens (in the ordinary meaning of the term), the Absolute Thought weakens more markedly and it is all the more enfeebled in that the formal mind is about to function in a manner that is pure, abstract, and generalised. It is nevertheless thanks to these moments of maximum enfeeblement that a certain evolution will take place in the man whose abstract intellect is at work, and in his life as a whole the Absolute Thought will sleep gradually less profoundly. This man will be able to live according to a relative and increasing wisdom. It is as if the sleep of the Absolute Thought at the moment2 suscitated its awakening in duration; at the utmost one has the right to conceive of the positive and definitive awakening of the Absolute Thought (satori) as being released by an instant in which there will have been apprehended the total sleep of this Thought, an instant at which the mind will have reached the extreme limits of its dualistic functioning.
[2. Duration, composed of past-present-future, as opposed to the moment, i.e., the present time that has no duration.]
Let us say that again in a different way. The man who sleeps without dreams has withdrawn to the centre of himself; he who dreams has already moved out of his centre; the awakened man who day-dreams is still more 'ex-centric'; the man who adapts himself to external reality, and he who meditates, are ever further from themselves, more remote from their centre. The man who sleeps without dreams is in possession of his Reality but without being aware of it; the more he climbs thereafter the graded modes of formal thought the more this Reality disappears in proportion as the means wishing to seize it increase; as if the man were withdrawing from a centre of warmth in proportion as his sensibility to heat increased. In the instants which precede satori man is as far from his centre as is possible. Then the inverse relation which has operated up till then is broken at the moment of satori, and the man finds himself definitively installed at his centre in his capacity as universal man, although able to withdraw himself at the same time into the various modes of formal thought in his capacity as personal man.
Man attains satori, then, as a result of turning his back, as thoroughly as possible, on his centre, as a result of going right to the ultimate limits in this centrifugal direction, as a result of pushing to its ultimate degree of purity the functioning of the discursive intelligence which keeps him away from Wisdom. He ought to accomplish formal thought to the point of breaking up the form. In order to do that he ought to make his formal mind function in a persevering attempt to perceive, beyond its limits, the in-formal; an attempt that is absurd in itself but which brings about the release one day of the miracle of satori, not as crowning the success of the ridiculous efforts accomplished, but as the defeat, definite at last, and triumphant, of those efforts. It is like a man separated from the light by a wall and who cannot touch this wall without making it higher and higher; but a day comes when all these absurd efforts have built up the wall to such a height that it becomes unsteady and collapses suddenly, a catastrophe that is final and triumphant, and which leaves the man bathed in the light.
It is this absurd but necessary effort that we accomplish when we oblige ourselves to perceive our in-formal sensation of existing more-or-less in the course of all the episodes of our daily life. This effort towards an informal perception of existence is not similar to the reflex mental efforts that we make habitually and which are mental contractions that form images. It is even quite the contrary; it is an effort of de-contraction made in order to escape from the habitual contractive reflexes, an effort towards perfect simplicity in order to escape from the complexities that we habitually introduce, by way of reflex, into the question of our existence. We learn, by this effort, not to do something new, but no longer to do the inward actions, useless and agitating, which are usual with us. We learn to obtain from our mind not the most ingeniously clever gestures, but the pure gesture which is the essence of all the others and which rejoins immobility. This simple mental functioning represents the highest accomplishment of our thought as natural man; it breaks through the ceiling of the fifth mode of our thought. Starting from the in-formality of sleep without dreams it finds again the informal by closing a complete circle—or more exactly, since the final point of the circle dominates its point of departure, a complete spiral turn.