In the beginning and gradual refinement of the sound of any letter, awake.
Sometimes teachers have used this technique very much. They have their ingenious ways. For example, if you enter a Zen master’s hut, he may suddenly give a scream. You will become startled, but if you know why he is doing this you know he is doing it just to make you awake. Any sudden thing makes you awake. Any sudden sound can make you awake.
Suddenness breaks your sleep, and ordinarily we are asleep. Unless something goes wrong, we are not out of sleep, we go on doing things sleepily. That is why we never feel the sleep. You go to your office, you drive the car, you come back to your home, you love your children, you talk to your wife, so you think you are not sleepy at all. How can you do all of these things in a sleep? You think that isn’t possible, but do you know anything about sleepwalkers — about those who walk in their sleep? Their eyes are open, and they are asleep, and they can do many things. But they will not remember in the morning that they have done them.
They may go to the police station and report that something is wrong, that someone came into their house at night and was creating mischief, and they themselves have been found to be responsible. But in the night, in their sleep, they walk and do certain things, then they come back into their beds and continue their sleep, and in the morning they cannot remember what has happened. They can open doors, they can use keys, they can do many things. Their eyes are open, and they are asleep.
In a deeper sense, we are all sleepwalkers. You can go to your office, you can come to your home, you can do certain things: you will repeat the same things you have always repeated. You will tell your wife, “I love you,” and you will not mean anything by it. The words will be just mechanical. You are not even aware that you are telling your wife, “I love you.” You are simply doing things as if you are fast asleep. This whole world is a world of sleepwalkers for a person who has become awakened. A Buddha feels that way, a Gurdjieff feels that way — that everyone is fast asleep and still doing things.
Gurdjieff used to say that whatsoever is happening in this world is absolutely what can be expected — wars, fights, riots, murder, suicide. Someone asked Gurdjieff, “Can something be done to stop wars?” He said, “Nothing can be done — because those who are fighting, they are fast asleep, and those who are pacifists, they are fast asleep. And everyone is going on in a sleep. These happenings are natural, inevitable. Unless man is awake, nothing can be changed, because these are all just by-products of his sleep. He will fight; he cannot be stopped from fighting. Only the causes can be changed.”
Once he was fighting for Christianity, for Islam, for this and that. Now he is not fighting for Christianity, now he is fighting for communism, for democracy. Causes will change, excuses will change, and the fight will continue, because man is asleep and you cannot expect anything else.
This sleepiness can be broken. You have to use certain techniques. This technique says, IN THE BEGINNING AND GRADUAL REFINEMENT OF THE SOUND OF ANY LETTER, AWAKE. Try with any sound, with any letter — Aum, for example. In the beginning, when you have not yet created the sound, AWAKE. Or when the sound moves into soundlessness, then awake.
How can you do it? Go to a temple. A bell is there or a gong. Take the bell in your hand and wait. First become totally alert. The sound is going to be there and you are not to miss the beginning. First become totally alert, as if your life depends on this, as if someone is going to kill you this very moment, and you will be awake. Be alert — as if this is going to be your death. And if there is thought, wait, because thought is sleepiness. With thought you cannot be alert. When you are alert, there is no thought. So wait. When you feel that now the mind is without thought, that there is no cloud and you are alert, then move with the sound.
Look when the sound is not there, then close your eyes. Then look when the sound is created, struck; then move with the sound. The sound will become slower and slower, subtler and subtler and subtler, and then it will not be there. Then go on with the sound. Be aware, alert. Move with the sound to the very end. See both the poles of the sound, both the beginning and the end.
Try it with some outer sound like a gong or a bell or anything, then close your eyes. Utter any sound inside — Aum or anything — and then do the same experiment with it. It is difficult; that is why we do it outwardly first. When you can do it outwardly, then you will be able to do it inwardly. Then do it. Wait for the moment when the mind is vacant, then create the sound inside. Feel it, move with it, go with it, until it disappears completely.
Until you can do this… it will take time. A few months will be needed, at least three months. In these three months, you will become more and more alert. The pre-sound state and the after-sound state have to be watched. Nothing is to be missed. Once you become so alert that you can watch the beginning and the end of a sound, through this process you will have become a totally different person.
Sometimes this looks very absurd. Such simple techniques, how can they change you? Everyone is so disturbed, in anguish, and these methods seem so simple. They seem like tricks. If you go to Krishnamurti and tell him that this is the method, he will say, “This is a mental trick. Do not be tricked by it. Forget it, throw it!”
It looks so. Obviously, it looks like a trick. How can you be transformed through such simple things? But you do not know — they are not simple. When you do them, then you know that they are very arduous. If you just hear me telling about them, they are simple. If I tell you, “This is poison and if you take one drop of it you will die,” if you do not know anything about poison you will say, “What are you talking about? Just a drop of this liquid, and a person like me who is healthy, strong, will die?” If you do not know anything about poison, then only can you say this. If you know something about it, you cannot say this.
This seems to be very simple: intoning a sound and then becoming aware in the beginning and in the end. But awareness is very difficult, and when you try it then you will know that it is not child’s play. You are not aware — and when you try it, for the first time you will know that you have been asleep your whole life. Right now you think you are already aware. Try this. With any small thing, try this.
Tell yourself that “I will be awake, alert, for ten breaths,” and then count the breaths. “For ten breaths only,” tell yourself, “I will remain alert. And I will count from one to ten, the incoming breath, the outgoing, the incoming, the outgoing. I will remain alert.”
You will miss. Two or three, and you will have moved somewhere else. Then suddenly you will become aware that “I have missed. I am not counting the breaths.” Or you can count, but when you have counted to ten you will become aware that “I was counting in my sleep. I was not alert.”
Alertness is one of the most difficult things. Do not think that the methods are simple. Whatsoever the technique, alertness is the thing to be attained. All else is just a help.
And you can devise your own methods. But remember only one thing: alertness must be there. You can do anything in sleep; then there is no problem. The problem arises only when it is a condition to do it alertly.