In the modern world, William James, one of the great psychologists, used for the first time a Buddhist expression for the mind; he called it “stream of consciousness.” Buddha says it is like a river constantly flowing. How can you stop it? The old methods are to repress, to control, but they have failed, utterly failed; they had failed even in Buddha’s time.
In a sense Buddha is the first psychologist of the world, not Sigmund Freud. And Buddha’s insight into the mind is far deeper than all your psychologists put together. There is no way to get rid of the constant overpowering flood of mind energy, of mindstuff, just by controlling it or by repressing it. Repression is absolutely destructive. If you repress something it will come up again and again and you will have to repress it again and again. Your whole life will become a kind of civil war; you will be constantly fighting with yourself. And the fight is going to be unending because you cannot destroy the mind in this way; this is not the way to get rid of the mind. In fact, you are giving mind great energy by fighting with it.
Mind can be given energy in two ways: either by fighting with it or by indulging in it. One leads to repression, the other leads to identification, and both go on nourishing the mind. The stream becomes bigger and bigger.
You can repress – repression is easy – and the whole of humanity has learned to repress because you always fall for the easy. Repression is not a difficult thing. Anger arises: you can sit upon it, you can go on smiling a false smile, and sooner or later you will forget about it. But it is there boiling within you and you are accumulating every day more and more anger. Anger has a beauty of its own if it is spontaneous, but you are accumulating anger which will become irrelevant, it will not be spontaneous.
Something may have happened ten years ago; now it has no reference to reality, no context – and suddenly you explode. You look insane. That’s how people go insane. If they had been angry ten years before when the right context was there, nobody would have called them insane, but for ten years they were sitting on it; then it became too much. And then for ten years continuously they were accumulating more and more anger. Every day they were repressing, they were sitting on a volcano; sooner or later it was going to erupt. Either that, or you have to become so dead and dull, so unalive that nothing can erupt. You have to withdraw yourself so totally from life, into a monastery, you have to become so insensitive to life that people can go on insulting you and you gather such a thick skin that nothing penetrates you….
Giovanni was sentenced to jail for having made love with his wife’s body a few hours after her death. “Do you have anything to say in your own defense?” asked the judge.
“Honest, Mista Your Honor,” replied the Italian, “I didn’t know she was-a dead. She has-a been like-a that for the last-a twenty years!”