Madras 2nd Public Talk 26th October 1958
I think it would be good if we could - you and I - quietly by ourselves, as two human beings together, talk over our problems. I think we should get much further if we had that feeling than by thinking of this as an audience being addressed by a speaker. That is, if you and I could go into some corner, a quiet room and explore our problems, I think we would get very much further, but unfortunately that is not possible. There are too many people and time is very limited. So one resorts to a large audience, and invariably one has to generalize, and in the process of generalization the particularities, the details have to be omitted, naturally. But for most of us the generalities seem to have very little significance and the particular problem, the particular issue, the particular conflict seems all important. One forgets the wider, deeper issues because one is forcibly faced with one's own little everyday problems.
So in discussing, in talking together, I think we must bear in mind both these issues, not only the general but also the particular. The wider and deeper issues escape most of us, but without understanding these, the approach to the little problems, the petty trivialities, the everyday conflict will have very little meaning. I think we must see this very clearly right at the beginning, that if one would solve the everyday problems of existence, whatever they may be, one must first see the wider issues and then come to the detail. After all, the great painter, the great poet is one who sees the whole - who sees all the heavens, the blue skies, the radiant sunset, the tree, the fleeting bird - all at one glance; with one sweep he sees the whole thing. With the artist, the poet, there is an immediate, a direct communion with this whole marvellous world of beauty. Then he begins to paint, to write, to sculpt; he works it out in detail. If you and I could do the same, then we should be able to approach our problems - however contradictory, however conflicting, however disturbing - much more liberally, more wisely, with greater depth and colour, feeling. This is not mere romantic verbalization but actually it is so, and that is what I would like to talk about now and every time we get together. We must capture the whole and not be carried away by the detail, however pressing, immediate, anxious it may be. I think that is where the revolution begins. Please bear in mind that I am not talking as to a large audience but that I am talking, if I may respectfully say so, to you, to each one. And I hope we can understand that first principle of the immediate and the fundamental issue.
After all, we have many problems, not only the individual, personal problems but also the collective problems, as starvation, war, peace, and the terrible politicians. I am using the word `terrible' in the verbal sense and I am not condemning them. They are superficial people who talk of these problems as though they can solve the whole thing in a nutshell. And our own personal problems are the problems of relationship, of our job, of fulfilment and frustration, of fear, love, beauty, sex and so on.
Now, what happens with most of us is, that we try to solve these problems separately, each one by itself. That is, I have a problem of fear and I try to solve it. But I will never be able to solve it by itself because it is related to a very, very complex issue, to a wider field, and without understanding the deeper problem, merely to tackle the particular trouble - one corner of the field instead of the whole - only creates more problems. I hope I am making this point clear. If we can establish that, - you and I as two people in communication with each other - then I think we shall have resolved a great deal because, after all, understanding is that, is it not? What does it mean, to understand something? It means, does it not?, to grasp the significance of the thing totally. Otherwise there is no understanding, there is only intellection, merely a verbalization, the play of the mind. Without understanding the totality of your being, merely to take one layer of that being and try to solve it separately, in a watertight compartment unrelated to the totality, only leads to further complications, further misery. If we can really understand that, really feel the truth of it, then we shall be able to find out how to tackle our individual, immediate problems.
After all, Sirs, it is like this. You never see the sky if you are looking through a window; you only see part of the sky, obviously. You must go outside to see the whole vast horizon, the limitless sky. But most of us view the sky through the window, and from such narrow, limited outlook we think we can solve not only one particular problem but all our problems. That is the curse of society, of all organizations. But if you can have that feeling of the necessity of the comprehension of the whole - whatever that whole is, and we will go into that - then the mind has already a different outlook, a different capacity.
If that is very clearly established between you and me, as two individuals, not as a listener and a talker, not as a guru and a disciple - all that nonsense is wiped away, at least so far as I am concerned - then we can proceed. So what is the issue, the wide, profound issue? If I can see the totality of it then I will be able to tackle the detail. Now I may put it into words, but the word is not the thing. The word `sky' is not the sky, is it? The word `door' is not the door. We must be very clear to differentiate between the word and the fact, the word and the thing itself. The word `freedom' is not the state of freedom, and the word `mind' is not the actual thing, which is really totally indescribable. So again, if you are very clear that the word is not the thing, then we can proceed with our communication. Because I want to convey something to you and you want to understand, but if you merely hold on to the words and not to the significance then there is a barrier in communication.
So, what is that thing which, being understood, being explored, having its significance fully grasped, will help us to unravel and resolve the detail. Surely, it is the mind, is it not? Now when I use that word `mind', each one of you will interpret it differently according to your education, your culture, your conditioning. When I use the word `mind', obviously you must have a reaction to that word and that reaction depends upon your reading, your environmental influences, how much or how little you have thought about it, and so on. So what is the mind? If I can understand the workings of that extraordinary thing called the mind, the totality of it, the feeling, the nature, the amazing capacity of it, its profundity, width and quality then, whatever its reaction - which is merely the product of its culture, environment, education, reading, and so on - I can tackle it. So what we are going to do, if we can, is to explore this thing called the mind. But you cannot explore it, obviously, if you already have an idea about it. If you say `the mind is Atman', it is finished. You have stopped all exploration, investigation, enquiry. Or if you are a Communist and say that the mind is merely the result of some influence, then also you are incapable of examining. It is very important to understand that if you approach a problem with a mind already made up, you have stopped investigating the problem and therefore prevented the understanding of the problem. The Socialist, the Capitalist, the Communist, who approaches the problem of starvation, does so with a system, a theory, and so what happens? He is incapable of making a further examination of the problem. Life does not stop. It is a movement, and if you approach it with a static mind you cannot touch it. Again this is fairly clear, is it not?, so let us proceed.
When I use the word `mind' I look at it without any conclusion, therefore I am capable of examining it, or rather, the mind, having no conclusion about itself, is capable of looking at itself. A mind that starts to think from a conclusion is not really thinking. It is asking an enormous thing, is it not?, for the mind to examine a problem without any conclusion. I do not know if you see this - that with most of us thinking starts from a conclusion, a conclusion that there is God or no God, reincarnation or no reincarnation, that the Communist system will save the world, or the Capitalist. We start from one conclusion and go to another, and this process of moving from conclusion to conclusion we call thinking; and if you observe it, it is not thinking at all. Thinking implies a constant moving, a constant examination, a constant awareness of the movement of thought, not a fixed point from which to go to another fixed point.
So we are going to find out what this extraordinary thing called the mind is, because that is the problem and nothing else. It is the mind that creates the problem; it is the thought, the conditioned mind, the mind that is petty, narrow, bigoted, which has created beliefs, ideas and knowledge and which is crippled by its own concepts, vanities, greeds, ambitions and frustrations. So it is the mind which has to be understood, and that mind is the `me', that mind is the self - not some higher self. The mind invents the higher self and then says it is only a tool for the higher. Such thinking is absurd, immature. is the mind which invents all these avenues of escape and then proceeds from there to assert.
So, we are going to find out what the mind is. Now you cannot find out from my description. I am going to talk about it, but if you merely recognize it through the description then you are not knowing the state of your own mind. I hope you understand this. Now, I say the state of the mind is beauty, and that without knowing beauty, without the full comprehension of the feeling of beauty, without having beauty, you will never understand the mind. I have made that statement and you have heard it. Then what happens? Your mind says: `What is beauty?', does it not? Then you begin to argue with yourself, to find words so that through a definition you may feel the beauty. So you depend on words to evoke a feeling, is that not so? I am enquiring what this extraordinary mind is, which is the product of time, the product of many thousands of years. Do not jump to the idea of reincarnation. The mind is the product of many yesterdays, is it not? It is the result of a thousand influences, it is the result of tradition, it is the result of habit, it is put together by various cultures. It knows despair and hope. It knows the past, it is the present and it creates the future. It has accumulated knowledge, the sciences of technology, of physics, of medicine and countless other pursuits; it is capable of extraordinary invention. It is also capable of enquiring beyond itself, of searching for freedom and breaking through its conditioning. It is all these things and much more. And if the mind is not aware of itself, of the extraordinary complexities, merely concentrating on any detail, on one particularity, will destroy the totality.
Please, I hope you are listening with care, because if you do not listen rightly you will go away and say, `What on earth has he been talking about?'. But if you listen rightly, which is an art, you will already have discovered what an extraordinary thing the mind is. It is not a matter of finding it out afterwards, but in the very course of listening you are discovering this mind. There is all the difference between being told what an astounding thing the mind is and making the discovery for yourself. The two states are entirely different. When you say, `I know hunger', you have directly experienced it; but the man who has never experienced hunger can also say, `I know hunger'. The two states of `knowing' are entirely different, the one is direct experience and the other is descriptive knowledge.
So, can you experience directly the quality of this amazingly complex mind, - the vastness of it, the immensity of it? It is not limited to a particularity, as the mind of a lawyer, Prime Minister or cook, but it is everything - the lawyer, the Prime Minister, the cook, the painter, the man who is frightened, jealous, anxious, ambitious, frustrated - it is all that. And it is the mind that is creating the problem, according to the environmental influences. Because of overpopulation in this country, because of the caste system, because of starvation and the rest of the business, the problem of employment has become immediate, important. And so the mind, this complex thing, because of pressure, because of the immediate demand, responds only at a certain level and hopes to solve the problem at that level. And the man who is not concerned with the immediate, immense problem of starvation, of war, escapes into some other form of immediate problem. But what is required is to investigate this whole totality of the mind. And to do that, what is essential is freedom, not authority. I think it is really very important to understand this, because it is authority which is destroying this unfortunate country. Do not say, `Are not the other countries being destroyed too?'. They are. But you and I are concerned for the moment with what is here, and this country is idolatrous. There is, here, the worship of authority, and the worship of success, the big man. Look at the way you treat your cook and the way you treat the man who is successful, the cabinet-minister, the man who has knowledge, the saint, and all the rest of it. So you worship authority and therefore you are never free. Freedom is the first demand, not the last demand of a mind which says, `I must find out, I must look, I must enquire'. For the mind to investigate itself, to investigate the problems of its own making, to investigate that which is beyond its own limitations, it must be free at the beginning not at the end. Now if you really feel that, if you see the necessity of it, there is an immediate revolution. Revolution is not the doing what you like, because you imagine you are free, but revolution is the seeing the necessity that the mind must be free. Then it is capable of adjustment through freedom, not through slavery, not from authority. Am I making myself clear?
Let us look at it again. Because of overpopulation, over-organization, and common communication, because of the fear of losing a job, of not being up to the mark and because of all the pressures of modern civilization with its amazing technology, and the threat of war, hate and all that, naturally the mind is confused and so it seeks an authority - the authority of a Hitler, of the Prime Minister, the guru, the book or the Commissar. That is what you are doing and therefore you are authority bound, idolatrous. You may not worship a statue, a thing made by the hand, but you worship the man who is successful, who knows much or has much. All that indicates an idolatrous mind which is essentially the mind crippled by an example, by the hero. The hero means the authority, and a mind that worships authority is incapable of understanding.
Now let us look at this extraordinary field of the mind, look at what it is capable of. The sputniks or the rockets - it is all the mind. It is the mind that slaughters, kills thousands because of its dogmas, as the churches and dictators have done. It is the mind that is afraid. It is the mind that says, `I must know if there is a God or not'. And to understand this mind you must begin with freedom. But it is extremely difficult to be free because the mind which wants to be clear is at the same time afraid to be free. After all, most people want to be secure, secure in their relationships, secure in their jobs, secure in their ideas, in their professions, in their specialities, in their beliefs. Watch your own mind and see what is happening - you want to be secure and yet you know you must be free. So there is a contradiction going on. The mind which says there must be peace and yet creates and supports war is schizophrenic, in contradiction. In this country you talk about peace, non-violence and yet you are preparing for war. There is the mind that is peaceful and the mind that is violent, and so in the mind there is conflict.
So the first thing for all enquiry, for all new life, for all understanding and comprehension is freedom. But you do not demand freedom, you demand security. And the moment you want physical security you plan to create it; which means you establish various forms of authority, dictatorship, control, while at the same time you want freedom. So the conflict begins within the mind. But a mind which is aware of its conflict must find out which is of primary importance - freedom or security. After all, is there such a thing as security at all? You may want it, but is there such a thing? Events are showing that there is no such thing as security. Yet the mind clings to the idea. If the mind demands freedom first then security will follow, but if you seek security first you will never have freedom and so you will always have different forms of conflict, misery and sorrow. Surely all this is obvious?
So to understand the quality of the mind and its immensity, there must be freedom - freedom from all conditioning, from all conclusions - because it is only such a mind that is a young mind. And it is only the young mind that can move freely, investigate, be innocent.
Then, it seems to me, beyond freedom is the sense of appreciation of beauty. So few of us are aware of the things about us. The beauty of the night, the beauty of a face, of a smile, the beauty of the river and of the cloud radiant at sunset, the beauty of moonlight on water; we are so little aware of this extraordinary beauty because we are so insensitive. To be free, sensitivity is essential. But you cannot be free if you are crowded with knowledge. No mind is sensitive if it is burdened with knowledge.
And I think the other thing beyond freedom is - to use a word which unfortunately is connected with such absurd sentiment and wishy-washyness - love. Love has nothing to do with sentiment. Love is hard, in the sense that it is crystal clear and what is clear can be hard. Love is not what you think of as love. That merely becomes a sentiment.
If we could understand, feel our way into this, we should see that freedom, beauty and love are the very essentials for discovery - not knowledge, not experience, not belief, not belonging to any organization. Not being anything is the beginning of freedom. So if you are capable of feeling, of going into this you will find, as you become aware, that you are not free, that you are bound to very many different things and that at the same time the mind hopes to be free. And you can see that the two are contradictory. So the mind has to investigate why it clings to anything. All this implies hard work. It is much more arduous than going to an office, than any physical labour, than all the sciences put together. Because the humble, intelligent mind is concerned with itself without being self-centred; therefore it has to be extraordinarily alert, aware, and that means real hard work every day, every hour, every minute. And because we are not willing to do that, we have dictatorships, politicians, gurus, presidents of societies and all the rest of the rubbish. This demands insistent work because freedom does not come easily. Everything impedes - your wife, your husband, your son, your neighbour, your Gods, your religions, your tradition. All these impede you but you have created them because you want security. And the mind that is seeking security can never find it. If you have watched a little in the world, you know there is no such thing as security. The wife dies, the husband dies, the son runs away; something happens. Life is not static, though we would like to make it so. No relationship is static because all life is movement. That is a thing to be grasped, the truth to be seen, felt, not something to be argued about. Then you will see, as you begin to investigate, that it is really a process of meditation. But do not be mesmerized by that word. To be aware of every thought, to know from what source it springs and what is its intention - that is a meditation. And to know the whole content of one thought reveals the whole process of the mind.
Now, if you can move from freedom, then you will discover the most extraordinary things of the mind, and then you will find that the mind itself is the total reality. It is not that there is a reality to which the mind goes, but the mind itself, that extraordinary thing when there is no contradiction within itself, when there is no anxiety, no fear, no desire to be successful - then that mind itself is that which is Eternal, Unnameable. But to speculate about the Eternal without understanding the whole process of the mind is just childish play. It is an immature game which scholars - whom you worship - play. So it would be good if you and I could really go into this, without any dramatic heroism, without any spectacular rubbish, but as two human beings interested in solving the problems we have, which are also the problems of the world. The personal problem is not different from the world problem. So if you and I can go into it with humility, knowing our states, tentatively enquiring, then you will find that without your asking, without your inviting, there is That which is not controllable, which is not nameable, to which there is no path. Then only, as you begin to enquire, you will see how extraordinarily easily you will be able to solve your problems, including the problem of starvation which is so enormous. But you cannot tackle it if you have not understood the mind. So please, till we meet next time do watch your mind, go into it, not merely when you have nothing to do, but from the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed, from the moment you wake up until you go back to sleep. Watch as you talk to your servant, to your boss, your wife, your children, as you see the bus conductor, the bus driver, watch as you look at the moon, the leaf, the sky. Then you will begin to find out what an extraordinary richness there is - a richness not in knowledge but in the nature of the mind itself. It is in the mind, also, that there is ignorance. The dispelling of ignorance is all-important, not the acquisition of knowledge. Because the dispelling of ignorance is negative while knowledge is positive. And a man who is capable of thinking negatively has the highest capacity for thinking. The mind which can dispel ignorance and not accumulate knowledge - such a mind is an innocent mind, and only the innocent mind can discover that which is beyond measure.
October 26, 1958
Madras 2nd Public Talk 26th October 1958
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