Bombay 9th Public Talk 24th December 1958
We are all aware, surely, of the inexplicable inequalities in the world, of great wealth and extreme poverty, of extensive misery, of the appalling human endeavour which seems to lead nowhere. This strife and toil is in all our lives up to the moment when we die. We are aware of all this and in our despair, in our misery, in our constant struggle we turn to something which we call God, to some belief, support or dogma. And I would like to talk over with you, if I may, this thing called religion. But before we go into it, I think we must be very clear of the division between the word or symbol and the feeling, the fact. The word is one thing, and the fact is another, and that is very difficult for most of us to realize. The word is never the actual thing and it needs very precise thinking not to confuse the word, the symbol with the fact. Knowledge is one thing and love is another; perception is one thing and to know is another thing. Knowing is not feeling, and what you feel can never be expressed in words. Words, symbols are merely a means of communication. But the word, the symbol does not signify the actual thing one feels. So there is a division between the word and the fact; between knowledge and love, between knowing and feeling, and I think it is very important to understand this. If we are to communicate with each other clearly, we must be aware of the difference between the symbol and the fact.
As I have been saying during all these discourses, the individual is of the highest importance - even though society, religion, governments do not recognize that fact. You are very important because you are the only means of bringing about the explosive creativity of Reality. You yourself are the environment in which this Reality can come into being. But you will have observed that all governments, all organized religions and societies, though they assert the importance of the individual, try to obliterate the individual core, the individual feeling, because they want collective feeling, they want a mass reaction. But the mind that is merely organized according to a certain pattern of belief, weighed down by custom, by tradition, by knowledge, is not an individual mind. An individual mind can only be when you deliberately, knowingly, with feeling put all these influences aside because you have understood their significance, their superficial value. Then only is there an individual creative mind.
It is extraordinarily difficult to separate the individual from the mass, and yet without this separation Reality is not possible. So the true individual is not the individual who merely has his own name, certain emotional responses, certain customary reactions, some property, and so on, but the true individual is he who is endeavouring to cut through this confusion of ideas, through this morass of tradition, who sets aside all these and tries to find the reason, the core, the centre of human misery. Such a one does not resort to books, to authority, to well-known custom but casts all these away and begins to enquire - and he is the true individual. But most of us repeat, accept, comply, imitate, obey, do we not?, because for us obedience has become the rule - obedience in the home, obedience to the book, obedience to the guru, the teacher, and so on; and with obedience we feel there is security, safety. But actually life is not safe, life is never secure; on the contrary, it is the most uncertain thing. And because it is uncertain it is also profoundly rich, immeasurable. But the mind in its search seeks safety and security and therefore it obeys, complies and imitates; and such a mind is not an individual mind at all.
Most of us are not individuals though we each have a separate name, a separate form, because inwardly the state of mind is time-bound, weighed down by custom, tradition and authority - the authority of the government, the authority of society, the authority in the home. So such a mind is not an individual mind; the individual mind is outside of all that, it is not within the pattern of society; the individual mind is in revolt and so is not seeking security. The revolutionary mind is not the mind that is in revolt. The revolutionary mind merely wants to alter things according to a certain pattern and such a mind is not a mind in revolt, a mind that is in itself discontented.
I do not know if you have noticed what an extraordinary thing discontent is. You must know many young people who are discontented; they do not know what to do, they are miserable, unhappy, in revolt, seeking this, trying that, asking questions everlastingly. But as they grow older they find a job, marry and that is the end of it. Their fundamental discontent is canalized, and then misery sets in. When they are young their parents, teachers, society, all tell them not to be discontented, to find out what they want to do and do it - but always within the pattern. Such a mind is not truly in revolt and you need a mind in real revolt to find truth, not a conforming mind. Revolt means passion.
So it is very important to become an individual, and there is individuality only through self-knowledge - knowing yourself, knowing why you imitate, why you conform, why you obey. You obey through fear, do you not? Because of the desire to be secure you conform, in order to have more power, more money, or this or that. But to find what you call God, to find whether there is or is not that Reality, there must be the individual who is dead to the past, who is dead to knowledge, dead to experience; there must be a mind that is wholly, totally new, fresh, innocent. Religion is the discovery of what is real, which means that you have to find and not follow somebody who says he has found and wants to tell you about it. There must be a mind which receives that Reality, not a mind which merely accepts Reality verbally and conforms to that idea of Reality in the hope of being secure.
So there is a difference between knowing and feeling, and I think it is very important to understand this. With us, explanations are sufficient, which is, `to know'. We say: "I know I am ambitious, I know I am greedy, I know I hate", but such knowing is not being free from the fact. You may know that you hate, but the actual feeling of hate and the freedom from it is an entirely different thing from the pursuit of the explanation of it and the cause of it, is it not? That is, to know that I am dull, stupid, and to be consciously aware of the feeling of my dullness and stupidity are two entirely different things. To feel implies a great deal of vitality, a great deal of strength, vigour, but merely to know is only a partial approach to life, it is not a total approach. You may know how a leaf is constructed, botanically, but to feel a leaf, smell it, really see it, requires a great deal of penetration - penetration into oneself. I do not know if you have ever taken a leaf in your hand and looked at it? You are all town-dwellers and you are all too occupied with yourselves, with your progress, with your success, ambitions, jealousies, your leaders, your ministers and all the rest of the nonsense. Do not laugh, Sirs. It is tragic, because if you knew how to feel deeply then you would have abundant sympathy, then you would do something, then you would act with your whole being; but if you merely know that there is poverty, merely work intellectually to remove poverty as a government official or village reformer without the feeling, then what you do is of very little importance.
You know, passion is necessary to understand truth. I am using the word `passion' in its full significance because to feel strongly, to feel deeply, with all your being, is essential; otherwise that strange thing called Reality will never come to you. But your religions, your saints say that you must not have desire, you must control, suppress, overcome, destroy, which means that you come to Truth burnt out, worn out, empty, dead. Sirs, you must have passion to meet this strange thing called life, and you cannot have passion, intense feeling, if you are mesmerized by society, by custom, if you are entangled in beliefs, dogmas, rituals. So, to understand that light, that truth, that immeasurable reality, we must first understand what we call religion and be free of it - not verbally, not intellectually, not through explanations, but actually be free; because freedom - not your intellectual freedom but the actual state of freedom - gives vitality. When you have walked through all this rubbish, when you have put aside all these confusing, traditional, imitative things, then the mind is free, then the mind is alert, then the mind is passionate; and it is only such a mind that can proceed.
So let us, as individual human beings, because it is you and I who are concerned, not the mass - there is no such thing as the mass except as a political entity - let us find out what we mean by religion. What is it for most of us? It is, is it not?, a belief in something - in a superhuman divinity who controls us, shapes us, give us hope and directs us, and we offer to that entity our prayers, our rituals, in its name we sacrifice, propitiate, pray and beg, and we look to him as our Father to help us in our difficulties. To us, religion is not only the graven image in the temple, the letters in the mosque or the cross in the church, not only the graven image made by the hand but also the graven image made by the mind, the idea. So to us, religion is obviously a means of escape from our daily sorrow, our daily confusion. We do not understand the inequalities, the injustices, death, the constant sorrows, struggles, hopelessness and despair; so we turn to some god, to rituals, mass prayers and thereby hope to find some solace, some comfort. And in this process, the saints, the philosophers, the books weigh us down with their particular interpretation, with custom, with tradition. That is our way of life, is it not? If you look into yourself you would agree, would you not?, that that is a general outline of religion. It is a thing made by the mind for the comfort of the mind, not something that gives richness, fullness of life, or a passion for living. So we know that; but here again knowing and feeling are two different things. Knowing the falseness of organized religion is one thing, but to see it, to drop it, to put it all away - that requires a great depth of real feeling. So the problem - for which there is no easy answer - is how to drop a thing, how to die to it; how to die to all these explanations, all these false gods - because all gods made by the mind and the hand are false. No explanation is going to make you die to it. So, what will make you die to it, what will make you say: "Now, I drop it"? We generally give up something in order to get something else we think is better, and we call it renunciation. But surely that is not renunciation. To renounce means to give up, not knowing what the future is, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. If you give up, knowing what tomorrow will bring, then it is merely an exchange, a thing of the market; it has no value. When physical death comes you do not know what is going to happen next; it is a finality. In the same way, to die, to give up, put aside totally, deeply, all that we call religion, without knowing what will be - have you ever tried this? I do not know if it is a problem to you, but it must surely be a problem to any man who is alert, who is at all aware, because there is such immense injustice in the world. Why does one ride in a car while the other walks? Why is there hunger, poverty and also immense riches? Why is there the man in power, authority, position, welding his power with cruelty? Why does a child die? Why is there this intolerable misery everywhere? A man who asks all these questions must be really burning with them, not finding some stupid cause - an economic, social or political cause. Obviously the intelligent man must turn to something much more significant than mere explanatory causes. And this is where our problem lies.
So the first and most important thing is not to be satisfied by explanations, not to be satisfied by the word karma, not to be satisfied with cunning philosophies, but to realize, to feel completely that there is this immense problem which no mere explanation can wipe away. If you can feel like that, then you will see that there is a revolution in the mind. Usually if one cannot find a solution to misery, one becomes bitter, cynical, or one invents a philosophical theory based on one's frustration. But if I am faced with the fact of suffering, that there is death, deterioration, and if the mind is stripped of all explanations, all solutions, all answers, then the mind is directly confronted with the thing itself; and curiously, our mind never allows that direct perception.
So there is a difference between seeing and knowing, feeling and loving. Feeling and loving does not mean devotion; you cannot get to Reality through devotion. Giving yourself up emotionally to an idea is generally called devotion, but it excludes Reality, because by giving yourself up to something you are merely identifying yourself with that thing. To love your Gods, to put garlands around your guru, to repeat certain words, get entranced in his presence and to shed tears - you can do all that for the next thousand years but you will never find Reality. To perceive, to feel, to love a cloud, a tree, a human being, requires enormous attention, and how can you attend when your mind is distracted by knowledge? Knowledge is useful technologically, and that is all. If a doctor does not know how to operate, it is better to keep away from him. Knowledge is necessary at a certain level, in a certain direction, but knowledge is not the total answer to our misery. The total answer lies in this feeling, this passion which comes when there is the absence of yourself, when you are oblivious of all that you are. That quality of passion is necessary in order to feel, to understand, to love. Reality is not intellectual; but from our childhood, through education, through every form of so-called learning we have brought about a mind that is sharp, that competes, that is burdened with information - which is the case with lawyers, politicians, technologists and specialists. Our minds are sharpened, made bright, and that has become the most important thing to keep going; and so all our feeling has withered away. You do not feel for the poor man in his wretchedness; you never feel happy when you see a rich man driving in his beautiful car; you never feel delighted when you see a nice face; there is no throb when you see a rainbow or the splendour of the green grass. We are so occupied with our jobs, our own miseries that we have never a moment of leisure in which to feel what it is to love, to be kind, to be generous, - yet without all this we want to know what God is! How incredibly stupid and infantile! So it becomes very important for the individual to come alive - not to revive; you cannot revive dead feelings, the glory that has gone. But can we not live intensely, fully, in abundance even for a single day? For one such day covers a millennium. This is not a poetical fancy. You will know of it when you have lived one rich day in which there is no time, no future, no past; you will know then the fullness of that extraordinary state. Such living has nothing to do with knowledge.
Our problem is how to die to everything that we know, so that we can live; to die to the injustices, the pleasures and the pains. I do not know if you have ever tried to die to something? I assure you that it is only when you die that there is a fresh mind; but you cannot die if you are not passionate. It is only the empty mind that is rich, not the mind that is full of knowledge beliefs, experiences, hopes and despairs - such a mind is worn out, such a mind is not a new mind, it is an experienced mind, and an experienced mind can never learn. It is only the empty mind, the mind that is dead to the past, to everything, that is rich because such a mind, being passionate, can receive, and therefore knows what it is to love.
Sirs, have you ever really felt deeply the inequality of life - why you have and another has not, why you are gifted and the other is not? If you have really felt it passionately, then you will know that love knows no inequality. To see the man who rides in an expensive car and enjoy what he enjoys, without envy; to see also the beggar at the roadside and feel for him in his wretchedness;-this is to know love, and that there is no answer to inequality except love.
Religion, after all, is the discovery of love, and love is something to be discovered from moment to moment. You must die to the love that you have known a second before, in order to ever know anew what love is. And love can only come into being when there is this passion of feeling. Then, out of that feeling there is action, and that action will not bind you because love never binds. And so religion is not the thing that we have now, which is a miserable thing, a dark thing, a deadly thing. Religion implies clarity, light, passion; it implies a mind that is empty and therefore able to receive that immeasurable, incorruptible richness.
December 24, 1958
Bombay 9th Public Talk 24th December 1958
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