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Bombay 1958

Bombay 10th Public Talk 28th December 1958

This will be the last talk and I wonder - not what each one has got out of listening, but - to what depth, to what extent each one has really gone into himself and discovered something for himself. It is not merely a matter of what has been said or what will be said, but rather whether each one, out of his own earnest endeavour, has uncovered the extraordinarily complicated process of the mind; how far each one of us has discovered the ways of consciousness; how deeply one has experienced for oneself the things we have been talking over. It seems to me that the mere repetition of words or of what you have read only puts the mind to rest, it makes the mind sluggish. An earnest mind is not one that merely repeats, either from the sacred religious books or from the latest equally sacred books on Marx, on capitalism, socialism or psychology. Mere repetition does not open the door to direct experience. To speak from direct experience from direct understanding and direct knowledge is quite a different thing, for then there is an authenticity, a depth to what one has thought and felt. One who merely repeats from memory or from what he has learnt, heard or read, surely is not a serious person. Nor is he serious who indulges in theoretical, abstract thinking. An earnest man, surely, is he who goes within himself, observes things about his own sorrow and misery, is sensitive to starvation, degradation, wars and injustice, and from the observation of the external begins to enquire within. Such a man is an earnest man, not he who is merely satisfied with explanations, who is everlastingly quoting, theorizing or seeking a purpose of life. The man who seeks a purpose of life merely wants a significance for his own living, and the significance he gives will depend upon his own conditioning. But the mind which, through the observation of everyday incidents and relationships, everyday activities and challenges, begins to enquire, goes more and more within itself and uncovers the hidden. Because after all, that is where the essential fundamental change has to take place. Though innumerable outward changes are obviously necessary - putting an end to wars, and so on - the only radical change is within.

So one of our major problems is, what makes one change? What makes the mind which is traditional, conditioned, in sorrow, jealous, envious, ambitious, what makes such a mind drop all those things and be fresh, new, clear? If you change because of pressure - pressure of new inventions, of legislation, of revolution, of family and so on - surely such a change, which has a direction, is no change at all, is it? That kind of change is merely an adjustment, a conformity to laws or to a pattern of existence, and, if you have noticed it within yourself, change through compulsion, through anxiety, is the continuity of what has been before, modified, is it not? I think it is very important to understand what it is that makes a man change totally. Technological knowledge obviously does not bring about an inward transformation; it may alter our point of view but it does not bring about that inward transformation in which there is no struggle but in which there is an enlightened, active intelligence.

I wonder if you have ever asked yourself what it is that makes you change? Of course, if the doctor tells you that if you continue to smoke cigarettes it will give you lung cancer, through fear you may abstain from smoking. The pressure of fear or the promise of reward may make you stop a certain activity, but is that a real change? If through pressure, through fear you change, modify, adjust, that is not transformation, it is merely the continuation of what has been in a different form. So what will make you really transform yourself? I think such transformation comes not through any endeavour, any struggle, any pressure of reward or punishment, but it comes about instantaneously, immediately, spontaneously, when there is a comprehension, a perceiving of the whole. I am going into it, but as I have been saying, mere listening to the words will not help you to learn about what is being said. One has to see the totality of human existence, not only a section; one has to see and feel the whole depth of existence, of life, and when there is such a comprehension, in that state there is a total change, a total transformation. Now we change only in fragments - controlling jealousy or envy, giving up smoking or eating too much, joining this group or that group to bring about some reform - but they are all segments, fragments, unrelated to the whole. Such activity, unrelated to the perception of the whole, obviously must lead to various forms of maladjustment, contradiction and strain. So our problem is really how to see, how to comprehend and feel the totality of life, be with it and from there act wholly, not fragmentarily.

Let me put it differently. I do not know if you have noticed it in yourself, but most of us are in a state of contradiction, are we not? You think one thing and do another, you feel something and deny it the next minute - not only as an individual but as a race, a group. You say you must have peace and talk about non-violence, and all the time you are inwardly violent and you have the police, the army, the bombers, the navy, and all the rest of it. So there is contradiction in us and outside of us. And the greater the contradiction the greater is the tension, until the tension ultimately leads to neurotic action and therefore an unbalanced mind. As most of us are in a state of self-contradiction, we live perpetually in tension and strain, and from that tension there is unbalanced activity. And if one realizes this tension of contradiction, then one tries to bring about an integration between two opposites, between hate and love for instance, and one only produces something which is non-recognizable, which you call non-violence and all that stuff. But the problem is to see the central fact that the mind is in contradiction within itself and not try to obliterate the contradiction by giving strength to one of the opposites.

So, when you see that the mind is in a state of self-contradiction and know the stress and the tension of it, the pain, sorrow, misery and struggle, when you comprehend, perceive, understand the whole process of the mind in a state of contradiction, then such a total understanding brings about quite a different state and quite a different activity. After all, if you perceive the whole, vast sky merely through a narrow window, your vision is obviously unrelated to the wide heavens. Similarly, action born of self-contradiction is very limited, giving rise only to pain and sorrow.

I wish I could make it clear, this feeling of the whole. To feel the quality of India, the quality of the whole world - not as a Parsee, Hindu, Mussulman, not as a socialist, communist or congressman, not as a Russian, Englishman, German or American - but to feel the total suffering of man, his frustrations, his contradictions, his miserable, narrow existence, his aspirations; to have such a feeling, such a perception is to bring about the total transformation of the mind.

Let me put it differently. Governments, societies, every form of pressure and propaganda say you must change. But there is a constant resistance to change and so there is a conflict between the actual and the ideal. The actual and the ideal are contradictions, and we spend our lives from childhood to the grave struggling between the two, never coming to the end of something, never coming to the end of attachment but always pursuing detachment. In attachment there is pain, and so we cultivate detachment. Then the problem arises of how to detach oneself, and this brings in the practising of a system which, if you think about it, is all so silly. Whereas if you can understand the whole process of attachment and the whole process of detachment, what is implied in both, then you will never be either attached or detached, there is a totally different state, a real transformation of the mind. After all, you are attached only to dead things because you cannot be attached to a whole thing, a living thing, like living waters, can you? You are attached to your picture of your wife, your husband, and the picture is only the memory. You are attached to the memory of certain experiences, pleasures, pains, which means you are attached to the past, not to the living present, not to the woman or man who is at present endeavouring, struggling. Attachment is obviously to dying things and to the dead; you are attached to your house; the house is not a living thing but you give life to it from your desire to be secure, which is a desire of the dead. Attachment is invariably not to the living, not to the present but to the past, which is of the dead. And without understanding that, we are trying to become detached, and what does it mean? Detachment from what? Not from the living thing, because you have never held it; but you are trying to be detached from a memory, from what you think, which gives you pain. You do not radically change. So you are caught between attachment and detachment. Whereas if you really go within yourself very profoundly and find out what the root cause of your attachment is, you will find that it is obviously the desire to be comfortable, to be safe, and so on; then you would also understand the whole process of the cultivation of detachment and the implications of detachment. The understanding of both, completely, is the process of self-knowledge. If you go into it very deeply as a means of uncovering your own comprehension, then you will find that there is the intelligence which will respond; then you will see that there is not a change, but transformation.

Looking at this world with all its anxieties, its wars, its slow decay, surely most serious people want earnestly to find a means, a way by which the mind is not a mechanical entity but is ever new, fresh, young. But you cannot have such a fresh mind if you are everlastingly in conflict. Hitherto you have accepted conflict as the way of life, have you not?, but when you begin to understand the total process of the way of struggle, then you will see that there is actual transformation, and that the mind is no longer caught in the wheel of struggle.

Let me put the problem differently, Sirs. Being simple is essential, but simplicity for most of us is merely expressed in outward things. You think you are simple, saintly and virtuous if you have only a few things, only a loincloth. A loincloth is not a symbol of simplicity of mind, nor does it indicate the understanding of the extensive richness, the liveliness, the beauty of life. But you have reduced all that to the loincloth level, and that is not simplicity. And a mind that is burdened with knowledge, with erudition, with information is not a simple mind; the electronic computers now can quote you almost anything - it is merely a mechanical response. And a mind that is constantly groping, wanting, searching, burning out desire and at the same time desirous, is not a simple mind. Please listen to all this, Sirs, learn about it as I am talking, because if you really follow this, you will see that what will come out of this is true simplicity. But first you must see what is not simplicity, and obviously the man who is caught in ritual, perpetually repeating, calling on the name of God, and doing so-called good, is not a simple man. Then what is simplicity? The simple mind is the mind that transforms itself, the simple mind is the result of transformation. The mind that says, `I must be simple', is a stupid mind, but the mind that is aware of the extensiveness of its own deceptions, its own anxieties, its own illusions, aspirations and all the turmoil of desires, such a mind is simple. Being totally aware of all that - as one is aware of a tree or the heavens - , there comes this extraordinary simplicity. I am using the word `simplicity' to denote innocence, clarity, a mind which has abandoned itself. A mind that is calculating, becoming virtuous, a mind that has got an end in view which it is everlastingly trying to pursue - such a mind is not abandoning itself. It is only out of total self-abandonment that simplicity comes; and to be completely aware of the extensiveness of the illusions, fancies, myths, urges and demands of the mind, is self-knowledge. It is the full understanding of existence as it is and not as it should be. But that beauty of simplicity does not come into being if there is no self-abandonment, and abandonment means, surely, the dropping away of all conditioning, as a dead leaf falls away from a tree; and you cannot die to something if you are not passionate. To die means the feeling of coming to a point or state beyond which there is nothing; a state of mind in which, with all the cunning tricks and speculation, do what you will, you can proceed no further. In that state there is neither despair nor hope, and the whole question of search has come to an end. A total death has come into being; and if you do not die, totally, to the past, how can you learn? How can you learn, Sirs, if you are always carrying the burden of yesterday?

I do not know if you have ever enquired into yourself as to how to be free of the yesterday, the thousand yesterdays, the thousands of experiences and reactions and all the turmoil of restless time? How is one to be free of all that so that the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet, simple, innocent? Such a state is only possible if you understand the totality of your existence - what you do, what you think, how you are absorbed in your daily activities, your job, the way you speak to your wife, your husband, the way you treat your so-called inferiors, the way you educate your children, and so on. If you regard your attitude in all that as merely a temporary reaction, something which can be got over, adjusted, then you have not understood the totality of life. And I say that in the understanding of the totality of oneself there is a transformation which is immediate and which has nothing to do with the restlessness of time. You may take time in the investigation, but the transformation is immediate. Do not confuse the process of time and transformation. There is time in the sense that there is a gap between what I am saying and your listening. The vibration of the word takes time to reach your ear, and the nervous response as well as the brain response takes a split second. Though it may take time for it to travel to your brain, once you understand all of what is being said, there is a complete break from the past. Revolution is not from the outside, but from within, and that revolution is not a gradual process, not a matter of time.

So transformation of the individual can take place only when there is a total comprehension of the ways of the mind, which is meditation. To understand oneself is a process in which there is no condemnation, no justification but just seeing what one is, just observing without judging, without checking, controlling or adjusting. The perception of what one is, without any evaluation, leads the mind to an extraordinary depth and it is only at that depth that there is transformation; and naturally action from that depth of understanding is totally different from the action of adjustment.

So I hope you, as an individual, have listened to these talks not merely to gather information, to be intellectually amused, excited, or emotionally stirred, but have learnt about yourself in the process and therefore freed yourself. Because from the beginning of these talks until now we have been speaking about the actual, everyday, state of the mind, and if you disregard it and say you are only interested in God, in what happens after death, then you will find that your God and your `after death' are only a set of speculative ideas which have no validity at all. To find what God is, if there is a God, you must come to it with a full being, with freshness, not with a mind that is decayed, burdened with its own experiences, broken and dwindled by discipline and burnt up with desires. A mind that is really passionate - and passion implies intensity and fullness - only such a mind can receive that which is Immeasurable. That Immeasurable cannot be found except as you dig deeper and deeper within yourself. Your repetition that there is the Eternal is child's talk, and your seeking the Eternal has no meaning either, for it is unknowable, inconceivable to the mind. The mind has to understand itself, to break the foundation of its learning, the frontiers of its own recognition, and that is the process of self-knowledge. What you need now is an inward revolution, a totally new approach to life, not new systems, new schools, new philosophies. Then, from this transformation, you will see that mind, as time, ceases. After all, time is as the sea which is never still, never calm, everlastingly in motion, everlastingly restless, and our minds, based on time are caught up in its movement.

So, only when you have totally understood yourself, the conscious as well as the unconscious, only then is there a quietness, a motionlessness which is creation. And that stillness is action, true action. Only, we never touch it, we never know it because we are wasting our energy, our time, our sorrow, our endeavour, on things superficial. So the earnest man is he who through self-knowledge breaks down the walls of time and brings about a motionless state of mind. Then there is a benediction which comes into being without invitation; then there is a reality, a goodness which comes without your asking. If you crave it you will not get it, if you seek it you will not find it. It is only when the mind has understood itself totally, comprehended itself widely so that it is without any barrier and is dead to everything it has known - then only Reality comes into being.

December 28, 1958


Bombay 1958

Bombay 10th Public Talk 28th December 1958

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