New Delhi 1959
New Delhi 3rd Public Talk 15th February 1959
This evening I would like, if I may, to talk over with you the whole process of the mind. To most of us, apparently, thought is very important; but thought, even though it shapes our actions and our lives, will have very little meaning unless we understand the ways of the mind.
Before I go further, I would like to ask you what is the purpose or significance of your coming here? It is a valid question, I think, and one which you will have to answer for.yourself. What is the motive, the intention of your coming? On that will depend your understanding of what is going to be said. If you come merely out of curiosity, obviously you will be little satisfied, and will go away rather more confused than before. But if you come, not just to hear what the speaker has to say, but in order to understand yourself, then I think these talks will have some meaning. But to understand oneself requires a great deal of attention, not only while we are here, but also when we go out into the ways of our daily existence; for it is in our everyday relationships that we find the mirror in which to see ourselves as we are.
So let us be very clear about our intention in gathering together here this evening. You are not going to learn anything from the speaker. To me there is neither the teacher nor taught; there is no leader and no follower, no guru and no disciple; there is no path to reality, no system or discipline that can bring about the realization of that extraordinary thing which we call the real, the eternal, the immeasurable. No organized religion can lead you to it. And if you have come here with the hope of being led to happiness, to peace of mind, you are not only going to be disappointed, but more confused than ever.
So as an individual you must be very clear about why you are here. The man who follows any path, any system, any teacher, or who belongs to any organized religion, is merely an imitator and not an individual who is trying to understand the whole field of human existence. Living is a very complex process, and to understand it demands extraordinary attention, a detailed perception, a precision in thinking; so, obviously there can be no following, there can be neither an easy acceptance nor a casual denial. If that much is very clear between you and me as two individuals, then together we can proceed. But if you have come here merely to juggle with words, or intellectually to be amused, or cleverly to refute what is said, then I think you will miss the significance of the whole thing.
If one asks oneself very clearly "Why have I come?", that very question will begin to unravel the process of one's own mind. After all, the mind is the only instrument we have. It is the mind that perceives, that thinks, that calculates, that desires, that communicates, that penetrates, that creates its own blockages, that tries to fulfil itself and finds frustration, misery; it is the mind that is ambitious and ruthless, affectionate and sympathetic; it is the. mind that knows pleasure and pain, love and hate, that takes delight in beauty. So unless we understand this extraordinary thing called the mind, we shall have very little basis for rational, clear and perceptive thinking.
Thinking plays a very large part in our life, does it not? It covers almost the whole field of our existence. That is why it is so important to understand the mind, from which thinking emanates. The mind is the source of our thought, of our feeling, of our per- ception, our awareness; it shapes our. relationship with society, with nature, with each other. So without understanding the mind, any change we bring about in our thinking will have very little meaning.
Now, in this talk and in all the talks to follow, what we are trying to do is to unravel this thing called the mind. It is not our intention that you should be influenced to think in a particular direction - and it is very important for you and me to understand this. All influence, good or bad, is pernicious, because it enslaves the mind. Influence is mere propaganda. The constant repetition of certain phrases creates belief, which is not thinking. To me any influence, whether pleasant or unpleasant, and however subtle or shrewd, is a form of compulsion. So again let us be very clear that you are not being mesmerized by me; your mind is not being influenced to think in a certain direction.
It is very important, I think, that we understand this. Influence, which is propaganda, is being exerted on the mind all the time. Newspapers, magazines, books, the speeches that are given by television and radio - all this, and everything else that goes to make up our environment, is urging us to think in a certain direction, and consciously or unconsciously we either resist or accept it.
Please don't just listen to me, but watch your own mind in operation. I am only describing the operation of your own mind, how influence twists and perverts your thought. There is not only conscious influence, which is called education, but also unconscious influence, the influence of which one is not aware; and perhaps this is much more potent than the conscious influence. If I directly tell you to do something, you may or may not do it, depending on my authority, my power of persuasion, and on your willingness or otherwise to accept what I say - which is a conscious influence. Put the unconscious, where there is no means of defence, is much more easily penetrated by subtle suggestions, ideas, arguments; and influences on that level are apt to affect the mind much more. I do not know if you have observed this. And there is the whole weight of tradition, the modern as well as the ancient, that shapes the mind gradually, unknowingly.
So one has to be alert at all these talks not to be influenced, not to be hypnotized into accepting what is said - ,which does not mean that you must reject it. What we are trying to do is to understand the process of the mind; and you cannot understand the mind, the whole extent and depth of it, if you merely accept or reject. You and I together are trying to understand the mind, go into it, uncover all the various aspects of it, and not merely confine ourselves to one particular part. We are exploring and therefore discovering; and what you discover for yourself matters much more than anything you may hear from me. But you are not really listening if you are prejudiced, if you are argumentative, if you merely reject or accept, for then you remain at the verbal level; therefore you cannot explore, you cannot discover the movement, the extraordinary subtleties of the mind. I may point out to you many things, but unless you directly experience them, you cannot possibly understand the process of your own mind.
If you are really alert you will see that there is no guru, no path, no system or belief that can lead you to truth. There is only the exploration of the process of your own thinking. Where once you begin to know the ways of your mind and see what it is that lies behind your thought - why there is fear, why you seek security, and all the rest of it - , then you will never again follow anybody.
That being clearly understood by you and by me, let us ask ourselves, what is the mind? When I put that question, please don't wait for a reply from me. Look at your own mind, observe the ways of your own thought. What I describe is only an indication, it is not the reality. The reality you must experience for yourself. The word, the description, the symbol, is not the actual thing. The word `door' is obviously not the door. The word `love' is not the feeling, the extraordinary quality that the word indicates. So do not let us confuse the word, the name, the symbol, with the fact. If you merely remain on the verbal level and discuss what the mind is, you are lost; for then you will never feel the quality of this astonishing thing called the mind.
So, what is the mind? Obviously, the mind is our total awareness or consciousness, it is the total way of our existence, the whole process of our thinking. The mind is the result of the brain. The brain produces the mind. Without the brain there is no mind, but the mind is separate from the brain. It is the child of the brain. If the brain is limited, damaged, the mind is also damaged. The brain, which records every sensation, every feeling of pleasure or pain; the brain with all its tissues, with all its responses, creates what we call the mind, although the mind is independent of the brain.
You don't have to accept this. You can experiment with it and see for yourself.
I ask you where you live, which is a question with which you are familiar. The air waves striking upon the eardrum cause an impulse to be sent to your brain, which translates and responds to what it hears according to its memories and you say "Sir, I live in such and such a place". The response of the brain is also the response of the mind according to its conditioning. The mind is not only the result of the brain, but also of the time-process - the time process being both external or chronological, and inward or psychological, inside the skin as it were, which is the sense of becoming something. So the mind is the result of the brain and of time, and it is made up of both the conscious and the unconscious, the surface and the hidden.
Now, the mind is controllable through education, is it not? That is what is happening throughout the world. The communists get hold of the mind through so-called education, through brainwashing, and so control it. That is essentially what all organized religions do. You are a Hindu or a Parsi, a Moslem or a Buddhist, because you have been brought up as one; your parents, your tradition, your priest, your whole environment, all help to condition your mind in that way.
So the mind is being influenced all the time to think along a certain line. It used to be that only the organized religions were after your mind, but now governments have largely taken over that job. They want to shape and control your mind. On the surface the mind can resist their control. You will become a communist only if it pays you. If you think you will find God through Catholicism, you will become a Catholic, not otherwise. Superficially you have some say in the matter; but below the surface, in the deep unconscious, there is the whole weight of time, of tradition, urging you in a particular direction. The conscious mind may to some extent control and guide itself, but in the unconscious your ambitions, your unsolved problems, your compulsions, superstitions, fears, are waiting, throbbing, urging.
So there is a division in the mind as open and the hidden; inwardly, deeply, there is a contradiction. You remain a Hindu and cling to certain superstitions, even though modern civilization says they are nonsense. You are a scientist, and yet you marry off your son or daughter in the old traditional way. So there is in you a contradiction. There is also a contradiction in thought.itself, in desire itself. You want to do something, and at the same time you think you should not do it. You say "I must" and "I must not".
This whole field of the mind is the result of time, it is the result of conflicts and adjustments, of a whole series of acceptances without full comprehension. Therefore we live in a state of contradiction; our life is a process of endless struggle. We are unhappy, and we want to be happy. Being violent, we practise the ideal of non-violence. So there is a conflict going on, the mind is a battlefield. We want to be secure, knowing inwardly, deeply, that there is no such thing as security at all. The truth is that we do not want to face the fact that there is no security; therefore we are always pursuing security, with the resultant fear of not being secure.
So the mind is a mass of contradictions, oppositions, adjustments, emotional reactions, conscious as well as unconscious, and from there we begin to think. We have never explored the depths of our own consciousness, but niercely act on the surface. We believe or do not believe; we pursue what we think is profitable; we compel ourselves to do something, or we argue, drift. This is our life. And in this state the mind says "I want to find reality".
But you can perceive what is real only when the mind is not in a state of self-contradiction. Whether you believe or do not believe in God has very little importance. Actually, it is of no importance at all, because in your life it is just a matter of convenience, of tradition and social security. You are conditioned to believe in God, as the communists are conditioned not to believe, It is conditioning that makes you call yourself a Hindu or a Buddhist, a Moslem or a Christian. Your moralizing about God or truth and your quoting of the various scriptures has very little significance, because the moment you discover for yourself that your mind is conditioned, that whole, structure will collapse.
Being afraid, the mind finds security within the field of its own thought, convictions and experiences; it builds a haven of refuge through belief, and wards off the movement of life. This is the actual fact, whether you acknowledge it or not. The haven of refuge which the mind creates and remains within is the `me' and the `mine', and every form of disturbance that might shake the foundations of this refuge, the mind rejects.
Seeing that thought is transient, the mind creates the `I'-process, the `me' which it then calls the permanent, the everlasting, but which is still within the field of the mind, because the mind has created and can think about it. What the mind can think about is obviously within the field of the mind, which is the field of time; therefore it is not the timeless, the eternal, though you may call it the Atman, the higher self, or God. Your God is then a product of your thought; and your thought is the response of your conditioning, of your memories, of your experiences, which are all within the field of time.
Now, can the mind be free of time? That is the real problem. Because all creation takes place outside the field of time. All profound thinking, all deep feeling is always timeless. When you love somebody, when there is love, that love is not bound by time.
But the conditioned mind, surely, is incapable of finding out what lies beyond time. That is, Sirs, the mind as we know it, is conditioned by the past. The past, moving through the present to the future, conditions the mind; and this conditioned mind, being in conflict, in trouble, being fearful, uncertain, seeks something beyond the frontiers of time. That is what we are all doing in various ways, is it not? But how can a mind which is the result of time ever find that which is timeless? All it can do is to mesmerize itself into a state which it calls the timeless, the real, or make itself comfortable with certain beliefs.
To find reality, the mind must transform itself; it must go beyond itself. And unless the mind is capable of receiving reality, it cannot resolve the innumerable problems that confront us in our daily life. It can adjust itself, defend itself, it can take refuge temporarily; but life is all the time challenging the defences that you so sedulously build around yourself. The house of your beliefs, of your properties, of your attachments and comforting ways of thinking, is constantly being broken into. But the mind goes on seeking security, so there is a conflict between what you want and what life's process demands of you. This is what is happening to every one of us.
So the mind is the result of time, it is caught up in conflict, in discipline, control; and how can such a mind be free to discover what lies beyond the limits of time? I do not know if this problem interests you at all. Everyday existence, with all its troubles, seems to be sufficient for most of us. Our only concern is to find an immediate answer to our various problems. But sooner or later the immediate answers are found to be unsatisfactory, because no problem has an answer apart from the problem itself. But if I can understand the problem, all the intricacies of it, then the problem no longer exist?,
Most of us are concerned, I think, with how to live in this world without too much conflict. We want what we call peace of mind, which means that we do not want to be deeply disturbed. That is why we accept the immediate answers about death, about sorrow, and so on. But these problems cannot be understood, nor can there be the cessation of conflict, until one begins to comprehend the whole process of the mind. When you begin to inquire into the mind you will make the inevitable discovery that the limits or frontiers of the mind are defined by that which is recognizable, and that these frontiers of the mind can never be stormed; so thought can never be free. Thought is merely the reaction of your experience, the response of memory; and how can such thought ever be free? Freedom means, surely, a state which has no beginning and no end; it is not a continuity of conditioned thinking based on experience with all its memories.
So thought, which is the response of memory, of accumulated experience, of one's particular conditioning, is not the solution to any problem; and I think for most of us this is a bitter pill to swallow. Thought can never fly straight, because it is always influenced, it is always motivated, attracted, and that attraction is based on our conditioning, on our background, on our memory. So thought is merely mechanical. Please, sirs, do see the significance of this. Machines are taking over more and more of the functions of the human mind. The electronic brain, which can do much better work in certain areas than you and I can, is based essentially on association, memory, experience, habit, which are also the ways of the mind; and through association, memory, experience, habit you can never come to that which is free.
It is of fundamental importance, then, to be aware - not only at the conscious or surface level, but also at the deeper, unconscious level - of this extraordinary thing called the mind, with its frontiers of the recognizable. And can this mind - which is the result of time in both the chronological and the psychological sense - with all its demands, with all its variances and influences, be creative? Because that is what is needed, surely - a mind that is not merely productive or inventive, but in a state of creativeness which is not the product of the mind.
I do not know if I am making myself clear. This is a difficult thing to go into, and it will mean very little unless you have followed what has been said this evening - followed it, not just verbally, but at the same time watching your own mind.
In what we call thinking there is always a thinker apart from the thought, an observer different from the observed. But it is thought that has produced the thinker; there is no entity as the thinker who produces thought. Thought, which is the reaction of memory, produces the thinker. If there is no thinking, there is no `I' - though this is contrary to what you have always been told. You have accepted the idea that there is a permanent `I' - which you call the Atman, the higher self, and all the rest of it - that produces thought. To me this is sheer nonsense - it does not matter what the books say. What is important is for you to find out the truth of the matter for yourself. As long as there is this division of the thinker and the thought, as long as there is an experiencer who is experiencing, the mind is held within the frontiers of the recognizable, and is therefore limited. It is caught in the process of accumulation, attachment, and is therefore in a state of perpetual self-contradiction.
So in the mind there is this division of the experiencer and the experienced, the observer and the observed. Knowing this fact and recognizing its own limitations, how is the mind to go beyond itself? Because it is only when the mind goes beyond itself that there is creation. Creation cannot take place within the field of the experiencer and the experienced, the thinker and the thought, because in that field everything is in a state of conflict; there is confusion, misery. As long as there is the experiencer and the experienced, the thinker and the thought, there is a division, a contradiction, and hence a ceaseless struggle to bring the two together, to build a bridge between them. As long as that division exists, the mind is held within the frontiers of the recognizable; and what is recognized is not the new. Truth cannot be recognized. What you recognize you already know, and what you know is not what is.
Now, how is the mind to free itself from the known? For only in the state of unknowingness is there creation, not within the field of the known. Bring the result of time, which is then known, how is the mind to die to the known:
Sirs, there is no answer, there is no system by which you can make the mind new, fresh, young, innocent. As long as the mind is functioning within the field of the known, it can never renew itself, it can never make itself totally free. So please listen to the question, and let the seed of the question penetrate into the unconscious; then you will find the answer as you live, as you function daily.
How is the mind to free itself from the known? It is only in that state of freedom from the known that there can be creation, which can then be translated as inventiveness, as the creativeness of an artist, as this or that - all of which is irrelevant, it has only social significance. God, or truth, is that state of freedom from the known; it has nothing to do with your ideas about that state. The man who is seeking God will never find God. The man who practises a discipline, who does puja and all the rest of it, will never find out what is true, because he is still working within the field of the known. It is only when the mind is dead to everything that it has experienced, totally empty of the known - not blank, but empty, with a sense of complete unknowingness - , it is only then that reality comes into being.
February 15, 1959.
New Delhi 1959
New Delhi 3rd Public Talk 15th February 1959
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