New Delhi 1959
New Delhi 9th Public Talk 8th March 1959
This evening I would like to think aloud about action, religion, and the nature of beauty. It seems to me that they are all related, and that to be concerned only with action, or with religion, or with the nature of beauty, is to destroy the fullness of action, which then becomes merely an activity. If we are to go very deeply into the question of what is action, I think we must also consider religion and the nature of beauty, as well as the quality or sensitivity of a mind that feels and appreciates what is beautiful.
For most of us action becomes a routine, a habit, something that one does, not out of love, or because it has deep significance for oneself, but because one has to do it. One is driven to it by circumstances, by a wrong kind of education, by the lack of that love out of which one does something real. If we can go into this whole question, I think it will be very revealing, for then perhaps we shall begin to understand the true nature of revolution.
Surely, true action comes from clarity. When the mind is very clear, unconfused, not contradictory within itself, then action inevitably follows from that clarity; we need not be concerned with how to bring about action. But it is very difficult, is it not?, to have undisturbed perception and to see things, not as one would like to see them, but as they actually are, undistorted by one's likes and dislikes. It is only out of such clarity that the fullness of action takes place.
Clarity is of far greater significance than action. But our minds are ridden by systems, by techniques, by the desire to know what to do. The `what to do?' has become very important, it is our everlasting question. We want to know what to do about starvation, what to do about inequality, about the appalling corruption in the world, and about our own sorrow and suffering. We are always looking for a method, a means, a system of action, are we not?
But how to find clarity is obviously a much more significant inquiry; because if one can think very clearly, if one has perception which is not distorted, which is direct, complete, then from that clear perception, action follows. Such clarity creates its own action. But people who are dedicated to various systems are always at loggerheads with each other, are they not? They cannot work together. Each interprets the problem in terms of the system to which he is committed, according to his particular conditioning and self-interest. I do not know if you have ever noticed how most of us divide ourselves into groups, parties and systems, and commit ourselves to certain conclusions. Any such commitment, surely, does not bring clarity. It brings only enmity, opposition. But if you and I approach our human problems, not with commitments, conclusions and self-interest, but with clarity, then I think these problems can very easily be solved.
So the real problem is the mind that approaches the problem; and may I suggest that we not merely listen to what is being said, but go into ourselves and find out in what manner the mind is confused. If we ask how to clear up our confusion, it will only bring about the cultivation of another system. To actually see that the mind is confused has far greater significance, surely, than the question of action, of what to do. We have to live in this world, we have to act, we have to go to the office and do a hundred different things; and from what sort of a mind does all this action come? I can describe the background of the mind, but I think it will have very little significance if you do not relate what is being said to your own mind. Most of us think that self-knowledge is merely a matter of information, the accumulation of various explanations as to why the mind is confused; and we are easily satisfied by explanations. But really to understand oneself, one has to put away all the explanations and begin to explore one's own mind - which is to perceive directly what is. I must know that I am confused, that I am committed, that I have a vested interest in some system, ideology or belief, and see the significance of it; and surely, that very perception is enough in itself. But that direct perception is prevented if I am satisfied merely to explain the various causes of my confusion.
It seems to me that the real revolution is not economic, political, or social, but the bringing about of this new quality of the mind which is always clear. And when the mind is not clear, what matters is to perceive directly the cause of confusion without trying to do something about it. Whatever a confused mind does about its confusion, it will still be confused. I do not think we see the significance of this. All that most of us are concerned with is how to clear up our confusion, how to wipe away our darkness. But simply to perceive that the mind is confused is in itself enough. Try the experiment with yourself, and you will see. There is no answer to a confused mind, there is no way out of its confusion, because whatever way it finds, it will still be confused. Whereas, if the mind is vitally aware of and fully attentive to its confusion, if it sees that it is muddled, that there is a distortion, that there is a vested interest - this in itself is enough. It brings about its own action, which I think is the real revolution. Because it approaches the problem negatively, such a mind acts positively. But when the mind approaches a problem positively, it acts negatively and therefore contradictorily.
Do think it over and you will see the truth of this. After all, no amount of argumentation, persuasion or influence, no promise of reward or threat of punishment, can make you see the true as true, the false as false, and the truth in the false. What is needed is the simplicity that looks directly at things as they are - and that is the new quality of mind which is really a revolution. Problems may appear to be positive, but they cannot be solved through a positive approach, because problems are always negative; therefore they must be approached negatively.
Sirs, take the problem of starvation. How do we approach it? The Communists approach it through one system, the capitalists through another, while the organized religions have conflicting systems of their own. Surely, the problem of starvation, like every other human problem, must be approached negatively; no system is going to solve it, because each man will fight for his particular system, in which he has a vested interest. You can see this happening right now in the world around you. Whereas, if the mind frees itself from the system and approaches the problem negatively because the problem itself is negative, then from that negation will come a positive action. Then there is no quarrel between you as a Communist and me as a capitalist, or between you as a Hindu and me as a Christian or a Moslem, because we are both concerned, not with the system, but with the problem. In the problem there is no vested interest, whereas in the system there is, and it is this vested interest over which we are everlastingly quarrelling.
Now, just to see the truth of this brings clarity, and out of that clarity there is action. And I think it is the same with every problem, because all problems are negative, and you must approach them negatively, not with a positive mind. To be free from greed, or envy, or jealousy, or ambition, you must approach it negatively, and not say "How shall I get rid of it?" The direct perception of what is negative, brings clarity.
I am afraid one has to think a great deal about these things - not think, but rather feel one's way into them, because thoughts never lead to a fundamental revolution, ideas never bring about a radical change in the quality of the mind. Ideas, thoughts, only lead to conclusions, and out of these conclusions there are vested interests. A mind that starts with a conclusion has altogether ceased to think. After all, what we call thinking is merely a reaction, isn't it? It is the reaction of one's background, of one's memory, of one's knowledge. Therefore, thinking is always limited, conditioned. But direct perception is never conditioned. You can perceive directly the fact that you are envious, for example, without having to think about it; and that direct perception has its own action. But once you begin to think about why you are envious, to find reasons for your envy, to explain it, to condemn or justify it, to look for a way to be free of it, then that whole process prevents direct perception which is the negative approach to what you call envy.
Perhaps you will reject all this, because the mind tends to reject what it hears for the first time as something new. But I think it would be a pity if you merely rejected it, saying: "You don't give us a system of meditation, a method by which to do this or that". I think a mind that pursues a system or a method and functions within it, is essentially a lazy mind. It is so easy to function in a system; the mind can operate like a cog in a machine, it doesn't have to think. Whereas, in approaching a problem negatively, you have to be alert, it requires an extraordinarily attentive mind. And I think this is the only real revolution, because it does not create enmity and vested interests, while systems, ideas, conclusions always do.
Now, with the clarity of direct perception let us look at what we call religion. Surely, a religious mind is not a believing mind. Belief is positive, and a mind that believes in something can never find out what is real.
After all, what is the religion which you profess? You believe that to find God, or whatever you may call it, you must discipline your body, control your mind, destroy every form of desire. You would go to that which you call holy with a mind that is crowded with beliefs, desecrated by superstition and fear. You worship the symbol instead of discovering what is real, so the symbol becomes all-important. You pray, and your prayer is supplication, begging something for yourself or your family from what you call God. It is a thing of the market place. If you beg, your bowl may be filled. If you ask for a refrigerator, you may get a refrigerator. If you ask in prayer for peace, you may find what you call peace; but it is not peace.
So you have made of religion a refuge, an escape, a meaningless thing. You seek reality through constant discipline of the body, through suppression or control of every desire. You approach what you call God with a mind that is worn out, hopeless, in despair, with a heart that is dry, fearful, ugly. The man who repeats a lot of phrases, who reads the Gita from morning till night, or who denies himself everything and takes the sannyasi's robe - do you think such a man will find the real? Surely, one must set out to discover reality with a fullness of heart, with all one's sensitivities highly developed, with a mind that is rich - rich in clarity and not in experience, rich in the perfume of real affection.
Religion is not that which you now call religion; it is not in the book, it is not in the mantram, it is not in the temple, it is not in the graven image, whether made by the hand or by the mind. It is something entirely different. To find out what religion is, the mind must go to it with an extraordinary fullness because it is empty; and it is only then that reality can come into being. This is a complete reversal of everything that you have been taught, and that is why it is very difficult for you to see the truth of it.
For centuries it has been said that you must be desireless, that every form of desire towards any object must be thwarted, cut off. Whereas, I say desire is not to be suppressed, cut off, thwarted, controlled, but to be understood. Control, suppression, is a form of laziness. To understand desire with all its subtleties, with all its promptings, with all its drive and energy, requires constant watchfulness, a mind that is extraordinarily alert and capable of delving deeply into itself, not only at the conscious level, but at the unconscious level as well. The conscious mind is the positive mind; it has learnt, it has experienced, it has gathered, and it wants to translate everything in terms of its own self-interest. The unconscious, on the other hand, is the negative mind, and you cannot go to it positively. It is only when the conscious mind is quiet, undisturbed, that it is able to receive the hints and intimations of the unconscious. That is the way of dreams.
It is not a positive assertion or denial that brings about clarity, but this whole process of understanding. If, as you listen, you go into yourself and observe your own mind, which I hope you are doing, you will find that out of such listening there comes the clarity of understanding. A mind that is clear because it understands itself, can deal with desire; but a mind that is lazy and therefore suppresses, controls, shapes desire, will always live in a state of self-contradiction. I do not know if you have noticed that when a desire is controlled, shaped, driven, suppressed, it reacts, and hence we live everlastingly in the conflict of duality.
Sirs, do listen to what is being said, and as you listen, watch your own mind. It is what is being said that is important, and not the speaker, because what is being said is true: and being true, it is anonymous. It has nothing to do with the speaker.
If, as you listen, you are aware of yourself, observing the movement of your own thoughts, you will see how desire is forever creating its own opposite, which means there is a division, a contradiction in the mind; and out of that contradiction you seek God, you fashion saints and idols for your worship. Whereas, if you do not oppose desire, but go into yourself and really begin to understand your jealousy, your sexual urge, your ambition, your feeling of envy, and every other form of desire; if you observe and are aware of it totally without accepting or denying it, without saying it is bad or good, which is to approach it with a mind that is negative and therefore capable of perceiving directly - if you can do that, then you will discover that God is some, thing entirely different from the God of your seeking. It is the unhappy mind, it is the confused, fearful mind that seeks God. The mind may think it has renounced the world, but if it is still burning with desire, its renunciation is merely a form of self-advancement; its vested interest is now belief in the idea which it calls God. Whereas, if you begin to understand this whole process of the self, the `me', with its desires, its ambitions, its subtle urges, then you will see that belief is a hindrance to reality, for belief creates authority; and a mind bound by authority will never find out what is real.
So religion is not of the church or the temple; it has no dogma, no belief, no practice. A religious man is one who is inquiring ceaselessly into himself. A politician is not a religious man, though he may call himself one, because he is concerned with a particular result which becomes his vested interest. Only the mind that is in a state of negation will find reality, because it is only such a mind that is capable of seeing the false as the false and the true as the true.
Just as the mind must be sensitive, uncommitted, to perceive directly what is true, so it must be open, sensitive, to feel the nature of beauty. Most of us say "That is beautiful" or "That is ugly" because we have the memory of what is beautiful and what is ugly according to the tradition, the education, the culture in which we were brought up. But surely, like love, beauty has no opposite. A mind that has this extraordinary sensitivity to beauty, is sensitive also to that which is ugly, and does not compare. I do not know if you have ever been aware of your own feelings, of your own reaction when you suddenly see a sunset, or a tree in full bloom against the sky. At that moment, surely, you are not noticing whether it is beautiful or ugly, but there is a total response in which the thinker is absent - which means, does it not?, that the mind has completely abandoned itself. I hope you are following this.
Perhaps you have never experienced that state of mind in which there is total abandonment of everything, a complete letting go. And you cannot abandon everything without deep passion, can you? You cannot abandon everything intellectually, or emotionally. There is total abandonment, surely, only when there is intense passion. Don't be alarmed by the word; because a man who is not passionate, who is not intense, can never understand or feel the quality of beauty. The mind that holds something in reserve, the mind that has a vested interest, the mind that clings to position, power, prestige, the mind that is respectable, which is a horror - such a mind can never abandon itself.
To perceive the nature of that which is called beauty, the mind must completely come to an end, but not in despair. It must be very simple, because only a simple mind can see what is true. But the mind cannot be made simple through discipline. The sannyasi who wears a loincloth, who takes only one meal a day and feels virtuous about it, is not simple. Simplicity is a state in which the mind has no consciousness of itself as being simple. The moment you are conscious of your humility, you have ceased to be humble. The moment you are conscious of your non-violence, you are full of violence. The ideal, and all the practices and disciplines to achieve it, are a self-conscious process, and therefore not virtue.
Do look at all this, because your minds are ridden with this sort of thing, you are slaves to it. You may agree with what is being said, but you will fall back into your old ways. It is not a question of agreement, it is a question of perception. Once you perceive for yourself the truth of the matter, you can never go back to the nonsense of ideals and disciplines. This is not being said to make you believe or disbelieve, or to create a new dogma. But you must be intense in perceiving the significance of every thought, every feeling that you have, and out of that intensity comes clarity; and clarity creates its own discipline, you don't have to practise a discipline.
Sensitivity to beauty is not just a matter of seeing beauty as manifested in a painting, in a tree, or in a poem. It is the feeling of beauty, and like the feeling of love, it is not merely in the expression, in the word, in the holding of a hand. The feeling, which is extraordinary, creates its own action. For the man who knows what love is, who is in the state of love, there is no sin, no evil. Do what he may, it will be essentially right. In the same way, a mind that perceives is very simple, and it is simple because it perceives; and that very perception creates its own action. It is only such a mind that can come to the state of total abandonment - which is not a gradual process in time. Just to see the truth of that is enough. Such a mind does not seek truth, it does not go to the temple or to the sacred books; though it is active, it is not concerned with action. Because it has been through an inward revolution which has brought a new quality to it, such a mind can wait in negation to receive that which is eternal.
If one observes, one can see within oneself the past, not merely one's own past, but the whole past of humanity. After all, we are the result of centuries of human existence with its chain of thoughts and experiences, joys and sorrows. But to inquire into and to break through all that, requires a negative approach; the mind must be capable of approaching everything through negation. Don't translate `negation' as the equivalent of some Sanskrit word and put it by, actually experience it. The moment you begin to translate, compare, you have gone away from the fact; you are living in the memory of what you have read or heard, and therefore you are dead. Whereas, if you are directly experiencing, then the mind is astonishingly clear, precise, unburdened, and therefore its action is revolutionary. It is only such a mind that can receive the benediction of reality.
March 8, 1959.
New Delhi 1959
New Delhi 9th Public Talk 8th March 1959
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