Madras 5th Public Talk 6th December 1959
I think it would be profitable and worthwhile to find out for ourselves why the mind is so restless. It is as restless as the sea, never stable, never quiet; though outwardly it may be still, inwardly it is full of ripples, full of grooves and every kind of disturbance. I think it is essential to go into this question rather deeply, and not merely ask how to quiet the mind. There is no way to quiet the mind. Of course, one can take pills, tranquillizers, or follow blindly some system; one can drug the mind with prayers, with repetitions; but a drugged mind is no mind at all. So it seems to me of the utmost importance to go deeply into this question of why the mind is everlastingly seeking something, and having found it, is not satisfied, but moves on to something else - an unceasing movement from satisfaction to disappointment, from fulfilment to pain and frustration. We must all be aware of this endless cycle of pleasure and sorrow. Everything is passing, impermanent; we live in a constant state of flight, and there is no place where one can be quiet, especially inwardly, because every recess of the mind is disturbed. There is no untrodden region in the mind. Consciously or unconsciously we have tried in various ways to bring quietness, stillness, a state of peace to the mind; and having got it, we have soon lost it again. You must be aware of this endless search, which is going on in your own mind.
So I would like to suggest that - with hesitance, without dogmatism, without quoting or coming to conclusions - we try to probe into this restless activity of our minds. And I think we shall have to begin by asking ourselves why we seek at all, why we inquire, why there is this longing to arrive, to achieve, to become something. After all, you are probably here a little bit out of curiosity, but even more, I hope, out of the desire to seek, to find out. What is it that you are seeking? And why do you seek? If we can go deeply into this question by asking ourselves why we are seeking, if we can, as it were, open the door by means of that question, then I think we may perhaps have a glimpse into something which is not illusory, and which does not have the transient quality of that which is merely pleasurable or gratifying.
Why is it, and what is it, you are seeking? I wonder if you have ever put that question to yourselves? You know, a challenge is always new, because it is something that demands your attention. You have to respond, there is no turning your back on it, and either you respond totally, completely, or partially, inadequately. The incapacity to respond totally to a challenge, creates conflict. The world in its present state is a constant challenge to each one of us, and when we do not respond with the fullness, with all the depth and beauty of the challenge itself, then inevitably there is turmoil, anxiety, fear, sorrow. In the same way, this question - what are you seeking, and why do you seek? - is a challenge, and if you do not respond with your whole being but treat it merely as an intellectual problem, which is to respond partially, then obviously you will never find a total answer. Your response to the challenge is partial, inadequate, when you merely make statements, or think in terms of definite conclusions to which you have come. The challenge is always new, and you have to respond to it anew - not in your habitual, customary way. If we can put this question to ourselves as though we are considering it for the first time, then our response will be entirely different from the superficial response of the intellect.
What is it that you are seeking, and why do you seek it? Does not this very seeking instigate restlessness? If there were no seeking, would you stagnate? Or would there then be a totally different kind of search? But before we go into the more complex aspects of our inquiry, it seems to me important to find out what you and I, as individual human beings, are seeking. Obviously, the superficial answer is always to say "I am seeking happiness, fulfilment". But in seeking happiness, in seeking fulfilment, we never stop to ask ourselves if there is such a thing as fulfilment. We long for fulfilment, or satisfaction, and we go after it, without looking to see if there is any reality behind the word. In pursuing fulfilment, its expression varies from day to day, from year to year. Growing weary of the more worldly satisfactions, we seek happiness in good conduct, in social service, in being brotherly, in loving one's neighbour. But sooner or later this movement towards fulfilment through good conduct also comes to an end, and we turn in still another direction. We try to find happiness through intellectual pursuits, through reason, logic, or we become emotional, sentimental, romantic. We give to the word `happiness' different connotations at different times. We translate it in terms of what we call peace, God, truth; we think of it as a heavenly abode where we shall be completely fulfilled, never disturbed, and so on. That is what most of us want, is it not? That is why you read the Shastras, the Bible, the Koran, or other religious books - in the hope of bringing quietness to the restless mind. Probably that is why you are here.
Seeking implies an object, an end in view, does it not? There can be no search for what is unknown. You can only seek something which you have known and lost, or which you have heard of and want to gain. You cannot seek that which you do not know. In a peculiar way, you already know what happiness is. You have tasted the flavour of it, the past has given you the sensation, the pleasure, the beauty of it; so you already know its quality, its nature, and that memory you project. But what you have known is not what is; your projection is not what you really want. What you have tasted is not sufficient, you want something more, more, more, and so your life is an everlasting struggle.
I hope you are listening to what is being said, not as to a lecture, but as though you were looking at a film of yourself struggling, groping, searching, longing. You are sorrowful, anxious, fearful, caught up in tremendous hope and despair, in the extremes of contradiction, and from this tension there is action. That is all you know. You seek fulfilment outwardly, in the house, in the family, in going to the office, in becoming a rich man, or the chief inspector, or a famous judge, or the prime minister - you know the whole business of climbing the ladder of success and achievement. You climb that ladder till you are old, and then you seek God. You collect money, honours, position, prestige, and when you have reached a certain age, you turn to poor old God. God does not want such a man, sirs. God wants a complete human being who is not a slave. He does not want a dehydrated human being, but one who is active, who knows love, who has a deep sense of joy.
But unfortunately, in our search for happiness, fulfilment, there is an endless struggle going on. Outwardly we do everything possible to assure ourselves of that happiness; but outward things fail. The house, the property, the relationship with wife and children - it can all be swept away, and there is always death waiting around the corner. So we turn to inward things, we practise various forms of discipline in an effort to control our minds, our emotions, and we conform to a standard of good conduct, hoping that we shall one day arrive at a state of happiness that cannot be disturbed.
Now, I see this whole process going on, and I am asking myself: why do we seek at all? I know that we do seek. We join societies which promise a spiritual reward, we follow gurus who exhort us to struggle, to sacrifice, to discipline ourselves, and all the rest of it; so we are seeking, endlessly. Why is there this seeking? What is the compulsion, the urge that makes for seeking, not only outwardly, but inwardly? And is there any fundamental difference between the outward and the inward movement of seeking, or is it only one movement? I do not know if I am making myself clear. We have divided our existence into what we call outward life and the inward life. Our daily activities and pursuits are the outward life; and when we do not get happiness, pleasure, satisfaction in that area, we turn to the inward as a I reaction. But the inward also has its frustration and despair.
So, what is it that is making us seek? Do please ask yourself this question, go into it with me. Surely, a happy, joyous man does not seek God, he is not trying to achieve virtue; his very existence is splendid, radiant. So, what is it that is urging us to seek, and to make such tremendous effort? If we can understand that, perhaps we shall be able to go beyond this restless search.
Do you know what is the cause of your seeking? Please do not give a superficial answer, because then you will only blind yourself to the actual. Surely, if you go deeply into yourself, you will see that you are seeking because there is, within each one of us, a sense of isolation, of loneliness, of emptiness; there is an inner void which nothing can fill. Do what you will - perform good works, meditate, identify yourself with the family, with the group, with the race, with the nation - that emptiness is still there, that void which cannot be filled, that loneliness which nothing can take away. That is the cause of our endless seeking, is it not? Call it by a different name, it does not matter. Deep within one there is this sense of emptiness, of loneliness, of utter isolation. If the mind can go into this void and understand it, then perhaps it will be resolved.
At one time or another, perhaps while you were walking, or while you were sitting by yourself in a room, you must have experienced this sense of loneliness, the extraordinary feeling of being cut off from everything - from your family, from your friends, from ideas, hopes - so that you felt you had no relationship with anybody or anything. And without penetrating into it, without actually living with it, understanding it, the mind cannot resolve that feeling.
I think there is a difference between knowing and experiencing. You probably know what this feeling of loneliness is, from what you have heard or read about it; but knowing is entirely different from the state of experiencing. You may have read extensively, you may have accumulated many experiences, so that you know a great deal; but knowledge is not living. If you are an artist, a painter, every line, every shadow means something. You are observing all the time, watching the movement and the depth of shadows, the loveliness of a curve, the expression of a face, the branch of a tree, the colours everywhere - you are alive to everything. But knowledge cannot give you this perception, this capacity to feel, to experience something that you see. Experiencing is one thing, and experience is another. Experience, knowledge, is a thing of the past, which will go on as memory; but experiencing is a living perception of the now; it is a vital awareness of the beauty, the tranquillity, the extraordinary profundity of the now. In the same way, one has to be aware of loneliness; one has to feel it, actually experience this sense of complete isolation. And if one is capable of experiencing it, one will find how really difficult it is to live with it. I do not know if you have ever lived with the sunset.
You know, sirs, there is a radiancy of love which cannot be cultivated. Love is not the result of good conduct; no amount of your being kind, generous, will give you love. Love is both extensive and particular. A mind that loves is virtuous, it does not seek virtue. It cannot go wrong, because it knows right and wrong. It is the mind without love that seeks virtue, that wants God, that clings to a system of belief, and thereby destroys itself. Love - that quality, that feeling, that sense of compassion without any object, which is the very essence of life - is not a thing to be grasped by the mind. As I said the other day, when the intellect guides that pure feeling, then mediocrity comes into being. Most of us have such highly developed intellects, that the intellect is always corrupting the pure feeling; therefore our feelings are mediocre, though we may be excellent at reasoning.
Now, this sense of loneliness is pure feeling, uncorrupted by the mind. It is the mind that is frightened, fearful, and therefore it says "I must get away from it". But if one is simply aware of this loneliness, if one lives with it, then it has the quality of pure feeling. I do not know if I am making myself clear. Have you ever really observed a flower? It is not easy. You may think you have observed it, you may think you have loved it, but what you have actually done is this: you have seen it, you have given it a name, you have smelt it, and then you have gone away. The very naming of the species, the very smelling of the flower, causes in you a certain reaction of memory, and therefore you never really look at the flower at all. Just try sometime looking at a flower, at a sunset, at a bird, or what you will, without any interference on the part of the mind, and you will see how difficult it is; yet it is only then that there is the complete perception of anything.
This loneliness, this pure feeling which is a sense of total isolation, can be observed as you would observe the flower: with complete attention, which is not to name it, or try to escape from it. Then you will find, if you have gone so far in your inquiry, that there is only a state of negation. Please do not translate this into Sanskrit, or any other language, or compare it with something you have read. What I am telling you is not what you have read. What has been described is not what is.
I am saying that if the mind is capable of experiencing this sense of aloneness, not verbally, but actually living with it, then there comes an awareness of complete negation - negation which is not an opposite. Most of us only know the opposites: positive and negative, `I love' and `I do not love', `I want' and `I do not want'. That is all we know. But the state of which I am telling you is not of that nature, because it has no opposite. It is a state of complete negation.
I do not know if you have ever thought about the quality or the nature of creation. Creativity in the sense of having talent, being gifted, is entirely different from the state of creation. I do not know if it has happened to you that, while walking alone, or sitting in a room, you have suddenly had a feeling of extraordinary ecstasy. Having had that feeling, you want to translate it, so you write a poem, or paint a picture. If that poem or that picture becomes fashionable, society flatters you, pays you for it, gives you a profit, and you are carried away by all that. Presently you seek to have again that tremendous ecstasy, which came uninvited. As long as you seek it, it will never come. But you keep on seeking it in various ways - through self-discipline, through the practice of a system, through meditation, through drink, women - you try everything in an effort to get back that overwhelming feeling of radiance, of joy, in which all creation is. But you will never get it back. It comes darkly, uninvited.
So it is the state of negation from which all creation takes place. Whether you spontaneously write a poem, or smile without calculation; whether there is kindness without a motive, or goodness without fear, without a cause, it is all the outcome of this extraordinary state of complete negation, in which is creation. But you cannot come to it if you do not understand the whole process of seeking, so that all seeking completely ceases. The understanding and cessation of seeking is not at the end, but at the beginning. The man who says, "Eventually I shall understand the process of seeking, and then I shall no longer seek", is thoughtless, stupid, because the end is at the beginning, which has no time. If you begin to inquire into yourself and perceive why you seek, and what it is you are seeking, you can capture the whole significance of it instantaneously; and then you will find that, without any intent, without any causation, there is a fundamental revolution, a complete transformation of the mind. It is only then that truth comes into being.
Truth does not come to a mind that is burdened with experience, that is full of knowledge, that has gathered virtue, that has stifled itself through discipline, control. Truth comes to the mind that is really innocent, fearless. And it is the mind that has completely understood its own seeking, that has gone to the fullest depth of this state of negation - it is only such a mind that is without fear. Then that extraordinary thing, which we are all wanting, will come. It is elusive, and it will not come if you stretch out your hand to capture it. You cannot capture the immeasurable. Your hands, your mind, your whole being, must be quiet, completely still, to receive it. You cannot seek it, because you do not know what it is. The immeasurable will be there when the mind understands this whole process of search, not at the end, but at the beginning - which is the continuous movement of self-knowledge.
December 6, 1959.
Madras 5th Public Talk 6th December 1959
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