London 10th Public Talk 23rd May 1961
I would like to talk this evening about the quality of the meditative mind. It may be rather complex and abstract, but if one goes into it thoroughly - not so much in detail but to discover the nature of it, the feeling of it, the essence of it - , then perhaps it will be worthwhile; then perhaps without conscious effort and deliberate purpose, we shall be able to break through the shallow mind which makes our lives so empty, so superficial and so habit-ridden.
And I think it would be worthwhile, first of all, if we could realize for ourselves how shallow we are. It seems to me that the shallower we are the more active we become, the more collective we become, the more social reforms we indulge in. We collect works of art, we chatter endlessly, take up social activities, concerts, books, go to picture galleries, and the everlasting office and business. These things make us dull; and when we realize this dullness we try to sharpen ourselves with words, with the intellect, with the things of the mind. And being shallow, we also try to escape from that emptiness into religious activity, prayers, contemplation, the pursuit of knowledge; we become idealists, hang pictures on the wall, and so on. I think we know fairly well, if we are at all aware, how shallow we are, and how a mind which is following a habit or practising a discipline in order to become something, is made more and more dull, stupid, so that it loses its sharpness, its sensitivity. It is very difficult for a shallow mind to shatter its own narrowness, its own limitations, its own pettiness. I do not know if you have thought about it at all.
What I am going to talk about this evening demands not only a certain activity of the mind, of the intellect, but also an awareness of the word and its limitations. And if we can communicate with each other, not only verbally but beyond the symbol which the words evoke in our minds, and also feel our way along together, then we shall begin to discover for ourselves what it is to meditate, what is the quality of the mind that is capable of meditation.
It seems to me that, without the comprehension of the extraordinary beauty of meditation, however seemingly intelligent, gifted, capable, penetrating one may be, such a life is very superficial and has little meaning. And realizing that our lives have very little meaning, we then seek a purpose in life; and the greater the purpose that is offered to us, the nobler we think our endeavours to be. I feel that the search for a purpose is a wrong approach altogether. There is no purpose; there is only a living beyond measure. And to discover that state which is beyond measure requires a very astute, sharp, clear, precise mind, not a mind that has been made dull by habit.
I think it is fairly clear that our lives are empty, shallow. And a shallow mind is easily satisfied. As soon as it becomes discontented it follows a narrow groove, establishes an ideal, pursues the `what should be'. And such a mind, do what it will - sit cross-legged, meditate upon its navel, or think about the Supreme - , will remain shallow, because its very essence is shallow. A stupid mind can never become a great mind. What it can do is to realize its own stupidity; and the moment it realizes for itself what it is, without imagining what it should be, then there is a breaking down of stupidity. When one realizes that, all seeking come to an end - which does not mean that the mind becomes stagnant, goes to sleep. On the contrary, it faces `what is' actually - which is not a process of seeking but of understanding.
After all, most people are seeking happiness, God, truth, love everlasting, a permanent abode in heaven, a permanent virtue, a permanent love. And it seems to me that a mind that is seeking is a very superficial mind. I think we ought to be a little clear on this point, we ought to investigate it, we ought to look at the absurdity of a shallow mind and its activities, because we shall not be able to penetrate into what we are exploring this evening if we are still thinking in terms of seeking, making an effort, trying to discover. On the contrary, we need an extraordinarily sharp, quiet, still mind. A shallow mind, when it makes an effort to become silent, will still be only a shallow pool. A petty mind, that is so learned, so cunning, so full of the acquisitive pursuit of God, of truth, or of some saint because it wants to get somewhere, is still superficial, because all effort is superficial, is the outcome of a mind that is limited, narrow. Such a mind can never be sensitive; and I think one has to face the truth of that. The effort to be, to become, to deny, to resist, to cultivate virtue, to suppress, to sublimate - all that is in essence the nature of a shallow mind. Probably most people will not agree with this, but it does not matter. It seems to me an obvious psychological fact.
Now, when one realizes this, when one is aware of it, sees the truth of it actually, not verbally, not intellectually, and does not allow the mind to ask innumerable questions as to how to change it, how to get out of this shallowness - all of which implies effort - , then the mind realizes that it cannot do anything about itself. All that it can do is to perceive, to see things ruthlessly, as they are, without distortion, without bringing in opinions about the fact; merely to observe. And it is extremely difficult, merely to observe, because our minds are trained to condemn, to compare, to compete, to justify, or to identify with what is seen. So it never sees things exactly as they are. To live with a feeling as it is - whether it is jealousy, envy, greed, ambition, or what you will - , to live with it without distorting it, without having any opinion or judgment about it, requires a mind that has energy to follow all the movements of that fact. A fact is never still; it is moving, it is living. But we want to make it still by capturing it with an opinion, a judgment.
So, a mind that is aware, sensitive, sees the futility of all effort. Even in our education, the child, the student who makes an effort to learn, never really learns. He may acquire knowledge, he may get a degree; but learning is something beyond effort. Perhaps this evening we shall be able to learn together without effort, and not be caught within the realms of knowledge.
To be aware of the fact, without distortion, without colouration, without giving it any bias, to look at ourselves as we are - with all our theories, hopes, despairs, sufferings, failures and frustrations - makes the mind astonishingly sharp. What makes the mind dull is belief, ideals, habits, the pursuit of its own enlargement, growth, becoming or being. And as I have said, to follow the fact requires a precise, subtle, active mind, because the fact is never still.
I do not know if you have ever looked at envy as a fact and followed it. All our religious sanctions are based on envy, from the archbishop down to the lowest clergyman; and all our social morality, our relationships, are based on acquisitiveness and comparison, which is again envy. And to follow that right through in all its movements in all our daily activities requires a very alert mind. It is very easy, is it not?, to suppress it, to say, `I see I must not be envious', or, `As I am caught up in this rotten society I must accept it'. But to follow its movement, to follow every curve, line, its nuances, its subtlety - that very process of following the fact makes the mind sensitive, subtle.
Now, if one does that, if one follows the fact without trying to alter it, then there is no contradiction between `the fact' and `what should be', and therefore no effort. I do not know if you really see this: that if the mind is following the fact then it is not caught up in trying to alter the fact, trying to make it different. This, again, is a psychological truth. And this following of the fact needs to be done all the time, night and day, even in sleep. Because the activity of the mind when the body is asleep is much more deliberate, purposive, and those activities are discovered by the conscious mind through symbols, hints, dreams.
But if the mind is alert throughout the day, all the time watching every word, every gesture, every movement of thought, then there is no dreaming; then the mind can go beyond its own consciousness. We will not go further into that at the moment because what we want to bring out is the necessity of a sensitive mind. If one would find out about truth, God, or whatever name you like to give it, it is absolutely necessary to have a good mind - not in the sense of being clever, intellectual, argumentative, but a mind that is capable of reasoning, of discussing, of doubting, of questioning and enquiring in order to find out. A mind that has frontiers, that is conditioned, is not sensitive; a nationalist, a believer obviously has not a sensitive mind because his belief, his nationalism limits his mind. So in following the fact the mind is made sensitive. The fact makes the mind sensitive, you do not have to make the mind sensitive.
If that is somewhat clear, then what is the nature of the beauty which such a mind discovers? Beauty, for most of us, is in the things that we see objectively - a building, a picture, a tree, a poem, a flowing river, a mountain, the smile on a lovely face, the child in the street. And for us also there is the denial of beauty, the reaction to it, which is to say, `That is ugly.' But a mind that is sensitive is sensitive both to the ugly and to the beautiful, and therefore there is no pursuit of that which it calls beautiful and no avoidance of the ugly. And with such a mind we discover that there is a beauty which is quite different from the valuations of the limited mind. You know, beauty demands simplicity. And the very simple mind which sees facts as they are, is a very beautiful mind. But one cannot be simple if there is no abandonment; and there is no abandonment if there is no austerity. I do not mean the austerity of the loincloth, the beard, the monk, the one-meal-a-day, but the austerity of a mind that sees itself as it is and pursues what it sees endlessly. And the pursuit of that is abandonment because there is no anchorage to which the mind can cling. It must completely abandon itself to see `what is'.
So the perception of beauty demands the passion of austerity. I am using the words `passion' and `austerity' deliberately. I have explained austerity; and passion you must have to see beauty, obviously. There must be an intensity and there must be a sharpness. A mind that is dull cannot be austere, it cannot be simple, and therefore it has no passion. It is in the flame of passion that you perceive beauty, and can live with beauty.
Perhaps to you these are all words to be remembered, conjured up, to be felt later. There is no `later', there is no `in the meantime'. It must take place now, as we are discussing, communing with each other. And this perception of beauty is not only in things - in vases, statues and the heavens - but also one begins to discover the beauty of meditation and the intensity, the passion, of the mind which is meditative.
Now I would like to go into meditation, because meditation is necessary, and we are laying the foundations of it. For meditation one needs a mind that is capable of being silent - not a mind that has been made silent by tricks, by discipline, by coaxing, by suppression; but a mind that is completely quiet. That is absolutely essential for a mind that is in a state of meditation. Therefore the mind must be free of all symbols and words. The mind is a slave to words, is it not? The British are slaves to the word `queen', and the religious person is a slave to the word `God', and so on. A mind that is cluttered up with symbols, with words, with ideas, is incapable of being silent, quiet. And a mind that is caught up in thought is incapable of being quiet. Such quietness is not stagnation, not a blank state, not a state of hypnosis; but one comes to it darkly, unexpectedly, without volition and without desire when you understand the process of thought.
Thought, after all, is the reaction of memory; and memory is the residue of experience; and the residue of experience is the centre, the self. So there is the formation of the centre, the self, the `me', which is essentially the accumulation of experience, past and present, in relation to the collective as well as to the individual. From that centre, which is the residue of memory, thought springs; and that process must be understood completely, which is self-knowing. So without self-knowing, consciously as well as unconsciously, the mind can never be quiet. It can only hypnotize itself into quietness - which is too childish, too immature.
So self-knowing is immediate, it is necessary, and it is urgent, because the mind, knowing itself and all its tricks, imaginings and activities, then comes without effort, without demand, without premeditation, to that state of complete quietness. The knowing of oneself is the knowing of the whole of thought and how it divides itself as the higher self and the lower self. It is the seeing of this whole movement of experience, memory, thought and the centre - the centre becoming the thought, memory and experience; and the experience again becoming memory with the further conditioning of experience.
I hope you are following all this because if you observe yourself closely you will see it. The centre is never static. What was the centre becomes the experience, and the experience becomes the centre, and the centre is transformed into memory. It is like cause and effect. What was the cause becomes the effect, and the effect becomes the cause. And this process is not only conscious but unconscious. The unconscious is the residue of the race, of man, whether of the East or the West; those inherited traditions, meeting the present are transformed into another tradition. To be aware of the many layers of the unconscious and of its movement requires a mind that is extraordinarily sharp and alive, never for a moment seeking security, comfort. Because the moment you seek security, comfort, you are finished, bogged down, held. A mind that is anchored to security, to comfort, to a belief, to a pattern, to a habit, cannot be swift.
So, all this is the knowing of oneself; and the knowing of oneself is the discovering of the fact and the pursuing of the fact without the urge to change the fact. And that requires attention. Attention is one thing and concentration is quite another thing. Most people who want to meditate hope to gain concentration. Every schoolboy knows what concentration is. He wants to look out of the window and the teacher says, `Look at your book', and there is an inward battle between the desire to look outside and the urge of fear, of competition which makes him look at the book. So concentration is a form of exclusion, is it not?, and in that process, though you may become sharp you are limiting the mind. Please follow all this without accepting or denying, but just observe it.
A mind that is merely concentrating knows distraction; but a mind that is attentive, not held in concentration, knows no distraction. Then everything is a living movement. Do please take this to your hearts and you will see that you will throw off all the burdens of the religious edicts that have been put on you and look at life differently. Life then becomes something amazing, enormously significant - the very living, and not escaping.
You know, when you give a child a toy all his restlessness subsides and he becomes quiet, absorbed by the toy. And it is the same with us; we have our toys, our Masters, Saviours, pictures; and the mind absorbs them and becomes quiet. But that absorption is death for the mind.
Now attention is not the opposite of concentration; it is unrelated to concentration and therefore it is not a reaction to concentration. Attention is when your mind is aware of every movement that is taking place within itself and outside. It implies not only hearing all the noises of the buses, the cars, but also what is being said, and being aware of your reaction to what is being said, without choice, so that the mind has no frontier. When the mind is so attentive, then concentration has quite a different meaning; then the mind can concentrate, but that concentration is not an effort, not an exclusion, but part of this awareness. I do not know if you are following this.
Such attention is goodness; such attention is virtue; and in that attention there is love, and therefore, do what you will, there is no evil. Evil comes into being only when there is conflict. An attentive mind, a mind that is completely aware of itself and all the things within itself, such a mind is then capable of going beyond itself.
So meditation is not a process of knowing how to meditate, being taught to meditate - that is all totally immature; then it becomes a habit, and habit makes the mind dull. A mind caught in its own conditioning may have visions of Christ or of the Indian gods or whatever it may be, but it is still conditioned. A Christian will only see visions of Christ and the Indian will only see his own pet gods. A meditative mind is not an imaginative mind; therefore it has no visions.
So, when the mind, which has been floundering around within its own movements, pursues the activity of its own thoughts, is in love with its centre, its movement, its experiences, then only can it follow, then only is it quiet.
Now wait for a minute. The speaker can tell you verbally what then takes place, but that is of very little importance, because you have to discover it. You have to come to the state when you open the door; if another opens the door for you, or seeks to, then the other becomes your authority and you become his follower. Therefore there is death for truth. There is death for the person who says he knows, and there is death for the person who says, `Tell me'. The craving to know breeds authority; so the leader and the follower are caught in the same net.
Now, the speaker is going into this, not to convince you, not to entice you, not to show you, or anything of that kind, but because when you understand this you will see what relationship time and space have.
You know, when the mind is completely without barriers, without limitation, it is full: and being full, it is empty: and being empty, it can contain time - time as space and distance; time as yesterday, today and tomorrow. But without that emptiness, there is no time, no space, no distance. Because of that emptiness, time exists, and therefore distance and space. And when the mind discovers this, experiences this - not verbally but actually, not as a remembered thing - , then that mind knows what is creation - creation, not the thing created. And then you will see that when you go round the corner, when you walk in a wood or along some filthy street, wherever it may be, you will meet the everlasting.
So the mind has journeyed into itself, into the very depths of itself, without holding back. It is not like the journey in a rocket to the moon, which is fairly easy, mechanical; but it is the journey within, the inward look which is not just a reaction to the outer. It is the same movement, the outer and the inner. And when there is this deep, inward look, inward pursuit, inward flow, inward going, then the mind is not anything apart from that which is sublime. Therefore all search, all seeking, all longing, comes to an end.
Please do not be hypnotized, influenced by what is being said. If you are influenced you will not know for yourself what love is. Meditation is the discovery of this extraordinary thing called love.
May 23, 1961
London 10th Public Talk 23rd May 1961
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