Madras 6th Public Talk 10th December 1961
I would like to talk over with you a rather complicated problem. I mean by a problem something which we do not understand. Every problem seems to dog us and everything that we touch with our mind or with our heart becomes a problem. A problem is surely something which you have not resolved, a fact which you have not completely understood, an experience that pursues us with its unfinished, unresolved questions and answers.
And this evening, if we can, we will pursue something which demands all our attention. I mean by attention, not concentration at all. Concentration, for me, is rather a narrowing destructive process, though it has its utility at a certain level. But awareness is something entirely different, and I would like to discuss that at the beginning of this talk. Because, I feel we should understand what the difference is between awareness and concentration. We need desperately to change. The world situation and our own lives which are so mediocre, so dull, without much meaning, demand it. We do need a radical, deep change, a mutation rather than a change.
And this change, this mutation cannot be brought about by thought, because, as we discussed the other day, thought is very limited. Thought is merely a reaction of memory, and memory is very limited. The concentration of memory in action is not the same as awareness in action. Memory becomes a technique in action, the know-how. Having learnt something, I can carry it out - which most of us do as a habit, mechanical knowledge or capacity. But such capacity, knowledge or the know-how restricts, limits our freedom. I am using the words deliberately, knowing what they mean.
If I may suggest, please listen in order to find out what the speaker has to say. But to find out, do not begin to interpret, do not say, "This is what he means, that is what he does not mean". Please listen to the very end of the talk. It is quite a difficult art to listen, to listen very attentively - not with knowledge, not with concentration - because you bring the whole memory of reactions. Whereas attention is entirely different - which I will go into presently. Concentration you can have, the more you have knowledge or capacity. The more capacity you have, the better can you force your concentration on something, to carry it out. You know action through concentration - that is what most of us have. The mechanic, the lawyer, the engineer, the specialist, the technological expert - they concentrate in action, which is the result of knowledge, of experience, the know-how; so that limits their awareness, their fullness of life. Now if you will experiment with what I am talking as I am talking, you will see that there is a difference between concentration and awareness.
Awareness is that state of mind which takes in everything - the crows flying across the sky, the flowers on the trees the people sitting in front the colours they are wearing - being extensively aware, which needs watching, observing, taking in the shape of the leaf, the shape of the trunk, the shape of the head of another, what he is doing. To be extensively aware and from there acting - that is to be aware of the totality of one's own being. To have a mere sectional capacity, a fragmentation of capacity or capacity fragmented; and to pursue that capacity and derive experience through that capacity which is limited - that makes the quality of the mind mediocre, limited, narrow. But an awareness of the totality of one's own being, understood through the awareness of every thought and every feeling, and never limiting it, letting every thought and every feeling flower, and therefore being aware - that is entirely different from action or concentration which is merely capacity and therefore limited.
To let a thought flower or a feeling to flower requires attention - not concentration. I mean by the flowering of a thought giving freedom to it to see what happens, what is taking place in your thought, in your feeling. Anything that flowers must have freedom, must have light; it cannot be restricted. You cannot put any value on it, you cannot say, "That is right, that is wrong; this should be, and that should not be" - thereby, you limit the flowering of thought. And it can only flower in this awareness. Therefore, if you go into it very deeply, you will find that this flowering of thought is the ending of thought. And that is what I want to talk about this evening - which is really the beginning of meditation. I am using that word `meditation' very advisedly, because for each one of us it has a different meaning. For some it has a meaning of repeating words, going into a corner, shutting one's eyes and repeating certain phrases, or concentrating on an idea or an image - which are all the actions of concentration - which is to limit thought and therefore to restrict life. To allow a thought to flower or a feeling to expand fully, and go to the very end of it, does not mean indulging in thought, indulging in feeling. As each feeling, each thought arises, to give it freedom to be what it is, to enquire into it, to search every corner, every breath, every angle to find out what it is - that is not possible if you merely limit it.
We need action. There must be action in life, otherwise life cannot be. But if you examine your action very carefully you will see that it is based on knowledge, on capacity, on memory, on motive. And such action invariably limits the totality of expression. The enquiry into the totality, into the whole process of thinking and feeling, to find out what is behind all this, is the process of meditation. So that is what I want to talk about this evening. I may be using words with which you may not be familiar. They are not technical words or jargon with special meanings, but they are ordinary words with the ordinary dictionary meaning. There are several things that we have first to understand such as experience and we have to understand what is necessary as the foundation for meditation. I will begin by enquiring what is necessary for meditation - the foundation, not what you will get through meditation, not whether you will have peace of mind or not; it is too immature, too silly, too foolish to say, "I must have peace of mind". You cannot have peace of mind if you are ambitious, and the desire for peace of mind - unfortunately, it is called peace of mind, whatever that may mean - merely becomes stagnation. So I want to go into the question: first what is necessary - the necessary foundation for meditation? This means action, not just theory. And mutation is the very essence of the foundation.
Most of our minds are petty, shallow and rather dull - which is mediocre. A mediocre mind can repeat endlessly the sacred books, East or West. It can follow a system and have certain stimulations and excitations, but it will remain always a petty mind, a shallow mind. That is a psychological fact. Whether you accept it or not, it is a fact that a petty mind thinking about God will remain still petty because its god is petty. So, the breaking of the petty mind is important. The mediocre outlook, the narrow family concern, the limited enquiry are all the indications of a petty mind, a narrow, limited, shallow, dull mind.
Now, how is that dull mind to be broken up, the petty mind to tear down the walls, to shatter all its images, its ideas, its hopes, its despairs? That is the first enquiry. Please don't say that your mind is something exceptional, that you are not mediocre but somebody else is. Let us make this enquiry personally, individually, so that as you are enquiring into it, your own pettiness is being broken up.
So our concern is, there must be mutation in the petty mind, something totally new must take place in the petty mind - which means a petty mind is no longer a mediocre mind - because the petty mind, the mediocre mind cannot enquire, it can only follow, it can repeat, it can have gurus, leaders and all the rest of it. Now the whole world is more or less petty, limited, following leaders. It seems to be an obvious necessity to break up this petty mind. How is this to be done? Will thought do it? Certainly not. A petty mind thinking about its own pettiness and producing a thought which is still petty, cannot break up this pettiness. So, thought is not the way out - which does not mean that we should not be reasonable; but one can see the limitation of thought. This is important to understand.
As I said, please listen to me, just listen neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Because, I am not trying to do any propaganda, I am not trying to persuade you to do anything. You can relax. You can go back to your patterns afterwards, or do what you like. But as you have taken the trouble to come here, please listen to find out. You cannot find out if you are merely translating what you are listening to, in terms of what you have heard, what you have known, what some authority has asserted. But, please listen - which does not mean that you must put aside your critical capacity, it does not mean that you must not be questioning everything that is being said. You can only question if you are alert, if you are aware, and you can only listen if you are not concentrated on one part of the talk and letting the rest go. You need attention, not concentration, to listen.
So, a petty, narrow mind cannot answer the enormous problems of life. Going back to the past, to the tradition of a Hindu or the revival of Christianity or this or that, is not going to solve these problems at all. You need a new mind, a totally new mind - not the petty mind that has developed certain capacities.
So, you need a new mind with a new series of responses and a new series of actions. That new mind can only come about when we understand how to break up the present condition of our existence, not sociologically nor economically but inwardly, psychologically, spiritually. I am using the word `spiritually' in a very hesitant manner; I do not mean by that word, `religiously' - because for most of us, religion is such a shoddy affair with very little meaning. Going to the temple or doing some puja, reading the Gita ten times or whatever it is you do - that is not religion at all. Nor do I mean belonging to certain organizations or groups - all that is the action of a petty mind. Nationalism is essentially the state of a petty mind. And the world demands not only economically, socially but also spiritually, inwardly, psychologically, a totally different variety of new actions. So, a mutation is necessary. And, this mutation can only take place in attention.
How to bring about this attention? - not as a method, because method implies a practice and a practice implies a repetition and therefore habit, and habit is the very essence of mediocrity. You have to see, first of all, the difficulty that, as we are, we are petty, mediocre. But, we have to find an answer, a way out of this mess. And it demands a totally different mind - not a reformed mind. Is it possible to bring it about and how? That is what I want to discuss this evening, with you.
Now, we are going to enquire into different things, like experience, envy, thought producing visions, action and so on. So, we will enquire into that - that is, question that, go into that very very deeply. Please be good enough to follow this not merely verbally but actually, factually - which is to observe your own reaction, observe your own state of mind, your state of experience.
What do we mean by experience? Because, apparently, what guides most of us is the knowledge that we have derived from experience, either of our own or of another or of the community or of the race. Experience is what the race might have inherited, a certain knowledge, a certain tradition; that tradition, that knowledge is the derivation from experience, experience being response to stimuli and that stimulated response leaves a residue which we call knowledge. This is very simple if you observe it. You have experience. That experience is the result of a challenge and a response. You are stimulated and you respond, according to your memory, and this whole process is called an experience. Now, we live on sensation, on experience - which is on knowledge, on information, on memory. Every experience strengthens our memory according to its conditioning. So experience is not the factor of liberation. Experience will teach you mechanical things - what to do and what not to do, mechanically. If you are an engineer, you must have a great deal of knowledge to build a bridge or a skyscraper or an engine. For that, you must have knowledge, for that you must have experience, the experience of many people - which is called science. But, experience, psychological inward experience, which is merely the response to a stimulus from the outside and which response is according to its conditioning, limits the mind, does not bring about a new quality of the mind. If I am a Hindu and I have psychologically certain memories, certain traditions, according to those traditions I experience. Those experiences further strengthen the past, and from that past I respond, I act.
But the present world crisis, the present existence demands a different mind, a different approach and not the response of the old. Therefore a new action is necessary and therefore it cannot rely on experience, pragmatic or actual. You cannot rely on experience because, if you do, you evoke the past - which will become mechanical. And life is not mechanical. So, you must approach it with a mind that has understood the whole nature of experience and has given the fullest scope to experience and gone away from the demand for further experience.
All of us want experience, don't we?, more and more experience, more and more pleasure, more fun, more this and that, more visions and more peace - all that we want. Because we are fed up with the present experience of life, we want more. But when we ask for more experience, it means more sensation which will be translated in terms of the past and therefore will strengthen the past; therefore, it is not a breaking up of the past but merely the continuity, modified, of the past. If you see this very clearly, then you will see that there is a state of mind which does not seek experience at all.
I will put it round the other way. Most of us depend on challenge and response - outward challenge and a response to it. That is our existence; otherwise, we will go to sleep. There is the pressure of the world, of industry, of science, of war and we have to respond to this. There is an external challenge and a response to it. And that response is from our background, from the know-how, knowledge, capacity. Now, if you do not rely on the external stimulus, the external challenge, but you have your own challenge every minute, then you are challenging every thing - which is much more potent and has much more significance than the external challenge. If you reject both, which you do when you have gone into, and done away with, the whole problem of experience, then you will find that there is a new quality of the mind, which is not looking to experience as a means of knowing what to do - not in mechanical things but in life.
I hope I am making this clear. A mind that has had experience is a very limited mind. It has capacity in a certain direction; but we are dealing, not with fragmentation but with the totality of life. And to understand the action of the totality of life, the stimuli and the responses to it - either outward or inward - must come to an end and a new quality of action must take place. That action can only take place if we understand the whole significance of experience, racial as well as personal, group, family.
Then, if we have understood the intricacies and the extraordinary immensity of experience and its pettiness, we will see that that experience will not produce a fresh, young and innocent mind which is the very mature of mutation, the mind which has gone through mutation.
Then we will have to enquire into the whole question of envy and ambition. An ambitious mind is a corrupt mind. An ambitious mind cannot possibly understand what it is to meditate; it is thinking in terms of achievement, of success, of fulfilling. Is it possible to live in this world without ambition? You know what ambition means. It involves ruthlessness in which there is no love, no sympathy, no affection - each one out for himself in the name of the country, in the name of peace, in the name of God. And therefore such a mind is always in conflict with itself and with the neighbour. Ambition involves all that and an ambitious man never loves what he is doing. He is using what he is doing to get somewhere else and therefore his action is a means to something else; such a mind has no virtue.
The very essence of virtue is humility. And virtue is order. Order is not a
continuity of what has been - that is a habit - , but order from moment to moment, cleaning the room from moment to moment, every minute, so that there is no accumulation, there is no arrogance, no pride, and there is humility. An ambitious mind can never have the sense of humility and therefore it is not a virtuous mind, the ambitious mind is the very essence of conflict. But you will say, "How can we live in this world without ambition? How can I go to the office and remain as a clerk for the rest of my life? I want to climb, I want to become big, I must be ambitious to survive". That is so. As the social structure is, that is the penalty. But if you begin to enquire into ambition - not saying, "We must live; it is necessary, as the social structure is, that we conform to it; and therefore we must be ambitious" - , you will find that you can live in this world without being ambitious, and that, in the very process of enquiry into ambition, you will begin to love the thing itself - not what it will bring - and therefore you will do the thing much more capably, with greater intensity. Also, you will not always compare what you are doing with what somebody else does. Therefore, function and status art two different things. If you love what you are doing, there is no search for status - which is ambition, using the thing in order to have prestige, power, position.
So, a man who would have a new mind, a fresh mind, a young mind has to be free totally from ambition. Because, ambition implies competition which is what we are brought up on from our childhood - to compete in our school and to be somebody there and so right through the world, right through our existence to be somebody - which means violence, ruthlessness, no love or sympathy, in this.
How can a mind which is ambitious in daily life, know what meditation is? How can it possibly meditate? It can take tranquilizers to bring about peace of mind, it can repeat phrases, it can deceive itself, it can have visions of Buddha, Christ, X, Y, or Z; but it will still be ambitious in daily life. Therefore, such meditation, such enquiry, such a way of finding peace is mere trickery, it has no meaning - and that is what we are all doing; we have our hands in the other man's pocket and talk about God. Society respects the man who is ambitious, respects the man who is famous, notorious with pictures that have appeared in the papers - because each one of us wants to see his face in the pictures. We are all ambitious. Therefore we are corrupt, though we talk of love, talk of family, of goodness of virtue, of God, of religion. So, an action springing from ambition - whether that ambition be for the individual or for the collective or for the nation or for the world - is inaction because such an action produces misery - as you can see in the world, factually. So, nationalism is becoming a poison.
When you understand this whole question of ambition and are aware of it - not verbally, not ideologically or as an idea, as an ideal eventually to be achieved but actually be aware of it - in your daily existence, you will see that from that awareness a new action is coming into being which is an action without effort, without struggle, because you have understood. You are seeing the truth of it and therefore the perception of what is true liberates. And therefore you are acting freely without any compulsion, without any fear. The same applies with regard to envy.
Our society which is corrupt is based on acquisition - not only the acquisition of things, but also the acquisition of knowledge, capacity. If you have great capacity, you are respected; if you have great knowledge, you are considered to be a very learned person. And acquisitiveness - acquiring, gathering, accumulating, not only inwardly but outwardly - is the fashion, is the thing to do. And the very essence of envy is acquisitiveness. If you cease to acquire you are no longer envious. Please follow all this; you may not do it; you probably won't do anything at all about what we are talking.
Please listen to what is being said. See how your life has become what it is, the misery, the sorrow, the everlasting struggle from the moment you are born
to the moment you die, the pain, the ache, the anxiety, the fear, the guilt, the innumerable aches that one has, the boredom, the responsibilities, the duties in which there is no love, no affection, there is nothing left. That is your life, and you are not going to alter it because I am talking. But you will alter it without your knowing it, if you listen to something which is factual, which is true, which is not propaganda, which is not trying to force you to do something or to think in one way or another. If you are aware of the very factual existence of your life - the pain, the misery, the shallowness of it all - from that awareness of the fact, there comes the mutation, without effort. All that is all we are concerned with, just to see the facts. And with what clarity you see the fact is important - not what you are going to do about the fact. You cannot do anything about the fact because your life is much too limited, you are conditioned. Your family and your society are too monstrous, they won't let you. Only a few can break through, unfortunately. But if you are merely listening, if you are merely seeing the fact - what it is actually, how miserable, how boring, how shallow all of it is - , that very observation of the fact is enough. It will do something to you, if you don't oppose it, if you don't say, "I can't do anything about it and therefore I will run away from it ". Look at it every day of your life, be aware of it, first. And then, out of that awareness, there comes an action without effort and therefore that action is never envious, never acquisitive.
So when you have understood experience, when you have understood ambition and envy which are the very nature of our petty, shallow, social existence and economic life, that is the foundation for further enquiry. Without that foundation - do what you will - you can go no further. Without that foundation - without understanding both at the conscious level and also at the deep unconscious level the whole process of experience, the corrupting influence of ambition and the shallowness of envy - , you cannot proceed further. That foundation becomes the foundation for meditation. That is the beauty of meditation. Meditation is something extraordinary. Now I am going to go into that, not theoretically, not for you to say that Buddha has said this or Sankara or Christ has said that - they are all repetitive, shallow, empty words.
That foundation for meditation is the foundation in righteousness - not the social righteousness or economic righteousness but the righteousness of self-understanding. When the mind has laid that foundation, what happens to thinking? Then what is the place of thought? We have exercised thought in order to acquire, we have exercised thought in order to fulfil, in order to become, we have exercised thought in order to experience more and to choose and to avoid experience.
So when you have understood experience, ambition and envy, what is the place of thinking? Is there thinking at all then? Or is there a different action taking place, which is not the result of thought which is a response of memory? So, the enquiry into the meaning of thought and what is the place of thought and of action - both the collective and the individual - is the enquiry which comes when you have laid the foundation. Without that foundation you cannot possibly enquire into the nature and the ending of thought, or what happens to thought. Mere control of thought, is still a contradiction. Control implies suppression, control implies restriction, control implies discipline. A mind that is disciplined according to a pattern - social, religious or other kind of pattern - can never be free. It will always be disciplined according to patterns; therefore, it is incapable of being free and therefore incapable of laying the right foundation, and of enquiring into the significance of thought.
As I was saying, we see the significance of control, its limitation. In control there is discipline, limitation, suppression and therefore perpetual conflict. When you have understood that, gone into it very very deeply, then there comes out of it an awareness; and that awareness can concentrate without limitation. But a mind which has disciplined itself to control itself can never be aware; whereas awareness can concentrate without making itself limited. So you will see that when you have understood that awareness, when you have the understanding of experience, of the significance of ambition and of the nature of envy, you have laid the foundation in yourself - not through effort, because you have understood by merely seeing the fact. The understanding of the fact gives you energy. Therefore, the fact never creates a problem. You create a problem of the fact, but the fact never creates a problem, if you can look at the fact scientifically, objectively. Then you can proceed to find out, you can see, what the place of thought is.
Is there thinking if you are no longer seeking experience? Your mind is driven by ambition, by success, and wants to reach God - that is also ambition. If you are no longer acquisitive, either in worldly things or inwardly - which means no longer acquiring, demanding more and more experience, more and more sensations, more and more feelings, more and more visions - then there is no place for thought. Then from that you will find the brain becomes extraordinarily quiet. The brain so far has been used for these purposes; and when these purposes are gone into, examined rationally, sanely, healthily and understood, the brain is out of all that. Then that brain becomes extraordinarily quiet naturally - not because it wants to get somewhere, not because it has not understood the monstrous discontent, failure and despair. It has understood all these and therefore the brain becomes highly sensitive, very alert, but very quiet. Again, that is the basis for meditation.
Now, a quiet brain can watch without distortion. Because it has understood thought and feeling, it is no longer seeking experience. And therefore such a brain observes without distortion. because it is not concerned with any experience, it is like watching the fact, the bacilli, through a microscope. You can only watch that way, if you have laid the foundation, and if you have gone into yourself very very deeply. No books, no guru, no teacher, no saviour can lead you further - they can only tell you, "Do this, don't do that, don't be ambitious or be ambitious". When you yourself have laid the foundation, you become aware of this brain which is absolutely quiet and yet highly sensitive. Then that brain can watch what is actually going on, then it is not concerned with experience, not concerned with how to translate what it sees into words and therefore communicate it to another; it is merely watching. When you have gone that far, you will see that there is a movement which is out of time.
A mind, a brain, that is completely quiet without any reaction - which is an extremely difficult thing to do - , is only an instrument of observation and therefore is extraordinarily alive and sensitive. Now all that, from the beginning of what we have been talking about till now, is meditation. When you have gone so far in meditation, you will find for yourself that there is a movement, an action, out of time, a state which is immeasurable - and that you may call God; it has no meaning at all. That state is creation - not the writing of a poem, nor the painting of a picture, nor putting a vision in marble; they are not creation, they are all mere expressions.
There is creation which is beyond time. Until we know that - know in the sense not as knowledge - , until there is a tremendous awareness of that state, our actions in daily life will have very little meaning. You may be very rich, you may be very prosperous, you may have a very good family, you may have all the things of the world or you may be hankering after the things of the world. But if you have not understood that thing, life becomes empty, shallow.
And mutation is only possible when you have brought about through aware- ness, without any effort, the ending of all the things we have talked about - ambition, experience, conflict. Then, out of that comes something that cannot be conveyed in words. It is not to be experienced. It is not something that you are going to seek, because all search has ended. All that is meditation. That has extraordinary beauty. There is a great sense of marvellous reality which cannot possibly be understood by a petty mind, by a mediocre mind that is repeating the Gita and the Upanishads, that is going after the guru and the mantram, the everlasting word. All that must come to an end. The brain must be totally empty of the known. Then only can the unknowable perhaps come into being.
December 10, 1961
Madras 6th Public Talk 10th December 1961
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