Madras 8th Public Talk 17th December 1961
This is the last talk. I would like, if I may, this evening, to talk about the religious mind and the present-day scientific mind.
For most of us, symbols have an extraordinary meaning - for the Christian, the Cross, the image, the Church, the Cathedral and so on; for the Hindu, the various gods with innumerable arms, the temple, the ancient walls around the temple, the stone, the image graven either by the hand or by the mind - they have an extraordinary influence on us. They shape our thinking, they limit our endeavour, they enclose the wandering spirit, they minimise suffering, they give innumerable satisfactory explanations. And if we watch, observe our own thinking, we will see how easily a word, an explanation, a symbol satisfies us. A word, a phrase from the Gita or the Upanishads, from the Bible, from the Koran or whatever book you hold sacred, somehow seems to alleviate the ache and the pain and the despair and the boredom of existence. And a symbol, in any form, seems to cover many of our difficulties; and in the name of a symbol, we get very excited, we get very enthusiastic - as the Christians do, as the Hindus do, by words and by phrases and by a symbol.
As I have been saying during all these talks, please don't just listen to me, don't just hear words. One must go beyond words, beyond the name, beyond the symbol to really find out, to search very deeply, to enquire without restraint, without limitation. I would suggest most earnestly - if you care to do so, if you are serious enough - not merely to listen to an evening talk or a discussion of this kind, but also in the very act of listening to explore into yourself. In the very act of listening, if one does listen with awareness, without any effort, in that very act there is a strange miracle that does happen, which is like light penetrating into darkness. But that listening is not a mere acceptance of propaganda, nor being hypnotized by a series of words. Listening has importance only if, in the very act of that, you can go within yourself and uncover your own ways of thought, feeling, and discover how one is a slave to a symbol, to a word, and actually, emotionally, directly experience that thing which is being talked about. Then, it seems to me, what is being said will have significance. Otherwise what is said is mere trash, without much value, because we are concerned with our daily existence, with the daily torturing, boring, sorrowful events of our life.
How to bring about real mutation in our life, not to worship symbols, not to become a devotee of some god or some idea, not to worship flags which is the new religion all over the world, but actually, if it is possible, to bring about a radical change in our thinking, in our feeling, in the way of our daily existence - that is what is significant. We can only become aware of it and bring about a deep uprooting, when we are capable of listening not only to what is being said here, but also, every minute of the day, to listen to the birds, to watch the trees, to the talk of your neighbour, of your wife, of your children, so that every moment you are learning and therefore dispelling the dullness and the weariness of spirit.
So, in the same way, do listen, so as to find out the workings of your own mind, the ways of your own heart, so that you know all about yourself - both the conscious and the unconscious, and all the influences, the enunciations, the ideas, the traditions that one has accumulated through the centuries. I don't see how one can go very far, either in thought or in deep affection, if one is caught in the daily turmoil, in the daily grind of misery, despair. And yet, we avoid that, we try to slur over it, cover it up and get lost in some idea, in some belief, in some symbol. So, if you are listening at all, it seems to me that it is very important to listen rightly. If you do listen rightly, then you are no longer influenced, no longer driven by circumstances, by your society; then you put all that aside, and then perhaps you will be able to understand what is really a religious mind.
The religious mind is the only mind that can solve our problems, not the scientific mind at all. To understand what a religious mind is, actually not theoretically, one must not only investigate the symbol, question every symbol, but also go into the question of influence. How easily we are persuaded, how easily we become slaves to an idea which is, really, propaganda! How easily our emotions get entangled with a new, or a possibly new, escape! How slavish we are not only to symbols, but also to all the influences of society, of tradition, of the family, of the name, of the occupation, the influence of papers, books, the influence of prominent people who are supposed to be very clever, who are supposed to be leaders! How easily and how disastrously we are influenced to think this way or that way, to act in a particular way and to pursue a system or habit! To be able to discern every influence, to be aware of that and yet not to be entangled in that, to be aware of the influence of a book as you are reading, to be aware of the pressures and the strains of the family, to be aware of the culture in which you are brought up - that is intelligence.
There are innumerable influences all the time penetrating into the very delicate mechanism of the mind; every word that is being said now is influencing the mind. You have to be aware of all these and yet not to be caught in them. The clothes you put on, the food you eat, the climate you live in, the books you read and the tortuous years - fifty or thirty or forty years of business life or office life - how they distort, corrupt, make the mind petty! You have to be aware of all that, of all these subtle, conscious and unconscious influences, specially the unconscious influences - the old people have inherited so much influence and so many traditions, so many ways and habits of thinking, so deeply embedded in the unconscious. You have to be aware of them, to pull them out and examine them, question them, tear them to pieces so that not a single influence is left, which you have not completely, totally understood.
That which is real has no influence. That which is true, only liberates you from the false. It does not influence, you can leave it or take it. But to understand it, to go with it, to wander with it on the face of the earth, to penetrate into it deeply, you must be aware of the limiting, destructive influences that exist in the conscious mind as well as in the unconscious mind. Because, most of our consciousness is made up of influence; it is influence, if you examine it - the influence of the Buddhas, the Krishnas, the Sankaras, the political leaders - which is, really, propaganda - and it is there deeply embedded. And most of us are not aware of that, we are not even concerned - all that we are concerned about is mostly to earn a livelihood, to beget a few children and to amuse ourselves around them, to carry on with a monotonous or rather a silly, stupid life. It is only when there is trouble, we awaken for a few minutes, try to solve it, know that we cannot solve it and go back to sleep again. That is our life. To be aware of the many influences is necessary to liberate the mind, because without a free mind there is no discovery. You cannot discover anything new when you are tied, tethered to some form of an idea, of a belief, of a dogma, of a family, of the innumerable attachments that one cultivates, gathers as one lives. Also, there is not only the symbol, the influence, but also the peculiar thing called `knowledge'.
It is strange how we worship knowledge. Knowledge always implies, doesn't it?, the past. Knowing is always in the present and knowledge is always of the past - like experiencing is in the present and experience is always in the past. For us, the past has an extraordinary significance - the past which is knowledge. Knowledge is necessary at the technical level, the mechanical level, and the more you have knowledge, the better - how to go to the moon, how to build a house, how to beautify the garden, how to enrich the earth. But knowledge also becomes an impediment to deep discovery, because most of our lives are lived in the past. All that we know is the past. Do watch your own thinking, your own life; you will see this is a very simple thing - how knowledge corrupts. The knowledge of where you live is important; otherwise you will have amnesia. But that very knowledge limits, creates fear, so that you don't want to go away from that which you have known. The mind which is held in knowledge is always anxious, guilty, fearful to enquire, to go into the unknown.
And so you are always living in the past, and therefore the present is only a passage to the future from the past; and so we live in a vicious circle always in the field of the known and therefore always never discovering something new, fresh, young, innocent. You may know how to go to the moon, how to drive a car; you may know the extraordinary effort of building a bridge. But that is not creation, that is merely the functioning of mechanical knowledge. And that knowledge can be extensively added to, year after year, century after century, but that is not creation. That does not open the door to something immense. So, symbol, influence and knowledge, which are so important in our daily life, do corrupt, destroy the right enquiry, right questioning.
If that is clear to each one of us, then we can begin to enquire what is a religious mind and what is a scientific, modern, twentieth century mind. The really scientific mind and the really religious mind are the only two minds that can exist in the twentieth century, not the superstitious, believing, temple-going, church-worshipping mind. The scientific mind is the mind that pursues fact. And to pursue materialistic fact - which is to discover under the microscope - needs immense accumulated knowledge. And such a scientific mind is the product of the twentieth century. So one begins to see that a scientific mind, the so-called educated mind, the mind that has learnt a certain technique and thinks rationally and with knowledge, always moves from the known to the known, from fact to fact. Such a mind is absolutely necessary because it can reason logically, sanely, rationally, precisely. But such a mind cannot obviously free itself to enquire into what is beyond the accumulated knowledge - which is the function of religion.
So, what is the religious mind? You know there is a way of thinking which is negative, which is the highest form of thinking. That is to see what is false, not what is true. We are trained to think positively - which is to think imitatively, to think according to tradition, according to what has been known, following a particular method, a system, always projected from the past. This is what is called positive thinking. Whereas, there is negative thinking - which is to see the false which is the positive, and from there proceed. And that is what we are going to do, to find out what is the religious mind - seeing what is false and denying it totally, not accepting one breath of it. You cannot deny totally, if you already know that you will gain something in denying the false. If you know the future, you would not be denying. If I deny all religious organizations as being false, as being without any foundation, and I knew that I deny because I find hope in some other organization, then that is not a denial. I can only deny not knowing the next step, and that is the real denial, that is the real renunciation - not knowingly, but knowing that which is false. That is negative thinking.
So we are going to enquire into what is a religious mind, negatively. First, the religious mind is obviously not the believing mind, because belief is based on the desire to be secure, to be safe; and so belief in any form prevents right enquiry, right questioning. If I believe in nationalism, then I cannot possibly investigate how to be truly brotherly with another. I must deny nationalism; then I shall find out what it is to live with another amicably, in a brotherly spirit. But most of our religions are beliefs. You believe that there is a god, because you have been told for ten thousand years through propaganda that there is a god, that there is an Atman - all kinds of verbal statements, spinning theories and words. You believe all that, because you have been so brought up, educated. When you go to the other end of the world - to Russia and other parts - , you find that they don't believe, they have been brought up not to believe. There is not much difference between one who believes in God and one who does not believe in God, because they are both slaves to words, to propaganda - one for a thousand years and the other for forty years. I know you will laugh, I know you think it is funny; but you will still believe. A man who really enquires if there is God or if there is not, obviously must wipe away totally all his conditioning, all his belief in God.
So, the religious mind is not a mind that believes, not the mind which goes to the temple. You are going to the temple every day, repeating certain phrases, doing mantrams and all the rest of it - that does not indicate you are a religious man at all. That may indicate that you are a superstitious man, that you are caught in habit which society has passed on to you. You may substitute religious rituals for parades, attending football, cricket, sitting by the hour by the radio - it is all the same thing. So, the ritualistic mind, the mind that goes to the temple or to the church and worships the symbol is not the religious mind at all. Why does one do it? Why do you do it? For various obvious reasons - first, you have been so trained, this has been instilled in you, I to believe, to seek shelter in an idea. If you have no God, you have the State to worship, with its priests - one leader or another. We all want security because we are frightened of life. When we are troubled - some one dies, we lose our job, something happens to us - ,we do not go into it factually, with a scientific mind, and break through it. And so we turn easily, quietly and darkly to something that, we hope, will give us security, some peace; and it does give peace, it does give security. A belief does give security. But that security is just a word, it is empty - it has no psychological security except to keep you completely asleep.
So the temple, the church, the symbol which is used to excite and organize man to worship God has no value at all for a religious mind. To deny that, to deny the whole religious structure in which you have been brought up, with the authority involved in it - the Sankaras, the Buddhas, the gurus, the Gita, the Bible - , to deny all that totally is the beginning of the religious mind. That does not mean the mind becomes sceptical or accepts another authority. It denies the authority of any religion or any teacher and therefore of all the books, of all the temples and churches. To deny is very difficult, because you may lose your job, there is your mother who cries and you yourself are so frightened. Can you deny such gods who have been worshipped for so many centuries? And who are you to deny them?
You know the invention, the tricks we play upon ourselves. To deny and to remain in that denial - that is the beginning of the really religious mind. Because, when you deny what is false, your mind becomes very sensitive; when you deny the false, you have energy. You know, you need a great deal of energy to enquire and to discover, to live in that religious mind; you need energy and abundance of it. But, you cannot have that energy if you are in conflict - conflict between the fact of what you are and the idea of what you should be. Therefore a religious man has no ideal, he is only facing the fact from moment to moment. And virtue is in facing the fact. Out of facing the fact, you have an uncontrolled discipline - not the deadly practice of what you call discipline, which is habit, a resistance, a suppression.
So a mind which is enquiring into the quality and into the nature of the religious mind is a mind that is free from the ordained, rigorous, religious, traditional discipline. But it has its ow.n extraordinary unsuppressed and uncontrolled discipline which comes into being when you look at the fact. You know, to look at a fact requires a great deal of energy. You can only look at a fact when you are not in conflict with the fact - the fact being what you are at a given moment, the fact that you may be jealous, ambitious, greedy, envious, ruthless, heartless. To face the fact to look at it requires energy. You cannot live with the fact if you are in conflict with the fact. And when you look at the fact without conflict, that very fact releases energy which brings about its own discipline. And such discipline does not distort the mind because there is no suppression. All our disciplines are a means of suppressing what the fact is, because we worship and escape to the idea which is a contact. If you are listening - which I hope you are, not merely listening to the words which are very cheap and in abundance - , if you are observing yourself through what is being said, you are bound to see the fact. If you are not in conflict with what is actual - which is yourself, not your atman and all the rest of it which has no meaning at all - then you will see that, as you are watching the fact, out of that watching comes a strange discipline. To watch something very clearly, you don't condemn, you have no judgment - like a scientific mind watching something dispassionately.
So, a religious mind has no authority and therefore a religious mind is not an imitative mind. You will see also that the religious mind is not caught in time. It does not think in terms of evolution, growth, gradualism - that is the animalistic mind because the brain, some part of the brain is evolved from, grown out of, the animalistic instinct. The rest of the brain is still to be developed and if it develops according to the animalistic instincts and experiences, it will still remain in time. Therefore, a religious mind never thinks in terms of growth, evolution. It is always jumping out of time. I think you will understand this, which may be rather new and strange to you, because that is what I mean by mutation.
A changing mind, a changing brain is always moving from the known to the known. But a religious mind is always freeing itself from the known so that it is experiencing the unknown. The unknown is out of time, the known is in time. And so if you have gone very deeply into it, you will see that the religious mind is not a slave to time. If it is aware that it is ambitious or jealous or fearful, it does not think in terms of ideals, of postponement. It ends it immediately, at the instant; and the very ending of it is the beginning of that extraordinary, subtle, sensitive discipline which is uncontrolled, which is free.
So, the religious mind is the real revolutionary mind, not the revolution which is a reaction to what has been - like Communism which is only a reaction to Capitalism; therefore such a revolution is not a revolution at all. No reaction is a revolution, and therefore reaction cannot bring about a mutation. It is only a religious mind, a mind that is enquiring into itself, that is aware of its own movements, its own activity, which is the beginning of self-knowledge - it is only such a mind that is a revolutionary mind. And a revolutionary mind is a mutating mind - which is the religious mind.
So you will see our problem: The challenge of the present time and the challenge of every instant, if you are at all awake, is to respond totally to something that is new. I mean by responding totally - totally, with all your mind, with all your brain, with all your heart, with all your body, everything, with the totality of your whole being; responding, not just intellectually or emotionally or sentimentally. I wonder if you do ever respond to anything so completely. You see when you do respond so completely, there is the absence of self-centred activity. When you respond to something totally, you will find at that moment, at that second, the self with all its activity, its fear, its ambitions, its cruelties, its envies, is gone. Therefore you can respond totally and you do respond totally when there is sensitivity which is life.
So, you find a religious mind is aware of what love is, not the love we all know, that we say is love - love of the family, carnal love, and so on, that is so divided, that is so shared, mutilated, spoilt, corrupted. When you love, you love one and the many. It is not `Do you love all or the one?' You love. So the religious mind has no nationality, no religion like belief and organized dogma. And a religious mind is a mind which has humility - in the sense `to be humble'. Humility is not to be acquired, is not to be cultivated; only the vain cultivate humility. But you have humility when you are listening to what is the fact. And virtue is that humility; for after all, virtue is order - order and nothing more than that - as you keep your room in order, tidy, clean. The function of virtue is that which arises from humility; but that order is to be maintained from moment to moment. You cannot say, "I have order. "You have to watch it, clean it; and that cleansing, that virtue can only come when there is humility.
So, you begin to see that the religious mind is always freeing itself from the known - which is knowledge, which is experience, which is a thing that has been accumulated, which is the past. Don't say, "It is only reserved for the few". It is not. But if you have enquired, questioned deeply into yourself - that is when you are watching yourself, your thoughts, your emotions, your own way of eating, talking to your servant, your attachment to your family, to your son, to your daughter, despising some and respecting others, bending your knee to the symbol and kicking somebody else - when you watch all this, when you are aware of all this choicelessly, then you will find that your mind, your brain becomes very quiet, still, alive, sensitive. Though it knows that it must function in knowledge, it is free of knowledge - and that is absolutely essential if it is to find out whether there is a reality or not. The mind must be totally free, completely free from the known - which is all the knowledge, all the experiences, all the tradition, the authority, the scratches of misery, the frustrations, the sorrow that one has accumulated which creates the illusion - all that must go, then only are you beginning to understand what a religious mind is.
Then you will find, if you have gone so far, that meditation is not the repetition of words, sitting in some dark corner, looking at your own projection, and images and ideas. But meditation then is the unravelling of the known and freeing oneself from the known. Then you have the energy, that extraordinary energy which is needed - not the energy created by being a bachelor, eating one meal, putting on one loin cloth, going away by yourself into a mountain and hiding yourself behind monastery walls and assuming a false name or number. That does not give you energy, that denies energy. But you must know all the dangers of it, be aware of all that, and therefore deny it. You must cut, as a surgeon cuts with a knife, all the cancerous, false things of life. Out of that you will find, if you have gone that far, that your brain is very still and yet very sensitive - it is only a very still thing that is sensitive.
Then you are beginning to understand what beauty is. You must have beauty, which is not good taste - good taste is a personal reaction. Good taste must go too - the personal good taste. Then you will know what beauty is. Beauty is not something that is put together by man, either on a canvas or on a page or on a stone. Beauty is not a mere response to a feeling which the artist has. Beauty is something far beyond all that. When you have gone so far, then you will see that there is creation.
Creation can never be put into words Creation is not invention. The universe is not made of invention. So a religious mind is a creative mind because it has understood what living is, and, therefore has freed itself of all the pettiness of daily existence. The daily existence is not living, it is a torture; and when that torture stops, only then do you begin to live. It is only a religious mind that can live that way. Therefore being free of all pettiness, and living - that is not an invention; it is the door through which the Immeasurable, the Unknowable comes into being.
December 17, 1961
Madras 8th Public Talk 17th December 1961
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