New Delhi 1964
New Delhi 7th Public Talk 11th November 1964
We would like this evening to talk about what is a religious life and what is a religious mind - not that they are two separate things. To find out what is a religious life, one has to wander, explore rather extensively. And it seems to me that as our life is so fragmentary, so broken up into departments, into various forms of escapes and activities, unless one finds a central, all-covering activity, we shall not be able to live a co-ordinated life with passion, with intensity and with clarity.
To find out what is a really, truly religious life, one has to be totally discontented. And that is one of our great difficulties - to be totally, completely discontented - because we are so easily satisfied with a particular theory or a particular answer that satisfies a problem that can easily be resolved; because we think by following a particular, political or economic pattern we have somewhat satisfied this discontent that most of us have. To sustain this discontent and not to find an easy answer is difficult, because most of us want an easy answer, a pill, a tranquillizer to put us to sleep, to guarantee us a certain way of life. We have to be very attentive and watchful, not to accept any form or theory or pattern or concept that will momentarily, or even for many years, satisfy us.
So, the first demand, it seems to me, is to be discontented; and it is one of the most painful things in life to be discontented and not to be easily satisfied. You know, it is very easy to pile up words, listen to many talks, read innumerable books, and we think we have thereby understood something. Probably most of you who have attended these meetings will think you have got something, a little bit here and patches there. I am afraid you will not have completely understood what has been said or what is going to be said, if you take a particular field which appeals to you in these talks and be satisfied with the particular answer. We are concerned with the total answer, not with a particular answer. We are concerned with the total comprehension of life, not with a particular comprehension of a particular part of life. So we have to take the whole of it or none of it, because what has been said and what is going to be said is related and not fragmentary.
So, to find out what is a religious mind is very important, because religion is the only factor that can cover the whole of existence and not fragmentary existence; the whole of our life can be contained in the enquiry and the understanding of what is a religious life. Because religion is not the thing that we know as religion, which is all spurious and sheer unadulterated nonsense. The real enquiry into what is a religious life is necessary, because without understanding what is a religious life and living it actually, not theoretically, we shall not be able to solve the many increasing and conflicting problems.
For me the religious life is the key which opens the door to all our problems, and therefore we have to understand it. It is imperative - at least I feel it is imperative - that for human beings who have lived for so long, we have not solved their problems, who are still living in fragments with despair, with anxiety, with no love, broken up, unrelated - for them to bring about a harmonious cohesion in all their activities, in all their thoughts, it is imperative that they understand what is a religious life. And to understand what is a religious life, one must be discontented.
Most of us are discontented, because we have not got a good job, we are not so intelligent as somebody else, we do not look so beautiful as that woman next door, we have not got a big car, a better house, a better job, or we have not fulfilled ourselves. And the moment we have a better house, a better car, a better refrigerator, we are satisfied, at least temporarily till a still better refrigerator is invented. So we are discontented with little things and we are so terribly satisfied with little things. One has to be extremely aware of the superficial gratification with petty things, petty answers, quoting innumerable so-called religious teachers. We think we have understood when we quote the Gita, the Koran, or the Bible, or some other book; we think we have captured some spirit of the religious life - which again is utter nonsense. So we must be extremely alert, not to be caught in superficial actions, and to remain in and to contain a total discontent with everything: with politics, with religion, with socialists and communists, with any political party. We must be totally discontented; then only can we begin to enquire.
I hope that, this evening at least, you and I are in that state of mind that is not easily gratified, that is capable of intense passion; because it is only when a mind is discontented totally, there is passion, there is intensity. And you need this intensity, the energy of passion to find out what is a religious life. Otherwise, we remain petty, narrow, limited, functioning with a mind that is secondhand and therefore inefficient, never knowing something original. So, this total discontent gives this passion, because real passion has no motive. It is not urged by something objectively or subjectively. It is only when you are completely dissatisfied with everything - with your relationships, with your wife, with yourselves, with society, with every form of escape that you have been offered or that you have invented for yourself - that you have this extraordinary energy; and you need this energy.
To find out what is a religious life is not to find out the pattern of a religious life - what to do, what to wear, what to think and how to control, to be a bachelor, and all that stupid stuff - but to have this energy without a motive, without a direction; and that comes only when there is this deep, unresolved, unsatisfiable discontent. When that is clear - I hope we are communicating or communing with each other non-verbally - if we are in a state of communion with each other, then we can begin to enquire what is not a religious life; because, you know, the highest form of thinking is negative thinking. When you begin to discard so that your mind is not cluttered up with the so-called positive assertions of so many teachers, of your priests, of politicians, or your gurus, or with what you have read, only then does the mind discern, see clearly the truth in the false - which is negative thinking. Then out of that negative process of looking, observing, attention, you will find out what is true.
Therefore, to find out what is true in the false is the origin of discontent - not only in what the speaker is saying, but in everything, in what every politician says, in what your gurus, your books, your party leaders say; to see what is false and also to see the truth in the false, and to see the truth as true. This can only come about when the mind is in that state of negation and therefore has the capacity to discern, to look, to observe, to see. And that is what we are going to do this evening together, so that our mind is made free to observe, so that it is not cluttered up with innumerable ideas, formulas, concepts. After all, a savage, a very primitive man is so frightened about every little thing: he is frightened of the winds, the stars, the sky, the beauty of a tree at night, thunder. And we too, the so-called sophisticated, educated people, are frightened, and our minds are cluttered up with so many things.
So, to think negatively is the beginning of intelligence. And you need this intelligence to enquire into what is true and what is false in the things which man has learnt from childhood as religion, as dogma, as belief, whether it is the belief of the communist with his priests, with his gods - Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and the whole lot of them - or of others with their gods. You need this intelligence to question, to enquire, to find out what is true for yourself, not to be told what is true by another - then you remain a secondhand entity suffering, anxious, constantly in conflict.
So we are going together to commune over the things that are called religion. I am not attacking religion. So you don't have to defend it. I am not attacking you, or asking you to be convinced of something else; but together we are going to examine the mind that gives life a religious significance.
First of all, any belief in any pattern of life, whether it is the communist pattern, the socialist pattern, or the religious pattern, impedes the mind from clear perception. You have innumerable beliefs obviously, because you are a Hindu, a Sikh, a Muslim, or God knows what else, and you live or try to live along a certain pattern of that belief. If you are a communist, you have certain ideas, certain concepts, and they become the pattern of your existence, and therefore your mind is never free to enquire, to look, to observe, to be passionate. We have beliefs, because we are frightened. You believe in God, or you believe in Marx, or you believe in somebody else, because you are frightened of existence, of life. Please observe yourself, don't listen to my words only. Please observe the innumerable beliefs that you have and discover for yourself the origin of those beliefs. And you will find that at the root of your beliefs there is fear, despair, the desire to escape from the daily monotony, the daily loneliness, the insufferable insufficiency of existence - it is because of these that we have beliefs, dogmas, rituals, pujas, banners, nationalities.
So a mind that is religious has no belief. It is only concerned with facts and not with beliefs or opinions about the facts. You know, life becomes very simple when you deal with facts, with what is in yourself and outside. When you have no opinions, projections, prejudices, conclusions about the fact, then you can deal with the facts sanely, rationally and with capacity. But if you approach a fact with a lot of opinions, conclusions, what people have said and so on, you approach that fact with confusion, and therefore you never understand that fact. So a mind that is enquiring into the religious life finds that it has no belief, but only facts. The moment you discover that for yourself, you have the energy of freedom, and you can deal unemotionally, without any sentiment, with the fact. But the moment you have sentiment, emotion about the fact, then you are completely lost.
So, that is the first thing to realize: that a mind that is religious has no belief of any kind, at any time; then it is facing facts from moment to moment, and those facts change. Therefore, the mind has to be tremendously alert, to move with the fact. When there is no position which you take about the fact, you are always in a state of enquiry and therefore in a state of tremendous discontent. And you will see, in enquiring about the fact, that all religions are based on belief. You believe in God, you believe in salvation, you believe in Jesus, you believe in this and that; and round that belief you can organize.
I do not know if you have ever thought about what is true co-operation. You know, one cannot live in this world if there is no co-operation - one can live in conflict, not as a total human being who willingly co-operates. And when one is capable of real co-operation, he is also capable of not co-operating. For most of us co-operation is based on the compulsion of authority - compelled by reward or punishment - or on what one is going to gain out of it; or circumstances force one to do this, and so one co-operates. Please observe yourself and you will see that what we are talking about is a fact, not an opinion given to you by the speaker. We co-operate round an idea - as the communist idea, or the religious idea, or the idea of nationalism - and we call that co-operation. But true co-operation has no authority; it is not based on reward or punishment; it is based on the realization of the fact, and not on theory.
So all religions are man-made, organized by the priests because they want to give some kind of hope to man, because man's life is utter misery. His life is transient, he lives in agony; and so man invents the priest and the god, and it is organized, as it is in the West. Whether it is the organization of the Church called Christian or it is the organization of the Church called Communism, both the organizations are exactly the same. Because the one is well-organized, well-established with a tremendous authority of tradition, property and status and so on, and offers an escape from life through rituals through dogma, through belief; and the other hopes for Utopia, the perfect State.
So, when you see this, see the fact - not that there is God or that there is no God, but the fact - that you want to escape from life, when you realize this, then you do not belong to any religion; you are no longer a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian, a Muslim, a Communist, or whatever it is, you are no longer caught in the net of beliefs. So you begin to see what is true in the false, the false being what man has created through centuries upon centuries as the religious pattern or the social pattern or the pattern of the family. And when you see that fact, then you are free from all the religious concepts of life - which does not mean that you become a materialist which you are. What you are really concerned with in life is money, Possession, sex and the enjoyment of a few things; and over that you cover up, you put a lot of words as the spiritual life and all the rest of it.
So, seeing the fact is the beginning of a religious life - not the fact as you want it, not the fact as you hope that it will be. For example, seeing the fact of death, and not having a theory about it. Then you can understand what that extraordinary thing must be. Then you can give your whole energy to it. In the same way, to find out, not repeat endlessly - as one repeats books like the Gita, the Upanishads, the Bible and all the rest of it - to find out for yourself if there is or if there is not something beyond the measure of man, beyond the things that thought has created - to find out, one must be free of all the religious entanglements, of all the authority of religion, of all the books which teachers have put upon you, so that your mind - your own mind, not somebody else's mind - is capable of finding out if there is something sublime.
To find out, your mind must be free; otherwise you cannot. If your mind is afraid, if your mind is greedy, ambitious, trivial, frightened, broken up into its own nationality, into its own compartments, how can such a mind be free to enquire? So the religious conditioning must be totally broken down, so that out of the breaking down of that conditioning you see the truth in the false and thereby liberate the mind from its own encrustations, from its own fears. So a religious mind has no belief at all. which does not mean that it is atheistic - which is again another form: you believe and somebody else does not believe; they are both the same, and an enquiring mind is not caught in these two.
Then you will find a religious mind does not conform. Most of us are so eager to conform. You observe yourself how, inwardly, we conform to the pattern of social life, the pattern of present-day existence, of greed, of envy. The psychological structure of a society - to that, we conform very easily and so we are caught in conformity. I am not talking of putting on a sari, or a coat, or the superficial things, but I am talking of the deep inner demand to conform. Because in conformity we find satisfaction; in conformity there is a certain sense of security; in conformity there is no fear of losing a job, losing your wife or husband; in conformity you follow the pattern, day after day, so that your mind becomes mechanical, and you do not have to think at all, to question, to ask, to demand. So most of us are so eager to conform.
And this conformity expresses itself in the so-called religious life. The conformity laid down by a religious pattern is: that, to attain God, you must be a sannyasi or a monk, you must lead a certain kind of life, you must be a bachelor, you must live by yourself - you know the whole pattern established through centuries of what is called a religious life. The so-called religious life of the sannyasi, the monk and all the rest of it, is an escape from life; it is the denial of life. The sannyasi, the monk, has created that pattern of what he considers - or what others have told him about, which they consider - to be the pattern which will ultimately, through pain, suffering, sacrifice, discipline, control and all the rest of it, lead him to God.
You must have a fresh mind and not a tortured mind. You must have a clear mind, not a mind that is shoddy, so disciplined, so controlled, so broken up that it becomes a useless thing. So, the religious man, or the religious life, or the religious mind does not escape from life - life being hunger, sex, greed, ambition, joy and all the travails of life. You cannot escape from it through any form of mysticism. The mystic escapes through some fancy, through some experience; or he mesmerizes himself into a certain state. And the religious man is not a mystical man, he does not go into trances or projects something in the future, which hypnotizes him in the present. And when you have realized all this, you will find that you are completely alone.
One has to be alone, not isolated, not put into a corner by life. Because to be alone means that you are free from fear, from greed, from the corrupting influences of envy; then you are alone, you are no longer tortured by your loneliness. And it is necessary for the mind to be alone - which is a tremendous thing. It is not an easy thing, because a mind is so easily influenced by what it reads, by what it thinks, by the environment. And one has to be aware of the influences of the environment and walk through them diligently, without being caught in any one of those influences. Then you are alone.
I do not know if you have ever realized or asked yourself what is beauty. Probably you have not had the time or the occasion. Here, in this country, the simple life is considered to be: wearing a loincloth, having one meal a day, and not looking at the mountains, the rivers, the flowers, the birds and the heavens that are full of life. You deny beauty. Look at your own life, Sir! Do consider it, don't push aside what is being said; do consider your own life and watch it. Have you ever looked at a tree, enjoyed it, seen the shape of it, the dark colour, the leaf in the sun, sparkling, dancing? Have you ever watched the river go by, and communed with the river, have you ever watched the face of another, looked at a woman or a man, seen the beauty in the face? For most of us, beauty is associated with sex, with pleasure; and so the religious mind says, "Don't look at beauty, cut it away from your life. A woman is a disgrace" - you know all the nonsense they talk about. And so we deny beauty.
And we think that a simple life means a loincloth and one meal a day - that is called the simple life. Inside you may be boiling; inside you are burning with desire, with lust, with the desire to dominate, to have power, to be regarded as popular, to be saluted as a great man; but outwardly you have the symbol of simplicity - you have to see the falseness of this, see the truth in the false. Simplicity is within, or without. So, a religious mind knows what true simplicity is. True simplicity is not the disciplined austerity, because to be really inwardly simple you must be austere. Simplicity implies a mind that can be alone, that does not depend for its happiness, for its comfort, for its security on something outside. And it is only the inwardly simple mind that is capable of being alone; and it is only the simple, religious mind that is capable of seeing beauty. Without beauty you have no religious life.
You know, beauty means sensitivity - sensitivity to dirt, to squalor, to disorder, and also, sensitivity to the beauty of a tree, of a person,of a gesture, of a word, of a feeling. If you have beauty - which is to be sensitive - how can you be sensitive to reality? Reality is beauty, not the images carved out by the mind or by the hand. So a religious mind is sensitive and therefore capable of seeing that which is true in the squalor and seeing that which is beautiful. The religious mind can only see beauty when there is passion. You know, you can look at a tree, you can look at the beautiful face of a man or a woman or a child; but you cannot see the beauty of it, if there is no passion behind it. I do not mean by "passion" lust or sexual desire but just to see the rich man go by in a car, to see the bird on the wing, to see a leaf fall down by the road. To see, you must have passion; otherwise, you are merely looking. So, a religious man, a religious life, a religious mind sees the fact and therefore is in a state of sensitivity.
Then it is only the religious mind that knows what the emptiness of the mind is. You know, the empty mind is the mind that is empty, not in the sense of void, but a mind that is astonishingly aware, attentive, a mind that is highly sensitive and therefore a mind that has no centre and thereby creates space. It is only the mind that has no centre, that has the space of immensity, that is the religious mind; and it is only the religious mind that is a creative mind.
We do not know what it is to be creative. We can invent - we can invent a new machine, a new way of talking, a new concept of life - but there cannot be creation without understanding love. Love, death and creation go hand in hand. Love is not memory; it is not an idea, it is not a concept. Love is neither profane nor divine. Love is not sympathy, sentiment, emotion. Sympathy and emotion are involved in jealousy, hatred. But when hatred, jealousy, envy, greed, ambition and the desire for power cease because one sees the truth in the false, then out of that perception love comes into being. And love cannot exist if there is no death of yesterday and of the minute past - then it is merely a continuity of what has been.
So, a religious mind is a creative mind, not writing a poem, prose, or putting paint on a canvas - that is not a creative mind at all. A creative mind is the mind in which a total mutation has taken place. And then only in this extraordinary state which is not mystical, which is not an escape from life, is it possible for the eternal to be. And such a mind alone can solve the problems of man.
November 11, 1964
New Delhi 1964
New Delhi 7th Public Talk 11th November 1964
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