Saanen 5th Public Talk 20th July 1965
I would like if I may this morning to talk about time. It is rather a complex problem needing careful inquiry, and a subtle insight is required to find the truth, or to put a stop to time. Most of us, I think, are tortured by the conflict and confusion that arise in the everyday living of our lives. We haven't been able to find a way out of our misery in all the two million years of man's existence. In spite of the many technological advances, in spite of the innumerable drugs and opiates, in spite of the analysts, priests, saviours, masters and gurus, and in spite of these talks also, we don't seem able to throw off our accumulations easily, without the least effort, as a leaf drops from a tree in the autumn and is blown away. We apparently have not the capacity, the `know-how' to free the mind - or for the mind to free itself - from its various entanglements, from its conscious or unconscious problems, travails, from its undiscovered despairs and secret miseries; and we think that time - tomorrow multiplied by a thousand - will somehow bring about a miraculous change.
Now, I feel that there is a totally different way of living - a way of living which has nothing to do with escaping, with running away into monasteries, or taking vows, or joining some particular social, political, or economic activity. I feel that there is a different approach, a different way of resolving the mountainous difficulties of our daily life; and I would like to talk about it, if I may, and request you to listen - not in order to agree or disagree, but just to listen quietly, as you listen to that airplane passing overhead. Listen intently, but effortlessly, if that is possible. Because it is fairly obvious that by mere intellectual probing, examination and analysis, we are not going to be able to solve this problem of human misery. For so many years, for so many lives, for so many centuries we have been trying to find a way out of our misery through discipline, through sacrifice, through control, through forgetting oneself and being identified with something that we have called the greater. We have tried innumerable systems, followed innumerable paths, and yet at the end of it all we are still as we were: fearful, anxious, tortured, full of sorrow. So there must be a totally different approach to this problem.
I am going, if I can this morning, to wander into this different approach - not just verbally or intellectually, because verbally or intellectually one can't enter into this realm of clarity, nor can one do so with any sort of sentiment or emotionalism. One must come into it unknowingly, without effort, without any deliberate intention; and if you will quietly listen, then perhaps we shall move together. But if your inquiry is merely intellectual, analytical, then I am afraid you and I will lose our communication, our communion with each other.
So there must be a different approach altogether to this monstrous way of living, with its wars, its competition, its dreadful ambition to be somebody, its constant battle with one's neighbour, with society; and to understand it, one has to go into the question of what is freedom. We talked about this a little the other day, but it is an inexhaustible subject, and being inexhaustible, we must come to it without any effort - and that is going to be the most difficult task for each one of us. You see, most of us do not want freedom, because we do not know what it is, and we would rather put up with the painful, sorrowful things that we have, than to abandon them, because the things of the future we don't know.
We don't know what freedom is. We have an idea, but the idea is not the fact, and no amount of experience or knowledge will lead to freedom. As I was, saying the other day, freedom demands order; and order brought about deliberately, purposefully, is disorder. Order established by the will is merely a form of resistance, and with this so-called order we are very familiar, because man has indulged in it for centuries.
Where there is freedom there must be space. Space implies a sense of solitude, a sense of aloneness. This is not something mystical, a mere abstraction, but a very definite reality - as definite as your sitting in this tent in Switzerland.
There cannot be immense space in which the mind can function, if the mind is not completely alone. Aloneness and loneliness, surely, arc two different states. We all know very well what loneliness is: the sense of being isolated, cut off from everything, without a companion, without any relationship, even though one may be surrounded by one's family and be living an active and prosperous life. In spite of all that, there comes an extraordinary sense of loneliness which most of us - or at least those of us who have inquired into the ways of life - have discovered.
Now, loneliness and aloneness are two different states. Loneliness is the result of everyday activity in which action springs from the centre or the image. The image is in essence a centre put together through discarding pain and not discarding pleasure. Our values are based on what will give us pleasure, and not on fact, not on what is.
Please listen to what is being said, not as you would listen to an outsider, but as you would listen to one with whom you are talking about yourself. After all, that is what we are doing here in all these talks. Each one of us is observing himself, exposing himself, not neurotically, emotionally, sentimentally, but factually. Each one of us is discovering himself, and therefore understanding himself.
So, as long as there is this image whose values are based on pleasure, there must be the loneliness of the centre which creates its own space. The centre creates space around itself in its relationship with people, with things, with ideas; and this centre, which creates space around itself, is loneliness - a state of which we are either conscious or unconscious. Loneliness is entirely different from being alone. Aloneness is not the result of any activity of the mind.
The mind, after all, has evolved through time. It has grown into its present state, like the animals have, through the cultivation of values based on pleasure. If you have watched an animal, you will know how it takes delight in pleasure and avoids every form of pain. Similarly, the human mind, which has developed through-many centuries, is still based, not on fact, not on what is, but on the evaluation of what is according to pleasure. Such a mind wants to live continually in a state of pleasure, and therefore the very space it creates around itself is its own limitation. Aloneness, on the other hand, is not the product of pleasure at all. Therefore we must understand very deeply this whole question of pleasure. I am not saying that pleasure is right or wrong. I am only pointing out that if the mind is evaluating everything in terms of pleasure, which means there is a centre whose values, judgments, concepts, activities are all based on pleasure, then that very centre is productive of conflict and contradiction; and as long as there is contradiction within itself, all action on the part of the mind, and all its relationships, are bound to create more conflict, more confusion.
Now, if we are at all aware, we may know how to deal with a problem as it arises. By watching a problem and not running away from it, by being totally attentive to that particular problem, it is possible to end it. If you smoke, for example, it is possible to be so aware of the habit that a crisis is reached. When the craving is at its highest point, if you are totally aware of that craving without running away, it soon dissolves, withers, disappears. If you have tried it, you will know this is so. Which means what? That we have learned a certain trick, if I may use that word - how to dissolve a particular problem. But we have many, many problems, both conscious and unconscious.
(An interruption is caused by late-comers).
Sirs, this is a very difficult subject, and what we are now going to go into together demands your full attention, which means there can be no disturbance. Or, if there are disturbances, like the noise of the passing airplane, and you are distracted by them, be aware of your inattention; and if you are aware of your inattention, you will be attentive. Do you follow? Don't try to force yourself to pay attention, because then you won't be attentive. But if you are aware of a particular noise - of the river, of the wind, of the people who come in and go out - and if it is interfering with your attention, then be fully aware of that noise, of that movement, and of your inattention. In this way you will naturally come to be attentive.
I don't know quite where I was, so I will start over again.
You see, we have many problems, both hidden and open - problems with which we can communicate, and problems with which we cannot. And should we go through, open up, investigate, root out every problem? That involves time, doesn't it? We have innumerable problems - economic problems, social problems, problems of relationship, problems of sorrow, doubt, uncertainty, the demand to be completely secure, and so on. Now, should we take these problems one at a time and understand them, resolve them? Have we the time to deal with each problem separately? What is implied in that process? If we try to deal with each problem separately, we need time, we need energy, and there is a constant battle to be aware of and not to miss one single problem. So what happens. We say to ourselves, "problems will never end. I shall not be able to resolve all my problems before I die, there are too many of them", and so we try to escape into some mystical, fanciful idiotic nonsense. Whether we smoke marihuana, or go to church, it is all about the same.
Now, there may be a totally different way of looking at our problems, and that is what I want to go into. I have say, ten problems or more, and if I take each problem separately, I must understand each one so completely that it doesn't interfere with my understanding of the next problem. Do you follow? And I know very well that all problems - economic, social, personal - are interrelated. There is no separate problem, independent of the others. I see that. And I also see that I must have freedom immediately - not tomorrow, or when I gm about to die, but immediately. With an intensity, with a drive, with complete energy there must be a sense of freedom - freedom from all problems, for that is the only freedom.
Freedom implies action - freedom is action; it is not that I derive action from freedom. But most of us say, "I must be free to act". We say, "I must be free to think what I like, politically, economically, socially" - but very few of us say, "Religiously I must be free", because there we are caught. We demand what we call freedom, from which we hope to act; or having so-called freedom, we choose how to act. If we are caught in the tyranny of a party system - of a dictatorship in the name of the people, and all that silly nonsense - then we want freedom to act. So for most of us freedom is something different from action. Whereas, I am saying that freedom is action; and action then is not based on an idea. When action is based on an idea, it is the organized pursuit of pleasure, is it not? It is the outcome of the desire for satisfaction. Therefore action based on an idea is really inaction leading to bondage, not to freedom. There is the action which is freedom only when there is a release from, or a complete understanding of, the action which is based on idea.
So, I see that freedom is action, and that action is not of time. And is it possible not only to dissolve immediately the many problems which I have, but also to prevent further problems from arising? There are two things involved: to deal immediately with the problems I already have, and to prevent further problems from arising, so that my mind is at no time entangled in a net of problems. It is only then that there is freedom; and freedom then is action.
To understand all this, one must understand time. Time is duration, a continuous existence. Time as we know it is a movement from here to there. Time is the interval between a thought and its achievement through action. Time is the postponement of a problem, the gap between the arising and the ending of a problem. Time implies a gradual process of action which is supposed ultimately to resolve the problem. So we use time as a means of achievement, like an ambitious author who wants to fulfil himself through his sordid little book, or big book, and who therefore says, " I must have time to complete it". We all use time in this way - as a means of achievement, of changing, of cultivating a certain capacity. We use time to bring about happiness, or a better relationship, and all the rest of it.
Now, what is involved in this gradual process? You see, every problem is related to another problem, and if you try to resolve a particular problem gradually, during that period the tensions, the influences, the pressures of other problems come into play and further complicate the original problem; therefore you can never solve any one problem by means of a gradual process. Am I making myself clear?
Look, if thought attempts to move from here to there over a period of time, other influences, other drives, other causes arise which divert thought. there fore thought never comes to that particular point. And yet that is what most of us are doing continually. We are using time as a means to achieve a result, to bring about a fundamental change psychologically, and therefore we never complete anything, we are always modifying and being modified. So to me time breeds disorder, it can never bring about order. If I understand this, not just verbally, not as a mere picture or image, but if for mc it is so, I act immediately. If I am hungry and I have food, I eat. There is no postponement of action.
Now, if I understand very clearly that time breeds disorder, then how am I to deal with all the problems that are totally related to each other? Do you understand the question? I see very clearly that time has no meaning, except chronologically. Time is necessary for the acquiring of knowledge, and so on, but time has no meaning in any other direction. And yet I have problems that must be dealt with, problems of which I may be conscious or unconscious. I know that my problems cannot be resolved separately, that they must all be resolved at once. I cannot resolve my economic problems apart from my psychological problems without creating still more problems. So problems must be resolved totally, not fragmentarily, I cannot resolve them in one particular area, and then move on to another area of problems. They must be resolved completely. How is this to be done ? Do you understand?
There is the problem of old age, disease and death, the problem of suffering, of loneliness; there are the travails, the tortures, the sense of despair. How will you deal with it all? If you don't know how to deal with it immediately, you depend on time to bring about a change - and then you are tortured until you die. So you are now faced with a question to which no one can give you the answer; no book, no philosopher, no teacher, no church, can tell you what to do. If another tells you and you follow him, then you are lost, you are back again in the turmoil and the conflict. Since there is nobody to tell you, what will you do?
In a situation of this kind, don't you stop all activity of the mind? You have looked in every direction, tried to solve this one fundamental problem in ten different ways, and you are still faced with it. What will you do? Surely, there is now possible only one state of mind. As you don't know the answer, as you don't know what to do, the mind completely stops all its activities. You don't know what to do, yet you must find a way out. Books and all that rubbish have been thrown away. You are faced with this problem; what are you to do with it? You know you can't po back the old way. You are confronted with a positive question, and any positive approach to it is a matter of time; therefore your mind must become completely negative. Do you know what I mean by the negative and the positive approach? The positive approach is the process of analysis, examination, asking, tearing to pieces, following, destroying; and you have done all that. You have gone to this or that church, followed this or that guru, priest, or philosopher, read certain books, practised a particular system; and you have now discarded that whole positive activity. Therefore your mind, when confronted with this fundamental issue, is in a state of negation, is it not? Negation in the sense that it is not expecting an answer, not looking for a way out.
Do follow this. If you can understand it, you will be able to resolve all your problems with one breath.
Having inquired, analysed, having wandered around, tried all the positive ways, followed the various paths, and not having found any answer, your mind is now completely in a state of negation. It is not waiting for an answer, not hoping, not expecting that someone will tell you. Isn't that right? Please don't agree - for God's sake, don't agree! Now, when your mind is in that state of complete negation, you can approach anew all your problems, and then you will find that they can be resolved totally and completely; because it is the mind itself that has been creating the problem. The mind has been treating each problem as a separate, fragmentary issue, hoping thereby to resolve it. But when the mind is completely quiet, negatively aware, it has no problems at all. Don't think problems won't arise - it is inevitable; but as problems arise, the mind can deal with them immediately. Do you understand?
After all, what is a problem? When there is a crisis, a challenge which the mind is incapable of meeting totally - it is then that a problem arises, is it not? There is an inadequate response to a challenge, and that brings about a problem.
Please follow, this, it is quite interesting. Most of us need challenges, otherwise we would fall asleep. There is the Common Market, which de Gaulle is trying to break up - that is a challenge. The events that are taking place in Algiers, in Vietnam, and so on, are all challenges, and we must find an adequate response. If there is not an adequate response, then the inadequate response creates a problem because it is inadequate. Challenges are being thrown at us all the time, consciously or unconsciously, and without them most of us would go to sleep. Or we are so tired, so worn out, that we don't want challenges, so we escape from them by living in some mythical world of our own devising.
Now, if you see this process of challenge and response, and are aware of the necessity of keeping the mind awake, then you will also see that the mind can keep awake without any outward challenges at all. This requires a great intensity; and if you once awaken that intensity, then you don't depend on the challenge of de Gaulle, of Algiers, of Vietnam, of the communist tyranny, or whatever it is; you don't depend on any outward challenge to keep the mind awake, because you are aware of the whole issue of challenge and response, and you see it is the inadequacy of response that creates the problem. Then, having rejected the outward challenge, and because your mind is immensely more awake than ever before, it creates its own challenge. Do you follow? That inward challenge is much greater than any outward challenge, because your mind is now being questioned by its own doubts, its own inquiry; its own energy is driving it to ask, to look. And if the mind has been through both of these types of challenge and has responded adequately, then it can be awake without any challenge at all. That which is clear, that which is light, has no challenge: it is what it is. But if you merely say, "Well, I have reached that state, it has become part of my nature", then I am afraid we shall have to begin all over again at the beginning.
The mind that is in a state of complete negation because it has understood the whole process of following, denial, acceptance, the process of positive inquiry, positive assertions - it is only such a mind whose action is freedom, and therefore it has no problem. I am surprised that you seem to accept all that has been said. perhaps you don't accept or deny it, but you just haven't thought about it. You must be asking yourself, "What the dickens is he talking about? How can I live, do, be, without a formula, without a I concept without a future ? How can I act without idea?" Don't you ask yourself that? Because your action is at present based on a formula of what you should do. Your action is based on a technique, or on the various experiences you have accumulated as memory, which then becomes action. Now, the speaker is saying that as long as your action is the result of an idea, you will have a contradiction, and therefore pain, misery. But you just listen and accept it! You don't say to me, "Look here, what am I to do?"
I know the way I act, the way I live. I am aware that I want to be famous. If I write a book, I am frustrated if that book is not recognized. If you have insulted me, I am stuck with all the memories of that experience; and how am I to put them aside? Similarly, if you have given me delight by flattering me" I have as a result certain ideas about you, and according to those ideas I act.
Now, is it ever possible for the mind to be free from idea, and therefore always to be in a state of action? Are you following? Instead of there being idea and then action, can the mind be always in a state of complete action?
Surely, it cannot be in a state of complete action unless it is in a state of negation.
After all, one wants to live with great sensitivity and intelligence; and they are both the same: to be completely sensitive is to be completely i-intelligent. And can one be so intelligent in life that one lives without conflicts, without miseries, without effort? Surely, to be so tremendously intelligent and sensitive as that, there must be no interval between idea and action. If there is an interval between idea and action, then in that interval, which is time, there is conflict, and therefore the deterioration of energy. If you understand this really, deeply, then you will see that your mind is in a state of complete action all the time. The inaction of such a mind is complete action. The mind can be active, and also be aware of its inaction; but its inaction is not inattention. The mind is capable of living, working, acting, without an interval between idea and action only when it has understood this whole process of breeding problems through experience, through the inadequate response to challenge, and all the rest of it. Such a mind is completely alone - which has nothing whatsoever to do with loneliness or isolation. And only the mind that is completely alone is free.
July 20, 1965
Saanen 5th Public Talk 20th July 1965
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