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Varanasi 1965

Varanasi 3rd Public Talk 28th November 1965

I would like this morning, if I may, to talk over together several issues. But before we proceed with them we have, after all, to understand what real communication means. When we attend a talk or a gathering like this, we are really, aren't we?, trying to communicate with each other over several problems. We are not merely intellectually dissecting opinions, or comparing knowledge, or interpreting what somebody else says - whether it is Sankara, Buddha, Christ, or anybody else - but rather are trying to discover for ourselves the sources of all our problems. Because we are inundated, drowned, by so many problems, not only outwardly, economically, socially, environmentally, but also inwardly; deep within ourselves there are so many contradictions, both conscious as well as unconscious, so many conflicts unresolved, so many problems that have taken such deep roots within ourselves. And we are communicating together about those problems. We are not trying to overlay these complex problems by another issue, by another solution, by another way of looking at life, by another philosophy, by a system and all the rest of it. What we are actually doing is to unfold the complex nature of our being and to look at it - really to look at it with our hearts, with our minds, with our ears, eyes, with all our being, so that we come directly into communion with them and thereby resolve them.

And, therefore, you who are listening to the speaker - you have not only to listen to what is being said, but also to listen, observe, to what actually is, to what actually is going on within this human mind. Because that is the only thing we have - the mind, however little, however small, however petty, tyrannical or brutal. That is what we have and we have to understand it, not try to deny it, not try to say that this is an illusion, not try to go beyond it. We have to understand this thing which is our life, which is our relationships.

And, therefore, it is important to listen, not only to the speaker but to all the various movements of life, because life is a movement in relationship. We have to listen to this movement, day in and day out, all the time; we have to listen to it attentively - not try to translate it, not try to say, "This is right, this is wrong, this is good, this is bad, this must be, this must not be; but just listen to the song of this extraordinary movement of life. And in listening to it one begins to understand it.

Because life is not something outside, something that is flowing by, which we look at. Life is this movement in ourselves, of which we are a part; it is that which we have to understand, which we have to unravel, comprehend, love, pursue; and we have to imbibe deeply the full significance of it all. Otherwise, our minds remain extraordinarily shallow. You may be very learned, quote all the religious books of the world, practise a great many systems of yoga, expound this or that philosophy, show off your erudition; but your mind will still be very small and petty. And it is that pettiness that has to be understood; and in the very understanding of that pettiness the thing is broken.

So, what we are going to talk over together this morning is this question of conflict within and without, sorrow and the ending of it, and life as action. These are the things, if we may, we would like to talk over this morning. When the speaker is talking, you are also participating, you are not just listening to what is being said, agreeing or disagreeing; both of us are sharing, partaking; you are working as hard, as intensely, as vitally, as the speaker. And it is only when you are working so intensely, that this has meaning. But if you sit down there, to be entertained by casual talk or listen to confirm what you believe or deny and so on, then you are merely listening to a series of words, sentences and phrases which have very little meaning.

Man has lived for over two million years of suffering - that is, with physical pain and psychological pain, outward pain and inward pain. Please observe yourself. Pain is not some abstraction; we are suffering, human beings are suffering. There is the physical as well as the psychological, the inward pain; and, apparently, we have not been able to solve it at all, we have not been able to be free of this ache, of this anxiety, of this fear, of this contradiction. Unless there is freedom from that contradiction, conflict, pain, sorrow inwardly, it is not possible to have a mind that is clear, and that by its very clarity is still. And it is only the still mind that is creative; it is only such a mind that understands what is truth and the creation of what is true. Truth is not something abstract, something final, but it is a living thing, it is perpetually in creation.

We are using the word "creation" in its deepest and widest sense, not merely writing a poem, a book, or an article, or making a speech, or doing some outward thing.

So, our human concern is with regard to effort, sorrow and action. They are all interrelated. You cannot say, "I will understand effort, then conflict, and then come to sorrow and then come to action." They are all closely interwoven, and in understanding one of them you are already comprehending the other.

We know, as we observe, without being told by any philosophy or any ideology that we are in conflict. That is a fact. And we do not know what to do with it. If we are intelligent enough and know what to do with it, then we will be out of it and be free from conflict and therefore from sorrow. Action then becomes a total movement. It is not an action based on fragmentation, it is a total action.

So, conflict is part of our daily existence. From childhood until we die, we are always in conflict, tortured, torturing, in contradiction. And until we die, this problem is apparently never solved. From the sanyasi, down or up, from the businessman to the man of power, position, everybody is in conflict.

And is there a way out of it? Is it possible for a human being, like you and me, to be completely free from this agony of conflict? The more intense the conflict, the more that conflict expresses itself, if you have a certain capacity, in action - as writing a book, a clever book, a very clever poem. Or, if you have a talent for music, you express it that way. So, the greater the conflict, the greater the tension, if you have a certain capacity, the expression takes all the importance, not the ridding or the understanding of that conflict. If you are slightly intellectual, if you can quote books, though you may be intensely in conflict inwardly, you can get up and make speeches, you become a politician, a writer. You escape that way, or you escape in so many different ways. But it is essential for us to be free from conflict. I do not think we feel the necessity or the urgency or the importance of being free from conflict.

You know, freedom is an extraordinary thing. It is not freedom from something. If you are free from something, that freedom is merely a reaction and therefore it is not freedom. Please understand this - not intellectually, but feel your way into it. If I am free from anger, that freedom from anger - not being angry any more - is another form of resistance, another form of suppression or sublimation, and therefore it is not real freedom. Freedom means: freedom in itself, and not from something.

So, is it possible to be free from conflict? Conflict exists, because we are in contradiction - want and no want; pleasure and pain; ambition and at the same time trying to find out what love is. Seeking power, position, fame, notoriety - none of those things can exist with affection, with love, with kindness, with goodness; and so there is always contradiction. We know it, but we get accustomed to this contradiction. We are used to it; so our mind becomes dull. You can look at that river. When you see it for the first time, you rejoice in it, you see the light on the water, the ripples, the beauty in the light, the current, the fish; you see the extraordinary richness, the fullness of the movement of that river. But when you come back to it and look at it again, you have already got used to it! Your memory has accepted that first vision, that first rejoicing; and now, because it has accepted it and has got used to it, when you look at it again, you have lost the flavour, the sensitivity to all that.

Similarly we have got used to this conflict and we accept it. I think that is one of the most destructive things a human being can do: to accept, merely to adjust. We accept poverty, the squalor on the road, the dirt, the corruption, the terrible things that are going on in the world. We accept all that and say, "Well, it has been like that and will always be like that". So this acceptance prevents action. Acceptance, mere adjustment, getting used to things, not only prevents the understanding of conflict, but makes the mind dull. You have always been a Hindu, and you will always be a Hindu, until you die - or a Muslim. We get used to it and keep on repeating the same pattern of existence day after day, till we die.

So, one of the major issues in understanding conflict is this gradually becoming accustomed to it, putting up with it; and that is the first thing to guard against. When you do not accept suffering, when you do not accept conflict, your mind is disturbed; then, your mind can ask radical questions; then your mind can not only ask but be in an intensive state till it finds out the way out of this - not escape into some ideology, or into some theory, or escape from life altogether by running away to some mountain, becoming a monk and so on. When you do not accept it, your mind becomes alert, sharp, and therefore you can investigate and find out a way out of it. That is the first thing one has to learn.

You know, learning is different from accumulating knowledge. A mind that is merely accumulating knowledge, as experience, as cultivating memory from which it acts, is no longer learning. Learning implies a mind that is constantly, actually learning, not accumulating. I hope I am making the point clear. Because learning is always fresh. I do not know a language, and I am learning it; the moment I have learnt, which is the past of that verb, I have ceased to learn. After all, the verb `to learn' is always the active present. Do listen to this. Learning is always in the active present - not `I have learnt', or `I should learn'. The moment you say, "I have learnt", you have already accumulated, and from that information, from that knowledge, you act; and therefore action then is conforming to the pattern of your conditioning knowledge. But when the verb is always the active present - which is `learning', not `having learnt' or `will learn' - the active present of that verb is always fresh; it is never tinged by the past, and it is therefore tremendously active. And therefore a mind that is always learning keeps itself strongly alive and is capable of meeting any situation afresh, because it is learning.

So, one has to learn, in the active present, his habit-formation, getting used to conflict. Therefore a mind which is always learning - which is the active present - is capable of meeting conflict, and therefore learning about it. The more problems we have, the more conflict we are going to have; and we have to meet them, we have to learn all about them, not the accumulated past; the learning process must go on. A mind that is always learning is never in conflict - do see the beauty of that! But when a mind has accumulated a set pattern of behaviour, conduct and meets the present - which is always active - it has a contradiction. And from that contradiction there is conflict. And where there is conflict, there is this incessant effort, a rat race that is going on all the time.

So, we have to understand this process of a mind that gets used to things. You can get used to beauty as well as to ugliness. The mind is so capable of adjusting itself to anything. You will accept war, as Western Europe and America have accepted war, as the way of life. You are now beginning to accept war as the way of life. And the moment you have accepted war as the way of your life, then you get used to it. You will have military service, drilling in your schools, soldiers - the more you have soldiers, the more will be the poverty of the country; the whole cycle will begin; and you will say that all this is natural, inevitable! Do consider all this, please. It is your life, not my life; it is your daily living.

And when the mind is not fresh, is not actively present as learning, then either sorrow becomes something that you worship - as they do in the Christian world - or you try to escape from it, or you find a causation in the past. So, your mind is incapacitated to find out, to learn what sorrow is. Until you learn what sorrow is, you will never be free of it. Please do go with the speaker a little bit, feel your way into it. Because wisdom does not lie with the mind that is sorrow-ridden. However cunning, however erudite it is, whatever its capacity is, a mind in sorrow is a source of mischief. If there is to be social order, human beings must be free from sorrow. And we need order - tremendous order. Because it is only when there is order, which comes when the human being is free from conflict and therefore from sorrow, that out of that order, a new society, a new way of living comes into being.

So, there is an ending to sorrow. And you are the only person who can find out, not somebody else. Some teachers have said that sorrow can be ended and you may repeat it; that has no value at all. What has value is to find out for yourself, and to learn the whole structure of sorrow - that is, to observe your daily movement, your daily activity, your daily relationship. And out of that observation, out of that learning, which is always in the active present, you will find for yourself that sorrow can be ended. And it can be ended only when you watch: not when you say, `I must end sorrow, sorrow must end', and find a system to end that sorrow; that does not end it. What ends sorrow is a close observation of everything you do, not only in the family but in the office, in the factory, in the bus; the way you talk, the way you gesture; everything matters. And from that observation there is the beginning of learning.

And there is this question of action. I do not know if you have noticed in the morning, high up in the sky, the big vultures, the big birds, flying without a movement of their wings, flying by the current of the air, silently moving. That is action. And also the worm under the earth, eating - that too is activity, that is also action. So also is it action when a politician gets up on the platform and says nothing, or when a person writes, reads, or makes a statue out of marble. That is also action when a man, who has a family, goes to the office for the next forty years, day after day, doing drudgery work without much meaning, wasting his life endlessly about nothing! All that a scientist, an artist, a musician, a speaker does - that too is action. Life is action from the beginning to the end; the whole movement is action. But, unfortunately, we have divided action into fragments: noble action, ignoble action, political action, religious action, scientific action, the action of the reformer, the action of the socialist, the action of the communist and so on and on. We have broken it up, and therefore there is a contradiction between each action, and there is no understanding of the total movement of action.

And in our own lives, the activity in your house is not so very different from the activity in your office. You are equally ambitious in the office, as you are at home. At home, you dominate, oppress, nag, drive - sexually and in so many different ways. Also you are doing the same outside the home. There is the action of a mind that seeks peace, that says, "I must find truth". Such a mind is also in action.

Now, maturity is the comprehension of action as a whole, not as fragments. I am not defining maturity; so do not learn the definition by heart, or learn another definition. You can see that, as long as action is fragmentary, there must be contradiction and therefore conflict.

So, how does one come to discover or to feel or to live in the active present,in an action that is total, whole, not partial? Have I made my question clear? We have to understand this question because our actions are fragmentary - the religious, the business, the political, the family and so on; each is different, at least in our minds. And so the worldly man says, "I cannot be religious, because I have to earn a livelihood". And the religious man says, "You must leave the world to find God". So everything, every action, is in contradiction. And therefore out of that contradiction there is effort, and in that contradiction there is sorrow, fear, misery, and all the rest of it.

So, is there an action which is total so that it has no fragmentation as action, which is life, total life? Unless one understands that, all our actions will be in contradiction. So, how does one learn about it? Not `having learnt' or `going to learn' but actually `learning' about action which is total, which is not fragmentary. Right? I have put the question. If the problem is clear, we can go on.

There is only one action that is total; that is death. Right? There is no argument, no intellectual quibbling about death. There is no opinion, you do not cite your religious books, you cannot escape from it, you cannot avoid it. You do not ask death, "Give me another day". So there is only one total action, which is `to die' - dying.

Now, dying, for most people, is negation; dying is like suicide! And because we have not comprehended the extraordinary nature of death, we - the clever, the intellectual people - make life into something that has no meaning at all. Life, then, has no meaning any more. Has your life any meaning any more? Please, sirs, do look at it! Has your life any meaning - going to the office, earning a livelihood, supporting a family, having sexual pleasures, driving in a big car or in a little car, or walking? What does it all mean to you - writing a book or not writing a book, doing some petty little social reform, belonging to some little society, and all the rest of it? What does it all mean? And the more you question living, the torture of it, the less meaning it has. And all the clever people write useless, meaningless books; out of despair they write about philosophy, they invent a philosophy. But we are not talking of a suicide, we are not talking of a despair as the ultimate action. We are pointing out that death is the only action which is total and complete - like love. Love is also total action. Love has no contradiction. But our love is hedged about with jealousy, with anxiety, with loneliness; it is `my love' against `your love', `my family' against `your family', `my nation' `my tribe' against `your tribe', the `south' against the `north'. And we say we love; our love is a contradiction.

So, we have to understand death. And it is only in the understanding of death, that you will know what love is. Or, if you understand the whole nature of this contradiction, which exists as pleasure, then you will understand the total action of love, because love and death go together. You have to understand this extraordinary mystery of death.

And meditation is the understanding of death and love. Not sitting on the banks of a river, muttering a few words; or in your room silently sitting cross-legged, breathing in some way, repeating some mantras or some words - all that only hypnotizes you; that is not meditation. Meditation is the understanding of life in which there is love and death and sorrow - understanding, not intellectually, but learning about it. The understanding of the extraordinary nature of death and of love is meditation. And to understand it, there is no method, there is no system, there is no practice, because you are learning. You cannot learn through a method. You understand? The two are contradictory. Learning, as we have said at the beginning, is always in the active present - you are learning. You cannot be learning in the active present, if you have a method, a system: first step, second step, third step. So, one has to learn about death. And to learn about death is to die to the things that one has accumulated psychologically, every day, every minute. You understand? That is what is pain for most of us: to die, to put an end to one's pleasure. Have you tried it ever? Just to die - without argument, without pro and con, without saying, "Why shouldn't I?", without all the clever, cunning things we invent to protect ourselves.

You have to die naturally, easily, to some pleasure that you have - try it; do it, without will, without exertion, without effort, without detachment, without cultivation of this and that in order to achieve something. You know, in the cold weather, in the autumn, the leaf drops from the tree to the ground and the leaf is multi-coloured, beautiful, rich; in its death also it is as beautiful as when it was living, fluttering in the wind, in the sunlight. And to die psychologically, don't begin at the physical end - to die to your clothes, which is nothing; putting on one loincloth, which is nothing. Don't begin at the wrong end; begin at the right end, which is the inward end; inwardly die to your beliefs, to your knowledge, to your petty little ambitions, your cunning, your deceptions, your pleasures and pains; just die simply, naturally - which you are going to do when you grow older. Without understanding death, old age is a pain, a distortion. And when you know this thing named death, then you will know also what love is. And in this country we do not know what love is - nor in other countries. Because we are frightened of beauty - to look at a tree, to look at a bird on the wing, to see the lovely face of a woman or a man or a child. Because you have been trained, you have accepted, adjusted; it has become a habit, that a religious man must be completely insensitive to beauty, because beauty for him means a woman, the sensation, the pleasure and therefore it has to be avoided. Therefore your lives are empty; your minds may be full of words, but your heart is empty. Therefore you allow things that are intolerable for any really religious mind.

So, where there is the understanding of conflict, there is the ending of sorrow. And the ending of sorrow is the beginning of total action. And total action can only come about when there is dying psychologically to things that you hold as pleasure and pain. And then only is there love. If you do not have this, do what you will, walk up and down the Himalayas, ten times, hundred times, go round the world, do all the reforms, there is no way out.

And when you understand all this, the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet. In the understanding of all this there is discipline - not a discipline imposed outwardly or inwardly. And that discipline is order. And when there is this extraordinary living, dynamic stillness, then in that stillness there is creation. Call that creation what you will - God, or dog - any name would do! But until we come to it as human beings, there is no way of bringing order, peace in the world. And you must have peace, because in peace alone can you flower in goodness.

November 28, 1965


Varanasi 1965

Varanasi 3rd Public Talk 28th November 1965

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