Madras 3rd Public Talk 29th December 1965
If we may, we will continue with what we were talking about the other day - which was, if I remember rightly, to find a different dimension, a different field, which cannot be discovered by mere intellection or sentimentality or emotionalism. Because, as we were saying, our life actually as it is now - not ideologically, nor giving to life a wider, deeper significance - is a life of misery, confusion, anxiety, a sense of guilt and deep frustration; and because of the boredom, the loneliness, and the fear of our everyday life, we must obviously find a way or a state or an existence which will not be merely repetitive as it is now.
As we have also pointed out, the word or the explanation is not the actual fact. The fact is one thing, and the word - the explanation, or the idea, or the opinion, or the philosophy about that idea, about that fact - is another. I think it is very important to understand this. Because most of us are caught in words - like God, fear, communist, socialist. Words - like Death, Love - are loaded with meaning. But death, love and hate are entirely different from the words themselves or from the explanation of these words. And most of us have developed the intellect to such a degree, fortunately or unfortunately, that we are satisfied with words and explanations and we think we understand when there are explanations or detailed expositions. But actually what we understand are the words and the meaning of the words but not the fact. So one has to be aware of facile explanations and words that are loaded with meaning through tradition, through usage. Because words - like 'God', `Christian', `Catholic' - awaken certain reactions, and these reactions prevent the understanding of the fact, the understanding of what actually is. Unless one is aware of this process of reaction through words, the words become tremendously important - like the word `Hindu' or `Muslim'.
And what we are going to talk about, this evening, demands, I think, that one has to find a way of living one's daily life, which is not contaminated by the past - the past being not only time, but tradition, experience, knowledge, memory. This does not mean that we must function with a blank mind, or live in a state of amnesia. But one has to understand the repetitive process or the mechanical process of existence as it is. Because most of our life is imitative. Our speech, our thoughts, the way of our life, what we do - the whole of consciousness is the result of imitation. Please don't deny it or accept it, but rather listen to find out the fact or the falseness of what is being said. Unless one understands this extraordinarily complex process of the imitative life which we do lead, freedom is not possible. And when there is no freedom, obviously there is no discovery of something totally new. Perhaps many of you have not even thought about all this. And if you are thinking for the first time about this matter of imitation, don't jump to conclusions, but rather let us together explore the issue.
Because, as we said, the responsibility of listening - if I may use that word `responsibility' - is heavy on you. The speaker may convey certain facts, point out certain facts. And to listen to the facts is extremely arduous. Because to listen to a fact, or to observe a fact, demands freedom from opinion. Obviously! If you say that it is not possible to live without imitation, you have already come to a conclusion, and therefore you cannot proceed further to question if there is not a state of mind which is totally uncontaminated by time. If you accept that, again it is not possible further to uncover, to discover for yourself the fact. So your responsibility in listening becomes important, because we are working together. You are not merely listening to the speaker; we are together partaking, sharing, in this investigation, so as to discover for ourselves at firsthand if there is, or if there is not, the possibility of a new mind. A new mind is not merely the result of thought putting together what, it thinks, is a new mind - which merely becomes an idea, an end, which you try to imitate or practise or try to follow; but it is not a new mind.
So we have to go mutually together, sharing every step, into this whole process of imitation. And we have to find out whether it is possible for a mind which is imitative, which is the result of time - for a brain which has been cultivated, developed through centuries upon centuries, through the process of time and tradition - to discover by becoming quiet, a new mind, a new space. That is what we are going to talk about this evening.
When we use the word `imitation', we mean - don't we? - to follow, to practise, to obey, to conform to a pattern, to adjust to what we think is right, and to avoid what we think is wrong, conforming, following, adjusting, submitting, obeying authority - the authority as law; and the inner authority as one's own memory, experience, knowledge. Please, you have to listen fairly closely. Otherwise you and I will cease to communicate with each other.
You know, communication is really communion in these matters: to commune with nature, to commune with that sunset, to commune with that tree against the light of the setting sun, or to commune with each other; and, especially now to commune with the speaker and the speaker to commune with you. All that is only possible when you look, as at that tree and the light of the setting sun, with attention, with care, with affection. And it is not possible to commune with something, if your mind is somewhere else, when you don't give your whole attention to the beauty of that light, the tree and the flower and the intimacy of nature. But the word `communion' is not the fact, nor is the description of what communion is, is the fact.
There must be a sense of urgency. Because the house is burning; there is so much misery, chaos, callousness, war, indifference, butchery that is going on in the world; there is the dirt, the squalor, the poverty - all this needs solution. And one cannot be indifferent; one cannot hide behind formulas, concepts, gods, theories - they have no meaning any more; and I doubt if they ever had.
And so to commune with each other, as we are trying to do now, we must have this sense of urgency. Being urgent means an intensity - not casualness, not indifference, but a serious intention and therefore intensity. And also there must be a certain quality of affinity, a sense of affection, care. When you look at that tree, you can casually look at it, and it means nothing. But when you look at that tree and not let thought or reactions interfere, when you look at it with an intensity which is attention, then out of that attention comes care. You are looking after that tree, not merely enjoying it; you are going to look after it, care for it, nourish it, see that it flowers, that it is not spoilt, destroyed. All that implies communion, not a mere verbal exchange of clever argumentation or dispute over opinions. All this implies seriousness. And it is only the man who is very, very serious, that knows what it is to live - not the flippant people, not the people who merely enjoy their professional life.
So communion implies intensity and a sense of care which goes with it - tenderness, affection, love. That must exist between us. This does not mean that you are going to accept what the speaker says, or reject it - that is not affection. Together we are going to examine with affection, with care, with intensity.
There must be peace in the world and there must be freedom - not political peace, not the freedom of certain democracies; but the inward freedom from anxiety, fear, despair, the incessant conflict that goes on within ourselves, the battle. Unless there is that freedom and peace, we cannot possibly flower in goodness, in beauty, in affection. The world does not want more philosophies, more organized religions, more dogmas. What it needs is a totally different mind, a mind which is not caught up in the daily fear of life. And you cannot possibly find that new mind through the old mind. You cannot possibly find the quality of that freshness, if you don't understand this whole phenomenon of imitation. And we are going to go into it.
The brain, as we know, is the result of time and copying - imitation. Our education, our society, our culture - all this makes the brain conform. The difference between the mind and the brain is not so easily put into words. We use these words to see the difference; but the words are not the facts, nor are the definitions the facts. The mind is the overall thing, the totality, which observes, which exists, which has its being through the brain. So, you have to understand the nature of the brain, the memory, experience, knowledge; and that understanding also gives you the meaning, the significance, the nature of the mind. We only divide the thing for convenience. They are not two different things in different compartments, divided into fragments and tightly held together, tethered by our concepts.
Our reactions are the outcome of our process of living, which is based on acceptance, following, obedience to authority and fear. Please watch your own reactions. You are not listening to the speaker, you are listening to the operation of your own brain as it reacts to what is being said. What we are saying is that thought which is the response of memory - memory being experience, knowledge - is always imitative, and therefore there is no fresh thought. If there is a fresh thought, that thought can be recognized as being a new thought; and that recognition is out of the past and therefore it is still of the old, perhaps at a higher pitch; it still belongs to the past. So thought can never be free. How can it be? Because it is tethered to memory. The electronic brain and the science of cybernetics which produces these extraordinary machines are based on this business of association, memory and so on - which is how we also function! So thought is never original.
Please observe yourself. Do not accept what the speaker is saying, please observe your own thinking. If you are observing, you will see that there is nothing original. Thought is the result of a series of imitations, conformities, obedience and acceptance - which we call knowledge - and on that the brain, the thought, the cells and so on function. Take a very simple example - I don't like to talk in examples. When you are asked, "Where do you live?", or "What is your name?", your response is immediate; there is no time interval between the question and the answer, because you are very familiar with that question, and you know your name and where you live. So the machinery of thought functions with extraordinary rapidity, because you are very familiar with it. But the machinery of thought functions slowly, when the question becomes a little more complicated; you need some time, you need a lag between the question and the answer. But when you do answer, it is still based on knowledge - knowledge which is the accumulation of experience, your own experience, or the experience of society or of culture and so on.
So thought is repetitive, it is never free. And a mind that seeks to free itself through thought, through practice, through imitation, through a particular form of discipline, can never be free and therefore can never discover if there is something original. I hope I am making this statement clear. That is, the whole of consciousness - whether the conscious or the unconscious, whether you are aware of the unconscious or not - is the result of imitation. Obviously! And we function within that limited area of human consciousness - which is also the result of the animal, because there is a great deal of the animal still in the human being. Within that field we function. I do not think this needs a tremendous argument or investigation; this is a simple fact.
So within that field of consciousness we try, to solve our problems - the problems of war, the problems of peace, the problems of individuals and human beings, the problems of our own grief, sorrow, death, misery, confusion, the fear and the agony of existence. And therefore we never seem to solve our problems. That is, as the scientists are saying, man has lived for two million years and more. And man has always struggled; to him life has become a battlefield, not only outside but inside; he has not gone beyond sorrow, anxiety, fear. He may outwardly be not afraid of animals, snakes and all the rest of it; but inwardly there is the terror, the torture.
Man has, through centuries, become a tortured human being. Please look at yourself. As you can look at yourself in a mirror, you can look at yourself psychologically. Then you will see what you go through - the anxieties, the fears, the ambitions, the competition, the greed, the envy, the brutality - in the life that you lead. And man has not been able to solve it. What man has done is to run away from it - run away through the worship of God, through dogma, through belief, through rituals, through ideology, through formulas, through ancestral worship, or through anything to avoid the present agony, the present anxiety. And this has been the state of man for thousands of years. We can mesmerize ourselves by reading the Bible, the Gita, this or that; by attending talks, whether it is the interpretation of the Gita or something else - which is all so infantile! But the fact remains that each one of us, as a human being, has not been able to solve this thing. We can only solve this, if we can discover a new mind which will tackle these problems and finish them.
Now, to discover the new mind, not only is it necessary for us to understand the responses of the old brain, but also is it necessary for the old brain to be quiet. The old brain must be active but quiet. You are following what I am saying? Look, sir! If you would discover for yourself first-hand - not what somebody else says - if there is a reality, if there is such a thing as God - the word `God' is not the fact - your old brain, which has been nurtured in a tradition, either anti-God or pro-God, in a culture, in an environmental influence and propaganda, through centuries of social assertion, must be quiet. Because, otherwise, it will only project its own images, its own concepts, its own values. But those values, those concepts, those beliefs, are the result of what you have been told, or are the result of your reactions to what you have been told; so, unconsciously, you say, "This is my experience!"
So you have to question the very validity of experience, your own experience or of the experience of anybody else - it does not matter who it is. Then by questioning, enquiring, asking, demanding, looking, listening attentively, the reactions of the old brain become quiet. But the brain is not asleep; it is very active, but it is quiet. It has come to that quietness through observation, through investigation. And to investigate, to observe, you must have light; and the light is your constant alertness.
Clarity does not come if you don't observe, if you don't listen, if you don't watch all your reactions - what you say, what you feel, what you think. When you begin to quote the Upanishads, the Bible, Sankara, Buddha - they are just words, words of somebody else - it is not a discovery for you. To find out if there is something beyond this imitative, copying reaction of the brain, the brain must understand all its reactions to the innumerable influences - from your grandmother to the present press, from the ancient teachers to the modern gurus. Everybody is influencing each other, and one has to be aware of this. And it is only through this alertness of watching listening, that there comes clarity; and that clarity brings to the brain peace, quietness and therefore attention.
So we are faced with the fact - not an opinion, not an idea, not a concept - that the whole of our consciousness, not just some part of it, is the result of imitation, whether it is the imitation of Sankara or Buddha or somebody else - it does not matter who it is. One has to discover the fact of imitation, which is conforming, which is based on authority, which is the outcome of fear.
Here, one has to understand the authority of law and also the authority imposed upon oneself through experience, knowledge, or pleasure. Obviously, one has to obey law - you have to keep to the right or to the left side of the road, depending on, in which country you are living; you have to pay taxes, buy stamps and all the rest of it. The buying of stamps may help you to subscribe to the war; by paying taxes you may be supporting war! If you are a pacifist, you are lost. If you are a human being, you say, "I will not kill" - not because of some idea, not because of some concept; but because you have love in your heart, you will not kill anybody. Does it mean you will not buy a stamp? Does it mean you will not pay any tax? Surely not! Not to pay a tax, not to buy stamps, not to travel by railway but walk over the earth - all that does not solve the problem. What gives rise to the problem of war is nationalistic, linguistic, geographical divisions. And what starts war is religious differences; you are a Hindu, I am a Muslim; you with your dogmas and limitations, I with mine. Unless we transcend and go beyond all that, mere non-payment of taxes, or not going by a train, is not going to solve a thing - it only means a personal fancy, exhibitionism; nothing else! You are rather uncomfortable when I say all this, because you don't see the total issue. You see life in fragments and you hope to find an answer through fragments. But through fragments there is no answer to the misery of life.
So we come to a point when you see that whatever you do inwardly is a process of imitation. Of course you have to go to an office, keep your appointments. We are not talking of the obvious time factor or the obvious activities that one has to do. But we are talking about the fact that you conform and that whatever you do inwardly - control, suppress, copy, follow - is a process of imitation; and therefore your action then becomes repetitive. Whether it is a pleasurable repetition or a non-pleasurable repetition, it is based on trying to conquer fear. I do not know if you are following all this.
So whatever you do, whatever positive action you take with regard to imitation - it is still imitation. Isn't that a fact? If you say, "I must lead a life of non-imitation", that very saying indicates you have not understood the question, the issue. If you say, "I must find a way to free myself from imitation", then, in the search to find a different way, the motive is still imitative, because you want to escape from this imitation, and to establish a new kind of imitation, a new habit. Sir, look! If one disciplines at all, that discipline - that is, conforming to a pattern, conforming to a norm - is based surely on the fear that you may not do the right thing, that you may not be happy, that you may not find food, that you may not find God, etc., etc. So your discipline is based on imitation which is the result of your reaction to fear. Surely! So whatever you do with regard to imitation will still be the act of imitation! That is a fact; if you examine it, you will see it is so. Then what are you to do?
You have so far followed, even verbally, intellectually, what has been stated. If you have gone beyond the word, not intellectually, then you are faced with this issue: knowing that the whole of your life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is conforming imitating, obeying, adjusting to social laws or to a particular idiosyncrasy which is your own particular character, when you are faced with that, you realize that any activity born of thought, born of an idea, born of a concept - as an idea, an ideology, a formula, a tradition, or a prompting from the past - is imitative.
Then what is one to do? I hope I have made my question clear. Our brain says, "You must act, you must do something when you are confronted with this immense, very complex problem." Your reaction, the reaction of the brain, is to do; it is to think to find a way out. Now, to find a way out, to do something about it, is what we call positive action. That is what we always do. I lack courage and I must find a way to overcome it; and so I develop various characteristics which I call `courage to face fear'. That is our operation always. When we are confronted with a problem of any kind, the instinct in reply is to do something about it, either through thought, through emotion, through action, or through some kind of activity - which is the activity of the old brain. Right? The old brain is the result of time, experience, knowledge of the past; therefore it is imitative, and its response to a problem will inevitably be imitative.
So what is one to do? We said that the response of the old brain is imitative and whatever it does has no answer. And that response of the past is what we call 'the positive activity' of life - which only breeds more confusion, more conflict. So, you are confronted with this immense question: that the old brain is imitative and its responses are imitative; therefore thought, in which is included the feeling and the emotion and all the rest of it, is imitative; and therefore through thought you cannot find a way out. The intellect is not the door through which you can escape from the past, nor is emotion. Therefore all positive action must entirely cease - which means the old brain must be completely negative, which means the old brain must be completely quiet. You are following? The old brain can only be quiet if it has observed its activity in the light of its own perception. You are following? Look, sir! I can see that tree because there is light; otherwise I cannot see the tree. There is that light - whether it is artificial light or the light of the sun - and I observe. Otherwise, however much I may observe, there is no seeing.
So the old brain has to be quiet, has to be negative. You understand now what we mean by the negative and the positive? That negative state and quietness can only come, not through discipline, not through conformity and all that, but only through its observing the whole process of its own thinking and becoming observant. To be quiet and observant is to have light, and without light you cannot observe. So it is not a trick of sitting still, meditating, forcing - all those tricks which one has made for centuries upon centuries, calling that process meditation, have no meaning. Meditation is something entirely different - if we have time, we will discuss it some other day. When you are confronted with this immense fact, you will see that the whole of life including your Atman, your Soul, your God, everything, is imitative. You repeat, because you have been told. The communist is told `there is no such stupid thing as a soul', and he repeats `there is no such stupid thing as a soul.' He repeats, and you repeat.
So the whole of life, every corner of our consciousness, is imitative, recognizable. You know, when you recognize something, it is already known; therefore it is the past; therefore it is still imitative; and therefore it is still within the field of the known. So, when you are confronted with this immense problem, the answer to it lies in complete quietness of the brain, which has come about naturally, through observation in the light of its own perception. And therefore out of this clarity comes the new mind. And only then can one discover the nature and the structure of what is the original - if there is something original. Don't translate it in terms of your own particular theology or particular concept. Because one has to find something new, original, not contaminated by thought. Otherwise one is merely a repetitive machine, quoting this, following somebody else, arguing this, quarrelling over words, over opinions, belonging to this sect or that society - it all becomes so utterly immature!
And we have to find a new way of living - which is not to go to sleep, or escape into monasteries or mountains, or do some immature act like that. But to find a way of living in this world, now, so that the mind is free from conflict, is possible only when the mind is free from conflict - which is essentially the conflict of imitation. Then you will find that the brain becomes extraordinarily sensitive. It is only the highly sensitive mind that is highly vulnerable, that is quiet - not a mind, not a brain, that is reacting all the time according to its old pattern. Only then will you find. It is not for you to find it, you cannot find a thing. The idea of searching for truth is utter nonsense! Because to search for something implies that you are trying to find, uncover. How can you find, with a dull and repetitive mind, something which is not to be sought after, which is something alive, moving, which is totally new? So you cannot seek it.
I know it is one of the fashionable things or religious things to seek truth or God! You have to throw that word overboard, it has no meaning. But what has meaning is to find out if the brain can be extraordinarily sensitive, quiet and free. Because out of that freedom alone can one live peacefully in this world, and create a new world, a new generation, a new people.
December 29, 1965
Madras 3rd Public Talk 29th December 1965
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