Madras 6th Public Talk 9th January 1966
I believe this is the last talk for the time being.
Man has always been seeking something beyond his own conflicts, miseries and his everyday monotonous, lonely existence. And some people have said that there is something beyond the measure of man. We have either worshipped them or followed them, and thereby destroyed them. Or, because we ourselves are in so much misery and confusion, we cling to any hope that any one offers - the more abstract, the more imaginative, the more satisfying and comforting, the better it is! But apparently few of us have found anything for ourselves, that is original, that is really true.
That word `true' is a difficult word, because each one interprets it according to his own temperament, to his own knowledge, to his own experience. And philosophers and teachers have twisted that word and given that word so many meanings - there is the mathematical truth, the abstract truth and so on. And we try, in our confusion, in our misery, in our utter despair, to find something that is lasting, that is true, that is not put together by imagination, by the mind. And not having found it, we turn to some other authority, other teachers, Books and so on.
And this evening it would be good, if we can, to communicate with each other about something that is not communicable in words only - which does not mean we must be off, away into some fantasy, mythology, or some fancy. But if we could partake, share - which is really communication - not only by examining verbally but by examining beyond the word, we would, if it is possible, discover, each one for oneself, something that is untouched, unspotted, original. That is the intention of the speaker for this evening.
Intention is one thing, and the actuality is something else. Because each one of us is a complex entity driven by so many pressures, twisted by so many strains, not knowing what to do, what to think, how to think, what to feel. So, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to partake together in something that needs very close examination, that needs a very healthy, sane mind - not a mind that is twisted, not a mind that is afraid and anxious. Obviously a mind that is afraid, that is confused, that is satisfied with explanation only, cannot possibly examine.
And one has to be aware from the very beginning that the word and the explanation have no meaning at all when you are really thirsty, really hungry, to find out. So, you discard explanations whether given by any teacher, by any book, by any psychologist or by any advocate of a new life. You discard even what the speaker says, to find out clearly for yourself. And I think that is very important.
Most of us who have at all thought about life, who have lived in this murdering, brutal world - a world that is so utterly callous - probably have never asked of ourselves, or put to ourselves, questions that will bring the right answers. We may ask - and we do - "What is the purpose of life?" That is one of the favourite questions. "Is there God?", "Is there Truth?", "What is the way to meditation - and so on - these seem to me to be so utterly empty. But to put a right question needs a certain quality of mind. To put a right question demands that you be very clear in yourself of the words you use and the motive of your question. Because the motive and the word are going to dictate the answer. If you are afraid and you put the question, "How is one to be rid of fear?", your motive is concerned with only getting rid of fear, not with understanding the whole structure of fear. If you are interested to understand the whole structure of fear - the understanding then brings about an end to the structure of fear - then your question will be entirely different; then your examination is not based on a personal motive, on a motive of trying to overcome this or that.
So it is rather difficult to put a right question. To put a right question one must be extraordinarily mature - not in age, but inwardly. Maturity does not mean spiritual growth - there is no such thing as spiritual growth. Maturity implies, does it not?, the total comprehension of existence - not one department of it but the whole perception, the listening, the seeing, the understanding, the love, the whole quality of a total living. It is only such a mature mind that can put a right question, and that question will have the answer not outside the question but in the question itself.
So, this evening, we are going to examine. And you cannot examine if you don't pay attention. Attention is not something you cultivate; you don't say, "I will practise being attentive" - it then becomes mechanical. What is a mechanical entity can never be attentive. Even the computer, the most complete machinery, though it has a great deal of information, cannot be original. So to examine needs attention. Attention is not mechanical. You have to attend completely. When you, with all your being, attend to that sunset, without any emotion, without any sentiment, without any demand, then your mind, your brain, your body, your nerves - everything functions in complete union, and that state is attention. It cannot by any means be practised day after day, by looking at the sunset every day at a certain time, and saying, "I must put away my feelings, my sentiment, I must concentrate" - it will never take place.
So attention comes into being when there is the urgency and the immediate need to comprehend life. And you cannot comprehend this extraordinary movement of life intellectually, or emotionally, or sentimentally, or according to a certain pattern of thinking - ideas, dogmas, systems.
To understand something you must give attention. And understanding is not a verbal statement or feeling that one has emotionally, intellectually, understood. Understanding is something immediate, and that understanding in itself is action - it is not that one understands first and then acts, or that one will attend and then act.
So, as we said, we are going to examine. And to examine you need to observe - to observe not according to your temperament, not according to your fancy, not according to your theology, not according to your culture in which you have been brought up - to see, to listen, without any prejudice, without any bias. So we are going not only to examine what is but also, in examining what is, to go beyond it.
Our life as it is, our everyday life, is a matter of relationship. Living is a relationship. To be related implies, does it not?, contact, not only physically, but psychologically, emotionally, intellectually - a relationship. And there can be relationship only when there is great affection. I am not related to you, and you are not related to me, if between us there is merely an intellectual, verbal, relationship; it is not a relationship. There is relationship only when there is a sense of contact, a sense of communication, a sense of communion; all that implies a great affection.
And our relationship, actually what it is, is very, confused, unhappy, contradictory, and isolated, each one trying to establish for oneself, round oneself, in oneself, an enclosure which is unapproachable. You examine yourself - not what you should be, but what you are. How unapproachable you are, each one of you! Because you have so many barriers, ideas, temperaments, experiences, miseries, concerns, preoccupations. And your daily activity is always isolating you; though you may be married and have children, you are still functioning, acting, with self-centred movement. So actually there is hardly any relationship between a father and a mother, a daughter and her husband and so on, within the community.
Unless one establishes a right relationship, all our life will be a constant battle, individually as well as collectively. You may say that you, as a communist, as a social worker, or as a socialist, work for the community, forgetting yourself; but actually you don't forget yourself. You cannot forget yourself by identifying yourself with the greater, that is the community! It is not an act of dissipation of the `me', of the self. On the contrary it is the identification of the `me' with the greater, and therefore the battle goes on, as is so obvious in those countries where they talk a great deal about the community, about the collective. The communist is everlastingly talking about the collective, but he has identified himself with the collective. The collective then becomes the `me' for which he is willing to struggle and go through all kinds of torture and discipline, because he has identified himself with the collective, as the religious person identifies himself with an idea which he calls God. And that identification is still the `me'.
So life, as one observes, is relationship, and is based on the action of that relationship - isn't it? I am related to you - wife, husband, as a part of society. My relationship with you or with my boss brings out an action which is not only profitable to me first, but also to the community; and the motive of my identification with the community is profitable to me too! Please follow this: one has to understand the motive of one's action.
And life as it is, actually every day, is a constant battle; it is a constant misery, confusion, with occasional flashes of joy, occasional expression of deep pleasure. So unless there is a fundamental revolution in our relationship, the battle will go on, and there is no solution along that way. Please do realize this. There is no way out through this battle of relationship. And yet that is what we are trying to do! We don't say, "Relationship must alter, the basis of our relationship must change". But being in conflict, we try to escape from it, through various systems of philosophy, through drink, through sex, through every form of intellectual and emotional entertainment. So unless there is a radical revolution inwardly with regard to our relationship - relationship being life, relationship being `my wife', `my community', `my boss', `my relationship' - unless there is a radical mutation in relationship, do what you will - have the most noble ideas, talk, discuss infinitely about God and all the rest of it - it has no meaning whatsoever, because all that is an escape.
So the problem arises then: How am I,living in relationship, to bring about a radical change in my relationship? I cannot escape from relationship. I may mesmerize myself, I may withdraw into a monastery, run away and become a sannyasi, this and that; but I still exist as a human being in relationship. To live is to be related. So I have got to understand it and I have got to change it. I have to find out how to bring about a radical change in my relationship; because, after all, that produces wars - that is what is happening in this country between the Pakistanis and the Hindus, between the Muslim and the Hindu, between the German and the Russian. So there is no way out through the temple, through the mosque, through Christian churches, through your discussing Vedanta, this, that and the different systems. There is no way out, unless you, as a human being, radically change your relationship.
Now,the problem arises: How am I to change, not abstractly, the relationship which is now based on self-centred pursuits and pleasures? That is the real question. Right?
This means really understanding desire and pleasure. Understanding; not saying, "I must suppress desire, I must get rid of pleasure" - which you have done for centuries. "You must work without desire" - I do not know what it means. "You must be desireless" - it has no meaning, because we are full of desire, burning with it. It is no good suppressing desire; it is there still, bottled up, and you put a cork on it, you discipline yourself against desire. What happens? You become hard, ruthless!
And so one has to understand desire and understand pleasure. Because our inward values and judgments are based on pleasure, not on any great, tremendous principles but just on pleasure. You want God, because it gives you greater pleasure to escape from this monotonous, ugly, stupid life which is without much meaning! So, the active principle of our life is pleasure. You cannot discard pleasure. To look at that sunset, to see the leaves against that light, to see the beauty of it, the delicacy of it - that is a tremendous sense of enjoyment, there is a great beauty in it. And because we have denied, suppressed pleasure, we have lost all sense of beauty. In our life there is no beauty; actually there is no beauty, not even good taste. Good taste can be learnt, but you cannot learn beauty. And to understand beauty, you must understand pleasure.
So you have to understand pleasure, what it means, how it arises, the nature of it, the structure of it - not denying it. Don't let us fool ourselves and say, "My values are godly values. I have noble ideals". When you examine deep down into yourself, you will see your values, your ideas, your outlook, your way of acting, are all based on pleasure. So we are going to examine it, not merely verbally or intellectually. We are going actually to find out how to deal with pleasure, its right place, its wrong place, whether it is worth it or not worth it - this needs very close examination.
To understand pleasure we must go into desire. We must find out what desire is, how it comes, what gives it a duration and whether desire can ever end. We have to understand how it comes into being, how it has its continuity, and whether it can ever come to an end - as it should. Unless we really understand this, this pretending to be without desire, struggling to be without desire, has no meaning; it destroys your mind, twists your mind, warps your being. And to understand whatever there is to understand, you need a very healthy, sane, clear mind - not a distorted mind, not a mind that is twisted, controlled, shaped, beaten out of its clarity.
So we are going to find out how desire comes into being. Please follow all this, because we are going to go into something else - don't wait to understand that! You have to begin from the beginning to understand where this examination is going to lead us. If you are not capable of examining this, you will not be capable of understanding or examining that. So don't say, "I will skip this."
You know, it is really quite simple to understand how desire comes into being. I see that beautiful sunset: there is the seeing. And seeing the beauty of it, the colour of it, the delicacy of the leaves against the sky, the dark limb - it awakens in me the desire to keep on looking. That is: perception, sensation, contact and desire. Right? It is nothing very complicated. I see a beautiful car, nicely polished, with clean lines - perception. I touch it - sensation. And then desire. I see a beautiful face, and the whole machinery of desire, lust, passion, comes out. That is simple.
The next question, which is a little more complex, is: what gives desire duration, continuity? If I could understand that, then I will know how to deal with desire. You are following? The trouble begins when desire has a continuity. Then I fight to fulfil it, then I want more of it. If I could find out the time element of desire, then I know how to deal with it. We are going to go into it, I will show it to you.
We see how desire arises: seeing the car, the sunset, a beautiful face, a lovely ideal, the perfect man - the word denies the man. We see how desire comes into being. We are going to examine what gives desire the power, the strength, to make it last. What makes it last? It is obviously thought. I see the car, I have a great desire and I say, "I must have it". Thought, by thinking about it, gives it duration. The duration comes because of the pleasure I derive from the thought of that desire. Right? I see a beautiful house, architecturally and functionally excellent, and there is desire. Then thought comes in and says, "I wish I had it". Then I struggle. The whole problem begins. I cannot have it because I am a poor man; therefore it gives me frustration, and I hate; and so the whole thing begins. So the moment thought as pleasure interferes with desire, the problem arises. The moment thought which is based on pleasure, interferes with desire, then the problem of conflict, frustration, battle begins.
So, if the mind can understand the whole structure of desire and the structure of thought, then it will know how to deal with desire. That is, as long as thought does not interfere with desire, desire comes to an end. You understand? Look! I see a beautiful house and I can say that it is lovely. What is wrong with it? The house has nice proportions and is clean. But the moment thought says, "How good to have that and live in that!", the whole problem begins. So desire is not wrong, desire is never wrong; but thought interfering with it creates the problem. So instead of understanding desire and understanding thought, we try to suppress desire, control desire, or discipline desire. Right?
I hope you are all following all this, not merely listening, but working as hard as the speaker; otherwise you are not partaking - then you are merely listening with one ear, and it is going out of the other; that is what we all do! Listening is: to be attentive. And if you listen to this really, with all your heart, you will see this, and you will know then what life is: a totally different way of living.
So, we are examining the machinery of thinking. The machinery of thinking is essentially based on pleasure; it is like and dislike. And in pleasure there is always pain - obviously! I don't want pain, but I would like to have the constant continuation of pleasure. I want to discard pain. But to discard pain, I must also discard pleasure; the two cannot be divorced, they are one. So, by understanding thinking, I am going to find out if the pleasure principle can be broken. You understand?
Our thinking is based on pleasure. Though we have had a great deal of pain, not only physically but inwardly, a great deal of sorrow, a great deal of anxiety, fear, terror, despair, they are all the outcome of this demand to live and establish all values in pleasure. It does not mean that you must live without pleasure, or that you must indulge in pleasure. But in understanding this whole structure of the mind and the brain, which is based deeply on pleasure, we will know how to look at desire and not interfere with it and therefore how to end the confusion and the sorrow which may be produced by prolonging it. Right?
Thought is mechanical. It is a very good computer! It has learned a great deal: many, many experiences, not only individual, collective, but human. It is there, in the conscious as well as in the unconscious. The total consciousness is the residue, is the machinery, of all thinking. And that thinking is based not only on imitation and conformity, but always on pleasure. I conform because it gives me pleasure; I follow somebody, because it gives me pleasure; I say, "He is wrong", because it gives me pleasure. When I say, "It is my country, I am willing to die for this country", it is because it gives me pleasure - which again is based on my greater pleasure of security and so on.
So thought is mechanical - it doesn't matter whose thought it is, including all your gurus, all your teachers, all your philosophers. It is the response of accumulated memory; and that memory, if you go much deeper into it, is based on this principle of pleasure. You believe in Atman, the Soul, or whatever you believe in; if you go down deeply, you will see it is pleasure! Because life is so uncertain, there is death, there is fear, you hope there is something much deeper than all this, and to that you give a name; this gives you immense comfort, and that comfort is pleasure So thought, the machinery of thinking however complex, however subtle, however original you may think it to be - is based on this principle.
So you have to understand this. And you can only understand when you are totally attentive. Now, when you listen with complete attention to what is being said, you will immediately see the truth of it or the falseness of it. There is nothing false about it, because it is factual - we are dealing with facts, not with ideas which we can discuss or about which you have your opinion or somebody's opinion. These are facts, however ugly or however beautiful. And that is the way we have functioned for centuries upon centuries: we have thought, we have said to ourselves, "Thought can alter everything." Thought is based on pleasure, and will is the result of pleasure; and we say, "From that we will alter everything." And when you examine, you will find that you cannot alter a thing, unless you understand this pleasure principle.
So, when you understand all this, conflict ceases. You don't end conflict deliberately; conflict ceases - which does not mean you become a vegetable! But you have to understand desire, to observe it functioning daily and to watch the interference of thought, which gives desire a time element. In the examination and the understanding of these there is inherent discipline. Sir, look! To listen to what is being said needs discipline - to listen not only verbally but inwardly, deeply, not according to some pattern. The very act of listening is discipline, surely - isn't it?
So, when the mind understands the nature of pleasure, thought, desire, that very examination brings with it discipline. Therefore there is no question of indulging, not indulging, should, should not - all that goes away. It is like some food you eat, which gives you a tummyache! If the pleasure of the tongue is greater than the tummyache, then you go on eating, and you constantly say, "I must not eat; you play a trick on yourself, but you go on eating. But when the pain becomes greater, then you pay attention to what you eat. But if you were attentive at the first moment when you had pain, then there would be no need to have the conflict between pleasure and pain. You are following?
So all this brings us to a certain point, which is: that one must be a complete light to oneself. We are not, we rely on others. As you are listening, you are relying on the speaker to tell you what to do. But if you listen very carefully, the speaker is not telling you what to do; he is asking you to examine, he is telling you how to examine and what is implied in the examination. By examining very carefully, you are free of all dependence and you are a light to yourself. That means you are completely alone.
We are not alone. We are lonely. You are the result of so many centuries of culture, propaganda; influence, climate, food, dress, what people have said and have not said, and so on; therefore you are not alone. You are a result. And to be a light to yourself, you have to be alone. When you have discarded the whole psychological structure of society, of pleasure, of conflict, you are alone.
And this aloneness is not something to be dreaded, something which is painful. It is only when there is isolation, when there is loneliness, that there is pain; then there is anxiety, then there is fear. Aloneness is something entirely different, because it is only the mind which is alone which is not influenceable. This means, the mind has understood the principle of pleasure and therefore nothing can touch it - nothing; no flattery, no fame, no capacity, no gift can touch it. And that aloneness is essential.
When you see the sunset attentively, you are alone - are you not? Beauty is always alone - not in the stupid, isolating sense. It is the quality of a mind that has gone beyond propaganda, beyond personal like and dislike, and that is not functioning on pleasure. A mind can perceive beauty only in aloneness. The mind has to come to that extraordinary state when it is not influenceable and therefore has freed itself from the environmental conditioning and the conditioning of tradition and so on. It is only such a mind that can proceed in its aloneness to examine or to observe what is silence. Because it is only in silence you can hear those screeching owls. If you are chattering with your problems and so on, you will never hear those owls. Because of silence, you hear. Because of silence, you act. And action is life.
When you understand desire, pleasure, thought, you have discarded all authority, because authority of every kind - inward, outward - has led you nowhere. You have lost total faith in all authority, inwardly; therefore you don't rely on anybody. Therefore through your examination of thought and of pleasure, you are alone. And being alone implies silence; you cannot be alone if you are not silent. And out of that silence is action. This needs further examination.
To us action is based on an idea - as an idea, a principle, a belief, a dogma. And according to that idea I act. If I can approximate that action according to my idea, I think I am a very sincere man, a very noble man! And there is always a difference between idea and action, and hence there is conflict. When there is conflict of any kind, there is no clarity. You may be outwardly very saintly, lead a so-called very simple life - which means a loincloth and one meal. That is not a simple life. A simple life is much more demanding and far deeper than that. A simple life is a life in which there is no conflict.
So silence comes because there is aloneness. And that silence is beyond consciousness. Consciousness is pleasure, thought, and the machinery of all that, conscious or unconscious; in that field there can never be silence; and therefore in that field any action will always bring confusion, will always bring sorrow, will always create misery.
It is only when there is action out of this silence, that sorrow ends. Unless the mind is completely free from sorrow - personal or otherwise - it lives in darkness, in fear and in anxiety; and therefore, whatever its action, there will always be confusion, and whatever its choice, it will always bring conflict. So when one understands all that, there is silence, and where there is silence, there is action. Silence itself is action - not silence and then action. Probably this has never happened to you - to be completely silent. If you are silent, you can speak out of that silence though you have your memories, experiences, knowledge. If you had no knowledge, you would not be able to speak at all! But when there is silence, out of that silence, there is action; and that action is never complicated, never confused, never contradictory.
And when one has understood this principle of pleasure, thought, aloneness and this emptiness of silence, when one has gone that far - not in point of time, but actually - then, because there is total attention, there is an act of silence in which there is total inaction, and this inaction is action; because it is totally inactive, there is an explosion. It is only when there is a total explosion, that there is something new taking place - new, which is not based on recognition and which is therefore not experienceable; therefore it is not `I experience, and you come and learn from me how to experience'.
So all these things come naturally, easily, when we understand this phenomenon of existence, which is relationship. Relationship is, with most of us, confusion, misery; and to bring about a tremendous, deep mutation, a radical change in it, one must understand desire, pleasure, thought and also the nature of aloneness. Then out of that comes silence. And that silence, because it is totally inactive, acts when it is demanded to act; but as it is completely inactive and therefore without having any movement, there is an explosion. You know, scientists are saying that galaxies are formed when matter ceases to move and there is an explosion.
And it is only when there is an explosion, a new mind, a truly religious mind, comes into being. And it is only the religious mind that can solve human problems.
January 9, 1966
Madras 6th Public Talk 9th January 1966
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