London 3rd Public Talk 3rd May 1966
In the two preceding talks we discussed the necessity for peace and freedom, whether it is at all possible to live in this world with these two imperative necessities, and what the state of mind must be in order to come to this, living in a world based on violence, acquisitiveness and greed. We discussed whether, in this world, a human being functioning normally could have peace at all. If I may, this evening I would like to talk about something with which man has lived for many centuries, sorrow, and whether it is at all possible not only consciously but also at the deeper levels of one's consciousness to be entirely free from this thing. Like fear, sorrow in any form dulls the mind, cripples the human heart, makes one insensitive. Living in this world, carrying on with our daily work, is it at all possible for there to be an ending to sorrow?
To really understand a matter of this kind we must, it seems to me, communicate with each other, and communication becomes exceedingly difficult when the word becomes the major factor. For most of us the word, the symbol, has extraordinary importance. Intellectually we can understand most things, most of our difficulties and problems, because we are fairly cunning, we are fairly well educated either to rationalize our problems or to run away from them. Most intellectual or fairly intelligent people can do that. But if we would go into deeper matters, we must, mustn't we?, know what real communication is, what it is to commune together about a thing like sorrow. To communicate, to commune together about this, we must be intense at the same time and at the same level. Otherwise communion is not possible. We must explore this question together, and to explore there must not only be freedom to examine, to investigate, but also there must be this relationship between the speaker and the listener, a relationship in which one can not only commune with words but also go beyond the word, realizing that the word is not the thing. The symbol is never the fact, the truth. And most of us get caught in the symbol, the name, the word. But I think the word, the symbol, loses its grip if both of us are intent to explore, to uncover this question of sorrow.
I do not know if you have noticed that communication is only possible when both of us are vigorous, when both of us are intent on understanding this question. If there is no intensity of a vigorous examination, then we will slip into intellectual arguments, into. saying that we understand intellectually but that we can't actually grasp what is being talked about. Then communication ceases completely.
To communicate with each other about a matter of this kind, which is a very difficult and complex question, both must be listening. Listening is an art, and most of us do not really listen at all. We listen to our own opinions, judgments and valuations, and we hardly have time to listen to another. In any listening, which is really also examining, there must be attention, not concentration, an attention that comes easily when we give our minds, our hearts, our ears, everything to understand something that is a complex and important part in our lives.
Let us go into this question non-intellectually, because intellect alone doesn't solve a thing. This doesn't mean that we mustn't use reason, but we can't live by the intellect alone; we can't live in one part, in one fragment of our being and cut out the rest, which most of us try to do, and therefore live in constant conflict and turmoil. To understand this thing we must listen, not only to the speaker, but also to the whole problem. The problem is very complex and to listen and examine we cannot have opinions. We can't say, " I know and you don't know", and stick to our opinions, judgments and evaluations. A man who says he knows does not know, and therefore is incapable of listening.
To go into this question there must be not only the act of listening but also the act of perception, of seeing. Really listening is seeing. To see something very clearly, to see a flower, a tree, or one's own problems very clearly one must look negatively. A negative look implies looking at something without the distortion of prejudice, of opinion, of an experience, of what you already know, all of which keep you from looking.
This question of sorrow, with which man has lived for centuries upon centuries, has not been solved. We have escaped from it, we have invented various theories, dogmas; and the theologians have offered clever cunning reasons - Original Sin, and so on and so on and so on. But the fact remains that we haven't solved it. There is no end to sorrow. To understand it we must come to it afresh, not saying that it is impossible to solve it, to end it, not saying, " Tell me how to end it. What method, what system shall I use? What should I do; what should I not do?". We have played that game for centuries. We have gone to the priests, to the gods, to drink, to sex, to every form of escape. We have cunningly developed a network of escapes, and we are not beyond it. It needs a fresh mind, a new mind to look at this problem. To look at it there must be freedom from conclusions, concepts, what should be, should not be. We must look at the fact and not at what we think the fact should be. If we wish the fact to be different, then we are escaping from the fact.
We must have a fresh look, a fresh mind to investigate and we are going to do it together this evening. We know what sorrow is. Everyone in different ways has experienced it. There is the sorrow of frustration, the sorrow of being loved, of not being loved, the sorrow of not achieving, the sorrow of loneliness, emptiness, sorrow for a wasted and useless life, a life that is utterly boring, a mechanical life of going to the office every day of our life for forty years, and at the end, dying. There is the sorrow of incapacity, of not being able to think or see clearly. There is the despair, the anxiety of the everlasting search, never coming upon anything true-or original, anything which thought has not put together, and there is the sorrow of death, with its complete sense of isolation. We know various forms of sorrow, either intensely or superficially, consciously or unconsciously. Superficially we may be mechanical, trying to forget, run away, but unconsciously the sorrow is there, gnawing, darkening, making one's mind dull, heavy. We know it. And always of course there is old age, ill health and so on. I don't need to go on; we all know sufficiently what is meant by the word " sorrow".
Is it possible to end it, not in some distant future, not as some in the Orient believe, through a perpetual, endless evolution and ultimate realization, a ceaseless travail at the end of which is freedom from sorrow? That is just another form of escape and the more society makes progress, the more it becomes superficial, seeking enjoyment and pleasure, and burying this thing deeply within. But it is still there.
If one is at all serious, the mind has a full intent of resolving the problem, not by a casual investigation, but by pursuing to the very end with vigour, with intensity, to find out if it is possible to end this sorrow which creates such chaos in the world.
Is it possible to understand this question, to ask oneself and see whether it is possible to end it? One has to enquire into the question of time, not only time by the watch, by the day, by yesterday, today and tomorrow, but also psychological time, the time that man has built within himself, in which he is caught, a time that was yesterday, the time of today and tomorrow, the time of the past with all its content of the past, the present and the future. Time is like a river flowing endlessly, but man has broken it up into three parts: the past, the present and the future. The past is heavily burdened and the future he does not know. Giving significance to life, a life that has no meaning, no purpose, no beauty, he says, " Let me live in the present". He invents a philosophy of the present. But to live in the present man must understand the past and the future. It's a movement; you can't take this river and say, " I live just there". It's like a river that is flowing, and in this stream of time man is caught. Unless there is an end to time, there is no ending to sorrow.
We are obviously the result of the past; we are conditioned by time, by society, by the culture in which we live - Christian, Communist, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever you will. We are caught in it, and our brains and their reactions are educated to function in the flow of time, to accept it and go with it. We are always thinking of the past, the past looking at the present and the present creating the future. The "now" is the result of yesterday, and the "tomorrow", if there is a tomorrow, is the result of today. We all know this intellectually, and we haven't been able to find a solution. We are caught in this stream, as we are caught in the stream of fear, in the stream of sorrow. We are caught in the stream of time - I was, I am, I will be. I was violent yesterday, and I will not be violent tomorrow. We are always functioning in time. If we observe our own minds, we discover this, discover it, not accept it. There is a difference, I think, between acceptance and discovery. When we discover something for ourselves, it has validity, there is energy in that discovery. But if we merely accept, then all the intensity, the vigour, the examination, the vitality that is necessary, all these are destroyed. Most of us are "yes" sayers and not "No"sayers. We accept; we obey the tradition, what has been. We are caught and to solve this question of sorrow we must look at time differently, time being obviously thought. Thought is the result of time. The brain cells are the result of thousands of years of cultivation, of experience. The brain is still that of the animal, with certain modifications. We accept war, violence, brutality as the way of life. Having accepted it, we move away from it to find something different. We do not want to change radically, because that demands energy, examination, clarity. We want life to continue as we have known it but we want to find something other than the actual fact, and escape from what is.
Every human being is caught in time. I am not talking about time by the watch, chronological time which does influence thought, but of time at a different level, time as a movement of the infinite past, moving through the present to some future. As long as I am caught in that, there is no end to sorrow. I say to myself, "I'll be happy tomorrow; I'll escape from my present misery, my deep inner psychological disturbance which brings about sorrow. I'll gradually get over it, forget it, rationalize it, escape from it or invent some future hope". But to end suffering I must understand time. Time must come to an end, because thought has created sorrow, thought is time, thought has said "I'm lonely; I'm incapable of functioning; I'm not loved; my ambition, my capacity is not fulfilling itself. I must have time to do this, and time to achieve, to become, to change". So thought, which is the result of time, and which is time, looks to something which will help it to dissolve this sorrow. If I look at myself I will see that this is what I have done whenever any sorrow has arisen. Thought immediately comes into operation. After all, sorrow is a challenge, a challenge to which there is inadequate response and therefore, out of that sorrow, there is a feeling of disturbance, of anxiety, of fear. I lose my job. I see someone famous, rich, prosperous. I have nothing, and someone else has everything-beauty, culture, intelligence. Thought by comparing, adjusting accepting or denying breeds this thing
Thought cannot solve the problem of sorrow. Please don't accept what is being said, or deny it. We must see the fact and when we see the fact very clearly there is neither acceptance nor denial. It is so. It is not a question of how to end thinking, or where thought must function. When we understand very clearly the whole movement of thought, how it operates, what is involved, the machinery of thinking, the origin of thinking and of thought, then we begin to see that the problem of time is whether time as thought can come to an end. Otherwise there is no ending of sorrow. We'll go on for another two million years or more, accepting, escaping, living a disturbed, insecure, uncertain life.
Can time come to a stop? First we must see that the mind, the brain, the whole way of thinking, all function in time and are time. We must be aware that time is a movement, a flow which we have divided into yesterday, today and tomorrow. We must see this movement as a whole and give complete attention to it. Attention implies a complete cessation of effort, attending to the question, to what is being said, not accepting but giving complete attention effortlessly. We can't attend by determination. If we say, "I will attend", our energy is gone in trying to be attentive. To attend does not imply concentration, because concentration is exclusion. If we try to concentrate we are excluding, building barriers, resistance, forcing ourselves to concentrate, whereas in attention there is no division, the intellect, the nerves and everything else functioning at the highest level. In that attention there is no observer.
If you give your attention to something, to a flower, to a tree, and observe attentively, completely, there is no division into the observer and the observed. If you have ever looked at a flower, completely, attentively, without naming the flower, without like and dislike, just observing completely with all your being, in that attention there is no observer and therefore no time. The observer is the result of time. It is this observer who says, "I like" and "I dislike", "It gives me pleasure", and "It does not give me pleasure", "This is worthwhile; this is not worthwhile", "I must hold on to the pleasures I have, though they bring about more pain, more anxiety, more sorrow". Pleasure invariably brings sorrow and pain. The very nature of the observer is the censor who is always choosing pleasure. He looks at everything from that point of view and therefore he is not attentive.
It is necessary to be attentive to this flow of time, no saying, "I will keep this, this part of time which has given me pleasure, which has given me satisfaction, this remembrance of something which has delighted me". There must be a total attention, in which there is no sentiment at all, no emotion. For most of us sorrow is self-pity, and self-pity is an utter waste of time in an emotional orgy. It has no value at all. What has value is the fact, not the self-pity which arises from the discovery that we cannot or can, should or should not. Self-pity breeds emotional anxiety, sentiment and all the rest. When there is a death of someone that we like, in it is always this poison of self-pity. That self-pity takes many forms, the deep consideration for the one who is dead, and so on and on and on. But where there is sorrow, there is no love. Where there is jealousy there is no love. Where man is ambitious, competitive, seeking self-advancement,trying to attain, such a person obviously has no love. We all know this intellectually, yet we pursue the way of life that breeds sorrow.
To be attentive implies to be aware of the division of time into the past, the present and the future, the "I have been", "I must not", "I will do". If we are completely aware of this whole process of time, we will see that time has come to an end altogether. Try it! To do it,actually, not theoretically, to see the fact of it, we must also know the past. We make a lot of ado about the unconscious. I don't know why. Probably it's a matter of fashion. The unconscious is as trivial as the conscious. Its as petty as the conscious mind. The unconscious is the result of time, of many thousands of yesterdays, the residue of the past, the tradition, racial inheritance, the family,the name. The conscious is also the result of the past, how we have been educated, what our job is, how we think, what we feel, how we look at things. The whole of consciousness is conditioned, and to merely investigate the unconscious endlessly seems to me to be a game that's not worth playing, unless we are neurotic, or unbalanced. In that case it might perhaps help, and probably does, but that only leads to an acceptance of the present society. If one looks at the whole structure of consciousness, it's fairly simple. It is conditioned; it has frontiers, boundaries, in which it has functioned for centuries, like the brain cells. It has been developed, trained to have reactions, modified, polished, as has the animal.
To understand all this, we must give attention. When we are listening attentively, completely to what is being said, there is no listener. When we look at something completely there is no entity in the sense of who is looking. The censor, the observer comes into being the moment the thinking process is set going.
When this feeling of sorrow arises, give complete attention to it, neither escaping nor justifying nor trying to find a reason. We all know why we suffer. We suffer because we can't get a job or our son has gone crazy, has become a modern entity, or we have no capacity whereas someone else has.
We all know the reasons, but to end sorrow is only possible when we look at this whole process of time, which is thinking. When we attend so completely we will see that there is no thinking at all, and therefore there is no time.
When someone whom we love or like does something or dies, we respond to it after the shock is over according to the reactions of our loneliness, of self-pity, of wanting more time to do this or that, with regrets as to what might have been and what might not have been. All this is a dissipation of attention. When the shock is over, if we attend completely and do not move away in any direction, then we will find that there is an ending to sorrow, not in some distant future, but immediately. It is only a mind that is not clouded by sorrow that knows what it is to love. Only such a mind can meditate. Meditation is not something to be achieved, something that you practise, learn, but it is this attention, attending to everything from the most little thing to the deepest thing. When you do that, you will find out for yourselves that there is a silence which is not of time, which is not of thought. When you can come upon something not put together by thought, you will find that it is something which is not time at all.
May 3, 1966
London 3rd Public Talk 3rd May 1966
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