Ojai 4th Public Talk 15th April 1973
This is the last talk. We said we were going to talk over together this morning the question of religion and meditation. Of course if you are an intellectual - until you get rather old then you become rather religious, religious in the orthodox sense of that word - but generally the average intellectual turns his back on any idea or concept or religious thought. And if you are sentimental and rather romantic you abandon your particular religion in which you have been brought up and become a Hindu, Buddhist, go after Zen, shave your head, call yourself this or that. All a form of romanticism and sentimentality and you trot off if you have the money and the energy and go to India or Japan and try to find some guru who will tell you or lead you directly to Nirvana or to enlightenment. And you have every kind of religious thought, neurotic, fairly rational and so on. And specially when the world is in chaos, when there is a great deal of trouble and uncertainty one wants some kind of anchorage, some kind of haven to take refuge in. And religions, specially organized, or some exotic guru who comes over to this country, you become his follower, accepting all the things he says, obey - you know all that is happening in this country.
So when you look around the world over what part does religion play in one's life? I am using that word `religion', as the urge, the intense pursuit of that which is sacred, if there is anything sacred. A symbol can be made into something that is holy, an image, either created by the hand or by the mind, and then you worship it because there is the desire in each one to be absolutely sure, certain that life, being as it is, full of change, sorrow and suffering and confusion, the mind demands that we seek not only psychological security but something more than that, something that is really sacred. And in the search of that the priests, the theologians, the philosophers, the gurus intervene: they say you can't possibly understand that, you can only go through us, we will be your interpreters, your guide, your friend and your philosopher. And you get caught in their net, pleasant, sometimes rather unpleasant, exhibitionism, and sometimes worthwhile but rarely. And the mind can make anything sacred: a tree, a mountain, the flashing waters of a river, the image that you have in your church or temple, and the worship of a legend, a myth, a story. And out of that we weave something holy, something that we consider most sacred.
When you have observed all this quite objectively, non-sentimentally, without any emotion, which doesn't mean that you become purely intellectual, but rather critical, doubtful, sceptical. And the urge, or the search to find out for oneself if there is anything holy. And this morning, if we may, we will try to find out for ourselves if there is anything sacred at all in life, or is it all purely an imagination, a myth, something that the mind has put together in order to feel that life has a meaning, knowing the actual life that one leads has no meaning at all we want to give it a meaning, and that meaning is, or perhaps, energy.
So having observed all this right throughout the world, what is religion because man has always sought it out. Man has always enquired into the mysterious, into the unknown because he knows that our own daily life has lost is mystery, its romance, the daily life is such a struggle, pain, sorrow, anxiety, with flashes of occasional joy and delight, and he wants more experience, wider, deeper, everlasting. And it appears religions, whether they are organized, or invented, or the legendary form of it, offer something of mystery, and also it offers wider, deeper experience.
So if we are at all serious, deeply watchful, aware, what is the meaning of this search, what is it that we are seeking, either trotting off to India or Japan or other romantic countries, or seeking through books what others have said - what is it that we are actually, if we are clear, if our own desires are fairly obvious, what is it that we are seeking? And how do you know that when you find something in your search that it is real and not an illusion, not a thing that the mind has projected? How do you know that you have found, or anybody know that they have attained, found enlightenment, or reached the highest form of religious thought, how do they know?
You know we are enquiring into this question together, we are sharing this problem together. It's your problem. And to share something it is important that in sharing, the thing that we share is of the final importance, not who shares it.
Now we are enquiring into this question of seeking, can the mind seek at all and find? Is the mind capable? And can the mind, if it has found what it calls the ultimate, the immeasurable, the nameless, the most sublime - how does it know? Or as it cannot possibly know that which is limitless, unknowable, and which cannot possibly be experienced, all the mind can do is to free itself from all the categories of pain, anxiety, fear, and the desire that ultimately creates illusion.
During the last three talks we have been trying, or rather we have enquired into relationship. We pointed out how important it is to have right relationship with another in which the `me' with all its images, is the factor, is the centre which divides all relationship and therefore brings about conflict. If the mind is not clear on that point, has not brought about right relationship with another, mere enquiry into, or the seeking of reality has no meaning whatsoever because life is relationship, life is action in relationship, and if that is not deeply, fully understand and established you cannot go very far. And without that merely to seek becomes a form of escape from the reality of relationship.
And also we talked, or rather we went into the question of fear, pleasure, love and that thing of which you are so frightened, death - we went into that. Until the mind is deeply established in behaviour, which is righteousness, order, which is virtue - which we went into yesterday - search or enquiry into what is real has no meaning because such a mind which is not free from conflict can only escape into what it considers to be real.
So if you have gone through this and really deeply understood and live it, then how can the mind which is so conditioned, which is shaped by the environment, by the culture in which we are born, how can such a mind find that which is not conditioned, how can a mind which is always in conflict within itself find that which has never been in conflict? So in enquiring the search has no meaning, what has meaning and significance is whether the mind can be free, free from fear, free from all its petty little egotistic struggles, free from violence and so on. Can the mind, your mind be free of that? That is the real enquiry. And when the mind is really free then only it is capable without any delusion to enquire if there is or if there is not something that is absolutely true, that is timeless, immeasurable. Can we go on from there?
You know this is really quite important to find out for yourself because you have to be a light to yourself; you cannot possibly take the light of another, or be illumined by another, you have to find out for yourself this whole movement of life with all its ugliness and beauty and the pleasures and the misery and the confusion, and step out of that stream. And if you have, and I hope some of you have, then what is religion? Because all organized religions are a matter of thought building a structure, a legend round a person or an idea or a conclusion. And we say that is not religion at all. What is religion is a life that is lived integrally, wholly, not fragmented. That which is fragmented is corrupt, and most minds are broken up.
So what is the mind, the brain, that can function in the world in the field of knowledge, and also live in the freedom from the known, because these two must go together in harmony. I hope we are communicating with each other, are we? I am not at all sure. I am not talking to myself, I can do that in my room. I do that in my room anyhow. But we are talking this problem over together. It's your responsibility to share it, not to react to it but to share it. If you react to what is being said because you think it is wrong or right then your reaction makes you more enclosed, more temperamental, you are then following according to your own idiosyncrasies which have nothing whatsoever to do with objective perception, awareness. And in enquiring into this deeply one asks, what is meditation. In this country unfortunately - I am using that word purposely - most unfortunately you have started talking about meditation, you have formed groups, and you know. But you have never asked, what is meditation. You have been told how to meditate. There are those who practise transcendental meditation, practise Zen, practise every form of exotic, oriental mischief called meditation, but you never ask what is meditation, why should you meditate, what is the point of it all. Why should you sit cross legged, shave your head, breathe in certain ways, do yoga and all the rest of it, what for? Is that meditation? You pay forty or fifty dollars to some teacher who will give you a mantra, a transcendental pill. You laugh but you are doing it in a different way. So let us find out for ourselves why we should meditate, what meditation means, whether it has any meaning whatsoever. To do that you must totally, completely discard what everybody has said about meditation. Can you? Or are you caught in a net, a trap of other people's ideas about meditation? Then if you are caught in that you are merely entertaining yourself, or trying to find the light of another through some practice. I hope you are paying attention. Why should you practise? What does practice do? You practise a piano, you practise how to ride a bicycle, you practise for a while how to drive a car so that you mechanically can operate. And when you follow a system, a method, however subtle, however silly it is, you are really reducing your mind to a mechanical entity, making it more dull than it is. Are you listening to all this? Or are you saying, `Poor chap, he doesn't know what he is talking about. He is against this or that, therefore he is battling against other people's ideas' and so on.
After all one must use reason, one must use logic, sense, that's part of our life, that's part of our intellectual capacity, you can't just discard it, and just be driven by our own particular desire. We have to understand our own desires too. So when you practise you are making the mind conform to a pattern set by another. The other is your guru, or your leader, and when he says that he knows what you should do, how does he know what you should do? For god's sake do wake up. When a guru or a teacher says he knows, or a priest, you may be quite sure that he doesn't know; what he knows is what he has been told, the past, the legend, the idea, the conclusion. He cannot possibly know the unknown, you cannot possibly experience the unknown. You can only experience that which you have already experienced otherwise you cannot recognize the new experience. Right? So when you are seeking wider, deeper experiences, those experiences can be recognized as wider and deeper because you have already experienced them, otherwise you cannot recognize them. So you go round and round in circles. That's one point.
So in enquiring into what is meditation, the first thing is, don't follow anybody. Right? Including the speaker. Don't accept what anybody says because you have to be a light to yourself, you have to stand completely by yourself. And to do that, because you are the world and the world is you, you have to be free of the things of the world, which is, to be free of the `me', the ego and all its aggression, vanities, stupidities, ambition.
So what is meditation? How do you find out? One sees it is obvious that to see anything very, very clearly the mind must be quiet. If you want to listen to what is being said you must give your attention to it, and that attention is the quality of silence. Right? If you want to find out, not only the meaning of words, but beyond, I must listen very, very carefully. In that listening I am not interpreting what you are saying, I am not judging, I am not evaluating, I am actually listening to the word and what lies behind the word, knowing that the word is not the thing, that the description is not the described. So I am listening to you with total attention. In that attention there is no `me' as the listener, the `me' that separates itself from you who are talking, so it divides the `me' and the `you'. So the mind that is capable of listening completely to what is being said and going behind the word, must give total attention. And you do that when you are looking at a tree with that total attention, or when you are listening to music, or when you are listening to somebody who is telling you something most urgent, serious. That state of attention in which the `me' is totally absent, that is meditation. Because in that state there is no direction, there are no frontiers which thought has built around attention. I wonder if you are getting all this.
And attention implies a mind that has no desire to acquire, attain, arrive, or be something, then if it is, then conflict comes into being. So attention is a state of mind in which direction, will - the total absence of any conflict - has no place in it whatsoever. And that takes places when I am trying to listen to you, when I am listening to the sound of a bird, or when I am looking at those marvellous mountains. So in that state of attention there is no division as the observer and the observed. When there is that division then there is conflict. Right?
Now that is meditation, only the beginning of it. And if a mind is really serious in its enquiry this meditation is necessary because life which has lost all its meaning, the way we live, becomes meaningful, life becomes a movement, a harmony between the known and the unknown.
So meditation is a life, daily life in which there is no control whatsoever. Do you understand what I am talking about? Our life is spent, is wasted, the enormous energy that goes in control and dissipation, wasting and controlling. Have you noticed this? How we spend our days in control, `I must' and `I must not', `I should' and `should not', suppressing, expanding, holding, withdrawing, being attached and breaking away from attachment, exercising will to achieve, to struggle, to build. There is always in this a direction, where there is direction there must be control. Right? And we spend our days in control. And we do not know how to live a life completely free of control. Are you interested in this? I'll show it to you, follow this, I'll show it to you. You know this is not an entertainment, this is not an amusement, this demands tremendous enquiry, great seriousness to find out a way of living in which there is not a shadow of control.
Why do we control at all? And when we control who is the controller? And what is he controlling, that is, withholding, directing, shaping, conforming, imitating? One observes in oneself the contradictory desires: wanting and not wanting, doing this and not doing that, contradiction, the opposition of duality. Please follow all this. Now is there duality at all, the opposite? I am not talking of the opposite of man and woman, and all that, dark and light, inwardly, psychologically is there opposites at all or only `what is'? The opposite exists only when I do not know what to do with `what is'. Right? If I know what to do with `what is', if the mind is capable of dealing with `what is' and going beyond, the opposite is not necessary. That is, if one is violent, as most people are, its opposite which is non-violence and the practising of non-violence has no meaning because being violent and the practising of non-violence, there is an interval of time, isn't there. And during that interval you are being violent all the time, so it has no meaning. So what has meaning is, being violent our concern is to go beyond it, not in the opposite but to be free of it. I wonder if you understand this. I am violent, if I am, I am violent; I don't think in terms of the opposite. So what do I mean by violence? Is it a word - please listen to this carefully - is it a word that provokes the idea of violence, or is it a word that I have used before in the past to give it a meaning, and that meaning is violence? So I recognize the new violence in terms of the past, so I am translating the new feeling which I have called violence in terms of the past, therefore I am conditioning the new experience, new reaction or new quality which I call violence, I have clothed in terms of the old. Got it? Therefore what takes place? I am always translating the new in terms of the old, and therefore I never meet the new with a fresh mind. So the new reaction, the new feeling I have, I translate it as violence because I am looking at it with the ideas, conclusions, words, meanings of the past. So the past creates the opposite of `what is'. I wonder if you get all this.
Whereas the mind can observe `what is' without the naming it, without categorising it, putting it into a frame, or wasting energy to escape from it, but to look at it without the observer, which is the past, to look at it without the eyes of the past, then you are totally free of it. Do it and you will see. Have you understood? Need I explain it much more? Yes? All right, let's go at it. I don't want to turn this into a school.
Sir, have you noticed in yourself there is always the observer and the observed. Right? There is you looking at the thing, so there is a division between you and the thing you observe. Right? You observe that tree, and the observer is the past, he says, `That's an oak tree', when he says that is an oak tree, he has the botanical knowledge of that tree, that knowledge is the past and that past is the observer. So the observer is different from the tree. Obviously, that must be so. But when we are dealing with psychological facts, is the observer different from the thing observed? When I say I am violent, the observer, the see-er who says, `I am violent', is he different from that which he calls violent? Obviously he is not. So when he separates himself from the fact as the observer, he creates a duality, he creates a conflict, and he tries to escape from that conflict through various means, so he is not capable of meeting that fact of violence. Got it? You work it out, if you can't I must go on. So to understand this movement of division as the observer and the observed who creates conflict and therefore no relationship, direct relationship with another.
So in meditation life is a total movement, not fragmented, not broken up as the `me' and the `you'. In that there is no me to experience. I don't know if you see this. Look: the mind is incapable of experiencing something that it does not know. The mind cannot possibly experience the immeasurable. That's a word, but you can give a significance to that word and say `I will experience that state of the immeasurable', higher consciousness and all that business. Who is the experiencer? The experiencer is the past and he can only recognize the experience in terms of the past, therefore he must know it already. Therefore in meditation there is no experiencing. Ah, sir, if you do this you will climb the highest heaven.
So you have not only to understand this whole movement of daily living, which is part of meditation, and in that no control whatsoever, so that there is no conflict, no direction, but a life that is immensely energetic, active, real, creative, but also in meditation the mind becomes completely quiet, silent. You know silence has space. And our minds have no space, they are too crowded, not only with knowledge that we have acquired but it is so eternally occupied with itself - what it must do, what is must not do, what is must achieve, what it must gain, what the others are thinking about it, it is full of knowledge of other people, conclusions and ideas and opinions. So we have very little space in our minds. Have you noticed this? And when you have no space, one of the factors of violence is the lack of space. Right? If you have watched the birds on a telegraph wire of an evening you will see how they keep space between each other. And in ourselves we have very little space, and one must have space. And it is part of meditation to come upon this space, space not invented by thought. Are you following all this? Because when you have space the mind can function totally. Our brains - may I go on into all this? - you know, our brains can function, not that I am a brain expert, I have watched my brain very carefully, I have spent a lot of days in looking at my brain, watching, a certain part of the brain can only function efficiently when it has total order. Order there means security. And when the brain, a certain part of the brain has complete security then it functions logically, sanely, rationally. When there is disorder in the brain, a certain part of the brain, then it acts neurotically. So the brain is all the time trying to bring about order, even though it may find order in neurotic behaviour, that also is order, security. I don't know if you follow all this. And the space that the brain with its memory, with its capacity to function orderly, creates the space that is necessary for itself. You observe this in yourself and you will see. That is, through dreams - oh, lord, must I go into all this?
Most people dream - I must be very quick, there is lots, I must get on with it. Most people dream. Dreams are a continuation of our daily life, what you are doing, what you are thinking, you know, all that you are doing during your daily life, when you sleep the brain is still active, continuing with what it has been doing. If your life during the day is disorderly the brain tries to bring order while you are asleep, through dreams. That is one of the functions of dreams, to bring order. But whereas if you bring order during the daily life, waking hours, the brain then becomes much more active, not in the sense of bringing about order because you have already brought order, it becomes much more active, it becomes younger because it is renewing itself. Are you following all this? And a brain which is completely in order, absolute order, not relative order, has no conflict and therefore it can move in space. I wonder if you understand this.
So silence, which is really an extreme form of the highest order - do you understand this? No, sir, you don't, don't agree - so silence is not something you contrive, you try to practise, or try to become aware. The moment you are aware that you are silent it is not silence. So silence is the highest mathematical order, and in that silence the other parts of the brain which have not been occupied, which have not been active, become totally active. So the brain, not being in conflict, having great space, not created by thought as space but an actual sense of space, and that space has no border, so thought - please follow this - thought has no place in this whatsoever. In the describing as we are doing this we are employing thought, using the words which thought uses to communicate. But the description is not the described. So the mind with its brain becomes totally silent and therefore of the greatest order. And where there is order there is vast space. And what lies in this vast space nobody can tell you because it is absolutely indescribable, and anybody, it doesn't matter who it is, who describes it or tries to achieve it through repeating words and all that kind of silly nonsense, is making something holy, sacred - he is desecrating it.
And this is meditation. And this is part of our daily living, it isn't something you do at odd moments, it is there all the time, bringing order in everything that it is doing. And in this there is great beauty, beauty that is not in the hills and the trees and the museums, in the pictures, or in music, because it is a thing that is beauty and therefore love. That's enough.
Questioner: Does awareness remain after the death of the brain?
K: Does it remain after the death of the brain, that is this awareness, this silence, does it remain after death. Find out! You see, this is what I mean, we want to find out from others.
K: I won't answer that question sir. Wait, sir, half a minute. The questioner says, I understand more or less what you mean by awareness - what you mean, what I mean by awareness - he has not understood what is awareness, not what I mean by awareness. Right? If you are not aware of the trees, of the birds, of the people sitting around you, aware of yourself, your conflicts, your struggles, then it is not my awareness, it is that you are not aware. If you are aware, it's your awareness. Then he says, does this awareness survive after death. It's really quite an interesting question. Which is, is there apart from the `me', which is too silly even to ask, do I survive, apart from that is there this awareness which is light, which is the beauty, which is immense space in order, does it go on even though this mind has touched it - obviously it must go on, it's there - I won't go into it.
K: When I watch myself, my struggles, my conflicts, my desires, I seem to be in conflict. The question is: how am I to observe myself as I am, whatever I am, without any conflict? Is that right, sir? Without any conflict, that is, try to change `what is', try to modify `what is', try to go beyond `what is', all that implies conflict. Now can I watch myself without any conflict, seeing that I am angry, violent, jealous, small, petty, narrow, you know all the absurd things that one is, can I observe all this and go beyond it without conflict? Now it all depends how you observe. Now just please listen carefully, I'll explain. I observe myself: I am greedy, I want money, I want the pleasure of success, I am lonely, I am frightened, I want to be somebody - all that is in front of me, I am watching it. First, is the observer, the watcher different from the thing observed? If the thing is different from the observer then there is a division, isn't there: the observer and the observed. Then the observer says, `I must go beyond it, I must control it, I must shape it, I must suppress it'. But the observer is the observed, isn't it? Then if the observer is the observed he cannot do a thing about it. Right?
K: Wait, sir, wait, listen to it carefully. As long as there is a division between you as the observer and the thing observed then in that division there is conflict. Any kind of division outwardly or inwardly there must be conflict. And when I observe I am greedy, is the observer different from greed? He is not, he is greed. Now remain with that. You follow? Don't try to change it, go beyond it. If you do you are again divided. Whereas if you observe that without the observer, who is the past, then you will see that you have the energy which has been dissipated in the division, in conflict, you have now the energy to observe. And therefore in that observation with that energy the thing that you have observed is gone. Do it and you will see.
Q: We live by habits, good and bad habits and is it possible for us to be free of habits?
K: That's right, sir. The questioner says we are creatures of habit, good and bad, can we get rid of the bad habits and keep the good habits? Is that it, sir? Or why does the mind function in habits? Isn't it easier to function in habits? Everybody smokes and I also smoke, and I have fallen into the habit of it; and I do so many things because other people do, I believe in nationality, in this or in that because I have been brought up on that. It's much easier to function in a groove, in a habit and so the mind becomes lazy and doesn't want to change habits.
So the question is: can the mind be free of setting habits and falling into them and then struggling to get out of them, and can the mind always be free in its movement, never falling into a trap of any habit? Is that the question, sir? To do that one has to observe habits. We have many habits, both outward and inward - just to observe it. And in that observation not try to change habits but just to observe them, how the mind always functions in a certain groove, in a certain pattern. And when you give your attention to the observation, attention, that means energy, then the mind frees itself from habits. What's your question, sir?
Q: Can you declare to me who is Christ?
K: Can you declare to me who is Christ. Look, sir, if I may point out, don't let's bring our personal opinions into all this, or bring in people whom you respect and so on. We are concerned with the whole religious thought, with the religious mind, and not of a particular religious mind. Sorry, we can't go into that.
Ojai 4th Public Talk 15th April 1973
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