Saanen 7th Public Talk 20th July 1980
This is the last talk. There will be Question and Answer meetings for five days, from Wednesday to Sunday.
We have talked over together about the complications of our life. Our whole existence is so complex, with all its illusions, symbols and ideas and images, and our own personal ambitions, attachments of various kinds. And the world, of which we are, is becoming more and more confused, brutal, more and more divisive, destructive, without any sense of morality, and our society is very corrupt, as our religions are. And observing all this, as one must if one is serious, what is a human being to do? What are we, each one of us, to do in this mad world? Shall we go off into some exclusive club of religiosity? Become some kind of monk? Throw ourselves into some social reform? Join the Communist party, or other political activists? Or is there a way totally detached from all this, totally disassociated from all this, is there a way of living totally completely differently, yet living in this world? That is a great question and it demands a serious answer.
Can we, each of us who are human beings living in this world, human beings who are actually the whole global humanity, can we, without becoming committed to any political party, Left, Right, Centre, not belonging to any religions, organized religions, to any guru, to any commune committed to an ideal, to any system, method, because they have all become so corrupt, what shall we do? Perhaps some of us are serious, some of us half serious and the others casual. If we are at all serious in the sense of not being committed to anything because we have understood the nature of being committed, being attached to your clothes, to a peculiar dress one wears after having been in India - and all that, not belonging to anything. Can we live in this world, earn our livelihood, be related to other human beings, be so totally free? Because only then perhaps we will know what love is. We have exercised our intellect, we have written books, given lectures, converted others, either to Communism or to other forms of religious quackery. And when we are disillusioned we move away from them and the others are caught in it. This is what is happening. And it seems to one that one must begin with uncertainty to find complete security, certainty.
As we said the other day, we are talking over together. You are not accepting anything the speaker is saying. You are beginning, I hope, to question, to doubt, not only what the speaker is saying, but also to doubt your own activities, your own form of drug - you may not take LSD and there are various other forms of drugs, alcohol and smoking and you know, all that, but also you may be drugged by belief, drugged by ideals, drugged by authority of someone who say, 'I know, you don't, I will help you. Or I will point the way'. Those are all various forms of drugs because they cripple the clarity of one's own perception.
So we are asking together: is it possible to live in this world without any motive? Because love has no motive. If I have a motive to love you because you are kindly attending this tent, or I derive some benefit psychologically in talking to you, then I am already corrupt, I am already lost. Out of that corruption one can create all kinds of illusions, all kinds of ideas, ideals. So can one be free from all this? Because we are going to discuss presently what is meditation, what is religion, if there is anything sacred in life, which man throughout the ages has sought, something beyond thought, beyond time, beyond all the mischief the intellect has brought about? Is there something which is incorruptible, timeless, which is beyond all thought? This man has sought throughout immemorial days.
And if we are at all serious in our own life, we see how empty it is. You may put on all kinds of garbs, beguile yourself with daydreams, beguile yourself with imagination, images. And it becomes more important to find out why human minds have created images, not only out there, in the temples, in the churches and all the rest of it. In the Islamic world, the mosques are not filled with images but they have their own form of images, the script which goes from left to right. Beautiful script but that becomes the image, the symbol, the idea. So one must ask before we enter into this question of meditation: why we create images? You understand? Images of ideas, symbols, concepts, and according to symbols, images, concepts we live: why human beings have done this since time beyond measure?
I do not know if you have not observed that when you are related to some person, intimately or otherwise, the mind and thought has already created an image. Obviously you who are kind enough to come here, you have already created an image about the speaker - you can't help it. You have it, as you have an image about your wife, husband and so on. Why does the mind, thought, the brain, creates these images? Because it is very important to understand this, because that may be the reason, the cause why human beings do not love.
If you have observed yourself, the activity of your own thought and mind, and heart and brain, in your relationship you have an image about her or him - why? Please, as we said, put this question to yourself. I am not putting the question to you. You, who are living in this world, with all the divisions and mess, and utter misery and depression, degeneration, why you have an image? Having an image about anything, does that give security? You understand my question? One feels safe when you have an image about another, you feel safe. Because the other is moving, living, striving, pushing, and if you don't have an image about the person, then your mind and heart, everything has to be tremendously active. And most of our minds are lazy, befogged, clouded, without any subtlety, movement, quickness. So having an image about another gives one great security.
You who are kindly listening to the speaker, you have an image about him, bound to, otherwise you wouldn't be here. The reputation and all that nonsense. So having an image one feels one knows. You don't know me, the speaker, nor your wife, nor your husband, nor your friend, but having an image you think you know. So knowledge becomes, through the image, a sense of well being, safe, security and thereby gradual degeneration of the brain, the mind, because then you become lazy, you accept, you never question the image itself, you never doubt the image: the image that Christianity has imposed on people, the image that the Hindus, the Buddhists and so on have imposed - to have these images gives one a sense of security, a sense of well being. And so gradually the enormous vitality which the brain has, gradually it withers away and in that withering, which is unconscious, we feel safe, secure, traditional, 'stay put'.
Please observe this in yourselves, not what the speaker is saying. Find out, if one may suggest, whether it is true or not. Not what the speaker is saying, but the image that you have, whether that image is not making your mind dull, whether that image is not preventing the extraordinary flowering of love. Because without that quality, that strange flower, one cannot possibly have order in one's life, and therefore order outwardly. Society is created by each one of us. It isn't the creation of some strange individuals in the far past, or some super human god, but the society in which we live is created by human beings - through their ambition, through their greed, through their competition, through their constant struggle, through their vanity, aggression, and so on. So the society is what we are. And this is important to understand: unless we radically bring about a transformation in ourselves we shall always live in a corrupt society. And therefore that corruption brings danger, terrorism, Communism, all the divisive elements in society. Please do pay attention to all this. It is your life.
So we are asking: whether you can live in this life without a single image? Which means: is there security beyond the image? You understand my question? Is there a sense of well being, a sense of not being hurt psychologically, wounded? Is there such a state so completely secure, not the security brought about by thought, through the image, through the symbol, through various forms of conclusions, ideals and so on, which do not give security, but it gives the illusion of being secure? You are following all this? Oh, for god's sake, we are moving together? It is very difficult to talk or to have a serious meeting with so many people, because we are all thinking so many different things. Each one is concerned with his own problems, with his own desires, with his own pursuits, you are committed to this guru or to that idea, so you just come and listen, agree or disagree and casually carry on. But if you are serious, and life demands that one be serious, not only in the present state of the world, what people have done in the present and the people who are doing it, if you are not aware of all that, which is in ourselves, then we live and bring about corruption, degeneration.
So is it possible for the mind and heart, and therefore the brain, the whole human psychological structure of which you are, this whole consciousness, to be radically changed? Our consciousness is made up of its content - right? You are following this? Our consciousness is our beliefs, our desires, our anxieties, fears, pleasures, hypocrisy, vanity, our gods, our beliefs - all that is our consciousness. And we live and function within that consciousness. I am not saying anything very strange. It may sound strange to you because perhaps you are hearing it for the first time, or you have thought a little bit about it but have not gone into it sufficiently deeply. You can doubt what is being said, but what is being said is what you are. If you doubt what you are, which is your consciousness, and the consciousness is the content of it, if you doubt that, begin to question that, then perhaps the mind can go beyond that consciousness. You understand what I am saying? We are talking to each other. We are not laying down a law. We are pointing out the law of natural consequences, the law that where there is a cause there is an ending. That is a law. You can doubt it as much as you like but you can investigate it, go into it, doubt it, enquire, question and you will find it is a fact. Not because the speaker is saying it, but in itself. Either you listen with such great attention you capture the meaning and the significance, and the consequences immediately. Or you want explanations. And when you are dependent on explanations - see what is happening in your own minds, please listen to this - when you are satisfied with explanations you are merely satisfied with words, which is mere acceptance of the intellectual movement. Whereas if you begin to examine the nature of your own consciousness, which is the consciousness of humanity - please understand this thing.
It is not your consciousness because when you go abroad to India, Asia, to all the gurus of the world, the priests, you will find they all have the common ground of this consciousness - they suffer, their pretensions, their vanities, the sense of everlastingly climbing the ladder, the ladder of heaven or the ladder of physical success. So this consciousness is the common consciousness of all humanity. You understand sirs? It is so. You may doubt it. Doubt it, question it, go into it. Don't say, "I doubt it" and just reject it. That would be rather puerile. But if you say, "Is this so? Do all human beings go through similar anxieties, similar pursuits, similar depressions" - they may vary, but depression is depression, anxiety is anxiety, it may be western anxiety or eastern anxiety but it is still the sense of being anxious, uncertain, despair, it is common to all mankind. And when you realize that it is common to all mankind, actually realize it not just as an idea, as a concept, as an image, but when you actually realize inwardly that you are like every other human being - you may have a different face, a different education, different outward culture, you may worship in one form or another, but there it is inside you like a burning flame.
And we are asking whether that content can be totally emptied? If it is not emptied then you are caught in the old pattern of existence, with its travail, with its cruelties, with its vanities, with its impossible dangers. So if you want to go into it seriously let's talk it over together. This is meditation, not sitting cross legged, which you have acquired from India. I really don't know why you go to India at all. It is the most dangerous country. I really mean it. It is the most dangerous country for westerners to go there. It is full of romanticism, in your minds, full of something mysterious, full of some miracles taking place there, full of gurus who have - you know - reached the upper ladder, and in their presence you feel "Oh my god, I have achieved something". You understand all this? Romance, sentimentality, vanity - all that is encouraged.
You know there is a story in India which is: a boy at the age fifteen, sixteen... (Noise of aeroplane followed by noise of train - laughter) You can't go to any place where it is quiet any more. It used to be very quiet here at one time, twenty years ago, very quiet, no aeroplanes, no lorries, the road was rough. Now we have become very civilized and therefore very noisy.
So there was a boy who was sixteen or so, and his family was very religious - in the orthodox sense of that word in India. He was a Brahmin boy. And so he said to his father and Mother, "I am leaving you because I want to find truth. You have talked about it. You have told me about it. Your books tell me about it, but I want to find out". So he goes from one guru to another, one teacher to another, and he wanders all over India for fifty years. And he doesn't find it. He puts on different robes, different coloured garments, and at last he says, "I haven't found it, so I had better go home". So he returns. And as he opens the door there it is! You understand? It has always been there, not because he has wandered all over the earth, but it is there, only we don't know how to look. Because we human beings are the history of mankind - you understand? We are the story of mankind, in each of us is the history of mankind, the historia. But we don't know how to read that book, so we say, "Please tell me all about it". We ask everybody in this journey of waste how to read, 'how to' - tell me. You understand what I am saying? It is there. That is why self knowing is very important, not according to any psychotherapist, not according to various philosophers, because then you are looking at yourself with their eyes, and therefore you are never capable of reading your own book, which is the book of humanity. You understand all this sirs?
So to know without any shadow of doubt, without any illusion, without any sense of holding back, to know, to observe this whole movement of consciousness, which is oneself. One can do it very easily. You don't have to move away from where you are - either to go North, East, West, South, it is where you are. But where we are is not very pleasant. It is not very encouraging. We are rather bored. But over there, across the river, it is more beautiful, more romantic, more colourful and therefore we build a bridge over there. When you are there still you are there - you understand? It is still you over there. So don't cross the bridge, if I may point out.
So it is possible to read oneself, read about oneself to the last chapter and to the last word. That requires attention, observation, not analysis. Just to observe what is going on without giving any direction to your observation. This constant alertness to your reactions, to your reflexes, to your vanity, to your aggression - just, you know, play with it. In playing, watching yourself, humourously with play, you learn far more, you observe far more than striving after it, saying "I must know myself". And it is necessary for the mind, and therefore the brain and the heart, to be free of all illusions before you begin to meditate - right? That is obvious. If you sit cross legged and try to concentrate, focus your mind, follow a system, day after day, your mind may be, or still is, in illusion, and therefore your systems, your breathing, your yoga, all this encourages the illusions in which you are caught. You understand all this?
Sirs, I have seen a man in New Delhi, in India, I used to walk in the gardens there, a man came every day on a bicycle, every day, from his office. He was a poor man. He used to sit under a tree, putting the cycle against the tree, and sit down very quietly repeating a certain mantra - you know what a mantra is, I will explain it presently. And mesmerize himself into a state. You understand? And being in that state you could see his weariness of the office, the family, the daily misery - from his face it began to vanish. You understand? And so the face became very quiet because he was repeating, mesmerizing, relaxing in this mesmerism of his desire of his own conclusions, he was completely happy. You understand what I am saying? This used to happen day after day. I was there for several months at one time and I used to watch this man - every day, Sunday, Saturday. That was his drug.
So when one meditates there must be complete freedom. I know you prefer the other kind of meditation, much easier, utterly meaningless but it is very comforting.
Now the word 'mantra', which people have been given perhaps for fifty dollars or three hundred dollars, or whatever the sum is, and that has become a terrible racket. The word 'mantra' means - if you are interested in it - in Sanskrit, it means ponder, recollect, observe, watch, in not becoming. You understand? And also - I won't go into the details - it means if there is any self-centred activity, such action is destructive. That is the meaning of the whole word, 'mantra'. In other words... (Noise of train)... I was just going to say, "Let's go to the Himalayas!" There too they are beggars. Much better stay here and face the noise! Sorry. (Laughter).
So we are saying: the mind must be completely free of all illusion, having no image, having no motive - you understand? No image, no motive, no illusion. An illusion, motive, direction comes with desire - desire to find heaven, desire to find illumination, desire to achieve, desire to have experiences. You understand? I do not know why human beings want experiences. You understand my question? You have experiences of every kind now: terror, sex, violence, oppression, dictatorship, whether it is Right or Left or Centre, whether it is the Communist, Fascist, or the religious, they are all the same. Right? I know you won't accept all this. Doubt it, what I am saying. They are all the same. They all want to shape your mind. They all want to course you into a certain pattern of thinking. And if you refuse either it is the concentration camp. shot, or you are put in a psychiatric ward. This is what is happening.
So the mind must be totally and completely free. And till that comes about don't meditate. You understand what I am saying? Because it is meaningless. I remember - I am sorry, I mustn't go into anecdotes, must I? Just this one. (Laughter). We were watching from a window in Benares. A beggar dressed in saffron robes - that is the sannyasi robes in India, I don't know if you understand the word 'sannyasi', what that means. I'll tell you presently what it means. He was dressed like that and he was a poor ordinary man, not very learned from his looks, from his talk. He sat under a tree and began to chant, sing, shout. The passers-by looked at him and went away. Within a week, I assure you I am not exaggerating, within a week he had garlands round his head, people stood round him saluting him, giving him food, almost bending their knees and saying, "What a great man you are". You understand? Within a week all this took place. We are so gullible - right?
So we are saying: a mind that is free from all this, then comes meditation. Now what is meditation? Unfortunately the eastern people, or eastern so-called gurus have brought this word to this western world, with all their nonsense behind it, with their systems, the Tibetan form of meditation, the Zen form of meditation, the Buddhist form of meditation, the Hindu form of meditation - right? You are following all this? Right? And we who are rather gullible and wanting to get somewhere because we are bored with our own lives, so we say, "All right, tell me how to meditate". And they are too eager to tell you at a certain price, or without price. So if you shun all that, all systems - systems means practising, day after day, which means your mind becomes mechanical. When you are committed to a system your mind becomes already corrupt. Again doubt it, question it, find out the truth of it.
So there must be freedom from all this. Now where there is freedom what takes place? Are you following all this? Where there is freedom from all commitment, from all authority, from all illusions, images, conclusions, what is the state of your mind? You understand what I am saying? Find out sirs. Don't look at me. Find out. It is your daily life. You see we are so afraid to be nothing. Our culture, our education, everything says, "Be something" - either in the business world or in the religious world, or in the entertainment world, on the football field - "Be something". And when consciousness with all its content is empty - if that is possible, doubt that, that is yourself, doubt your vanity, why you are vain, why you are stuck in a belief, holding on to some past experience, past remembrances - and when the mind is free, which is, when all your travail is not - you understand? - what is there? You are following all this? Come on sirs. You understand sirs? When you give up smoking, without going off into some other form of smoking, when you end smoking, or when you end a certain pleasurable habit, when you end attachment, what is there? You understand my question? Is that what we are afraid of? I am attached to you. If I end it, what am I? So if I end my vanity, my conclusion, my belief, my gods, my - you know, longing, longing, longing, if I end all that, what happens? You are following all this? Do it please. End your particular attachment now - don't bother about your wife and your husband and girl. Say, "All right for the moment at least I'll be free of attachment" - what takes place there in the mind? There is a certain freedom, isn't there? And a sense of nothingness - right?
Now not a thing. Nothingness means not a thing. Thing means - the word 'thing' comes from res, I won't go into all that - which is, thought which has put there - you understand? Thing is the movement of thought. Thought is a material process - we have been into all that. A material process because thought is the response of memory, memory which is experience, knowledge. This experience, knowledge, memory is stored in the cells of the brain. And therefore it is matter. It is a process of matter. We won't go into matter for the moment - I have discussed this question with the scientists, so I won't enter into that for the moment. So when there is not a thing - you understand? - it means the movement of thought has come to an end. You have understood? That is, sirs, if you can do it now, sitting here in this tent, knowing that you are attached, to a guru, or whatever you are attached to, end it. Not say, "Well, why should I end it?" I have explained all that. You should end it because the consequences of attachment are fear, anxiety, jealousy, hatred, being wounded, psychologically, building a wall round yourself, isolating yourself and so on and so on and so on. That is a fact. You don't have to doubt it. Don't take time to doubt it. It is not worth it. It is there. And if you end it, which means, thought has no other movement than ending itself.
Now: the ending of thought is the ending of time - right? Because thought is a movement. Time is a movement - from here to there physically - right? It takes time to go from here to your house, or chalet, to your tent, or whatever it is. To cover that distance needs time. And thought is a movement. Any movement is capable of being measured. Right? Come on sirs. Right? So what is measured, that which can be measured, is the thing created by thought and by time. Now look: it takes one from here to go to one's home perhaps two hours, ten minutes and so on, which can be measured - right? By the distance, mileage, time. And also thought can be measured - right? Have you noticed that? It can be measured - right? Need I explain it? Oh, for god's sake, come on sirs, explain it to yourself. I don't have to explain it. You all look so dazed.
Look sirs: you can measure thought when you are saying, "I will become" - right? "I will become" - which is I am not what I should be, but I will become that. That is projected by thought. The ideal, whatever it is, projected by thought. So to arrive at that is the movement of thought from 'what is' to 'what should be'. That is measure. Now the word 'meditation' means also not only to ponder, to think over, to enquire profoundly, but also it has a meaning from the Sanskrit, to measure - you understand what I am saying? To measure. And in meditation measurement must come to an end - you understand? Oh, for god's sake! Which means, no measurement, which is comparison - you understand? "I was before I came to you..." - your guru - "You have given me the system and I am practising. Where am I today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow?" - you follow? How childish it all is.
So measurement, which means comparison, inwardly comparing oneself with the past or with the future, with an example - no measurement, see. No illusion, no image and the absolute cessation of will. You follow what strict demands it requires to meditate? You understand what I am saying? It isn't something that is so easy, you sit like that and go off into some kind of nonsense. This demands tremendous attention, great depth of enquiry into yourself. Therefore you have that tremendous sense of order, which means no conflict whatsoever.
Then if you have come to that - and I hope some of you will and you must - then we can go into what is meditation. You understand sirs? That is, when there is freedom and therefore the absence of all that, there is love, which is not pleasure, which is not desire. We went into that the other day. Without that love, without that compassion and because there is freedom there is intelligence, without that don't meditate. Then you are playing with something dangerous which is not worth it. You understand all this?
I used to know a man - this is not an anecdote - I used to know a man, I was younger then, he was seventy five. White beard, long hair, he was a real sannyasi. I will explain what that word means. And he said to me one day after hearing some of the talks - he came to see the speaker and he said, "I left home fifty years ago. I was a judge. One morning I realized that I was passing out judgement on people, on robbers, murderers, criminals, deceptive businessmen - you know all that". And he woke up one morning and said, "What am I passing judgement about. I don't know what truth is. So I cannot pass judgement". So he called his family and said, "I am retiring. You can have all my money and all the rest of it. I am going off by myself, into some corner of the earth and meditate to find out what truth is". After twenty five years and more he said, "I have come to find out to you and I realize that I have been mesmerizing myself" - you understand sirs? At the age of seventy five to say that he has been mesmerizing himself after fifty years - you understand what strife that requires? And so we talked.
And I am saying the same thing - we are saying the same thing, don't have any form of desire, will, ideals, illusions or images and so on. The mind must be totally free. Then comes love which is imperishable, incorruptible. Because love is not attachment - you understand? Then you can begin to meditate. Then meditation is the most simple form of observation. Pure, unadulterated observation, which is: the mind can only observe when it is completely still - right? (Noise of train) If you listen to that noise, the train passing by, with complete silence - do it now - that noise doesn't enter into the quality of silence. I wonder if you get it. Sirs, you haven't done any of these things so it is just words, theories.
So to observe so purely, the mind, the body, the whole sense of organism and the structure of the psyche must be completely still, not controlled. The moment you control there is conflict - right? So obvious all these things are. So conflict must end. Which means - please this is a dangerous statement to make, but I will make it but see the nature of it - no control whatsoever. Personally, if I may for a second or two talk about the speaker, he has never controlled. Don't look at me wide eyed. You may think I am crazy. Probably I am. But see the importance: when there is control there are two entities, the one who is controlling, controlling that which he himself has created. You have understood? That is, I control my desire: controlling desire means, one who is controlling the thing called desire, and therefore there is a division between the controller and the controlled - right? So there must be conflict where there is a division. You say, "Today I lost my control, but tomorrow it will be better", and you will see to it. "I will exercise my will, my suppression, everything."
So to live without any sense of conflict. Therefore no sense of control. Just see the beauty of it for god's sake. Do it sirs. Then the mind is absolutely still. The variety of stillnesses vary. When the train has passed by there is a certain silence. There is silence when thought says, "I must be quiet". That is another form of silence. There is silence between two noises, after all music is the silence between two noises. Right? Right? And there is the silence of the forest: in the forest when there is some dangerous animal moving, a tiger and so on, the whole forest becomes paralysed and silent. Have you ever been in a forest like that? I was chasing a tiger once, literally. I won't go into that, forget it!
So this silence is not brought about by thought - right? It is absolute silence, not relative. And if the mind has come to that point then is there anything in life sacred? I am asking. I am not talking about the silence. I am asking: is there anything sacred in our life, holy? Not created by thought - you understand? The bible and all the things in the bible, the images, the crosses, the incense, the altar, the wafer - all put together by thought. I hope there are no priests here! And is that sacred? Question that, doubt it, find out, because man has always tried to find something beyond time and thought. And enquiring into it he gets caught - you understand? There are too many traps and temptations. One goes out wanting to find out the beauty of life, or the sacredness of life, if there is something so absolute, love that is incorruptible, one asks. And then some person comes along and says, "Follow this. You will find it" and I am caught in it. And I get disillusioned, write about it - you follow? - and go off to something else.
So I am saying, asking you: is there anything sacred at all, holy? - not in the temples, churches, that is not holy, that is all put together by thought, obviously. And thought is not holy. My god, I wish it were, then we would behave scrupulously.
So we are asking whether the mind which is free from all this and therefore this immense quality of compassion, which goes with intelligence, is there anything sacred? Now if the speaker says there is, then there is not. Have you understood this? You see? Good, I am glad some of you see this. When the speaker says there is, then that very word, the very essence of that great love and beauty and truth is not. So meditation, which is the absolute silence of the mind, heart and all that, being completely free, you will find out for yourself, such freedom will disclose through your pure observation whether there is that which is immortal, depthless, beyond all time and space. You will find out. It is there for the mind that is capable to come to it. Finished.
Saanen 7th Public Talk 20th July 1980
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