Madras 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 6th January 1981
There are several questions that have been given to me and before we answer the questions, what is the intention of these questions? Are the questions in themselves the answer, or the answer is outside the question? I don't know if I am making that clear. Is the solution of a problem more important than the problem itself; or if one is seeking an answer, a solution, a resolution of a problem then we are not concerned with the problem itself? But in understanding the problem with all its complexities, its causes and so on, with the problem itself then the answer is in the problem. I think that is fairly clear. But for most of us answers are more important than the problem or the question because our mind is trying to seek an answer, a solution, a resolution rather than investigate the whole source of the problem, observe its complexities and investigate it deeply. And so we are always lost in asking the answer. So if you don't mind in answering these questions - rather we are going to investigate the question together, then perhaps the solution of the question will be in the problem itself. I hope that is clear.
1st QUESTION: During your first talk here your appeal to stand up against the corrupt and immoral society like a rock protruding from the mid-stream of the river, confuses me deeply. You see, sir, this rock means, to me, to be an outsider. Such an outsider is his own light and does not need to stand up against anything or anybody. Your clarification and answer is very important to me.
First of all, are we clear at what level, at what depth, when we use the word 'corruption' it implies? There is the physical corruption of the pollution of the air, in cities, in manufacturing towns, they are destroying the seas, they are killing nearly fifteen million and more whales, they are killing baby seals and so on and so on. There is the physical pollution in the world. Then there is the overpopulation. Then there is the corruption politically, religiously, and so on. At what depth is this corruption in the human brain, in the human activity? So we must be very clear when we talk about corruption what we mean by that word, and at what level are we talking about it.
Throughout the world, and more so in certain countries, as you travel around, observe, talk to people and so on, there is corruption everywhere. And more so, unfortunately, in this part of the world - passing money under the table, if you want to buy a ticket you have to bribe, you know all the game that goes on in this country. I am not insulting the country. As somebody said to me the other day that I was insulting the country when I said there were no good cars here, beautiful cars. Is the corruption - the word 'corrupt' means to break up, rompere comes from Latin, French and so on, it means to break up - not only in the country, various parts against the other communities and states and so on, but basically corruption of the brain and the heart. So we must be clear at what level we are talking about this corruption: at the financial level, at the bureaucratic level, political level, or the religious world which is ridden with all kinds of superstition, without any sense at all, just a lot of words that have lost all meaning, both in the Christian world and in the Eastern world - the repetition of rituals, you know all that goes on. Is that not corruption? Please, sir, let's talk it over. Is it not corruption?
Are not ideals a form of corruption? We may have ideals, say for example, non-violence, because one is violent, and when you have ideals of non-violence and you are pursuing the ideals in the meantime you are violent. Right? So is that not corruption of a brain that disregards the action to end violence? Right, that seems all very clear.
And is there not corruption when there is no love at all, only pleasure, with its suffering? Perhaps throughout the world this word is heavily loaded, and being associated with sex and when it is associated with pleasure, with anxiety, with jealousy, with attachment, is that not corruption? Is not attachment itself corruption? Please sirs. When one is attached to an ideal, or to a house, or to a person, the consequences are when you are attached to a person jealousy, anxiety, possessiveness, domination. The consequences are obvious when you investigate attachment. And is not attachment then corruption?
And the questioner says, we must stand like a rock in the midst of a stream, that's only a metaphor, don't carry metaphors too far. A simile is merely a description of what is taking place, but if you make the symbol all important then you lose the significance of what is actually going on.
So the question is basically, a society in which we live is essentially based on relationship with each other, if that relationship is corrupt, in which there is no love, just mutual exploitation, mutual comforting each other sexually and in various other ways, it must inevitably bring about corruption. So what will you do about all this? That's really the question: what will you, as a human being, living in this world, which is a marvellous world, the beauty of the world, the beauty of the earth, the sense of extraordinary quality of a tree, and we are destroying the earth, as we are destroying ourselves. So what will you, as a human being living here, act, do? So will we, each one of us, see that we are not corrupt? We create the thing which we call - the abstraction which we call society. If our relationship with each other is destructive, constant battle, struggle, pain, despair, then we will inevitably create an environment which will represent what we are. So what are we going to do about it, each one of us? Is this corruption, this sense of lack of integrity, is it an abstraction, is it an idea, or an actuality which we want to change? It's up to you.
2nd QUESTION: You often switch over from mind to brain. Is there any difference between them? If so, what is the mind?
I am afraid it is a slip of the tongue. That is, I have often said the mind and the brain. So the gentleman, the questioner says, what is the mind. Why do you switch over from one word to the other, and I apologize for that because it is a slip of the tongue, I am only talking about the brain.
The questioner wants to know what is the mind. Is the mind different from the brain? Is the mind something untouched by the brain, is the mind not the result of time, because the brain is? You are following all this? Does this interest you all? Let's go into it.
First of all to understand what the mind is, we must be very clear how our brain operates, as much as possible. Not according to the brain specialists, not according to the neurologists, according to those who have studied a great deal about the brain's of rats and pigeons and all that, but we are studying, each one of us if we are willing, the nature of our own brain: how we think, what we think, how we act, what's our behaviour, what are the immediate, spontaneous, instant responses, are we aware of that. Are we aware that our thinking is extraordinarily along a narrow groove? Are we aware that our thinking is mechanical, along a certain particular trained activity, how our education has conditioned our thinking, how our careers, whether it is bureaucratic, engineering, or surgical and so on and so on, are they not all of them a directional, conditioned knowledge. Are we aware of all this? How the brain, with its thought - and the scientists now are saying thought is the expression of memory, of the mind, of the brain, which is experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action - they are gradually coming to that, about which we have been talking endlessly, from the beginning, that thought is a material process, there is nothing sacred about thought, and whatever thought creates whether mechanically or idealistically or projecting a future in the hope of reaching some kind of happiness, peace, are all the movement of thought. Are we aware of all this? That when you go to a temple it is nothing but a material process. You mightn't like to hear that, but that is the fact: thought has created the architecture and the thing that is put inside the building, the temple, the mosque, the church, they are all the result of thought. Are we really aware of it, and therefore move totally in a different direction? That tradition, when we accept tradition it makes the mind extraordinarily dull, you just repeat, it is very convenient, so gradually the brain becomes dull, stupid, routine, you can read endlessly the Gita, talk about the book. This is what is happening when in the world there is so much uncertainty, so much pain, so much disorder, chaos, you turn to tradition. That's what is happening both in the West and in the East. They are becoming more and more fanatical, worshipping local deities and so on. Are we aware of this? And can we stop all that, in yourself? Or you are so dull, so used to this confusion, misery, we put up with it?
So we have to understand very clearly what the activity of the brain is, which is the activity of our consciousness, which is the activity of our psychology, the psychological world in which we live. The whole of that, the brain, consciousness, psychological world, all that is one. Right? Would you question that? Probably you haven't thought even about all this. You see one reads a great deal about all these matters; if you are a psychologist, if you are a psychoanalyst, if you are therapeutically inclined and so on, you read a lot, but you never look at yourself, never observe your own actions, your own behaviour. So that's why it is very important if you would understand what the mind is, to understand what the activities of thoughts are, which has created the content of our consciousness and the psychological world in which we live, which is part of thought, the structure which thought has built in man, the 'me' and the 'not me', the 'we' and 'they', the quarrels, the battles between ourselves, between each human being.
And the brain has evolved through time. That's obvious. Evolved through millennia, millions of years, accumulating knowledge, experience, memory, danger and so on. It is the result of time. Right? There is no question of argument about it. And is love, compassion, with its intelligence, is that the product of thought? You understand this? Is compassion, is love, the product, the result, the movement of thought? You understand my question? Can you cultivate love? Please sirs. I am afraid that feeling perhaps doesn't exist in this country. You may read about it, you may talk about it, the books talk sometimes about it, but the word is not the thing.
So that which is not of time, which is not the product of thought, which is not the material process, is the mind. Thought, as we pointed out the other day, is in itself disorder, and mind is entirely, absolutely order, like the cosmos, like the universe. But to enquire, to go into that, not to understand the nature of the mind unless you have understood deeply the nature of thought, all its activities, comprehend it not verbally, in yourself; which means thought realizes its own place, thought realizes its place in the technological world, when you drive a car, when you speak a language, when you go to the office, or to the factory, or anything, skill needs the operation of thought. But when thought realizes its own limitation, and its place, then perhaps we can begin to see the nature of the mind.
3rd QUESTION: I am a student of chartered accountancy. Even though I could understand each and every word of JK, the message remains vague. What should I do to understand his message fully?
Don't understand his message! He is not bringing a message. He is pointing out your life, not his life, or his message, he is pointing out how you live, what's your daily life. And we are unwilling to face that. We are unwilling to go into our sorrow, our tortures of anxiety, loneliness, the depressions we go through, the desire to fulfil, to become something. You are unwilling to face all that, and wanting to be lead by somebody, wanting to understand the message of the Gita, or some other nonsensical book, including the speaker. The speaker says over and over again, he acts as a mirror into which you can look, the activity of your own self. And to look very carefully you have to pay attention, you have to listen - if you are interested - listen and find out the art of listening, the art of seeing, the art of learning. It's all there as a book, which is yourself. The book of mankind is you. Please sir, see all the truth of all this. And we are unwilling to read that book. We want somebody to tell us about the book, or help us to analyze the book, to understand the book. So we invent the priest, the swami, the yogi, the sannyasi, who will tell you all about it. And so we escape from ourselves. So can we read the book, which is so ancient, which contains all the history of mankind, which is you. Can we read that book carefully, word by word, not distorting it, not choosing one chapter and neglecting the other chapter, taking one sentence and meditating about it, but the whole book. Either you read the whole book chapter by chapter, page after page, which may take a long time, if you read page by page it will take all your life; or is there a way of reading it completely with one glance? You understand my question? How can one read this book, which is the 'me', which is the 'you', which is the mankind - all the experiences of miseries, suffering, confusion, lack of integrity, all that is in there - how can you read it at one glance? You understand? Not take month after month, that's impossible. When you do that, taking time over the book, time is going to destroy the book. The book is you, and if you take time to investigate, read the book, that very time is going to destroy because our brain functions in time. You understand all this? So one must have the capacity to listen to what the book, the entire book says. To see clearly, which means that the brain is so alert, so tremendously active, not active as a bureaucrat, or as an engineer, or a businessman, or as a desperate crook, but the total activity of the brain. Can you observe yourself in the mirror of that book, which is yourself completely, instantly, because the book is nothing. I wonder if you understand this. You may read the book from the first page to the last page and you will find there is nothing in it. You understand what I am saying? That means, can you be nothing. Don't become something. You understand? The book is the becoming, the history of becoming. Do you understand all this?
Sir, when you have examined yourself, if you examine yourself, if you look into yourself, what are you? A physical appearance, short, tall, beard or no beard, man, woman, name, form, and all the educated capacity, the travail, the pursuit - it's all a movement in becoming something, isn't it? Becoming what? A business manager, achieving, getting more money, becoming a saint? When a man tries to become a saint, he is no longer a saint, just caught in the trap of tradition. So you can glance at the book and see it is absolutely nothing. And to live in this world with nothing. You understand, sirs? No, you don't.
So sirs, and ladies, you hear all this, perhaps if you are going, following, travelling with the speaker you hear this at every talk, put in different words, different context, different sentences, but to bring about a complete understanding in oneself that's far more important than anything else in life because we are destroying the world, ourselves, we have no love, no care - you follow, all that.
So the speaker has no message. The message is you. The speaker - this is not a matter of cleverness - he is just pointing out this.
4th QUESTION: Is there really such a thing as transformation? What is it to be transformed?
When you are not observing, seeing around oneself, the dirt on the road, your politicians, how they behave, your own attitude towards your wife, your children and so on, transformation is there. You understand? To bring about some kind of order in daily life, that is transformation, not something extraordinary, outside the world. That is, when one is not clearly thinking objectively, sanely, rationally, to be aware of that and change it, break it. That is transformation. If I am jealous, watch it, and not give it time to flower, change it immediately. That is transformation. When you are greedy, violent, ambitious, trying to become some kind of god, or some kind of holy man, or in business, see the whole business of ambition, how it is creating a world of tremendous ruthlessness. I don't know if you are aware of all this. Competition, sir, is destroying the world, becoming more and more competitive, the world is, more and more aggressive, and if you are, change it immediately. That is transformation.
And if you go very much deeper into the problem, first of all who is a saint? The man who struggles to become something. Right? The man who gives up the world - really he hasn't given up the world, the world is himself. He may burn inside because he may be sexual, he may be angry, but he is boiling inside. Outwardly he may torture himself, put on strange clothes, slightly neurotic, and soon you will begin to worship him. Out of the window the speaker was watching one day in Benares, a sannyasi in robes came along, sat under a tree with some kind of stick or steel something in his hand and began to shout. Nobody paid any attention to him for the first four, five, six days. The speaker was watching all this from his window at Rajghat. Then an old lady comes along and give him a flower; and a few days later there were about half a dozen people around him, he has a garland. At the end of a fortnight he became a saint. I don't know if you realize in the West a man who is slightly distorted in his brain is sent to a mental hospital, here he becomes a saint. I am not being cynical, I am not being rude, insulting, but this is what is happening. A sannyasi is no longer a sannyasi, he is just following a tradition. And have the saints created the world, brought about through stories, ideals, a good society, a good human being? You are the result of all that. Are we good human beings? Good in the sense, whole, non-fragmented, not broken up; good means also holy, not just good qualities, I don't mean that, good behaviour, being kind, that's only part of it. Being good implies an unbroken, unfragmented, harmonious human being. Are we that, after these thousands of years of saints, and Upanishads, and Gitas and all the rest of that? Or are we just like everybody else? So we are the humanity. To be good is not to follow, to be able to understand the whole movement of life. I must go on.
5th QUESTION: You say that if one individual changes he can transform the world. May I submit that in spite of your sincerity, love and truthful statement, and that power which cannot be described, the world has gone from bad to worse. Is there such a thing as destiny?
What is the world? What is the individual? What has one individual done individually, as we understand it generally describing an individual, what have individuals done in the world which has influenced the world? Hitler has influenced the world. Right? Mao Zedong has influenced the world; Stalin has influenced the world, Lenin, Lincoln, and also totally different, the Buddha has influenced the world. One person. One person killed millions and millions of people, Mao Zedong, Stalin, Lenin, Hitler and all the warmongers, the Generals, they have all killed, killed, killed. That has affected the world. Right? That is obvious. History is filled with wars. Within the last historical five thousand years where history has been kept, there has been a war every year, practically, right throughout the world, that has affected millions of people. And you have the Buddha on one side, he has also affected the human mind, the human brain throughout the East. And there have been others who have distorted. So when we talk about individual change, and will that individual change bring about any transformation in society, I think that is a wrong question to put.
Are we really concerned about the transformation of society? Really, actually, if you go into it seriously, are we really concerned? Society which is corrupt, which is immoral, which is based on competition, ruthlessness - right? - that is society in which we are living, wars, are you really, deeply interested in changing that, even as a single human being? If you are, then you have to enquire what is society. Is society a word, an abstraction, or a reality? You are following all this? Is it a reality, or is it an abstraction of human relationship? You understand? An abstraction of human relationship. Therefore it is human relationship that is society. Can that human relationship with all its complexities, with its contradictions, with its hatreds, you understand, sir, relationship, can you alter all that? You can. You can stop being cruel, you know all the rest of it. What your relationship is, your environment is. If your relationship is possessive, and selfish, self-centred, and all the rest of it, you are creating a thing around you which will be equally destructive. So the individual is you, you are the rest of mankind. I don't know if you realize it. Psychologically, inwardly, you suffer, you are anxious, you are lonely, you are competitive, you try to be something, and this is the common factor throughout the world. Every human being throughout the world is doing this, so you are actually the rest of mankind. So if you perceive that, and if you bring about a different way of living in yourself you are affecting the whole consciousness of mankind, like Hitler did. That's if you are really serious and go into it deeply. If you don't, it's all right, it's up to you.
6th QUESTION: Is it possible for an ideal teacher to discharge his duties in the classroom of a school without making use of reward and punishment? Can a teacher inculcate certain decent behaviour of poverty-stricken children who are in need of true education? Kindly give your answer with special reference to the poor children and the problem of a teacher who is working in poverty-stricken areas.
First of all, let's look at it large, not just a poverty-stricken teacher teaching poor children - we will come to that. Let's look at it, the question, widely. Who is a teacher? What is a teacher? What is a student? What is the relationship between a teacher and a student? What is education? You understand? You must take all these factors and look at it widely, not just say, I am a teacher in a particular little school with poor children - we will come to that. But first let's look what is education, what do we mean by education? Are we educated? You may have a degree, BA, MA, or FBA, or whatever it is, you know all that kind of stuff, you might have all those degrees, are you educated? You may be able to read and write, go to the office, have a job, earn a livelihood and so on and so on, but are you actually deeply educated, or you have educated only a very, very small part of the brain, so that that training gives you a livelihood, a skill, and the rest you neglect totally. So are we educated? You see, answer this question, put to yourself these questions. Then who is a teacher? The man who knows mathematics, who can help you to write a good essay, a biologist? So who is the educator? You see, what we are saying is we are being educated, and this education which is conditioning us is destroying us. Right? You may not see it because you are only concerned with getting a degree, earning a livelihood, getting married, a good job, settle down, and slowly die, going to the office from morning until evening, nine hours a day, or eight hours a day, that's your life. And you are all very, very educated. Right? Right, sirs? Face it! So you want to produce more such human beings, whether they are poor or well-to-do. Right?
So what is education? Apart from this, which is necessary at certain times, certain periods, and so on, then what is real education? Education of the understanding of the whole psychological world which is you. Right sirs? Do you understand? That is totally neglected. It's like developing an arm, one arm, getting it very, very strong, and the other almost paralysed, and you call this education. And there are all the teachers who are helping you to be educated. That is, to cultivate a very small part of the brain through information, knowledge, to have a livelihood. So education means the cultivation of the whole of the brain, the whole of one's psychological structure. You understand, sirs? I know you will shake your head, nod your head, agree, but you will do nothing. This is the calamity of this country, you are all so full of words and ideas but when it comes to action, nothing.
And is there a teacher who has an actual relationship with the student? Which is, what is the relationship between the teacher and the student in a school, whether he is poor, well-to-do, top schools, what's the relationship? Go on sirs, this is your children. Is the teacher concerned with his behaviour, with his conduct, with the words he uses, linguistically, whether he is aggressive, violent, brutal, a bully, is he concerned with all that, or only teaching mathematics? So one has to be, if one is a teacher, one has to find out whether you are really a teacher, really a teacher, or merely you have become a teacher because you haven't got any other better job. Teaching, a teacher is the highest profession in the world. The highest profession, not the governments, not the prime ministers, not the engineers, because they are responsible for the future generation. And you don't respect them. They are the lowest paid, they are treated with disrespect. You respect those people above you, in the ladder of success, and you despise all those below you, and one of those below you is like me, like the teacher.
So please, if you are an educator, and I hope you are, all of you are educators because you have children, family, yourself, your wife, your neighbour, if you are an educator, are you there merely as an informer giving information about biology, physics, or are you a teacher in the highest sense. Which means, you care, you care how you and the student behave, you care to have good taste, cultivate aesthetics, a sense of beauty, which doesn't exist in this country. And if you are a teacher of poor children, poverty, why has this poverty existed, exist at all, what is the fault, whose fault is it? You understand, sirs? Is it the government, overpopulation, birth control, all the rest of it, who is responsible for all this? You see poverty around you all the time in this country. It's despairing, if you watch it you cry. And who is responsible for it? And by educating the poor children, what are they going to become? Bureaucrats, lawyers, doctors, join the good old establishment? You understand all these questions, sirs? So it is not the poor or the rich, they are children. You understand? Don't put them as poor children or rich, they are children. And if you have care, affection, love, then education becomes something entirely different. But you don't care, that's what is happening.
So you see, sirs, if you have a son, or a daughter - I am sure you have - all your concern is that they should have a good job, get married, settle down. That's all you are concerned with, and that you call responsibility, you don't call it love, you call it responsibility. And so what happens to those poor children of yours? They become like you, go to the office day after day, day after day, until you are sixty, and then wither away, and talk about god, rebirth, and lovely heaven. We are not being cynical, this is what is happening. So if a teacher, and the teacher's profession is the highest profession in the world - the speaker says this in all the schools he goes to, Rishi Valley, Rajghat and here, all these places, you are the highest profession because you are bringing about a new generation of people, not the old, don't turn them out like machines. But the parents are the trouble - you are the trouble, not the children. You want them all to be like the rest of the mediocre world. So, sirs, it's up to you.
7th QUESTION: What is the source of thought? How does one go to the very source of thought so that there is a possibility of silencing the thinking process itself?
This is a wrong question. Sir, what is thinking? I am asking you. What is thinking? You do that all day long. Right? When you go to the office, when you go to the temple, when you talk, when you are destructive. What is thinking? Go on, sirs. Have you ever even thought about what is thinking? What is the movement of thought? Let's begin slowly. This is the last question. It's quarter to nine. Good lord! We have been an hour and a quarter here, I'm sorry.
Now, what is thinking? Not what to think, not what you think about, not what thought should do, or not do, but we are asking what is thinking itself. You think if you are a businessman in one way, you think as a lawyer in another way, an engineer, a computer expert, you think in these ways; but we are asking, what is thinking itself. If one is asked your name, you reply instantly. There is no hesitation - hesitation being time interval. Please just follow this for a little. When you are familiar with something there is no activity of thought, there is instant response. You know the house you live in, the street you go by, that is familiarity, constant repetition as your name, there is instant response. That response has been immediate because there has been past repetition: my name is so-and-so, I have been called that name since I was a small boy, and I repeat it, repeat it, repeat it, when you ask what my name is, out it comes.
Then if one asks a more complicated question, a very complicated question, which is, suppose, what is the distance between here and London, you hesitate, you have read about it somewhere, or you begin to enquire what is the distance, so a time interval between the question and the answer, during that interval there is the operation of thinking. Right? That is, asking somebody, reading about it, looking to see whether it is exact and so on, that is the operation of thinking is going on, searching. Then there is the reply. That is, between the question and the answer there is a time interval, in that time interval there is the movement of thought. Right?
Now if one is asked a question for which you have no answer, no answer, which means you are not looking, you are not waiting to be told, you are not searching, asking, you have said, 'I don't know'. When you say, I don't know, actually I don't know, what has happened to the quality of thinking? You are following this? Please, sir, do follow this. Do it with me. When you actually say, I don't know, and you mean it, not say, 'Well I'll find out. I am waiting for an answer. I am doing it', but when you are absolutely clear that you don't know, what happens to the movement of thought? Go on, sir, tell me what happens. Oh, for god's sake! The activity of thought comes to an end for the moment. Which means - follow it, sir, slowly, follow it carefully - which means the brain is no longer seeking, asking, searching, tentatively feeling out, it is absolutely quiet because it doesn't know. Right? Do you see this?
So is your brain ever in a state of not knowing about anything? Or your brain is always full of knowledge? You follow, sir? You are following all this? Which is, your brain is occupied - occupied with what you are doing, how you will tell this, quarrels with your wife, husband, business, churning. That churning process, the chattering, whether it is business chattering, whether it is social gossip, whether it is physicists' gossip, you follow, the whole of that is the movement of thought, acquiring more and more knowledge and responding, from that knowledge thought, action. And so our brain is full of occupation. Which is so, you can see it. It's only when you say, 'I really don't know', that's a very frightening statement for most people because we are all so vain, conceited, arrogant, we are so full of other people's knowledge, we are secondhand people. It's only the mind, the brain that says, 'I don't know'. You understand the beauty of this, sirs?
Such a brain is a quiet brain because it is totally unoccupied. It is occupied when necessary, but otherwise absolutely in a state of not-knowing. You understand this?
Now thought - the source of thought is memory. Memory is knowledge, knowledge is experience. That's a fact. And so the source of thought is experience, whether your experience, or thousands of years of experience, which is stored up in the brain as knowledge. Therefore thought is a material process, matter. Anything that thought creates is matter. Your gods are matter. I know you don't like this. There is nothing sacred that thought has created. It is the mind that is beyond thought, beyond time, that knows what it is to be sacred. Right sirs.
Madras 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 6th January 1981
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