Brockwood Park 1982
Brockwood Park 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 31st August 1982
There are several questions that have been handed in. You can't probe into all those questions and we have chosen some of the more representative of those questions.
Do questions need answers? Or there are only questions? Questions are like a challenge and what is important is how one meets the challenge, not what is the answer to the question, but what is one's response to a challenge, to a question, to a demand. I think that is far more important than to ask a question and wait for somebody to answer it, including myself. So let us first find out how to probe a question. Not, if one may remind oneself, not search for an answer, investigate into the outcome of the answer, but rather the cause and one's response to the question.
So how does one approach a question? Suppose I have a question. That is, I question the whole of modern civilization, not one particular part of that civilization, the Christian, or the Hindu, or the Muslim, or the Buddhist, but I want to question the whole cultural development of man. I can study it, all the various historians - that would take too long and I haven't got the time, for am I interested in finding out what others say about history. History is the story of man, which is the story of myself. So how do I approach a question of that kind? I see a whole culture of India, for example, the Brahmanical culture which has lasted from between five to three thousands years completely disappear over night. I don't know if you are aware of all that. It doesn't matter, just to inform you. It has disappeared over night. So what is culture? Is it just a coating? However deep that coating may be, it may have different layers of coating but it is still a coating because deep down man is more or less the same as he has always been - violent and all the rest of it. So how do I approach - how does one approach a question of this kind? The approach matters far more than the question. Please we are talking over together. I am not laying down any dogmatic statements, or asking you to accept what the speaker is saying. But how does one approach any problem? Any question? What is my motive in my approach to the question? What is the problem and the cause of that problem, and one's approach to the investigation to the probing of that cause and the problem? Do I come to it with a motive, with a desire to get rid of it, or go beyond it, suppress it and so on? What is my inward reaction to it? If I am not very clear on that, I am only seeking an answer somehow to resolve the problem, I am not really concerned with the issue at all. I am only concerned with going beyond it somehow. And so the escape from the problem creates more problems - right?
So it matters a great deal one feels, if one may point out, how one approaches a problem, a question. Is the mind or the brain seeking an answer, then we are not investigating the problem, the issue, the challenge, the question, but merely trying to find out an answer which is immediately satisfactory. So I think it matters very much, if one may again point out, how one comes to a problem, how close one gets to it. Approach it means to come near. How close, how near, does one get to the problem? Or the problem is out there and I am approaching it. You understand? Or the problem is me, not somewhere in the periphery of me, the trap is me? So how do I go into all this? Just superficially, casually, or with great hesitation, sensitivity, not coming to any conclusion, probe into it deeper and deeper and deeper? Is the brain capable of doing this? Or we are so terribly conditioned that we say "For god's sake let's get rid of the problem." You understand all this?
Now we are going to investigate, probe into the question, not find an answer to it. The answer is in the question, not away from the question. And who is to answer the question? Some leader, some prophet, some politician, some guru, some priest? - which means we are always seeking an answer from somebody else. And please don't put the speaker in that position, because he is not going to answer, we are going together to investigate the question, which is much more intelligent than say if one answers you say, "Well, that is not good enough," or "That's all right, that is satisfactory" - you begin to discuss about the answer. But if we begin to look, probe, play with it, it reveals a tremendous lot - right?
There are several questions here.
1st QUESTION: You have said that there is a group consciousness. What is the relationship between the group consciousness and the individual consciousness? How can human beings undergo a total psychological change while the group consciousness has not changed totally?
We are going to investigate the question, there is no answer, but when one investigates this really important question, it reveals so much.
First of all is there a group consciousness? Some scientists are experimenting - I have been told by one of them - that a certain species of animals undergoing certain experiments and achieving a certain result, these results are communicated to the whole group - rats, wolves and so on. So they are trying to establish a consciousness of a group which is affected by a few individuals who learn something very quickly. They are doing this. Perhaps some of you have heard about it or read about it. And if this is so, then is human consciousness different from the individual consciousness? And is the group consciousness, like the British, it is a group, British consciousness, French consciousness, German, American - you follow? Now take a group of British, the British group consciousness: traditional, very proud of their past Empire, ready to kill, probably the British have the greatest number of wars to their record and so on and so on. They have a certain consciousness, the group. And in that group there is the individual consciousness. That is what the questioner is asking. What is the relationship between the group consciousness - right? - and the one who lives in that group who is separate from the group? Right? Are we following each other? Need I repeat that again? Yes? All right. There is the Indian consciousness - the British consciousness you may object to it, so I won't go into that! (Laughter) There is the Indian, or Japanese consciousness as a group, and in that group I live with my consciousness. The questioner asks: is that group consciousness separate from my consciousness? Or is my consciousness similar to the group? Right? That is the question. We are investigating this. We are not trying to find an answer.
In that group consciousness of India there are various levels of consciousness - the Brahmanical and so on and so on and so on. And if you are born amongst one of those separate little groups contained in India, what is the relationship of that individual to that group? It may be a limited group but it is the whole of Indian consciousness - you understand? You have to think with me a little bit.
Now the relationship is, surely, there is a coating of group consciousness, level of it, layers of it, and within those layers the individual consciousness. The individual being his sorrows, his anxieties, etc. etc. The group says you are an idealist, if they say so. And you, within that group, have also learnt the importance or unimportance of an ideal. So what is the relationship of one who believes or doesn't believe in idealism, and to the group that believes? You are following this? If he has no belief whatsoever in idealism then he is totally out of that group - right? But if he believes in idealism he belongs to that group.
Now the questioner asks: how can a human being undergo a total psychological change while the group consciousness has not changed at all? I am also reading the question for the first time.
First of all is the group consciousness separate from the individual consciousness? That we have to establish completely. Are you an individual different from the group consciousness of a Britain, or British, or the French, or the Dutch, or whatever it is? Are you different radically from the country, the culture, the economic condition, the cultural education, all that, are you different from the rest of the group? Are you? Are we? Each one of us? Or are we the result of all that? Do you understand? Am I the result of all of India, of Europe, of America, because one has lived in these parts for most of one's life, am I the result of all that? You are following all this? Are we moving together? Or am I totally different from all that? Are you totally different from your culture, from your environment, from your hereditary, from your thousand years of evolution, wars and so on, are you not the result of all that? Right? You are, obviously. Now if you are the result of all that, another group is also the result of all that too - right? Are you following? You may call yourself British, I may call myself Dutch, you may call yourself French, but we are the result of all that, though linguistically we may be different. So go a little further.
Is our consciousness, which is our entire being with its beliefs, its faith, with its dogmas, fears, superstitions, longings and anxieties and loneliness and all that, is that not common to all mankind? Right? You will not accept the next step if you don't understand this. Are we not, each human being, the representative, or is the rest of humanity, psychologically? What do you say? Obviously. You suffer, the man in Japan suffers, though he may be technologically terribly advanced, highly disciplined, industrious, keeping his place, it is part of the Confucian education, culture, but inwardly he is just like you and me.
So if the human being who is the rest of mankind psychologically, if he changes completely, is he not adding, helping, increasing a totally different kind of mind to it? You understand? Are you following this? All right suppose I change radically, belonging, recognising that I am the rest of mankind, and I personally mean it, it is not just an intellectual assumption, and I am the rest of mankind psychologically. I may be darker skinned than you are, but you have suffered, you suffer and so on and so on, and I am the rest of mankind, if I change radically, am I not bringing into the consciousness of humanity, which I am, am I not bringing to it something which is totally different? And if all of us were changing rapidly and adding to that, the content of human consciousness will also be affected. You are following all this? Right? Are we together in this?
So is it possible for human beings, living wherever they are, assessing that our consciousness is similar to the rest of mankind, but clothed in different garments, when there is a change, radical change, it does affect the whole: like Hitler affected the whole of human consciousness: like the war that is going on, it is affecting the whole of mankind - right?
So the next investigation into this question is: Why don't you change? That is what is implied in this question. Why is it human beings who have lived on this marvellous, beautiful earth, which they are trying to destroy, why have they not, after so many centuries upon centuries of civilization, experience, sorrow, tears, joy and all the rest of it, why are they like this? Always waiting for somebody to lead them, always waiting to be told what to do. And even when they are told what to do they don't do it! Now why? Please answer this question. It is not for me to answer it. Question it. Why is it human beings, affluent, well to-do, fairly well placed, having to struggle for food like in Asia, certain parts of Asia, why is it they don't see the extraordinary importance, the urgency of all this? Why don't they move? Is it they need more suffering, which is too callous - you understand? Suffering has not changed man. Reward has not changed men, nor punishment. Those are the two principles upon which we act, reward and punishment. Neither of those two principles have helped man. Nor externalizing some agency, like god, worshipping him, which thought has invented, then thought worships him. A crazy business! And that too has not helped man. So what? Please ask these questions of yourself. We have looked to leaders. We have looked to outside agency, some great influence, some pressure, none of these things have helped man. So what will he do? Go on ask this. Go off into communes and little this, and little that? Or see the great danger of what is going on, see the utter lack of love in all this, utter callousness of human beings, killing for some piece of land, for some honour, a whole group of human beings - you understand? So what will you all do? Go back to our daily routine, to our jobs? You can't help that. You have responsibilities, so we have to do all that. So what shall we do apart from all that? Is it that our brains have become so utterly mechanical that any new challenge is immediately translated into the old pattern, and go on with the old pattern? Please investigate all this.
2nd QUESTION: Can right action - quotes right action - ever encompass violence?
Now we are probing into the question. What is right action? Right action must be right under all circumstances, not depending on pressure, on climate, or one's prejudices, conclusions, ideals, but when it is right action it must be right under all circumstances - right? So what is right action? What is right? Which means correct, precise, actual, objective, non-personal - right? All that is implied in that word 'right'. Right is not opposed to wrong. If right is opposed to wrong then the right has its roots also in the wrong - right? This needs a little bit of enquiry.
Is goodness separate, totally separate from that which is bad - we are using the word good and bad in the ordinary sense of the word. Is it separate, totally separate? Or is goodness born out of badness? - you understand? I am bad - whatever that may mean. And I am trying to be good. That goodness is the opposite of what I am. I am bad and I am saying I must be good. So it is an opposite. And the opposite is created by thought which says this is bad and I must be good. Are you following all this? So is right the opposite of the wrong? If it is the opposite there must be conflict between the two and therefore the right is not right. Where there is a conflict between good and bad, that conflict is wrong, therefore we are asking: is right totally independent, totally divorced, has no relationship to the bad? Then it is right under all circumstances. But if it is the outcome of the bad, that is, I want to be good, creating the opposite of the bad and then fighting for that - right? Then that which I then call right is wrong. I wonder if you have understood this? - If we have understood each other, rather.
So we have more or less gone into it but we must also go into action. What is action? Any movement is action - right? Going from here to your house, sitting here listening, action, the doing, not having done or will do. That means acting, present participle. So acting. Now what is that acting - what is the root of that acting, the cause of that acting? Has acting a cause? Please this is very interesting if you go into it, it is not intellectual assessment, intellectual entertainment, but if you go into it very deeply it brings out something extraordinary. Our present action is based on past memories, or on a future principle, the ideal according to a pattern I am going to live, and act according to that pattern. That pattern is established by thought, from what I have learnt, or imitated, and I copy that pattern and I call that action - right? Which is, I am acting according to a principle which is rewarding, which will be pleasurable and I act according to that. All the ideologies do this. All the theoreticians whether the Capitalist theoretician, or the Totalitarian theoreticians act upon this, they establish theories and act according to those theories, hypothesis - right? So our action is either based on a reward or punishment, obviously. So action has a motive. That is, I am acting according to my desire, my pleasure, my past memories, or I am acting according to some principle, some ideal, but I am not acting, I am acting according to something. I wonder if you understand this? So can the mind be free of the past and the future and act? It is really very interesting to go into this. Can my brain, which has evolved in time and so it functions in time - time being past rewards, past memories, past accomplishments and so on and so on, and the future with all its rewards etc. So my brain has been conditioned to that - most brains are. And it is acting according to the past or to the future, and that is it its conditioning. Now we are asking that brain: is it possible to act without the whole burden of the past and the future business? You understand the question? We will come back to that.
And the questioner asks: violence. He uses the word violence. What is violence? Physical violence, killing each other, hurting each other, maiming each other, physically by word, by a gesture, by a look - right? We hurt each other. And that is also part of violence: the word, the gesture, the blow, the bayonet, the bomb. And also is there not violence when we imitate people? Is there not violence when we are caught in the movement of comparison? I am comparing myself with you, clever brat and so on and so on. Or I want to be somebody. That is also part of violence. Right? Conformity, comparison, following, obeying, all that is part of violence. We are not saying going against law, we must be careful here otherwise the police will be after us. So realizing this is violence, then we proceed to create a state, a principle, called non-violence, quite the opposite of what I am, what we are. Then what takes place? I have created the idea of non-violence because I am violent. This is a fact, and that is non-fact, and I pursue the non-fact I don't know if you realize this. That then leads to all kinds of illusions, whereas there is only the fact, violence, there is no other fact. Now to understand the nature of violence, to go into it, to encompass the whole content of that word and not move away from it, which is not to escape, not to run away, not to submerge it, not to suppress it, not to go beyond it, just...
So, what is right action which will encompass the whole movement of violence? Right? What is right action? Right? Which is, non-action. I don't know if you follow this. Any action born of violence is violent. One country is aggressive and you respond with aggressiveness to that country. That is what has happened. And that is positive action, it is considered positive action. You hit me, I hit you back. But seeing the whole nature of violence, observing it closely, there is only a state which is non-action. I wonder if you understand this. What is considered positive action with regard to violence in the ordinary accepted traditional sense is to retaliate. This has been our tradition. We own that particular piece of land miles away and if anybody is aggressive, enters into that land I will send all my warships to it. This is what is happening all the world over, meet aggression by aggression. And that is considered positive, realistic action. And this has been the history of mankind. For thousands of years. So when one investigates into this whole problem of violence, any movement from violence is still violent - right? If one understands this. Therefore when there is violence no response to violence, which is the most positive action - right?
3rd QUESTION: You speak of compassion but claim that action should have no cause. In what way does compassion act without being a cause of action.
The questioner says you speak of compassion and you claim - please the speaker doesn't claim anything. Then you can kick him around if he claimed. But as he doesn't claim anything and he doesn't speak of compassion as though something extraordinary that human beings have lost or not found, so we have to go into this question together.
What is compassion? What is love? As it is generally understood love is sensory, sensuous, sexy. Love is understood as pleasure, as some form of self-fulfilment - right? I am just stating what is commonly understood. So we have to enquire, probe into this word, the content of the word, the depth of the word, the real quality of that word. That word has been ruined, spat upon, trodden down, vulgarized, any other word you would like to use. So pushing all that aside, what is love? If it has a cause, "I love you because..." then obviously it is not love. Let's be clear on that - right? "I love god because I hope some day he will help me." "I love my wife because some...", I don't have to go into all that - or my girl friend. So if you are very clear that love has no cause - it hasn't, if it has then it is not love, it is a convenience, self-satisfaction, gratification, companionship, escape from loneliness and all that kind of stuff, but if it real it has no cause. I don't love you because you are an audience which helps me to fulfil myself, which is too silly.
So love has no cause - right? This is not a verbal assessment, a verbal intellectual agreement, it is a deep truth. When one perceives that truth then the cause which we have had disappears altogether - right? And is love different from compassion? Or it is the furthering of the same thing? Can there be compassion, that sense of enormity of it, the beauty of it, the quality, the depth of that word, can that compassion exist where there is sorrow? I may be suffering because I have lost this and I am suffering from loneliness. I am suffering. And out of that suffering I attach myself to certain ideological principles. I become a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a Christian. I anchor my being in there and go out to help you. Because I think I am compassionate. Is that compassion? You are following? Are we together in this? We are investigating, we are not asking that you should agree. If I am attached to some principle, to some belief, to some faith, and that is my strength, my anchor, and then I talk about compassion - go to the world, to China and help there, or India, the poor people. Is that compassion? Or is it pity? Sympathy? Kindliness? Generosity, which I call compassion? Or compassion cannot possibly exist when there is any kind of anchorage. When I am no longer a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Catholic and so on - you follow? Which is, compassion has its own intelligence. It is unintelligent to have an anchorage of security in some deity, some symbol, some faith. That indicates lack of intelligence. But when there is compassion it has its own intelligence. So intelligence has no cause - right? Because if it has a cause - I am intelligent because I have read books and have clever arguments and so on, that is not intelligence. That is cleverness, erudition, professional activity. So compassion, love, has no cause and therefore as intelligence has no cause, love, compassion, intelligence go together.
Then the questioner asks: when there is that compassion what is action? You understand the question? I haven't got it but tell me about it. I don't know what love is, but what is the action of that love? We are back into theories, hypothesis and idealism. Tell me what it is to live with love though in my heart I don't know what that flame is. And it would be foolish to talk about what that is when one hasn't got the flame. So the question then arises: why is it human beings who have undergone such tremendous agonies, dreadful wars, shedding tears beyond all the rivers and yet they are going on the same way, killing each other and all the rest of it. Where there is compassion and intelligence, that very intelligence is action. But I haven't got it. It sounds good in this tent but when I leave it, it is gone. I have been stimulated by the speaker, or by somebody else, and it is not there. And that is a tragedy. So again what am I to do? How am I to capture that flame? You see love is not an experience. All experiences are sensual, reactions. As love is not desire, pleasure, reward, escape from one's own misery, if one sees that, observes it, then out of that observation the thing may flower.
Shall we go onto the next question? It seems a pity doesn't it?
4th QUESTION: To exist I have to perform daily mechanical tasks without any meaning. This lack of meaning leads to a feeling of destructiveness, an inner rage. I see this clearly in myself and the same process growing in the rise of terrorism, crime and delinquency. There is the feeling that nothing can be done about this increasing chaos. That society is destined to collapse. How does one approach this tremendous chaos both without and within oneself?
I wonder how many of us are aware of this fact? Economically, socially, morally, the structure of society as we have known it is gradually collapsing, imperceptibly or very, very quickly. How many of us are aware of this? Or we just live from day to day and forget the whole bally show? Please enquire in oneself if one is really aware of this, not in the newspapers, not in the magazines, not in the editorials, not in any book, but actually it is going on. Are we aware of it, are we sensitive to all that is happening? What the scientists are doing? They also want to fulfil. Russia invents something, and the other scientists invent something more, better, and so keep this up.
If one is aware of the chaos, the catastrophe - I wonder if one is really aware of it, that is what I want to know. It is really very important to question this: whether one is really deeply aware of this, sensitive, not just what is happening in one's own country but in the world, poverty in certain areas is increasing, overpopulation, total indifferent, callousness. If one is aware of it, why does one have rage, anger about it or be depressed by it? It is a fact - right? The thing is collapsing. Why should one get angry about it, have a tremendous anxiety, rage about it, why? Why don't we look at the fact and see what we can do? You get depressed, full of anxiety, rage and say, "My god, what is going to happen to my family" - this and that, you are lost. But if one acknowledges the real fact of this, not verbally but inside yourself deeply, in your heart, then the questioner says, "What is one to do?
Where would you begin to understand this chaos? The house is burning, we are not saying something that is not actually so. The speaker is not pessimistic or optimistic, he is just facing things as they are. Where would you begin to bring about order out of this chaos? More leaders? Better Prime Ministers? Better Labour leaders? Better police order? Suppressing crimes - not that there shouldn't be all that but where would you begin? Please ask this question: where would you begin? Out there, or in here? Who has created the outward chaos in this world? We human beings have created it, each one of us - right? Obviously. Our grandparents or great great grandparents, and we are inheriting what they have done and we are contributing to it. This is a fact. So where shall I begin, realizing the outward chaos? I realize that we human beings have created this and as a human being, who is the rest of mankind, I must begin with myself, which is not a selfish movement. I have contributed, caused, brought about this chaos. Each one of us has brought about this chaos, the collapse or the impending collapse. And I must begin with myself - please this is really important - I am mankind, not just a verbal statement. It is in my blood that I am the rest of mankind. I must begin to bring about order in myself because I have lived, and I still live, in chaos inwardly. Chaos being disorder, conflict, struggle. Can there be order in all this? Can order be created out of disorder? Please - I am the result of disorder, I am disorder. I am not saying disorder is out there and I am looking at it, I am disorder. There is no part of me which is not in disorder. I may invent a part. I may think there is a part of me which is completely orderly, beautifully orderly. The rest of me is chaos. So if I assert that then I am pursuing something which I have invented that there is some pure order. Which is, out of disorder I have created order - right? - hoping that order is real. I see the fallacy of that. So I say to myself "I am the cause and the trap of disorder. And can I clear up this disorder?" - not search for order. You understand this? How can my mind which is disorderly, chaotic, how can such a mind create order? It can't. All it can do is to understand the nature of disorder, the structure, the movement the quality of disorder. The essence of disorder is conflict - right? When you have no conflict there is order. So what is the cause of conflict? Go on sirs. I hope you are thinking, you are investigating with the speaker otherwise you are just listening to a lot of ideas and they will have no meaning whatsoever. He will become another stupid leader. And please I beg of you don't put the speaker in that position.
So can there be dissolution of disorder? We are not seeking order. The order, like the universe, will be when there is no disorder. So what are the contributory causes that bring about disorder?
Are you tired? Shall I finish this? You are not tired? I am sorry.
What are the many causes that bring about disorder? Or is there only one cause? We like to think there are many causes because then it gives us time to play around, investigating the many, many causes. That is part of the psychological game which human beings play with. But when looking at it all, there is only one cause. Go on sirs, think. Or shall we investigate various other causes? Which is a waste of time obviously. What is the one cause that is bringing about this great disorder out there and in oneself? Is it the me, the self, with all its conflicts, desires, hopes, fears, past memories, the self-centred entity, who is concerned with himself, isolating himself, holding on, clinging to that which thought has invented as the me? Go on sirs, look at it. And if that self-centred entity, the me, the form, the name, all the accumulated memories, which is the me, which is in essence isolation, the me is always in isolation - right? I may be related to you but I am related to you - right? I am the principal and you are the second. I, though I am related to you intimately, I am pursuing my own desires, ambitions, fulfilment, and you are also doing the same, like two parallel railway lines never meeting. That is, the me with all this sense of isolation, that is the root cause of this chaos out there and in me. And do I realize this? Or is this verbal accumulation which I have gathered and I am living with the words? I say, "Yes, that is me, what am I to do about it?" If I realize that is me I can't do anything. You understand? I can't do anything because the doer is still the me. So there is only a state of pure observation of the fact. And that observation with its intense attention brings out its own action, which is intelligence.
Right Sirs. Finished today.
Brockwood Park 1982
Brockwood Park 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 31st August 1982
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