Ojai Conversation with Jonas Salk 27th March, 1983
K: ...not the atomic war or conventional war, but it is man against man.
JS: Yes. I am sure you must have an opinion about that.
K: I don't know if I have an opinion. I have observed a great deal. I have talked to a great many people in my life, and there are very, very few who really are concerned.
JS: What would you like to talk about?
K: What shall we talk about?
JS: I'd like you to tell me what is your deepest interest, your deepest concern.
K: It is rather difficult to put it into words, isn't it, for the cinema?
K: But I think, seeing what the world is becoming, I think any serious man must be concerned about the future, what is going to happen to mankind.
K: Especially if one has children, what is their future? Are they going to repeat the same old pattern, which human beings have been doing for a million years, or more or less. Or is there going to be a fundamental change in their psyche, in their whole consciousness? That is really the question, whether it is - not the atomic war or conventional war, but it is man against man.
JS: Yes. I am sure you must have an opinion about that.
K: I don't know if I have an opinion, I have observed a great deal, I have talked to a great many people in my life, and there are very, very few who really are concerned, committed to something to discover if there is a different way of living, a global relationship, global inter-communication, not merely stumble over language; not the religious and political divisions and all that nonsense, but really find out if we can live on this earth peacefully, without killing each other endlessly. I think that is the real issue we are facing now. And we think the crisis is outside of us; it is in us.
JS: It is in us.
K: The crisis is in our consciousness.
JS: There is an expression that comes from a cartoonist, Pogo, who says that we have met the enemy, the enemy is us.
JS: And so what you are saying is that we have now come face to face with ourselves.
K: Yes, with ourselves and with our relationship to the world, both externally and inwardly.
JS: So that the fundamental issue with which we are confronted is relationship; relationship to ourselves and relationship to each other, and I might even go so far as to say to the world and to the cosmos.
K: Yes, sir.
JS: We are really confronted with that eternal question of the meaning of our lives.
K: The meaning of our lives, yes, that's right. Either we give a meaning to our life intellectually, fix a goal and work towards that, which becomes so artificial, unnatural. Or understand the whole structure of ourselves. I feel now, we have advanced so extraordinarily technologically, it's fantastic what they are doing, as you know, but in the other field, in the psychological field we have hardly moved. We are what we have been for the last umpteen years.
JS: Even at the point of having developed what we call artificial intelligence.
K: The computer and so on.
JS: Computers and such devices, and are beginning to focus our attention on how we use this artificial intelligence without recognizing the need that we have to learn how to use our own natural intelligence.
K: Sir, have we natural intelligence, or have we destroyed it?
JS: It's innate, and we destroy it in each individual as they come along. I think we are born with that natural intelligence, but I sometimes think...
K: I really would like to question that, whether we are born with natural intelligence.
JS: We are born with the capacity, with the potential for that, in the same way that we are born with the capacity for language.
JS: But then it must be exercised, it must be activated, it must be brought out in the course of life's experiences. And it is for this reason that we really have a need to understand what I like to think of as the conditions and circumstances for evoking that potential.
K: As long as we are conditioned...
J: ...we are always conditionable. That's in our nature.
K: But is it possible to uncondition ourselves, or must it go on?
JS: Are you asking, is it possible to uncondition the individual who has become conditioned?
K: The individual who becomes conditioned by society, by language, by the climate, by literature, by newspapers, by everything he has been shaped, impressed, and influenced, and whether this conditioning - whether he can ever step out of it.
JS: With great difficulty, because it does have a tendency to become fixed, and it is for this reason that we must give attention to the young, to each new generation that are brought into a new context, and are shaped by that context, shaped by those circumstances. We have an opportunity with new and as yet unshaped, unformed minds to influence them in a healthier fashion.
K: One has had, if I may speak about it, lots of young people, thousands of them one has come into contact with. From the age of five to twelve they seem intelligent, curious, awake, full of energy and vitality and beauty. After that age the parents are responsible for it, society, newspapers, their own friends, the family, the whole thing seems to drown them, make them so ugly, vicious, you know the whole human race has become like that. So is it possible to educate them differently?
JS: I think so. I have said in something I wrote not so long ago, that we are in need of an immunizing education. The analogy that I am using is of immunizing against a crippling disease.
K: A crippling disease.
JS: In this instance I have in mind the crippling of the mind, not merely the crippling of the body. And I believe...
K: Could we go into that a little bit. What cripples the mind basically, not superficially of course? Basically, if I may ask, is it knowledge?
JS: Wrong knowledge.
K: Knowledge, I am using the word knowledge whether it is right or wrong, but knowledge, psychological knowledge, apart from the academic knowledge, scientific knowledge, the technological of the computer and so on, leaving all that aside, has man inwardly been helped by knowledge?
JS: Are you referring to the kind of knowledge that comes from experience?
K: The whole question of knowledge. Knowledge is after all the gathering of experience.
JS: I see two kinds of knowledge: I see the organized body of knowledge that comes, let us say, through science; and I see the kind of knowledge that comes through human experience.
K: Human experience: just take human experience. We have had probably over seven thousand years, wars.
K: And wars now - in the old days you killed by an arrow or a club, two or three people or a hundred people at the most, now you kill by the million.
JS: Much more efficiently.
K: Much more efficiently. You are up in the air and you don't know whom you are killing. It might by your own family, your own friends. So has that experience of ten thousand years of war, or five thousand years of war, has that experience taught man anything about not killing?
JS: Well, it has taught me something. I see no sense in it, and there are others who share that view, growing numbers, there are growing numbers of people who are becoming conscious and aware of that absurd kind of behaviour.
K: After ten thousand years! You follow me?
JS: I follow you.
K: We must question whether there is a learning at all. Or just wandering blindly. If after ten thousand years, or less or more, human beings haven't learnt a very simple thing: don't kill somebody, for god's sake, you are killing yourself, you are killing your future. And that hasn't been learnt.
JS: It has been learnt by some, but not by all.
K: Of course there are exceptions. Let's leave the exceptions. Exceptions will always be there, fortunately.
JS: It's a very important point.
K: But the majority who vote for war, for the presidents, for prime ministers, and all the rest of it, they haven't learnt a thing, they will destroy us.
JS: If we let them.
K: It is happening.
JS: The ultimate destruction has not happened yet. You are quite right, but we must become conscious and aware of that new danger. And something must arise within us now.
K: Sir, I would like to go into this because I am questioning whether experience has taught man anything, except to be more brutal, more selfish, more self-centred, more concerned with himself and his little group, with his little family, with his little... The tribal consciousness which has become national consciousness, glorified, and that is destroying us. So if ten thousand years, more or less, has not taught man, don't kill, there is something wrong.
JS: I'd like to offer a suggestion, a way of looking at this problem, at this question. I'd like to look at it from an evolutionary point of view, and speculate that we are evolving through a period of time, in which the exception to which you referred earlier may some day become the rule. Now how might this happen? It has to happen or else there will be nothing to speak about after the event.
K: Of course.
JS: Therefore we are confronting a crisis now.
K: That's what we said.
JS: That crisis is imminent, it gets closer and closer.
K: Yes, sir.
JS: And it is for this reason that we may very well have to enter the arena ourselves in a conscious way, and as we are speaking about this fully conscious of what we are saying, aware of the risk and of the danger, some effort must be made, some way must be invented to raise the consciousness of the world as a whole, as difficult as that may be.
K: I understand all this, sir. This is - I have talked to a great many politicians and all the rest of it - this is their argument: you and people like you must enter the arena. Wait a minute. We always deal with a crisis, not what has brought about the crisis. When the crisis arises we are so concerned: answer the crisis, don't bother about the past, don't bother about anything else, just answer the crisis.
JS: That's wrong.
K: That's what they are all doing.
JS: I understand that. And that's why they need your wisdom, and they need the wisdom of others like yourself, who see the future, those who can anticipate, can see the 'handwriting on the wall', and will act before the wall begins to crumble.
K: Therefore I am just saying, shouldn't we go and enquire into the cause of all this?
K: Not just say, well, here is a crisis, deal with it.
JS: Oh no. I agree with you.
K: That's what the politicians are saying.
JS: Well, I won't play that game. And I am not suggesting that we do.
K: Only silly people play that game.
K: Foolish people. But I mean the cause of all this is obviously the desire to live safely, protected, secure inwardly. I divide myself as a family, then a small group of people and so on and so on.
JS: We are going to discover that we are all one great big family.
JS: And our greatest security will come from being concerned about others in our family. It will be of no great advantage to us to have others suffer and be a threat to us as well as to themselves, which is the state of affairs now with nuclear war.
K: Therefore I am asking whether we learn through suffering, which we haven't; whether we learn through the kind of agony of wars, we haven't. So what makes us learn, change? What are the factor of it and depth of it? Why have human beings who have lived on this poor unfortunate earth for so long, they are destroying the thing on which they are growing, the earth, and they are destroying each other. What is the cause of all this? Not speculative causes, the actual, deep human cause? Unless we find that we will go on for the rest of our days.
JS: That's quite right. You are asking for the cause.
K: Or the causations, which have brought man to this present crisis.
JS: As I see it, to satisfy the needs for survival under circumstances of threat, when there is something to be had, something to be gained by war, war is something that men engaged in. Now when the time comes when nothing is to be gained, and everything is to be lost, we may be give a second thought.
K: But we'll have lost, sir. You understand? Every war we are losing. Why haven't we learnt that? The historians have written about it, all the great scholars have written, and man has remained tribal, small, petty, self-centred. I am asking what will make him change? The immediacy of change, not future, gradual, because time may be the enemy of man. Evolution may be the enemy.
JS: Enemy? Evolution may be the only solution.
K: If man hasn't learnt after all this suffering and is going on perpetuating this thing...
JS: He hasn't evolved sufficiently as yet. The conditions have not, as yet, been propitious for solving the problems that precipitate war.
K: Sir, if we have children, what is their future? War? And how am I, if one is a parent, how is one to see all this? How is one to awaken, to be aware of all that is going on, and their relationship to what is going on? And if they don't change this thing will go on endlessly.
JS: Therefore a change is imperative.
K: Yes, sir, but...
JS: How are we going to bring it about?
K: That's what I am asking. Change is imperative.
JS: I understand that.
K: If the change is through evolution, which is time and all the rest of it, we are going to destroy ourselves.
JS: But I think we have to accelerate the evolutionary process. We must do it deliberately and consciously. Up until now we have been evolving unconsciously, which has led to the condition which you have just been describing. A new change must occur, a different kind of change, a change in our consciousness, in which we ourselves are using our intelligence.
K: Agree, sir. So I am asking what are the causes of this? If I can find the causes - every cause has an end. So if I can find the cause, or causes, or the many causations that have brought human beings to the present state, then I can go after those causes.
JS: Let me suggest another way of looking at it: let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the causes that have led to this will persist unless some outside intervention is brought to bear to change the direction. Let me suggest the possibility of looking at the positive elements in human beings, the possibility of strengthening those.
K: That means time.
JS: Everything in the human realm occurs in time. I am suggesting that we accelerate the time, that we fore-shorten the time, that we not leave it only to time and only to chance, that we begin to intervene in our own evolution to that extent, and we become the co-authors of our evolution.
K: I understand that. Now I am asking a question that perhaps may not have an answer. I think for myself it has an answer, which is can time end? This way of thinking, give me a few more days before you slaughter me. During those few days I must change.
JS: I think time ends in the following sense: the past ends and the future begins.
K: No. Which means what? For the past to end, which is one of the most complex things, memory, knowledge, and the whole urge, the desire, the hope, all that has to end.
JS: Let me give you an illustration of the ending of something and the beginning of something new. When it was observed that the earth was round and not flat there was a change in perception. From that point on the earth was no longer seen as flat, it was seen as round. The same thing was true for the revolution of the sun around the earth, which then became apparent that it was the earth that revolved round the sun.
K: Galileo, he as nearly burnt by the church for this.
JS: Indeed. And the same thing is likely to happen again.
K: Sir, so my question is this: is time an enemy or a help?
JS: We must use time to our advantage.
K: How am I to use time? That is, I have a future. Right? I have another hundred or fifty years to live, and during those fifty years can I shorten the whole human experience, shorten the content of my consciousness, and in the very shortening bring it to a very, very tiny point so that it is gone? Has the human brain capacity - it has infinite capacity in one direction, technologically, infinite capacity, we don't seem to apply that extraordinary capacity inwardly.
JS: Let's focus on that.
K: Yes, that's what I am saying.
JS: That's the central issue. I agree.
K: If we could focus that tremendous energy on this, we would change instantly.
JS: Instantly. There you have it.
K: I know, sir. Now what will make man to focus that capacity, that energy, that drive on this one point? Sorrow hasn't helped him; better communication hasn't helped him; nothing has helped factually - god, church, religions, better statesmen, the latest gurus, none of that.
JS: That's right.
K: So, can I put all that aside and not depend on anybody? Scientists, the doctors, psychologists, nobody.
JS: What you are saying is that the means has not yet been invented for accomplishing what you have in mind.
K: I don't think it is means, the means is the end.
JS: I accept that.
K: Therefore don't look for a means. See that these people have not helped you in the least; on the contrary, they have led you up the wrong path. So leave them.
JS: They are not the means.
K: They are not the means.
JS: Because they do not serve the ends of which we are speaking.
K: They are not the means. The authority outside is not the means, so inside. That requires, sir, tremendous - I don't like to use the word 'courage' - to stand lonely, to be alone, not depend or be attached to anything. And who is going to do this? One or two.
JS: That's the challenge.
K: So I say, for god's sake wake up to that, not the means, not the end.
JS: I share your view as to where the solution lies. I share your view that it is perhaps the most difficult of all of the things with which human beings have been confronted, and it's for that reason it's left to the last. We have done all of the easy things, for example, we are manipulating artificial intelligence, but not our own intelligence. It is understandable because we are in a sense both the cause and the effect.
K: The cause becomes the effect, and the effect becomes the cause, and so on, we keep in that chain.
JS: Yes. Now since we are at a point at which the human race can become extinct, it seems to me that the only invention, if I may use that term, we are awaiting now to bring that to an end is to find the means for exercising self restraint upon all of the factors and conditions and circumstances that have led to war.
K: Yes, sir. I wonder, sir, it may be irrelevant, the world is bent on pleasure. You see it in this country more than anywhere else, tremendous drive for pleasure, and entertainment, sport, which is, be entertained all the time. In the school here the children want to be entertained, not learn. And you go to the East, and there they want to learn. You have been there?
K: They want to learn.
JS: And that's pleasurable too. It can be.
K: Yes. Of course, of course. So if man's drive is to find and continue in pleasure, apparently that has been the historical process: pleasure whether it is in the church, all the mass, all the circus that goes on in the name of religion, or on the football field, that has existed from the ancient days. And that may be one of our difficulties, to be entertained by specialists, you know, the whole world of entertainers. Every magazine is a form of entertainment, introducing a few good articles here and there. So man's drive is not only to escape fear, but the drive for pleasure. They both go together.
JS: They do, that's right.
K: Two sides of the same coin. But we forget the other side, fear, and pursue this. And that may be one of the reasons why this crisis is coming.
JS: It will not be the first time that a species will have become extinct. I think we must ask the question whether or not there are some cultures in some societies that are more likely to endure than others, that have the characteristics and attributes necessary to overcome the problems, the weaknesses to which you have been drawing attention. It seems to me that you are prophesying a time of great difficulty and of great danger. And you are pointing out the differences that exist amongst peoples and amongst cultures, and amongst individuals, some of whom, exceptions there may be, could well be the exceptional ones that will survive and will endure after the holocaust.
K: That means one or two, or half a dozen people survive out of all the mess. No, I can't agree to that.
JS: I am not recommending that. I am simply giving a picture, a number, a quality and a quantity to it so as to make people aware of their responsibility in respect to that future.
K: Sir, responsibility implies not only to your little family, but you are responsible as a human being for the rest of humanity.
JS: I think I said to you, showed you the title of an address I gave in India, which was 'Are we being good ancestors?' We have a responsibility as ancestors for the future. I share your view completely. And the sooner we become aware of this and begin to address ourselves to this consciously as if it were an imminent threat.
K: Again, I would like to point out there are exceptions, but the vast majority who are not in the way of looking at things, elect the governors, presidents, prime ministers, or totalitarians, they are suppressing everything. So as the majority elect those, or the few gather power to themselves and dictate to others, we are at their mercy, we are in their hands, even the most exceptional people. So far they have not done it, but they may say, 'You can't speak here any more, or write any more, don't come here.' You understand? So there is one side the urge to find security, to find some kind of peace somewhere.
JS: Would you be willing to say that those who are now ruling, leading, are lacking somehow in wisdom?
K: Oh, obviously, sir.
JS: Would you say that there are some who have the wisdom with which to lead and to guide?
K: Not when the whole mass of people want to be guided by somebody they elect, or don't elect, but by tyrannies. What I am asking is really, how is a man, a human being who is no longer individual - for me individuality doesn't exist, we are human beings.
K: We are humanity.
JS: We are members of the species, we are cells of humankind.
K: We are humanity. Our consciousness is not mine, it is the human mind.
JS: That's right.
K: Human heart, human love. All that human. And by emphasizing, as they are doing now, individuals, fulfil yourself, do whatever you want to do, you know the whole thing, that is destroying the human relationship.
JS: Yes. That is fundamental.
K: There is no love, there is no compassion in all this. Just vast mass moving in a hopeless direction, and electing these extraordinary people to lead them. And they lead them to destruction. My point is this has happened time after time, centuries after centuries. And if you are serious either you give up, turn your back on it, I know several people who have said to me, 'Don't be a fool, you can't change man. Go away. Retire. Go to the Himalayas and beg and live and die.' I don't feel like that.
JS: Nor do I.
K: Of course. They have seen the hopelessness of all this. For me, I don't see either hope or hopelessness. It is not. I said this is the state of things, they have got to change.
JS: This is the reality.
JS: Exactly. All right. Having agreed upon that, where do we go from here?
K: I can't go very far if I don't start very near. The 'very near' is this.
JS: All right, let's start here. Let's start right here, right here.
K: Right here.
JS: What do we do?
K: If I don't start here but start over there I can't do anything. So I start here. Now I say, who is me who is struggling for all this? Who is I, who is the self? What makes me behave this way, why do I react? You follow, sir?
JS: Oh, yes, I follow.
K: So that I begin to see myself, not theoretically but in a mirror of relationship - with my wife, with my friends, how I behave, how I think, and in that relationship I begin to see what I am.
JS: Yes, that's correct. You can see yourself only through reflection in another.
K: Through relationship. In that there may be affection, there may be anger, there may be jealousy. I discover in all that monstrous creature hidden in me, including the idea that there is something extraordinarily spiritual in me, all that I begin to discover. The illusions and the lies that man has lived with. And in that relationship I see if I want to change I break the mirror. Which means I break the content of my whole consciousness. And perhaps out of that, breaking down the content, there is love, there is compassion, there is intelligence. There is no other intelligence, except the intelligence of compassion.
JS: Well, having agreed on what the ultimate resolution can be, and having agreed that one has to begin here now.
K: Yes, sir.
JS: Here and now.
K: Change now, not wait for evolution to throttle you.
JS: Evolution can begin now.
K: If you like to put it that way. Evolution in the sense moving from this, breaking down to this to something which thought cannot project.
JS: When I use the term, 'evolution can begin now', I am speaking of a mutation event.
K: A mutation, I agree. Mutation is not evolution.
JS: But I am going to add one other factor that I think is important. I believe that individuals see the world in the same way as do you and I, there are others besides ourselves. They are others besides ourselves who see the problems, who see the solution that you speak of. Now let us refer to individuals such as that as exceptional, extraordinary. We might even think of them as unusual, as mutations, if you like.
K: Biological freaks!
JS: If you like. Curious in same way, different from the rest. Can they be gathered together? Can they be selected? Will they select each other and come together?
K: Yes. They come together, not select each other.
JS: I am using the term in the sense of coming together because there is some sense of recognition, something that draws them together, some self selecting mechanism. Now can you imagine that making a difference?
K: Perhaps a little.
JS: Can you imagine anything else making a difference?
K: Not imagine, sir. I see - could we put it this way, sir? Death has been one of the most extraordinary factors in life. We have avoided it, to look at it, because we are afraid of what it is. We cling to all the things we have known, and we don't want to let that go when we die. We can't take it with us, but etc., etc. Now to die to all the things I am attached to. To die, not say, 'What will happen if I die, is there another reward?' Because unless dying and living go together...
JS: Yes, death is part of life.
K: Part of life. But very few move in that direction.
JS: I agree. We are talking now about the same exceptional individuals.
K: And I am saying those exceptional individuals - I am not pessimistic or optimistic, I am just looking at the facts - have they got affected mankind?
JS: Not sufficiently, not yet. Not sufficiently. My contention is that if we do something about it consciously and deliberately we can make it happen sooner.
K: But consciously and deliberately may be another continuation of the self-centredness.
JS: But that is part of the condition we must not include. I understand that. That must be excluded. It must be species-centredness - if you like - humankind-centredness, humanity-centredness. It cannot be the same self-centredness to which you have been referring up to now. That will be the mutation event.
K: Yes, sir. The end of the self-centredness. Do you know they have tried to do this through meditation, they have tried to do this by joining Orders, by renouncing the world - the monks, the nuns, the sannyasis of India. If I may point out something rather interesting: once when I was in Kashmir I was walking behind a group of sannyasis, monks, about a dozen of them. And it was a beautiful country, a river on one side, flowers, stream, birds and an extraordinary blue sky. And everything was really laughing, the earth was smiling. And these monks never looked at anything. Never. They kept their heads down, repeating some words in Sanskrit, I couldn't gather what it was, and that was all. They put on blinkers and say, 'There is safety'. That's what we have done, religiously, politically. So I say one can deceive so enormously. Deception is one of our factors.
JS: Deception, and denial. Negation.
K: Sir, we never start, as in Buddhism and Hinduism, with doubt. Doubt is an extraordinary factor. But we don't. We don't doubt all that is going on around us.
JS: That is very unhealthy. And healthy doubt is necessary.
JS: We must question rather than accept the answers that have been given us.
K: Of course. So nobody can answer my problems. I have to resolve them. So don't create problems. I won't enter into that. The mind that is trained to resolve problems, solutions, such a mind is always finding problems. But if the brain is not trained, educated to solve problems, it is free from problems. It can face problems but it is essentially free.
JS: There are some brains, if you like, some minds that create problems, and some that solve problems. And what you are posing now is the question: can we solve the ultimate problem, the ultimate question with which we are confronted, which is: can we go on as a species? Or will we destroy ourselves?
K: Yes. Death. That's why I said death, I brought it in earlier. Death to things that I have gathered psychologically.
JS: We have to accept the death of those things of the past that are no longer valuable. And allow the birth of those new things that are necessary for the new future. I quite agree that the past must come to an end.
K: Oh, yes.
JS: War must come to an end.
K: The brain must record. But the brain is recording...
K: ...constantly. Therefore it is recording, then it plays the tape.
JS: It is recording and it is recognizing.
JS: It is re-cognizing. It is re-examining what it already knows. Now we must at this point in time recognize what has happened in the past, and become aware that there must be a new way.
K: Which is, don't record. Why should I record - language and so on, let's leave all those out - why should I psychologically record anything? You hurt me, suppose. You say some brutal thing to me, why should I record it?
JS: I would relegate it to what I call the 'forgettery'.
K: No, no. Why should I record it? Or somebody flatters me, why should I record it? What a bore it is to react in the same old pattern.
JS: It records itself, but it must be relegated.
K: No, watch it sir, whether it is possible not to record at all. Psychologically I am talking about, not the recording of driving a car or this or that, but psychologically not to record anything.
JS: Are you able to do that?
K: Oh yes.
JS: You must be able to discriminate between what you record and what you don't record.
K: The memory is selective.
JS: Yes, and that was why I used that humourous way of putting it: you select by putting some in the place of memory, and some in the place of forgettery. We are selecting that which you choose.
K: Not choose. I have to record how to drive a car.
K: Or how to speak a language. If I have to learn a skill I have to record it. In the physical world I have to record: from here to go to my house or to Paris, I have to do various things, I have to record all that. But I am asking, why should there be recording of any psychological event, which then emphasizes the self, the me, the self-centred activity and all the rest of it?
JS: Well let's deal with that for a moment because it seems to be very central to what you are saying, and to what I implied earlier when I used the word 'self-restraint'. I think we are talking about the same category of phenomena, the need perhaps to liberate ourselves from those experiences in life that make us vindictive, that make it difficult for us to join together to relate to those who may have injured us in the past. And we see this amongst nations now, between religious groups and others, who are incapable of forgiving the present generation who have nothing to do with the perpetration of events at some previous time in history.
K: Yes sir.
JS: Therefore we are now beginning to approach the question that I posed earlier: what is it that we must do, what might we do now, to deal with the cause of the effects that we want to avoid? You have identified these as psychological. You have identified these as within the human mind.
K: So the first thing I would say is, don't identify yourself with anything - with a group, with a country, with a god, with ideologies. Right? Don't identify. Then that which you identify with must be protected - your country, your god, your conclusions, your experience, your biases. This identification is a form of self-centred activity.
JS: And let us assume for the sake of argument that there is a need to identify with things, or to relate to things or to each other. This is the basis for religion, which means - it comes from the word 'religio', to tie together - and there is a need that human beings have for relationship. Now they may very well enter into relationships that are harmful, that in fact are self destructive. Now is it possible to address ourselves to the kinds of relationships which, if developed, would allow us to relinquish those that are now harmful? For example, the most fundamental relationship is to ourselves, not in the self-centred sense, but ourselves as members of the human species, and to each other.
K: That is my relationship as a human being with the rest of humanity.
K: Now, just a minute, sir. Relationship implies two: my relationship with you, with another. But I am humanity. I am not separate from my brother across the ocean.
JS: You are not.
K: I am humanity. Therefore if I have this quality of love I have established a relationship. There is relationship.
JS: I think that it exists. I think you have it. And your brothers across the sea have it, in all of the countries of the world this exists, but we are taught to hate. We are taught to hate each other. We are taught to separate ourselves from the other. There is a deliberate...
K: Not only, sir, taught, but isn't there this feeling of possessiveness in which there is security and pleasure? I possess my property, I possess my wife, I possess my children, I possess my god. I am trying to say this sense of isolating process is so strong in us that we can't train ourselves to be out of this. I say, see the fact that you are the rest of mankind, for god's sake see it.
JS: Well what you are saying is that we are both individual and also related to the rest of humankind.
K: No. I say you are not an individual. Your thinking is not yours. Your consciousness is not yours because every human being suffers, every human being goes through hell, turmoil, anxieties, agonies, which every human being whether west, or east, north, south, are going through. So we are human beings, not, I am a separate human being therefore I am related to the human beings; I am the rest of humanity. And if I see that fact I will not kill another.
JS: Now contrast that with what exists today.
K: What exists today? I am an individual, I must fulfil my own desires, my own urges, my own instincts, my own - and all the rest of it, and that is creating havoc.
JS: Now we want to transform one state to another.
K: You can't transform.
JS: All right, what can you do?
K: Change, mutate. You can't change one form into another form. See that you are actually, the truth, that you are the rest of mankind. Sir, when you see that, feel it in your - if I may use the word - feel it in your guts, in your blood, then your whole activity, your whole attitude, way of living changes. Then you have a relationship which is not two images fighting each other. A relationship that is living, alive, full of something, beauty. But again we come back to the exception.
JS: They exist. Now let's focus.
(Short gap on tape)
K: Suppose, sir, you are one of the exceptions - not suppose, please.
JS: I understand.
K: What's your relationship with me who is just an ordinary person? Have you any relationship with me?
K: What is that?
JS: We are the same species.
K: Yes, but you have stepped out of that. You are an exception. That's what we are talking about. You are an exception and I am not. Right? What is your relationship with me?
JS: I am...
K: Have you any?
K: Or you are outside trying to help me.
JS: No, I have a relationship with you and a responsibility because your well-being will influence my well-being. Our well-being is one and the same.
K: No, sir. You are an exception. You are not psychologically putting things together. You are out of that category. And I am all the time gathering. Right? You know, all the rest of it. There is a vast division between freedom and the man who is in prison. I am in prison, of my own making, and the prison made by politicians, books and all the rest of it, I am in prison, you are not, you are free. And I would like to be like you.
JS: I would like to help liberate you.
K: Therefore what's your relationship? A helper. Or you have real compassion, not for me, the flame of it, the perfume, the depth, the beauty, the vitality and the intelligence of compassion, love. That's all. That will affect much more than your decision to help me.
JS: I agree with that. We are in complete agreement. That's how I see the exceptional. And I see that the exceptional individuals possess the quality of compassion.
K: And compassion cannot be put together by thought.
JS: It exists.
K: How can it exist when I have hate in my heart, when I want to kill somebody, when I am crying, how can that exist? There must be freedom from all that before the other is.
JS: I am focusing my attention now on the exceptional.
K: I am doing that.
JS: And do those have hatred in their hearts? The exceptional ones?
K: Sir, it is like the sun, sunshine isn't yours or mine. We share it. But the moment it is my sunshine it becomes childish. So all that you can be is like the sun, the exceptional, like the sun, give me compassion, love, intelligence, nothing else - don't say, do this, don't do that, then I fall into the trap, which all the churches, religions have done. Freedom means, sir, to be out of the prison - prison which man has built for himself. And you who are free, be there. That's all. You can't do anything.
JS: I hear you say something very positive, very important, very significant. I hear you say that there does exist people, individuals, a group of individuals who possess these qualities for emanating something that could help the rest of humankind.
K: You see that's the whole concept - I don't want to go into that, that's too irrelevant - that there are such people who help, not guide, tell you what to do, it all becomes so silly. Just like sun, like the sun giving light. And if you want to sit in the sun, you will sit in it, if you don't, you will sit in the shade.
JS: And so it's that kind of enlightenment.
K: That is enlightenment.
JS: That we are on the verge of receiving. I think that that is what you have given us today.
Ojai Conversation with Jonas Salk 27th March, 1983
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