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Network of Thought


The Network of Thought Chapter 8 1st Public Talk Amsterdam 19th September 1981

Most unfortunately there are only two talks and so it is necessary to condense what we have to say about the whole of existence. We are not doing any kind of propaganda; we are not persuading you to think in one particular direction, nor convince you about anything - we must be quite sure of that. We are not bringing something exotic from the East like the nonsense that goes on in the name of the gurus and those people who write strange things after visiting India - we do not belong to that crowd at all. And we would like to point out that during these two talks we are thinking together, not merely listening to some ideas and either agreeing or disagreeing with them; we are not creating arguments, opinions, judgements, but together - I mean together, you and the speaker - we are going to observe what the world has become, not only in the West but also in the East where there is great poverty, great misery, with enormous overpopulation, where the politicians, as here in the West, are incapable of dealing with what is happening. All politicians are thinking in terms of tribalism. Tribalism has become glorified nationalism. We cannot therefore rely on any politicians, on any leaders, or on any books that have been written about religion. We cannot possibly rely on any of these people, nor on the scientists, the biologists, or the psychologists. They have not been able to solve our human problems. I am quite sure you agree to all that. Nor can we rely on any of the gurus who unfortunately come to the West and exploit people and get very rich, they have nothing whatsoever to do with religion.

Having said all this it is important that we, you and the speaker, think together. We mean by thinking together not merely accepting any kind of opinion or evaluation but observing together, not only externally what is hapPening in the world, but also what is happening to all of us inwardly, psychologically. Externally, outwardly, there is great uncertainty, confusion, wars, or the threat of war. There are wars going on now in some parts of the world; human beings are killing each other. That is not happening in the West, here, but there is the threat of nuclear war, and the preparation for war. And we ordinary human beings do not seem to be able to do anything about all that. There are demonstrations, terrorism, hunger strikes and so on. There is one tribal group against another and the scientists are contributing to that, and the philosophers, though they may talk against it, are inwardly continuing to think in terms of nationalism, according to their own particular careers. So that is what is actually going on in the outward world, which any intelligent human being can observe.

And inwardly, in our own minds and in our own hearts, we ourselves are also very confused. There is no security, not only, perhaps, for ourselves but for the future generation. Religions have divided human beings as the Christians, the Hindus, the Muslims, and the Buddhists. So considering all this, observing objectively, calmly without any prejudice, it is naturally important that together we think about it all. Think together, not having opinions opposing other sets of opinions, not having one conclusion against another conclusion, one ideal against another ideal, but rather thinking together and seeing what we human beings can do. The crisis is not in the economic world, nor in the political world; the crisis is in consciousness. I think very few of us realize this. The crisis is in our mind and in our heart; that is, the crisis is in our consciousness. Our consciousness is our whole existence. With our beliefs, with our conclusions, with our nationalism, with all the fears that we have, it is our pleasures, the apparently insoluble problems and the thing that we call love, compassion; it includes the problem of death - wondering if there is anything hereafter, anything beyond time, beyond thought and if there is something eternal: that is the content of our consciousness.

That is the content of the consciousness of every human being, in whatever part of the world he lives. The content of our consciousness is the common ground of all humanity. I think this must be made very clear right from the beginning. A human being living in any part of the world suffers, not only physically but also inwardly. He is uncertain, fearful, confused, anxious without any sense of deep security. So our consciousness is common to all mankind. Please do listen to this. You may be hearing this for the first time so please do not discard it. Jet us investigate it together, let us think about it together, not when you get home but now: your consciousness, what you think, what you feel, your reactions, your anxiety, your loneliness, your sorrow, your pain, your search for something that is not merely physical but goes beyond all thought, is the same as that of a person living in India or Russia or America. They all go through the same problems as you do, the same problems of relationship with each other, man, woman. So we are all standing on the same ground of consciousness. Our consciousness is common to all of us and therefore we are not individuals. Please do consider this. We have been trained, educated, religiously as well as scholastically, to think that we are individuals, separate souls, striving for ourselves, but that is an illusion because our consciousness is common to all mankind. So we are mankind. We are not separate individuals fighting for ourselves. This is logical, this is rational, sane. We are not separate entities with separate psychological content, struggling for ourselves, but we are, each one of us, actually the rest of human kind.

Perhaps you will accept the logic of this intellectually, but if you feel it profoundly then your whole activity undergoes a radical change. That is the first issue we have to think about together: that our consciousness, the way we think, the way we live, some perhaps more comfortably, more affluently, with greater facility to travel than others, is inwardly, psychologically, exactly similar to that of those who live thousands and thousands of miles away.

All is relationship, our very existence is to be related. Observe what we have done with our relationships with each other, whether intimate or not. In all relationship there is tremendous conflict, struggle - why? Why have human beings, who have lived for over a million years, not solved this problem of relationship? So let us this morning think together about it. Let us observe together actually what the relationship between a man and a woman is. All society is based on relationship. There is no society if there is no relationship, society then becomes an abstraction.

One observes that there is conflict between man and woman. The man has his own ideals, his own pursuits, his own ambitions, he is always seeking success, to be somebody in the world. And the woman is also struggling, also wanting to be somebody, wanting to fulfil, to become. Each is pursuing his or her own direction. So it is like two railway lines running parallel, never meeting, except perhaps in bed, but otherwise - if you observe closely - never actually meeting psychologically, inwardly. Why? That is the question. When we ask why, we are always asking for the cause; we think in terms of causation, hoping that if we could understand the cause then perhaps we would change the effect.

So we are asking a very simple but very complex question: why is it that we human beings have not been able to solve this problem of relationship though we have lived on this earth for millions of years? Is it because each one has his own particular image put together by thought, and that our relationship is based on two images, the image that the man creates about her and the image the woman creates about him? So in this relationship we are as two images living together. That is a fact. If you observe yourself very closely, if one may point out, you have created an image about her and she has created a picture, a verbal structure, about you, the man. So relationship is between these two images. These images have been put together by thought. And thought is not love. All the memories of this relationship with each other, the pictures, the conclusions about each other, are, if one observes closely without any prejudice, the product of thought; they are the result of various remembrances, experiences, irritations and loneliness, and so our relationship with each other is not love but the image that thought has put together. So if we are to understand the actuality of relationships we have to understand the whole movement of thought, because we live by thought; all our actions are based on thought, alI the great buildings, the cathedrals, churches, temples and mosques of the world are the result of thought. And everything inside these religious buildings - the figures, the symbols, the images - are all the invention of thought. There is no refuting that. Thought has created not only the most marvellous buildings and the contents of those buildings, but it has also created the instruments of war, the bomb in all its various forms. Thought has also produced the surgeon and his marvellous instruments, so delicate in surgery. And thought has also produced the carpenter, his study of wood and the tools he uses. The contents of a church, the skill of a surgeon, the expertise of the engineer who builds a beautiful bridge, are all the result of thought - there is no refuting that. So one has to examine what thought is and why human beings live on thought and why thought has brought about such chaos in the world - war and lack of relationship with each other - and examine the great capacity of thought with its extraordinary energy. We must also see how thought has, through millions of years, brought such sorrow for mankind. Please observe this together, let us examine it together. Do not just oppose what the speaker is saying, but examine what he is saying together so that we understand what is actually happening to all of us human beings, for we are destroying ourselves.

Thought is the response of the memory of things past; it also projects itself as hope into the future. Memory is knowledge; knowledge is memory of experience. That is, there is experience, from experience there is knowledge as memory, and from memory you act. From that action you learn, which is further knowledge. So we live in this cycle - experience, memory, knowledge, thought and thence action - always living within the field of knowledge.

What we are talking about is very serious. It is not something for the weekend, for a casual listening, it is concerned with a radical change of human consciousness. So we have to think about all this, look together, and ask why we human beings, who have lived on this earth for so many millions of years, are still as we are. We may have advanced technologically, have better communication, better transportation, hygiene and so on, but inwardly we are the same, more or less - unhappy, uncertain, lonely, carrying the burden of sorrow endlessly. And any serious man confronted with this challenge must respond; he cannot take it casually, turn his back on it. That is why these meetings are very, very serious because that is why we have to apply our minds and our hearts to finding out if it is possible to bring about a radical mutation in our consciousness and therefore in our action and behaviour.

Thought is born of experience and knowledge, and there is nothing sacred whatsoever about thought. Thinking is materialistic, it is a process of matter. And we have relied on thinking to solve all our problems in politics and religions and in our relationships. Our brains, our minds, are conditioned, educated to solve problems. Thinking has created problems and then our brains, our minds, are trained to solve them with more thinking. All problems are created, psychologically and inwardly, by thought. Follow what is happening. Thought creates the problem, psychologically; the mind is trained to solve problems with further thinking, so thought in creating the problem then tries to solve it. So it is caught in a continuous process, a routine. Problems are becoming more and more complex, more and more insoluble, so we must find out if it is at all possible to approach life in a different way, not through thought because thought does not solve our problems; on the contrary thought has brought about greater complexity. We must find out - if it is possible or not - whether there is a different dimension, a different approach, to life altogether. And that is why it is important to understand the nature of our thinking. Our thinking is based on remembrance of things past - which is thinking about what happened a week ago, thinking about it modified in the present, and projected into the future. This is actually the movement of our life. So knowledge has become all-important for us but knowledge is never complete. Therefore knowledge always lives within the shadow of ignorance. That is a fact. It is not the speaker's invention or conclusion, but it is so.

Love is not remembrance. Love is not knowledge. Love is not desire or pleasure. Remembrance, knowledge, desire and pleasure are based on thought. Our relationship with each other, however near, if looked at closely, is based on remembrance, which is thought. So that relationship - though you may say you love your wife or your husband or your girl friend - is actually based on remembrance, which is thought. And in that there is no love. Do you actually see that fact? Or do you say,-What a terrible thing to say. I do love my wife? - but is that so? Can there be love when there is jealousy, possessiveness, attachment, when each one is pursuing his own particular direction of ambition, greed and envy, like two parallel lines never meeting? Is that love?

I hope we are thinking together, observing together, as two friends walking along a road and seeing what is around us, not only what is very close and immediately perceived, but what is in the distance. We are taking the journey together, perhaps affectionately, hand in hand - two friends amicably examining the complex problem of life, neither of them leader or guru, because when one sees actually that our consciousness is the consciousness of the rest of mankind, then one realizes that one is both the guru and the disciple, the teacher as well as the pupil, because all that is in one,s consciousness. That is a tremendous realization. So as one begins to understand oneself deeply one becomes a light to oneself and not dependent on anybody, on any book or on any authority - including that of the speaker - so that one is capable of understanding this whole problem of living and of being a light to oneself.

Love has no problems and to understand the nature of love and compassion with its own intelligence, we must understand together what desire is. Desire has extraordinary vitality, extraordinary persuasion, drive, achievement; the whole process of becoming, success, is based on desire - desire which makes us compare ourselves with each other, imitate, conform. It is very important in understanding the nature of ourselves co understand what desire is, not to suppress it, not to run away from it, not to transcend it, but to understand it, to see the whole momentum of it. We can do that together, which does not mean that you are learning from the speaker. The speaker has nothing to teach you. Please realize this. The speaker is merely acting as a mirror in which you can see yourself. Then when you see yourself clearly you can discard the mirror, it has no more importance, you can break it up.

To understand desire requires attention, seriousness. it is a very complex problem co understand why human beings have lived on this extraordinary energy of desire as on the energy of thought. What is the relationship between thought and desire? What is the relationship between desire and will? We live a great deal by will. So what is the movement, the source, the origin, of desire? If one observes oneself one sees the origin of desire; it begins with sensory responses; then thought creates the image and at that moment desire begins. One sees something in the window, a robe, a shirt, a car, whatever it is - one sees it, sensation, then one touches it, and then thought says, `If I put on that shirt or dress how nice it will look' - that creates the image and then begins desire. So the relationship between desire and thought is very close. If there were no thought there would only be sensation. Desire is the quintessence of will. Thought dominates sensation and creates the urge, the desire, the will, to possess. When in relationship thought operates - which is remembrance, which is the image created about each other by thought - there can be no love. Desire, sexual or other forms of desire, prevent love - because desire is part of thought.

We should consider in our examination the nature of fear because we are all caught in this terrible thing called fear. We do not seem to be able to resolve it. We live with it, become accustomed to it, or escape from it through amusement, through worship, through various forms of entertainment, religious and otherwise. Fear is common to all of us, whether we live in this tidy, clean country, or in India where it is untidy, dirty and overpopulated. It is the same problem, fear, which man has lived with for thousands and thousands of years and which he has not been able to resolve. Is it possible - one is asking this question most seriously - is it at all possible to be totally, completely, free of fear, not only the physical forms of fear but the much more subtle forms of inward fear - conscious fears and the deep undiscovered fears which we have never even known were there? Examination of these fears does not mean analysis. It is the fashion co turn to the analyst if you have any problem. But the analyst is like you and me, only he has a certain technique. Analysis implies there is an analyser. Is the analyser different from that which he analyses? Or is the analyser the analysed? The analyser is the analysed. That is an obvious fact. If I am analysing myself, who is the analyser in me who says, `I must analyse'? It is still the analyser separating himself from the analysed and then examining that which is to be analysed. So the analyser is that which he is analysing. They are the same. To separate them is a trick played by thought. But when we observe, there is no analysis; there is merely the observing of things as they are - the observing of that which actually is, not analysing that which is, because in the process of analysing we can deceive ourselves. If you like to play that game you can, and go on endlessly until you die, analysing, and never bringing about a radical transformation within yourself. Whereas to look at the present as it is - not as a Dutchman, an Englishman, or a Frenchman or as this or that - to see what is actually happening, is pure observation of things as they are.

To observe what fear is, is not to examine the cause of fear, which implies analysis and going further and further back into the origin of fear. It is to learn the art of observing and not translating or interpreting what you observe, but just observing, as you would observe a lovely flower. The moment you take it to pieces the flower is not. That is what analysis does. But observe the beauty of a flower, or the evening light in a cloud, or a tree by itself in a forest, just observe. So similarly, we can observe fear and what is the root of fear - not the various aspects of fear.

We are asking if it is at all possible to be free of fear, absolutely. Psychologically, inwardly, what is the root of fear? What does fear mean? Does not fear arise from something that has given you pain in the past which might happen again in the future? Not what might happen now because now there is no fear. You can see for yourself that fear is a time process. Something that happened last week, an incident which brought psychological or physical pain, and from that there is fear that it might happen again tomorrow. Fear is a movement in time; a movement from the past through the present, modifying the future. So the origin of fear is thought. And thought is time, it is the accumulation of knowledge through experience, the response of memory as thought, then action. So thought and time are one; thought and time are the root of fear. That is fairly obvious. It is so.

Now it is not a question of stopping thought or time. Of course it would be impossible to stop them because the entity who says, `I must stop thought' is part of thought. So the idea of stopping thought is absurd. It implies a controller who is trying to control thought and such a controller is created by thought. Please just observe this; OBSERVATION IS AN ACTION IN ITSELF, it is not that one must do something about fear. I wonder if you understand this?

Suppose I am afraid about something or other, darkness, my wife running away, loneliness, or this or that. I am frightened, deeply. You come along and explain to me the whole movement of fear, the origin of fear, which is time. I had pain; I went through some accident or incident that caused pain, that is recorded in the brain, and the memory of that past incident produces the thought that it might happen again, and therefore there is fear. So you have explained this to me. And I have listened very carefully to your explanation, I see the logic of it, the sanity of it, I do not reject it; I listen. And that means that listening becomes an art. I do not reject what you are saying, nor accept, but I observe. And I observe that what you tell me about time and thought, is actual. I do not say, `I must stop time and thought', but having had it explained to me, I just observe how fear arises, that it is a movement of thought, time. I just observe this movement and do not move away from it, I do not escape from it but live with it, look at it, put my energy into looking. Then I see that fear begins to dissolve because I have done nothing about it, I have just observed, I have given my whole attention to it. That very attention is like bringing light on fear. Attention means giving all your energy in that observation.

Why is it that man pursues pleasure? Please ask yourself why. Is pleasure the opposite of pain? We have all had pain of different kinds, both physical and psychological. Psychologically, most of us from childhood have been wounded, hurt; that is pain. The consequence of that pain has been to withdraw, to isolate oneself so as not to be further hurt. From childhood, through school, by comparing ourselves with somebody else who is more clever, we have hurt ourselves, and others have hurt us through various forms of scolding, saying something brutal, terrorizing us. And there is this deep hurt with all its consequences, which are isolation, resistance, more and more withdrawal. And the opposite of that we think is pleasure. Pain and the opposite of it is pleasure. Is goodness the opposite of that which is not good? If goodness is the opposite, then that goodness contains its own opposite. Therefore it is not good. Goodness is something totally separate from that which is not goodness. So is pleasure something opposite to pain? Is it a contrast? We are always pursuing the contrast, the opposite. So one is asking, is pleasure entirely separate, like goodness, from that which is not pleasurable? Or is pleasure tainted by pain? When you look closely at pleasure it is always remembrance, is it not? You never say when you are happy, `How happy I am', it is always after; it is the remembrance of that which gave you pleasure, like a beautiful sunset, the glory of an evening, full of that extraordinary light, it gave great delight. Then that is remembered and pleasure is born. So pleasure is part of thought too - it is so obvious. The understanding of relationship, fear, pleasure and sorrow, is to bring order in our house. Without order you cannot possibly meditate. Now the speaker puts meditation at the end of the talk because there is no possibility of right meditation if you have not put your house, your psychological house, in order. If the psychological house is in disorder, if what you are is in disorder, what is the point of meditating? It is just an escape. It leads to all kinds of illusions. You may sit cross-legged or stand on your head for the rest of your life but that is not meditation. Meditation must begin with bringing about complete order in your house - order in your relationships, order in your desires, pleasures and so on.

One of the causes of disorder in our life is sorrow. This is a common factor, a common condition, in all human beings. Everyone goes through this tragedy of sorrow, whether in the Asiatic world or in the Western world. Again this is a common thing we all share. There is not only so-called personal sorrow but there is the sorrow of mankind, the sorrow which wars have brought about - five thousand years of historical records and every year there has been a war, killing, violence, terror, brutality, the maiming of people, people who have no hands, no eyes - the horrors and the brutality of wars which have brought incalculable misery to mankind. It is not only one,s own sorrow but the sorrow of mankind; the sorrow of seeing a man who has nothing whatsoever, just a piece of cloth, and for the rest of his life he is going to be that way - not so much in these Western countries, but in the Asiatic world it is like that. And when you see that person there is sorrow. There is also sorrow when people are caught an illusion, like going from one guru to another, escaping from themselves. It is a sorrow to observe this, the clever people going off to the East, writing books about it, finding some guru - so many fall for that nonsense. There is the sorrow that comes when you see what the politicians are doing in the world - thinking in terms of tribalism. There is personal sorrow and the vast cloud of the sorrow of mankind. Sorrow is not something romantic, sentimental, illogical; it is there. We have lived with this sorrow from time measureless, and apparently we have not resolved this problem. When we suffer we seek consolation, which is an escape from the fact of sorrow. When there is that grief, you try every form of amusement and escape, but it always is there. Apparently humanity has not resolved it. And we are asking the question: is it possible to be free of it completely? Not avoiding it, not seeking consolation, not escaping into some fanciful theory, but is it possible to live with it. Understand those words `to live with it: they mean not to let sorrow become a habit. Most people live with sorrow, with nationalism, which is most destructive, they live with their own separate religious conclusions, they live with their own fanciful ideas and ideals, which all again bring conflict. So live with something, live with sorrow, not accepting it, not becoming habituated to it - but look at it, observe it without any escape, without any question of trying to go beyond it, just `hold it in your hand' and look. Sorrow is also part of the tremendous sense of loneliness: you may have many friends, you may be married, you may have all kinds of things, but inwardly there is this feeling of complete loneliness. And that is part of sorrow. Observe that loneliness without any direction, without trying to go beyond it, without trying to find a substitute for it; live with it, not worship it, not become psychotic about it, but give all your attention to that loneliness, to that grief, to that sorrow.

It is a great thing to understand suffering because where there is freedom from sorrow there is compassion. One is not compassionate as long as one is anchored to any belief, to any particular form of religious symbol. Compassion is freedom from sorrow. Where there is compassion there is love. With that compassion goes intelligence - not the intelligence of thought with its cunning, with its adjustments, with its capacity to put up with anything. Compassion means the ending of sorrow and only then is there intelligence.

Network of Thought


The Network of Thought Chapter 8 1st Public Talk Amsterdam 19th September 1981

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