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Network of Thought


The Network of Thought Chapter 9 2nd Public Talk Amsterdam 20th September 1981

We are like two friends sitting in the park on a lovely day talking about life, talking about our problems, investigating the very nature of our existence, and asking ourselves seriously why life has become such a great problem, why, though intellectually we are very sophisticated, yet our daily life is such a grind, without any meaning, except survival - which again is rather doubtful. Why has life, everyday existence, become such a torture? We may go to church, follow some leader, political or religious, but the daily life is always a turmoil, though there are certain periods which are occasionally joyful, happy, there is always a cloud of darkness about our life. And these two friends, as we are, you and the speaker, are talking over together in a friendly manner, Perhaps with affection, with care, with concern, whether it is at all possible to live our daily life without a single problem. Although we are highly educated, have certain careers and specializations yet we have these unresolved struggles, the pain and suffering, and sometimes joy and a feeling of not being totally selfish.

So let us go into this question of why we human beings live as we do, going to the office from nine until five or six for fifty years, and always the brain, the mind, constantly occupied. There is never a quietness, there is never peace, but always this occupation with something or other. And that is our life. That is our daily, monotonous, rather lonely, insufficient life. And we try to escape from it through religion, through various forms of entertainment. At the end of the day we are still where we have been for thousands and thousands of years. We seem to have changed very little, psychologically, inwardly. Our problems increase, and always there is the fear of old age, disease, some accident that will put us out. So this is our existence, from childhood until we die, either voluntarily or involuntarily die. We do not seem to have been able to solve that problem, the problem of dying. Especially as one grows older one remembers all the things that have been the times of pleasure, the times of pain, and of sorrow, and of tears. Yet always there is this unknown thing called death of which most of us are frightened. And as two friends sitting in the park on a bench, not in this hall with all this light, which is rather ugly, but sitting in the dappling light, the sun coming through the leaves, the ducks on the canal and the beauty of the earth, let us talk this over together. Let us talk it over together as two friends who have had a long serious life with all its trouble, the troubles of sex, loneliness, despair, depression, anxiety, uncertainty, a sense of meaninglessness - and at the end of it always death.

In talking about it, we approach it intellectually - that is, we rationalize it, say it is inevitable, not to fear it or escape from it through some form of belief in the hereafter, or reincarnation, or, if you are highly intellectual, telling yourself that death is the end of all things, of our existence, our experiences, our memories, be they tender, delightful, plentiful; the end also of pain and suffering. What does it all mean, this life which is really, if we examine it very closely, rather meaningless? We can, intellectually, verbally, construct a meaning to life but the way we actually live has very little meaning. Living and dying is all we know. Everything apart from that is theory, speculation; meaningless pursuit of a belief in which we find some kind of security and hope. We have ideals projected by thoughts and we struggle to achieve them. This is our life, even when we are very young, full of vitality and fun, with the feeling that we can do almost anything; but with youth, middle and old age supervening, there is always this question of death.

You are not merely, if one may point out, listening to a series of words, to some ideas, but rather together, I mean together, investigating this whole problem of living and dying. And either you do it with your heart, with your whole mind, or else partially, superficially - and so with very little meaning.

First of all we should observe that our brains never act fully, completely; we use only a very small part of our brain. That part is the activity of thought. Being in itself a part, thought is incomplete. The brain functions within a very narrow area, depending on our senses, which again are limited, partial; the whole of the senses are never free, awakened. I do not know if you have experimented with watching something with all your senses, watching the sea, the birds and the moonlight at night on a green lawn, to see if you have watched partially or with all your senses fully awakened. The two states are entirely different. When you watch something partially you are establishing more the separative, egotistically centred attitude to living. But when you watch that moonlight on the water making a silvery path with all your senses, that is with your mind, with your heart, with your nerves, giving all your attention to that observation, then you will see for yourself that there is no centre from which you are observing.

Our ego, our personality, our whole structure as an individual, is entirely put together from memory; we are memory. Please, this is subject to investigation, do not accept it. Observe it, listen. The speaker is saying that the `you', the ego, the `me', is altogether memory. There is no spot or space in which there is clarity - you can believe, hope, have faith, that there is something in you which is uncontaminated, which is god, which is the spark of that which is timeless, you can believe all that, but that belief is merely illusory. All beliefs are. But the fact is that our whole existence is entirely memory, remembrances. There is no spot or space inwardly which is not memory. You can investigate this; if you are enquiring seriously into yourself you will see that the `me', the ego, is all memory, remembrances. And that is our life. We function, live, from memory. And for us, death is the ending of that memory.

Am I speaking to myself or are we all together in this? The speaker is used to talking in the open, under trees, or in a vast tent without these glaring lights, then we can have an intimate communication with each other. As a matter of fact there is only you and I talking together, not this enormous audience in a vast hall, but you and I sitting on the banks of a river, on a bench, talking over this thing together. And one is saying to the other, we are nothing but memory, and it is to that memory that we are attached - my house, my property, my experience, my relationship, the office or the factory I go to, the skill I like being able to use during a certain period of time - I am all that. To all that, thought is attached. That is what we call living. And this attachment creates all manner of problems; when we are attached there is fear of losing; we are attached because we are lonely with a deep abiding loneliness which is suffocating, isolating, depressing. And the more we are attached to another, which is again memory, for the other is a memory, the more problems there are. I am attached to the name, to the form; my existence is attachment to those memories which I have gathered during my life. Where there is attachment I observe that there is corruption. When I am attached to a belief, hoping that in that attachment there will be a certain security, both psychologically as well as physically, that attachment prevents further examination. I am frightened to examine when I am greatly attached to something, to a person, to an idea, to an experience. So corruption exists where there is attachment. One`s whole life is a movement within the field of the known This is obvious. Death means the ending of the known it means the ending of the physical organism, the ending of aU the memory which I am, for I am nothing but memory - memory being the known. And I am frightened to let all that go, which means death. I think that is fairly clear, at least verbally. Intellectually you can accept that logically, sanely; it is a fact.

The Asiatic world believes in reincarnation, that is that the soul, the ego, the `me', which is a bundle of memories, will be born next time to a better life if they behave rightly now, conduct themselves righteously, live a life without violence, without greed and so on, then in the next reincarnation they will have a better life, a better position. But a belief in reincarnation is just a belief because those who have this strong belief do not live a righteous life today. It is just an idea that the next life will be marvellous. They say that the quality of the next life must correspond to the quality of the present life. But the present life is so tortuous, so demanding, so complex, that they forget the belief, and struggle, deceive, become hypocrites, and accept every form of vulgarity. That is one response to death, believing in the next life. But what is it that is going to reincarnate? What is it that will continue? What is it that has continuity in our present daily life? It is the remembrance of yesterday's experiences, pleasures, fears, anxieties, and that continues right through life unless we break it and move away from that current.

Now the question is: is it possible, while one is living, with all the energy, capacity and turmoil, to end, for example, attachment? Because that is what is going to happen when you die. You may be attached to your wife or husband, to your property. You may be attached to some belief in god which is merely a projection, or an invention, of thought, but you are attached to it because it gives a certain feeling of security however illusory it is. Death means the ending of that attachment. Now while living, can you end voluntarily, easily, without any effort, that form of attachment? Which means dying to something you have known - you follow? Can you do this? Because that is dying together with living, not separated by fifty years or so, waiting for some disease to finish you off. It is living with all your vitality, energy, intellectual capacity and with great feeling, and at the same time for certain conclusions, certain idiosyncrasies, exPeriences, attachments, hurts to end, to die. That is, while living, also live with death. Then death is not something far away, death is not something that is at the end of one`s life, brought about through some accident, disease or old age, but rather an ending to all the things of memory - that is death, a death not separate from living.

Also we should consider as two friends sitting together on the banks of a river, with the clear water flowing - not muddied, polluted water - seeing the movement of the waves pursuing each other down the river, why religion has played such a great part in people's lives from the most ancient of times until today? What is a religious mind, what is it like? What does the word `religion' actually mean? Because historically civilizations have disappeared, and new beliefs have taken their place, which have brought about new civilizations and new cultures - not the technological world of the computers, the submarines, the war materials, nor the businessmen, nor the economists, but religious people throughout the world have brought about a tremendous change. So one must enquire together into what we mean by `religion'. What is its significance? Is it mere superstition, illogical and meaningless? Or is there something far greater, something infinitely beautiful? To find that, is it not necessary - we are talking this over together as two friends - is it not necessary to be free of all the things which thought has invented about religion?

Man has always sought something beyond the physical existence. He has always searched, asked, suffered, tortured himself, to find out if there is something which is not of time, which is not of thought, which is not belief or faith. To find that out one must be absolutely free, for if you are anchored to a particular form of belief, that very belief will prevent investigation into what is eternal - if there is such a thing as eternity which is beyond all time, beyond all measure. So one must be free - if one is serious in the enquiry into what religion is - one must be free of all the things that thought has invented about that which is considered religious. That is, all the things that Hinduism, for example, has invented, with its superstitions, with its beliefs, with its images, and its ancient literature such as the Upanishads - one must he completely free of all that. If one is attached to all that then it is impossible, naturally, to discover that which is original. You understand the problem? If my mind, my brain is conditioned by Hindu superstitions, beliefs, dogmas and idolatry, with all the ancient tradition, then it is anchored to that and cannot move, it is not free. Similarly, one must be free totally from all the inventions of thought, the rituals, dogmas, beliefs, symbols, saviours and so on of Christianity. That may be rather more difficult, that is coming nearer home. But all religions, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, are the movement of thought continued through time, through literature, through symbols, through things made by the hand or by the mind - and all that is considered religious in the modern world. To the speaker that is not religious. To the speaker it is a form of illusion, comforting, satisfying, romantic, sentimental but not actual.

Religion must affect the way we live, the significance of life, for then only is there order in our life. Order is something that is totally disassociated from disorder. We live in disorder - that is, in conflict, contradiction, saying one thing, doing another, chinking one way and acting in another way; that is contradiction. Where there is contradiction, which is division, there must be disorder. And a religious mind is completely without disorder. That is the foundation of a religious life - not all the nonsense that is going on with the gurus with their idiocies.

It is a most extraordinary thing how many gurus have come to see the speaker, some of them because they think I attack them. They want to persuade me not to attack, they say what you are saying and what you are living is the absolute truth, but it is not for us because we must help those people who are not as fully advanced as you are. You see the game they play - you understand? So one wonders why some Western people go to India, follow these gurus, get initiated - whatever that may mean - put on different robes and think they are very religious. But strip them of their robes, stop chem and enquire into them, and they are just like you and me. So the idea of going somewhere to find enlightenment, of changing your name to some Sanskrit name, seems strangely absurd and romantic, without any reality - but thousands are doing it. Probably it is a form of amusement without much meaning. The speaker is not attacking. Please let us understand that: we are not attacking anything, we are just observing - observing the absurdity of the human mind, how easily we are caught; we are so gullible.

A religious mind is a very factual mind; it deals with facts, with what is actually happening with the world outside and the world inside. The world outside is the expression of the world inside; there is no division between the outer and the inner. A religious life is a life of order, diligence, dealing with that which is actually within oneself, without any illusion, so that one leads an orderly, righteous life. When that is established, unshakeably, then we can begin co enquire into what meditation is.

Perhaps that word did not exist in the Western world, in its present usage until about thirty years or so ago. The Eastern gurus have brought it over here. There is the Tibetan meditation, Zen meditation, the Hindu meditation, the particular meditation of a particular guru - the yoga meditation, sitting cross legged, breathing - you know all that. All that is called meditation. We are not denigrating the people who do all this. We are just pointing out how absurd meditation has become. The Christian world believes in contemplation, giving themselves over to the will of god, grace and so on. There is the same thing in the Asiatic world, only they use different words in Sanskrit, but it is the same thing - man seeking some kind of everlasting security, happiness, peace, and not finding it on earth, hoping that it exists somewhere or other - the desperate search for something imperishable - the search of man from time beyond measure.

So we should enquire together, deeply, into what meditation is and whether there is anything sacred, holy - not the thing that thought has invented as being holy, that is not holy. What thought creates is not holy, is not sacred, because it is based on knowledge, and how can anything that thought invents, being incomplete, be sacred? But all over the world we worship that which thought has invented.

There is no system, no practice but the clarity of perception of a mind that is free to observe, a mind which has no direction, no choice. Most systems of meditations have the problem of controlling thought. Most meditation, whether the Zen, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Christian, or that of the latest guru, tries to control thought; through control you centralize, you bring all your energy to a particular point. That is concentration, which means that there is a controller different from the controlled. The controller is thought, memory, and that which he is controlling is still thought - which is wandering off, so there is conflict. You are sitting quietly and thought goes off; you are like a schoolboy looking out of the window and the teacher says, `Don't look out of the window, concentrate on your book.' We have to learn the fact that the controller is the controlled. The controller, the thinker, the experiencer, are, we think, different from the controlled, from the movement of thought, from the experience. But if we observe closely, the thinker IS the thought. Thought has made the thinker separate from thought, who then says, `I must control.' So when you see that the controller is the controlled you totally remove conflict. Conflict exists only when there is the division. Where there is the division between the observer, the one who witnesses, the one who experiences and that which he observes and experiences, there must be conflict. Our life is in conflict because we live with this division. But this division is fallacious, it is not real, it has become our habit, our culture, to control. We never see that the controller is the controlled.

So when one realizes that fact - not verbally, not idealistically, not as a Utopian state for which you have to struggle, actually in one's life that the controller is the controlled, the thinker is the thought - then the whole pattern of one's thinking undergoes a radical change and there is no conflict. That change is absolutely necessary if one is meditating because meditation demands a mind that is highly compassionate, and therefore highly intelligent, with an intelligence which is born out of love, not out of cunning thought. Meditation means the establishment of order in one's daily life, so that there is no contradiction; it means having rejected totally alI the systems of meditation so that one's mind is completely free, without direction; so that one's mind is completely silent. Is that possible? Because one is chattering endlessly; the moment one leaves this place one will start chattering. One's mind will continue everlastingly occupied, chattering, thinking, struggling, and so there is no space. Space is necessary to have silence, for a mind that is practising, struggling, to be silent is never silent. But when it sees that silence is absolutely necessary - not the silence projected by thought, not the silence between two notes, between two noises, between two wars, but the silence of order - then in that silence, truth, which has no path to it, exists. Truth that is timeless, sacred, incorruptible. That is meditation, that is a religious mind.

Network of Thought


The Network of Thought Chapter 9 2nd Public Talk Amsterdam 20th September 1981

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