Madras 4th Public Talk 2nd November 1958
There is a tendency, is there not?, to reduce most things to formulas and to try to live according to those formulas. We think that if we could find a right formula for education, for a good way of living and for understanding the beauties of the earth, we would solve our problems. A formula according to which we can live is what most of us are seeking, are we not?, - the good formula, the formula that is capable of adaptation, the formula that will stand the test of reason, of life. To me, any formula of that kind not only destroys the full significance of life and is irrelevant, but also makes a man most irresponsible and superficial. We think that by following a formula - for peace, for meditation, for discipline, for reaching a particular ideal, and so on - we become very responsible, very earnest, very serious. I very much question such a mentality because I feel that such a person is not really earnest; he is merely copying, following, ridden by authority. A follower, surely, is never an earnest person and it is only to the earnest that life reveals itself, not to the follower of a formula. Life is for the earnest, and the earnest one is not he who merely seeks an escape from conflict and sorrow, from the various problems, accidents and incidents of life. The earnest man has not a ready-made solution with which he approaches life's problems. The one who is really earnest is he who enquires, who tries to investigate for himself into the whole problems of existence and who does not merely live according to the ideas of some philosopher, psychologist or religious saviour. The moment you follow anybody you cease to be really earnest. But unfortunately all our tendencies, our education, our inward fears, the accidents of life, the sorrowful impacts, all these tend to harden the mind, and the mind which has become hardened and which is then merely seeking a way out is not, I feel, an earnest mind.
It seems to me that it is very important to have the quality of earnestness, but without striving for it, if you know what I mean. You cannot strive to appreciate the beauty of a sunset; to appreciate the beauty of a sunset, what is required is a great deal of intelligence, of sensitivity, alert visual perception of trees, birds, clouds, nature including human beings and also oneself. You cannot suddenly decide to appreciate the lovely radiance of a cloud. It does not happen that way. To see the beauty of it, not merely visually but to have this whole sense of beauty - which is never static, which has no formula, which you cannot be educated to appreciate, requires hard work. You may read literature about it, read what the poets have written, see all the picture galleries, go to the museums, but to really see something and feel the loveliness of it requires an enormous amount of inward work.
In the same way, to be really earnest requires not a striving to be earnest, which is most silly, but it requires the understanding of one's own capacity, of one's own endeavours, of the significance of one's own activities and search. This means being aware of the words one uses, of one's feelings, gestures, observation of the gossip, and all that. To be aware in order to change these things, to correct them, is to make yourself even more impregnable to life. To look at a sunset and say `I must be awfully serious to see the beauty of it' has no meaning, but if you watch and are aware of the beauty of a leaf on the roadside, the beauty of a passing face, and also the corruption, the ugliness, the sordidness, then with that sensitivity, if you look at the sunset it has a meaning, a depth, it has its own significance and is its own poem. In the same way I think earnestness is essential for any man and especially for one who is trying to find out what is true, what is the meaning of this existence. But unfortunately for most of us earnestness merely means frightful endeavour, great struggle, constantly trying to be serious when one is actually superficial.
I think this constant endeavour to be something, to become something, is the real cause of the destructiveness and the aging of the mind. Look how quickly we are aging, not only the people who are over 60 but also the young people. How old they are already, mentally! Very few sustain or maintain the quality of a mind that is young. I mean by young not the mind that merely wants to enjoy itself, to have a good time, but the mind that is uncontaminated, that is not scratched, warped, twisted by the accidents and incidents of life, a mind that is not worn out by struggle, by grief, by constant striving. Surely it is necessary to have a young mind because the old mind is so full of the scars of memories that it cannot live, it cannot be earnest; it is a dead mind, a decided mind. A mind that has decided and lives according to its decisions is dead. But a young mind is always deciding anew, and a fresh mind does not burden itself with innumerable memories. A mind that carries no shadow of suffering, though it may pass through the valley of sorrow, remains unscratched. And one must have such a mind. It is obviously essential, because to such a mind there is life; not the life of superficiality, not the life of enjoyment - though it may also know enjoyment - not the life of getting, losing, gaining, being fretful, you know the whole business of our existence, burdened with knowledge.
Now one sees the necessity of it, surely. As I am talking you must feel that one must have this quality of a fresh, uncontaminated mind capable of real perception, of immediate perception, which I will go into presently. And seeing the necessity of it, we ask - how am I to get it, what examinations, what subjects have I to take, what meditation, what discipline should I practise, what sacrifices must I make, in order to get it? - these are the questions that one asks. I do not think such a young mind is to be acquired. It is not a thing that you can purchase through endeavour, through sacrifice. There is no coin to it and it is not a marketable thing, but if you see the importance of it, the necessity of it, if you see the truth of it, then something else takes place and that is what I want to convey, if I can, in this talk. It is not a matter of how to get it because all the processes, all the forms of self-discipline, all the various ways in which the mind subjugates itself in order to get something, they all cultivate this mountain of memory which merely burdens the mind and makes it old, decrepit, useless. But if you can see the necessity of a fresh mind, if you can get the impact of the implications of it and not merely ask how to get it, then the process of thinking is entirely different, is it not? If you say, how am I to get it, then your whole approach is entirely different; then there is no instantaneous perception, no timeless understanding.
I wonder if we understand anything through time? Do I understand anything tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, a year later or ten years later? Is understanding a matter of time? Is seeing something as true, real, or is seeing something as false, a matter of time or of instant perception, the instant being out of time? It must have happened to you, surely, that you have seen something immediately. That sense of immediacy is out of time, time being yesterday, today and tomorrow. And can we not in the same way see the necessity, the urgency, and the extraordinary vitality of a young mind? I am not using that word `young mind' as something which is in time. The young mind is out of time, it is innocent, fresh, and if you see the truth that there must be such a mind, then your whole approach to life is entirely different, is it not? Let me put it the other way around. Perhaps we can get at it differently.
Why does the mind grow old? It is old, is it not?, in the sense of getting decrepit, deteriorating, repeating itself, caught in habits, sexual habits, religious habits, job habits or various habits of ambition. The mind is so burdened with innumerable experiences and memories, so marred and scarred with sorrow that it cannot see anything freshly but is always translating what it sees in terms of its own memories, conclusions, formulas, always quoting; it is authority-bound, it is an old mind. You can see why it happens. All our education is merely the cultivation of memory; and there is this mass communication through journals, the radio, the television, there are the professors who read lectures and repeat the same thing over and over again till your brain soaks in what they have repeated and you vomit it up in an examination and get your degree and go on with the process - the job, the routine, the incessant repetition. Not only that but there is also our own inward struggle of ambition with its frustrations, the competition not only for jobs but for God, wanting to be near him, asking the quick road to him. All this constant striving, struggling, with the disappointments, sorrows, grief and unresolved problems are eating our hearts out, and on top of that we try to acquire so-called wisdom through books, which is all nonsense. We have the innumerable schools of wisdom, which again is sheer rubbish.
So, what is happening is that through pressure, through stress, through strain, our minds are being crowded, drowned by influence, by sorrow, consciously or unconsciously. If we are conscious of it we can try to brush it off, but the unconscious, the deep racial contradictions, the impressions from various cultures quarrelling with each other, the disappointments, all this, surely, is making the mind old. All these memories, and they are after all only memories are dulling the mind and as we grow older our memories take a deeper hold and we look back to the happy days or look forward to some future. So surely the major factor in this deterioration is this constant usage of the mind in the wrong direction. We are wearing down the mind, not using it.
So we have seen the major factors which are causing the mind to become dull, insensitive, impregnable to new ideas, new visions, a new quality. It is essentially a thing of time, and time is always in terms of the past, present and future, something limited. Is it not so? Can we go into it? It is really an extraordinary subject. There is chronological time - yesterday, today and tomorrow; your train goes at a certain time, and so on. Chronological time is not important, so let us leave it aside. Now what is time? Is there time to a mind that is unscathed? Is there time to a mind that has experienced but is out of it again? But there is time to a mind that has experienced and retained a memory based on pleasure or pain or whatever it is. The mind is, after all, by its very nature, its very construction, by its whole process of education, a product of time. All that you are, your mind, is the result of time in the sense that from your youth, from the moment you were born till now you have acquired, learnt, experienced, suffered, travelled, seen, had innumerable experiences, all in relation to time. And such a mind, being the result of time, always thinks in terms of duality, or along a particular direction as a specialized entity.
I hope you are listening to me not as to a talk to which you feel you must listen, however boring, but listening to see if your own mind is not working in the way described, using the speaker only as a sounding board, as a mirror in which to watch your own mind. Otherwise what is said has no meaning.
What we are trying to find out about is time. The mind is the result of time, of many yesterdays and the experiences, the shocks, the sorrows, the pleasures, the problems, the enjoyments, the things that one has learnt have been carried over to today and then again on to tomorrow, modified but continuing the same process. And such a mind, rooted in time, now asks, can I find something which is beyond the mind, is there the eternal, is there something which is timeless and, if there is, what is one to do? But the moment you say, what is one to do, you have already brought in the whole process of time. So we know now what time is, psychologically, inwardly. It is the sense of continuity, the sense of being, or not being, or of becoming. All becoming is of time, and that is all the mind knows.
Now is there a state, a living, an enquiry - whatever you like to call it - which is not the projection, the result of time, which is not within the shadow of time? Cannot the mind die to time and see something totally new, instantly? The dying to the past is the birth of the immediate present. The words `immediate' and `present' are not of time, though they both indicate a relation to time. When we say `the present', the mind immediately thinks of the past or the future; and when we say `immediately' or `now', it is again related either to the past or the future. But can one not think or rather feel a sense of the now, the immediate present, in such a way that the sense of the past and the future - all the things one has known, experienced - drop away like the leaves in autumn? For in that state the mind is fresh, timeless. But this means, does it not?, that the mind must be really free of all mass influence, of all inherited culture, of all tradition, of all the things it has known, experienced, rejoiced in. It means to break with it instantly, not progressively, for progressively is still in time.
Sirs, what we are talking about is one of the most difficult things. As I have said, truth is something that is seen not in time but from moment to moment. It has no continuity, no abiding place. Wisdom cannot buy it and no experience can give it to you. You must die to everything you know - your Masters, your gurus, your wisdom, your societies, everything. For knowing is within the field of time. The young mind is not accumulative; it is the old mind that has accumulated and is accumulating. The old mind must die, and how is this to happen? And when I say `how' I am not talking of a method. One sees, does one not?, that to understand anything it must be immediate or not at all. The immediate may be in the tomorrow but it must still be the immediate. I do not know if I am making myself clear because it is so subtle; it is not a thing to be put in black and white, not a thing to be made into a conclusion and stamped upon the mind.
Understanding is not of time. Perception is immediate. Perception of the full significance of sorrow, for instance, is immediate - not the explanation of sorrow, not the cause of sorrow. One can explain, show the cause, but the understanding of it, the feeling of it, the freedom from it is not a matter of time at all. Look, Sirs, for the greater part of our lives sorrow is our constant companion. We shed tears because we have not succeeded, or because we are this when we think we should be that. We are constantly frustrated, there is death, there is old age, there is disease, there is attachment to a person or to an idea. We know the innumerable avenues of sorrow, the small, petty little sorrows and the enormous grief. There is the constant beating we receive from the boss, the domination of the wife, the husband, and there is death. We all know what sorrow is - the deep wound which can never heal and which, if touched, makes us weep our hearts out. It is the lot of all of us - the young, the old, the powerful, the dictators, they all know this agony. Then the mind begins to analyse, to dissect, to establish certain sanctions, formulas, and it tries to carry out those denials, saying this is right and that is wrong, I must do this and I must not do that. And in that battle, frustration, misery, there is again everlasting conflict. It seems that whatever we touch brings this sorrow.
Now obviously, to be free from it, is not a matter of time. To wipe away the wound completely, not merely intellectually, verbally, but deeply, inwardly, is not a matter of time. All the conscious and unconscious wounds one has received through life - the insults, the flatteries, the memories that burden and crowd the mind, the longings and frustrations, hopes and despairs - these cannot be healed through time. They can be covered; you can put a lid on them, a wax layer, but they cannot be wiped away through time. If you try to do so, then you are back in formulas - reincarnation, what to do and what not to do - you are again caught in the same ugly business of struggle, everlasting despair and hope.
Obviously there must be a way out - to walk out of it, like shedding your clothes, never turning and looking back - like a cloud disappearing before a strong wind. I think there is such a way. But that way can never be found if you cling to the old, obviously. You must let it all go, not knowing the other. You understand me, Sirs? If you think you know the other way - how to wash the mind clean - then you are not letting go. Whereas if you do not know the other but see the falseness of time as a means of healing, as a means of liberating oneself from sorrow, if you see that the whole process of thinking in terms of memory is false, then your mind is not looking in any direction; therefore, being free, it is capable of seeing, perceiving, instantly.
I do not know if I am making myself clear. Let me put it differently. Have you ever tried dying to a pleasure? We want to die to sorrow but have you ever tried to die to any pleasure? Have you ever tried dying to a pleasure voluntarily, not forcibly? Ordinarily when you die you don't want to; death comes and takes you away; it is not a voluntary act, except in suicide. But have you ever tried dying voluntarily, easily, felt that sense of the abandonment of pleasure? Obviously not! At present your ideals, your pleasures, your ambitions are the things which give so-called significance to life; but they have no significance at all. It is the you who is giving significance to them. Life is living, abundance, fullness, abandonment, not a sense of the `I' having significance. That is mere intellection. If you experiment with dying to little things - that is good enough. Just to die to little pleasures, - with ease, with comfort, with a smile, - is enough, for then you will see that your mind is capable of dying to many things, dying to all memories. Machines are taking over the functions of memory - the computers - but the human mind is something more than a merely mechanical habit of association and memory. But it cannot be that something else, if it does not die to everything it knows.
Now to see the truth of all this a young mind is essential, a mind that is not merely functioning in the field of time. The young mind dies to everything. Can you see the truth of that immediately, feel the truth of it instantly? You may not see the whole extraordinary significance of it, the immense subtlety, the beauty of that dying, the richness of it, but even to listen to it sows the seed, and the significance of these words takes root - not only at the superficial, conscious level but right through all the unconscious.
So if you are able to listen in that way you will see that it is enough, in itself. You don't have to do a thing because the very act of listening fully is like a seed in the earth, in the womb - it has life and that goes on. So, can one see now that understanding is not a matter of time, that perception is not the result of a conclusion, an explanation? You can have a million subtle explanations of why you suffer, but the explanation of sorrow is not the ending of sorrow. But if you can see that sorrow can end, not in time but in dying to it - without any thought of reward, without any explanation - as you can die also to pleasure, then you will see that time has very little meaning to an earnest man. Then life is a thing to be lived in immediate fullness. I do not know if it has ever happened to you - to see a firefly and, in that, the whole universe of light, of truth, of beauty? This is not merely a romantic, poetic idea, but to feel that way means that the dross of memory has been washed away - which does not mean that you forget where you live, become loony. But the identification, the attachment, the crippling effect of experience upon which the mind lives, sustains itself, grows decrepit and deteriorates, all that is washed away. It must often have happened to you, Sirs, that you have been hurt by an insult, by something someone has done, your husband, your wife, or whoever it is. And can one not die to the wound, without reason, without calculation, without any need to forgive? In understanding there is no need for forgiveness. Can one not die to it totally, so that the thing is gone? If you are listening to me and not just being mesmerized, surely you must have seen already that the mind - which is put together by time - can die to itself.
Probably you have never experimented with this, but if you will do so, then you will see that all perception, all understanding is out of time, and that is liberation - the liberation from time. It is like love. Love is not of time. You do not say, `I loved yesterday, or I will love tomorrow'. Love is timeless and when you so love there is no future or past. That which is full, complete, is not bound by time or separated by space. So if you have really heard this, just a little, it is enough. The seed, if it is true, will have its own momentum. All that the mind has to do is to keep clear of the debris. But even to listen requires a certain attention. Attention is not of the mind; attention is love. After all, you give your whole heart and listen fully to somebody whom you love. Love is not of the mind and its quality is timeless.
We know none of these things, unfortunately, and so our mind rules. Our mind governs our conduct, our way of life, and so our behaviour is based merely on habit, on so-called morality. A merely moral mind will never know Truth. It is only the man who is sensitive, who is always losing, never accumulating, only such a man can understand and that understanding is out of time.
November 2, 1958
Madras 4th Public Talk 2nd November 1958
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