Bombay 2nd Public Talk 30th November 1958
The act of learning needs humility. A mind that has accumulated a great deal of knowledge, that thinks it knows, is incapable of learning because it is full of conclusions, opinions, prejudices, beliefs and dogmas; and such a mind has no humility. One needs a great deal of humility in order to learn. It is essential that there be a sense, a feeling of humility but humility is denied when the mind is merely functioning as a machine that is gathering knowledge, gathering experience, information in order to act, in order to function. Such a mind is never learning. Life is not a conclusion; it does not move from one fixed point to another, from one experience to another; it is altogether too vast, it is a living thing, really immeasurable by the mind. And to learn about life one needs an abundance of humility; but humility is denied when the mind is merely gathering. That gathering, that accumulation becomes the distorting point from which it functions, from which it thinks, from which it acts. do not know if you have ever noticed the workings of your own mind? If so, you will have seen that the moment it has gathered anything - experience, knowledge, information, an idea of any nature - then in it there is a peculiar quality of aggressive accumulation. The man who asserts that he knows, obviously does not know, and obviously he has no humility. But humility is not a thing to be cultivated; if you do cultivate it, it becomes mere humbleness which is nothing more than the opposite of vanity and arrogance. Humility is not a product of the mind, but in the very act of learning, which is a constant process, a never-ending process, in that state there is humility. Humility is not a cloak you can put on, a garment you can wear at your convenience.
So it seems to me that learning is astonishingly difficult, as is listening also. We never actually listen to anything because our mind is not free; our ears are stuffed up with those things which we already know, so listening becomes extraordinarily difficult. I think, - or rather, it is a fact, - that if one can listen to something with all one's being, with vigour, with vitality, then the very act of listening is a liberative factor, but unfortunately you never do listen as you have never learnt about it. After all, you only learn when you give your whole being to something. Even when you give your whole being to mathematics, you learn; but when you are in a state of contradiction, when you do not want to learn but are forced to learn, then it becomes merely a process of accumulation. To learn is like reading a novel with innumerable characters; it requires your full attention, not contradictory attention. If you want to learn about a leaf - a leaf of the spring or a leaf of the summer - you must really look at it, see the symmetry of it, the texture of it, the quality of the living leaf. There is beauty, there is vigour, there is vitality in a single leaf. So to learn about the leaf, the flower, the cloud, the sunset or a human being, you must look with all intensity.
If you could listen in the same way not only to what is being said but to everything around you - the cry of a child, the sound of the rolling waves coming in, the noise of the aeroplane overhead - then out of that deep listening will come an enormous comprehension. Comprehension is not born out of gathering, out of an accumulation of information. Comprehension is always instantaneous. You and I are communicating with each other about a subject which is very difficult. I would like to tell you something - not in the sense of a lecturer giving instructions to you as to what to do and what not to do - that would be too absurd; but cannot you and I, as two individuals, look into this problem together? The speaker may explain, see more of the subtleties, the nuances, the difficulties, but if you do not listen with your whole being you will not be able to follow, then there will be only a verbal meaning, and words do not satisfy a hungry man.
So you and I will go into this together. You are not going to learn anything from me, you are not going to gather something here and go away with it, because if you do that, it will be merely an accumulation, something which you store up to remember. But as I am talking please listen with your whole being, with your full attention, with eagerness, as you would listen to something which you really love - if you ever do love. Because here you are receiving no instructions and you are not a pupil. You are learning an art - and I really do mean that. We are learning together and therefore the division of the teacher and the disciple has completely gone. It is immature thinking to regard somebody as a teacher who knows and yourself as one who does not know. In that relationship both lack humility and therefore both cease to learn. This is not just a verbal expression, a temporary statement, as you will see for yourself if you listen without merely looking for instructions as to what to do and what not to do. Life is not understood through a series of instructions. You can apply instructions to a dynamo, the radio, but life is not a machine, it is an ever-living, ever-renewing thing. So, there is no instruction - and that is the beauty of learning The mind that is small, instructed, taught, only strengthens memory - as happens in all the universities and schools where you merely cultivate memory in order to pass examinations and get a job. That is not acquiring intelligence. Intelligence comes when you are learning. In learning there is no end, and that is the beauty of life, the sacredness of life. So you and I are going to learn, to explore, think together and communicate with each other about action.
To most of us life is action, and by action we mean something which has been done, is being done, or will be done. Without action you cannot live. Action does not mean only physical movement, going from here to there; there is also the action of thought, the action of an idea, the action of a feeling, of environment, of opinion, the action of ambition, of food and of psychological influences - of which most of us are totally unaware. There are the actions of the conscious mind and the actions of the unconscious mind. There is also, is there not?, the action of a seed in the earth, the action of a man who gets a job and sticks to it for the rest of his life, there is the action of the waves beating on the shore, the action of gentle weather, of rain; there is all the action of the earth and of the heavens. So action is something limitless. Action is a movement both within and out of time. I am thinking aloud with you; I am exploring. I came here with one thought, action, and I want to discuss it with you, go into it, explore it gently, slowly, quietly, so that you and I understand it together.
But when you merely reduce action to: `What am I to do? Should I do this and not do that? Is this right, or that?', then action becomes a very small thing. We do, naturally, have to act within time; I do have to stop at the end of the hour; one has to go to the office, the factory, take meals, at a certain time. There must be action in time, and that is all we know, is it not? You and I really do not know anything else except action which is recognizable and within the field of time. By time we mean yesterday, today and tomorrow. Tomorrow is the infinite future, yesterday is the infinite past and today is the present. And the conflict between the future and the past produces a thing which we call action. So we are always enquiring how to act within the field of time, of recognition. We are always asking what to do, whether to marry or not to marry, whether to yield to temptation or to resist, whether to try and become rich or seek God. Circumstances, which are really the same as time, force me to accept a job because I have a family and I have to earn, and so there is all the conflict, turmoil and toil. So my mind is caught in the field of action-within-time. That is all I know; and each action produces its own result, its own fruits, again within time. That is one step, is it not? To see that we are caught in the action of time.
Then there is the action of tension. Please follow this because we are examining it together. There is the action born of the tension between two opposites, which is a state of self-contradiction - wanting to do this and doing totally the opposite. You know that, do you not? One desire says, do this and another desire says, do not do it. You are feeling angry, violent, brutal and yet a part of you tells you to be kind, to be gentle, nice. For most of us action is born out of tension, self-contradiction. If you watch yourself you will see it; and the more the struggle, the contradiction, the more drastic and violent is the action. Out of this tension the ambitious man works ruthlessly - in the name of God, in the name of peace, or in the name of politics, of his country, and so on. Such tension produces great action; and the man who is in an agony of self-contradiction may produce a poem, a book, a painting; the greater the inward tension the greater the activity, the productivity.
Then, if you will observe in yourself there is also the action of will. I must do this and I must not do that. I must discipline myself. I must not think this way. I must reject, I must protect. So there is the positive and the negative action of will. I am just describing and if you are really listening you will see that an action of real understanding takes place - which I am going to go through presently. The action of will is the action of resistance, negatively or positively. So there are varieties of action, but most of us know the action of will because most of us have no great tension since we are not great. We are not great writers, great politicians or great saints, so-called; they are not really saints at all because they have committed themselves to a certain form of life and therefore have ceased to learn. We are ordinary people, not too clever. Sometimes we look at a tree or a sunset and smile happily, but for most of us action is born of will; we are resisting. Will is the result of many desires, is it not? You know, do you not?, the action of will - I feel lazy and I would like to lie in bed a little longer but I must discipline myself and get up; I feel sexual, lustful, but I must not, I must resist it. So we exercise will to produce a result. That is all we know; either we yield or resist, and yielding creates its own agony which presently becomes resistance. So we are everlastingly in battle within ourselves.
So, will is the product of desire, wanting and not wanting. It is as simple as that, do not let us complicate it - leave that to the philosophers, the speculators. You and I know that will is the action that is born within the field of two opposite desires, and our cultivation of virtue is the cultivation of resistance. Resisting envy you call virtuous. And that is going on always within us - a desire producing its opposite and from the opposite a resistance is created, and that resistance is will. If you watch your own mind you will see it. And as we have to move in this world we exercise this will, and that is all we know, and with this will we say we must find out if there is something beyond. With this will we discipline ourselves, torture ourselves, deny ourselves - and the more you are capable of denying yourself the more saintly you are supposed to be. All your saints, your gurus and Gods are the product of this denial, this resistance; and the man who can follow ardently, denying everything, following the ideal he has projected, him you call a great man.
So when you look at this life of action - the growing tree, the bird on the wing, the flowing river, the movement of the clouds, of lightning, of machines, the action of the waves upon the shore, - then you see, do you not?, that Life itself is action, endless action that has no beginning and no end. It is something that is everlastingly in movement, and it is the universe, God, bliss, reality. But we reduce the vast action of life to our own petty little action in life, and ask what we should do, or follow some book, some system. See what we have done, how petty, small, narrow, ugly, brutal our action is. Please do listen to this! I know as well as you that we have to live in this world, that we have to act within time and that it is no good saying: `Life is so vast, I will let it act, it will tell me what to do'. It won't tell us what to do. So you and I have to see this extraordinary phenomenon of our mind reducing this action which is infinite, limitless, profound, to the pettiness of how to get a job, how to become a Minister, whether to have sex or not - you know all the petty little struggles in life. So we are constantly reducing this enormous movement of life to action which is recognizable and made respectable by society. You see this, Sirs, do you not?, - the action which is recognizable and within the field of time, and that action which knows no recognition and which is the endless movement of life.
Now the question is this: Can I live in this world, do my job and so on, with a sense of this endless depth of action, or must I, through my petty mind, reduce action to a functioning only within the field of recognition, within the field of time? Am I making myself clear?
Let me put the thing differently. Love is something which is not measurable in terms of action, is it not? I do not know if you have ever thought about it. You and I are talking together now face to face and we are both interested in this and want to find out. We know what this feeling of beauty, of love is, We are talking of love itself, not the explanation of love, not the verbal expression. The word `love' is not love. Though the intellectual mind divides it into profane love and sacred, divine love, all that has no meaning. But that beauty of feeling which is not expressible in words and not recognizable by the mind - we know that thing. It is really a most extraordinary thing; in it there is no sense of `the other', and the observer is absent; there is only the feeling. It is not that I feel love and express it by holding your hand or by doing this or that act. It is. If you have ever had that feeling, if you have ever lived it, if you have understood it, expressed it, nurtured it, if you have felt it totally with all your being, you will see that with that feeling one can live in the world. Then you can educate your children in the most splendid manner, because that feeling is the centre of action, though within the field of time. But not having that feeling, with all its immensity, passion and vigour, we reduce love merely to the `I love you' and function only within the field of time, trying to catch the eye of another.
So you see the problem. Love is something that knows no measure, that cannot be put together by the mind, cannot be cultivated, something which is not sentimental, which has nothing to do with emotionalism and nothing whatsoever to do with good works - the village reform and so on. When you have that feeling then everything in life, is important, significant; therefore you will do that which is good. But without knowing the beauty, the depth, the vigour of it we are trying to reduce love into something which the mind can capture and make respectable. And the same applies to action, which we are now trying to understand.
Action is an endless movement which has no beginning and no end and which is not controlled by cause and effect. Action is of everything - the action of the sea, of the mango seed becoming the mango tree, and so on. But the human mind is not a seed and therefore, through its action it becomes only a modified reproduction of what it was. In our life there is the constant pressure of circumstances and although the circumstances are always changing they are ever shaping our lives. What was, is not: what is, can be broken. So can we not sense, feel, this enormous action of life which ranges from the movement of the little worm in the earth to the sweep of the infinite heavens? If you really want to know what this extraordinary thing is, this action, then you must go through it, you must break through the barrier of this action in time. Then you will know it, then with that feeling you can act, you can go to your job and do all the things that are recognizable within the field of time. But from within the recognizable field of time you cannot find the other. Do what you will, through the petty you will never find the immeasurable.
If you once really saw the truth of this - that a mind functioning within the field of time can never understand the Eternal, which is outside of time, if you really saw that, felt it, then you would see that a mind which speculates about love and divides it up as carnal, profane, divine or sacred can never find the other. But if you can feel this astonishing action - the movement of the stars, the forests, the rivers, the ocean, the ways of the animals and of human beings; if you could know the beauty of a tender leaf in spring, the feeling of rain as it drops from the heavens; then with that immense feeling you can act within the field of recognition, within the field of time. But action within the field of time can never lead to the other. If you really understand that, not verbally, intellectually, if you really feel the significance of it, grasp it, see the extraordinary beauty and loveliness of it, then you will see that the will has no place in this at all. All action born of will is essentially self-centred, egocentric, but such action will disappear totally when you have understood it fully, when you have really felt yourself moving in it, with your mind wholly in it. Then you can see that there is no necessity for will at all; there is a quite different movement. The will then is like a knotted piece of rope, it can be undone. That will can be lost; but the other cannot be lost, it cannot be increased or decreased.
So, if you are listening with your whole being, learning with your whole being, which means feeling deeply, not merely listening to words intellectually, then you will feel the extraordinary movement of learning, of God - not the God made by the hand or by the mind, not the God of the temple, mosque or church, but this endless immeasurable thing, the Timeless. Then you will see that we can live with astonishing peace in this world; then there is no such thing as temptation, no such thing as virtue, because virtue is merely a thing of society. The man who understands all this, who lives it, is orderly, inwardly at rest; his action is entirely different, much more effective, easier and clearer, because there is no inward confusion, contradiction.
So, a mind that holds to conclusions is never humble. A man who has learnt is carrying the burden of his knowledge, but a man who is learning has no burden and therefore he can go to the top of the mountain. As two human beings, you and I have talked of something which cannot be captured through words; but by listening to each other, exploring it, understanding it, we have found something extraordinary, something that is imperishable. Life reduced to the `me' clinging to life is perishable, but if you can see that extraordinary Life from the beginning to the end, if once you have gone into it, felt it, drunk at its fountain, then you can live an ordinary life with utter newness, you can really live. The respectable man is not living, he is already dead; and life is not a thing to be invited by the dead. Life is to be entered and forgotten - because there is no `me' to remember the living of that life. It is only when the mind is in a state of complete humility, when it has no purpose for its own little existence, when it does not move from a point to a point, from experience to experience, from knowledge to knowledge - only such a mind which is totally, completely, wholly not-seeking, knows the infinite beginning and the infinite end of existence.
November 30, 1958
Bombay 2nd Public Talk 30th November 1958
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