Bombay 4th Public Talk 7th December 1958
Most of us are concerned with the immediate action, are we not?, - what to do, what to think, what should be done - and we concentrate on that demand and give our whole thought to it. And this concern for immediate action becomes our chief problem. "Should I do this or should I not do it", or what must be done. So we spend a great deal of energy in concentrating on the immediate. This concentration surely begins from the centre of a certain desire, a certain urge, demand or motive, does it not?, through trying to solve the immediate problem. If you observe you will see for yourself that when you are concentrated on an immediate problem, the demand for the solution of that problem and the process of concentration come always from a centre. There is a centre which narrows down the whole field of attention, from a certain point to a certain point. That is what happens, is it not? I have to do something and I bring my whole thought to bear upon it, but the coming together of thought on a point is the outcome of a centre of motive, a centre that demands a solution according to pleasure and pain, according to vanity, according to frustration, and so on. That is what is happening all the time; there is always a centre from which concentration takes place. So concentration becomes a process of exclusion, a gathering together of all thought to a certain point. That is what you do when you have to study, when you have to do a job. You say you must concentrate and all thought is brought to a certain point and from there you act.
I think there is a difference between concentration and attention. Attention is awareness of the whole field of thought; attention is extensive; it has, if you observe, no frontier, no limitation. Attention is an awareness of the whole, and in that state, when you give attention to any problem, then you are able to observe the whole field of thought and also comprehend the implications and significance of the problem. Whereas concentration narrows down all thought to a certain point and so is an exclusive process. So, invariably our action, being born of concentration, is limited; and in that state of concentration there is no attention. But when there is attention - in that extensive sense of the mind being without a frontier - there can also be concentration. The little does not hold the big but the big can hold the little.
Now when you are paying attention to what is being said, you are listening not only to grasp the meaning of the words but listening also to find out what the speaker means, to see the wider implications, to go behind the words, beyond the intellectual level. But that wholeness of attention and comprehension is denied when there is concentration with a motive.
You know, when you appreciate beauty, it is really being in a state which is proportion, symmetry, colour, shape, movement and a living quality. Not only is the intellect very alert and sensitive but there is a state of wholeness of attention and feeling. But if you are merely concentrating on the appreciation of something beautiful then there is no real feeling of beauty. I hope I am making myself clear because I think it is very important to understand this. For I feel that without the sense of beauty one cannot possibly understand what is true. Truth is not merely an idea or an intellectual concept, a formula; it is a state of being. It is a state of mind that comprehends totally, not a mind that is concentrated with a motive upon an idea. I feel it is very important and urgent to feel this quality of beauty, which is not the denial of the ugly or the opposite of the ugly. All opposites are the outcome of a motive in a state of concentration, whereas beauty is a state of mind in which there is an attention which has no boundary. I am only putting into words what most of us occasionally do feel. You know how, when you say of something, `how beautiful, how lovely!', your whole being is in that; in those words there is real feeling and your mind is not just concentrated on an idea of what you consider to be beautiful.
I feel that a mind which is not capable of seeing and feeling totally the beauty of the earth, the sky, the palm tree, the horizon, the beauty of a line, a face, a gesture, will never comprehend that extraordinary thing which is beauty and freedom. For most of us freedom is merely the opposite of bondage, therefore merely a reaction. But to comprehend the feeling, the beauty, the loveliness, that extraordinary state which is not the opposite of bondage, requires a mind that is capable of seeing the totality of something. Most of us, surely, have lost or have never had real feeling. Our education, our way of life, our daily habits, traditions, customs have deprived the mind of feeling. If you observe, go into your own mind very diligently, you will find that feeling itself has no motive - the feeling for a tree, the sense of appreciation of a rich man driving a beautiful car, the sight of the villager starving, struggling, toiling day after day. If there is feeling, then from that feeling itself there is an action which is much more comprehensive, much more potent than the intellectual action of the do-gooders and the reformers because in it there is understanding, a feeling for both the ugly and the beautiful - but not as opposites. To have such feeling is essential if we are to understand this whole process of our existence and our ways of thinking. It means comprehending the depth, the width of life and also this extraordinary thing called the self, the `me'. To understand this me, this self, with all its joys, its struggles, its pains, intentions, hopes, fears, ambition, envy, jealousy and so on there must be deep feeling, not mere intellection. You know, when you have a feeling for something, you see much more sharply, much more intelligently and clearly. I do not know if you have noticed it, but when you love somebody, or when you see something rather extraordinary about someone, you become much more intelligent, sharp, alert, do you not? There is a sharpness, and alertness from concentration, but in that there is no feeling, no affection.
If one can really grasp this, not merely intellectually or verbally but actually, seriously, then when you see something - a tree, a boy, a girl - with this quality you can also be aware of the whole content of the mind, not merely the superficial, the obvious, conscious mind but the unconscious with all the innumerable struggles, the racial inheritance, the motives and experiences and stored-up knowledge. From that fullness of awareness and feeling you will see a totally different process of action taking place.
Perhaps I am talking about something of which you have had no experience and probably you will tell me to be practical and come down to earth and tell you what to do and not to do, and not be vague. But you see the difficulty is that unless you see this - unless you see the whole sky, the beauty of the night, of the morning and the evening, you can never do anything worth while under the heavens except your petty little activities of daily existence. Unless you grasp this whole thing your existence will remain miserable, sorrowful, but with the perception of this enormous thing called life, with the feeling for it, you can come to the practical with precision, with clarity, with depth. But most of us are merely concerned with immediate profit, with immediate results, the immediate pleasure or pain. So it seems to me it is very important in the pursuit of the understanding of the self that there be this feeling. But most of our feelings are dead, because when you see every day the same poverty, the same squalor, the same misery and struggle, and the same customs and habits, the mind gets dull, deadened, insensitive and it becomes very difficult to feel. So, if I may, I would like to go into something which, if we can understand it very deeply, will help us to realize this feeling - the feeling which is quite different from sentimentality, from emotion, tears and devotion. If we can get this feeling then the heavens will open.
If I may deviate for a moment, I would like to make it clear that I am talking to you as an individual. You and I, as two friends, are really concerned with life, with all the turmoil that human beings go through, and so we are talking about this because we are interested. I hope you are not merely listening to me or trying to learn from me. You will learn only by observing yourself while I am describing. But if you are carried away and depend on the verbal description, then you are merely hearing without learning. If you are listening, which is an act of attention not concentration, and directly experiencing your own state, then you will see that an extraordinary feeling of the love of learning comes into being which is not the learning from a book, from a talk. That kind of learning is merely knowledge; it is dead, it has no meaning, it is only the cultivation of memory, and memory is not intelligence. If you and I can really listen, learn, you will see the turmoil of feeling arising; I am using that word `turmoil' in the right sense - a bubbling, a release of fullness without which there can be no understanding.
To get back to our enquiry, I would like you to investigate with me into the problem of attachment, because it is very important to understand it. You are attached, are you not?, either to things, to people or to ideas. You are attached to things - a car, some property, a dress, or whatever it is; or you are attached to a person - your wife, your child, your friend; or you are attached to an idea of God or no God, of the State, of reincarnation. Now what does this attachment mean? One can understand to a certain extent being attached to a watch or a house, even though they are dead things, but the attachment to a person or to an idea is much more complicated. Attachment seems to me to be invariably to dead things. The attachment to the wife, the husband, the son, is it to a living thing or really to a dead thing? Are you attached to a living person or the picture you have made of a living person? And is not that picture a dead thing? We are enquiring, going into it together. What are you attached to? Not the living person but the idea, the memory of the pleasures and experiences you have had from that person. Please follow this, - can you be attached to a river? You may have a picture, a memory of a particular river you know of, but you cannot be attached to living waters; the river is moving swiftly, it is in a constant state of movement and what you are attached to is a picture which the word `river' awakens - somewhere where you had pleasure, amusement, a quiet evening by the riverside, but you cannot be attached to the movement of that water. If we follow this carefully we are going to find out how through attachment we are destroying feeling, because all our attachment is to dead things. You can never be attached to a living thing any more than you can be attached to the river, to the sea because the living thing is moving, eternal, in a state of continual motion. So when you say you are attached to your son, your daughter, your husband, if you can very carefully look within yourself, you will see that you cannot be attached to a living person because that person is constantly changing, moving, in a state of turmoil. What you are attached to is your picture of that person. For instance when I say I am attached to my son, it is because through him I immortalize myself, through him I become prosperous, I expect him to keep up my name. I say I may have been a failure but he will be successful, he will be more ambitious than I have been, and so I identify myself with him - the `him' being a picture. But the picture is a dead thing! So look what the mind is doing - it is creating pictures and attaching itself to dead things!
And when you say you are attached to an idea, what are ideas? Look, Sir, you are a Hindu, a Parsee, a Mussulman, a Christian, a Buddhist, an atheist - whatever you are, you have that idea firmly fixed in your mind, as it is firmly fixed in the mind also of the socialist, communist or capitalist. But ideas can never be living things - they are conclusions, reactions, dogmas impressed on your mind from childhood through propaganda, compulsion, education and various forms of communication. And have you not found how astonishingly difficult it is to free the mind from an idea? To free the Hindu mind from reincarnation, karma and all the rest of it, is almost impossible. So again you can see that a mind attached to an idea is attached to a dead thing, as a conclusion is a dead thing, and a belief also. So you are attached to a dead thing, but it is very difficult to cease being attached, because we do also love people. But where there is attachment can there be love? Or is love something vital, creative, moving, - a feeling which cannot exist together with what is dead? How arduous and difficult it is to see this fact! It requires a great deal of insight, a great deal of energy and comprehension to see that the mind is everlastingly attaching itself to dead things and that such a mind is itself dead. Being of the dead, we are functioning only in the field of the burning ghat. Therefore how can one have feeling?
So you begin to see that love knows no attachment. That is a hard thing to swallow, but it is a fact. And because our minds are so attached to dead things problems arise. Then we try to cultivate detachment - which is attachment in a different cloak and therefore still in the field of death. Do observe in yourself how dead we are, how we have destroyed the bubbling feeling. The earth is not a dead thing, but when you are attached to something you call `India', which is just a symbol of a small part and not the earth itself, then you are clinging to something which is dead. Therefore your nationalism is merely a flirtation with death; it has no depth, no vitality. But the feeling for the earth itself - not my earth or the Russian, American or English earth - that has a living quality.
So can we not understand, feel, see, that where there is attachment there is death? After all, when you are doing the same thing every day, getting up at the same time, repeating the same routine, going to the office and so on, it becomes a custom, a tradition, a habit, and so your mind becomes dull. You may pass a lovely sunset or sunrise, a single tree alone in a field, and no depth of feeling is aroused because habit has taken the place of feeling and your mind becomes attached to habit, and objects to being shaken. The mind objects to change, and so the mind is destroying itself through its own attachments to dead or dying things.
Now if you have really understood all this, not merely verbally or intellectually, but if you feel deeply with me that this is really a very serious thing, then you will see that you can go to the office, take a bus, function in everyday life with a different quality, a new quality of mind. After all, you cannot stop doing your regular jobs, living your daily life; now it is a routine to which you are attached. And when you are attached to the fountain that holds the water you cannot move with the living water. To see the truth of this requires not only insight, clarity of thought, precision of mind, but also the sense of beauty. If you have understood, you will see that attachment has no meaning any more. You do not have to struggle to be free of it; it drops away like a leaf in the wind. Then your mind becomes extraordinarily alive, sharp, precise, no longer confused. But without understanding all this you will merely say: "Let me have it" or "I have something I must do." You are attached to action and you want the immediate answer. You have to decide what to do tomorrow and that is much more compelling, much more urgent to you than this enquiry, than this search, than the feeling of this whole quality of comprehension, understanding, beauty and love. So your actions are always leading to death, death being confusion, misery, suffering and toil. If you see a man who only wants immediate action, immediate solution, what can you do for such a man, who is pursuing death and insists on doing it? I am afraid most of us are like that. That is why the people of this country are inwardly dead. Though they may build dams for irrigation, industries, lessen population, feed people better and all the rest of it, it is like the superficial structure of a beautiful house with no one living in it. That is what is happening. Technology is an art, but we have reduced it to a mechanical thing.
So if you and I have really truthfully and honestly asked ourselves how to awaken this feeling, then we shall have seen that any form of attachment is a dead thing, and that this deadly quality of attachment - to things, to people and to ideas, invariably leads to the grave. In perceiving this you will see that your desire for immediate action has an answer at a totally different level, and the answer will be true, and it will be practical.
I hope I have made myself clear because for most of us the day to day action of habit has become all-important, so that we never see the horizon but are always doing something. You can only have the explosion of feeling when you understand this whole process of yourself and your attachments. If you can explore, examine, look into this thing called attachment, then you will begin to learn, and it is learning that will break up the dead things; it is learning that will give the feeling to action. You may make a mistake in that action, but that mistake is a constant process of learning. To act means that you are trying to see, to find out, to understand, not merely trying to produce a result - which is a dead result. Action becomes very small and petty if you do not understand the centre, the actor. We separate the actor from the action; the `I' always does that and so becomes a dead thing. But if you are beginning to understand yourself, which is self-knowledge, which is learning about yourself, then that learning is a beautiful thing, so subtle, like living waters. If you understand that, and with that understanding act - not with the action of thought, but through the very process of learning - then you will find that the mind is no longer dead, no longer attached to dead and dying things. The mind, then, is extraordinary; it is like the horizon, endless, like space, without measure. Such a mind can go very deeply, and become that which is the Universe, the Timeless. From that state you will be able to act in time, but with a totally different feeling. All this requires not chronological time, days, weeks and years, but the understanding of yourself, which can be done immediately. You will know, then, what love is. Love knows no jealousy, no envy, no ambition, and has no anchorage; it is a state in which there is no time, and because of that, action takes on a totally different meaning in our daily existence.
December 7, 1958
Bombay 4th Public Talk 7th December 1958
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