Bombay 8th Public Talk 21st December 1958
I would like to talk this evening about meditation, but to go into it really deeply one must see that meditation is not something apart from daily existence; it is intimately connected with our daily activities, our daily thoughts, with our conflicts, our passing pleasures and joys. It is not something which you do in a quiet room all by yourself, unrelated to the daily movement of life. To really go into it deeply I think one must begin by understanding the problem of influence.
I hope that you, as an individual, are not being influenced in any way by these talks; because to me, influence - unless one fully comprehends its significance - is a poison. It conditions, deteriorates and perverts the mind. And there are so many influences, are there not? There is the climate, the food you eat, the very thoughts you have, the pressures, your education, the newspapers you read, the churches, temples; and there is the influence of the family, the influence of the husband over the wife and the wife over the husband, and also the influence of centuries of tradition. Everything about one is influencing the mind, shaping one's thought, consciously or unconsciously, and one is not aware of these influences. To be aware of all these many influences and to be free of them is the process of meditation. But this requires a deep, an enormous understanding, because with a shallow mind, a petty mind, sitting down to meditate is obviously just a process of murmuring, muttering, a repetition which has no meaning at all.
To understand this whole problem of influence, the influence of experience, the influence of knowledge, of inward and outward motives - to find out what is true and what is false and to see the truth in the so-called false - all that requires tremendous insight, a deep inward comprehension of things as they are, does it not? This whole process is, surely, the way of meditation. Meditation is essential in life, in our everyday existence, as beauty is essential. The perception of beauty, the sensitivity to things, to the ugly as well as to the beautiful, is essential - to see a beautiful tree, a lovely sky of an evening, to see the vast horizon where the clouds are gathering as the sun is setting. All this is necessary, the perception of beauty and the understanding of the way of meditation, because all that is life, as is also your going to the office, the quarrels, miseries, the perpetual strain, anxiety, the deep fears, love and starvation. Now the understanding of this total process of existence, - the influences, the sorrows, the daily strain, the authoritative outlook, the political actions and so on - all this is life, and the process of understanding it all and freeing the mind, is meditation. If one really comprehends this life then there is always a meditative process, always a process of contemplation - but not about something. To be aware of this whole process of existence, to observe it, to dispassionately enter into it and to be free of it, is meditation.
So I would like, if I may, to talk about all this, but first, if I may suggest, do not be mesmerized by that word `meditation; do not immediately take up a posture, mental or physical, do not take up a special attitude because a mind that takes up a posture, an attitude can never be in a state of meditation. Meditation is really the uncovering, the unfolding of the extraordinary process of the mind, with all its subtleties, its wanderings, its superficial actions and its deep movement, of which the conscious mind is not aware at all. The total comprehension of all this and the entering into it, is meditation.
Now I hope you understand that I am talking to you as an individual, not as to an audience. You and I are quietly, freely, dispassionately trying to understand this thing called life. And if we are to explore together you cannot be influenced, or take up an attitude which has been influenced. You have to listen, which means, really, to learn. If you take up an attitude you cease to learn; if you say you already know what meditation is, then you cease to learn about meditation; if you say: "I have meditated all my life and I have had visions, I have had clarity, I have had experiences, and that is good enough for me", then you have already ceased to meditate, ceased to learn. Meditation is not a finality; the beauty of meditation is that it is unending, it is an eternal thing. Also it would be a misfortune if you are merely persuaded by me to think this way or that. But if you are aware of the influences about you, including mine, aware so that you know what you eat, what you think, what you read and how it is always shaping the mind, then you will see that in spite of all the influences that are pressing upon you, you will break through. I think it is very important to understand this at the beginning, because our life is lived in the valley of despair, with hope as the ideal, the Utopia, the thing to be gained, the thing for which one strives, disciplines the mind. We are everlastingly climbing this steep hill called hope and falling back into the valley of despair - despair because of lack of fulfilment, the feeling of inferiority, the sense of hopelessness, loneliness, of not `being', not `arriving'. Between these two states we exist. We accept hope and make a philosophy of it, weave our life around it. All the religions of the world are based on hope - some call it resurrection and others give it a different name; but always this sense of hope exists in us both outwardly with regard to success and inwardly with regard to spiritual riches.
And there is also this sense of despair. I do not know if you have ever felt very strongly the sense of despair, of hopelessness, complete loneliness, the misery of not being recognized by society, the feeling of complete uselessness, that the individual does not count at all. After all, historical processes are going on - wars, revolutions, violent changes, economic pressures, social upheavals - in which the individual has no voice at all. The tyrannical powers, Communistic or whatever they be, totally prevent individual thinking. And when you perceive all that, when you are caught in it, then there is despair. So you make a philosophy of despair, which is to accept things as they are and make the best of them, which some call materialism. Or else, when you are hoping, struggling to arrive, to achieve, it is called spirituality. Both are in the same valley; they are two sides of the same coin; and we live in that state. Our heavens, our gods, our rituals are the promise, the reward, the hope of a better existence. And so we live either very superficially in hope or equally superficially in despair.
Now the question I should like to ask is whether you have ever felt, very deeply, the sense of despair, the sense of complete loneliness when there is no answer, no relationship to anything - without the mind seeking any escape, without the mind seeking any explanation. I think this is an important question to ask oneself because usually we turn to explanations, do we not?, we seek the cause thereof, we say it is karma, it is this or that. And we build around our despair a philosophy which merely takes us to the opposite state of hope. And we accept that state because for most of us hope is an enormous incentive for action - the hope that you will get a lot of money, the hope that there is a God who will protect you, who will help you - you know the whole racket of all that. So either there is a philosophy of despair or a philosophy of hope, or else you just accept things as they are, and exist. That is what most of us are doing, just existing. Though we spin a lot of words, though we talk about ideals, goodness, beauty, truth and all the rest of it, they are just superficial reactions, words, but what we are actually doing is merely existing. Very few want to be away, free from both despair and hope. They both represent a process of time, do they not? - not only chronological time but psychological time. Despair wants to come to an end, which is in time, and hope wants to arrive somewhere, also in time.
So there is despair, there is hope, and there is merely existing, - not being concerned with anything, carrying on from day to day, thoughtless, not caring any more, not investigating - that is what most of us are doing. We are just existing, rotting in our jobs, rotting in our family life, rotting in our search for money, position, knowledge, and so on. We talk about God, Truth, and all the rest of it with an acceptance of things as they are. That is the actual state for most of us. There is always the ideal, the hope to arrive, and if you are a very strong, vital person you will struggle, you will push to get somewhere. And if you are a little more vital, clear, you will also see the despair, how hopeless the world is, how little we change, and how every revolution, every war destroys in the name of peace, in the name of love, in the name of Utopia.
So our life is caught in this valley of tears and how is the mind to break away from it all, to become alive? Because this state is death, obviously. Hope, and despair, and the acceptance of things as they are, these states surely indicate death, do they not? Because in these states the mind is decaying, burdened down, crowded by time. If you observe your own mind you will see that this is what is actually taking place; we are caught in hope, despair or just existing; it is a fact. Now, how is the mind to break away from all this? Surely meditation is the process of breaking away. Meditation is not in order to have peace, for how can a mind that is not free have peace? This everlasting search for peace of mind is sheer nonsense. The rich man with full bank account talks about it, and the man who is in misery also talks about it. But there is peace only in freedom.
So, in the realization of these states of despair, hope and mere existence, one must surely ask oneself whether the mind can break through all this? I hope you understand the question, Sirs? Always we are asking: "What am I to do? Where am I to look for help? On whom can I depend? What system must I follow?" That is our everlasting cry, not only when tears of despair, but beneath our smiles we are asking.
Surely the first thing to realize is that nobody is going to hep you - nobody. One has to stand completely alone. After all, when one sees how crowded the mind is with alternation of hope and despair, how the mind is bound by tradition, by knowledge, by every influence known and unknown, being possessive, possessed and dispossessed; when you begin to investigate, understand all that, you will find, will you not?, that the mind must be alone, uncontaminated, untouched, become innocent, fresh, new? Now how is this to come about?
First of all one can see that any practice, any discipline, any habit, good or bad, merely brings about the continuity of either despair or hope. Is that not so? You practise, you discipline - what for? You sit meditating in the morning, perform various rituals, repeat words, prayers - what for? Because you hope, do you not?, to bring about tranquillity of mind, you hope to arrive somewhere, you hope to understand, and so you repeat the Gita or the Bible or whatever you do, in order to quieten the crowded mind - which is hypnotizing the mind by words. Again you are caught in the web of hope. You can see, can you not?, that every system of control in order to arrive at a psychological result obviously implies the perpetuation of hope; and therefore there is always despair lurking behind. So, how are you to break through, to be free? Because it is only in freedom that there is peace. Peace is a by-product, as virtue is a by-product; it is not an end in itself, it is a secondary issue. But if the mind can understand and be free, then there is peace. How is the mind to be free? I am using the word `how' not in the sense of enquiring what system to follow, what discipline to follow, but in the sense of enquiring into freedom, into the realization of the conflict that the mind must be free. That is the first essential perception. But that freedom is denied when there is prayer. The power of prayer is within the field of time and a mind that is seeking, begging, supplicating, obviously is not a free mind. By the power of prayer you can probably get what you want, but what you want is so petty, trivial because it is still within the field of hope and despair. So, prayer is not meditation, but seeing the truth about prayer and therefore being free from prayer is meditation. Also, the repetition of words is merely a process of hypnotizing the mind; you obviously do become still if you constantly repeat a word or a sentence but you make the mind dull thereby, and in that there is no freedom. But the understanding of the process of the mind being made dull by repetition, by habit, by ritual, and the understanding of the psychological desire to be secure through the repeated word, that is meditation.
At this point the problem becomes much more complicated, for we must examine both the meditator and the meditation. And you have to listen, if I may suggest, very carefully. One must listen not merely in order to repudiate or accept, but to learn. A mind that is eager to learn does not accept or deny; it listens to find out. The pro - blem of meditation and who is the meditator requires a great deal of penetration. Now, who is the meditator, the thinker, the `I' who says "I must meditate"? What is the entity which experiences and then says: "I have had an experience"? You observe, and there is the thing observed; there is the thinker, and there is the thought. Now what is the thinker? Please do not answer by quoting authority; do not say that Shankara, Buddha, Christ has said this or that. A man who quotes has ceased to be intelligent; when you merely repeat from memory you have ceased to, think. We are trying to understand and to go into something for ourselves, and therefore the moment you quote you have stopped thinking, looking, understanding, learning. Distrust people who quote. They are merely recording machines, gramophones, and they use knowledge as a means of self-expansion. So please listen to learn, because in examining the thinker together, we are going to come upon this extraordinary thing called fear. Without understanding fear there is no meditation. Meditation is the understanding of the whole process of how fear comes into being.
Now what is the thinker? It is the name, the form and the brain that responds, is it not? This brain, through reactions and repeated stimuli, creates the mind; the mind is related to the brain, as the brain is related to the mind; they interact upon each other. But the mind is independent of the brain; and thought, though it depends on the brain, is also independent of it. I ask you where you live; you hear the question and a series of reactions take place in the brain and then you remember where you live and tell me. So there is the name, the form, the brain. The brain creates the mind and the mind is, related to the brain; there is an interaction going on all the time between the two. But yet the mind is independent, different from the brain, and it is the mind that is the centre of the `I', the thinker. It is this mind - which is the outcome of the brain - that thinks, that says: I remember, my name is this, I live there, I have this job, I feel pain. So the thinking process is the result of the brain, and the thinking process creates the centre from which you say: I know, I do not know, I am happy, I am unhappy. That centre is the bundle, the residue of all memory, of all experience, of all traditions, of the conscious as well as the unconscious. All that consciousness, which is the mind, is related to the brain. Between the two there is a constant interaction, and yet the mind is independent, separate from the brain, though related to it.
So, as long as there is this centre in consciousness - the observer who is accumulating, and the observed, there must be conflict. Please understand this; I will go into it. So long as there is a thinker, an experiencer and the experienced, the observed, there must be a conflict between the two. That is so, is it not? I have experienced pleasure, and I want more; I have experienced pain, and I do not want any more; I am evil, and I must be good; I want to fulfil, and there is frustration. So there is a constant strife, struggle, endeavour between the experiencer and the thing that is experienced. This centre is greedy and so it says, I must not be greedy; and so there is conflict. We all know this, do we not? And it is this struggle which is wearing out the mind; it is this constant battle going on in the field of the mind which is the deteriorating, distorting, deadening factor. So what is the mind to do? In the mind there is this dual process going on of the observer and the observed, and therefore the conflict, the pain, the whole business of sorrow, misery, hope and despair. Everything centres round this entity, the thinker, the observer, and so long as that centre exists there must be sorrow, because the centre is the shadow-maker. And that centre is created by thought, which is the reaction of memory, memory being also part of the brain; so they are all interrelated. Now the question is, how to die to that centre? How to dissipate it so that the centre is no longer the shadow-maker, no longer the entity who says: "I suffer; I wish I could be happy"? For then consciousness, awareness has no centre, and yet the brain is capable of receiving impressions, translating, acting. I hope you understand the problem, Sirs. I hope I am making it clear. So long as there is the thinker and the thought, so long as there is the experiencer and the thing being experienced, there must be the deteriorating factor of conflict, and through conflict you can produce nothing, through conflict there is no creation. There is creation only when the mind is totally quiet. The brain may have problems, the brain may work out a lot of things, but the solution to the problem which the brain has, can only take place when the mind - which is related to the brain - is in a totally different state in which there is no centre; when it is motionless. And that state of motionless mind is not a thing to be gathered, captured, arrived at by your brain. The cunning brain will say: "I must get that state and everything will be all right; but the cunning brain can never know it. Whereas the realization that so long as there is strife in any form there must be a centre of unconsciousness which is creating all the confusion, all the misery, the travail and toil - the realization of that, the feeling of that, the total comprehension of it, brings to the mind an extraordinary state of awareness in which there is no centre, and therefore no frontier. Such a mind is completely aware, fully enlightened, every untrodden region of it is known and therefore it is completely quiet. In that state there is no experiencer.
If you have followed, step by step from the beginning of this discourse, if you have gone into it, if you have really felt it with me, understood, not accepted, but seen the truth of it as you went along, then you will find there is an irrefutable, real, true state of mind which is without the centre.
Then a problem arises which is really much more complicated, the problem of what this state is, what is the mind that experiences this complete motionlessness? If there is no centre which recognizes the motionless state of the mind, how do you know such a mind does exist? Please, Sirs, understand this question because it is very deeply related to your daily living; it is not something remote, beyond the hills, beyond the ocean. If you understand this, you will understand your daily relationships, your daily activities, your daily thoughts; then you will approach life in a much more significant way, more vitally. After all, you only know an experience because you have already experienced it; you know pain because you have experienced pain. So there is an experiencer who has experienced pain and recognizes it as pain.
Now the question is, if there is no centre in consciousness, only a state of awareness in which there is no border, no frontier, no time - because it is something beyond time, eternal, incorruptible - then how does the mind know that such a state exists? If it cannot be recognized, how can one know it exists? This is not a puzzle, Sirs, but please understand this, watch your own mind when a problem like this is put to you. It is something which you do not know, which you have never experienced, and therefore the experiencer can never touch it. What an experiencer can experience is only that which he recognizes, and recognition only comes because you have a memory. Therefore this state of awareness without a frontier, without a centre, is something which cannot be experienced by the experiencer. Then what is it which knows it exists? Now watch, Sirs, look at it. Do you know the state of love when you say `I love'? If you have already experienced love and there is an experiencer who says, `I love you', then it is no longer love. Let us put it differently. Where there is the perception of beauty there is no desire. When you see something very beautiful, the immediate perception of it drives away all desire. Have you not noticed it? A beautiful person, a tree solitary in a field against the sky - in the beauty of that perception there is no desire. Desire comes much later, when I say: "I want to go back and look at it again. I would like to see that face again." Then the whole process of desire starts; then the process of time comes in. Now if you understand that, then you will see that there is a state which is not experienceable by the mind as the experiencer, the centre; and that state is timeless, not something which is continuous.
So the whole of this discourse from the very beginning to now, is meditation. The understanding of the ways of the mind is the uncovering of the self, not the gathering of knowledge about the self. I am not talking about the super self, there is no such thing; that is an invention of the mind in its desire to be secure, to be immortal. All that we actually know is this valley of tears in which we live with despair and hope, and out of that we invent a heaven, a permanent self, and so on; all that is unreal. But to understand this whole process requires great perception, keen attention, a real understanding of oneself, taking every thought and looking at it, going into it. If you can go into even one thought completely, to the end, then you will find out about the thinker and the thought and that state of mind in which there is no centre. All this is meditation, and if you do not understand all this, your life will remain shallow, empty, miserable, and do what you will - read any book, follow any teacher - you are still in the valley of darkness. It is only when you begin to understand this total process that there is a freedom in which there is silence and peace.
December 21, 1958
Bombay 8th Public Talk 21st December 1958
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