Madras 6th Public Talk 9th December 1959
If we are at all thoughtful, we must often have wondered from what source our activities come. We must have examined ourselves, wondering why we do certain things - why we join certain organizations, undertake certain jobs, why we think in a certain manner, hold certain beliefs, why there are the innumerable complex and contradictory desires from which all our actions spring. Some of us, at least, must have watched these contradictory desires operating in ourselves and in others. Just as we have divided the earth into many conflicting parts, calling them by different names - England, India, Russia, America, and so on - so also we are inwardly broken up into many parts, each part in conflict with the others. But the earth is ours, yours and mine; it is not Indian or English, Chinese or Russian, German or American. It is our earth, to be lived on, to be enjoyed, to be nourished, to be looked after and beautified. It is a total thing, not to be broken up. Yet we continue to break up the earth, just as we are broken up in ourselves; and this breaking up process is a source of constant deterioration.
Now, is there a wholeness, a completeness of being from which total action can take place, instead of this self-contradictory state with which we are so familiar? Let us go into this question together. Why is the mind always broken up in its thinking, in its feeling, in its activity, in the very manner of its existence? If we can go into this problem deeply, perhaps we shall find an action, a way of living, a state of being which is not self-contradictory. But to be free of self-contradiction requires, not merely an outward change, but a revolution in the quality of the mind itself.
We can see that a fundamental change is necessary at every level of our being, and also at every level of society. You and I need to change very drastically , because, as it is now, our way of life is so fragmentary; it is a self-contradictory process, with the various parts of ourselves at war with each other. A revolution in our lives is obviously essential. I do not mean economic revolution - that is a very small thing. What is needed is a revolution in our very being, a crisis in the mind, in consciousness, not just a crisis in society. There must be this inner crisis to bring about a fundamental revolution in our lives.
So, how to change radically is the problem. How is a shallow, petty mind, a mind that is not used to thinking very deeply, a mind that is carried away by outward events, a mind that is caught in a system, whether it be yogic, communistic, religious, or technological - how is such a mind to change fundamentally? I am asking myself, and you, this question; I am thinking aloud about the problem. Is it possible to bring about a radical revolution in the quality of the mind, in the ways of our thinking and feeling? Can one live with one's whole being, so that the job, the technique, is not separated from one's daily thoughts and emotions? Is there a way of living which is not fragmentary, not self-contradictory, but which is an integrated whole, like a tree with its many branches, many leaves? Is it possible to live in such a way that every action is a total action, every feeling is whole, every movement of the mind complete? Can you and I live totally, from the very depth of our being, so that there is no self-contradiction? If we can seriously go into this question, as two individual human beings, then perhaps we shall find the answer; and that is what I would like to do this evening.
Why is there little or no action in our lives which is not broken up, self-contradictory? I do not know if you have ever asked yourselves this question. You are in a state of self-contradiction, are you not? And the more you think, the more self-contradictory you become. Being aware of this contradictory state in yourselves, you invoke God, or join some religious society - which merely puts you to sleep. Outwardly you may appear peaceful, calm, but inside there is still contradiction, conflict.
So, is it possible to live with a sense of harmony, beauty, with a sense of neverending fulfilment - or rather, I won't say fulfilment, because fulfilment brings frustration, but is there a neverending state of action in which there is no sorrow, no repentance, no cause for regret? If there is such a state, then how is one to come to it? One obviously cannot cultivate it. One cannot say "I shall be harmonious" - it means nothing. To assume that one must control oneself in order to be harmonious, is an immature way of thinking. The state of total integration, of unitary action, can come only when one is not seeking it, when the mind is not forcing itself into a patterned way of living.
Most of us have not given much thought to all this. In our daily activities we are only concerned with time, because time helps us to forget, time heals our wounds, however temporarily, time dissipates our despairs, our frustrations. Being caught in the time process, how is one to come upon this extraordinary state in which there is no contradiction, in which the very movement of living is integrated action, and everyday life is reality? If each one of us seriously puts this question to himself, then I think we shall be able to commune with each other in unfolding the problem; but if you are merely listening to words, then you and I are not in communion. We are in communion with each other only if this is a problem to both of us - and then it is not just my problem, which I am imposing on you, or which you are trying to interpret according to your beliefs and idiosyncrasies. This is a human problem, a world problem, and if it is very clear to each one of us, then what I am saying, what I am thinking and feeling, will bring about a state of communion between us, and together we can go to great depths.
So, what is the problem? The problem is that there must obviously be a tremendous change, not only at the superficial level, in one's outward activities, but inwardly, deeply; there must be an inner revolution which will transform the manner of one's thinking and bring about a way of life which in itself is total action. And why doesn't such a revolution take place? That is the problem as one sees it. So let us go deeply into ourselves and discover the root of this problem.
The root of the problem is fear, is it not? Please look into it for yourselves, and don't just regard me as a speaker addressing an audience. I want to go into this problem with you; because, if you and I explore it together, and we both understand something which is true, then from that understanding there will be an action which is neither yours nor mine, and opinions, over which we battle everlastingly, will have ceased to exist.
I feel there is a basic fear which has to be discovered - a fear much more profound than the fear of losing one's job, or the fear of going wrong, or the fear of outward or inward insecurity. But to go into it very deeply, we must begin with the fears that we know, the fears of which we are all conscious. I do not have to tell you what they are, for you can observe them in yourselves: the fear of public opinion; the fear of losing one's son, one's wife or husband, through the sad experience called death; the fear of disease, the fear of loneliness, the fear of not being successful, of not fulfilling oneself; the fear of not attaining to a knowledge of truth, God, heaven, or what you will. The savage has a few very simple fears; but we have innumerable fears, whose com- plexity increases as we become more and more `civilized'.
Now, what is fear? Have you ever actually experienced fear? You may lose your job, you may not be a success, your neighbour may say this or that of you; and death is always waiting just around the corner. All this breeds fear in you, and you run away from it through yoga, through reading books, through belief in God, through various forms of amusement, and all the rest of it. So I am asking: have you ever really experienced fear, or does the mind always run away from it?
Take the fear of death. Being afraid of death, you rationalize your fear away by saying that death is inevitable, that everything dies. The rationalizing process is merely an escape from the fact. Or you believe in reincarnation, which satisfies, comforts you; but fear is still there. Or you try to live totally in the present, to forget all about the past and the future, and be concerned only with the now; but fear goes on.
I am asking you whether you have ever known real fear - not the theoretical fear which the mind merely conceives of. Perhaps I am not making it very clear. You know the taste of salt. You have experienced pain, lust, envy, and you know for yourselves what these words mean. In the same way, do you know fear? Or have you only an idea of what fear is, without having actually experienced fear? Am I explaining myself?
You are afraid of death; and what is that fear? You see the inevitability of death, and because you do not want to die, you are afraid of it. But you have never known what death is, you have only projected an opinion, an idea about it; so you are afraid of an idea about death. This is rather simple, and I do not quite understand our difficulty.
To really experience fear, you must be totally with it, you must be entirely in it, and not avoid it; you cannot have beliefs, opinions about it. But I do not think many of us have ever experienced fear in this way, because we are always avoiding, running away from fear; we never remain with it, look into it, find out what it is all about.
Now, is the mind capable of living with fear, being a part of it? Can the mind go into that feeling; instead of avoiding it or trying to escape from it? I think it is largely because we are always running away from fear that we live such contradictory lives.
Sirs, one is aware, especially as one grows older, that death is always waiting. And you are afraid of death, aren't you? Now, how are you to understand that fear? How are you to be free from the fear of death? What is death? It is really the ending of everything you have known. That is the actual fact. Whether or not you survive, is not the point. Survival after death is merely an idea. You do not know, but you believe, because belief gives you comfort. You never go into the question of death itself, because the very idea of coming to an end, of entering the totally unknown, is a horror to you, which awakens fear; and being afraid, you resort to various forms of belief as a means of escape.
Surely, to free the mind from fear, you have to know what it is to die while you are physically and mentally vigorous, going to the office, attending to everything. You have to know the nature of death while living. Belief is not going to remove fear. You may read any number of books about the hereafter, but that is not going to free the mind from fear; because the mind is used to just one thing, which is continuity through memory, and so the very idea of coming to an end is a horror. The constant recollection of the things you have experienced and enjoyed, everything you have possessed, the cha- racter you have built up, your ideals, your visions, your knowledge - all that is coming to an end. And how is the mind to be free of fear? - that is the problem, not whether there is a continuity after death. I hope you are following all this
If I am to be free of the fear of ending, surely I must inquire into the nature of death; I must experience it, I must know what it is - its beauty, its tremendous quality. It must be an extraordinary thing to die, to enter into something never imagined, totally unknown.
Now, how is the mind to experience, while living, that ending called death? Death is ending; it is the ending of the body, and perhaps also of the mind. I am not discussing whether there is survival or not. I am concerned with ending. Can I not end while I am living? Cannot my mind - with all its thoughts, its activities, its memories - come to an end while I am living, while the body is not broken down through old age and disease, or swept away by an accident? Cannot the mind, which has built up a continuity, come to an end, not at the last moment, but now? That is, cannot the mind be free of all the accumulations of memory?
You are a Hindu, a Christian, or what you will. You are shaped by the past, by custom, tradition. You are greed, envy, joy, pleasure, the appreciation of something beautiful, the agony of not being loved, of not being able to fulfil - you are all that, which is the process of continuity. Take just one form of it. You are attached to your property, to your wife. That is a fact. I am not talking about detachment. You are attached to your opinions, to your ways of thinking.
Now, can you not come to the end of that attachment? Why are you attached? - that is the question, not how to be detached. If you try to be detached, you merely cultivate the opposite, and therefore contradiction continues. But the moment your mind is free of attachment, it is also free from the sense of continuity through attachment, is it not? So, why are you attached? Because you are afraid that without attachment you will be nothing; therefore you are your house, you are your wife, you are your bank account, you are your job. You are all these things. And if there is an ending to this sense of continuity through attachment, a total ending, then you will know what death is.
Do you understand, sirs? I hate, let us say, and I have carried this hatred in my memory for years, constantly battling against it. Now, can I instantly stop hating? Can I drop it with the finality of death? When death comes, it does not ask your permission; it comes and takes you, it destroys you on the spot. In the same way, can you totally drop hate, envy, pride of possession, attachment to beliefs, to opinions, to ideas, to a particular way of thinking? Can you drop all that in an instant? There is no `how to drop it', because that is only another form of continuity. To drop opinion, belief, attachment, greed, envy, is to die - to die every day, every moment. If there is the coming to an end of all ambition from moment to moment, then you will know the extraordinary state of being nothing, of coming to the abyss of an eternal movement, as it were, and dropping over the edge - which is death.
I want to know all about death, because death may be reality, it may be what we call God, that most extraordinary something that lives and moves, yet has no beginning and no end. So I want to know all about death - and for that I must die to everything I already know. The mind can be aware of the unknown only when it dies to the known - dies without any motive, without the hope of reward or the fear of punishment. Then I can find out what death is while I am living - and in that very discovery there is freedom from fear.
Whether or not there is a continuity after the body dies, is irrelevant; whether or not you are born again, is a trivial affair. To me, living is not apart from dying, because in living there is death. There is no separation between death and life. One knows death because the mind is dying every minute, and in that very ending there is renewal, newness, freshness, innocence - not in continuity. But for most of us, death is a thing that the mind has really never experienced. To experience death while living, all the trickeries of the mind - which prevent that direct experiencing - must cease.
I wonder if you have ever known what love is? Because I think death and love walk together. Death, love and life are one and the same; but we have divided life, as we have divided the earth. We talk of love as being either carnal or spiritual, and have set a battle going between the sacred and the profane. We have divided what love is from what love should be; so we never know what love is. Love, surely, is a total feeling which is not sentimental, and in which there is no sense of separation; it is complete purity of feeling, without the separative, fragmentary quality of the intellect. Love has no sense of continuity. Where there is a sense of continuity, love is already dead, and it smells of yesterday, with all its ugly memories, quarrels, brutalities. To love, one must die. Death is love - the two are not separate. But do not be mesmerized by my words, because you have to experience this, you have to know it, taste it, discover it for yourself.
The fear of complete loneliness, isolation, of not being anything, is the basis, the very root of our self-contradiction, Because we are afraid to be nothing, we are splintered up by many desires, each desire pulling in a different direction. That is why, if the mind is to know total, non-contradictory action - an action in which going to the office is the same as not going to the office, or the same as becoming a sannyasi, or the same as meditation, or the same as looking at the skies of an evening - there must lie freedom from fear. But there can be no freedom from fear unless you experience it; and you cannot experience fear as long as you find ways and means of escaping from it. Your God is a marvellous escape from fear; all your rituals, your books, your theories and beliefs, prevent you from actually experiencing it. You will find that only in ending is there a total cessation of fear - the ending of yesterday, of what has been, which is the soil in which fear sinks its roots. Then you will discover that love and death and living are one and the same. The mind is free only when the accumulations of memory have dropped away. Creation is in ending, not in continuity. Only then is there the total action which is living, loving and dying.
December 9, 1959.
Madras 6th Public Talk 9th December 1959
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