Madras 7th Public Talk 13th December 1959
If we could take a journey, make a pilgrimage together without any intent or purpose, without seeking anything perhaps on returning we might find that our hearts had unknowingly been changed. I think it worth trying. Any intent or purpose, any motive or goal implies effort - a conscious or unconscious endeavour to arrive, to achieve. I would like to suggest that we take a journey together in which none of these elements exist. If we can take such a journey, and if we are alert enough to observe what lies along the way, perhaps when we return, as all pilgrims must, we shall find that there has been a change of heart; and I think this would be much more significant than inundating the mind with ideas, because ideas do not fundamentally change human beings at all. Beliefs, ideas, influences may cause the mind superficially to adjust itself to a pattern; but if we can take the journey together without any purpose, and simply observe as we go along the extraordinary width and depth and beauty of life, then out of this observation may come a love that is not merely social, environmental, a love in which there is not the giver and the taker, but which is a state of being, free of all demand. So, in taking this journey together, perhaps we shall be awakened to something far more significant than the boredom and frustration, the emptiness and despair of our daily lives.
Most human beings, as they live from day to day, gradually drift into despair, or they get caught up in superficial joys, amusements, hopes, or they are carried away by rationalizations, by hatred, or by the social amenities. If we can really bring about a radical inward transformation, so that we live fully and richly, with deep feelings which are not corrupted by the mutterings of the intellect, then I think we shall be able to act in a totally different way in all our relationships.
This journey I am proposing that we take together, is not to the moon, or even to the stars. The distance to the stars is much less than the distance within ourselves. The discovery of ourselves is endless, and it requires constant inquiry, a perception which is total, an awareness in which there is no choice. This journey is really an opening of the door to the individual in his relationship with the world. Because we are in conflict with ourselves, we have conflict in the world. Our problems, when extended, become the world's problems. As long as we are in conflict with ourselves, life in the world is also a ceaseless battle, a destructive, deteriorating war.
So the understanding of ourselves is not to the end of individual salvation, it is not the means of attaining a private heaven, an ivory tower into which to retire with our own illusions, beliefs, gods. On the contrary, if we are able to understand ourselves, we shall be at peace, and then we shall know how to live rightly in a world that is now corrupt, destructive, brutal.
After all, what is worldliness? Worldliness, surely, is to be satisfied - to be satisfied, not only with outward things, with property, wealth, position, power, but with inward things as well. Most of us are satisfied at a very superficial level. We take satisfaction in possessing things - a car, a house, a garden, a title. Possession gives us an extraordinary feeling of gratification. And when we are surfeited with the possession of things, we look for satisfaction at a deeper level; we seek what we call truth, God, salvation. But we are still moved by the same compulsion; the demand to be satisfied. Just as you seek satisfaction in sex, in social position, in owning things, so also you want to be satisfied in `spiritual' ways.
Please do not say "Is that all?" and brush it off, but as you are listening, observe, if you will, your own desire for satisfaction. Allow yourselves, if you can, to see in what way you are being satisfied. The intellectual person is satisfied with his clever ideas, which give him a feeling of superiority, a sense of knowing; and when that sense of knowing ceases to give him satisfaction, when he has analyzed everything and intellectually torn to shreds every notion, every theory, every belief, then he seeks a wider, deeper satisfaction. He is converted, and begins to believe; he becomes very `religious', and his satisfaction takes on the colouring of some organized religion.
So, being dissatisfied with outward things, we turn for gratification to the so-called spiritual things. It has become an ugly term, that word `spiritual', it smacks of sanctimoniousness. Do you know what I mean? The saints with their cultivated virtues, with their struggles, their disciplines, their suppressions and self-denials, are still within the field of satisfaction. It is because we want to be satisfied that we discipline ourselves; we are after something that will give us lasting satisfaction, a gratification from which all doubt has been removed. That is what most of us want - and we think we are spiritual, religious. Our pursuit of gratification we call `the search for truth'. We go to the temple or the church, we attend lectures, we listen to talks like this, we read the Gita, the Upanishads, the Bible, all in order to have this strange feeling of satisfaction in which there will never be any doubt, never any questioning.
It is our urge to be satisfied that makes us turn to what we call meditation and the cultivation of virtue. How virtue can be `cultivated', I do not know. Surely, humility can never be cultivated; love can never be cultivated; peace can never be brought about through control. These things are, or they are not. The person who cultivates humility, is full of vanity; he hopes to find abiding satisfaction in being humble. In the same way, through meditation we seek the absolute, the immeasurable, the unknown. But meditation is part of everyday existence; it is something that you have to do as you breathe, as you think, as you live, as you have delicate or brutal feelings. That is real meditation, and it is entirely different from the systematized meditation which some of you so sedulously practise.
I would like, if I may, to go into this question of meditation, but please do not be mesmerized by my words. Don't become suddenly meditative; don't become very intent to discover what is the goal of true meditation. The meditation of which I speak has no goal, no end. Love has no end. Love is not successful, it does not reward you or punish you. Love is a state of being, a sense of radiancy. In love is all virtue. In the state of love, do what you will, there is no sin, no evil, no contradiction; and without love we shall ever be at war with ourselves, and therefore with each other and with the world. It is love alone that transforms the mind totally.
But the meditation with which most of us are familiar, and which some of us practise, is entirely different. Let us first examine that - not to justify or condemn what you are doing, but to see the truth, the validity or the falseness of it. We are going on a journey together, and when on a journey you can take along only what is absolutely essential. The journey of which I am speaking is very swift, there is no abiding place, no stopping, no rest; it is an endless movement, and a mind that is burdened is not free to travel.
The meditation that most of us practise is a process of concentration based on exclusion, on building walls of resistance, is it not? You control your mind because you want to think of a particular thing, and you try to exclude all other thoughts. To help you to control your mind, and to exclude the unwanted thoughts, there are various systems of meditation. Life has been divided as knowledge, devotion, and action. You say "I am of such and such a temperament", and according to your temperament you meditate. We have divided ourselves into tempera- ments as neatly as we have divided the earth into national, racial and religious groups, and each temperament has its own path, its own system of meditation. But if you go behind them all, you will find in every case that some form of control is practised; and control implies suppression.
Do please observe yourselves as I am going into this problem, and don't just follow verbally what I am saying, because what I am saying is not at all important. What is important is for you to discover yourselves. As I said at the beginning, we are taking a journey together into ourselves. I am only pointing out certain things, and if you are satisfied by what is pointed out, your mind will remain empty, shallow, petty. A petty mind cannot take the journey into itself. But if through these words you are becoming aware of your own thoughts, your own state, then there is no guru.
Behind all these systems of meditation which develop virtue, which promise a reward, which offer an ultimate goal, there is the factor of control, discipline, is there not? The mind is disciplined not to wander off the narrow, respectable path laid down by the system, or by society.
Now, what is implied in control? Do please observe yourselves, because we are all inquiring into this problem together. We are coming to something which I see, and which at the moment you do not, so please follow without being mesmerized by my words, by my face, by my person. Cut through all that - it is utterly immature - and observe yourselves. What does control imply? Surely, it implies a battle between what you want to concentrate on, and the thoughts that wander off. So concentration is a form of exclusion - which every schoolboy, and every bureaucrat in his office knows. The bureaucrat is compelled to concentrate, because he has to sign so many papers, he has to organize and to act; and for the schoolboy there is always the threat of the teacher.
Concentration implies suppression, does it not? I suppress in myself what I do not like. I never look at it, delve deeply into it. I have already condemned it; and a mind that condemns cannot penetrate, cannot understand what it has condemned.
There is another form of concentration, and that is when you give yourself over to something. The mind is absorbed by an image, as a child is absorbed by a toy. Those of you who have children must have observed how a toy can absorb them completely. When a child is playing with a new toy, he is extraordinarily concentrated. Nothing interferes with that concentration, because he is enjoying himself. The toy is so entrancing, so delightful, that for the moment it is all-important, and the child does not want to be disturbed. His mind is completely given over to the toy. And that is what you call devotion: giving yourself up to the symbol, the idea, the image which you have labelled God. The image absorbs you, as the child is absorbed by a toy. To lose themselves in a thing created by the mind, or by the hand, is what most people want.
Concentration through a system of meditation offers the attainment of an ultimate peace, an ultimate reality, an ultimate satisfaction, which is what you want. All such effort involves the idea of growth, evolution through time - if not in this life, then in the next life, or a hundred lives hence, you will get there. Control and discipline invariably imply effort to be, to become, and this effort places a limit on thought on the mind - which is very satisfying. Placing a limit on the mind, on consciousness, is a most gratifying thing, because then you can see how far you have advanced in your efforts to become what you want to be. As you make effort, you push the frontier of the mind farther and farther out; but it is still within the boundaries of thought. You may attain a state which you call Ishvara, God, Paramatman, or what you will, but it is still within the field of the mind which is conditioned by your culture, by your society, by your greed, and all the rest of it.
So meditation, as you practise it, is a process of control, of suppression, of exclusion, of discipline, all of which involves effort - the effort to expand the boundaries of consciousness as the `I', the self; but there is also another factor involved, which is the whole process of recognition.
I hope you are taking the journey with me. Don't say, "It is too difficult, I don't know what you are talking about", for then you are not watching yourselves. What I am talking about is not just an intellectual concept. It is a living, vital thing, pulsating with life.
As I was saying, recognition is an essential part of what you call meditation. All you know of life is a series of recognitions. Relationship is a process of recognition, is it not? You know your wife or your husband, you know your children, in the sense that you recognize them, just as you recognize your own virtue, your own humility. Recognition is an extraordinary thing, if you look at it. All thought, all relationship is a process of recognition. Knowledge is based on recognition. So what happens? You want to recognize the unknown through meditation. And is that possible? Do you understand what I am talking about? Perhaps I am not making myself clear.
You recognize your wife, your children, your property; you recognize that you are a lawyer, a businessman, a professor, an engineer; you have a label, a name, a title. You know and recognize things with a mind that is the result of time, of effort, a mind that has cultivated virtues, that has always tried to be or to become something - all of which is a process of recognition. Knowledge is the result of experience which can be recalled, recognized, either in an encyclopaedia, or in oneself.
Do consider that word `recognize'. What does it signify? You want to find out what God is, what truth is, which means that you want to recognize the unknown; but if you can recognize something, it is already the known. When you practise meditation and have visions of your particular gods and goddesses, you are giving emphasis to recognition. These visions are the projections of your background, of your conditioned mind. The Christian will invariably see Jesus, or Mary, the Hindu will see Shri Krishna, or his god with a dozen arms, because the conditioned mind projects these images and then recognizes them. This recognition gives you tremendous satisfaction, and you say "I have found, I have realized, I know".
There are many systems which offer you this sort of thing, and I say none of that is meditation. It is self-hypnosis, it has no depth. You may practise a system for ten thousand years and you will still be within the field of time, within the frontiers of your own knowledge, your own conditioning. However far you extend the boundaries within which you can recognize your projections, it is obviously not meditation, though you may give it that name. You are merely emphasizing the self, the `me', which is nothing but a bundle of associated memories; you are perpetuating, through your so-called meditation, the conflict of the thinker and the thought, the observer and the observed, in which the observer is always watching, denying, controlling, shaping the observed. Any schoolboy can play this game, and I say it has nothing to do with meditation, though the graybeards insist that you must thus `meditate'. The yogis, the swamis, the sannyasis, the people who renounce the world, go away to sit in a cave - they are all still caught in this pursuit of their own visions, however noble, which is the indulgence of an appetite, a process of self-gratification.
Then what is meditation? Surely, you are in the state of meditation only when the thinker is not there - that is, when you are not giving soil to thought, to memory, which is the centre of the `me', the self. It is this centre that marks the boundaries of consciousness, and however extensive, however virtuous it may be, or however much it may try to help humanity, it can never be in the state of meditation. You can come to that state of awareness, which is meditation, only when there is no condemnation, no effort of suppression or control. It is an awareness in which there is no choice; for choice implies an effort of will, which in turn implies domination, control. It is an awareness in which consciousness has no limits, and can therefore give complete attention - which is not concentration. I think there is a vast difference between attention and concentration. There is no attention if there is a centre from which you are attentive. You can concentrate upon something from a centre; but attention implies a state of wholeness in which there is no observer apart from the observed.
Meditation, as we have gone into it today, is really the freeing of the mind from the known. This obviously does not mean forgetting the way to your home, or discarding the technical knowledge required for the performance of your job, and so on. It means freeing the mind from its conditioning, from the background of experience, from which all projection and recognition take place. The mind must free itself from the process of acquisitiveness, satisfaction and recognition. You cannot recognize or invite the unknowable, that which is real, timeless. You can invite your friends, you can invite virtue, you can invite the gods of your own creation; you can invite them and make them your guests. But do what you will - meditate, sacrifice, become virtuous - you cannot invite the immeasurable, that something about which you do not know. The practice of virtue does not indicate love; it is the result of your own desire for gratification.
So, meditation is the freeing of the mind from the known, You must come to this freedom, not tomorrow, but in the immediate, now, because through time you cannot come to the timeless, which is not a duality. The timeless is whispering round every corner, it lies under every leaf. It is open, not to the sannyasis, not to the dehydrated human beings who have suppressed themselves and who no longer have any passion, but to everyone whose mind is in the state of meditation from moment to moment. Only such a mind can receive that which is unknowable.
December 13, 1959.
Madras 7th Public Talk 13th December 1959
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