Bombay 4th Public Talk 3rd January 1960
I would like, if I may, to talk this evening about the unfoldment of energy as desire, fulfilment and frustration; and perhaps, if our minds can extend so far, we may be able to go into the question of what is beyond the mind. But before we go into all that, I think it is important to be concerned with the problem of change.
For most of us, change in any form is a very disturbing factor. We like the well-worn path of habit and custom, and to bring ourselves to depart from that path we find almost impossible. For any change in habit and custom, we depend on influence; we think we have to be compelled to change. Circumstances play an important part in bringing about a change in our attitudes, in our values, as well as in outward things. I think we should go into this matter fairly carefully, so as to uncover for ourselves the ways of our own thinking.
We do change under the influence of propaganda, do we not? Influence in various forms is a very important factor in our lives. The influence of the newspapers; the influence of the books we read, whether sacred or profane; the neighbours; the influence of the family, of the wife over the husband, and the husband over the wife; the influence of tradition and public opinion; the influence of diet, of climate - these and many other influences are continually shaping our minds. We are never free of these innumerable influences, of which we are the result; and there is no denying that we are the creatures of environment. You are a Hindu, a Moslem, a Christian, or whatever it is you are, because you have been brought up in a certain culture, with its particular traditions and ways of thinking.
So, influence plays an extraordinarily important part in our lives. We are not discussing what is good influence and what is bad influence. To me, all influence is evil, because it conditions and enslaves the mind. If the mind changes under any influence, it is changing only within the circumference of itself, whether that circumference is large or small.
In listening to what is being said, please do not take the attitude of a listener at a talk, but observe your own mind. Observe yourself and your environmental influences, and you will see an extraordinary phenomenon going on within the so-called free mind. I do not think the mind is free; but the mind can be aware of its conditioning, and of the innumerable influences by which it is conditioned. You know, certain words have a profound influence on us. Words like `God', `Communism', `Chinese', `Catholic', `Jesus', `Buddha', and so on, have an extraordinarily penetrating influence on our minds, and I think most of us are unaware of it. And unless we really grapple with and understand these influences, any change - whether it be an economic revolution, or a change in the outlook of the mind itself - has very little meaning, because we are then slaves to propaganda.
You are all listening to me. Why? It would be very interesting to find out. Why do you come here on a hot Sunday afternoon? If you come to be persuaded, to be influenced, to be directed, to be told what to do, then what you hear will be reduced to mere propaganda. And propaganda - whether it be that of the politicians, of the organized religious people, or of the sacred books - has a most destructive effect on the human mind.
So, without understanding the influences to which most of us are such slaves, we shall never find out how to awaken energy; and energy is obviously necessary. I do not mean the energy of a well-read mind or the energy of a well fed body - although physical energy is part of it. A neurotic may have tremendous energy, just as an hysterical person may sometimes be very strong. In the same way, a man who is devoted to an ideal, often has extraordinary vitality. These are all manifestations of that energy which is the outcome of influence, and if you go into it very deeply you will find it leads to power. Power in any form is evil, whether it be the absolute power of a dictator, or the power of a wife over her husband, or a husband over his wife, or the power of society over the individual. But before we go into all this, it seems to me that, as human beings living in this mad, monstrous, competitive world, we have to understand the whole question of being influenced.
Why is the mind influenced? And is it possible for the mind to be free of all influences? Surely, a mind held within the field of influence is very limited, though it may be very active. All propagandists are very active, are they not? Yet such a mind is limited, conditioned, and therefore there is bound to be a constant battle within the limitations of itself.
Please observe your own conditioning and see how you are influenced. If you watch this whole process in yourself, you will perceive that everything you think, as well as your actions, your profession, your verbal exchanges, your ideals and beliefs, are all the result of the innumerable influences to which you are consciously or unconsciously exposed. The mind is taking in everything, whether you are aware of it or not. The noise of the crows, of the tramcar, the words of the speaker, the movements of the person next to you, and so on - it is all being absorbed by the mind, either consciously or unconsciously.
So, is it not very important to ask ourselves whether the mind can be free of influences? I do not think it can be without first becoming aware of the influences by which it is swayed. Awareness of these influences is part of self-knowledge, is it not? And it is extremely difficult to be so aware, because influence is often very subtle. In advertising, they have tried subliminal propaganda - repeatedly flashing an idea on the cinema or television screen so rapidly that the viewer is unaware of it; yet it is absorbed by the unconscious. Similarly, you have been constantly told - it is the tradition of a thousand years - that you are a Hindu. You have been brought up in that tradition and your job, your profession further conditions the mind; you are influenced, your thought is shaped by what you do, and so on. To be aware of all these influences is not easy. But once you begin consciously, deliberately, incessantly to ask the right question, which is to uncover in yourself these various influences, then the mind becomes extraordinarily alert; so it is necessary, it seems to me, to ask oneself that question.
The past - not only the recent past, but the past of centuries, with all its memories, its psychological wounds, its accumulated experience and knowledge - is influencing the present, the now. The now becomes the passage of the past to the future, so tomorrow is already shaped by yesterday. The present responds to challenge according to the past, and that response shapes the future. This is a very simple process, sirs, if you will observe it in your own life. If you feel that I have insulted you today, when you meet me tomorrow, which is the future, the memory of that insult strengthens your feeling of resentment; and so it goes on and on. Don't translate it as karma. Karma is something entirely different, at least as I see it. For the moment we are just uncovering the problem of influence and change.
When we do change, it is generally through compulsion, through misery, through ambition, or some other form of influence. We change with motives of profit, we change through pain, we change through slavery to some ideology or system of thought. You can see this mechanical process of change operating in the mind; but such `change', which is the result of influence, is no change at all - though it gives energy to the mind. The man who has a good job, who is secure in his family, who is building up a large bank account, has an extraordinary sense of energy. The man who has the capacity to talk or to write, to do this or to do that, the man who is gifted in some art or craft, the man who is trying to fulfil himself, to become something - such people have a great deal of energy; but when sooner or later that energy is blocked, there is frustration, a feeling of despair.
Do please follow this, sirs, not just as a talk to which you are listening, but as a description of your own mind, a description of yourself, of your daily existence. In your pursuit of profit you generate energy; but that energy, however cunning, however capable and efficient, always functions from the centre towards the circumference. And is that a change? When you change through compulsion, through fear, through motive, through the pursuit of a goal, is there a change?
Take the question of social or economic revolution, with its promised benefits, its plan to create a classless society, and all the rest of it. Is such a revolution a real revolution? Or is it merely a reaction, and therefore a modified continuation of the past? These so-called revolutions have always been only a reaction, and there has always been a reversion to the former state, only modified. So a person who is concerned with total change, with real revolution, which is a transformation in the quality of the mind itself, and not merely a continuation of the modified past - such a person must ask himself, surely, whether it is possible to change without influence, without motive. Change based on motive, on influence, is merely a form of compulsion or imitation; therefore it is no change at all. Do you understand?
Look, Sirs: to restrain oneself from violence by practicing non-violence, is no change at all, though in this country it is glibly talked about every day. Non-violence with a motive is still violence. The motive is the ideal, which is a projection of the mind; and a mind that conforms to the ideal, is imitative, it is still within the field of violence. I wonder if you see this!
Being violent, you say, "I must practise the ideal of non-violence". Non-violence is then the projection of your mind as a reaction to violence. Having adopted the ideal of non-violence, you proceed to discipline yourself, you struggle to conform to that ideal, you go through the painful process of constant adjustment to it - a process which is always superficial, but which is recognized by people as a form of virtue. And that is the strange part of it: we want people to recognize that we are virtuous, that we have become non-violent, or that we are on the way to non-violence. Recognition plays an extraordinary part in our lives, does it not? So you see how subtle is the desire for power.
If you examine this whole process very closely and objectively, you will see that the violent mind which has non-violence as a goal, which is motivated by the desire to change itself and become non-violent, is still caught in violence. So the question naturally arises: can the mind which is violent change itself without any motive? Or is it inevitable that all change must come from a motive, from some form of influence? You see the problem, don't you?
We must all change radically, deeply, fundamentally, because, as we are, we are not real human beings; we are slaves to various forms of influence. And to discover human dignity, to awaken a real sense of freedom, one must surely ask oneself whether it is possible to bring about a radical transformation in the mind without any motive, without any compulsion, without any fear, demand, or influence. If you say that such a thing is not possible, that it is human nature to change with a motive, that for centuries it has been going on, then this is not a problem to you. But the moment you really begin to inquire into the whole question of revolution, of change at any level, you must inevitably ask this question, otherwise you are thinking very superficially. And it is superficial thinking that has produced this ruthless society with its wars, its so-called revolutions, its concentration camps, its dictatorships, and all the horrors of the police state.
So, if you are deeply concerned with the total transformation of man, then you must be aware of this problem of influence, in which is included seeking inspiration, going to the temple, reading sacred books, repeating mantrams - all the monstrously ugly disciplines you go through in order to be free, and which are a denial of real freedom. But if you are merely responding to this talk intellectually, you will go away as empty as you came. The intellect is very superficial. It can invent clever theories, it can argue or counter-argue, and go on playing that game indefinitely; but it cannot produce change, it cannot bring about a real transformation in the quality of the mind itself.
We are now concerned with real transformation; we are making a real inquiry into the problem of change and revolution. What is revolution? That is the question we are asking ourselves, because our times demand it. But this is a perennial problem, it is not just the problem of our times, because the human mind is constantly deteriorating. This deterioration is like a wave that is always pounding at our doorstep, and a person who is really serious has to go into the question of whether change can only come about through influence, through fear, through compulsion, or whether there is a totally different kind of change.
The change that is brought about through influence, leads to power, does it not? It leads to power, to position - and that is what most of us want. Most of us want to be recognized as being somebody, either in this world or in the so-called spiritual world. Don't you all want that? From the lowest clerk to the highest politician, from the humblest disciple to the greatest guru, each wants to be recognized as a somebody - which is the desire for power. We all want to be important in one way or another: as a stamp-collector, as a scientist, as a bureaucrat, as a prime minister, as a good wife, as a good father, or what you will. We want to be recognized, we want to be important; and the moment you want to be important, you have tremendous energy. Look at your own daily existence, Sirs, see how this demand to be recognized, this struggle to be important, is always going on. A little flattery from a big man, and you purr like a cat. You want to bask in glory, and you say, "He is my friend, I knew him when he was a boy' - you know all that childish stuff we play about with.
So, when there is change with a motive, that is, when change is brought about by compulsion, by influence, such a change is always towards power, towards being important - important, not only in this world, but important as a man of God, as a man who has control of his mind, of his body, as a man who is respectable in his virtue, and all the rest of it.
Do please follow this deeply, because we are concerned with our lives, not with words. All of us want power, all of us want to be important in some way - even if it is only in the little way of a schoolteacher with ten boys in his class. That is why we have degrees, titles, and all that nonsense.
One can see that where there is a compulsive change, either outwardly or inwardly, there is a sense of power, which ultimately leads to some form of dictatorship; and that this sense of power creates energy. I do not know if you have ever experimented with controlling your mind and your body, but if you have, you will know that it gives you an extraordinary delight to be completely their master. It gives you a great sense of power - much greater than the feeling of power that goes with any worldly position. We are not talking about electric power, and all that. We are discussing the psychological demand for power.
Now, energy as the sense of power, seeks its own fulfilment, does it not? That is, I want to fulfil myself through action; I want to be or become something. I want to become the manager, or the chief disciple; I want to understand, to change; I want to become the most famous politician in town; I want to be the ruler, or to have a degree, or to get a better job so as to earn more money - you know this acquisitive game we play with ourselves, and through which there is fulfilment.
If you observe, you will see that fulfilment is really the demand of a mind which is craving for power. When it is not able to achieve power and is therefore deprived of that fulfilment, it feels frustrated; and to escape from the misery of its frustration, it turns to something else through which it again strives to fulfil itself. If I cannot succeed in this world, I struggle to become a saint; or if I see it is unprofitable to become a saint, I pursue worldly success - and so it goes on and on. The urge to conform to a pattern of change creates energy, which gives a sense of power, and that sense of power seeks to heighten itself through fulfilment. Watch yourselves, Sirs; I am not saying something extraordinary, but am merely describing the process of your daily existence. In that process there is immense sorrow, because a man who wants to fulfil himself lives inevitably in fear of non-fulfilment; and so the misery begins.
You see, we never ask ourselves whether there really is such a thing as fulfilment at all. A man may see, of an evening, a beautiful formation of clouds, and then wish to paint it; but if in painting it he is fulfilling himself, in that very act he has ceased to be a painter. Similarly, you may wish to fulfil yourself through your family, to carry on your name through your son, and you may call it love; but it is not love at all, however much it is recognized as love by respectable society. It is merely the perpetuation of yourself. Sirs, you may laugh it away, but this is a fact.
So, unless the mind is totally dull, utterly insensitive, completely enclosed within itself, it must inevitably inquire to find out whether it is possible to change without motive; because to change with a motive leads only to power and further misery. Is there a way to change which has no motive, which is not based on comparison, which is not a reaction to one's present state? Do let us be very clear on this issue, because we are always thinking in terms of duality: good and bad, rich and poor, heaven and hell, and so on. Seeing that change with a motive generates an intense feeling of power, which is a form of fulfilment with all its frustrations, limitations and sorrow, we want to escape from that by seeking the other; but the other is not to be sought, it is not a reaction, it is not the opposite of our craving for power. To change without motive is something entirely different; it comes unsought, like the change from morning to evening, from darkness to light. The mind sees the destructive and corrupting nature of the desire for power, with its frustration and misery, and its immediate reaction is to try to escape from all that into what is called cosmic consciousness, truth, God - you know all those high-sounding words we use. But that is no change at all. It is merely a continuity of what has been towards the result of what has been, which is what will be.
So, is there a way of inquiry which will help the mind to be in that state of energy, of understanding, which is perpetual change, an eternal movement with no beginning and no end? Do you understand the question, Sirs? Please understand the question first, and do not ask how to get it, how to capture that eternality for your own use in your petty little house.
The question is this. You are all familiar with the craving for power, for recognition, for a position of importance, with its fulfilments and frustrations, its sorrows, agonies and fears. You know how that craving gives an extraordinary energy, without which you could not carry on day after day for fifty years with your jobs, your quarrels, your struggles and miseries. And the greater your capacity is, the wider is your field for the exercise of that energy, and therefore the more evil you create around you. Now, if you see the destructive nature of this craving for power, if you are aware of the whole anatomy of it, then surely you are bound to ask yourself if there is a way for the mind to change which is not an outcome of the craving for power. Do you understand?
We see that this craving for power, with the energy it awakens, is destructive, and that the ambitious mind is ceaselessly being pushed by the wave of deterioration, decay. If you say that all this is natural, inevitable, that human beings can live no other way, then for you it is not a problem. You accept corruption, decay. You are content to live within that framework with your sorrows and passing joys, with your imitated virtues and your invented gods. But if you begin to question, to explore, to discover, not because Shankara or Buddha said so, but through your own endeavour, your own awareness, your own intelligence, then you will find you are unconsciously moving away from all that in a totally new direction. Then there is a change which is not a reaction, not fabricated by the mind.
Sirs, there is a state in which all virtue is, and that is the state of attention. To be totally attentive is to be totally virtuous, and therefore to flower in goodness, in beauty. But what do you do now? You find for yourselves a little haven, a placid backwater in the river of life, and there you move, you function, you `change'. So perhaps you don't intend to be very serious about these things; but it does not matter. If you have heard only words, what you have heard may remain in your mind, because your mind is prone to propaganda; but these talks will then be merely one more noise among many other noises. Whereas, the man who really begins to inquire into all this noise, into the chattering of the mind, must inevitably come to that state of energy which is moving endlessly, and which is not caught in the backwater of his own desires.
So the problem of change, of transformation, is not to be thought of in terms of environmental influences. It is obvious that we need a revolution - an economic revolution, a world revolution - so that there will be one government; for the earth is ours. It is not the rich man's earth, or the poor man's earth; it does not belong to Russia or America, to India or China. It is our earth, yours and mine, to be lived on, to be enjoyed, to be cherished, to be loved. But that outward revolution can be brought about only when there is a revolution in your consciousness, a crisis in your own mind - that is, when you have ceased to be a nationalist, when you are no longer an Indian, a Parsi, a Communist, or any of those things, when you are a total human being. We do need a world revolution, because only such a revolution will solve our economic problem, the problem of starvation. But politicians are concerned, not with the problem of starvation, but with a particular system and they quarrel over which system is going to solve the problem. To bring about a revolution outwardly, you have to change inwardly. If you don't change, the challenge destroys you. You have to respond rightly to the challenge, otherwise you - you as a man, as a culture, as a race - are thrown away.
To inquire into the problem of inward change - which is much more difficult - one must be totally aware of this craving for power which we have. And can the mind, having grasped the significance of this craving, having understood that to change with a motive is a form of power-seeking, with all its nuances, its struggles, its pains, its fulfilments and frustrations - being aware of all that, can the mind knowingly, consciously, without any motive, let go? Do you understand, Sirs? That is the real renunciation of the world - not changing gods, or becoming a hermit, or joining a monastery, or putting on different clothes. Real renunciation, which is revolution, is the complete abandonment of power-seeking, of wanting to be important, to have recognition - which means, really, entering a world of which we know nothing. To enter a world of which we already know, is not renunciation. There is renunciation, revolution, only when we enter a world where the mind has never gone before, where it has not projected itself, where it has no future, no past, but only a sense of attention, of inquiry and perception. Perception has no past; perception is not accumulative; and it is only with the awakening of perception that there is an energy which is not a product of the mind. Don't translate it as `God' - it has nothing to do with your ugly notions of God. There is an energy which is in itself creative, eternal; and without understanding that, without tasting it, embracing it, knowing the beauty of it, merely to think about God has no value. But it comes darkly, mysteriously, without your asking. Our lives are not beautiful; our lives are tawdry, shallow, empty; our energy is limited, and it dies. We know hate, jealousy, envy - these are the things with which we are intimate. It is obvious that we have to abandon all that. To be kind without any motive, to be generous without calculation, to share the little that one has, to give with one's heart and mind and hand without asking something in return - that we must do, it is only civilized, decent; but it is not the other. It is like keeping the house in order, polished, spotlessly clean. To keep the house clean and in order is obviously necessary; but if we do it hoping to receive the other, it will never come. Keep the mind clean, alert, watchful; observe every movement of thought, see the significance of every word, but without any motive, without any urge or compulsion. Then you will find an extraordinary thing takes place: there comes an energy which is not your own, which descends upon you. In that energy there is a timeless being, and that energy is reality.
January 3, 1960
Bombay 4th Public Talk 3rd January 1960
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