Bombay 5th Public Talk 6th January 1960
There are several things I would like to go into with you this evening particularly sensitivity of mind, and meditation. But before we go into these things, it seems to me very important to have a certain clarity of mind, because without this clarity, the mind has not the capacity to think very deeply. Clarity, at whatever level, is completely necessary. If you are not clear about the way to your home, you get confused. If you are not very clear about your feelings, there is self-contradiction. If you do not clearly understand the ways of your own thinking, such lack of clarity leads to illusion. So, clarity in every direction is essential. And it is a most difficult thing, it seems to me, to have a really clear mind, because clarity cannot be cultivated, learnt; rather, it comes into being through watching, through observing, through perception.
The clarity I am talking about is part of the sense of beauty. I do not know why it is, and I am not judging anyone at all, but there seem to be so few who are sensitive to beauty - to the beauty of a sunset, the beauty of a face, the beauty of a curve, the beauty of a tree, or of a leaf fluttering in the breeze; to the beauty of a bird on the living, or the beauty of a gesture, of a word. I am not referring so much to the expression as to the feeling, the quality, the texture of beauty. I think sensitivity to beauty goes with clarity. Clarity is a state of total being, as beauty is. Beauty is not merely in the face, in the form; it is the totality of a human being, the totality of a tree, the vastness of the sky, the wholeness of sunlight on a leaf, of moonlight on the water. Beauty is a total thing. In the same way, clarity is not partial. There is no clarity if you are clear about economics, or how to get to the moon, and totally unclear about the ways of your own thinking, the operations of your own mind. Similarly, you cannot see the beauty of a picture, or hear the loveliness of music, when you are in a state of self-contradiction.
I think clarity is something that pervades the whole mind, it is the feeling of one's total being. Surely, Sirs, clarity is simplicity. But most of us think of simplicity in terms of action or behaviour; we think it has to do mainly with the manner of our speech, or the nature of our dress. In other words, we look upon simplicity as merely a matter of expression. We say a man is very simple because he has only a couple of loincloths, or because he has renounced this and taken up that. We judge simplicity by the garb, by the outward mode of life. But to me, simplicity is an inward state of being in which there is no contradiction, no comparison; it is the quality of perception in approaching any problem. Life is becoming increasingly complicated, with more and more experts who are always contradicting each other; and a mind that wants to comprehend life, with all its complexities and problems, must surely approach it very simply. But the mind is not simple when it approaches any problem with a fixed idea or belief, or with a particular pattern of thought. I think simplicity has nothing to do with determination. A mind that is determined is never a simple mind.
Do please listen to all this, because unless you understand what I am saying now, you will not understand what I shall try to say about the mind and meditation. Without experiencing this total feeling of clarity, of simplicity, this extraordinary sense of beauty, you cannot possibly comprehend the complex machinery which we call the mind. Most of us have preconceived ideas about the mind. We have come to a conclusion as to what the mind is, or what it should be, and we approach it with that conclusion, with that belief; so it becomes very difficult if not impossible for us to understand the mind.
First of all, your mind is not simple, is it? A simple mind, surely, is one that functions, that thinks and feels without a motive.
Do please pay a little attention to what is being said. You may have heard the previous talks, or you have read what has already been said, but please listen now so as to experience, as you are listening, this feeling, this movement of life in which there is no motive.
Where there is a motive, there must be a way, a method, a practice, a system of discipline. The motive is brought about by the desire for an end, for a goal, and to achieve that goal there must be a way, some form of discipline; and such a mind is not simple, such a mind is not clear, because it creates conflict within itself. One has to begin by perceiving for oneself the very simple fact that where there is a motive, there is self-contradiction in living. To me, meditation is a freeing of the mind from all motives; and this requires an astonishing attention to the whole problem of goals, systems, practices, disciplines.
So, I would like to describe the mind; and in listening to the description, please also be aware of the nature of your own mind.
The mind is not merely the container of thoughts, it is also the thoughts which it contains, as well as the limitations which time has placed upon it; and it is also something which is not of time. To function smoothly, like a fine machine, is surely one of the qualities of a good mind; so also is the capacity to reason clearly without conclusions, and to discern without prejudice. The mind is likewise the feeling of being distinct, separate; it is also memory, the capacity to experience and to store that experience as knowledge. The mind is also time - time in the sense of looking back to the things that have been, and looking forward to that which will be; time as before and after. All these elements go to make up the mind.
But the mind is also something covering all this, something which is not merely a word and the recognition of that word. The mind, surely, is like the sky, in which everything is contained. A tree is not merely the leaf, the flower, the branch, the trunk, or the root; it is a totality which includes all these things. Similarly, the mind is a totality; and to feel the totality of the mind, to be aware of it, is really the beginning of meditation. If we do not feel the totality of the mind, we reduce it to a mere machine - which it is for most of us.
For most of us the mind is a word, a symbol, an image; it is a process of naming out of the background of memory, experience. Having learnt a certain job or profession, my mind continues to function automatically; having established a certain relationship with my wife or husband, with my children, with society, I carry on without further thought. My responses to various stimuli are mechanical. My mind does not want to be disturbed; it does not want to question, to be made uncertain, so it establishes a pattern of conduct, of thought, a pattern of relationship to man and to nature, as well as to possessions, things.
This is surely true for most of us, as we know if we are at all observant of the operation of our own minds. Just see how slavish your mind is to words like `love', `God', `Communism', `India', `Gita'. The mind invents symbols, and becomes a slave to the symbols; and then the symbols become far more important than the action of living.
Please, Sirs, I am not describing something foreign; I am describing a process which is actually taking place in the daily existence of each one of us. And I do not see how the mind can delve deeply within itself if it is not free of these symbols, of these words whose hold on the mind is the outcome of our experiences, our memories. The mind accumulates knowledge, which is essentially the symbol, the word; and if the mind is unable to free itself from the symbol, from the word, from the memory which is knowledge, then it can never wander into the wider fields of itself.
Obviously, we cannot forget the things we must know. We cannot forget how to speak; we cannot forget the way home; we cannot forget our various professions, or the techniques which have been developed through science. We must have all this, and we cannot forget it. But there is the other part of the mind which projects itself in time, which creates the future as the goal to be achieved. So the mind as we know it, is time; it is the result of time - time as before and after, time as a process of living in the past or in the future, which obviously denies the understanding of the present. I am not talking of chronological time, but of time as a psychological necessity for the unfoldment of the gradual process of achievement which we call evolution. We say we must have time to understand - time being the future.
I hope I am making all this clear, and not complicating it. But life is complicated, the mind is complicated. One has to look into all these problems for oneself, and not just say, "Help me to be free of time". What one can do, surely, is to be fully aware of all these patterns of the mind, and slip through them, as it were, to a state which is not measured by the mind; because whatever the mind does to free itself will always be within the field of time. Any effort the mind makes will further limit the mind, because effort implies the struggle towards a goal; and when you have a goal, a purpose, an end in view, you have placed a limit on the mind; and it is with such a mind that you are trying to meditate.
Do you understand, Sirs? First, please see the problem. The problem is not how to meditate, or on what to meditate, but whether the mind is capable of meditation at all. We have been told that we must meditate, and through meditation we hope to achieve a result - happiness, God, truth, or what you will. So we make an effort to meditate; and where there is effort, there is the element of time. We say, "Through discipline, through practice, through control, through the gradual process of time, I shall achieve an understanding of what God is".
To me, that is not meditation at all. It is sheer self-hypnosis, a projection of one's own illusions and experiences - which may give you visions. But to find out what meditation is, surely, you must understand the nature of the mind that approaches the problem. You want to meditate because you have read or been told about the extraordinary nature of meditation. You have heard that there is in it a certain sense of beauty, a certain quality of peace, of silence; so you control, discipline your mind in an effort to meditate, hoping to realize that silence, that peace.
Now, before you can realize that silence, before you can find out what truth is, what God is, you must understand the mind which is meditating; otherwise, whatever it does, the mind will still be playing within the field of its own knowledge and conditioning. You may awaken certain capacities, you may have visions, and all the rest of it; but it will all be a form of delusion. If you like to delude yourself, if you accept delusion, then by all means keep on playing with it. But if you really want to find out what meditation is, surely you must begin, not by asking how to meditate, but by inquiring to find out whether the mind which is approaching the problem, is capable of understanding the problem.
I do not know if you realize how mechanical the mind is. Whatever it touches becomes mechanical. This evening I see something totally new, and that newness is experienced by the mind; but tomorrow that experience becomes mechanical, because I want to repeat the sensation, the pleasure of it. I establish a process, I set up a method through which I seek to recapture that newness; so it becomes mechanical. Everything the mind touches, inevitably becomes mechanical, non-creative.
So, the question is: can my mind realize the nature of its own mechanical habits? Can it just be aware of the fact of what is, and not ask how to change it, how to break it down? I think the simple realization of the fact, of the actual fact of what is, brings clarity.
Surely, it is important to understand this; because most of us try to move away from what is towards what should be, which creates a great many problems and contradictions. So I just want to know what is; that is all, nothing else. I am not interested in what should be. I want to know my mind as it is, with all its contradictions, its jealousies, its hopes and despairs, its aggressiveness, its envy, its capacity to deceive. And the moment I see actually what is, there is clarity - a clarity which will help me to go much deeper into what is.
For most of us, what is, is not of interest; therefore it does not open up the capacity to enter into what is. We think that by having an ideal we can transform what is into what should be - that the ideal, the what should be will awaken the capacity to understand what is. But I feel quite the contrary is true: that the capacity to delve into what is comes into being when we observe what is with undivided attention.
Our whole existence is what is, and not what should be. The what should be, the ideal, has no reality whatsoever. You may create an ideal, and you may be committed to that ideal, calling it reality; but the ideal is a reaction to what is, and reaction is never the real. The real is what is, it is our daily existence. The what is may be produced by the past, and it may have a future; but the important thing, it seems to me, is for the mind to put aside the past and the future, and be wholly concerned with the present, with what is - go into it profoundly, and not just remain on the surface by saying, "Well, that is my life, that is the way life goes", and so on. Life is this extraordinary thing which we call the past, the time before, as well as the future, the time after; but life is much wider, much deeper, it has a far more profound significance, if the mind can go into it through the present.
To put it differently, all experiencing is conditioned by past experience. If one observes, there is actually only the state of experiencing. But what is experienced is immediately translated into memory, which then conditions further experiencing. The state of experiencing is conditioned by your background as a Hindu, a Moslem, a Christian, or what you will, with all its beliefs and superstitions.
You will get it, perhaps, as I talk about it; but the description is never the real. What is real is seeing the truth instantaneously, because truth has no future. You cannot say, "I will see it tomorrow". Truth has no past, it has no continuity, and that is the beauty, the simplicity and clarity of truth. When the mind which is mechanical investigates to find out what meditation is, it wants to bring meditation into the field of the known. After all, the mind itself is the known; it is nothing else. The mind is not the unknown. And when the mind, which is the known, tries to uncover the unknown, it invents methods, systems, practices, disciplines to that end. I hope you are following, somewhat.
Now, the problem is not how the mind, which is the known, is to uncover the unknown, because it cannot. What it can do is to be aware of its own process, which is the process of the known - and it cannot do anything else. It cannot proceed to uncover the unknown, because it has not that capacity. You may stand on your head, breathe in different ways, practise a discipline, control your thoughts, or do anything else you like; but whatever the mind does, it can never understand, or capture, or feel the unknown.
Then what is meditation?
Now, sirs, as I describe it, please follow the description as though you were meditating. To me, meditation is of the highest importance, because all life is meditation - meditation in the sense of a state of living in which the frontiers of the mind are broken down, in which there is no self, no centre and therefore no circumference. Without meditation, life becomes very shallow, mechanical. So meditation is necessary; it is as essential as eating, as breathing. Therefore please follow this, not just verbally, but actually experiencing it as we go along - which means not introducing what you live, read or been taught about meditation, because then you are not observing, you are not experimentally following.
Meditation, surely, can never be a process of concentration, because the highest form of thinking is negative thinking. Positive thinking is destructive to inquiry, to discovery. I am thinking aloud, negatively. Through negation there is creation. Negation is is not the opposite of the positive, but a state in which there is neither the positive nor its reaction as the negative. It is a state of complete emptiness; and it is only when the mind is completely empty, in this sense, that there is creation. Whatever is born out of that emptiness, is negative thinking, which is not confined by any positivism or negativity on the part of the mind itself.
So, concentration is not meditation. If you observe, you will see that concentration is a form of exclusion; and where there is exclusion, there is a thinker who excludes. It is the thinker, the excluder, the one who concentrates, that creates contradiction, because then there is a centre from which there can be a deviation, a distraction. So, concentration is not the way of meditation, it is not the way to the uncovering of that which may be called the immeasurable. Concentration implies exclusion, it implies the thinker who is making an effort to concentrate on something. But the state of attention, which is not concentration, has no frontier; it is a giving of your whole being to something, without exclusion.
Now, will you please experiment with something as I am talking? See if you can be in this state of attention, so that not only is your mind functioning, but your whole being is awake. Don't say, "What do you mean by my `whole being'?" It does not matter. Give your whole attention - which means hearing the noise of the bus, of the tramcar, and listening to the silence. If you give your whole attention, you will find that you are also listening to what is being said with an astonishing focus, acumen; but if you merely concentrate, there is exclusion, and therefore no attention.
Concentration is a narrowing down of the mind. To narrow down the mind may be very effective in the case of a schoolboy in a class; but we are concerned with the total process of living, and to concentrate exclusively on any particular aspect of life, belittles life. Whereas, when there is this quality of attention, then life is endless, it cannot be measured by the mind.
You have been told that there are different ways to meditate on reality, on God - whatever word you care to use. How can there be ways, methods, systems by which to arrive at something that is living? To that which is static, fixed, dead, there can be a way, a definite path, but not to that which is living. If you want to understand your wife, your neighbour, your friend, there is no `way' to do it; there is no system by which to understand a living human being. Similarly, you cannot go to that which is living, dynamic, through any way or method. But you reduce reality, God, or what name you will, to a static thing, and then invent methods by which to reach it.
So, concentration is not the way of meditation, nor can any method, system, or practice lead you to reality. If you see the truth of this - that no system of any kind, however subtle, however new or well-seasoned in tradition, can lead you to reality - then you will never again enter into that field of delusion, and your mind has already broken loose from its moorings to the past; therefore it is in a state of meditation.
In meditation there is also the problem of the unknown. The mind, as I said, is the known - the known being that which has been experienced. Now, with that measure we try to know the unknown. But the known can obviously never know the unknown; it can know only what it has experienced, what it has been taught, what it has gathered. So, can the mind - please follow this carefully, sirs - can the mind see the truth of its own incapacity to know the unknown?
Surely, if I see very clearly that my mind cannot know the unknown, there is absolute quietness. Do you understand, sirs? If I feel that I can capture the unknown with the capacities of the known, I make a lot of noise; I talk, I reject, I choose, I try to find a way to it. But if the mind realizes its own absolute incapacity to know the unknown, if it perceives that it cannot take a single step towards the unknown, then what happens? Then the mind becomes silent. It is not in despair; it is no longer seeking anything.
The movement of search can only be from the known to the known; and all that the mind can do is to be aware that this movement will never uncover the unknown. Any movement on the part of the known, is still within the field of the known. That is the only thing I have to perceive; that is the only thing the mind has to realize. Then, without any stimulation, without any purpose, the mind is silent.
Have you not noticed that love is silence? - it may be while holding the hand of another, or looking lovingly at a child, or taking in the beauty of an evening. Love has no past or future; and so it is with this extraordinary state of silence. And without this silence, which is complete emptiness, there is no creation. You may be very clever in your capacity; but where there is no creation, there is destruction, decay, and the mind withers away.
When the mind is empty, silent; when it is in a state of complete negation - which is not blankness, nor the opposite of being positive, but a totally different state in which all thought has ceased - only then is it possible for that which is unnameable to come into being.
January 6, 1960
Bombay 5th Public Talk 6th January 1960
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