Bombay 7th Public Talk 13th January 1960
If I may, I would like to explore with you what is the religious mind, the religious spirit, and go into it, if we can, rather deeply. It is a complex problem, as all the problems of human existence are, and I think one must approach it very simply, with a sense of great humility; because, to explore such a problem deeply requires a clear mind, a mind that is not burdened with insistent and persistent knowledge. If you would look into any complex human problem, it is no good, it seems to me, bringing in all the knowledge, all the authority that you have accumulated. On the contrary, you must put it aside, and then perhaps you will be able to discover something original, new, something which has not been handed down to you by authority, or which you have accepted because of various demands and compulsions. So, as this problem is somewhat difficult, it is necessary, first of all, to see if one can suspend all one has learnt, all the traditions and impressions one has acquired, and discover for oneself what is the religious mind.
Life is getting more and more complex and difficult, not less. The pressures are becoming almost intolerable; and with the pressures, the influences, the ceaseless demands of the modern world, there is increasing envy, hatred and despair. Hatred is spreading; and despair is much more than the superficial problem of the young man who cannot get a job - that is only part of it. Nor is despair merely the feeling you have when you lose someone by death, or when you want to be loved, and are not. Despair, surely, is something much more profound. And to find a way out of despair, to go beyond hatred and this thing called hope - which is merely the reverse of despair, and in which we also get entrammeled - it seems to me that we must inquire into the question of what is really a religious mind, a religious spirit.
To inquire rightly, there can be neither acceptance nor denial. Most of us are either `yes-sayers' or `no-sayers'. We have many difficulties, and our response is often an attitude of acceptance, which is to say "Yes" to life; but life is too complex, too vast, merely to say "Yes' to it. The `yes-sayers' are those who follow tradition, with all its pettiness, narrowness, brutality, who are satisfied with so-called progress, efficiency, who accept things as they are and swim with the current of existence in order not to be too disturbed. Then there are the `no-sayers', the people who reject the world, and by rejection they escape into symbology, into all kinds of fanciful myths. They become monks, sannyasis, or join one of the various religious orders. I wonder which attitude we have, to which category, each one of us belongs?
There is the saint, and there is the politician. The politician is a 'yes-sayer'; he accepts the immediacy of things, and replies to the immediate superficially. The saint, on the other hand, is a `no-sayer'. He feels that the world is not good enough, that there must be a deeper answer; so he leaves, rejects the world. I suppose most of us neither reject nor accept very deeply, but are satisfied with a verbal "yes" or with a verbal "no".
Now, if we would really explore the question of what is religion, I think we must begin by being very clear in ourselves as to whether we are `yes-sayers' or `no-sayers'. There is the `no-sayer' who intellectually denies the world as it is; he has revolted, but has not explored really profoundly the spirit of religion. Intellectually he has torn everything apart until there is nothing left, as there is nothing left of a flower that is torn apart and thrown by the path; and he is finally driven by his intellectual conclusions, by his despairs and hopes, into the acceptance of some form of religious belief. Please, sirs, watch your own minds and your own lives. As many of us are not too intellectual or aggressive, we are satisfied with the easy, mediocre life; and though we may say "No" to the world - to the world of progress and prosperity, to the world of things - , nevertheless we are caught in it. So, actually, we are neither `yes-sayers' nor `no-sayers' in any vehement sense; we are neither hot nor cold. I do not think such a mind is capable of discovering in its exploration what is the religious spirit; and without that discovery, it is impossible to answer any of the vital problems of life, because progress, prosperity, the multiplication of things, only makes us more and more slavish. It is fairly obvious that we are fast becoming slaves to machines, to things, and we do not have to go into it very deeply to see that the superficial mind is satisfied with its own slavish state. It is satisfied with property, with position and power; it is satisfied in its superficial, imitative activity.
Now, as the mind becomes increasingly a slave, the margin of freedom naturally gets more and more narrow - and that is our actual position, is it not? That is our life. Being bored with certain things, we want more things, or more action, or we seek power. When these ends are not gained, we feel frustrated, we are in despair, and so we escape through a religious belief, through the church, the temple, through symbolism, rituals, and all the rest of it. If it is not that, then we become angry with the world - and anger has its own action. Anger is very productive of action, is it not? When you are angrily in revolt, it gives you energy, and that energy awakens capacity, all of which is regarded as something new, original. But anger, cynicism, despair and bitterness - surely, these feelings are not necessary to a real understanding of the problems of our existence. We know neither what is the good life, nor what our daily living is all about - this extraordinary process of misery and strife of pettiness, ugliness, calumny, avarice, this everlasting struggle till we die. So we invent a goal, a purpose, an end; and whether that end is immediate, or projected far away, as God, it is the outcome of a mind that is really in despair, in misery, in chaos. Surely, this is fairly obvious the moment you begin to think clearly, objectively, and not merely in terms of what you can get out of life for yourself.
Sirs, this question of whether there is a reality, whether there is God, whether there is something permanent, original, new, is not just our own immediate demand. Man has sought it for centuries. Thirty-five thousand years ago, on the walls of a cave in North Africa, man painted the struggle between good and evil; and always, in those pictures, evil is victorious. We are still looking for an answer - but not some stupid, gratifying answer of a schoolboy, of an immature mind, but an answer which will be really true, a total response to a total demand. I think we do not ask totally, and that is our difficulty; there is no total demand. It is only when we are in despair that we look, we ask, we hope. But when we are in full vigour, in the full stream of our existence, there is no total demand; we say, "Leave me alone to fulfil myself."
You know, this total demand arises only when there is complete aloneness. When you have explored everything about you; when you have looked into all the religions, with their symbols, their stupidities, their organized dogmatism; when you are no longer held by explanations, by words, by books, by ideas, by all the things the intellect invents, and have rejected them all, but not because you cannot find satisfaction in them - only then are you really alone. It is too immature to accept or reject things out of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. But when you are in serious doubt; when you observe, examine; when you ask questions and there are no answers except those offered by the dead ashes of tradition, of conditioning; and when you deeply and totally reject all this as you surely must - then you are alone, completely alone, because you cannot depend on anything; and that aloneness is like a flower that grows in the wilderness.
I do not know if you have ever been in a desert in springtime. There has been no rain, just moisture, and not very much of it. The ground is very dry and hard; the sun is brilliant. There is a sense of ruthlessness, of nakedness, of emptiness. And in the springtime, a flower comes up, a lovely thing - perhaps more beautiful than all the cultivated flowers in the rich man's garden. It has a perfume of its own, and a colour which is not the colour of the well-nourished flower in a lovely garden. It is a thing of extraordinary beauty, and it has flowered in a desert. And I think there is in complete aloneness a flowering of the mind, which is surely religious.
But, you see, that is tremendously arduous; it is hard work, and you do not like hard work. You prefer an easy, indolent existence - earning a livelihood, accepting what comes, and just drifting along through life. Or, if you don't do that, you practise some system, some form of compulsion, discipline. You get up every morning at 4 o'clock to meditate - by which you mean forcing yourself to concentrate, compelling your mind to conform to a particular pattern. You drill yourself incessantly, day after day, and that you consider hard work. But that, it seems to me, is a most childish way of working. it is not the work of a mature mind. By hard work I mean something totally different. It is hard work to examine every thought and feeling, every belief, without bringing in your own prejudices, without shielding yourself behind an idea, behind a conclusion, an explanation. It requires hard, clear thinking - which is real work. And most of us do not want to tackle that kind of work. We would rather accept a senseless belief, belong to an organized religion, go to the temple, the church, or the mosque, repeat some words and get a little sensation; and with these things we are satisfied.
A man who goes every day to the temple, to the mosque, to the church - him you call a religious person. Or you say that the people who worship Masters, saints, gurus, are very religious. Surely, they are not religious people; they are frightened people. They are the `yes-sayers; they don't know and they don't explore, they have not the capacity, therefore they rely on something outside, on an image graven by the hand or by the mind. Seeing all this, and being aware of the misery, the cruelty, the unutterable squalor both within and without, surely, if we are to find a sane, rational way out of all this mess, we must inquire into the question of what is a religious mind.
Now, how does one inquire? Do please pay a little attention. What is the way of inquiry? How does one set about it? Does the state of inquiry exist when there is a positive approach or only when there is a negative approach? By a positive approach I mean looking at the problem with a desire to find an answer. When I am frustrated, in despair, and I want to find an answer, there is a motive for my exploration, is there not? My search is the result of my desire to find a way out. So I will find a way out, but it will be very shallow and empty; I will rely on some authority, or follow a system, which will give me despair again tomorrow. Being unhappy, miserable, sorrow-laden, in a state of incessant conflict, I want to escape from this whole business; so there is a motive, and this motive creates a positive action; and such positive action, which is search with the demand for an answer, is very limited; it does not open the door to the heavens.
Do please understand this, otherwise you will not discover for yourself what is a religious mind, and the beauty of it. So, that which you can never know through a positive action, cannot be approached with a motive, with a compulsion born of despair. That is a false approach. If you see the truth of this for yourself, then you can find out what is the other approach - which is not a reaction, not the opposite of the positive. Do you understand? I hope I am making myself clear.
One sees very clearly what the positive approach is. It is the approach which most of us indulge in. Being miserable, I want a way out; so I take a tranquilizer, or go to a guru, or to a church, or do some other foolish, ugly thing, and am satisfied. That is the positive approach. It is the approach of a mind that is in conflict, that is in a state of sorrow, confusion, and that wants an answer, a way out - which it seeks through the practice of a method, a system, or through some other positive activity.
Now, if the mind sees the truth of that positive approach, which is to see the falseness of it, then the negative approach is not a mere reaction to it. That is, I want to find out what is true, not what I would like to be true, so I do not bring my personality into it; I put aside my beliefs, my conclusions, my desire to escape from this intolerable misery. I want to discover for myself what is the meaning of this whole existence - but not according to my pleasure, or according to my fancy, or according to my tradition, which are all such stupid, silly and conditioned things. I want to find out the truth of the matter, whatever it is. So, for me there is no method, there is no authority, there is no guru, there is no system. And it is only such a mind - do please pay a little attention, sirs - it is only such a mind that can find out: a mind which has torn everything apart, which is not seeking any form of satisfaction or gratification, which has no end in view.
I wonder if you have noticed something in life. Life has no beginning and no end - in the beginning is the end. To a man who wants an answer, life is very limited. For him there is yesterday, today and tomorrow, and in those terms he thinks of life. But life does not answer him in those terms. Life is endless, and therefore in life there is no death. There is a death only when we say, ; what about me?" - ` me' being the entity who has thought in terms of yesterday, today and tomorrow. As the "me' who is in misery, you want to find a state of salvation where you will not be disturbed; you want to sit quietly and everlastingly in your own back waters of ugliness. But have you not noticed that where the sky and the earth meet, there is no end, no division? It is all one movement. It is the mind that divides life from death, that struggles and creates problems.
So, if one can approach negatively this problem of what is the religious spirit, that negation is not a reaction to the positive. If it is a reaction to the positive, as Communism is a reaction to capitalism, then it is merely the same thing in a different form. To change within the field of conditioning, is not to change at all. But the negative approach is something entirely different; and it is only through the negative approach that the mind can explore and discover.
I hope, as I am talking, that you are perceiving for yourself, as a direct experience, the truth - that is, the falseness - of the positive approach. Just as you have everyday experiences of hunger, thirst, sex, the demand for position, power, prestige, and all the rest of it, so the experience of the positive approach to your problems is always going on, whether you are conscious of it or not. But if you clearly see the truth of it, if you actually perceive the falseness of the positive approach, and the limitations, the pettiness of a mind that demands an answer for its own satisfaction, then your mind is in a state of negation, which is really creative; for such a mind can explore and discover. I hope you are not merely listening to explanations, the words, because the word is not the thing, it is merely a symbol; and the symbol is never the real. A man who is satisfied with the symbol is living with the ashes of life, with the aridity of existence. So I hope you are actually perceiving and experiencing the truth. And to such a mind, what is the question?
The question is: what is the religious spirit? You do a great many things in the name of religion, which are not religion. Having seen the truth of it, all that is out, it is finished, put away. Then what is the religious spirit? Surely, the religious spirit is a kind of explosion in which all attachment is broken, utterly destroyed.
There is only attachment; there is no such thing as detachment. The mind invents detachment as a reaction to the pain of attachment. When you react to attachment by becoming `detached', you are attached to something else. So that whole process is one of attachment. You are attached to your wife, or your husband, to your children, to ideas, to tradition, to authority, and so on; and your reaction to that attachment, is detachment. The cultivation of detachment is the outcome of sorrow, pain. You want to escape from the pain of attachment, and your escape is to find something to which you think you cannot be attached. So there is only attachment; and it is a stupid mind that cultivates detachment. All the books say, "Be detached; but what is the truth of the matter? If you observe your own mind, you will see an extraordinary thing: that through cultivating detachment, your mind is becoming attached to something else.
Now, the religious spirit is an explosion which shatters all attachment, so that the mind is not attached to anything. Surely, that is the nature of love. Love is not attached. Desire is attached, memory is attached, sensation is an abyss of attachment; but if you observe, in love - whether it be for the one or the many - there is no attachment. Attachment implies the past, the present and the future. Do you understand, sirs? Whereas, love has neither past, present nor future. It is only memory that is time-bound - the memory of what you consider to be love.
So, the mind that is exploring, probing into what is called religion, is really a mind that is totally in revolt. You know, it is fairly easy to revolt against a particular thing - against poverty, against one's family, against tradition, or against a particular religion. And when we revolt against a particular religion, we generally join some other religion; we revolt against Hinduism, and join Christianity, or Buddhism, or what you will. Such revolt is merely a reaction, it is not total revolution, complete transformation.
Sirs, are you just listening to me, or are you watching your own minds? My words are the reflection of your own thought, of which you may be conscious or unconscious. I am describing your own minds; and if you are merely listening to words, and are not observing your own minds, then you will continue to be in sorrow and turmoil.
The revolt which I am talking about is against every form of attachment - but not as a reaction. You see the truth that your attachment to certain intellectual explanations has left you dry, arid. There have been minor explosions or reactions in your life which have left their marks on your mind, and you are attached to those marks. You may have withdrawn from this organization, joined that movement, followed a different leader, and so on. All these minor explosions and responses have left marks on your mind, and thus marked, your mind has become hard. This hardness is really attachment to what you have done, to the memory of your own experiences. And the total revolution of which I am talking is the complete perception of the truth of all this; it is the very state of explosion itself.
Perhaps this is rather difficult for most of us to understand, because we are used to thinking of revolution in terms of changing from one form of conditioning to another. Today I am this, and tomorrow I want to change into that. Seeing poverty under capitalism, I say Communism is the answer; therefore there must be a revolution. Surely, any such revolution is only partial and therefore no revolution at all. Most alert and so-called intelligent people have played with Communism, with this and that, with ten different things. Having played with all that, their minds are cluttered up, confused, hard; and when such a mind asks, "What is truth? What is God?", it has no meaning whatsoever. What has meaning is to break all that, to shatter it completely, without any motive, without any urge or compulsion. This explosion, in which there is no place for satisfaction, or for any system, is the only real revolution. Then you will find, when the mind is in this state of explosion, that there is creativeness - not the creativeness which is expressed in a poem, or in carving a piece of stone, or in painting, but a creativeness which is always in a state of negation.
Now, sirs, this becomes purely theoretical for you; and theory, speculation, or living on the words of another, has very little meaning. But the mind that has really gone into all this, that has entered upon a pilgrimage of inquiry from which there is no return, that is inquiring, not only now, during this hour, but from day to day - such a mind will have discovered a state of creation which is all existence. It is what you call truth or God. For that creation to take place, there must be complete aloneness - an aloneness in which there is no attachment, no companionship, either of words, or thoughts, or memories. It is a total denial of everything which the mind has invented for its own security. That complete aloneness, in which there is no fear, has its own extraordinary beauty; it is a state of love, because it is not the aloneness of reaction; it is a total negation, which is not the opposite of the positive. And I think it is only in that state of creation that the mind is truly religious. Such a mind needs no meditation; it is itself the eternal. Such a mind is no longer seeking - not that it is satisfied; but it is no longer seeking, because there is nothing to seek. It is a total thing, limitless, immeasurable, unnameable.
January 13, 1960.
Bombay 7th Public Talk 13th January 1960
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