Bombay 9th Public Talk 10th March 1961
During these talks, we should not merely listen to what is being said but also listen to our own minds, because mere description or explanation is not sufficient in itself - it is like describing food to a hungry man and such description has no value at all; what he needs is food. Mere theorizing or speculating `what should be' and `what should not be' seems to me so utterly futile and immature. So, the listening has to be such that there is observation of the immediate facts, and that apparent observation is only possible when we are aware of our own minds and the operations of our own minds. The scientist in his laboratory puts aside theories and observes facts; he does not approximate the fact to the theory. When the fact denies an old theory, he may have a new theory, a new hypothesis; but he is always going from fact to fact. But we unfortunately have a theory which becomes extraordinarily vital, strong, potent, and we try to approximate or adjust the fact to that theory - that is our existence. We have a permanent idea, a lasting idea that society should be this and relationship should be in this way and so on and on; these are our permanent conditions, demands and traditions and according to them we live, ignoring facts.
Now, why does the mind demand permanency? Is there anything permanent? Theoretically we say there is no permanency because we see life is in a flux - constantly changing, an endless movement; there is never a moment when you can say, "This is permanent". You may lose your job; your wife, your husband may leave; you may die; everything is in a movement that is without end, in a state of flux, constantly changing - these are obvious facts. But yet we want something very permanent. And to us that permanency is safety, comfort; from that we try to establish all action, don't we? We want permanency in our relationships, in occupation, in character and in a continued experience; we want the permanency of pleasure and the avoidance of pain permanently. We want to be in a state of peace which will be constant, enduring, long-lasting. We want to make permanent every good form, every good feeling, the feeling which explodes as affection, as sympathy, as love. We seek ways and means to make all this permanent. Then realizing that all this is not permanent, we try to establish within ourselves a spiritual state which is constant, enduring, timeless, eternal and all the rest of it. That is our constant demand and state.
How upset we are if the wife, the husband leaves, how tremendously shaken when death comes! We want everything solidified, made permanent; we want to capture and put into the frame a lovely experience that goes by in a fleeting second. The incessant demand for permanency is one of our constant urges. Is there such a thing as permanency? Is any thing permanent? And why does the mind refuse to see the fact that there is nothing permanent in the world, inside or outside?
The man who has a good job wants it to last for ever, he is afraid to retire; and when he retires, he begins to enquire for some other permanency. And this demand, the difference between the fact and the urge for something contrary to the fact, creates conflict. I want a permanent, lasting, enduring relationship with my wife, my children. My wife is like me, a human being, living, moving, thinking, changing; she may look at another or run away; then the trouble begins, the conflict begins - jealousy, envy, fear, hope, despair, frustration. And to overcome that conflict we try to discover various ways and means, not to face the conflict but to find something that will introduce a new factor which will give us another state, another experience of permanency. I do not know if you have not noticed all this within yourself? I am not talking something extraneous, absurd or theoretical.
So, there is conflict. To me conflict is death. A mind in conflict is a most destructive mind; it does not face facts. It is very difficult to face facts, to look at facts, to be capable of observing facts, to see things actually as they are outwardly and inwardly, without bringing in our prejudices, our conditionings, responses and desires, hopes, fears and all the rest of it. And this demand for permanency does blind the mind, does make the mind dull, and therefore there is no sensitivity. Sensitivity implies a mind that is constantly not only adjusting but also going beyond the mere actual adjustment, flowing, moving with the fact. The fact is never still; it is like the river always moving, always flowing; the moment there are little pools, little diversions where the water remains, there is stagnation. A moving, living mind is never still, there is never a sense of permanency; and it is such a mind that is sensitive not only to the ugly, but also to the beautiful, to everything; it is sensitive. So it is the sensitive mind that is capable of appreciating or being in that state which is called beauty or ugliness. I do not know if you have thought at all of what is beauty and what is ugliness.
Unfortunately in this country desire has been suppressed as a religious act. The sannyasis, the saints and the so-called holy people have urged and constantly maintained that desire should be rooted out. When you destroy anything within or without, obviously there is the state of insensitivity; and when the mind is insensitive it is incapable of seeing what is beautiful.
I do not know if you have noticed as you ride in the bus to go to the office, as you talk to the people, as you sit at table, how crude, how thoughtless the people are in their speech and manners, and their complete disregard of another. I am not moralizing, I am merely describing, stating the fact. Beauty is not really the opposite of ugliness; beauty contains the ugly but the ugly does not contain beauty. Without this sense of what is beautiful - not merely physical adornment but the beauty of gesture, courtesy, consideration, the sense of yielding in which there is a great gentleness, tenderness - , without that sense of beauty surely man is incapable of living in that movement, that moving quality which has no permanency. It is only the mind that demands permanency that is aware of death.
How is it possible - how, not in the sense of a method - for the mind to be aware of this conflict between the fact and what the mind wants, and so live in a constant movement which has no resting place, no anchorage, which deeply, inwardly does not demand anything permanent? I do not know if you have noticed or asked yourself whether there is anything permanent in life? That is one of our greatest difficulties, isn't it? We love somebody, the wife, the husband, the child, perhaps the community, perhaps the world and perhaps the universe; but through it all runs the sense of endurance, constancy, a thing that will know no change. I wonder if you ever asked yourself why the mind is on the quest for permanency, why it demands permanency. We do not find permanency here because all relationships change, all things move, there is death, there is a mutation. And so we say there is God, there is something which is changeless, which is what we are not; and we are seeking God.
Is the mind capable of putting away all this - not only this urge for permanency but also the memory which has become permanent, the knowledge which prevents the movement of life, its living quality? Is it possible to enter into that movement and yet at the same time have the capacity of recollection which will not interfere with the quality of living, with the quality of something that is dynamic, moving.
Most of us think that knowledge, information is necessary, and that gives a certain sense of security, permanency, which colours all our lives. From that question there arises another question: What is learning?
Is learning merely addition, an accumulative process, and therefore, it is additive, adding, adding, adding - which is mechanical? Is learning mechanical or something entirely different? The schoolboy is only gathering information, accumulating, adding, putting it by in his storehouse of memory; and when a question is asked he responds. This is the process of acquisition, this is the process of adding. Is that learning? Unless you answer this for yourself, you are pursuing the path of permanency which is mechanical.
The electronic brains, the computers are machines which do astonishing calculations, astonishing things; they are more accurate, more swift, more subtle, more capable of solving difficult problems than the human being, because they are all based on a mechanical process. At present, they are incapable of learning. Is learning mechanical, or is there only learning when the mind is non-mechanical, which means, when the mind is not in habit? When I have got a dogma or a belief, when I am a devotee of somebody - some saint or some book - I am incapable of learning anything new; I am only translating the new in my devotion, in my identification with the picture, my social work, this and that; and when I do change, it is the change in reaction as reaction, and therefore it is not learning.
You cannot learn if you are merely using the mind as a mechanical process of adding, continuing the habit or altering the habit to another series of habits. Have you not noticed that as you grow older you settle down in habits? How difficult it is to eat some strange food when you are used to eat a particular kind of food! Do watch yourself next time how you sit at the table, your mannerisms. Your mind has solidified itself in habits, in mannerisms. You have already established a certain pattern of existence, of living, and it is extraordinarily difficult to break it; and the breaking is merely a reaction, and learning is not reaction. A mechanical process is a reactive process; but learning never is.
The quality of sensitivity is not mechanical. It is the sensitive mind that is capable of learning and not the mind that functions in habits, and the mind functions in habit when it is held by tradition.
What is the state of your mind when you are learning about something which you do not know? When it says, "I do not know, I am going to find out", it is waiting to know, it is not blank, it is not humble; it is in a state of expectancy, waiting to gather. But when it says, "I don't know" and is not in a state of expectancy, it is capable of learning because it is intensely active, not in the activity of gathering information but active in itself; it has brushed aside everything it has known - all beliefs, all ideas, all dogmas, all anchorages.
So conflict exists when the mind refuses to face the fact, to see the truth or the falseness which is in the fact, because it has certain ideas about the fact; and the conflict is between the idea, hope, tradition, conclusion and the facts.
There is such a thing as death - the physical mechanism wearing itself out, like everything that is used up. I want to learn what is death - not the conclusion or opinion about death, not whether there is reincarnation or if there is continuity after death. I have seen dead bodies being carried, I have seen people in tears, in anxiety, agony, being alone, being frustrated, empty; and I must know about death. The accumulation of information about death - such as resurrection, reincarnation, continuity - is a mechanical, additive process, which will give comfort to a mind which is already mechanical. But that is not learning about death. There is death, the ending of the physical body; but there may be an ending of a different kind also; I want to learn. I do not say I must be eternal, continuous, or there is something in me which is everlastingly continuous. I am not interested in what others have said or what is said in books. I have to discard the whole world of information, the mechanical process of knowledge. If there is any power that is mechanical left in my mind, which is accumulating, I shall not learn; therefore I must die to that without argument. Because my interest is to learn about death, can I die to everything which has become mechanical? - to my sex, to my ambition, to position, power, prestige, which are all mechanical. Can I die to all this without an argument? When the mind dies to the mechanical process of accumulation with its identifications, to the things it has known, then it is in a state of learning. The interest in learning puts away, destroys the mechanical process of living. If the mind wants to destroy the mechanical process, it cannot because the thing that wants to destroy is still mechanical, because it wants to get somewhere. But when the interest in learning about death has destroyed the mechanical process, the mind is in a state of not-knowing, a state of emptiness because it is dead to all the mechanical process of memory, insults, hopes, fears, despairs, joy; therefore the mind itself is in a state of the unknown. The unknown is death. When the mind is itself in a state of the unknown, is aware of itself as the unknown, there is no search any more - it is only the mind that is functioning mechanically that is seeking, and seeking is essentially from knowledge to knowledge. As the mind is no longer seeking - that is an extraordinary state, never seeking any more - it is never in conflict, it is astonishingly alive, sensitive.
The unknown cannot be described. All description is the process of giving you more accumulative knowledge and therefore making you more mechanical. You have to come to the state when you say to yourself, "I do not know" - not out of bitterness, not out of despair, but with that sense of love. Love says, "I do not know", always. Love never says, "I know". It is the very essence of humility that says, "I do not know", and humility is absolute innocence.
March 10, 1961
Bombay 9th Public Talk 10th March 1961
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