Madras 1st Public Talk 22nd November 1961
To establish the right contact between the speaker and yourself and to establish communion on a proper basis, we must understand the significance of words. We interpret words to mean something that will be convenient or suitable to us, or interpret them according to a certain tradition. Words help us to reason, and most of us act according to words. Words have become extraordinarily significant. The words, nationalism, communism, God, brotherhood and so on have a certain significance; and if we would understand them fully, we must go beyond the words. We must not only see the significance of words in common usage but also see that the mind is not a slave to them. It is quite a difficult thing to do. The word Hindu or any other word has immense significance. Words like reincarnation, karma, nationalism have an extraordinary sway over the mind. The Christians, the Buddhists and all the various people who belong to innumerable classes, have their own jargons, their own approach, their own way of looking at things through words. So one becomes a prisoner to words. I think you have to realize that we are enslaved by words, and that you cannot possibly establish the right relationship between yourself and the speaker, if you are merely listening to words and not going beyond the significance of words.
For me, words have a limited meaning, a very limited meaning - whether used by Buddha, Christ or anybody else. Words that are used in the Upanishads, or the Gita, or the Bible has a very, very limited meaning and the mind acting on those words, in those traditions cannot possibly go very far. And it seems to me that it is very important now, in the present circumstances when there is a tremendous crisis going on in the world, that we should break through the barriers of words, whether used by me or somebody else, and examine very clearly, precisely and definitely the world situation, and also how we react to challenges, because there are always challenges in life. Every moment there is the challenge, the demand, the question, and we respond to that challenge, to that demand, to that question according to our background, according to the words which we are used to. And I am afraid the present crisis cannot be translated or understood in terms of the Upanishads, or the Bible, or the Gita, or any other book, one has to respond to it totally, anew, as the present circumstances are entirely new. Life is not just the life of everyday incidents and accidents and happenings which are also there; but it is also much more vast and much deeper. To understand all these and to respond to them truly and rightly without conflict, it seems to me that it is very necessary to have a new mind, a totally new mind - not the mind that interprets the present in terms of the old, not the mind that responds to this ever changing challenge according to Sankara or Buddha or the various religious denominations or sects that one belongs to. All this has to be thrown aside completely, in order not only to understand the present but also to understand these enormous things that are going on in the world, this sorrow, this anxiety, this restlessness and the never-ceasing guilt.
Let us understand each other: the speaker is only concerned in bringing about a new mind, a totally new mind, and not at all concerned how to interpret the Gita or any of the books that one reads. The mind that acts in tradition, that acts in knowledge however wide, however significant - such a mind is incapable of apprehending or understanding the quality of a new mind. As I was saying, to bring about this new mind, there must be a total revolution. and I mean by that word 'revolution' - what it means in the dictionary - a total revolution, not mere acceptance, not conformity, not imitation. We need a new mind, and a new mind cannot be created by merely saying we are enquiring after the new mind - then it becomes a new jargon. But one can find out the new mind, what the quality of the new mind is, if one begins to examine very closely, pertinently, definitely and precisely, the mind that we have at present, the mind that we accept with such ease, the mind` with which we function.
So, I would like to be perfectly clear from the beginning that we are concerned with revolution, with a new approach, and not with that which just suits the modern society, not reformation, not the patching up of the old, because those have utterly failed in misery, in conflict and in confusion. The books, however sacred they are, have not solved them. On the contrary, there is more division, there is more orthodoxy, more provincialism, more authority and tyranny, more gurus and more disciplines and less freedom. So you see all this - that progress denies freedom; the more prosperous one is, the more and more you want things to remain as they are. This is happening in America; they do not want any disturbance; all the sense of adventure, the sense of the new has gone. They go to the moon, but the sense of discovery of something totally new - which cannot be if there is security - is going. In this country too, though there is enormous poverty, degradation and great tyranny of the past, the mind is in decay. They are becoming very clever experts in techniques, there are new jobs, clever engineers, electronic experts and clever lawyers. But these are not going to solve any of our human problems, and they never did. The ancient Sankaras and the modern Sankaras cannot solve your problems. You may shave the head or put on a different cloth, but your mind and your heart are unchanged. And to meet the present crisis requires an enormous understanding. You require a real revolt, not reaction, not returning to the past, not the revival of religion but a complete destruction of everything that one has held as sacred. One must question everything and find out. And I do not think we question, I do not think we know what it means to question. I wonder if you have asked anything really wanting to find out what is true, so that your questioning is not merely trying to find out an answer.
There are two ways to question. One is to question so as to find out a suitable, convenient, satisfactory answer - which is no questioning at all. And the other is to question so as to tear everything out to find out, to question so as to disturb the mind which is so completely secure, which has gone to sleep, to tear down all the barriers to find out what is true. There are these two ways of questioning: one merely to find a satisfactory, convenient, the happy answer and the other bring down the walls, to tear down the walls of our own prison. The former has no meaning at all; both the educated and the uneducated are doing that. But to destroy - and I mean it, to really destroy - not the outer things, not merely the superficial customs, not merely the convenient and inconvenient traditions, but to tear down the walls that one has built inside oneself, within which one lives in security, to tear down all the gods, all the Masters, all the teachers and to enquire and to find out the false and what is truth - that is true questioning and that requires abnormal energy. You have to preserve your own thoughts and your own fears so as to discover what is false; and that is what we propose to do during these coming discussions or talks here, so that, at the end of these talks or before, when you are made uncomfortable by questioning, asking, demanding in your mind, perhaps you will then see life entirely differently.
We lead a very mediocre life. Our life is made up of many fears. And we live within this enclosure all our life with infinite beliefs, conflicting theories, never discovering anything for ourselves, always depending, always copying, always following. At the present time the world is facing total destruction, total physical destruction, the world is asking not how to go to the moon - that is fairly simple; any mechanic with a little brain can do that; and they are doing that - but what it is all about and where we are going, not what is the object of life, not what is the purpose of life, not any formulation of theories and conforming to them. So, it seems to me that it is very important that you must find out for yourself as a human being, not as a mechanic, what it means to live.
I do not think we in this country which has had no war for a long time, understand what is taking place in the rest of the world. We may read this in newspapers, we may talk to tourists or visitors. But I do not think we are aware, as a group of people living in this unfortunate country, what man is capable of doing. I mean not the capacity to go up to the moon, or to invent a new machine or an electronic brain, but the capacity to go within.
The distance to the moon is fairly small compared to the distance to be travelled in order to discover what is true within oneself. I do not think we have taken a journey within. We are taught about it, the sacred books which are of little value have said it is necessary. We have accepted - or rather, you have accepted - their expla- nations. But you have never taken the journey. And you can only take a journey within when you are capable of discarding everything outside. In the case of most of us, the mind becomes insensitive in the daily process of living, and it is much more difficult for such people to perform the journey, to break down the pattern of existence. And the young people in this country are only concerned with having a good job, with making money and so on. There are a few people who really want to take a journey within, a psychological journey, which makes for a very clear mind - a mind that is capable of attention, capable of seeing what is true. To see what is true - not the ultimate truth, there is no ultimate truth; truth is only from moment to moment - , first you must discard what is false. To find out what is false, you must look, ask, demand, question ceaselessly and endlessly. You cannot look, you cannot see for yourself if there is fear.
We are afraid. One of our major concerns in life is fear - fear of many things, fear of wife, fear of husband, fear of losing a job, fear of public opinion, fear of insecurity, fear of not being successful, not fulfilling, not becoming somebody important in this rotten world, not making a name, not being somebody. All that is fear. Without really understanding that fear and thereby putting it away entirely, totally and completely, pure seeing, total transformation, mutation is not possible.
Please pay attention to what is being said. Fear is a deadly thing and is creating more and more trouble in the world - not less. And this fear, though unconscious, is there and shows itself in obedience. Where there is fear, there is confusion and therefore the demand for tyranny. It has brought communism, socialism, capitalism, all through the tyranny of the politician. Where there is fear there is demand for order - order brought about under any circumstances. And that is what is happening in the world. We must have order, we are afraid. That is why there is the authority of the guru, the authority of the politician, the authority of the book, the authority of tradition; and it is very difficult to put away authority. I wonder if you are aware of authority and put away authority - not the bigger authority but, say, the authority of the wife. I know you will laugh; it shows it has very little meaning to you, because you take for granted the authority of the wife or the authority of the husband. But authority begins there. It means the authority of the parent over the child; gradually this is built up into the authority of the nation, the authority of the guru, the authority of the politician, the authority of the Masters, or the authority of the representatives of God.
I wonder if you can put away every kind of authority, put it away completely, get rid of it because you have understood it. If you do this consciously, deliberately, with sanity, then you will know the beginning of that freedom in which all sense of compulsion, all sense of imitation has completely stopped. Therefore, one begins to have a smell, a taste, an apprehension of what is true freedom.
But when you see authority, you say, `Revolt'. With most of us, such revolt is merely a reaction. You know what I mean. If I do not like something, I revolt. If I like something, I hold on to it. A revolt against the pattern of society is not revolution, is not mutation. Communism which is a revolt against capitalism is incapable of revolution. They may talk about revolution; but communism, being intrinsically a reaction, is incapable of acting truly. You understand what I mean? As long as we are reacting, action is not possible. Such reaction leads inevitably to inaction - inaction is a repetition of the old pattern only modified; and this modification is inaction, because it produces more misery, more confusion. Whereas an action without reaction is an action which arises when you have understood all the processes of revolt. This action which is not a reaction destroys all that is false, because it is an action which is pure, clean, without root. I wonder whether you understand what I am talking about. To be a Hindu and then to become a Buddhist is a reaction.You may do all kinds of things in that reaction, but you still act as the same person. Communism, which is a reaction to capitalism, is reverting to the old form. The Communists have their own privileged classes, the rich and the poor, their class divisions; they have armies, navies and all the rest of the business - it is the same thing as capitalism, repeated in a different way. We have been talking of something entirely different. It is easy to revolt against modern society because it is fairly silly. Modern society - going to office every morning, earning a livelihood, getting bored with it, getting more and more money, getting more and more tired, without any thought, without any feeling, without any real life - to revolt against that is fairly simple. But the revolt against it only creates another pattern, and the action in the pattern is inaction, because it still continues the sorrow, confusion and misery.
If we understand this clearly, then mutation, revolution, has quite a different meaning; because, then you see what is false, and the denial of the false is the beginning of true action. To see the false in authority is quite a difficult thing to do. To examine the anatomy of authority requires a great deal of intelligence, a great deal of watching, searching,enquiring. The authority of the policeman, the authority of the law and the authority of the Government perhaps are necessary in modern society. But you have to deny every other form of authority because you understand it and enquire; then only can you find out what is true in authority and therefore be capable of putting away authority Then it is not a reaction, nor a revolt which is a reaction. But in that enquiry into the whole structure of authority, there begins the mutation of the mind. And it is only the new mind that can respond to the present challenge of life - not withdrawing, not returning to the old, not the revival of the old.
You have to consider the present world situation. Machines, electronic brains, are taking over the functions of the human mind. They are clever, they can learn much more rapidly, they can give you the most complicated mathematical answers in a few seconds, they are doing things which man has been doing - that is one thing. And then the other thing is that throughout the world, the rulers, the powers-that-be, are trying to control the mind, make it adjust itself to the patterns of existence. This is actually happening, this is not my invention. There is prosperity not only in Europe, in America, but also it is coming here - rapid industrialization, and with it everybody is wanting to live a more secure life; therefore there is more competition than ever before. I do not know if you have followed the things in Russia, where the competition to destroy one's comrade is as urgent as to destroy capitalism. And here too, because of industrialization, there is competition to make more and to have position, power. Where there is confusion, there is increase of authority, tyranny. There is also the attempt to revive the old religions hoping thereby to save the ship from being wrecked.
When you see all this actually taking place daily around you and within you, obviously, you see the need for a different quality of mind, a different way of looking at life, different values. But a different existence is not possible within the old pattern, and so the destruction of the old pattern is absolutely essential - which means: not throwing bombs on governors, kings and rulers but breaking the pattern that one has built up psychologically, inwardly, within oneself; it is there that the change has to take place.
That is why one has to understand fear. You cannot cover up fear. You cannot escape from it through worship in the temples, through gurus. Do what you will, you cannot run away from it, it will follow you. You have to look at the whole phenomenon of fear and understand it. But to enquire into fear deeply means self-knowledge, knowing yourself, knowing what you are, what you actually are at every moment of the day - not what you think you are, not what the books say you are, not invent what you are. You have to know what you are, and that is very arduous and demands great attention, a great quality of awareness to see what is actually taking place - the way you sit, the way you talk, the way you walk, the way you look at the sky, the way you talk to your wife and children, the way the children talk to you. To be aware of all those things is the beginning, that is the basis of understanding.
Without knowing yourself, you cannot go very far and if you think you can go very far, you are deluding yourself. If you want to delude yourself, that is quite a different matter; go on with it - you will soon be disillusioned. But if you want to find out what is truth, if there is God, if there is truth, if there is a thing which is beyond time, if you want to understand what is creation, what is life and such things, you have to know yourself, from day to day, form moment to moment. If you are not capable of doing it, you cannot go far, you cannot move at all, you are in a prison; you can play with words. But the man who does not know himself from moment to moment cannot learn.
You know learning and knowing are two different things. The mind that is accumulating knowledge can never learn. Learning in life means constant enquiry, and you cannot enquire if you are merely accumulating. If I accumulate knowledge, that is information; and if from that accumulated knowledge, information, I begin to enquire, that enquiry is merely a further addition; it is merely added to what has been accumulated. But learning implies a constant enquiry, which means freedom of acquisition. If I want to learn a language, what happens is that I will have to read, search, ask, enquire, repeat; and gradually I also learn. Knowing a language is not learning. It is only the young mind that learns. It is only the clear mind that learns and not the mind that accumulates, and not the mind that says, "I know". It is only the mind that says "I don't know, I will look", it is only the mind that has humility that is capable of learning. But a mind that has acquired knowledge can never have humility; therefore it has ceased to learn.
So to enquire into yourself to find out what you are from day to day, you cannot accept anything of what you have been told, and that is really dangerous because that way leaves you completely alone.
When you deny the authority of your wife or your husband, you are isolated, and naturally you are afraid to stand alone. Therefore, we have to be aware of what we are doing, constantly. Because, without self-knowing, whatever you think, whatever you do, whatever you are - it can only lead to frustration and misery. If you understand this, then meditation is something extraordinarily beautiful.
Meditation, then, is not a repetition of words or understanding of phrases or looking at a picture. Meditation, then, is the beginning of self-understanding, the understanding of oneself; that is wisdom. And this wisdom cannot be taught by anybody; it is not in any book; no teacher, no guru, nobody can hand to you this wisdom. This wisdom cannot be handed to you, it is found by knowing yourself from moment to moment. You should die to what you have known from moment to moment, so that your mind is fresh and young. The act of pure seeing is a miracle in itself. It is that which is going to transform, which will bring in the new mind.
You must begin with yourself, but not as opposed to the collective. Perhaps you are the collective, and so you think what society thinks; what you feel, your neighbour and a thousand neighbours feel. You are being conditioned by society, you are of the collective. Psychologically you have to face and understand the collective, and be aware of every movement of the mind. It is only then that you can discover if there is God or no God; you will find for yourself what it is to live. You will be fully alive, every part of your life, physically, emotionally, being immensely, totally, fully active. Then there is no death. Then you are dying every minute to everything that you have known. Then you are aware of what you actually are every minute of the day, and there is no analysis but mere observation which is the act of pure seeing, and which releases energy. And it is this energy that will carry you deeply and far; therefore you will discover for yourself what is true.
November 22, 1961
Madras 1st Public Talk 22nd November 1961
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