New Delhi 1962
New Delhi 1st Public Talk 21st January 1962
I think it would be good if we could verbally at least establish a communication between us, because for most of us language is the only means of communication. We cannot communicate in any other way, and therefore language plays an important part in all communion and communication. Of course it would be very good if two or three of us could get together quietly and discuss these matters very deeply, but unfortunately that is not possible. So, we have to establish from the very beginning, it seems to me, a right relationship between the speaker and yourself.
These talks are in no way meant to be propaganda. Nor are they to tell you what you should do or in what manner you should think, or to direct you to a particular course of action, or to a series of ideas. Ideas are merely thought verbalized, and ideas in themselves have very little significance. They do not bring about a radical change, they do not transform the mind totally. And those who depend on ideas as a means of stimulation to bring about a change in themselves will invariably leave this shamiana empty-handed, because we are not dealing with ideas at all. We are dealing with something much more profound, much more enduring, whose import is deep revolution in the quality of the mind itself. And such a revolution cannot be brought about by words, nor by ideas. Words have a meaning. Words are not the thing; and ideas, if you observe very closely, conform to a pattern of thought. And ideas and words do not play a deep significant part in our lives - at least in the lives of those who are very thoughtful and serious. So we must at the very beginning understand each other.
This is not a gathering to convert you to any particular idea, to a particular way of thinking. On the contrary, we shall go into matters to which you will have to apply your whole being; and you will not, merely intellectually, accept or deny certain words. You will also have to bear in mind that we are not speaking as an authority.
There is no authority in spiritual matters; there is no following, no leader, no guru. One has to find the light for oneself. And what we are going to try throughout these talks is not only to establish clearly for ourselves the impediments imposed upon us by society, but also to discover the bondages the mind is held to.
And so we are going to discuss primarily in what way to bring about a new mind, a totally different mind, a different way of thinking, a different attitude, a different evaluation. And for that you need very clear, precise thinking; for that you need also the capacity to face life totally alone. And it is not possible, surely, is it?, with the collective mind which is never capable of revolution. It is only the individual mind, the mind that is not caught up in society, in the morality of society, in the tradition of society, in the ways of society, that is capable of revolution. There must be individuality to bring about a radical revolution and not conform to a pattern laid down by society. Such a mind can possibly do what it will to bring about a lasting, a revolutionary change in the world.
So we must differentiate between the collective action and the individual action. We are no individuals at all; we are the result of the collective. You are the result of your society, of the religion, the education, the climate, the food, the clothes, the tradition in which you have been brought up - you are all that. And to think that you are an individual is really quite absurd, If you go very deeply into the matter. You may have a name, a different body, a bank account, certain superficial qualities; but essentially deep down the whole totality of the mind is conditioned by the society in which it has been brought up. And to be aware of such a condition and to break through that, break through the encrustation of centuries of the past - it is that quality, that intensity, that understanding that brings about an individuality. And it is only the individual that can find out what is real, not the collective. It is only the individual that can find out if there is, or if there is not, what you call God; not the collective mind. The collective mind can only repeat the word; but the word `God' is not God. The collective mind can read the Gita, quote the Upanishads and all the religious authorities; but such a mind can never find out what is true. It is only the mind that has broken through tradition, shattered the values imposed upon it by society, broken away from the past - it is only such a mind that can find out.
And we are concerned with discovery and not with assertions, agreements, or disagreements. We have to find out for ourselves. But it is almost impossible to find out what is true, to find out if there is such a thing as the timeless, as something beyond the measure of the mind, if you belong to a religion, if you are a Hindu, a Parsi, a Sikh, a Christian, if you belong to any organized religion; because, belief and dogma are essentially in the way of discovery. It is only a mind that perceives all the falseness, the conditioning influences, the propaganda which is called religion - it is only such a mind that breaks through, that can find out.
But that requires a great deal of insight, a great deal of enquiry, an alertness, awareness of things as they are, but not mere intellectual denial or acceptance. Because, to accept or to deny is a matter of mere verbal exchange. But if one really sets about to find out - because we must find out - we must question everything that has been established. Because, everybody must be aware of the world situation, everybody must be aware of the deterioration. Religions have failed totally. Education has not brought peace to the world - though it was once thought that, given information to man, man will be so civilized that there would be no war, that there would be no nationality. But all that has gone overboard, because with every means of communication an extraordinary change is taking place. The rapidity of the change is far more significant than the change itself. And there is no peace in the world, and no politician of any kind will ever bring peace into the world. Because, the politicians, like most people in the world who are also partially politicians, are concerned with the immediate - with the immediate well-being, with the immediate action - and are not concerned with the long view. As you observe your own life, you will see you are not concerned with the totality of living, you are only concerned with the immediate, your job, your position, your family, this and that - which is all in terms of the immediate. And the person who is concerned with the immediate is obviously the politician. And the so-called social and religious leaders are also concerned with the immediate.
And it is necessary to bring about a radical revolution. One may not be aware of the actual deterioration in the quality of the mind. But if you observe, there is less and less freedom in the world. Democracies talk about freedom; but the party rules you must comply with, you must conform either to the party or to tradition. And conformity to tradition is obviously a deadly thing, because it does not help man to see clearly, to discern radically. And seeing not only the state of the world but also its misery and its confusion, those who are thinking fairly intelligently deny leadership, deny authority; and therefore there is more confusion, more conflict and therefore greater deterioration.
I am sure you must have asked yourself the question: what is to be done in a world that is rapidly on the decline; what can one do about war, about the threat of the bomb, about tyranny and the lessening of freedom; and what can one individual do about this appalling starvation in the whole of the East, the poverty, the degradation, the inhumanity of it all? What can you and I do? Or is it the action of the Government, and it has nothing to do with individual action at all? And also you must have asked yourself: seeing what the world is, is there actually a reality, something which can be experienced, which can be uncovered? And one can only ask these questions when one is very deeply dissatisfied, when there is deep discontent. But most of us, when we are discontented, find easy channels for contentment, easy ways to be satisfied. And I do not know if you have not noticed that the more there is of confusion the more there is of uncertainty, the greater the search for authority the greater is the reliance on that which has been the past. And observing all these things, observing the facts that are actually taking place - the facts not the opinions about the facts, not your agreement or the translation of the facts according to your own background - surely, you must have a new mind to confront these facts, to understand them and to bring about a different way of life.
Surely, sir, the problem is this, is it not?, that there is the immense knowledge from centuries of the past, the weight of the past which confronts the future which is unknown, a blank wall of which you know nothing but which you translate in terms of the past and therefore you think you know. But you don't actually know. And that, it seems to me, is the central issue for a man who has really felt and deeply asked himself questions that are not answerable, because most of us ask questions in order to find an answer.
May I say here, that there is a way of listening and there is a way of merely hearing words. The capacity to listen is an art, because if you listen, you listen without translation, without interpretation. You listen to find out, not to agree or to disagree - which is quite immature - but to really find out. And so you have to listen. But you cannot listen if you are all the time translating what you hear in terms of what you know, in terms of what you are acquainted with. Perhaps you do not know what is being said; therefore you have to listen and not interpret it according to your background - while you are interpreting according to your background, you have stopped listening. I wonder if we have ever listened at all to anything! Most of us do not want to listen because it is too dangerous, it would shatter the things that we hold dear, the things that we are accustomed to. And so we hear words and intellectually agree or disagree. And then we say, `How am I to bridge action with what I think? I intellectually agree with what you are saying, but how am I to carry it out?' There is no such thing as intellectual understanding; you only mean really that you hear the words, that the words have some meaning similar to your own; and that similarity you call understanding, intellectual agreement. There is no such thing as intellectual agreement. Either you understand, or you do not understand.
And to understand deeply, really, with all your being you have to listen. Have you ever listened to your wife, to your husband, to your child, or even to your boss? We dare not listen. And when you do try - perhaps you will another time; perhaps you will, here also, listen actually - then you will find out that in the very act of listening a deep change is going on. The very act of listening, not agreement with an idea, produces that change. When you do so listen, where you listen with all your being - with all your senses, with your mind, with your heart - to what you hear, to what you feel, to everything totally, you are able to discern what is true and what is false. And as you listen you will find out for yourself what is true. And the act of listening is the act of discovery of the fact. But we always avoid the fact, whatever the fact, as we have opinions about the fact. We never look at the fact as we want to do something about the fact, as we try to organize so as to act upon the fact.
Take a very simple thing that is going on in this unfortunate country - this disease of nationalism. The politicians are inflaming it. And if you observe, the fact is that nationalities are always at war with each other, they are responsible for wars. The worship of the flag is a symbol. And the symbol is supposed to bring about unity. But it does not bring about unity to the world at all. On the contrary, flags are separating people, as religions have done. That is a fact. Whether you acknowledge it or not, it is a fact. It is actually taking place in this country; the poison which never existed before, is being injected into the mind to bring about unity. And unity cannot be brought about through a flag. Unity cannot be brought about by a symbol. A symbol is merely a word, it is not the actual. And to face that fact, to discover what is true, you require all your capacity, all your intelligence. And that means you have to dissociate yourself totally from the collective. And that is very difficult to do, because you might lose your job, you might turn against your family - there may be innumerable unconscious difficulties that prevent you from looking at the fact.
Take a simple fact again. You call yourselves Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and, God knows, what else. And you have been made to think, through propaganda for centuries, that you are this and that. But that does not make you a religious person. That does not give you the quality of a real mind which is religious. You conform to the pattern of organized religion - which is so-called religion - which has religious doctrines, beliefs and dogmas. And now to face that fact, you have to listen to the whole quality of the mind that is religious.
And to so listen implies that you yourself are beginning to dissociate yourself totally from the propaganda which is called a religion.
So, sirs, to bring about a change within oneself and thereby in the world, the change must come, not through compulsion, not through agreement, not through intellectual words and arguments, but by discovering what is true for yourself - which nobody can tell you - by being alive to oneself - which nobody,can give you. You say you agree for the moment, intellectually probably; but after you leave here, you will still be a Hindu, you will still be a Christian, a Sikh, a Muslim, or whatever else may be your names and labels. But if you really listen to yourself, to the process of your own thinking, if you actually observe, then you will see that you are no longer part of the collective, you are no longer part of the tradition that is already breaking away. And the breaking away comes not through conscious effort, because the conscious effort is merely a reaction, and every reaction produces its own further reactions.
So, you are listening to what is being said - which is, actually listening to yourself, not to the speaker. The speaker is merely pointing out in words. And if you merely follow the words and their meaning, they have no significance at all. But if you listen, you face the fact that there is deterioration in the world, perhaps more rapid than before; that the world is being taken over by the politicians, by the tyrants, by reactionary people. I mean by that word `reactionary' those who call themselves revolutionaries, who are really tyrannical because of their reaction, because they base their activity and their thought upon reaction - communism is a reaction in opposition to capitalism. And reaction is merely the further encouragement of what has been, only modified.
So observing all these things - that religion has lost completely its meaning, that education is training technicians, not human beings, that modern existence is so utterly superficial - what is one to do? How is one to find a way out of this wilderness, this chaos? It all depends on how you ask this question. You can ask this question either as a reaction and therefore find an answer which will still be a reaction and not an action in itself, or you can ask the question which has no answer. When you ask a question which has no answer, because it has no answer you are thrown back upon yourself. Therefore you have to enquire within yourself, and not ask a question outside.
One asks questions, because one always wants answers. I have a problem and I want to solve that problem; therefore I ask a question. I do not want to find the truth of that problem, I do not want to go fully, deeply, irrevocably into that problem; but I irredeemably want to find an answer, because I am disturbed by the problem; I want a satisfactory, convenient, comforting answer - which will be a reaction. And therefore such a questioning which produces a reaction will only further produce more reactions and therefore more problems. Please, you can apply this to yourself, you can see for yourself the logical sequence of such a questioning. Or you can question, not seeking, not wanting an answer; then when you question you will be thrown back upon yourself, and therefore you have to enquire within yourself how your mind thinks, what you think and why you think, - because what you think, why you think, what you feel and why you feel create the problem. Without understanding yourself, merely to ask a question which will give you a satisfactory answer is avoiding the fact - which is: you are the creator of the problem, and not society, not the religion in the present actual state.
So it matters a great deal how you ask the question - and you must ask the question. If you ask the question because you want to find a way out of this misery, out of this confusion in the world, then you will find some guru, some prophet, some leader who will momentarily satisfy your discontent, your misery. But where are you at the end of it? You are still where you were, because you have not understood that you are still the maker of problems. But if you question and not try to seek an answer, your question is only to find out; and you can only find out through your own thinking, the quality of your own feeling, the emotional nature of your own being.
So what we are going to do throughout these talks is not to give answers to problems - that is too cheap and too trivial - but to learn how to look at problems, how to question every problem that life presents, so that you will find out by questioning rightly. I mean by `rightly', never seeking the answer from anybody, from any book, from any authority - but questioning in order to understand the whole content of the problem. And for that you need to have a mind that is very clear, sharp, logical, sane, that is capable of facing facts. Then you will see how your mind is completely held in the past, in tradition, in memory, in the experience of many thousand yesterdays, and with that you look at life - the life which is constantly moving, changing, which is never still. So, the mind is the result of time, time being the past which shapes every thought, every feeling. With that mind which is the past, which is the result of centuries of time - I will not go into all that now; I will deal with the problem of time and all that during the talks that will follow - we are trying to, understand this extraordinary change that is going on in the world, we are trying to understand sorrow. With that mind we are trying to understand the future, the unknown.
So, one has to realize for oneself by questioning the state of one's own mind - not how to resolve the state of the mind, but to understand it. One has to understand it. I mean by that word `understand', to look at something without condemnation, to look at something without evaluation - which is extraordinarily difficult for most people, practically for all people - to look, to see, to listen, without bringing in opinions, judgments, condemnations and justifications, just to look. I do not know if you have ever done it - to look without thought, to look at a flower without bringing in all the botanical knowledge, but merely to look. You will find how difficult it is, because the mind is a slave to words. The word is far more significant for most of us than the fact. And as long as the mind is a slave to words, to conclusions, to ideas, it is utterly incapable of looking and understanding.
So understanding a fact is not to have an opinion about the fact but to have the capacity to look - to look without judgment, to look without the word. I do not know if you have ever looked at a bird or a tree, or looked at the squalor or the filth of the streets. I am using the words `squalor' and `filth' in the dictionary sense, without any emotional content behind those words. Because, you see, when you are capable of looking, fear is gone. There is no fear when you can look, when you can look at yourself. And it is necessary to look at yourself in that way, and that is the only way that you can know yourself. Without knowing yourself you have no reason to think at all, you have no foundation for any thought, you are merely an automatic machine thinking what you are being told. But if you are able to observe yourself, your ways, your thinking, your activities, or how you look at people, what you see, what you do, how you talk - the whole of it - then you will find that observation, that seeing, that total perception is energy, is the flame that burns out the past.
And then you will see for yourself that the mind has penetrated deeply within itself. The mind has to penetrate deeply within itself because more and more of education, progress and industrialization is making us more and more superficial. And life is not just industry, going to the office, earning money and begetting children. Life is something much greater than all this, it includes all this. But the lesser does not include the greater, the greater includes the lesser. But we are apparently, contented with the lesser and therefore we are concerned with the immediate. And life is becoming extraordinarily superficial. You think that going to some weekly or daily puja or this or that makes you extraordinarily direct, you think you are clever because you have read some books - all this is still very superficial. Depth is not in any book, whether it is the Gita or the Upanishads. It does not live with any guru, it is not in any temple or church. It is to be found within oneself. You have to dig very deeply, you have to go into it profoundly, step by step, watching every movement of that, watching every action, every feeling. Then you will find there is no limit, no bottom, to the thing that you see.
Surely, it is only such a mind which has completely dissociated itself from society, from tradition, from its morality, and which is able to stand completely alone, that can find out whether there is the unnameable, the unknowable. There is. I say there is; but it has no value to you, no value at all, because you have to find out for yourself. The laboratory is you; you have to tear down, to destroy everything to find out. And that is the only revolution that is worthwhile, that has deep meaning; that is not the economic, not the social, not the industrial revolution that is taking place in this country.
There is only one revolution, that is the revolution in the mind, in consciousness; and that revolution is not brought about by argument, by words, by putting two and two together and making various conclusions. That revolution comes deeply, lastingly, precisely, when you go into yourself, never accepting a thing, therefore questioning everything. And by that very questioning which is not the seeking for an answer you will find that there is an extraordinary revolution taking place without an effort. And it is only such a mind that can discover for itself if there is or if there is not the timeless.
January 21, 1962
New Delhi 1962
New Delhi 1st Public Talk 21st January 1962
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