Madras 1964 (1)
Madras 1st Public Talk 12th January 1964
I should think it must be a great concern for most of us to observe the deterioration in the character, in the stability, in the nature of man. One observes it at all the levels of activity. Especially in this country one notices it much more - this country which was supposed to be very religious by tradition, by its inheritance and the constant repetition of certain religious phrases and ideas. One observes that the deterioration is much deeper, much wider and apparently very few people are concerned about it. If they are concerned, they try to revive what has been; they go back to the old, ancient traditions, customs, habits and attitudes of thoughts and values. Or if they are concerned, they turn to an economic or social solution. But apparently, those who take life seriously either escape into what has been, or escape into their old fanciful ideas, or pursue a new conception, a new formula, sociologically or religiously.
Being aware of the world and also of this country, especially of this country, it seems to me that what is needed is a total revolution in consciousness. And that revolution cannot take place if you are fooling around with beliefs and ideas and concepts. We cannot find a way out of our confusion and misery and conflict by constant repetition of the Gita, the Upanishads and all the sacred books - that may lead to hypocrisy and double life and to everlasting moralizing, but not to facing realities at all. What we have to do, it seems to me, is to be aware of the conditions of our daily existence, of our sorrows, of our miseries, of our confusion and conflict, and try to understand them so deeply that we lay a right foundation and, from there, start. There is no other way out. We have to face ourselves as we are, not according to any pattern, not according to any idealization. We have to face actually what we are, and from there begin to bring about a radical transformation.
You might say, "What is the effect or value of an individual changing? How will that transform the whole current of human existence? What can an individual do?". I think that is a wrong question, because there is no such thing as an individual consciousness; there is only consciousness of which we are a part. You might segregate yourself and build a wall of a particular space called the `me'. But that `me' is related to the whole, that `me' is not separate. And in transforming that particular section, that particular part, we will affect the whole of consciousness. And I think this is very important to realize: that we are not talking about individual salvation or individual reformation, but about being aware of the particular in relation to, the total. Then out of that realization comes action which will affect the whole.
When one considers what is taking place in the world, how the minds of human beings have become mechanical, repetitive, how the minds of human beings are separated into nationalities, into groups divided by technological knowledge, and with religious divisions as Hindu, Muslim and Christian and so, on, it seems to me that a wholly different action is necessary. We must find, obviously, a different source, a different way of life which will not be contradictory to our daily living and yet bring about a deep religious comprehension of life.
For me what is important is not only the immediate response to the various challenges - a response which will be adequate - but also a response that is the outcome of a deep religious life. I mean by a religious life not a ritualistic, a conformative life to a particular pattern, but a religious life that comes with the understanding of oneself Because without knowing oneself, actually what one is - however crooked one is, however deceptive, cunning, hypocritical, petty-minded one is - one has no basis for any real religious action or religious thought.
So, it seems to me, any one who is really, deeply concerned not only with the world situation, but to find the truth, to find out if there is something beyond the measure of the mind - he must totally comprehend himself. And during these talks here, that will be our only concern. Because that is the spring, that is the source of our thought, of our being and of our action. Without self-knowledge, without understanding the self - not the higher self and the self with the big S, but the ordinary self, the self that daily goes to the office, that is passionate, that is angry, vicious, cruel, hypocritical, conforming - without understanding that totally, completely, with all one's being, every action, every thought, every idea will only lead to further confusion and further misery.
And it seems to me we have got an immense task and that task demands seriousness. I mean by that word the capacity to pursue a truth, an observation, to the very end. Because we are not serious people at all, we are very superficial, we are easily distracted, we are easily satisfied. But to enquire into oneself deeply, one must be extraordinarily serious and continue in that seriousness. And that requires energy. you cannot be serious if you have not got energy. That energy has to be not a sporadic, casual energy, but a constant energy that can observe a fact as it is, and can pursue that fact to the very end - an astonishing energy, both of the mind and of the body.
And to have energy, there must be no conflict, because conflict is the major factor of deterioration. We are people educated to live with conflict. All our life is a conflict - within oneself and without; with the neighbour, with ourselves, and in our relationships. Everything that we touch, both psychologically and ideationally, does breed conflict. And conflict is the major factor of deterioration.
And it seems to me, to understand this conflict, not partially but totally, is the major task of a human mind. Because only when there is complete cessation of conflict, then only is there the ending of all illusion; then only can the mind go very deeply into the question of what is true, if there is something beyond time. And it is only such a mind that can discover what is love, and discover that state of mind which is creative, because every other form is speculation. And a religious mind does not speculate; it only moves from fact to fact. And that fact is not observable if there is conflict of any kind, strain of any kind.
So, our chief problem is, it seems to me, that we have completely lost religion, the religious spirit. You may have temples, go to the temple, put on the sacred thread and all the rest of immature nonsense; but we are not religious people at all. And the problem of the world cannot be solved at any level except at the religious level.
And the really religious life is a life that is lived with the comprehension of conflict and freedom from conflict.
So, our first concern then is: the understanding of conflict, within and without. Actually the two are not separate. The world is not separate from you and me; you are the world and the world is you. This is not a theory; but, if you observe, this is an actual fact. You are conditioned by the society in which you live - a communist, a socialistic, a capitalistic, or some other society. You are a so-called individual born in this country and brought up according to a certain tradition, believing in God or not believing in God. You are shaped by society, by circumstances. Your beliefs, your conduct, your way of thinking are all the result of your conditioning by the particular society in which you live. That is an obvious, irrefutable fact. And we have separated the world as something different from ourselves, because the world is too much, with all the pressures, the strains, the conflicts, the innumerable demands, and the way of life. And we retreat from that into ourselves, into our beliefs, into our hopes and fears and speculative concepts. So there is a division between ourselves and the world. But if you observe, you will see that the world is not different from ourselves - it is like the tide that goes out and comes in. Without understanding the world outside, you cannot possibly understand the within. And to understand it, you must observe it - not from any particular point of view but as a scientist observes. The scientist observes only in his laboratory. We, as living human beings, have to observe the world daily, in our relationships, in our activities. And as I said, to understand this whole complex, harrowing, despairing life - a life in which there is no love, no beauty - we must understand conflict.
Conflict arises, surely, when there is contradiction - contradiction of various desires, various demands, both conscious as well as unconscious. But most of us are aware of these conflicts. And if we are aware, we have no answer for them; so we retreat from them, we escape from them, into religion, social work or various forms of amusement, entertainment such as going to a temple, going to a cinema or taking a drink. And it is only possible to resolve these conflicts when the mind is capable of understanding itself.
Now I am going to go into this question of conflict. To understand conflict you have to observe yourself And observation demands care. Care means sympathy, affection: like caring for a child; not denial, not condemnation. When you care for a child, you observe the child, you do not condemn him, you do not compare him. You watch him endlessly with affection, with immense understanding; you study him, all his moves, his phases, his mischievousness, his tears, his laughter. And to watch demands care. So, in observing oneself completely, the first thing one has to have is care and, therefore, never a moment of condemning, justifying or comparing, but mere observation of what is taking place, every moment of the day, whether you are in an office, or going in a bus, or talking to somebody and so on. You have to observe yourself so completely with such infinite care that, out of that care, comes precision, a unique precision - not vague ideas, ineffectual action.
So, to observe yourself there must be complete care. A caring mind, a mind that is aware of itself, in the very process of its observation of itself, is beginning to learn about itself. Learning is something entirely different from accumulating knowledge. I think this has to be understood very carefully. Most of us accumulate knowledge. From childhood till we die, we record; our mind becomes a tape on which everything is recorded. And from that record we act, we think, we respond; and to that record we are adding every day, consciously or unconsciously. We store up every experience, every information, every incident, every memory. And this we call experiencing. This we call learning. But that is not learning at all; learning is something entirely different. The moment you accumulate you cease to learn. Because it is only the fresh mind, the young mind, the mind that observes with care, that learns.
I think we must see the difference between the two. Technological knowledge is accumulative. You add more and more and from that knowledge you act. If you are an engineer, if you are a physicist, you gather all the information, as much of it as possible, and from that you act. So there is never freedom. It is always acting from what it has learnt, from what it has acquired. At the level of technological knowledge, such action, such memory, such accumulative process, is absolutely necessary. But we are talking of something entirely different: that to observe with care implies no additive process. Because if you are merely adding, acquiring, then, the next minute you observe, you are observing from that which you have accumulated, and therefore you cease to observe. Please understand this.
It is very important to understand that when a mind, merely acquiring, adding to itself, observes from knowledge, what it observes is tainted by its previous comprehension, by previous knowledge; and therefore such a mind is incapable of learning a fresh fact. And life is fresh; living is something totally new, every minute of the day. And we lose that freshness, that extraordinary sense of vitality, beauty and enormousness by always approaching it through our accumulated knowledge and, therefore, never learning but merely adding to what has been and from that addition looking and hoping to learn.
So, a mind that is serious, that is aware of the world-situation, sees that the whole world is in turmoil - there is a steady decline in every country; only a few people can function mentally, perhaps freely; but the rest merely imitate; they are poor imitators of computers; they are ineffective. The sorrow, the misery, the anxiety, the despair, which are facts; not your beliefs, not your hopes, not your gods; the fact of despair, of anxiety, of the extraordinary continuity of sorrow, endless sorrow; the increasing hatred and brutality - that is the world of which you are. And it is the function of a very serious mind to understand this and to go beyond it. A serious mind has to observe it. That is, you have to observe yourself because you are the world; because you are in misery, in sorrow, in loneliness, in despair, anxiety, fear, driven by ambition, greed and envy - you are that. You are not what you think you are - namely you are God and all the rest of it; that is just speculative nonsense. You have to start from facts and you have to learn about yourself.
So, there is a difference between learning and accumulating knowledge. Learning is infinite, there is no end to learning about yourself. And therefore that mind which is not accumulative but is constantly learning, can then observe its conflicts, its stresses and all the pains and the secret desires and fears. If you can do that, not casually, not once in a way, but every day, every minute - it can be done - , if you watch it constantly, then you will see you have an extraordinary energy. Because then self-contradiction is being understood.
I mean by that word `understand' not something intellectual. A mind that is in fragmentation can never understand. When we say, "I understand something intellectually", what we really mean is we hear the word and understand the word - this is totally unrelated to understanding. Understanding implies not only the semantic nature and the meaning of the word but also the understanding of the whole content of that word and being totally aware of its significance as it applies to ourselves, completely. So understanding is not merely a matter of mentation, an intellectual process. You can understand something only when you give your mind, your body, your senses, your eyes, your ears, everything. And out of that understanding is total action, not a fragmentary, contradictory action.
So our concern then is to understand - especially for those who are really serious; and life demands that you be serious because you cannot live in this world casually. You cannot be concerned merely with your own worries, with your own amusements, with your own fears. You are a part of the world and you have to understand yourself and the world. And this understanding demands extraordinary seriousness, and the task is immense. And when you are serious, you have to go to the very end of that understanding, you have to see the whole implication of existence.
Then conflict is something that we have to understand - understand, not overcome; not try to deny it; not try to escape from it; but understand it, see the whole meaning, be aware of the various contradictions in word, in thought, in action. Most of us lead double lives, or triple lives, or many lives! We function in fragments, our being is fragmentary; we want to be worldly; we want all the comforts - which we should have. Comfort is obviously necessary; but with that comfort goes the demand for security. And we want not only to be secure in our jobs - which is a natural, healthy response - but also to be secure psychologically, inwardly.
Is it possible to be psychologically secure at any time - which is to be psychologically secure in our relationships and to be psychologically secure with that with which we are identified? It is necessary obviously to be secure outwardly. Outwardly, it is absolutely necessary to have a house, a home, a job; but we are not content with that. We want to be psychologically, inwardly, secure; and then the trouble begins. We never enquire if there is such a thing as inward security; but we say we must be secure inwardly, and thereby begins the illusion. And from that moment begins a whole series of conflicts, endless conflicts.
So we have to find out for ourselves the truth of this enormous question of psychological security - not what somebody else says. psychologically we are insecure; and therefore we create gods and these gods become our permanent security! This breeds conflicts. Do you understand what we mean by conflict? We mean: the contradiction; the fragmentary action; the disjointed thoughts; one desire opposing another desire; one demand contradictory to another demand; the pressures of the world and the inward demand to live peacefully with the world; the demand to find something beyond the everyday monotonous, stupid existence; being caught in the everyday existence and despairing; never having an answer to this despair, and immense sorrow, not only personal sorrow but the sorrow of the world; and never finding a way out of this sorrow. All these breed contradiction, of which you may be aware consciously or unconsciously. Where the mind is in contradiction, there must be conflict.
And obviously, a mind that is in conflict cannot proceed further; it can proceed in illusion, but it cannot proceed to find out if there is something beyond time, beyond the measure of man. Surely, that is the function of religion. It is the function of a religious mind to find out what is true. And truth does not possibly lie in a temple, in a book however old. You have to discover it for yourself. You cannot buy it through tears, through prayers, through repetition, through rituals - that way lies absurdity, illusion, insanity.
So a serious mind has to be aware of this conflict. I mean by `being aware' to observe, to listen. Listening is an art. Really, it is quite an extraordinary art to listen to a sound. I do not know if you have ever listened to a sound - the sound of a bird on a tree, or the distant hoot of the horn of a car. By listening, not by judging, not by identifying that particular noise with a particular bird or a particular car or a particular radio in the next house, but merely by listening, you will see, if you so listen, how astonishingly sensitive you become. Your mind becomes astonishingly alert if you merely listen - not interpret what you hear, not try to translate what you hear, not identify what you hear with what you already know; all these prevent you from listening. But if you merely listen - listen to your thoughts, listen to your demands, to the despair of your being. not try to interpret it, not translate it, not try to do something about it - then you will see your mind becomes astonishingly clear.
And only a very clear mind, a healthy mind that is sane, rational, logical, that has no conflict, conscious or unconscious - it is only such a mind that can proceed to discover for itself if there is a Reality. It is only such a mind that is a religious mind. And it is only such a mind that can solve the problems of this world. The problems of the world are innumerable, and they are multiplying. And if you cannot answer them logically, sanely, healthily, from a mind that is completely free from all conflict, you are merely creating more confusion, more misery for the world and for yourself.
So, the first thing that one has to find out for oneself, is to observe with care and to listen to all the mutterings, the fears, the delusions, the despairs of one's being. And then you will see for yourself - and that needs no proof no guru, no sacred book - if there is a Reality. And you will find in that an extraordinary sense of release from all sorrow. And in that, there is clarity, beauty and the thing that human minds now lack: which is affection, love.
January 12, 1964
Madras 1964 (1)
Madras 1st Public Talk 12th January 1964
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