Madras 4th Public Talk 27th December 1964
If we may, we will continue with what we were talking about the other day. We were saying that, unless we, as human beings, understand this whole problem of desire, there will be no order in society. We mean by "order" co-operation. And without co-operation there will be only conformity, and that conformity leads to various forms of revolt - which is not revolution. And without understanding the very complex problem of desire, there can be no freedom for man; and without freedom at every level of one's being, life becomes a series of irremediable and insoluble problems. To understand this question of desire we ought also to understand the other complex problem of love.
For without love, as we were saying the other day, there can be no co-operation; and a society that exists without co-operation must be a disintegrating society. Co-operation is one of the most difficult things - not only to understand verbally but actually to live in a state of co-operation. We do co-operate with authority, with ideas, with a person who dominates with his ideas, therefore co-operation is established on a basis of authority; and where there is authority, there is no freedom. To co-operate - not on the basis of a personal motive, nor out of an imperative necessity, nor for a profitable life - one must understand this question of love and desire.
We went, the other day, into the beginning of desire, how desire originates - that is, through perception, sensation, contact and giving continuity to that sensation through constantly thinking about that particular sensation - pleasure or pain. We went into that, and those who were here then, can go into it further. We are not going to repeat it all over again, because we want to go further into this matter. We see for ourselves how desire arises. Society with its saints, its religious sanctions, demands that the human being suppress these desires, control them, sublimate them, or run away from them to various forms of escapes. But when, without understanding desire, there is only mere discipline, then, efficiency, order and co-operation cease to exist.
So, we are concerned this evening with an enquiry into the ways of desire and their contradiction; and also with discipline and the question of love. We also said the other day when we met, that we would go into the mechanism of thinking and of time. Because all these are related - desire, love, thought and time. And without understanding them, one cannot follow or live in the whole field of thought, time, love and desire.
Understanding is not mere agreeing intellectually, verbally. Understanding is the comprehension and the cognition of the words, their meaning, not only intellectually but also with a great deal of feeling, not only mentally but neurologically with your nerves, with your eyes, with your smell. Understanding can only take place when there is a total comprehension with all your being. Understanding is not partial, not fragmentary. "I understand what you are saying, intellectually" - such a statement has no meaning whatsoever; it. means merely that I understand the words you are using; because you and I both speak English, we understand the meaning of those words. But understanding is more profound, more real, than the mere understanding of words. When we say, "we understand", it means a total comprehension and, therefore, action.
To understand is to act, not "to, understand and then to act" - then understanding merely remains as an idea, which is not understanding. The idea is separate from action. And then the whole problem arises: how to bring action to conform, or bring it in approximation, to the idea. So there is always a contradiction if you do not understand this usage of words, the creation of ideas out of those words, the accepting or the rejecting of those ideas, and if you accept the ideas and try to conform, or approximate your action to those ideas; all these processes are not a state of understanding. Understanding is a state of comprehending totally, with all one's being, nervously, emotionally, intellectually, with feeling, with everything that one has. And when there is such understanding there is action. Life is action. These two are not separate. Life is not an idea carried out in action, just as you cannot have love as an idea. Love cannot be cultivated; it cannot be nurtured, produced; either there is love, or there is not. Similarly, there is understanding, or there is no understanding. To understand something one has to listen, and listening is an art. To listen to something implies that you are giving complete attention, not only to what the speaker is saying but also to those crows, to the sunset, to the clouds, to the breeze on the leaves, to the various colours that are here, so that your whole neurological system as well as the cells of the brain comprehend totally. Out of that total comprehension alone is there action which does not bring about contradiction and, therefore, conflict and endless pain and misery. So in that sense we are using the word "understanding".
Now, we are trying to understand the way of desire - that is, to learn about it, not to suppress it, not to deny it, not to sublimate it. To understand something, you must give attention to it, you must learn about it, you must investigate it, you must explore it, you must go into it - which does not mean that you yield, or restrain yourself. When you understand it, you learn about it.
We said the other day that desire is the way of man. It exists in each one of us - it must exist; it is part of life. We have shown how desire arises. And people throughout the world, especially those who are concerned with religious matters, have been taught to suppress desire, to be without desire - which is absolutely impossible; one is without desire only when one is dead! But to understand desire requires a great deal of attention, a great deal of patience, enquiry.
Desire means, does it not?, an unfulfilled appetite. Please, if I may point out, you are not merely hearing a talk; but you are partaking in it, sharing it. You are as active as the speaker; you are not merely hearing a few words or a few ideas, a few sentences and then agreeing with them or disagreeing with them and then going away. We are together sharing in the investigation of the question of desire. And to investigate you must be free to find out. It does not mean that you agree or disagree. You do not say, "We have been told by the great saints - whoever those people are - that we must suppress it, we must control it, we must deny it, we must find ways of sublimating it" - that way you do not enquire, you do not learn, you do not find out. To find out, there must be freedom from traditions, from what people have said - which does not mean that you must indulge in desire.
So we are going to investigate, to find out, the ways of desire. And in the understanding of desire comes discipline - not imposed, not the way of conformity, suppression; but, in the very process of understanding desire, there comes discipline. As we said, desire is unfulfilled appetite, wish, longing. And either we yield to that longing, to that desire, or we suppress it because society says that we must suppress it, because religious organizations say that we must transmute it and so on. And in this process there is a constant battle between the human being who is trying to understand desire or is caught in desire, and society which has established certain norms and the religious organizations with their beliefs that say that you must conform to the pattern.
Desire is not in contradiction with itself. That is the first thing we have to understand: desire is not in contradiction with itself. Desire is in contradiction with the objects of its fulfilment. You understand? I fulfil my desire in one direction; then later I want to fulfil it in another direction; the two directions, or the two states, are contrary to each other. I want to be a very rich man, and also I want to lead a saintly life - not a saintly life, but a religious life. It is one of the easiest things in the world to be a saint! All that you have to do is to conform to a pattern which is recognized by society: put on a loincloth, lead a very so-called or outwardly simple life of exhibition, showing off that you are really simple. And society says: what a marvellous human being you are! That is the outward show of simplicity; inwardly, you are boiling, you are tormented, you are tortured by your passions, ambitions, lust, greed, identifications with a particular society. So we are not concerned with what kind of life a saint leads inwardly; all we are concerned with is that he shall conform to the pattern of a saint which is to be this and that. So it is comparatively easy to be a saint. But it is much more difficult, and it requires tremendous intelligence, understanding to go into this question of desire and to be free from the conflict which the objects of desire create. To understand the whole process of desire you need intelligence.
Intelligence is not the accumulation of experience and knowledge; but intelligence is the highest form of sensitivity. To be sensitive to everything, to the birds, to the squalor, to the poverty, to the beauty of a tree, to the beauty of a face, to the sunset, to the colours, to the reflections, to the movement of a leaf, to a bird on the wing, to the smile of a child, to tears, to laughter, to the pain, the agony, the anguish, the misery of a human being - to be totally sensitive to all that means to be intelligent. And you cannot be intelligent if you merely suppress or indulge. You can only be sensitive when there is understanding.
We have desire, which is really a response to an appetite. I want something, and I respond. This response depends upon the intensity of my feeling. If the feeling is intense, if the emotion is urgent, then there is an almost immediate fulfilment, either in thought or in action. Please you have to follow this fairly clearly, because we are going into the question of time, into the question of thought and love; and you have to follow this, step by step, not authoritatively. We are using the word "follow" in the sense of following what is being said. So far as we are concerned, there is no authority. Authority is contrary to every state of sensitivity, and a religious mind has no authority. A religious mind is a mind that is constantly in a state of learning and therefore sensitive. And learning ceases when these is authority. It does not matter who it is - the authority of a government, the authority of your priest, the authority of your guru or a Master - authority prevents your learning. Authority only makes you conform through fear. And a mind that is frightened at any level ceases to be a religious mind. As far as we are concerned there is no authority.
Desire, which is the response of a sensation which has been given continuity by thought, seeks fulfilment; and in the various forms of fulfilment there is contradiction. And out of that contradiction there is conflict; and where there is conflict there is effort. So desire breeds effort if we do not understand the whole process of desire.
What is desire and how does that desire continue? We see how desire arises - perception, seeing, contact, sensation. Now, what gives continuity to desire? That is the problem; that is where we left off the other day. Surely, thought gives continuity to desire. That is, I like something; it gives me great pleasure to look at the sunset, or to look at a beautiful face, or to see a man in position, status, power, money, position and all the rest of it. It gives me pleasure to be in that man's position, and I think about that pleasure, whether that pleasure be a sensual pleasure or a subjective pleasure, or a pleasure caused by outward objects. I think about it. I like your face; you have a nice smile; and your smile, your face is attractive. I like it, I think about it; the more I think about it, the more I give strength to the desire which seeks fulfilment with that person, or through that idea, or through that object. So thought gives continuity to desire. If there was no continuity to desire, there would be no fulfilment. It would arise and go away. It would come as a reaction - and you must have reaction, otherwise you are a dead human being. It would come as a reaction and there would be no continuity to that reaction if there was no continuity of thought. You observe it in your own life.
You have pleasure, sexual or ordinary pleasure, you think about it; you create, in your mind, images, symbols, words. And the more you think about it, the greater is the intensity of that pleasure. And that intensity demands fulfilment. And in that fulfilment there is a contradiction, because you also want to fulfil in other directions. So, where there is fulfilment of desire, there is contradiction. Hence to escape from contradiction, from the pain of conflict, you say that you must suppress desire. But what is important is - not to suppress desire, nor to shape it, nor to sublimate it, but to understand it - to understand what gives it substance, what gives it the intensity, what gives it the urgency. If that can be understood, then desire has quite a different significance.
You observe yourself: when you have a pleasure, you think about it. When you have pain, you also think about it. The thinking about it gives it vitality, gives it strength, gives it continuity. So, one has to go into the question of thinking, if one would understand desire.
What is thinking? This is not an academic question. I am asking you a question: what is thinking? There is a challenge: what is thinking? And you are waiting for a response, are you not? You are waiting for a response from the speaker. You want to be told. If he does not tell it, you are trying to find out from your own knowledge, or from the knowledge of what others have given to you; or you are looking, searching in your memory, to find out what is thinking. So, when a challenge is given to you, your memory responds. Please follow this carefully, because unless you go into this very carefully, step by step, you will miss the whole sequence of what is going to be said. Life is a challenge; it is a series of continuous challenges. Life is a movement, constantly changing, constantly moving, never the same; and that is the beauty of life. It is living, not dead; and therefore it is always giving us a challenge every minute, consciously or unconsciously, whether we are aware of it or not. And when there is a challenge, we respond according to our conditioning, according to our memory; and our memory responds. In this process of challenge and response, the response is immediate or after an interval of time; and in the interval of time there is the process of thinking.
What is thinking? Probably most of you have not thought about it at all, and you are waiting to be told! When you are told, you either agree or disagree; or your memory says, "That is enough, that is only part of it; there must be much more to this mechanism of thought". So we are going to go into it. Where there is a challenge and a response, if the response is immediate, there is no process of thinking. If you are asked your name, you answer very quickly; because you are very familiar with your name, you reply immediately. You may have thought about it before, but the immediate response is instant. but if you are asked a much more complicated question, you take time, and there is a time interval between that challenge and response. In that time interval the mind is looking for an answer, searching, asking, waiting, questioning. That interval is what we call thinking. And that thinking depends on your race, on your family, the knowledge, the memory, the imprint of time, your experiences, the pain, the sorrow, the innumerable pressures and the agonies of life - that is the background; and from the background you respond. And sc, the response to the challenge is always inadequate. I hope I am making myself clear. And that inadequacy to a response creates contradiction. So one has to understand not only the mechanism of thinking but also the storing up of knowledge as a means of response to a challenge which is always new. So you respond always to something new with the old, with your tradition if you are a Hindu; if you are a Christian, with your tradition; if you are a scientist, with your particular knowledge and so on. Your response is never total, it is always fragmentary; and therefore there is a contradiction, a conflict, a pain, or a pleasure which you want to continue - which brings again conflict. So we live in this process: challenge, inadequate response, contradiction, conflict, pain or pleasure and the demand for the pain to cease and the pleasure to continue. That is the cycle of our life.
If you proceed further into this question of thinking, you come to a state of mind when you actually say: I don't know. You understand? That is the difference between the electronic computer and the human mind. The human mind can say, "I don't know" and it means "I don't know; there is no pretence, there is no waiting for an answer. "I don't know" is a most extraordinary state of mind, if you could really understand that state. Because most of us have so much knowledge about everything! We know about God, because we have been told for five thousand, seven thousand or two million years. We are burdened with knowledge, with our experience - which is the past. We know about what we call God, love, sex, about almost everything that the human mind has invented or thought about! And we are always searching to find more; that is, adding more to our knowledge, and we never say, "I don't know". And is it not necessary always to say, "I don't know" so that the mind is always learning, is always fresh, innocent, young? It is only a young mind that says, "I don't know", and means "I don't know" - not waiting to be informed. The moment you know, it has already become the old. But a mind that is saying to itself "I don't know" all the time, is not doubting. When you doubt, you are already expecting a confirmation or a denial. But when you say, "I don't know", your mind is already young, fresh, eager, ready to find out.
That is the way of thought. Thought exists only in time. We mean by time the psychological state of postponement, the psychological idea of progress, of evolution, of reaching a height, of accumulating and getting rid of a distance between what is and what should be, which is all a time interval in space. Please follow all this a little bit. A mind that has no space is a dead mind. The mind must have space, which is emptiness. And it is only in that space that a new state can come into being; it is only in that space that a mutation, a complete revolution, can take place.
We need a revolution in this world, a psychological revolution - not an economic or a social revolution - but a really deep religious revolution. Such a revolution, such a mutation, cannot take place if the mind is not totally empty, if there is no space in the mind. And the understanding of desire, the comprehension of time, brings about, without seeking, this extraordinary space. Space is not created by an object in the space. That tree, which is the object, creates space; because of that tree, there is space round it. We only know space in relation to the object and the non-object. And a man who is caught in the space which an object creates, is everlastingly a slave. It is only the mind that has space without object that is a free mind.
Now, we human beings who have lived for over two million years, according to anthropologists, have developed, progressed, evolved through time. It has taken us two million years to be what we are - two million years from the animal to the human being - and we say, "We will have more time, another two million years or more, to progress, to evolve. In those two million years we have suffered, we have lived in tremendous anxiety, with an appalling loneliness". You know what loneliness is? Most of us know what anxiety is. Most of us know what sorrow is. Most of us are familiar with pain, physical and otherwise. Most of us know the agony of uncertainty and the pain, the corruption, the disgust, the impurities of one's own thinking and life. But very few of us know that pain, the agony of complete loneliness. Man has lived with his loneliness for two million years not knowing, escaping from it when he knows it, and inventing gods, heavens, hells, every form of fulfilment to escape from this extraordinary, intense sense of complete isolation, complete loneliness.
We have lived for two million years and we have invented time because we are the result of time. Our brain cells, our whole structure, the organism, the brain, everything is the result of time - time being the idea: I will become; I will be; I will achieve; I will progress; I will change; from now till tomorrow; from now till the next second. That is what we mean by time. We are not talking of time as chronological time by the watch; we are talking of time, as of a mind that thinks in the field of gradualness - that is an invention. Chronologically there is tomorrow by the watch; otherwise there is no tomorrow; we have invented tomorrow. Actually when you go into it, you will see it is thought that has created tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be uncertain, tomorrow you have to go to office, tomorrow you have to do certain things - you are thinking about it today. Thought actually creates time as tomorrow, and so we have time. And we use time as a means of change. "I am angry, ugly, savage, but I will become something else" - that is using time as a means to become; so there is always a postponement, there is always an avoidance.
Most human beings are violent. They have never been gentle. They do not know what love is. They know what sex is, what desire is. They know the ways of agony. And being caught in agony, they say, "I must have time to get over it; I must have tomorrow, or the next life; or, I will get rid of it gradually". So thought invents time; thought is time. And a man who understands this process of desire, thought and time, is a human being who lives completely in the present. He has no time as a means of achieving.
The moment you have time, what actually takes place? You are not confronting, you are not confronted with, the actual, the factual challenge, the immediate. You act in the immediate only when you are in pain or in intense pleasure. When you are intensely sexual, or when you have intense pain, you have to act. And most of us are incapable of looking at facts as they are, seeing things as they are, the what is. The what is the fact, and we come to that with various opinions, ideas, judgments. That is, with the past we come to the fact and therefore create contradiction or the lack of understanding of that fact.
So a mind is free only when it is capable of meeting the fact, the what is, meeting poverty, not some supreme challenge - there is no supreme challenge. Life is a challenge every minute - meeting poverty; meeting your boss in your office; meeting your wife, the children; meeting the bus conductor, the squalor, the beauty of a sunset; your own anger, jealousy, stupidity - which are all facts. What matters is how you meet the fact, not what you think about it, not what you should do about it. When you meet the fact, without any opinion, judgment, evaluation, then you are living completely in the present. Then for such a mind there is no time, and therefore it can act. Because the fact alone has the urgency of action - not your opinions, desires and ideals.
Look, sirs, you have been brought up, most unfortunately, on ideals. Ideals are just words. They have no meaning whatsoever, they have no substance. They are just the barren children of a vain, thoughtless mind! You have been brought up on the ideal of non-violence. You go round preaching all over the world non-violence. Non violence is the ideal. But the fact is that you are violent in your gesture, in the way you talk to your superior or your inferior. Please listen to yourself. I am just pointing it out. You are violent - violent in your gesture, in your thought, in your feeling, in your action. Why can't you look at that violence? Why need you have an ideal of non-violence? The fact is you are violent, and the ideal is non-factual; so you create a contradiction in yourself and therefore prevent yourself from looking at the fact of violence. When you look at a fact you can deal with it: you will say you are violent and accept it; you accept it and say: I am violent and I will not be a hypocrite; or you will say you are violent and enjoy it; or you will look at it without the ideal. You can only look at an object or a fact or what is, when there is no ideal, no opinion, no judgment - it is so. Then the fact brings about an intensity of action in the immediate. It is only when you have ideas about a fact that you postpone action. When you realize factually that you are violent, then you can look at it, you can go into it; then you can learn all about it, the nature of violence, whether it is possible to be free or not - not as an idea, but actually.
So a religious mind has no ideals, no example, no authority, because the fact is the only thing that matters, and that fact demands urgency of action. You cannot but act immediately, without an idea, only when the mind has understood the whole question of desire, thinking, time, which prevents the mind from looking at the fact. You do it, sirs. Take your greed, take your anger, take what you like, your sexual appetite - it does not matter what it is. Look at it - not with condemnation, judgment, evaluation; not saying it is right or wrong. You know all the intellectual stuff that men invent to avoid the fact: take the poverty in this country; that is a fact; and being caught in nationalism is going to prevent that fact being carried out. We will discuss it some other time.
So a mind that is free from time, which is thought, which is desire, is a mind that is aware of love. For most of us, love is sexual. Observe it in yourself. For most of us, love is jealousy. For most of us love is a contradiction of hate and love. We really do not know what love is. We know sympathy, pity, perhaps a little generosity when it does not cost too much. Don't laugh! You are facing all this - which is yourself. You cannot laugh. If you can laugh at yourself, then it will have some meaning. But don't just laugh at facts: which means you are avoiding. We know what love is only in terms of contradiction, pain and pleasure, agony and the jealousy, the pain, the brutality of jealousy, the violence of jealousy. But you do not know what love is, because you do not know what beauty is. If you do not know what beauty is, you will never know what love is - not the beauty of a woman or a man, not sex, but beauty.
You have been trained to deny beauty, because beauty has always been associated with pleasure - pleasure being the man or the woman. And people have told you, especially the saints, that if you would find God, you must have no woman, no pleasure; and therefore you deny. By denying beauty you have denied also love. Beauty is not pleasure; beauty is in everything. Sirs, watch yourselves; watch the leaf there; watch the beauty of the sunset, the beauty of the earth, the hill, the curve of a hill, the flowing water; watch the beauty of a fine, refined mind, the good mind, the beauty of a face, the beauty of a smile. You have denied all that, because you have associated beauty with pleasure, and pleasure with sex and so-called love.
Beauty is not that at all. Beauty is not something merely related to pleasure. To understand beauty one must have an extraordinarily simple mind - that is, a mind unclouded by thought, that can look at things as they are, that can see the sunset with all the colour, loveliness and light, that can look at it simply, without verbalization and be in contact, in communion with it, without the word, without the gesture, without the memory, so that there is not "you" and the object which "you" are looking at.
That extraordinary communion without the object, without the thinker and the thought and the object and experience, that sense of immense space - that is beauty.
And that is also love. Without love, do what you will - you may do social work, social reforms, parliamentary government, you may marry, have children - you will find no answer to any problem in life. With love you can do what you will: with love there is virtue and there is humility.
December 27, 1964
Madras 4th Public Talk 27th December 1964
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