New Delhi 1965
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 18th November 1965
It seems to me that one of our great difficulties is that we seem to be incapable of learning. And we are using that word "learning" not in the sense of accumulating mere knowledge, or gathering experience from which to act; but we are using that word in a different sense. We see around us not only in this country but all over the world that man suffers, not only outwardly through outward incidents, accidents, ill health and misfortune but also inwardly, much more, not only physically but psychologically. There is great poverty outwardly as well as inwardly. And there are wars, one group, or one community, or one tribe against another. There have been wars, immemorial wars - beyond memory. Seeing all this and knowing all this, we do not seem to be able to learn. We are capable of adjusting to misfortune, to wars, to hate, to poverty, to tyranny.
Adjustment is not learning. The difference between man and an animal is that man is capable of adjustment to any climate, to any food, to any condition, to any environmental influence: animals cannot. And this constant adjustment to our environment is not learning. Learning is something entirely different. Learning is not accumulative. We don't learn and having learnt act. That is what most of us do.
There is a learning which comes from the very acting, which is from the very doing, not having learnt and then doing but in the very doing is the learning and the acting. And to learn from all our misery, from the innumerable frustrations, from conflict within and without - we do not seem to be able to learn so as to bring about a radical revolution in ourselves. And it seems to me it is imperative that there should be this learning from the very doing and therefore there is no pattern or authority which tells you what to do. I do not know if you have read that they are experimenting in America in factories, because they want greater production. And when you keep doing, or when a man does the same thing over and over again, it gets monotonous and he does not produce more. Whereas if he learns in the very act of production, in the very act of doing, then he produces more.
And though we have suffered for millennia, both inwardly and outwardly, we do not seem to be capable of learning. And it indicates, does it not?, that we are not tremendously interested in living, in living freely, totally, in living a life without conflict, without sorrow. We do not want to know the structure of sorrow, or the nature of fear. We just accept it, or we adjust ourselves to it and we put up with anything, unless of course it gives a great deal of physical pain - then we go to a doctor or something or other. But we accept psychological pain.
And it seems to me that fear is one of our major problems. Because a mind that is fearful, timid, anxious is incapable of clear thinking, it lives in darkness, it has various forms of neurosis, various forms of contradictions. And most of us if we are at all aware that we are frightened, that there is fear - we either escape from it, run away as far away from it as we can, or we submit to it, we accept it and live within that shadow.
We do not know how to deal with fear, because we have lived with fear for millennia. And because we do not know the nature of fear and how to resolve it, we turn to religion, to drink, to aggressiveness, to violence and so on. So, one may have fear of different kinds - conscious as well as unconscious. And to be rid of fear totally, not partially, requires the investigation and the understanding of fear, not developing a courage, but the understanding of fear, which is much more important than creating resistance against fear, which is courage. We are afraid of losing a job, we are afraid of darkness, we are afraid of death, we are afraid of public opinion, we are afraid of so many things and we live with this fear. Now, one can listen to what is being said. But mere words, intellect, cannot possibly solve this fear. What one has to do is to apply, come directly into contact with fear, and not escape. Because religions throughout the world have offered man an escape from the final fear of death. They have given him hope in the hereafter in different forms. Religions have tried to change man, civilize him, make him more humane; but religions have not been able to stop wars. As we said the other day, there have been forty thousand and more wars, two-and-a-half wars every year throughout the world. And we have not learnt to stop wars. And religions have said: don't kill, love your neighbour, be kind, be gentle, think of another. And we have not done that either. Religions have become merely rituals, like big corporations without any meaning.
And it is absolutely necessary for human beings to have that religious mind, not the religions of belief, dogma, church, rituals, but a religious mind that is totally unafraid. And a mind that is unafraid is always alone, not isolated, but alone. It is only the mind that is frightened, anxious, guilty, greedy, envious that is always seeking company, afraid of being alone. And it is only the religious mind that is capable of being totally alone, because it is totally free from all fear.
And we are going to talk over together this evening this question of death. Because that is what most of us are frightened of, though we try to avoid it, though we do not want to think about it, though we treat it as an unpleasant thing to be put away, to be sidetracked. Because we are frightened of it, we have a belief - belief in resurrection, in a continuity, in immortality, or in reincarnation. But this belief does not solve the problem of fear. Scientists are saying that man can live indefinitely. They will probably find ways and means to prolong human life. But such prolongation does not solve the problem of fear.
And a society, a human being, that has not solved this problem of death lives a very superficial life. Because if there is death, an annihilation, a destruction, a coming to an end, then one lives as one can through life miserably, anxiously, and therefore life has no, meaning, life becomes a meaningless thing, without much significance - which is what is happening in the modern world. And many civilizations have tried to solve this problem of death.
And because we are not capable of understanding it we try to invent theories which will be satisfactory, which will give us comfort. So, if we may, this evening, we would like to talk about this, talk over together - together; that is, you and I are going to think over together, investigate, search out - commune with each other over this question of fear, death and love and something much greater, beyond all religions, which is creation.
And as we said the other day, communion with one another over a problem of this kind does not mean that you and I agree, that you should agree with the speaker, or disagree. This is too vast a problem to be categorised, to be classified. And to enquire into something of this nature demands on your part a great deal of searching enquiry, not acceptance or denial. It requires intelligence, not clever, cunning, dialectical reasoning of opinion, but rather you and I together take a journey into this enormous problem of life and death.
And we cannot possibly take a journey together if there is not the vitality, the energy, the intensity to search out and to discover for oneself the truth of this matter. This energy, this intensity, this vitality does not come by gathering energy; but through the very act of investigation there is energy, through the very act of enquiry energy comes. But for most of us we think energy must first be gathered, accumulated through various means and then, from that, energy proceeds. What we are saying is quite the opposite: that energy to enquire comes through search, through asking, through demanding, through questioning, through doubting, not through accepting. We are not accepting a political formula or a religious formula, not accepting the authority of any one or any book. And then out of that non-acceptance, which is a very positive action, comes energy. We enquire, we ask, and in that very asking is energy. So that is what we are going to do together, we are going to take a journey, and you are going to work as hard as the speaker. Because for most of us a talk of this kind is generally the work of the speaker, and you become merely listeners. I am afraid, this evening you have to work as hard as the speaker.
We never come directly into contact with fear. Please follow this a little bit carefully. To be in contact with something is either to feel it with your senses, or to have no psychological barrier between the fact and yourself. To come into contact means to touch, to come directly into touch with something, with facts, as I would touch that microphone. I cannot touch that if there is a hindrance, a barrier. That barrier may be words, the desire to escape so as not to face facts, or intellectually rationalize the fears or be unaware of the barriers, conscious or unconscious. These prevent directly coming into contact with a fact. And we are trying this evening to come into contact with the fact of fear, not intellectually, not what you should do or should not do about fear, but to come to know the nature of fear. Then that very coming into contact with something is the understanding of that fact. And therefore when you understand something, it is no longer this thing, the false.
We are afraid of many things. Naturally we have no time nor the occasion to go into the many forms of fear, conscious as well as unconscious. Especially unconscious fears are much more difficult to deal with. Conscious fears one can do something about. But unconscious fears are much more strong, more deep - which fears take the form of dreams in your sleep, and so on and so on. I won't go into all that now. But there is for every human being, however long he may live, this question of death. Unless he understands it, comes directly into contact with this question, with this problem, his life is very superficial and will always remain superficial. And a superficial mind then tries to give significance to living according to its conditioning, to its environment, to the society in which it has grown. Please do listen to this, give your attention for a while.
So there is this question of fear with regard to death. Now to understand this question one has to be free from all belief, from all your ideas of reincarnation or resurrection or personal immortality. You don't know anything about it. Even if you do, it is a tradition, a verbal conditioning. You have not come directly into contact with death, or the fear of that fact. And as we said, it is imperative for a human being, living in this ugly, brutal, terrifying world with its wars and antagonism, to understand this fact. Otherwise our life becomes utterly meaningless. Going to the office every day for the next thirty years, twenty years, or forty years, repeating, repeating the same old stuff, breeding a few children and everlastingly being in conflict with oneself - this has no meaning whatsoever. The more intellectual you are, the more you are aware of the world, of what is taking place, the more you try to run away from the superficiality through drink, through various forms of amusement, or invent a philosophy, or go back to some philosophy of some book. So what is necessary - if you will make life a significant thing in itself, a life that has a meaning, a life that is rich, full, complete - is that you understand this question of fear and death. Now we know what fear is a reaction, a reaction to something of which we do not know, to something of which we have not direct experience or knowledge. We have seen death, it goes by every day, this war has brought it home. But a human mind, living, healthy, sane, not neurotic - such a mind has not come into contact with it. And it is only when you come directly into contact with something that you see the meaning of it, you begin to understand the significance, the depth, the beauty of it.
So to understand this question of death we must be rid of fear which invents the various theories of afterlife or immortality or reincarnation. So we say, those in the East say, that there is reincarnation, there is a rebirth, a constant renewal going on and on and on - the soul the so-called soul. Now please listen carefully.
Is there such a thing? We like to think there is such a thing, because it gives us pleasure, because that is something which we have set beyond thought, beyond words, beyond; it is something eternal, spiritual, that can never die, and so thought clings to it. But is there such a thing, as a soul, which is something beyond time, something beyond thought, something which is not invented by man, something which is beyond the nature of man, something which is not put together by the cunning mind? Because the mind sees such enormous uncertainty, confusion, nothing permanent in life - nothing. Your relationship, your wife, your husband, your job, nothing is permanent. And so the mind invents a something which is permanent, which it calls, the soul. But since the mind can think about it, thought can think about it; as thought can think about it, it is still within the field of time - naturally. If I can think about something, it is part of my thought. And my thought is the result of time, of experience, of knowledge. So, the soul is still within the field of time. Right? Please, we are not accepting or denying. I am not doing propaganda of some theory - which is too immature and childish. We are taking a journey of investigation. And investigation, which if you follow step by step and go into very deeply, may bring you into contact with something of which you are afraid.
So the idea of a continuity of a soul which will be reborn over and over and over again has no meaning, because it is the invention of a mind that is frightened, of a mind that wants, that seeks a duration through permanency, that wants certainty, because in that there is hope. So man clings to that and therefore he must have many lives, everlasting business. That is, it matters immensely how you behave now, if you believe in reincarnation, because next life you are going to pay for how you behave now. But you are not concerned with behaviour which is righteousness. If you really believed in reincarnation, your acts, the way you think, the way you live, your callousness and indifference to everybody would disappear, because next life you will pay, you will suffer. But you don't believe in all that. Actually you don't. It is just an idea, an idea which you think is very spiritual, which is sheer nonsense. But the fact remains that there is the fear of death and in the West it takes a different form of resurrection, of a continuity in a different field of renewal.
So there is this question of fear and of fear of something which we do not know, which we call death. So we separate life, living, from death. We have not understood living, nor have we understood death. Because to understand life means to enter into life, to come into contact with life, life being greed, envy, brutality, hate, wars, escape, the bestiality, the craving for power, position. That is what we call life. That is the life you lead every day, whether you are a sannyasi or a businessman or an artist. There is a boiling going on inside and that we call life. And we have not understood this, we are not free of it; we are not free of our anxieties and guilt, anguishes, nor have we understood this enormous thing called death. So we have not understood living, nor have we understood the enormous significance of dying.
Now you have to understand living, living not battling, not being in conflict, not being tortured, not torturing yourself to find God. A human being who tortures himself to find God - such torture is not worth it. He will never find God or whatever that is. By distortion, you cannot find truth. You want a clear, sane, rational, healthy mind, not a tortured, twisted mind.
So you must be free, free from fear of life itself, free from your anxieties, from your conflicts, from your avarice, greed, envy, whether it is for money or for God. You must be free of that, then you come directly into contact with life, then living is related to dying. Please follow this. Surely, a man who has no love is always in despair; he is seeking authority, position, prestige; he is envious, callous; such a man is not living. He does not know what life is. All he knows is the little mind, whether he is the politician, or the sannyasi, or the businessman, or the artist - the little mind, the petty, little mind and its worries. That is all he knows. And it is only when he is free of that pettiness, of his fears, that he will know what it is to live. And when he knows what it is to live then he will know what it is to die. Because we have separated living from dying - dying being coming to an end, psychologically, physiologically. And we think we are living. And our living is sorrow. So unless there is an ending to sorrow there is no understanding of death.
So one has to find out for oneself, not because somebody else says so. You have been fed, you are fed, on other people's discoveries, you are bound by tradition, by authority, by fear, you have not found out as a human being - living in this world, tortured, suffering - how to end suffering. We know how to escape from suffering, through drink, through amusement, through sex, through going to temple, reading - a dozen ways we have. But we have to come into contact with it, and end it. It is only the mind that ends sorrow that can have wisdom. And it is only the mind that is free from sorrow that can know what it means to love.
So our question then is, is it possible, not in some distant future - is it possible living in this world now, to-day - is it possible to be free of sorrow and come into contact with something which we do not know, which we call death, which is the unknown? What we are afraid of is not the unknown but letting go of the known. Is it not? You are not afraid of death, the ending, but you are afraid of losing what you have, what you know, your experience, your family your little pleasures, your knowledge, your technology - you know the things that you know. And you say, by Jove, I have learnt so much, I know so much, and death comes, I shall lose everything. And that is what you are frightened of, not the extraordinary nature of death. And what are you holding on to? - the known. What is the known? Your family, your little house, the squalor of that house, the dirt of the street, the lack of beauty, the effort, the jealousies, the anxieties; the pettiness of the office, the boss you know. That is all you know and that we are afraid to let go. So when you let that go happily, easily, with grace and beauty - that is to die to the known. Then you will know what it is to die, so that you will know the unknown.
Now, please listen to this. Can you end immediately, not through time, not through gradual process, discipline, torturing yourself - can you end your fear immediately? That is really the question, not what will happen after death. But can you end a habit, the sexual habit, psychological habits, physical habits - end them immediately? To end them is to be free of them, to put an end to your worries, to your fears, to your greed, to your wanting to be powerful, strong, to your imagining you are a great shot. Because if you do not know how to end these petty things of life, the things that you know, to which the mind clings, then you will be living in a state of turmoil all the time and therefore confused. And it is only the confused mind that is in sorrow, not the mind that thinks clearly, that comes directly into contact with facts.
So, dying is the dying to the things that you know, not to the unpleasant things known, but to the pleasant also. You would like to put aside, die to the memories of pain, to the insults; but you would like to keep the memories which are pleasant, which give you satisfaction. But to put an end, to die to the pleasure as well as to the pain - you can do it if you give your attention completely to every thought, to every feeling; attention, not contradiction; not say I don't like it, I like it; just give attention.
You know what it is to give attention to something. Attention is not concentration. When you concentrate, as most people try to do - what takes place when you are concentrating? You are cutting yourself off, resisting, pushing away every thought except that one particular thought, that one particular action. So your concentration breeds resistance and therefore concentration does not bring freedom. Please, this is very simple if you observe it yourself. But whereas if you are attentive, attentive to everything that is going on about you, attentive to the dirt, the filth of the street, attentive to the bus which is so dirty, attentive of your words, your gestures, the way you talk to your boss, the way you talk to your servant, to the superior, to the inferior, the respect, the callousness to those below you, the words, the ideas - if you are attentive to all that, not correcting, then out of that attention you can know a different kind of concentration. You are then aware of the setting, the noise of the people, people talking over there on the roof, your hushing them up, asking them not to talk, turning your head, you are aware of the various colours, the costumes; and yet concentration is going on. Such concentration is, not exclusive, in that there is no effort. Whereas mere concentration demands. effort. So, if you give your attention totally - that is with your nerves, with your eyes, with your ears, with your mind, with your brain, totally, completely - to understand fear, then you will see you can instantly be free of it, completely. Because it is only a very clear mind, not living in the darkness of fear, or in the confusion of many wants - it is only such a clear, lucid mind that can go beyond death. Because it has understood living. Living is not a battle, is not a torture; living is not something to be run away from to the mountains, to the monastery. We run away, because living is a torture, an ugly nightmare. And if you give your attention to one thing totally, out of that freedom you will see, you will know what love is. Because for most of us love has very little meaning. For most of us love is surrounded by jealousies, by hate. How can there be love when you compete with another in the office ? Please listen. Without love, without this feeling of beauty, life naturally becomes utterly empty. And being empty we seek the gods which are man-made; being empty, beliefs, dogmas, rituals become very important; and we fill that emptiness with these tawdry affairs of things, tawdry affairs which have been put together by man. So if you would know what love is, there must be freedom from jealousy, from conflict, from the desire to dominate, the desire to be powerful - which means you must live peacefully to know what love is, not outside of life, but actually every day.
Then there is one other important thing in our life - creation. We do not know what creation is, because we are bound by authority. The word "authority" means the author, the one who originated something, an idea, a concept, a vision, a way of life thought out or lived by another. He is the originator of that and we see that person living, in a certain way, feeling, thinking in a certain way and we want that and therefore we imitate that. Therefore that person, or that idea, that concept, that ideal becomes the authority, the authority of tradition, the authority of your particular pet religion. And a mind that has authority, that is bound by authority, can never be in a state of creation. Because, you see, authority breeds fear; all that we are concerned with is to be told what to do, and we do it, technologically as well as psychologically. That is why all these innumerable gurus exist in this world: because we are frightened. They know, you don't know. They tell you what you should do as a scientist, as a doctor; so you depend on authority.
Now the authority of law and the authority of fear are two different things. One has to obey the authority of law which says: keep to the left; when you are driving, go on the left side. That must be. You must pay your tax, you must buy a stamp to post a letter and so on and on. But the authority set by a pattern of a society as what is the religious idea; the concept which has been established by tradition as what is God, what is this and so on and so on; the authority of religion, the sanctions of religion which you blindly accept, or you think you have investigated but have not, because you are frightened - such authority, in any form, psychologically is the most destructive thing. Because then it makes you follow, then you follow, you don't investigate, you don't find out, you don't search out and discover for yourself.
But after all, truth is something that cannot be given to you. You have to find it out for yourself, And to find it out for yourself, you must be a law to yourself, you must be a guide to yourself, not the political man that is going to save the world, not the Communist, not the leader, not the priest, not the sannyasi, not the books; you have to live, you have to be a law to yourself, And therefore no authority: which means completely standing alone, not outwardly, but inwardly completely alone, which means no fear. And when the mind has understood the nature of fear, the nature of death and that extraordinary thing called love, then it has understood, not verbalized, not thought about, but actually lived. Then out of that understanding comes a mind that is active, but completely still. This whole process of understanding life, of freeing oneself from all the battles, not in some future, but immediately, giving your whole attention to it - all that is meditation; not sitting in some corner and holding your nose and repeating some silly words, mesmerizing yourself, that is not meditation at all, that is self-hypnosis. But to understand life, to be free from sorrow - actually, not verbally, not theoretically, but actually to be free of fear and of death needs a mind that is completely still. And all that is meditation.
And it is only a very still mind, not a disciplined mind, that has understood and therefore is free. It is only that still mind that can know what is creation. Because the word "God" has been spoiled. You can call it the other way, dog; it has no meaning any more. Hitler believed in God, and your politicians believe in God, they destroy each other, kill each other, torture. There are those who torture themselves to find God. So it has no meaning any more, it is just a word. But to find out that something which is beyond time you must have a very still mind. And that still mind is not a dead mind, but is tremendously active; anything that is moving at the highest speed and is active, is always quiet. It is only the dull mind that worries about, is anxious, fearful. Such a mind can never be still. And it is only a mind that is still, that is a religious mind. And it is only the religious mind that can find out, or be in that state of creation. And it is only such a mind that can bring about peace in the world. And that peace is your responsibility, responsibility of each one of us, not the politician, not the soldier, not the lawyer, not the businessman, not the Communist, Socialist, nobody. It is your responsibility, how you live, how you live your daily life. If you want peace in the world you have to live peacefully, not hating each other, not being envious, not seeking power, not pursuing competition. Because out of that freedom from these you have love. It is only a mind that is capable of loving, that will know what it is to live peacefully.
November 18, 1965
New Delhi 1965
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 18th November 1965
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