Madras 3rd Public Talk 22nd January 1967
We have been talking about the necessity of a total revolution; not a financial or social, or a merely economic outward revolution, but rather a mutation, a complete change in the whole structure of consciousness. If I may, I would like to go this evening into the question of whether it is at all possible for a human being, placed as he is and living in the present world with all the complications, to bring about this radical change. That implies, doesn't it?, a real rejuvenation of the mind, a renewal. And the brain, as well as the totality of the mind, is by usage, by habit by custom like any other machine, and wears itself out through constant friction. Any machine, if it is to run smoothly, lastingly, must have no friction at all. And the moment there is friction, there is waste of energy. We all know this, at least theoretically.
And one asks oneself first, whether it is possible for one to be free of all friction; and, secondly, whether, in this freedom, the mind which has been used, as well as the brain cells which have functioned, worked in a certain pattern, can transform itself. We see the human mind, the human brain, is constantly in friction in all its relationships with regard to things - which is property - with regard to people, and with regard to ideas and ideology. There is always friction, and this friction in relationship must naturally wear down the brain cells themselves. And also one asks oneself whether it is possible to end this friction, this constant struggle, this effort, without creating another series of norms, patterns which in turn become the cause of friction: that is, whether a man can live first without any friction in this world it all, and whether a brain that has been mechanically functioning, mechanically following a particular routine, a particular habit, either technological or psychological, that has used itself from childhood through friction and therefore is wearing itself out constantly, can become rejuvenated, can become quite young and fresh. That is one of the problems.
We can see in the world everything is declining; there is birth and there is gradual decay which is death - death being not only the ending of the organism, but also psychological ending and the fear of not being able to continue.
And one sees in nature, as well as in oneself, that what has continuity has no beginning. It is only something that ends that has a new beginning. Like in those climates where the seasons are very marked - winter, spring, summer and autumn - you see how the tree rejuvenates itself in springtime, puts forth fresh leaves, new flowers, new perfume; and in the winter it dies, to be reborn again, to resurrect itself. The problem is whether it is possible for the brain cells themselves to be reborn - cells which have been functioning almost mechanically in all relationships.
Now, to understand this and to go into it totally, one has to consider the whole of consciousness, what we mean by that word `consciousness' - not philosophically, not theoretically, hypothetically, but actually - and to discover for oneself what this consciousness is. We use that word very easily. But we have never asked ourselves what it is. If one asks oneself what it is, then one discovers for oneself, without being told by another, that it is the totality of thinking, feeling and acting. It is the total field in which thought functions, or relationship exists. All motives, intentions, desires, pleasures, passing happiness and fears, inspiration, longing, hope, despair, anxiety, guilt, fear - all that is in that field. And we have never been aware of the totality of it. One has to be totally aware of one's consciousness, not at the periphery, not on the outside at the edges, but right from the inside to the out and from the outside in.
And we have divided this consciousness as the active and the dormant, the higher and the lower. The upper level of consciousness relates to everyday activity - like going to the office - all that takes place outwardly, learning a new technique. And below that is the so-called unconscious, the thing with which we are not totally familiar, which expresses itself occasionally through certain intimations, hints or through dreams.
So we have divided this consciousness, which is a whole field, into the conscious, a little corner, and the rest, the unconscious. Please just follow this, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. We are stating certain facts, and about facts there is neither agreement nor disagreement. It is so. How you interpret a fact, how you translate it, depends on your opinion, your condition, your desires, your pleasures; and from that arises opinion. If you say this is not a microphone but a telephone, if you have a fixed opinion about that and I have a fixed opinion about this, then you and I never contact. But if we stick to facts, a tree is a tree - a fact, both outwardly and inwardly, inside the skin.
So we are dealing with facts and not with opinions - not Sankara's or Buddha's opinions; not the opinions of what they said or did not say; not the opinions of the philosophers, of the modern psychologists and so on. We are dealing with facts, and you and I can discover them as facts and therefore we can put aside altogether this question of agreement and disagreement.
As we have said, we have divided this consciousness as the conscious and the unconscious. We are occupied with a little corner of it, which is most of our life; and of the rest we are unconscious, we don't even know how to go into it. We know it only when there is a crisis, when there is a certain urgent demand, a certain immediate challenge, which has to be responded to immediately; only then do we act as total entities. Having divided consciousness into the conscious and the unconscious, we look from the conscious - which is only a small part of it - at the whole of consciousness.
Now the speaker is asking: Is there such a thing as the unconscious at all? Is there something that is hidden, which has to be interpreted through dreams, through examination, analysis and so on, which we have called the unconscious? Or is it only that, because you have paid so much attention to the little corner of this field which you call the conscious and have not paid total attention to the whole field, you are not aware of the whole content of the field. To go into this very carefully, you have to look at your own consciousness; you cannot just agree with me, accept a few words with a shake of your head! Because if you don't follow this, you will not be able to follow what is coming. I do not know what is coming. I have not prepared the talk; but I am moving, examining; and therefore, if you are not able to follow the examination closely, you will not be able to proceed further.
So is it possible to be totally aware of this whole field of consciousness and not merely a segment, a part, a fragment of it? If one is able to be aware of the totality, then one is functioning all the time with one's total attention and not with a divided attention, a partial attention. This is important to understand because, that way, we are totally aware of the whole field of consciousness, and there is no friction. It is only when you divide consciousness as the peripheral, the edges, and the centre, the superficial and the deeper that you break it up. And when there is a functioning of the totality of consciousness - which is thought, feeling and action, totally - then there is no friction at all. That is, when you are totally attentive to anything, there is no division. If you are totally attentive to that sunset, to that tree, or to the colour of the sari or dress, in that, there is no division as the observer and the observed. It is only when there is a division that there is friction.
Now, is it possible for a brain which has broken up its own functioning, its own thinking, in terms of fragments, to be aware totally of the whole field? You understand my question? Am I making myself clear? Please, as I said, I have not prepared the talk, I am not reeling off. So I must go step by step as I talk. I am asking whether it is possible to be totally aware of this fragmentary process of life which is consciousness - which is thought, feeling and action - in which there is fear, despair, ambition, competition, agony, guilt, enormous sorrow. Is it possible for the brain cells which have produced this consciousness to renew themselves? It is only when there is total renewal that you are capable of looking at it totally. Sir, look, let us put it differently.
As we said at the beginning, it is only when there is an ending, there is a new beginning. It is only when time comes to an end that there is a new way of living. Now, these brain cells are used to a continuity through habit, through tradition, through their own demands to be secure, to be certain. If one examines one's thought, one will find that the brain, caught in an ideology which will always be perpetual, though modified, has functioned that way. Can one die to that? The brain which has functioned in its mechanical, reactionary way, the brain cells which are the inheritance of the animal, greed, domination and all such thoughts and feelings - can all that, which is the memory of yesterday, die? The memory of yesterday, the memory of a thousand yesterdays, from which thoughts spring, which is today, those thoughts creating the tomorrow - can that memory completely come to an end? We are not talking of ending the technological, scientific, economic knowledge which man has accumulated through centuries - that, one must not end. But we are talking of dying to yesterday's memory which the brain cells have gathered, which has become the matter. From that there is thinking which becomes energy, which again re-shapes the matter and again conditions future thought.
Have you ever tried to die to a pleasure without conflict, without suppressing it, without controlling it - just to let it go? Have you ever done it? Have you ever tried to die actually to a pleasure without argument - without saying, "Is it worthwhile?", "Should it be", "Should it not be?; without all the mentation that goes on in sustaining that pleasure - to end that pleasure instantly? I am afraid not! If you have tried it, you will see that, in that there is no friction, no effort involved at all. It is an ending of something which has given you pleasure, not because somebody asks you to give up the pleasure but because you see the whole structure of pleasure and its meaning. The very seeing, as we said last time we met here, is the action, and therefore the action is the ending.
You know how pleasure comes into being? We must go into it fairly quickly, because there is much more to talk over together this evening. Please, one can see that pleasure comes through desire. And how does desire come into being? Again factually - not theoretically, not hypothetically because somebody has said something about it which you have read, remembered, repeated, and that has become part of your knowledge, and you express that knowledge as though it was your own. You think you have understood it, but actually you are merely repeating something which you have heard and that has no value at all. But if you discover it for yourself, it has an extraordinary, immediate impact.
How does desire come? You see something; there is first seeing - that sunset, that tree, that face, that car. And when you look at it, there is a sensation, a contact, a relationship: "how delightful that is!", "what a beautiful face!", "what a lovely car!" So through observation, seeing, there is sensation; from sensation there is contact, either actual contact or contact with the thing itself as expressed in possession, as sensation; and from that sensation there is desire. That is very simple. Then when that desire has arisen by looking at that sunset, thought comes in and says, "how marvellous!", "how beautiful!". Thought sustains that desire. Then this thought sustaining that desire, becomes pleasure. You see this? Not because I say so, but this is an actual fact, if you observe. You have seen a beautiful car - unfortunately not many in India - the lines, the colour, the power behind it. And you have a desire. The desire then is to possess it. And the thought about that car, about having it, going about in it, showing yourself off in it - all that gives pleasure. So through desire, thought produces, sustains pleasure. This is very simple. Sexual memory and the continuous thinking about it, the image, the picturization, and so on - all that is a process of thinking; out of that there arises a pleasure, a repetition of that. And there is the same process with regard to fear, with regard to sorrow. Thinking about something constantly creates either pleasure or fear. Pleasure implies, the whole structure of pleasure is involved in, fear, sorrow, frustration, pain. And to end pleasure, you have to see totally the whole structure of pleasure. To see the whole structure totally is to be totally attentive to pleasure. And when you are totally attentive to pleasure, there is not the observer who says, "I must keep it", or "I must discard it", so there is a total ending.
So a mind, a brain, which has accumulated pleasure through the memory of a particular incident, and projects out of that memory and thinks about that incident, can end pleasure totally when there is complete attention to the structure of pleasure. As we are talking now, please look, if you can, at that tree with complete attention. Attention is not concentration - concentration is a silly thing to worry about. In attention there is no thought, there is no sense of enforcement. When you completely attend to that tree, in that state of attention, there is no verbalization, there is no compulsion, there is no imitation; you are merely observing that tree with all your being - with your body, with your nerves, with your eyes, with your ears, with your mind, with the totality of your energy. And when you do that, there is no observer at all; there is only attention. It is only when there is inattention that there is the observer and the observed.
Now, can you give total attention to this field of consciousness, as you gave total attention to that tree? Total attention to the tree is non-verbalization of that tree, the non-naming of that tree. When you say "I like that tree", "I don't like it", you are not attentive. So attention comes into being only when you have understood the nature of friction and effort. You cannot force yourself to be attentive by practising attention day by day - which is sheer nonsense. You can, by practising day after day, gain concentration, which is a process of exclusion. But in attention there is no practice at all, there is instant attention. It may last a second, it may last an hour; but it is instantaneous. And that instantaneous attention comes into being when you have understood the nature of pleasure, the nature of friction, the nature of concentration.
So, when there is total attention to yesterday's psychological memory, then that memory comes to an end; the brain cells and the mind then are free. That is, to put it differently, life is a process of experience, which is challenge and response, the response being according to the conditioning of the brain cells. Surely! That is, you are conditioned as a Hindu, a Muslim, or God knows what! And when you are challenged, you naturally respond according to your conditioning. This response being inadequate, the experience then is also inadequate. The inadequacy of anything leaves a memory. Are you following all this? If you have lived through something totally, it leaves no mark. The marking is memory. But if you live partially, not completely, if you have not gone through it to the very end, then the partial, inadequate response leaves a mark which is memory, and from that memory you respond again to tomorrow's challenge, which again strengthens the memory and so on.
So in dying to yesterday, the today is new. But most of us are afraid to die to it. Because we say, "I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow". And death is inevitable. Now death implies not only the end of the organism, but also psychological ending. If you have lived completely, you are dying every day; therefore there is no fear. In dying to everything that psychologically you have held on to - namely your memories, your hopes, your despairs, self-pity - there is a resurrection; such dying is a rebirth.
Now, most of us know there is death, but we do not know how to face it, and therefore we invent various theories like reincarnation - that is, there is a permanent entity as you, the soul, the atman, whatever you like to call it, which is going to continue in next life. And the next life will be the result of the present life, which means the next life will depend on how you live the present life, how you behave, how you think, how you feel, the totality of your life, not just your going to the office and back home. If you believe in reincarnation - that is, you are going to be reborn next life - then that life will be conditioned by your present life. Obviously!
So, if you believe in reincarnation, what matters is how you live today. But you don't believe in it, because that is just a theory. But if you really believe in it, you are something vital, urgent, your everyday behaviour will be totally different. That belief is merely a cover to escape from the fear of death, not how to live!
And there is another problem involved which is whether thought is identified with a particular entity as the `me', and whether that thought will continue as thought, not as the soul. Because the soul, the atman, is still the invention of thought; whether Sankara said it or somebody else said it, it is just an invention of thought and therefore has no validity at all. But what has validity is the fact that you have lived these 20, 40, 50, 80 years functioning within a very narrow field, within a field of anxiety, hope, despair, sorrow, misery, conflict and the agony of existence. And the problem is whether that thought has any continuity, not a permanent thought - there is no such thing as a permanent thought. There is no such thing as a new thought. Thought is always old, because it is the response of yesterday's memory.
So, when we talk about continuity, what is continuous is the known, and the known is the thought. And we have to find out whether the known as the 'me' is undergoing constant change. Organically, the organism, the body, is changing all the time. But psychologically we do not change all the time. We have a fixed centre - which is memory - from which all thoughts spring, and we want that centre, which is the memory of yesterday, to continue. And whether that thought has a continuity is another problem which we will not go into at all, now, because that is immaterial and because I know what the mind does - immediately you place your hope in that continuity of thought. Before, you had hope in a permanent entity, the soul, the atman and all the rest of it. And you have placed your hope in it, because you have never understood what it is to die psychologically. But if thought has continuity, that thought is modifying itself all the time. And if that is not completely understood, you will place hope in that, instead of in the atman. That is, you hope your own particular shoddy little thought will continue!
So what we are talking about is an ending which has a new beginning, an ending to something that ends and therefore begins anew. Consciousness is thought, feeling and action. Memory, despairs, agonies, sorrows, ambition, power, prestige - all that is within that field which you call consciousness. We are asking whether the totality of consciousness can end totally so that there is a new field, a new dimension altogether. And that can only come into being when you know how to die, when there is dying to yesterday. We are asking whether the brain cells, with their memories, can end. The brain cells have their own technological continuity, and we are not talking about the ending of that, but about the ending of the accumulation of memories, tradition. And you will notice that it can end, when you give total attention to whatever you are doing.
You know what meditation is? Meditation is a very difficult word, because it is loaded. There are systems of meditation; there are people who practise, day after day, certain forms of repetition of words and so on; they concentrate, they learn a definite method - all that is called meditation. But it is really not meditation at all; it is learning a new technique to achieve a certain result. As you learn how to run a machine, you learn how to run a certain psychological machine so that you will attain a certain bliss, which you have already established as the original, the final bliss; for that, you practise. And that practice day after day, hoping to arrive at that ultimate bliss or whatever you like to call it, is called meditation. In that there is friction, there is suppression, separation, concentration, exclusion, there is no attention. And the meditation we are talking about is not the meditation which is loaded with words which you know.
Meditation is the awareness of the totality of the field of consciousness, which means the totality of the whole thought process - not only the thought processes in learning technology, such as when you learn a language, or when you learn how to run a machine, how to run a computer and so on, but also those in learning about the totality of the thinking, feeling organism. To be choicelessly aware of all that is to be in a state of meditation. In that state of meditation the totality of the brain cells is utterly quiet, not projecting any thought, any hope, any desire, any pleasure - which are all the responses of the past. The brain cells can be completely quiet, only when there is total attention of the whole of consciousness - which is thought, feeling and action. Then you will see, if you have gone that far, that there is a state of attention in which there is still movement of the brain cells without the reaction. What a lovely sunset! Look at it! We do not know what silence is. We only know silence when noise stops, and we are partially aware of the noise of consciousness. But we don't know what silence is, apart from the noise of consciousness. We are talking of a silence, which is not the ending of a noise - like beauty, like love, which is not the ending of something. Love is not the ending of hate or the ending of desire. Love is something utterly different from desire, from hate. You don't come to love by suppressing desire, as you have been taught through literature, through the saints and all the rest of it.
You end a noise, because you want silence. But the silence which comes into being when noise ceases, is not silence at all. Last night there was a wedding going on next door. It began at about half past five, kept up till ten, began again this morning at half past four, stopped around about nine, and again began this afternoon. and they were making a hideous noise which they called music! I am not criticizing the people who listened to it, who enjoyed it. And when that noise stopped, there was an extraordinary silence. And that is all we know - the silence when noise stops, the silence when thought stops. But that is not silence at all.
Silence is something entirely different - like beauty, like love. And this silence is not the product of a quiet mind, not the product of the brain cells which have understood the whole structure, and which say, "for God's sake, let me be quiet". Then the brain cells themselves produce that silence, but that is not silence. Silence is something entirely different. Silence is not the outcome of attention in which the observer is the observed, and there is no friction - that can produce another form of silence, but that is not silence. Silence you cannot describe. You are waiting for the speaker to describe it so that you can compare it, interpret it, carry it home and bury it! Silence cannot be described. What can be described is the known; and the freedom from the known can only come into being when there is a dying everyday to the known - to the hurts, to the flatteries, to the image that you have built about your wife, your husband, your society, your political leader, your religious leader - so that the brain cells themselves become fresh, young, innocent. But that innocence, that freshness, that quality of tenderness, gentleness does not produce love. That is not the quality of beauty or silence. Unless the mind has become aware of that, our life becomes rather shallow, empty and meaningless.
But that silence which is not the ending of noise, is only a small beginning. It is like going through a small hole to an enormous, wide, expansive ocean, to an immeasurable, timeless state. But that state one cannot understand verbally. You have to understand the whole structure of consciousness and the meaning of it - the pleasure, the despair, the whole of that - and the brain cells have to become quiet. Then perhaps you may come upon that mystery which nobody can give, nor can anybody describe.
January 22, 1967
Madras 3rd Public Talk 22nd January 1967
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