Madras 4th Public Talk 25th January 1967
This is the last talk, isn't it?, at least for this year.
We have been considering during these past three talks various problems that each one of us has to face. The outward decay and the inward deterioration of man, the extraordinary progress in science and, inwardly, a dead centre - a centre which is the result of many centuries of conditioning, of many centuries of conformity, fear, imitation, obedience; a centre which feels lonely, empty, guilty, deeply frustrated, everlastingly seeking something. We have been over all these things, perhaps not in great detail, but we have considered somewhat those issues. And this evening, I think we ought to consider, if we may, why we seek at all? Why this human endeavour to find, to seek something beyond all sensuous, material welfare? Why are we not satisfied with the things of the senses, but are always attempting to go beyond them? Why is each one of us, deep down in our hearts, trying to find a god, a truth, a peace, a state of mind that will not be disturbed, a thing that is not transient, which is not made up of time, which is not the result of clever, cunning, theological thinking? I think it will be worthwhile if we could go into it a little bit this evening.
Apparently, throughout the past ages, man has always sought something beyond himself - God - sought some permanent state and called it by ten thousand names! And not being able to find it, he has relied on others - on saints, on saviours, on those who assert they know. Or, he has resorted to the worship of symbols - a tree, a particular river, a particular idea, an ideology, a particular image made by the hand or by the mind. And he worships that according to his inclination - which is really according to his pleasure, though he may call it by a different name - and according to his temperament; or compelled by circumstances, as most people are. Most people believe, because they have been brought up to believe; or, they do not believe because they have also been brought up not to believe - a belief in a particular doctrine, a particular prophet, a particular saint or a deity which they themselves have projected out of their own background. And each one of us, I am sure, has done that. And even that does not satisfy, even that does not give sufficient assurance, sufficient certainty; it is not a guide in life. Because we know very well that what we project from our own background, from our own conditioning, is a part of our thinking, which is the result of our own memories, experiences and knowledge, and therefore time-bound and therefore not valid at all. Deep down, most of us know this. And outwardly we pretend using the word `God' when it suits us, or having a particular ideology, or denying the whole works as non-intellectual, bourgeois, stupid and so on.
So, we are always seeking. I wonder why you are all here either! What is it each one of us is seeking? And what do we mean by that word `seeking'? Because that search is related to our daily life. We are not seeking something apart from our daily existence. If we are, then we live in two different contradictory worlds, and that leads to extraordinary misery and confusion. You believe one thing and you do something else! You worship, or at least pretend to worship, a deity. And your own life is shoddy, petty, narrow, afraid, without much significance; or, if it has not much significance, you try to give significance to it by inventing a theory! So we are always after something!
I wonder why we seek at all? It has been stated throughout religious history that if you do certain things - conform to certain patterns, torture your mind, suppress your desires, control your thoughts, not indulge sexually, put a limit to your appetites - after sufficient torture, after sufficient distortion of the spirit and the mind and the body, you are assured that you will find something beyond! And that is what mankind has done, either in isolation by going off into the desert or to the mountain or to a cave, or wandering from village to village alone, or joining a monastery, forcing the mind to conform to a pattern that has been established, and which guarantees that if you will do certain things, you will find. A tortured mind, a mind that is distorted, a mind that is broken, made dull through disciplines, through conformity - obviously such a mind, however much it may seek, will find what it wants to find, will find according to its own tortured form.
So to find out actually if there is, or if there is not, something which the mind has sought throughout time, surely a different approach, a different demand is necessary. Because obviously if man has found, or if a few human beings have found, that real thing, then life would be entirely different; life would not be a tortured, despairing, anxious, guilty, fearful, competitive existence. Those people would have asserted what it was and so on.
So, it seems to me, that one has to find a different approach altogether. We approach from the periphery, from the outer border; and slowly, through time, through practice, through renunciation, through denial, through control, through obedience, through innumerable deceptions and so on, we gradually come to the centre. That is we work from the periphery, from the outside, towards the inside. That is what we have done. At least that is what man has been instructed to do: begin with the control of the senses; control your thoughts, concentrate, hold them tight, don't let them wander away; don't be carried by lust; don't become emotional, turn that emotion into devotion sublimate it; do everything to make the mind narrow, little, petty, shoddy; and from the outward gradually you will come to that inner flower, inner beauty, love and so on. That has been the traditional approach: begin from the outer and work inward; peel off little by little; take time, next life will do or tomorrow will do; but peel off, take off, till you come to the very centre, and when you come to that centre, you generally find that there is nothing at all! Because your mind is incapable, it is made dull, insensitive. The mind that has lived in insecurity, in fear, is hoping to find security and a state in which there is no fear - that has been the accepted norm of all religions.
And also they have said: behave righteously, help another, love another, be kind. And they - the organized religions specially - have always emphasized: don't be sexual; do anything else, but don't do that; be competitive, be ruthless, go to war, fight each other, destroy each other, be greedy, assert, dominate, be brutal; but don't do that one thing.
So, if one has observed this process throughout the world and throughout the religious history of mankind, one asks oneself if there is not a different approach altogether. One sees this is too immature, too childish, too infantile. At least if one has understood all that, one rejects all that. Is there not a different approach altogether? That is, burst from the centre, explode from the centre, not from the periphery. That is, act, be, feel, think, live from a different world altogether - not a world or a dimension invented by the mind, which only leads to a neurotic state, an unbalanced existence. First see the difficulty involved in it.
Human beings have been taught to approach something which is not measurable by the mind, by forcing the mind to accept certain patterns of behaviour or dogma, to perform certain rituals, and gradually come to that. That has been the norm, the tradition. And you can go on that way indefinitely for the rest of your life or for many lives; and you will never get it, because obviously, your mind is a mind that has been made dull, insensitive, that has no appreciation of what is beauty, that knows no love, that can repeat phrases out of the Gita, the Bible, and so on. Such a tortured mind - what can it find? Nothing whatsoever except an idea, a concept. And that idea, that concept, has been projected by a mind which is afraid, which is guilty, which is lonely, which wants to escape from all turmoil, which has denied the outer world altogether. Though such a mind lives in the outer world and is tortured, it denies that world. So, what can such a mind find? Obviously it finds its own projection and therefore it can reject that.
Now, you are good enough to listen to, or hear, what is being said. But to go much deeper into the issue, you have to reject it, not intellectually but actually, completely; no ceremonies, no organized religions, no dogmas, no rituals - you have completely to deny all that. This means you are already standing alone. Because the world follows, accepts the traditional approach, and you deny totally that approach; and therefore you are already in much deeper conflict with society, with your parents, with your neighbours, with your world. And you must be in conflict, otherwise you become a respectable human being; and a respectable human being cannot possibly come near that infinite, immeasurable reality.
So, you have started by denying something utterly false - not as a reaction; if it is a reaction, you will create a pattern into which you will be trapped. You deny, because you understand the futility, the stupidity of a mind that has been tortured. And because you deny the way which religions have asserted, you may be called irreligious. But that is the path of true religion: to deny completely the false. You have to do it. If you pretend intellectually that it is a very good idea and do not do it, then you cannot go any further. When you do it, you do it with tremendous intelligence because you are free, not because you are frightened. Therefore you create a great disturbance in yourself and around you. Therefore you step out of the trap of respectability.
Then you are no longer seeking. That is the first thing to realize: no seeking at all. Because when you seek, what are you seeking? Go into it. When you seek, you are really window-shopping - one deity after another, the Christian, the Catholic, the Protestant, the Hindu, the various divisions and subdivisions of Hinduism Buddhism and so on. What is the urge to seek? And what and what are you going to find? Obviously, when you seek, you are seeking away from the actual fact to something which will give you greater pleasure. Do listen to all this. One seeks, because one is dissatisfied with the normal, shallow, narrow, cunning existence. You are dissatisfied with it, it has no meaning. The long boring hours in an office, the long hours in a kitchen, the routine, the habit - all that becomes most extraordinarily excruciating and painful, and you want to avoid and escape from all that. And so you follow. When you don't follow because you have rejected authority - every sensible, intelligent man rejects all religious authority, including that of the speaker - then what are you seeking? What is the motive of your search? In the laboratory of a scientist, the scientist knows exactly what he seeks, he knows what his motive is. But here, as a human being, what are you seeking? That search has a tremendous meaning to our relationship to society. Please listen to this. The search that each one of us is indulging in, has a direct relationship to society, because we are escaping from society, the society which each one of us has created. Follow this. Each one of us, has created the structure of modern society. Having created that structure, one is trying to escape from that structure, escape from its ambitions, from its greed, from its fears, from its absurd activities. Without denying the very thing which one has created, mere escaping from it brings about a relationship which has no validity at all with one and the society.
I do not know if you are getting the meaning of this? I cannot possibly escape from something which I have created, and from my relationship to that thing which I have created. I can only leave it, when I deny the structure of that thing which I have created. That is, when I no longer agree with it, when I no longer accept any religious authority or ritual, I deny the structure of society. And when I deny it and not escape from it then I am out of the structure of that society for which I am responsible. Unless each one of us does this, you can pretend as much as you like that you are finding Reality, seeking Reality, you can seek bosses, you can follow saints - all that has no meaning whatsoever. One can find out what one is seeking. You understand? Till then your search is merely a furtherance of your own pleasure, dictated by your tendencies or by the circumstances in which you are placed. If you can go that far, then you can ask what you are seeking. Most of us want greater experiences, experiences that are not of the everyday kind, greater, wider, more significant experiences. And that is why L.S.D., the latest kind of drug, is prevalent in America and is spreading into Europe and probably will come here, if it has not already come. It gives one a tremendous experience. It is a chemical which alters the structure of the brain cells, of thought, and brings about a great sensitivity, heightened perception, and that experience may alter the course of your life, give you a semblance of some reality. But it is better than nothing, because to go every day to the office, to join the army, to become a clerk, to become a business manager is very boring! At least this will give you some new delight, a new experience, and perhaps alter the way of your life!
And so most human beings are seeking experiences, and they want those experiences to be permanent, lasting. Have you ever looked into this whole structure and the meaning of experience? To experience - what does it mean? First, it means to recognize. To recognize, as it is, a new experience. Recognition is necessary, otherwise it is not an experience. There is a challenge and there is a response; and out of that challenge and response, if there is not an experiencing which is recognizable, it is no longer experience. This is fairly simple. Therefore recognition is essential for experience - which means the mind must have experienced before, otherwise it cannot recognize. Therefore there is no new experience at all. Please go into it; you will see it for yourself. Any experience, however great, however sublime, however idiotic, however silly, is called an experience when it is recognizable. And recognition is always born out of past memory. Therefore that experience belongs to the past; it is not a new experience at all, because you have recognized it. Therefore one must doubt all experience.
Sirs, if you have an experience which you think is most marvellous, divine, lovely, super, and hold on to that - as most saints do, as most religious leaders do - then such an experience not only becomes destructive, but brings about a division among people, such as the prophet, the saviour, the Sankaras and so on.
So seeking is to experience; otherwise you would not seek. Therefore experience is merely a modified continuity of what had been. And a mind that is wanting experience, is a mind that is not capable of perceiving what is true. Please follow this. When a mind recognizes this whole process of experience, it is no longer seeking experience - which does not mean that the mind becomes dull. Most of us, if we are not challenged, generally go to sleep! Therefore, to most minds the challenge and the response are necessary; otherwise one becomes lazy, lethargic, inefficient, as is happening in this country - there is no challenge, nobody pushes you; and corruption goes on! For a dull mind to keep awake, challenges are necessary. But when you recognize that, your mind is already awakened to this whole problem of experience and then you begin to enquire whether the mind can keep awake without any kind of experience at all, without any kind of challenge.
Are you following all this? Not verbally: please don't; then you will be going home with ashes! But if you are actually proceeding, travelling, moving together, sharing together what the speaker is saying - sharing, not following, not imitating, not repeating, not remembering and then conforming - then you are not listening verbally, you are actually doing it, because in the doing is the learning, not having learnt you do. Therefore we are learning, and in the act of learning there is doing. So the mind demands whether it needs any experience, any challenge - whether created outwardly or created inwardly - to keep it awake. And we have thought of keeping it awake through ritual, through the repetition of words, through conformity, through ritualistic habits, ritualistic ways of life; that way, we hope to keep the mind extraordinarily supple, alive, clean, full of light and delight. But we see that when we depend upon something, the mind becomes dull. So can the mind keep awake without any challenge - which means without any question, doubt, search, movement?
We act because behind that action there is a motive. And when there is a motive, that motive can create a passion - passion to do things, passion to serve, passion to reform, passion to be a leader. Because there is the motive behind it - to do good, to become powerful, to reform, to convert - that motive gives a certain passion; this can be observed factually throughout the world. And is there a passion without a motive? That passion without a motive comes into being when there is no seeking any more, when there is no demand for the pleasure of experience.
So a mind that is seeking, is not a passionate mind. And without passion which is without motive, you cannot love. Because, as we said the other day, love is not desire, love is not pleasure, love is not jealousy; nor is love the denial of hate. Because when you deny hate, violence, when you put these away from you, it does not necessarily mean that there will be love. Love is something entirely different - like silence; silence is not the outcome of the cessation of noise.
So we are asking, as at the beginning, can the mind come to that extraordinary seeing, not from the periphery, from the outside, from the boundary, but come upon it without any seeking? And to come upon it without seeking is the only way to find it. Because in coming upon it unknowingly, there is no effort, no seeking, no experience; and there is the total denial of all the normal practices to come into that centre, to that flowering. So the mind is highly sharpened, highly awake, and is no longer dependent upon any experience to keep itself awake.
When one asks oneself, one may ask verbally; for most people, naturally, it must be verbal. And one has to realize that the word is not the thing - like the word tree' is not the tree, is not the actual fact. The actual fact is when one touches it, not through the word but when one actually comes into contact with it. Then it is an actuality - which means the word has lost its power to mesmerize people. For example, the word `God' is so loaded and it has mesmerized people so much that they will accept or deny, and function like a squirrel in a cage! So the word and the symbol must be set aside.
Now, is it possible to work, live, act, from the centre? Do you understand what I mean by the centre? Not the centre created by the mind, not a centre artificially produced by some philosopher, some theologian, but a state of mind - we will not even call it a centre - which has not been through all the tortures, and which sustains its innocency, its passion, though it goes through all the turmoils of life, so that the turmoils never touch it. One may make a mistake, one may lie, but one sets that aside and goes far; there is never a sense of guilt, never a sense of conflict. But this requires tremendous honesty.
Honesty is humility. It is only the dishonest that are pretending to be humble. The moment you have this sense of humility seriously, deeply, then there is never a climbing, there is never a reaching, there is never a state of arriving. Therefore a mind that seeks is not a humble mind. It does not know what humility is. But a mind that makes itself, reduces itself, to be humble, to have that perfume of humility, becomes a harsh mind. And you have had saints galore in this country, who were harsh people because essentially they were vain people.
So, if one is serious, one asks oneself whether it is at all possible to live in this world from that state - to go to an office, if necessary, or not earn a livelihood at all. There are lots of people who are not saying, "I must earn a livelihood", from that dimension; and they do not approach that dimension through the usual practices which promise that dimension.
Now, how does one come upon it? You understand my question? We have meditated, sacrificed, remained a celibate or not celibate; we have accepted traditions, rituals; we have got tremendously excited over perfume, idols; we have gone round the temples several times and prostrated - we have done all those childish things. And if we have done all that, we have seen the utter futility of all that, because they are born out of fear, born out of the sense of wanting some hope, because most of us are in despair. But to be free of despair is not through hope. To be free of despair you have to understand despair itself; and not introduce the idea of hope. It is very important to understand this, because, then you create a duality, and there is no end to the corridor of duality. But if you say, "I am in despair", find out why, go into it, use your brain to find out. One can see why you are in despair. It is because life, as it is lived, has no meaning; it is terribly boring - breeding a family, going to an office, a few moments of delight in looking at a picture, hearing music, or seeing a lovely sunset; otherwise life has no meaning at all. And we try to impose a meaning upon ` it, and that imposition is an intellectual trick. And at the end of it you become despairing, hopeless. Whereas you must go into despair, and not create the opposite; you have to find out why you are in despair. You are in despair because you want to fulfil, and in fulfilment there is always frustration. Or you are in despair because you don't understand; or because your son, your mother your wife, your husband, or somebody dies, and you have no understanding of that; or because you are not loved. You are not loved because you don't know how to love. And so you are everlastingly in battle, and out of this battle, a frustration, an endless misery, despair comes. And to escape from that endless despair, you create a false illusion of hope and therefore you build an endless corridor of hope, whereas despair goes on.
So we come to the point: Can the mind come upon it without discipline, without thought, without enforcement, without any book, without any leader, without any teacher, without anything? Can the mind come upon it as you come upon that lovely sunset? When can one come upon it? Not how can one come upon it? Not the machinery which will make you come upon it - then, it is just another trick.
It seems to me there are certain absolute things that are necessary - not something to be gained, something you practise, something you do day after day. That is, there must be passion without motive. You understand? Passion which is not the result of some commitment or attachment or a motive. Because without passion you cannot see beauty. Not the beauty of a sunset like that, not the beauty of a structure, beauty of a poem, beauty of a bird on the wing, but a beauty that is not an intellectual, comparative, social thing. And to come upon that beauty there must be passion. And to have that passion there must be love. Just listen. You cannot do a thing about all this; you cannot practise love - then it becomes mere kindliness, generosity, gentleness, a state of non-violence, peace; but it has nothing whatsoever to do with love. And without passion and beauty, there is no love. Just listen to it. Don't argue, don't discuss "how?".
It is like leaving a door open. If you leave the door open, the breeze of an evening comes in. You cannot invite it; you cannot prepare for it; you cannot say "I must", "I must not; you cannot go to rituals and so on; but just leave the door open. This means a very simple act, an act which is not of the will, which is not of pleasure, which is not projected by a cunning mind. Just to leave the door open - that is all you can do; you cannot do anything else. You cannot sit down to meditate, to make the mind silent by force, by compulsion, by discipline. Such a silence is noise and endless misery. All that you can do is to leave the door of your mind open. And you cannot leave that door open if you are not free.
So you begin to disentangle yourself from all the stupid psychological inventions that the mind has created - to be free from all that, not in order to leave the door open but just to be free. It is like keeping a room clean, tidy and orderly; that is all. Then when you leave the door open without any intention, without any purpose, without any motive, without any longing, then through that door comes something which cannot be measured by time or by experience; it is not related to any activity of the mind. Then you will know for yourself, beyond all doubt, that there is something far beyond all the imagination of man, beyond time, beyond all enquiry.
January 25, 1967
Madras 4th Public Talk 25th January 1967
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