Talks in Europe 1968 Rome 3rd Public Talk 17th March 1968
I WOULD LIKE to go into a very complex problem which needs a great deal of exploration and examination. I think it will have great significance if we could enquire together into this question. As we were saying the other day, the important thing is action, not a lot of talk, theories and beliefs, but rather what action to take in a world that is so disorderly, that has so much violence, with so many destructive forces at work.
There are many explanations for this outbreak of anarchy which is taking place all over the world, but both in the East and in the West nobody has organized it; there is no central organization which has incited the students to revolt, it has come into being of its own accord. There is also the war in Vietnam; of course it doesn't affect this country, but it touches America and the whole of the East. And whether you are an Italian, an Englishman, a Russian, an American or a Vietnamese, this war, any war, is your responsibility; you are responsible, each one of you. But I don't think we really feel this responsibility. Apart from the human crisis, there is also the economic crisis in our daily life, so there is a great deal of disorder. This disorder has come about through the separation of nations, religious divisions, one group of people believing in a certain ideology and the other not at all, some calling themselves Christians, others Hindus and Muslims and so on. So these disruptive, subversive forces are at work. That is an obvious fact whether you believe it or not, whether you accept it or not; these are the fundamental causes of this chaotic existence and what is a human being to do? One can't go on everlastingly describing the causes, everlastingly searching out deeper causes for this utter chaos, misery, confusion and sorrow; the description or analytical process has not solved a thing, so I think we must approach it from an entirely different angle.
As we said previously, we are all taking a voyage together; you as well as the speaker are working together. It is not that the speaker merely explains and you either agree or disagree with what he has said, but rather that we are both working hard together to find out if there is a way which does not lead to more confusion, more disorder and greater sorrow. So it is your responsibility how you listen, and having listened what you are going to do.
There must be order, not only in the lives of each one of us but also outwardly, in the economic world as well as in our intellectual, moral, ethical life. Mathematics, after all, are absolute order, not disorder plus a little bit of order. And the greater the problem, the greater must be the order of a mind that is capable of examining - not with prejudice, not with opinions, not with conditioned thinking - but observing actually what is. For most of us, this is extraordinarily difficult, to see actually what is and not what we think it should be. There is a great deal of disorder in the world and as a human being living in this world of sorrow, chaos and confusion, what is one to do? This is really the maim issue - what can you as a human being, living in this country, do when you see the terrible disorder brought about by the army, the politicians and the priests, by individuals with their selfishness, their arrogance, their brutality and their violence. One sees this actually going on so what can you and I do? I don't know if you have ever put this question to yourself, not casually but in all earnestness, with complete seriousness, because it is only the serious, attentive man who is really alive, not the dilettante or the casual, curious, intellectual enquirer, but actually the man who is very serious. I do not mean serious according to a certain pattern of beliefs and dogmas; those beliefs have produced chaos in the world. And we have to be serious because the house is burning, not somebody else's house but our own house is on fire. We have to be very serious, not only to put the fire out, but also to bring about a different kind of house that cannot catch fire at any time, which means living a life of absolute inward order where there is no war, no fear. And we are going to explore this inward order, that and something much more.
Since the beginning of time man throughout the ages has been seeking something beyond the routine monotony of every day life, something which thought has not touched, which is not the outcome of time. They have called it God, given it a thousand different names, but apparently very few have come upon this thing. When they have found it however, the `clever' people have organized it and therefore destroyed it.
You know there is a story of the Devil and a friend walking along the street. And the friend picks up something from the pavement, looks at it and says: `I've found the truth. Here it is!' So the Devil replies "I'll help you to organize it." All the world has tried to organize truth and therefore has destroyed it. So is it possible for man to find something, to come upon this timeless, immeasurable reality without any illusion - not as an experience, not as a formula, not as an idea or concept but actually, because if we don't find that, life is wasted, life has no meaning. A man may be very capable, own a lot of property, live very well and become famous, but without coming upon this highest thing, life becomes shallow, empty and meaningless. And realizing this meaningless state, man begins to invent gods, the gods of the country, of the party, the gods of the churches, the temples and so on. So is it possible to come upon this benediction which is not in any church, in any temple, in any mosque? To find that out, to come upon this thing, first there must be order, absolute order within and this order, which is virtue, is denied unless you totally reject the morality of society. In that total rejection of social morality there is morality. Do please understand this! The morality of society is no morality at all. The social morality of any country has produced this utter chaos in the world and man living in this culture - although outwardly he may have very polished manners, go to the office, attend church and visit temples - is competitive, envious, brutal, greedy and violent. Inwardly he is immoral and this inward state is producing outward disorder, so the morality that man has pursued, which has brought about chaos is not morality at all. And order is the highest form of virtue and therefore freedom. There is no virtue without freedom, freedom from imitation, freedom from fear of authority. We investigated the question of fear the other day - whether it is all possible to be free from this tremendous burden - so we won't go into it again at the moment. Without being totally free from fear I do not see how it is possible to be virtuous; surely to be orderly, which means to be virtuous, is not an imitative process.
What does it mean to be virtuous? This is really quite a complex problem. If it is merely a habit, a repetition of what should be and therefore an animation of that, establishing a custom, a tradition, surely that is not virtue at all; then it is mechanical, then it has no meaning. So habit, whether it is good or bad, is not virtue and the mind function; within the groove of habit and tradition. Society has cultivated this, it has become habitual and therefore not free. So virtue goes with freedom, and one must understand the full significance of freedom; order is necessary, complete, absolute, inward order and that is not possible if there is no virtue, and virtue is the natural outcome of freedom. But freedom is not doing what you want to do nor is it revolting against the established order, adopting a laissez faire attitude to life or becoming a hippy. Freedom comes into being only when we understand, not intellectually but actually, our every day life, our activity, our way of thought, the fact of our brutality, our callousness and indifference; it is to be actually in contact with our colossal selfishness.
This also means total freedom from all authority; and to understand that needs a great deal of explanation. The authority of the law, the policeman, is obviously necessary otherwise we wouldn't have been able to get here this morning. But apart from the law, as the policeman, is there another authority, an inward authority and if there is, what is the need for it? You know, the word `author' means the one who has originated something (not the writer, I don't mean that) but the author of an idea, of a concept, of a way of life, of what should not be, of what is right and what is wrong; and according to the sanctions of that inward authority, man has formed a pattern of behaviour. And being afraid, we have become followers; it is fear and the authority of what has been that makes us obey.
Please, if I may suggest, do listen to this attentively! If the mind is not free from all conditioning, there is bound to be disorder. If I am conditioned as a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Muslim then all my activity is within the borders of that conditioning, of that limitation. And authority is the conditioning - the authority of a belief, the authority which comes from the power and security of the Church or from the privileged position of big business. So can the mind free itself from the authority of yesterday? That is, we are the result of time, the result of a thousand experiences. There are so many influences that have conditioned man and the past, the `what has been' becomes the authority, the tradition. The `what has been' also dictates what we should do tomorrow. Authority is not merely the outward demand to be orderly, but also the inward asking that one must be completely secure. The desire to be secure psychologically is according to the pattern of the past, therefore it creates authority.
I hope this is more or less clear. If it is not, then I'm sorry, because we haven't time to go into it more deeply. That's one of the most absurd things, isn't it - not to have time; time doesn't make us understand, neither do explanations. It is seeing the truth of something that makes us act immediately, not all the words, the explanations, and the whole rigmarole. A mind that is crippled with inward authority of any kind prevents order, and experience does not bring order or freedom, on the contrary. Man has experienced five thousand years of war, of killing people always with more and more efficient weapons, but basically that experience hasn't taught him a thing except perhaps at the periphery where he has gained certain advantages and acquired new techniques. He is still violent, still brutal; he will kill for any reason.
We have all experienced sorrow, the death of someone, the ache of loneliness and the anxiety; we have known the enormous uncertainty of life while at the same time demanding that it may be secure, and life is never secure. Life is a movement in relationship, but in that relationship we want security and something permanent. So experience hasn't taught us anything; experience means to go through something, to go through and finish with it, and you cannot finish an experience if that experience leaves a mark, a shadow, an imprint on the mind. If it leaves an imprint then the next experience is translated according to the past experience; this is all fairly obvious and simple. So experience only strengthens the `what has been' and under no circumstances does it give freedom. And this is something we are not going to accept. A mind that has obeyed for so long, that has accepted authority, that has become immoral can have no quality of virtue; virtue can come into being only when there is no conflict and there is love, and as human beings we have no love. We have only jealousy, envy and hate.
As we said the other day, surely love is not pleasure; pleasure is the product of thought, cultivated and constantly repeated, but love is something entirely different, and if you come upon it, then there must be freedom from anger, jealousy and violence. There must be freedom from that whole mechanical process of building an image in our relationships. You know, every relationship, whether it is with your wife, your husband, your friend, your boss or with anybody depends on the image which you have created. Obviously there is an image between you and your wife; she has an image of you and you have an image about her which has been built up through many years of pleasure and pain, anger and irritation. The self-centred activity of each one in this relationship has produced an image, and these two images have a relationship, but nothing else! Love then is not the product of pleasure or thought, so it cannot be cultivated; like virtue, it cannot be manufactured by thought.
I do not know if you have ever considered what humility is. Humility, like austerity, is not something you can work upon day after day and then say I have learnt to be humble; only the vain man pretends to be humble. Humility comes only when there is no seeking or achieving; that is, when you live completely in the present, which is the totality of time. If however you are acquiring power, seeking position, in the name of God, in the name of the Church, in the name of the government or trying to dominate in all your relationships, whether it be the intimate relationship of the family or the business relationship, then obviously there is no humility. Humility, like innocence, comes only when the mind is completely quiet, and order, which is absolutely essential, is only possible in freedom, which is love. You know one hardly dare use that word because everybody uses it; you hear it in church, on the radio, in the cinema and in the politician's speech. They talk of divine love and human love, of the love of the one and the love of the many, and therefore they have destroyed the beauty, the fullness, the depth and the meaning of that word. So is it possible to love, which is really the basis of all virtue, and therefore order. Living in this monstrous world, is it possible to love without envy - because envy is not love - without jealousy, without brutality? Surely this is only possible when we have completely understood pleasure. For us, as things are, love is pleasure so realizing this, man has invented the love of God which he says is not pleasure, but, of course, it is. If you are completely unafraid right throughout your whole being, at the unconscious level as well as the conscious, when there is not a grain of fear anywhere, then there is no seeking. The mind itself is the highest form of intelligence and is therefore virtuous. Order and freedom, and so virtue and love are the foundation to go further; this is the foundation upon which we can build.
Having laid the foundation, not as an idea, not as a concept, not as an abstraction but in actual daily life, we can then begin to enquire if there is something more which is not of time, which cannot be destroyed, and to find out, or rather come upon it, we must understand meditation. I am sorry to introduce that word because once again is has been spoilt by those people who have recently come from the East talking about meditation. You know, unless the mind is very still, you cannot see anything - that is a simple psychological fact. If I want to see you or you want to see me actually, physically, your mind must be very quiet; it cannot be chattering or indulging in images, opinions, judgments; it must be absolutely quiet, and most of our minds do not even know what that word means, or what lies behind it. We have a feeling that there must be a certain stillness of the mind; after all, if you are listening to the speaker - and I hope you are - you must give attention, that is, your mind must not be out playing golf, your mind must be wondering what he means by this or that, and your mind must not only be quiet but attentive. And when it is attentive then it is intense, therefore there is a communion between the speaker and yourself, a communion that is intense, a meeting of his mind and yours at the same time, with the same intensity, and at the same level, then there is real communion. And for that your mind must be extraordinarily sensitive, alert and quiet.
The word `meditation' is very common in the East and throughout the whole of Asia; they practise what they call meditation. One sees poor men, ill-clad and ill-fed, sitting under a tree meditating, the body motionless; that has been going on for thousands of years. In that so-called meditation there is no order in the sense in which we used the word, the order which comes with freedom from tradition, imitation and fear; there is only conformity to a pattern. Those who meditate want wider, deeper experiences which can very easily be gained through the psychedelic drugs that give you an expansion of consciousness, but that expansion of consciousness is still conditioned. So meditation is something entirely different and unless there is a foundation of order, freedom and love, which has never touched brutality, it is not possible. Then the mind becomes the meditative mind and therefore completely quiet, not wanting any pleasure, experiences or visions. Visions, as the Christian seeing Christ or the Hindu with his Krishna, are all very simple to explain; they are projections arising out of the conditioning of the mind. In the same way the Communist has his vision of what the State should be or what the citizen should be, according to his conditioning. And it is fairly easy to have visions, but whether you see Christ, the Buddha or Krishna, they have really no meaning whatsoever; they are the result of your own psychological state. When you have these visions, the more you are caught, the more you are conditioned, so all that is not meditation.
Meditation is the silence of the mind, but in that silence, in that intensity, in that total alertness, the mind is no longer the seat of thought, because thought is time, thought is memory, thought is knowledge. And when it is completely quiet and highly sensitive, the mind can take a voyage which is timeless, limitless. That is meditation, not all this stupid nonsense of repeating words which is what they are doing. In India it is a well known trick, repeating a word and thereby getting oneself into a peculiar state, and thinking that is meditation. You can repeat the words Coca Cola ten thousand times and you will have the most marvellous experience because you have hypnotized yourself, but that is not reality. Hypnosis, whether it is done by yourself or by another, can only project your own conditioning, your own anxieties and fears; it has no value whatsoever.
So is it possible for a mind that has penetrated deeply into this problem of order to live in the world with that and act from that? To live with order and the beauty of order - order which is not habit, but which dies every day and therefore each day it is new, to live with a quality of love that has no fear, that is never touched by thought as pleasure. This is really the main issue, not what you believe or you don't believe, whether you are a Communist, a socialist or a nationalist; we have finished and done with all that. It has never produced order in the world, on the contrary it has divided man more and more.
And the young people, quite rightly are in revolt against what has been. So the question arises; is it possible to live this way? Can a man who is very serious, who doesn't play with all this intellectually but actually lives it, breathes it, can such a man live in a world that is violent, competitive, brutal and aggressive, where one is conscripted into the army to kill? Can you live not negatively but actively? You know, if you totally deny all that is false - and psychologically everything in this culture is false - then in that very denial comes the positive. When you see the false as the false, the very act of perception, the seeing is the positive. So one asks oneself whether it is possible to live, not as a saint, that is terrible. You know, a saint is recognised by society, by the culture, by the Church or the temple, and therefore he is no longer a saint.
To be free inwardly, to love, to have absolute order has nothing whatever to do with any culture, any society, any religion. Surely to ask is it possible and seek an answer is unnecessary; if you live that way there is no other problem. Then we will not ask whether this is possible in this world, because when you live that way you are completely outside it. And you are an outsider in this world, in India, in Russia, in Italy, because you are free, because you have absolute order and this total sense of deep love, and wherever you live and wherever you are, there is a benediction. And all action is order and beauty; beauty is not something put together by man. Beauty is when there is complete self-abandonment, a total relinquishing of the self, the me, with all its aches and loneliness, with all its despairs, anxieties and fears. Then you will live in this world as a human being.
17th March 1968
Talks in Europe 1968 Rome 3rd Public Talk 17th March 1968
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