Saanen 4th Public Dialogue 29th July 1978
K: What shall we talk about?
Q: Could you please say something about the healing energies, the benediction?
K: Could you talk something about healing, laying on hands.
Q: No, the benediction that you speak about in your book, the healing energy.
K: Not laying on hands but the benediction that I am talking about. Anything else?
Q: Is it enough if I myself change when others around me set the conditions? For example I am a teacher and I want to teach in my way, but it is not possible in the long run. How do I necessarily not come into conflict with the school system?
K: I am a teacher. I would like to change myself fundamentally, and in the long run it has very little effect on the students. Is that it, sir?
Q: No, the school system.
K: Yes, the whole school system, the environment prevents it. Now just a minute. All right, sir.
Q: What do you think of the meditation in the centre of the aisle, hearing music and all that kind of thing?
Q: I have something which I would like to talk over with you personally but it seems rather difficult to talk to you individually.
K: May I say something so that we can finish with that. I used to see lots of people individually, I don't know how many thousands I have seen all my life, but I am afraid I am not doing that any more because I haven't got time, or after I have talked for an hour and a half all my energy is gone, and I have other things to do. So you if will forgive me I am not seeing individually anyone.
Q: You are not interested?
K: I am sorry, that is not the reason. If I was not interested I wouldn't be speaking here.
Q: Can you talk about physical pain, physical suffering?
Q: (Inaudible) (Repeated by audience: He says in your talks there are two different elements, one is observation, awareness, and the other is the question you ask which you call yourself the impossible question. He asks what is the relationship between the two points.)
K: Between what two points?
Q: Observation and the impossible question - what you call yourself impossible questions.
K: Don't ask impossible questions on a hot day! I don't understand the question, and perhaps we will go into it as we go along with other questions, if we may.
Q: What is doubt? And why are we suffering when we have to choose?
Q: May I put a question too? Can a person who has an innocent mind be at the same time and at the same level with a person who has a damaged brain?
K: How can one meet another human being if one is somewhat sane and the other is not? It seems to me that is our problem! You may all be very sane and I may not! So that is the problem.
So what shall we talk about this morning, apart from several questions about meditation, seeing lights, visions, and all that, physical help, how to meet people who are perhaps not so neurotic as oneself and so on.
Q: You also like to escape.
K: To escape from what?
Q: From you.
K: May I ask a question, perhaps it will include the other questions. And I am not imposing my question over yours. May I ask a question, may I? I am sure we must have asked ourselves, not in the words I am putting them in, but a very fundamental question, which is, how can one keep a brain that is constantly renewing itself - you understand my question? - that is constantly not deteriorating, not getting old, not getting senile, but that doesn't damage itself, that doesn't allow itself to be damaged, that has a quality of constant youthfulness - the brain, not sexually and all that kind of stuff? Is this an important question for any you, not because I am asking? I am asking if it is important to each one of us. Is it possible as one grows older and older to have a brain that is fresh, young, undamaged, free, so as to have a mind that is quick, not only quick in thought but in action? After all youth means decision and action. It may be a foolish decision and foolish action, but as one grows older there is always the deteriorating factor not only biologically, physiologically, but also in the brain. Would that interest any of you to find out whether it is possible to have a brain, though that brain is very, very old, millenia, thousands of years old, can that brain in spite of its age, in spite of all its experiences, the accumulated burdens of knowledge, can that brain be ever, if I can use the word young, you will understand what I mean - not young in the sense foolish, not in the sense dull, heavy and so on and so on. Shall we discuss that? Would that interest any of you? Please, I am not asking you to be interested. I am just asking - as you ask the questions of me, I am asking you the question.
Q: In spite of the physical age?
K: In spite of age, of course. Can we go into it? Perhaps in answering that, enquiring into that question we might be able to answer how to meet human beings who are vulgar, cruel, violent, self-centred, and somewhat neurotic - admitting that one is also perhaps neurotic. That is the question I would like to put forward to you, if you are interested in it, we can go into it.
Q: I would not be neurotic if everybody else was not neurotic.
K: How does a mind which is not so completely neurotic meet a mind, or behaviour of a human being who is somewhat more neurotic? That is a question that was asked. Please may I go into it?
What makes the brain, I am talking of the brain which holds thousands of years of memories - right? Because our brain is not young, we have inherited thousands of years of man's endeavour, man's struggle, what he has to face, dangers, pleasures, all the travail of existence for thousands and thousands of years. Our brain has evolved, and through that evolution, time and all the rest of it, it has acquired certain resistances, certain freedom, it has learnt what is danger, how to avoid danger, and how to pursue pleasure, and so on. So our brain, your brain is not just born, it is the result of millions of years. Right? That is obvious. I am not a brain specialist. I have watched myself and watched the whole business. Now can that brain unburden itself from the past, be free from all pressure, from all compulsion, various forms of addiction - right? I am asking that question. That is, what damages the brain? Let's begin that way. You find out. Let's talk it over together. Perhaps I may be more neurotic than you are, or I may be a biological freak. So we have to talk over together, show to each other, help each other to understand this question. Now what damages the brain?
Q: Psychological hurts.
K: More basic than that, what destroys the brain?
K: When there is contradiction, that is, feeling one thing, doing something opposite to that, thinking something and saying something entirely different from what you think, or there is this desire to do something, the drive, and there is also the opposing drive. Right? So this is what the gentleman means, if I understood him rightly, by contradiction. Now what takes place when there is contradiction? What takes place in your life - please think it out for yourself - what takes place when there is contradiction, opposition? One desire opposing another desire, what takes place?
K: Conflict. Could we say then that conflict in any form, biological, psychological, or one part opposing another part, and so on, this constant conflict, this constant battle outwardly and inwardly is one of the factors of the brain being damaged? Right? Don't agree with me, please. It is important to find out for oneself whether this brain, which is not your brain, that is just it, please understand it, it is not your brain, it is the brain of all of us because you are the result of millions of years of so-called evolution, progress, accumulation of knowledge, pain, suffering.
Q: You say, referring to what you have said now, that we are all in the same position but I can't understand that the inhabitants are so different. So when you say is the brain of the whole of humankind, we are all in the same position when we were born. I want to ask you a question: when you were born you were conditioned and you free yourself after this? Or is it work you do after?
K: No, sir, don't go off into detail please, just wait a minute. Would you say your brain, which is the result of thousands of years, is different from my brain which is also thousands and thousands and thousands of years old? Or we both of us have passed through the gate of experience, of pain, of suffering, of agony and so on and so on? That brain may be conditioned in a culture which is different from another culture. It may be educated differently from another culture which has its own education. But the basic quality of the brain is that being thousands of years old it is more or less the same, similar, though outwardly it is different. We will go into that, leave that for the moment.
I am asking myself, and I hope you are asking yourself too, what are the basic elements that bring about damage? Let's forget your brain and my brain are the same - leave all that aside. We said, one of the causes of damage is this constant effort, conflict, struggle, which puts enormous pressure on the brain - right? Oh, don't agree to this. What do you say?
Q: I don't agree. I think the brain has evolved through struggle.
K: Yes, to a certain extent, the gentleman says, this is the common argument, it has evolved through struggle, through conflict, through constant battle outwardly and inwardly. And one questions - I don't say it has not, but one questions it. One doesn't easily accept it has evolved through struggle. I want to find out if that is the truth. So we are asking ourselves, if struggle is the element of its growth, then if that has damaged the brain through biological strain, the constant pressure, strain, anxiety, if these things have brought about a better brain - I am using the 'better' in quotes - after millions of years what have we achieved, what have we come to? If the brain has evolved, and become extraordinarily beautiful, marvellous after thousands of years of struggle, and what are we at the present time? That is the criteria - right?
Q: Sir, may I ask you a further question related to that. As you say the brain, our brain, has evolved over this long period of time, how long are the brains of other creatures? It seems it is not a question of the superiority of the one brain, the human brain over other brains of other species, but it is remarkable it seems that the human brain has different qualities from the rest. And that it has along with this pain the possibilities of pain and contradiction through its memories, its desire to repeat past experiences.
K: I am sorry, Sir, I can't hear.
Q: I am sorry. I was asking what the difference is between the human brain and the brains which have evolved along with it. The human brain has, it seems, acquired this possibility of suffering through anticipation, the desire to repeat past experiences, and I wonder how you can differentiate what seems to be the peculiarities of the human brain from the other brains.
K: Sir, if I may ask, we must take our brains as they are - as they are. Not say, are we different from the animals, or are we different from the little baby, or different from the extraordinary animal called the whale and so on. We are talking of the brain that we have now, not the brain of the animal, but as we are now. We are saying that if through struggle, through conflict, through millenia, man has produced this extraordinary brain, what is the actual fact, not theory, not supposition, the actual fact of what it is doing now, how it is operating now. Just a minute. I do not know if you have read in one of the magazines that we have had wars for the last five thousand years. That means historically, that means wars every other year. Right? And we are going on in the same pattern - right? Our way of killing has become much more efficient, much more complicated, you can destroy human beings by the million and keep the buildings intact. Is that the result of our excellent brain? You follow?
So we are saying, does strife, conflict, battle within and without, does that really make the brain young, fresh? There may be another way - you follow? We have accepted the norm, the pattern, that as a tree struggles to reach the sunlight in a forest or in a wood, so we must struggle to have more knowledge, more this and that and the other. So I am saying there may be another way which may bring about a different quality of the brain which is not hurt, which is not under pressure, if one understands the futility of effort.
Q: We don't know if such a state exists.
K: You don't know.
Q: Is it possible that the humankind can go without conflict or not? I don't know.
K: Sir, you are not listening to what I am saying. I said there may be another way. You don't know.
Q: I suppose.
K: I said there may be. That means in English, perhaps, a probability. So don't say, we don't know. We have said that struggle has not brought about intelligence in our life. It has become very clever to protect itself, but it is not intelligent when you have wars, wars, wars, practically every year all over the world. Obvious, sir. And I am suggesting perhaps - perhaps - there may be another way of living and perhaps making the brain much more alive, young, fresh, if we understand the futility of effort.
K: The present social structure is based on this question of competition - right? That is, our present social structure with its economy and so on is based essentially on competition, fight to reach, struggle to get something. That is the nature and the structure of our society in which we live. That society is the outcome of us, we have built it. God hasn't built it. Every human being has built the society in which we live because he is aggressive, he wants position, he wants power, he is greedy, and so on and so on. So our society is competitive, our society is essentially immoral - we won't go into what is morality and all the rest of it, we will later on - it is essentially immoral, divided, upper and lower levels of power - right? So our whole education, the way we live, is based on that, and that has been our pattern for the last million years. And that may be one of the factors - I am suggesting, I am not saying it is - it may be one of the factors that damages the brain - this constant strain, this constant struggle, this constant wanting to find something, being driven towards something. Those who are seeking already know what they are seeking - clear? Otherwise you wouldn't seek it.
So we are saying that is one of the basic factors of damage. Can we live - again a probability, I am asking, I want to ask these questions because otherwise we will just remain where we are - is there a possibility of living without conflict? Otherwise our brains will always function in a very, very narrow, limited pattern. That is simple enough. Right?
Q: We have seen how the brain is so conditioned, and how is right action to come about with such a brain?
K: We are going into it, slowly let's go step by step into it. And if that is the factor why our brains, as we grow older become more and more worn out, more and more repetitive, it won't alter its pattern. It is afraid to break its pattern. If it is malicious, bitter, angry, it keeps to that, and so on. Then is there a way of living which is not this constant strain, battle? To find that out we must understand the nature and the structure of contradiction, comparison, and this drive, pleasant, sometimes unpleasant, aggressive and on other occasions easy, but this constant drive. That is, we say, damaging the brain. Even the specialists are agreeing to this. We happened to talk to one of the so-called brain specialists, he agrees with this - being a specialist you must also agree with him! Right? Because you are all authoritarian bound.
So that is one of the factors. Just a minute. What are the other factors? Come on sirs.
Q: It seems that my thought doesn't want to end itself.
K: He has said something which is important to understand - if I understand the question properly. We are afraid of ending - right? If one is attached with all the sequences and the things involved in attachment, with its pain, with its fear, all the rest of it, the continuity of the same pattern of attachment is one of the factors of deterioration. I wonder if you see this? Because that which is continuous is habitual, routine, mechanical, so the brain that has become mechanical is one of the factors of deterioration. Right? This is so obvious, no? If I was born in India and continue to be an Indian, thinking around the same way, my superstitions, my gods, my inventions, you follow - routine, routine, routine - it is obviously mechanical, traditional, and therefore it is damaging itself.
Now wait a minute, that is one of the factors: that is, struggle, effort, battle with oneself and a mechanical way of living, following the tradition, it may be two days old or ten thousands years old. That means that which is a continuous movement, in the same direction, is one of the factors of deterioration - no?
Q: Doesn't continuous movement imply struggle, isn't it the same because if I don't struggle I cannot move continuously?
K: I may continue this way, or I may continue that way.
Q: But continuation itself is a struggle.
K: Yes sir, agreed. That's understood. Struggle is what we are accustomed to, which has become a pattern, and never ending anything, which is also our pattern. If I am hurt I carry it all my life - right? I never end my hurt. So the mechanical way of living is one of the factors of deterioration - which doesn't mean that we must be spontaneous. How can a mind which has never been free, which has always worked horizontally or vertically continuously, how can such a mind which follows a pattern, have any form of spontaneity? It is impossible. It may think it is spontaneous.
Right - we have found two factors. So what are the other factors?
Q: Thought itself.
K: Wait. I will come to that towards the end, sir, before you pick thought itself go into another.
Q: To be self-centred.
K: Yes, maybe. And - wait I am coming to that - one of the factors may be this constant desire to identify oneself with something. I am asking you, don't accept it, or deny it, but find out. This constant exertion, drive, impetus, desire, to say, 'I am that' - identify myself with the country, with a belief, with a person, with an idea, with an ideal, or with a piece of furniture - you understand? This constant movement from what I am, to what I should be. And identifying myself with 'what should be', which is again a battle - right? Right, sir?
So what are the other factors: effort, a way of living in a routine, if that is broken you form another routine. Which means a mind, a brain that has been accustomed, it is its habit, to mechanically follow, mechanically accept, mechanically live - I did this yesterday, I must do it tomorrow, I had sexual pleasure yesterday, I must have it tomorrow and so on and on and on. Now there may be another factor, which is, the whole momentum of thought. With this perhaps you will not agree - not agree - we will not be able to communicate with each other. I want to communicate and you may be unwilling to communicate. You may say, use a different set of words. Words are not important when you want to communicate something. There must be the urge to understand each other, then I can use a word in Eskimo, or some language, and language won't matter. The desire to understand is more important than the word. So I am asking, is one of the major, perhaps the only factor, that damages the brain, is this constant movement of thought?
Q: Thought generates fear, and one of the fears is of communicating, really communicating. I am afraid of communicating to you now. I am communicating to you now but I am afraid somehow. It seems thought has generated that fear in me. I am communicating to you now with all these people here.
K: Thought generates fear. That fear is born because thought is afraid to communicate with you. Is that so? Are you afraid to communicate with me? I am not saying you are, I don't know. Unless you are a devotee, unless you say, 'I surrender to whatever you are, I surrender to that' - then you go to sleep. Now are we frightened to communicate with each other?
Q: One doesn't understand quite fully what you are saying.
K: No, sir, one doesn't understand quite fully what you are saying and therefore that might bring about not fear, I don't understand you, please tell me more, put it a different way. But in that there is no fear, unless one is afraid to expose oneself. Right? You may not want to expose yourself to me, and I don't want you to expose yourself to me. But you should expose yourself to yourself. See yourself - perhaps expose yourself is rather a (?) word - but you should see yourself as you are. And the function of a speaker is not important if you use him as a mirror to see yourself as you are.
Now let's proceed: we said one of the major factors, and perhaps the only factor, is this constant movement of thought. While you are awake, while you are asleep, while you are looking out of the window, or keeping still, this constant chatter, not probably put into words but imagination, looking at things and giving them names, this machinery is going on all the time. And we are saying that may be the real damage to the brain.
Then arises the question: how is it possible not to think at all? Wait a minute. Wait a minute. That is the whole idea of controlling thought so that it won't think about anything except what it is directed to think about. You understand this? That is, one realizes, if you realize, that thought is one of the central factors of the damage of the brain - thought damages the brain then one asks, why is this machinery going on all the time? You understand? What is the motive power of it, what is the petrol, what is the oil, what is the whatever it is that keeps this thing going, going, night and day?
Q: The function of the brain is to think.
K: Is it? Sir, don't posit anything, don't get definite, if I may politely ask you. Let's find out. So if thinking is the nature of the brain, and this thinking is continuously going on, then it is damaging itself. Like a machine, like a car running all the time, add new fresh oil, look after it properly, but keep it running, running, you will wear it out very, very quickly.
So is that one of the major factors of the damage of the brain - you follow? Either you think horizontally, linearly, or vertically. That is, we are used to reading books from left to right, and so our thinking is more or less horizontal; and if you read, as they do in China and Iran, and so on, that way, you are also following along certain lines, left to right, right to left. The same thing. The Arabs and so on. Now our question then is: what is the petrol, the oil, the energy, that keeps this thing going over and over again - right? What is the source of this energy which is now being used for thinking?
Q: It is supplied by the senses.
K: Is it? When you keep your eyes open and look, your senses are looking, but you can keep your eyes closed and keep on thinking. Is thinking only the result of the senses or is thinking based on another, which is memory and so on - one wants to find out what is the energy which is being used in this perpetual motion of thought - you understand sir?
Q: That means that thought is always in the past.
K: Sir, don't say it is. Let's find out. There is energy - right? Energy which is being used through conflict, which has become mechanical, routine, and we said this constant identification, all this energy is used around these lines. We are asking, why is this energy so completely used by thought? You understand what I am saying? No, don't be so quick. Find out. I don't know if I have made myself clear. To make an effort you need energy - to struggle, to battle, outwardly or inwardly, energy is necessary. To identify oneself with somebody else and so on and so on, it requires energy. And when the brain has become mechanical, routine, following a pattern, it is also using energy - right? And I am asking: why has thought become so important and using up most of our energy?
I have just stated madam, I am not clear myself whether I am telling what I am observing, putting into words. If somebody understands what I have said please carry on.
Q: We are trying to control our environment.
K: Any form of control is a wastage of energy.
Q: Perhaps it is only if you continue and follow on thinking it perpetuates permanent damage to the brain.
K: That is what want to get at: why has thought used so much energy that we have no energy anywhere else?
K: Go into it a little bit, if we understand each other, let's go into it a little bit. You understand what I am saying?
Q: We are always looking for security by comparing everything.
K: Yes, sir, I understand we are seeking security - security in a belief, security in a family, security in a house, security in an ideal, security in identification, all the rest of it. We want security but that is understood. Like a child, a baby, that needs security. So our brain demands security. We have been through that. And that security you may think exists in this constant movement of thought. You understand what I am saying? Discover something! That is, thought, seeking security and establishing what it thinks is secure, remains in that pattern, and thought then is using an enormous amount of energy, night and day. And we say that may be one of the factors of the deterioration of the brain.
Q: Is it thought itself, or is it the point where thought..
K: Is it thought itself or thought in action? That's right. Thought itself or is it thought in action. Right?
Q: Is it not a question of balance?
K: Maybe. You are not listening. We are not thinking together. That doesn't mean that you are accepting but let's think together on the same point, then perhaps we will come to something. Just a minute sir.
Q: I think we are afraid to be empty without thinking.
K: We have said that, yesterday or the day before, that we are afraid if thought isn't occupied with something, we are afraid to face our loneliness. And fear then is one of the factors of damage, obviously. So please.
Q: Can one say that thought has run wild?
K: You can say it! It has run wild. Technologically it has run wild, babies are being produced in test tubes and so on. Now let's come back. I want to find out a way of living in which the brain is not damaged.
Q: Can there be a way of living so as not to reduce all of the mechanical things, all of the technical things, that are peculiar as products of the human brain. Can we have those things which are the product of thought which relieve our various forms of discomfort, of fear of discomfort, our fear of personal discontinuance.
K: Sir, we went into all that during the last few discussions and talks, but I want to get at this. Please, let's find out. One observes clearly that constant effort does damage the brain, constant struggle, all that. And also this mechanical movement, which implies practice, you know, all that, which purely becomes mechanical, which is called meditation and so on. So we have found two factors. And also we said the major factor may be the whole movement of thought and its action. And we asked: why has thought become so important, using up such tremendous energy, night and day - the images, the ideals, sexual images and so on and so on, which are all the movement of thought all the time - anger, bitterness, aggressiveness, saying, 'You are wrong, I am right', you know, the battle that goes on - why has thought become so enormously important? Which apparently doesn't seem to end at all. You understand my question. So is there a ending - you follow, sir, to end something is to release energy, not in any direction, to release energy. I want to go on but apparently you don't.
Do we recognize, sir, the one central factor, that thought is in motion, is in movement from the moment you wake up until you sleep, and when you sleep it is there, all the time? And so it may be mechanical. So thought is mechanical, therefore that is a deteriorating factor. So do we recognize, do we see the fact that thought is mechanical?
Q: It seems there is more to it. This constant thinking feeds those forces which motivate the thinking itself, such as vanity, greed.
K: We said that. What is the motive. We said that, sir. We asked, what is the motive of this constant thinking. Motive means movement in a direction, or no direction. Motive means, actually the meaning of the word is a movement. We have been through all this.
I am asking, as long as this brain, our brain, has become mechanical, that may be the major factor of deterioration. That mechanical process is thought, and thought is mechanical. Do we see that? You may invent the most marvellous engines, but it is still the movement of thought. You may sit and close your eyes and think about god, it is still mechanical. Or you may say, 'I will practise, I will sit quietly, I will surrender myself to somebody with a beard, or non beard', that is also mechanical. So any movement of thought is mechanical. And we are saying that is the essence of deterioration. Because that makes us struggle - right? We are competitive, we want to reach, to want to obtain, we want to become a success, which is all the movement of thought, identification, and so on and so on. So thought is the very essence of deterioration of the brain.
Q: Thought is me.
Q: But is it not possible that there is within the field of thought another area where thought is not organical living?
K: Sir, that means we have to go into the question of what is thought. What is thought? If you had no memory you wouldn't be able to think. Memory is the accumulation of experience as knowledge - right? That is obvious. No? Please, this is, even the most profound scientist says this, so please accept it! - if you want to accept the specialists. But you can observe your own brain in operation.
So if that is so, then what is one to do? You understand? Any movement of thought deteriorates the brain, any movement. Right?
Q: How can we live without thinking?
K: We have been through all this sir, I will tell you. Isn't it time to stop?
Q: What is one to do?
K: Would you listen if I tell you?
Q: Yes. Very attentively, all of us.
K: I have already told you! So you haven't listened.
Q: What is one to do?
K: I have already told you. Either I am an idiot saying I have already told you when I haven't, or a liar, or you haven't listened. So would you kindly listen again.
That means listen to find out, listen with care, with affection, not saying, 'Well, I have heard this before'. If you have heard it before and I repeat it again, you say, 'I am bored.' But if you have listened, tested, acted, found out, you will never be bored. Every time you test it there is something new taking place. And if you merely say, 'Yes, I understand, you have said so and so, and you are repeating yourself, I am bored, or semi-bored', which means you have not tested it, experimented, looked, gone into it, and if you discover something you want to go into it more and more and more, there is never a moment of boredom. It is like those research people, they are never bored, they are at it from morning until night because they want to discover something new, new, new.
When we are confronted with this enormous complex problem, which is that thought in its very nature and structure is the major factor of the deterioration of the brain, from that you ask, what is one to do? Right? Please listen. Who is asking this question? Thought is asking that question. Right? So as long as you ask the question, which is thought says, 'What am I to do?', then thought says, 'I must find an action which will get rid of my routine, my mechanical processes, how am I to stop thinking? I can't, in life I must think.' Of course you must think otherwise you wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be here. So as long as thought has any form of movement, whatever it does will be the factor of deterioration of the brain. Now if you really understand that, really see the truth of it, you are finished. Then you have placed thought in its right place. Which is, thought being the outcome of knowledge, memory, experience, thought is necessary to drive a car, to take a bus to go home, go to the factory, but if the brain realizes that thought is the factor that is making it deteriorate then it says, 'All right, I have understood this, I have got it', then we can go into much deeper things. You follow? Now we are all surface.
So the positive action of thought, to which we are all accustomed to, is the factor of deterioration. The non action of thought, which is thought living in its right place, then the brain can never deteriorate.
Saanen 4th Public Dialogue 29th July 1978
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