Madras 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 29th December 1981
It's a beautiful morning. I hope you are enjoying the lovely morning. Probably there have been a lot of questions. We should put questions, not only to the speaker, but also to ourselves, lots of questions. Not superficial questions, not questions about theories, hypotheses, or some speculative religious concepts, but question our own thinking, why we think in a particular way, why we behave in certain ways, why we accept tradition, what is our relationship with each other. We should have, I think, a great deal of scepticism, not only about others but about ourselves.
So we are going to ask, or try to find out, the answers to the questions. Is the answer more important than the question? Does the answer lie in the question? Please we are thinking together, not just listening to the speaker. How do we approach a question? A question is a problem. A problem, the meaning of that word, is something thrown at you, the root meaning of that word. A question means a challenge. How does one approach a challenge, a question? Because in the approach is the answer, not the question itself. I hope we are meeting each other, are we?
Suppose I have a problem, a question about the world, about my relationship to the world, my anxiety, my agony. And what is my approach to the solution of that problem, my anxiety, my agony, my relationship to the world, how do I listen to the question, how do I approach it, come near it, how do I almost touch the question? You understand? So it is far more important to find out how we approach a question, a problem, rather than try to find out the answer. Because in the approach, if the approach is correct, then we can examine the problem itself, not try to seek an answer, because the answer is in the problem. We are going to find out presently that way.
So, please, we are not answering the question. We will answer the questions together, explore the questions together, and you will have to find the answer for it yourself, not I answer it and you accept it, or not accept it, which becomes rather silly. But if we could look at the question together, how we approach the question, and investigate the question itself, not try to find an answer to the question. Is this clear? That is, we are together going to examine the question, but how you approach the question is more important than the investigation of the question. First, how do we approach a question? How do we approach a problem? If we approach it with a desire to find an answer, the answer becomes far more important than the question. That's clear. Are we meeting each other with this?
So if we can we will go through these questions one by one, and try to find out how we approach it, how we examine the problem, and discover that the answer is in the problem itself. I haven't seen these questions before. I don't like to look at them previously.
1st QUESTION: Without conflict or struggle in the sense of desire to improve, how can there be any progress, material or social in the world? The desire to change supplies the motive force for work towards achievement and progress. If you accept 'what is' then how can there be any kind of progress?
You have got the question clear? Need I read it again? Thank goodness!
What do we mean by self improvement? Improving selfishness? Improving deceit? Improving hypocrisy? Improving our angers, our anxieties, our pains, our sorrows? Is that what we mean by improving ourselves? Either getting more money, better position` and all that, physical comfort - which is necessary obviously - but when you say 'self-improvement', what is the self? Could we go into that? What is the self? What are you? You have a name, you have a form, how you look, the shape of your body and so on, physical appearance, apart from that, what are you? All that you have been taught in a school, college, university, if you have been lucky to go through that, or unlucky to have gone through that, and what the environment has impressed upon you, upon the brain. You are the tradition, you are all that which actually is - your greed, your envy, your beliefs, your hypocrisy, say one thing and do another, your miserliness, you are all that surely. Or do you think you are something much more than that? That is, your super consciousness, super something or other. If you say you are something, super, super consciousness, that is also the result of thinking. So you are the whole movement of thought. Isn't that obvious? So what is there to improve? Or there is freedom from all this, not improving. That's clear too, isn't it? I can't improve my selfishness, my agony, or my sense of despair. What is possible is to be free of all that completely. I can't improve it. That's simple enough.
The next part of the question is: if there is no conflict, struggle, there will be no progress. Right? What is progress? From the bullock cart to the jet, isn't it? That's an improvement, that's progress, advancement, from one state of lack of communication to the extraordinary speed of communication. That's all. There is progress in that direction. Before one killed another by an arrow, now you kill another, or millions, through an atom bomb. That's also progress, if you call that progress. But socially, that is, relationship between each other, which is society, socially is there progress? Or we are finding ways and means of going round laws, cheating in tax, which you are all doing - the richer you are the more cunning you become. You know that is all progress, we call all this progress. Is there psychological progress at all? You understand my question? Progress, this is a very complex problem this. Progress means from what I am I move, change, transform myself. That implies time. Progress means time. Right? You are coming to meet this?
What is time? Time by the watch, time by the sun rising, sun setting, time as today, yesterday, tomorrow, time for a plant to grow, time for a baby to become mature, and so on. There is time outwardly, naturally. But is there time at all inwardly? Please we are investigating, you are not accepting what the speaker is saying. Is there time as psychological progress? Time as hope of tomorrow. So all the implications of this idea of progress involves time.
Now there is physical time, to learn a language I need time. But to be free of violence, does it need time? You follow my question? I need time to learn a skill, to become an engineer, carpenter, or a not straight politician. Right, sir? Yes, you know that. But does one need time to be free of violence? Please, find out. I am violent. To become non-violent requires time. You understand? I am violent, to become or achieve, or attain a state of non-violence is a movement from 'what is' to 'what should be', that requires time. But does being free from violence require time? You understand the difference? Are we meeting each other? To become something requires time, not to be, does it require time? I am violent - suppose I am violent. Can there be freedom from that violence without time? You understand? Our brains are conditioned to time. Now we are asking a question which is totally different from that conditioning. Which is, to be instantly free from violence. Is that possible? You understand my question? My brain is used to the idea that I will gradually get rid of my violence, which is never possible, because gradually, during the interval I am sowing violence, I am being violent. It's like a man saying, 'I am trying to be non-violent', which means he is being violent all the time. Right? Is that clear?
So is it possible to be free of violence instantly? That is, without time. Is the question clear?
Q: I think it is.
K: Sir, don't let's think it is. First of all is it possible to be free of violence immediately, instantly? Or does it take time to be free? If you take time to be free, during that interval you are being violent, and therefore there is no end to violence. I don't know if you follow logically this. But is it possible to be free of violence, not in terms of time? We are saying it is possible. Which is, how you observe violence. When you observe, are you the observer and violence is something apart from you? You understand my question? Or you are violence. The observer is the observed. I don't know if you are following all this. No. You are not.
Is anger different from me? I am anger, it is not different from me. I am greed, greed is not different from me. Violence is me, I am part of that. But we have divided violence as something separate from me. So there is the observer who says I am violent, therefore I must suppress it, or escape it, but if you see the truth that you are violence, the very observer who says I am violent, he is violence.
So then, there being no division, hence no conflict, and the observer is absent, there is only that state. Then you observe with all your energy and it totally disappears. You try it. Not try it, do it - sorry, forgive me for using that word 'try'. Do it and you will discover for yourself.
So progress outwardly, physically, exists, of course. But socially, that is society, is actually relationship between human beings. Now to understand the nature of relationship and the transformation in that relationship, does it require time? Or there is immediate perception, an insight which transforms the conditioning. Right, may I go on to the next question?
Q: Does this transformation take place through the will of the thought, or some other agency, or energy?
K: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, I have got the question, sir. Does transformation take place through the action of will, or some outside agency, god, or some other factor bring about change? Right?
What is will? When you say, 'I will do that', 'I will be that', what do you mean by the word 'will'? Think it out, sir, let's go into it. Is it not desire? Right? We see that? The summation of desire is will. And - oh, I don't want to go into the whole problem of desire. What is desire? You think it out, sir. What is desire? You desire a house, you desire a car, you desire a woman or a man, you desire success, you desire money, you desire to be a hypocrite, you desire to be popular, you desire to be famous, and so on and so on. What is this desire?
K: Thought. Is desire thought? I desire that house. We are not talking of the object of desire, but desire itself. Right? What is desire? Which all religions, more or less, say, suppress desire. Right? So let's find out together what is desire. We are not saying that should be suppressed, we are not saying that it is an ugly thing, or anything. So what is desire?
Q: Willingness to possess.
K: Willingness to possess. Sir, that's desire. I want to possess that house. That's part of desire. To dominate, to possess, is desire. No?
Q: You want to be something which you are not.
K: Yes, that is desire. You want heaven, that's a desire.
K: Sir, shall we throw up a lot of words into the basket and find an answer? Is that the way to find an answer to a question?
Q: Thought, first.
K: Thought. That gentleman also said thought.
Q: Direct from thought.
K: Sir, you are not investigating what is desire, how it arises.
Q: A reaction.
K: May I go into it? That's right.
Q: Desire is the outcome of thought.
K: The outcome of thought. May I go into it very simply? Do you consider desire part of sensation? Of course. Would you kindly let me first point out and then you can talk, sir. Desire is part of sensation. Right? What is sensation? The response of the senses. There is the seeing the house, nice house, or ugly house, house, the perception, the seeing, the visual seeing, then the sensation of wanting to possess it, then investigating the house. Right? Looking all over the house. So there is first seeing, contact, touching, then sensation. That's normal, isn't it. That is what is actually going on. Then what happens? You understand? Seeing, contact, sensation. If there was no seeing, contact, sensation, I am paralysed - as most of us are. I am paralysed. Then what takes place? This is important to understand. We understand very easily the seeing, contact, sensation. Then what is the next step which brings about desire? You understand my question? Is the question clear? Now there is the seeing, contact, sensation, then thought says, 'I wish I had that house'. Clear? That is, when thought identifies itself with sensation and that house then desire begins. Do you question that? That is, the seeing, the touching, the sensory responses. Then thought creates the image of living in that house. Thought when it creates the image then desire begins. You see this step by step. Is this clear? No, don't, I am not making it clear for you. Through the explanation of the speaker you are making it clear for yourself. It's not you accepting the words the speaker says, but you see the movement of seeing, contact, sensation, then thought with its image begins the desire.
Now will is desire. Does transformation take place through desire? Or thought coming to an end and sensation remains. You follow? This requires, please. You are not clear, quite right.
K: No, sir. Look, you desire something, don't you, sir? You desire to have money, you desire to have position, or you desire, what? A woman, or a man. Of course you are all holy, therefore you never face that issue. You desire. Now see what happens, trace it out. You see something beautiful which appeals to your senses, that is the sensation. Then thought creates the image of you having that. Thought when it creates the image is the origin, or the beginning of desire. Is this clear? Obviously. This is fairly clear, I don't have to repeat it. But the question is, can thought not create the image but only sensation remain. I see that beautiful tree, which is beautiful, but I have a house with a piece of land, I want that tree to grow in my land. So desire has taken place. That's all. And desire cannot possibly bring about transformation. That too is clear. Because you have an image of what transformation is, and you desire that. You follow? Or you say, well, it is not desire but some outside agency. Is there an outside agency? This you would like to know, wouldn't you.
Q: What is ordinarily called luck, the common word is luck.
Q: Desire is replaced with that word all the time, by most people.
K: What do you mean most people?
Q: Usually desire is thought to be a plane, and luck coming from outside, and people want desire to be enlarged.
K: I don't understand the question, sir. What has luck to do with desire?
Q: It is part of desire.
K: Is it? Now is there an outside agency which will help us to transform ourselves? Go on, sir.
Q: Outside agency can force you only, but not help you.
K: Outside agency, Mr Hitler, you all know about Hitler.
Q: Yes. There should be a father and a mother, for a seed, to luck.
K: All right, sir. We are talking about outside agency, outside influence, outside authority, outside leader. You have had all those, leaders, gurus, the so-called sacred books, you have had outside agency as education, authority, has all that helped you to change? You have had it for millennia. Has that helped you to become transformed? Answer, sir.
K: Oh, yes, you have transformed? That you are compassionate, that you love, that you are supremely intelligent? Sir, let's be factual and honest for god's sake. You have had leaders, ideals, outside. You have had all the pressures put on you to change. Have you?
Q: Are you not an outside agency?
K: Am I not, the questioner says, an outside agency to help you - I am not. I am not helping you. Take that, sir. I really mean it, I am not helping you. I say, help yourself. Right? You have relied on leaders, authority for centuries, and nothing, you are what you are now - miserable, confused, uncertain, insecure, suffering, anxious, agony you go through, and nothing has helped you. Therefore you have to find out a different method - not rely on anybody. Right?
Q: Can't you point in a certain direction?
K: No. I am not pointing out, I am only saying, look at yourself.
Q: But that is pointing.
K: No, sir, you can make everything ridiculous. So you believe in god, most of you do, I don't know why, but you do. That is, you believe because you are frightened. If you are very honest you will see that. Because god is perfect security. Right? I am uncertain, insecure, I project a principle, a symbol, an idea, of an image and that gives me a great sense of security. Right? Because you believe in god and that gives you a sense of security. That god you have made. Right? You might say, who created the universe. That's a wrong question. You see, this is a very complex question. Is there - please question yourself, find out the answer - is there a state in which there has been no cause? You understand?
Q: We want to attain something.
K: Yes, sir, yes, sir. We all want to attain something.
K: Spiritually, oh, lovely. Sir, please. I am asking you a question, which is very serious if you are interested in it. What has a cause comes to an end. Right? But is there a state of mind in which there is no cause, and therefore eternal? Investigate it, sir. For us there is cause. I do this because I want that. There is a motive which is a cause. Right? To compete, to compare. I compare myself with you who are bright, who are intelligent, who are compassionate, who have some flame in you. And I want to be like you, or go beyond you. So in comparing I have made myself something more than what I am. I don't know if you are following all this. I compare myself with you, bright, not a hypocrite, generous.
K: A lovely word! I compare myself with you. You are very clever. By comparing I call myself dull. If I don't compare - go on, sir, answer it. You are clever, I am not. I compare myself with you, and then I say I am dull. But if I don't compare what happens? Am I dull? No, no, don't shake your head, sir. Just look at it. Am I dull, or I am what I am. From there I can proceed. But if I am saying to myself, I am not as clever as you, and I must be as clever as you, I begin to compete with you. So can we live without comparison?
K: You have answered the question, you cannot. All right, finished. You are all so thoughtless.
K: You didn't listen to what I said sir. You didn't listen, if I may point out most politely to what I said just before. That is, you are clever, I am not. By comparing myself with you I say, I am dull. If I don't compare, am I dull? I don't know. Right? See the point: I don't know. So I begin to find out. Sir, be simple about these matters. Can we live without comparison? That gentleman says, no. He has answered the question. But I want to find out. I want to find out if it is possible to live in this world without a sense of comparing myself with somebody. With Ramakrishna, or somebody or other, or with the Buddha, or with the Christ, or with some guru, why should I compare myself? Not that I am vain, not that I am proud, why should I compare myself? Am I less intelligent if I don't compare? Or when I don't compare at all I am beginning to understand myself. You understand? I am beginning to see what I am. A rose doesn't compare with a jasmine. It is a rose. You people don't meet all this.
Q: Is it not a feeling inadequacy?
K: All right, if one is inadequate, insufficient, psychologically, inwardly, if one is insufficient psychologically, inwardly, what do you do? Go on, sir, answer it. I am insufficient in myself because I feel empty, I feel all kinds of things, insufficient. So what happens? I try to fill that insufficiency with words. I don't know if you see that. Right, sir? With images. How do I know I am insufficient? Right, sir, are you meeting my point? How do I know I am insufficient? Because I have compared myself with you who appear to be self-sufficient. If I don't compare what takes place? How do I know I am insufficient? You don't meet this. Right, sir?
2nd QUESTION: Tell us seriously what should be done to help the country and the people of the country, for no philosophy, no books, no talks, can solve these problems.
Are you quite sure? That no philosophy, no leader, no book, the Gita, the Upanishads, no book, no philosophy, no leader will help this country, or yourself. Are you quite sure of that? You understand my question? Or is it just a rhetorical question? If you are serious, and you say, none of these will help, and you are clear about it, that no book, no leader, no outside agency, nobody can help you - right? - to bring about a change transformation, a change, radical change in the structure of this country, moral, ethical, aesthetic, social. Are you quite sure when you put that question, that there cannot? Or you are just playing with words? If you are quite sure that nobody can help you, then what will you do? You know the country is corrupt, you cannot rely on any politician, the people who write books about something beyond the mind, or in the mind, or something or other, they don't know what they are talking about. Right? Right? So what will you do? Come on, sirs. What will you do?
Q: Look at the problem.
K: We have looked at the problem.
Q: We are not looking at it.
K: Who is not? Please, madam, we are looking at the problem. The problem is overpopulation, the division in class, the lack of right education, tradition, and we have so depended on others. Right? Books, leaders, one after the other you have had. Right? And they haven't, the country, the people, have not changed. What will you do? What will you do, sir, when you realize this?
Q: You have to take the responsibility and behave properly.
K: Are you accepting responsibility? Are you accepting the responsibility?
K: Are you accepting the responsibility for yourself to see that you behave properly? Or again is that just talk? Sir, do you know what is happening to this country, do you all realize? I have been - the speaker has been coming to this country every winter for the last sixty years. You have advanced technologically, you are as clever, as inventive as anybody else. And you, as a human being, are slowly dying. The culture that this country has had, gone, finished, torn apart. Right? Everyone is living for himself. He is not concerned about his son's future, his grandson's future. You are not concerned for your neighbour. You follow? You are not concerned at all about another except about yourself. The country is breaking up - Tamilnadu, Telugunadu, or whatever nadus you have. This country is breaking up, the family is breaking up. And there is no new flame, you are just repeating. When you repeat there is certain dead security, and you are in that state now. What are we going to do? What are you all going to do, sirs? Education, you know what it is in this country, it is the lowest. Professors who have been out from abroad, teachers from abroad have told me, they come here to investigate and they have told me there is no education at all, just book work, learning, memorizing. You understand? So education is at its lowest ebb, there is violence hidden, it may explode at any time. There is all the preparation for war. So the country is facing a tremendous crisis, your country, the land on which you are living, and you don't seem to care. And you build temples, go to the temples, take vows - you follow? Professionally you are a lawyer, or an engineer, and go to a temple with all the superstitions, you follow, the contradiction. For god's sake realize what is happening.
So what will you do? Or will you do nothing, as what is happening now, do nothing, let it go down the drain? You look at me, don't look at me, sirs. Look at the land that you are despoiling, the beauty of the country. Will you undertake the responsibility, not verbally, but actually to be responsible for what you are, what you do, what you think, what you feel, behave honestly, with integrity. Not be - sir, you know, will you. That's the only thing that is going to change this country. If there are a group of people who are really concerned with the future of this country, because the politicians are not, the gurus are not. What's going to happen to your grandchildren? So if you seriously undertake that you will be totally responsible for yourself, that you will be generous, you will not be corrupt. You may lose your job. Lose your job. Starve, die, you follow, sir, hold to something. Then you will probably help the country to become something totally different than it is. It is a beautiful country, vast space, marvellous rivers and trees and mountains. Somebody said the other day, 'It's a lovely country except for the Indians!' Yes, sir, face it.
3rd QUESTION: What is sorrow?
What is sorrow, the questioner asks. Aren't you in sorrow when you see all that's going on in this country? Or is sorrow only when you personally are affected? You understand, sirs, my question? Is sorrow only when my son dies? Or the sorrow of seeing what is happening in this country? What is sorrow?
K: Sir, don't answer so quickly. What is sorrow? Tears, pain, self-pity, the loss of somebody whom you love - if you love, which I doubt. You are attached, love is not attachment. You are attached to your work, to your property, you follow, you are attached. Is that love? Is sorrow personal, or there is sorrow in the world, of which you are. You follow? We have reduced everything to a small limited me - my pain, my sorrow - and I hold to that. We don't see the sorrow of man, of which you are. Sir, have you ever realized historically for five thousand years there have been wars, practically every year. This is historical. And see how many women, men, maimed, shed tears, the loneliness, the brutality of all that. You understand, sirs? Isn't that a great sorrow? Isn't it a sorrow that the poor man round that corner will never be clean? You understand? Never have clean clothes, never go in a jet, never ride in a comfortable car, don't you realize all this? Isn't it a sorrow to realize such a state exists?
So the understanding of sorrow is the ending of sorrow. Right? Sir, this requires a great deal of investigation into sorrow. Probably you have never shed tears. You have an explanation for tears. Right? Karma, some cause or other, but you have never actually suffered, felt the intense pain of it, because we are always seeking comfort, escape from sorrow. Right? Aren't you? That there is god, that you have paid. You have got dozens and dozens of explanations for sorrow, and how to escape from sorrow. But a man, or a woman who realizes the depth of sorrow, either he remains with that sorrow, becomes cynical, bitter, angry, violent, or he goes beyond, he is free from sorrow. It is possible to be free from sorrow, only then there is love.
4th QUESTION: What is the nature of freedom? Why does it happen?
Leave the latter part of the question, why does it happen. What is the nature of freedom. What do you mean by freedom? You have had freedom in this country since the British left, what have you done with it? Right? What do you mean by freedom? Freedom to do what you like which is what you are doing. Freedom from anxiety, freedom from pain - freedom from physical pain is comparatively easy, go to a doctor, or if one has some terrible disease you accept it and carry on. What is freedom? There is freedom from something, which is not freedom. You understand? I can be free from attachment that's fairly simple. But that's not actual freedom. I am free from a burden, but what is freedom? Will you know it when you are free? I wonder if you understand this question? When you are happy, if you are happy ever, when you are happy, when you say, 'How happy I am', is that happiness, or is it only after it is gone? You understand my question? Can you ever know or recognize, or experience, complete freedom - not from anything - freedom? When you say, 'I am totally free', then you are not free. Right? It's like a man who says, 'I know', then he does not know. So freedom is something, sir, that you cannot experience. Like enlightenment is not to be experienced, because where there is an experience there is an experiencer and the experiencer must recognize the experience otherwise it is not an experience.
So freedom is not an experience, it is a state of being, not becoming. That's enough, sirs.
Madras 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 29th December 1981
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