Brockwood Park 1984
In Conversation with Ronald Eyre Brockwood Park 24th June 1984
Ronald Eyre: I would like to ask you about playfulness which matters to me more and more.
RE: Playfulness, knowing that if I tackle a piece of work with a certain solemnity, however serious I am, it sort of destroys itself; but if there is in it an element, in my approach, of playfulness, of letting it happen.
K: I wonder what you mean by playfulness.
RE: Well, I suppose over-solemnity is rather conceited. I mean you have an idea that you would like to do this, you would like to finish it, so you have the end in the beginning, you know what it is going to be. What I mean by playfulness is allowing for things to come in from the side which you hadn't expected - thoughts, or notions.
K: You mean when you are working you are concentrating, and when that concentration is not focused then the other things happen.
RE: Yes, you see I was brought up, like many of us, in a very Puritanical way, brought up to believe that effort was a fine thing. And I believe I am having to learn that effort is a double edged matter, and that it can be over-solemn, it can push you towards conclusions, it can blind you and deafen you to all sorts of things you should be hearing and seeing. I need, I feel, to sit back and play more. Does that make sense?
K: Letting other thoughts come in rather than having one continuous effort and thought.
RE: And let it organically shift so that it shapes itself organically, maybe in a direction you hadn't intended.
K: Would you say that distraction is necessary? It is that.
RE: It is distraction, isn't it. It is to do with - if I could use a phrase like, mindful distraction, not merely being open to anything.
K: Being empty minded.
RE: That's right.
K: So concentration, a sense of distraction of which you are aware.
RE: That feels quite important.
K: But when you are aware that it is distraction, is it distraction?
RE: It is extremely subtle concentration perhaps.
K: That's what I am asking.
RE: I feel it to be. I feel that it is connected with fear. When an element of fear comes into it - fear you may go wrong, or that something unwelcome may happen, then it freezes you, and you think you are concentrating, you are actually shutting out. Would you say that is correct?
K: That's it partly only. Can we discuss what is concentration and then come to the other. What do we mean when we say concentrate? To focus one's thought.
RE: Focus feels a bit positive as though your intention is maybe a little too much in it.
K: Yes. Concentrate on what one is doing. Don't let anything come in.
RE: To be available totally to what one is doing is another way of putting it.
K: Yes, all right. What does that do when one is so centred, focused? Aren't you shutting off every other form of thought, every other form of distraction, if we can use that word. So you build a wall round yourself and say, "Please, no, don't think of anything, let's think about this."
RE: There is a distinction, isn't there though, between somebody - when you did that gesture it was a slightly worried gesture, you know, please don't bother me, I am concentrating on this. That, I think - although I certainly do it quite a lot - it seems to me to have fear in it and to be probably not so useful as an openness to a thing which merely, quietly presses other thing to the side.
K: I am not sure.
RE: Ah! Tell me more.
K: Could we begin by discussing what makes us concentrate? Will, desire, an end to achieve, a motive, a direction, a purpose, an intensified desire which is in will, and say, "This I must do, this is necessary", I concentrate and therefore I push aside every other thought that comes in. So I build a wall round myself for a moment. So that is a form of resistance. That is a form of - may I put it differently? - a self-centred attempt to hold something, which then becomes fear.
RE: Yes, I see. It is quite certain, I find, that when you describe that, and the shutting out, I know that that is a prelude to failure. It's the thing that happens before you can't do it.
RE: So I am interested in the further state of what is the state then in which you are really - we have to use the word concentrate again because it is the language, but perhaps there is another word.
K: There is another word.
RE: Freely open and available for things to come in.
K: There is another word, attention.
RE: Attention, more useful, yes.
K: But that is much more complicated. Not one is available, but to attend.
RE: In attention do you allow yourself to be surprised by things that come in to you?
K: I would like to discuss that a little bit. When one is attending, which means giving all your energy, all your sensitivity, your nervous organism as well, not only hearing, eyes, everything is tremendously alive, in that state of attention there is no centre as the 'me' attending. Therefore there is no fear in that.
RE: Ah, yes.
K: I don't know if I am making myself clear.
RE: I understand absolutely, yes.
K: We have been trained from childhood to concentrate. Teachers say, "Concentrate, don't look out of the window". And so there is a contradiction there, I want to look out of the window, so fear begins. So effort.
RE: So why I started talking about playfulness was entirely in this area. I am interested in that very necessary and fearless attention you may say, which is not unserious but it isn't solemn.
K: Attention is attention.
RE: Is just where it is. You see I am interested in the word 'play' because it happens that professionally all my life, I was a child that never got tired of stories. That has been my burden and my pleasure so I naturally work in a theatre, and I tell stories to myself and others, or I write them. And then the word 'play', of course, happens to be the word given to these events and when I was in India making some films...
K: You saw that statue?
K: Of Suba playing.
RE: Absolutely. And Lila as play. And I wanted you to talk to me about that because it seems wonderful that the word play should actually be the word to describe the way things are.
K: Dancing, playing football, playing golf and so on - why have those things become important? You play them, you dance. But when we say it is a release, away from concentration. That's what we are doing - work all day in an office, nine to five, or whatever it is, and then go to a bar, drink, distracted, you know, cinema, this, that, the other, so there is tremendous contradiction in this.
RE: None of it is play.
K: None of it is play, it is a distraction. Distraction isn't play.
RE: I have an increasing feeling - I mean I don't give myself programmes for what I am on earth for, but I give myself a little programme just to think that that's my job, it seems to me, is to increase the amount of play. That's one way of putting it. Does that make sense? Increase the possibility in my life, or even in the things which could be drudgery, it is kind of to avoid drudgery, which does mean altering your job.
K: No. Of course not. But suppose if we drop the word distraction, play, for the moment, then what happens?
RE: How do you mean?
K: I have been working in a factory, and it is a terribly tiring, dirty, noisy, smelly job. I come home, or go to a bar, and there I relax, take a drink and so on. Go home in that state of relaxation and the wife begins to quarrel, say something, I get irritated and we clean that up. And in between sex and all that, but I keep that going. So sex becomes a distraction. You follow? The whole thing, the job forces me to distractions - the night club, you know.
RE: Yes, sure. I suppose I can look on areas of my life. I think of myself as very free footed because I move from job to job. In another sense I move from distraction to distraction, I actually move, I go to a situation for comfort - if you take on a new job it feels comfortable temporarily, and then eventually it becomes its own straight jacket and imprisons you, and you have to move from that prison. So I don't know quite - well I know there must be an alternative.
K: You see in all these there is an element of fear. I am not doing my job properly, I drank too much, or too much sex, and I am losing - you follow? So there is this cycle of fear set going.
RE: Now we can't crack that cycle by thinking we can crack that cycle, can we?
K: Do we do anything that we love?
RE: Not much.
RE: If anything.
K: If anything. One is forced by circumstances, specialized as a carpenter, or as a scientist, or a writer, you know, all that. So gradually the brain itself becomes very, very narrow, limited. And that limitation itself becomes a bore. Right? And then break that, go and play, beer, sex, night clubs, football.
RE: There is almost a process in each of these things that for the moment of change it is almost as if a whiff of oxygen is given to you, a whiff of extra energy at the moment of change, and then as soon as you get into the next phase, whatever it is, beer or sex, or whatever distraction it may be, it hardens up and oxygen is then drawn away.
K: So is there an energy which is not wasted at all? And therefore no fear.
RE: And can this energy ever be constantly available?
K: It is there.
RE: Is it there?
K: Of course. But I misuse it. I do something which I hate to do. I want to go on a lovely morning like this for a walk but my wife says, let's go to church.
RE: Yes, that's right. Yes. So what are we frightened of then?
K: That is what I wanted to ask. Are we talking of the ending of fear and therefore living - not, playing and not playing?
RE: Do you think we think we will die if we don't have the next diversion?
K: Of course, of course. There is this terrible fear of death.
RE: In many subtle forms.
K: Of course. Sir, I don't know if you want to go into all that.
RE: Please, I do, yes.
K: You see that involves a becoming, not only physical becoming, I am weak but I will get strong, I haven't run so much but I will, you follow, get physically well. And I make tremendous efforts towards that. They are all doing that now, that is the fashion. And has that spilled over into the psychological realm? I don't know if I am conveying it.
RE: Yes, I understand. You mean we are not talking about the fear of death, we are talking about trying to avoid the cycle of life in a way.
K: Yes. Therefore if I am afraid of life... So the whole way of living has become a movement in fear - fear of death, fear of losing a job, fear of my wife or husband, I am not becoming a successful man. You follow? This whole way of living has become step by step leading to the ultimate fear of death.
RE: Yes. Good. That's wonderful. All fear has these roots going back to the fear of death. If fear is to be absent at any moment it is some conquest of death.
K: No. If we understand living, the significance of living, not this perpetual battle, struggle, conflict, I must have, more, better, this constant measurement of myself with somebody else, he is famous so I must become famous, he is on the television, I am not! This terrible sense of poverty. And in the attempt to be rich there is the burden of fear. I may never get rich because there is somebody much richer.
RE: Sure. So in a sense I see these little prisons we inhabit, one by one, these little distractions, are the fact we know as we go into them that they are incomplete, there is something in us that knows that it won't work. So that is the cause of great misery. I mean at least if you go into a place where you think it may be nice you are not deceiving yourself until it becomes nasty. There is something in us that knows that it doesn't work.
K: We know it doesn't work but we go on with it.
RE: Isn't that strange.
K: Like war, we know it is appalling, most wasteful, destructive. I heard the other day, you know when they had the D-day celebrations, twenty thousand young men were killed at the first attack. Twenty thousand! And the politicians pass it over.
RE: The problem is, isn't it, that now if you, for instance, express that you won't watch D-day celebrations, or your pour scorn on the whole think of these memorials, you are considered to be disrespectful to those who died. But it's quite the opposite. I feel it is infuriating.
K: It sounds so monstrous.
RE: What you want to say is, because I loved those who died I don't want to have anything to do with the poppies. For some period of years, when I was making films that had a name religion over them I began to find obviously that religions have frequently been used as temporary havens from fear of death, obviously they have. But one can't just stop there because anything, a house can be a religion in that sense, or a job, or a distraction, so the world isn't quite so tidy, is it? If we could only say the religions are doing it we would feel free. But that isn't the case.
K: So what are we talking about?
RE: Well I am talking about fear of death, I feel. Because I feel it to be pervasive and I can't understand why moment by moment in my life there is some sort of censor or judge.
K: Would you say death is part of play?
RE: Absolutely, in the sense that good death is part of play.
K: What do you mean by 'good death'?
RE: Well I just mean the possibility if you climb a thing and may fall off it and don't care, then there is the possibility of the fall, of the other side of the action. That's what I mean by a 'good death' the other part of the action, is what I mean by good death.
K: Say for example, a very rich man who has got everything in life, writes books, and at the end of it he says, "I have had a jolly good life", and dies. Right? And there are those who are paralysed or maimed and all those terrible cases that are more and more increasing in the world, to them death may be an extraordinary event.
RE: What may be an extraordinary event?
K: The paralysed ones.
K: The invalids, the incurables. Are we talking about fear of death, or fear of life which makes us fearful of death?
RE: That's more like it.
K: So why are we afraid of life? What is the cause, what is the reason, the many reasons, that make one fearful of living?
RE: I wish I knew.
K: Let's discuss. One of it is from childhood I am forced to learn, memorize, and I am trained to meet problems. One's brain has been conditioned to solve mathematical problems from childhood, college, university - problems, problems, problems. So the brain is conditioned to problems, and then it meets problems and its resolution of the problem is making the problem more complicated, and in the solution of it increase ten different other problems. That is what the politicians are doing.
RE: I get something quite good. Our education seems as you describe it, to be a series of trial runs, solving problems. But the problem when it arises is not the problems that you have done the trial run on, never.
K: No, therefore what happens?
RE: You apply the rules you have learnt in the hope that they work.
K: They don't work.
RE: And they don't.
K: So that is one of the real problems of human beings, to approach a problem without having problems at all.
RE: Very good. In fact I suppose the way you are taught defines the problem for you. But the problem may be quite, quite different. So you can only solve the problems you have been taught to solve. You can only see as problems things that you have been taught to solve and may be much greater and more terrifying things are killing you.
K: And therefore you approach it with a brain that is trained to problems. Say, I mean, most religious people in the world believe in god. And to reach that godhead you must torture yourself, you must fast, you must undergo every kind of denial - no sex, don't look around you, don't feel anything, control your desires. You follow? And we are conditioned to that. So to reach god I go through all this. And you become a saint.
RE: Isn't it crazy when you come to think of it.
K: That's it.
RE: In Christian scriptures, for instance, there is enormous amount of stuff about people who were outsiders, about the prostitute and so on, but as the religion becomes hardened and is utilized it isn't so, is it?
K: It is crazy! So just let's look at it for a minute. We are afraid of living because then we say, what is the significance of living, the meaning of life. And not finding any we invent - the philosophers comes in, the specialists come in, and the psychologists come in, you follow - we invent. And that invention becomes our security. Then I hold to that. I fight for that, kill for that.
RE: It is like a poison, isn't it?
K: That's it. This is what is happening, sir.
RE: Do you know why I am here actually? One of the reasons - I will tell you a little story that happened. When I came here for the first time there was two hours to wait and I was put in a room and shown video tapes of you. And over two hours I conceived quite a strong dislike for you.
RE: A strong dislike. And then I went with my dislike to have lunch, and a voice behind me said, "You should try the grated carrot, it's very good", and that's was you and we got on fine after that. Now this is the curious thing you see, I was obviously manufacturing, I was education myself in you, I was trying to see what you were about. You see what I mean? I was getting all sorts of notions and the effect of them was deeply depressing. And yet carrots and your presence was fine, I had no problem with that. So I am extremely keen that anything we say to day should not be capable of giving any of that sort of feeling that we have anything of importance. You never know.
K: We are discussing, aren't we, why life has become so meaningless. The tree doesn't ask that question, the tiger doesn't ask that question. Right? It says, "I am living".
K: So sir, if there is no conflict in living I would never ask that question. I don't know if I am conveying anything.
RE: I didn't understand the last sentence.
K: If there is no conflict in one's life, no conflict whatever, you would never ask that question.
RE: The question of the meaninglessness of life.
K: The significance of life.
RE: Because implied in it is an idea of some perfection which you ought to be having.
RE: Which is another fiction. So we blunder from fiction to fiction.
K: Illusion to illusion, fancied, and so on.
RE: And I suppose the awful truth is that...
K: What makes human beings ask this question? Because in their own life it has no meaning - going to the office from nine o'clock to five o'clock, until you are sixty, responsibilities, house, mortgage, insurance and the conflict in relationships and so on and so on. And at sixty five, seventy, eighty, you pop off. And then you say, what is the meaning of this?
RE: What is it about?
K: Then there is death. And then you say, "I am going to die, I hope I will live next life" - you follow. That whole cycle begins. Hope, despair, depression, fear, I achieved so much this life. What does it mean, coming to the end of it all? I was told of a man who was enormously rich, enormously. His cupboards were filled with gold, paper money of every description, specially Swiss. And he was dying, he said, "As I can't take it with me, keep it all open, keep all the cupboards open so that I can look at them as I am dying". Just think of it.
RE: Wonderful. What a wonderful last thought. I just have a feeling, when you talk about it, death - we know it is the obscenity, we know it is the thing that you may not talk about, the last century it was sex, we can't talk about death this century. I have got a feeling the absence of really living with it, sitting with it, just makes our situation so impossible.
K: I am not sure, sir. After all death means total ending - all the memories, all the experiences, the knowledge, the attachments, the fears, the sorrows, the anxieties. It is like somebody cutting all the thread which you have gathered to pieces, ending. We ought to discuss what is ending. Do we ever end? Or in the ending there is another continuity?
RE: It seems unnecessary. I haven't ever had much sense of starting, or much sense of the time going on, and I have not much sense of my ending either. So I have every reason to believe what is around - am I making sense?
K: Oh, yes. What is ending? That is death. Right? I may believe I shall be born next life.
RE: Death is something observed by somebody else, surely.
K: Not only by somebody else. I want to believe it, it is comforting. I want to believe it. It gives me great comfort to say, at least I have another chance.
RE: I see what you mean.
K: I mean the whole Asiatic world believes in reincarnation. And some of that is accepted here now, books are written, people say, I believe in it, and all the rest of it.
RE: I mean the after life, which is well generally believed, I think, in this country, in this tradition.
K: In the Christian world they believe in a different form, resurrection and so on.
RE: This is a subtle way of keeping you quiet about what is going on now.
K: Yes. So there is death, ending, and there is living. The living has become so - we don't have to go into it, we know it very well. And there is that waiting - not waiting, it is there. We are all going to pop off, die. That's the question. Right? There is an time interval. The time interval may be a hundred years, or five years, of fifty years, it is a time interval. And during that time interval I am living. I am acting, living, suffering, despair, all the rest of it. I haven't solved this problem, this way of living, if there is a way of living in which there is no pain, there is no suffering. And there is also the other, which is the ending of all this. Now if there was no time interval, they go together.
K: Therefore which means ending everything everyday.
RE: Yes, yes.
K: Your attachment: this is my school, my... you follow. That makes the brain so small, limited.
RE: But our means of attachment are so extraordinary. I mean one can congratulate oneself on getting rid of attachment A while B - Z line up to take over.
K: Yes, sir.
RE: It is an extraordinary killing problem.
K: So is it possible to live that way?
RE: What do you think?
K: Oh yes, I think so. That is the only way to live otherwise you go through hell.
K: So that life is not - or rather life contains death, living is death. So everyday what you have collected, put it aside. If I am attached to this house, I know death says, "Old boy, you can't, it is the end of you", so I say, "All right, I will be free of attachment to this house." Be not attached.
RE: Unattached, yes.
K: You are completely free of it.
RE: And yet use it. This is the problem, non-attachment can frequently go into forms of resistance.
K: So I am living in this house, I am responsible for this house, I am responsible for what is happening here, but also I am going to die. So while I am living that day I am fully responsible.
RE: And you are not responsible for the day when you are not here.
RE: There must be something in us that thinks that life will hurt if we live it.
K: Life hurts?
RE: If we live it. We must have a feeling - you see while the mind will say, oh yes, I know that it is stupid to believe in whatever it is, relationships, or drink, or the job, or whatever it is, to be a little haven, while the mind is saying that it must also subtly, with a quiet voice be saying, the alternative is more terrifying.
K: Yes. You see that's why one has to enquire, is there a becoming and therefore the ending of becoming is fear.
RE: The ending of becoming is fear - yes.
K: And is there psychological becoming at all? But there is a becoming in the world. I mean one is apprenticed to a master carpenter and you gradually work with him until you become as good as he is.
K: That same attitude, or that same activity is spilled over, or extended into the other field, the psychological, the inner field, I must become something. If I don't I am lost, I am failure, I am depressed, look you have become something, I am nobody.
RE: That implies somehow that the later stage is preferable to the earlier, that the master is preferable to the apprentice. I have a sort of feeling that the people I admire as well as having their calendar age have also stuck at another age. The people I really like are about three years old.
RE: Yes, but also people who have got that curious sort of wide eyed thing. I am always a bit suspicious at the thought of building up to anything, or a growth to something. I have a feeling that it has already been neglected. Does that make sense, that it has already been here - reclaiming one's childhood, in some way. And any way that one tries to device to break out of one's little prisons, whatever it is, because it is an idea, because it is an idea has the fear written into itself as an idea.
K: Quite. So idea becomes fear.
RE: That's right. So the idea of liberation is fear. So we wait.
RE: What do we do then?
K: Whether it is possible to end fear.
RE: To end fear.
K: To end fear.
K: Not of a particular fear, but end fear, the whole tree of fear. And we are trying to trim the fears.
RE: What is the axe? How do you get at it?
K: I'll show you. We will go into it. What is time?
RE: What is time.
K: Not by the watch, the clock, sun rising, sun setting.
RE: I think I can only understand time from something that is past.
K: Sir, you have said it. So time is that which has happened yesterday.
RE: That gives me the idea of time.
K: Yes. That which has happened yesterday, or a thousand yesterdays, or forty five thousand years that man has supposed to have been on earth, that is the whole duration of forty five thousand years, which is in the present.
RE: Our thought is in the present and everything we know of it is in the present.
K: Yes, all that is in the present. And the future is the present.
RE: We assume there is going to be one and we make it into a projection.
K: The future, tomorrow.
RE: Yes, sure, you can't have it tomorrow, you have got to have now.
K: No, no. The past, as we say, is now, in the present.
RE: That is how we must take it, yes.
K: That's so, an actuality.
K: I remember meeting you last year, so there is that duration of time, the recognition, if I recognize it, and the future is the same as now because I will meet you again next year and say, "Hello, old boy". So the future is also now. So the present contains the past, the present and the future. So there is no future. I don't know if you see this.
RE: Yes, I do see what you mean.
K: The future is what you are now.
RE: It is amazing how we inhabit this future, this invented future with ill possibilities, and lord knows what. Yes.
K: So the future is now. And if there is no breaking down of the 'me' now I will be tomorrow exactly the same. So one questions, I question whether there is any psychological evolution at all. You understand?
RE: Yes, I do.
K: There isn't any.
RE: There doesn't seem to be able to be, except some fiction, again that somebody has invented in observing you.
K: So I see for me there is no 'more' or 'better'. The better is future. Better is measurement, what I should be. And so what I should be is an avoidance of what I am. So that creates a conflict. So if I see actually, not theoretically or sentimentally, the actual fact that the whole of time is now and therefore there is no becoming, no ideal to be reached.
RE: That is such a radical thought. The feeling about it that one has kind of heard it, it is not an unfamiliar thought but it is desperately unfamiliar, it challenging everything that one lives by. Tell me about this axe as well.
K: I am coming to that.
RE: Because I want to take it away!
K: Sir, what is change? If I change according to the future ideal, that ideal is projected by thought, in which is also implied time, thought is time. So if one really grasps the depth of this statement, or the feeling of time is all now, and so therefore there is no tomorrow, in the sense, I will be something tomorrow. So there is an ending to conflict.
K: Which is an enormous factor. We have accepted conflict as a way of life. There is no conflict at all. That is, I have to understand change, I am this but if I don't change I will be exactly tomorrow what I am now. So what is change? Is there psychological change at all? I don't know if you understand?
K: Or only 'what is', and the giving attention to 'what is' is the ending of 'what is'.
K: But one can't give total attention to 'what is' when you have got an ideal.
RE: That's right.
K: I was asked to speak at the United Nations. It is a contradiction in terms, United Nations, first of all. And they say we must gather together, become friends, and all that blah, and it does not take place. Because the principle is wrong - my country and your country, my god and your god. The Russians have their ideal and... So if one really realizes, feels the depth of this all time is now, the whole, it is like a light that changes.
RE: When you say, all time is now, is 'now' always joyous?
RE: Is 'now' always happy?
K: Don't use the word happy.
RE: All right. You see...
K: Why should it be happy?
RE: Quite. That's my point.
K: Why should it be anything?
RE: Anything. Indeed.
K: You know sir, there is something which we should go into, if we have time. What is to be nothing? Because we want to be something. The wanting is a sense of lacking. I haven't got a good house, I want a better house. I don't know all the knowledge in books, I must read. So there is this tremendous craving. And what is the craving for? I am not a philosopher.
RE: No, no, I know.
K: To me, what are we craving for? We want peace. We crave for peace, and we live violently.
RE: We always look for the sources of the violence outside ourselves.
K: That's it. And therefore we say, non-violence. While a human being is violent, living violently, fighting, quarrelling, in conflict, and he is working for peace.
RE: I'll tell you actually where my happy came in - I wasn't really talking about happy in the sense that I think would cause a problem. It was just that I remember there was a thing at a big exhibition at Olympia, Mind, Spirit and something or other. And there were many little booths with various religious persuasions, and they were all smiling. And they were selling this sort of smile, this 'blissed out' quality - you know. And I ached to have one booth where everybody in it had a splitting headache! I just wanted to go to them and be there. Not because it was either bad or good, but also one mustn't be kind of... there is very great difficulty. I mean anything you say can so easily be associated with extremely destructive thoughts too.
RE: I mean this is your burden.
K: So sir, the word change implies, I am this, I must be that. We are conditioned from childhood to that.
RE: To expect.
K: So heavily conditioned. I see a small car, I must have a bigger car. I see you on the television, and by god, why am I not there?!
RE: We should be there together, you see.
K: You know this tremendous craving, not just for publicity, but the inner craving for god, for illumination, for living a right life, that we must all be together. Why do we have such craving?
RE: I don't know. There is a great unlovedness about it, the feeling of actually that you are not loved, and that possibly the larger car will put its arms round you in a way that the smaller car doesn't, will make up for it. It is a displaced feeling, of lack of affection, I would have thought.
K: Partly. Is it in oneself the sense of insufficiency? I am not loved.
RE: That feels to me very real.
K: I am not loved. I am not loved by that woman or by that man. And I must be loved by that man, or by that woman. But that leads to another very complex question: what is love?
RE: I would tend to say, possessiveness.
K: Of course it is. Attachment, possessiveness, jealousy, sexual pleasure, desire for more.
RE: It is also self love.
K: We call all that area love. Some person said to me, how can there be love without jealousy?! Which means without hate - you follow.
RE: Yes, true. Well in a sense of possession there can't.
K: And therefore one asks: what is the relationship between love and death?
RE: Love in the sense we are talking about?
K: Possession, all that, the whole idea, in that one word so many things are contained.
RE: But if you say, perfect love casteth out fear, it is not perfect, is it?
K: No, I don't know.
RE: Exactly, I know, I know, it's a killer!
K: If you ask that question, sir, what is love, and what is that state of love with death? - the love in the ordinary sense of that word. Is there any relationship at all? And if it has a relationship how does that show itself? How does that manifest itself?
RE: I can see love in the sense we are talking about it as a series of faulty insurance schemes against death, where the insurance house is really bound to collapse. But you still take out the insurance.
K: First of all we never ask that question.
RE: The connection between death and love, no. As we are plunging into love we certainly don't.
K: Now if you ask that question, I put to you that question, if I may, what is your response to it?
RE: The connection?
K: Yes, what is the connection, what is relationship? Is there any relationship? If there is, what is its nature?
RE: Well it feels like an attempt to ward it off, to have it not happen. Possession in the terms we are talking about, it is an attempt to have a permanence where there can be no permanence. Therefore it is an attempt to contradict the fact that things die.
K: That's it. Death is impermanent.
RE: Death is impermanent. Death is a permanent word to describe an impermanent happening.
K: Death is impermanent. And possessiveness, hoping for permanence.
RE: Absolutely. An attempt to make it go on for ever.
K: To go on for ever, yes.
RE: It is curious how love poetry, at least cheap love poetry, has always got a doing everything for ever. Good love poetry is usually about things collapsing.
K: What is the relationship? What is the relationship between darkness and light?
RE: You can't have one without the other.
K: No. To ask that... but I am asking the relationship between the two.
RE: Could you tell me?
K: That is, darkness, we know when there is no moonlight, no stars, nothing, dark in a forest. I have been like that. Dark, absolute impenetrable darkness. And the sun comes up and everything is light. What is the relationship between that and that?
RE: You tell me.
K: I don't think there is any.
K: Light is light. Let me put it the other way. What is the relationship between good and bad? Is there a relationship at all?
RE: Before we do good and bad if I could do dark and light. If I am asked to describe something, if I am asked to describe it then I do need the presence of one before I can do the other. For instance if I am describing this forest in which I can't see a tree, that's darkness, then of course when the light comes up the trees become visible.
K: So you are judging light and darkness according to your perception.
RE: Yes. That's right.
K: That's obvious.
RE: Yes, that's right. But it is only when I have to come to describe it that the relationship exists because of that.
K: But move a little further, deeper. What is the relationship between that which is good, and that which is so-called evil, or bad? Is the good born out of the bad? Because I know what is bad, or experience that which is painful, bad and all the rest of it, and so I am moving, or trying to get away from the bad to the good.
RE: I would use good or bad to describe very temporary things.
K: No, is good temporary? That which is good, that which is beautiful, it is not temporary.
RE: Why not?
K: I'll show it. Let's look at it for a minute. If the good, or any other word you like to use, is the outcome of the bad, has its roots in the bad, then it is not good, it is part of the bad. So every opposite has its roots in its own opposite.
RE: Good. I get that.
K: So is there a good which is not born out of the bad?
RE: Not something that I could give that word to. I couldn't give that word to it because we have already used it.
K: Give another word, it doesn't matter. It is a good old fashioned word, the good, the beautiful, the true. Now I question altogether whether there is an opposite at all.
RE: To good?
K: To opposite.
RE: To any opposite?
K: Any opposite. Of course there is man, woman, tall, short. I am not talking about that.
RE: These are conveniences.
K: Yes. Apart from the conveniences, is there something so absolute and not related to the relevant?
RE: I would be always conditional myself about handling it. I couldn't do it in any way. I would be very frightened of people who do because they become murderers.
K: No, no, on the contrary.
RE: What do you mean?
K: I mean the freedom of goodness, not the misuse of freedom. The misuse of freedom is what is happening in the world. But freedom is good, it has the goodness quality in it. I don't like to use the word moral, virtue, that has no meaning, but that sense of depth in it.
RE: We are somehow alongside fear again, and absence of fear.
K: That's what - of course. That's why we said, is it possible to be free of fear totally? Not what might happen, of which I might be afraid, or that which has happened of which I am afraid, but these two elements, the past and the future, is now. Right? So can the now, which is fear, be completely wiped away?
RE: Always the presence of now, as you would handle it, is dependent on having these fictions of past and future with one.
K: That's right.
RE: So even to talk about now is risky.
K: But one has to use that word present, now. You are sitting there, I am sitting here, that's now.
RE: But you have got to get the scalpel further.
K: Of course, of course. I mean you have to have a little bit of subtlety in this.
RE: Yes, that's right. But the fear remains until the knife has gone much further.
K: That's it.
RE: Than now.
K: Of course. So what is fear? Not theoretically, actually in one's heart, in one's brain, what is fear, how does it come? What is the source of it, the root of it, the beginning of it?
RE: Roughly, off the top of my head, it is a feeling of not being in the right place, of not feeling where you should be. An 'ought' is involved in fear, the ought to be.
K: We have said that. The ought to be, I ought to be.
RE: Yes, we are talking about another fear.
K: Fear. All this is fear. What is the root of it? We said fear is like a vast tree. There is a marvellous tree here, an oak, it covers the ground, an acre. Now our fear is like that. But the root of that oak is there, in the centre, the branches are enormous.
RE: What is the root? How would you describe the root? Or are you asking me to describe it?
K: Not describe. The fact of it is time and thought.
RE: We can play with thought.
K: No, time and thought are the root of fear. We are trying to understand whether it is possible to be free of fear, totally, completely, psychologically we are talking about. And the root of that, the beginning from which the oak tree grows, becomes enormous, the root of it is time and thought - time being, I will be, if I am not I am frightened. Thought says, "I have been, and my god, I hope I will be".
RE: Is there a sort of fear that is not connected with thought? Or is all fear connected with thought?
K: It is all connected with thought.
RE: All connected with thought.
K: Of course.
RE: If suddenly something happens to you which terrifies the organism...
K: At that second there is no fear. Then thought comes in.
RE: The intervention of thought, however rapidly, beyond the speed of light, and then the reactive fear. Yes. Yes.
K: Then the question arises: can thought in certain areas be active, writing a letter and so on, talking, active, fully active, and in other areas not at all, which is in the psychological world, not at all?
RE: Discursive thought I have never understood at all. I have never had any feeling for actually even putting sentences together. I have always felt that things that have ever made sense to me have always come like that, sudden flashes of things.
K: Our thought is linear.
RE: Well we are trained in a linear way, but I have never felt comfortable.
K: We are trained, like the Chinese, it is still linear.
RE: Yes. It is still linear. That's the schooling, isn't it, that's where you pass or fail your exams.
K: Thinking is a series of connections, associations, always.
RE: So you are running a school based on thought to stop thinking.
K: No. Thought is necessary in certain areas, absolutely. That requires a great deal of attention, a great deal of knowledge, a great deal of capacity, skill, and ingenuity, invention. And is it that same activity has spilled over, extended into the other area?
RE: Very good, that's excellent. To know where it is useful, to have it as a useful tool.
K: Of course. If I understand, really see the depth of it, the seriousness of it, then I would question why is it that thought is always moving, active, in the psychological world. In the psychological world is the 'me' - my consciousness, my failure, my success, my reputation, my 'I must be', 'I must not be', my faith, my belief, my dogma, my religious attitude, politics, fear, pain, pleasure, suffering, all that is me. All that is memory. So all that is memory, me is memory.
RE: And the 'me', if you are brought up like a lot of us in this country...
K: All over the world.
RE: All over the world may be, in a sort of Bunyan tradition of you hold your own, you are responsible for yourself, I mean there is an element again in which that makes sense. There is also an element again in which it is quite, quite destructive. I remember hearing, somebody told me a story, I think in Japan, they said it was a possible way of life, a man running away from his own shadow, who then realized that all he had to do was to hop under a tree and the shadow disappeared. And I remember feeling immediately very methodistical about that, you may not get away from your shadow. But obviously you may and must.
K: So thought and time are the root of fear, why does thought come into this area, the realm of the psyche?
RE: I wonder. It appears to stop danger. When you have a thought it is like asbestos to hold something hot, you have the illusion that with the thought you can control something which in an uncontrolled state might be overwhelming.
K: That is, there is the thinker who holds something hot and the thought that says, don't hold it.
RE: Yes. Beware.
K: So there are two separate entities. The thinker and the object of which you think. Now what is the thinker?
RE: A thought.
K: Right. Thought says, I am the thinker separate from...
K: But to realize the observer, the thinker, the experiencer, is the experience, is the object, are one, they are not separate, sir that means a tremendous revolution, inwardly, psychologically. Which means when there is no division, there is no conflict, there is only that fact. And when you give attention to the fact the fact is burnt away. But thought is kept to plant a tree, bring that flower into being.
RE: That makes sense, yes.
K: So if you give attention to that then that will never create problems.
RE: Yes, I understand. You see everything we are saying is bringing something to a T junction. Because we can't conceive, it is uncomfortable for us to think that you have to shed various ways of handling this.
K: The other day somebody said, you have to burn your icons.
RE: Burn you icons, indeed. Yes. And that's uncomfortable, and there is no way past it.
K: So when you burn your icons, death is - you understand?
K: And also sir, I don't know if you have gone into this, not theoretically but actually, what is creation then? Not invention, I am not talking about invention. Invention is born out of knowledge, the scientist can invent more atom bombs, or something new, but it is always born out of knowledge.
RE: What is creation in what sense?
K: Creation which is not born out of knowledge. Because knowledge is limited.
RE: Limited, yes indeed.
K: Now or in the future.
RE: And it is pre-limited.
K: It is limited. If creation is born of knowledge it is not creation, it is invention, it is all kinds of things.
RE: Certainly even in whatever I have done, in my humdrum way, there have been odd moments, writing something where certainly it was not any form of pre-knowledge which created it. My boundaries seemed to be almost illusory, and that I was not as confined for some reason, and then something else was fed in, and then you write something or you do something which has a muscle which is not yours.
K: No, let's be clear. Must creation always be expressed? You understand?
K: Must it always be expressed? Put into writing, in a sculpture, in painting - you follow?
RE: Yes. I don't see why it should at all have to be expressed.
K: So if both of us see the fact that creation cannot be born out of knowledge...
RE: Yes, for sure.
K: Born out of knowledge is vast invention, of various kinds, at various levels and so on, and so on. But is there a state of mind, brain, or mind, where knowledge is not?
RE: Where creation is?
K: Where creation is. You understand what we are saying? It is dangerous!
RE: Well I think there must be - I am sure there is. Well why should one have to write it, that seems awfully...
K: I mean, I don't know, first of all, am I, who have been writing, talking, or inventing, and call my invention creation, I paint a picture and say it is a marvellous creation. Leonardo paints something and I say, "What a marvellous creation that is". We have used that word both as an invention and also...
RE: We do, it is an end stop, a product.
K: A product.
RE: We use it as a product. Thus when you get sketches by say a master, because we may as well use their example, a sketch, an incomplete thing, part of a process, somehow makes you tingle in a way that may be the finished thing doesn't.
K: Of course, of course.
RE: The patron, the man who has paid for the picture, somehow comes into it, frequently at the stage when it has to be completed. Whereas the energy, whatever was going on in the making of it, didn't have to push it to that conclusion, and it is present in an early stage.
K: You see this has been one of the questions that have been asked by the most ancient people, that is, is there a state of mind, brain, mind, where knowledge ends? Though it is useful in other directions, don't let's confuse. Complete ending of it, then only there is something new. And that thing is creation. That is creation. You understand?
RE: The end of knowledge is creation itself, yes.
K: That requires not a discipline of conformity but tremendous alertness involved in it, a sense of deep watchfulness that the other doesn't slip in.
RE: You have to shed everything then. You wouldn't be who you are. It is a scary thought.
K: We had better stop because it is a quarter to one.
RE: Yes, we have done well. Thank you very much indeed.
Brockwood Park 1984
In Conversation with Ronald Eyre Brockwood Park 24th June 1984
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