Last talks at Saanen 1985
Last Talks at Saanen 1985 4th Public Talk Wednesday, 17th July, 1985
You heard all the announcements. May I also announce that I am going to talk? And also that you are going to share in the talk. It is not a solo, but together, and the speaker means together, not that he is leading you or helping you or trying to persuade you, but rather together, and that word is important - together we take a very, very long journey. It is rather a difficult path - l won't use that word, that is a dangerous word - a lane, a way that will be rather complex because we are going to talk about self-interest, austerity, conduct and whether it is possible in our daily life to end all sorrow. This is a very important question: why humanity after so many thousands and thousands of years has never been free from sorrow, not only each one's sorrow, the pain, the anxiety, the loneliness involved in that sorrow, but also the sorrow of mankind. We are going to talk about that. And also, if we have time, we are going to talk about pleasure, and also death.
It is such a lovely morning, beautiful, clear blue sky, the quiet hills and the deep shadows, and the running waters, the meadow, the grove and the green grass, so should we talk over together what beauty is on such a lovely morning because that is also a very important question? Not the beauty of nature or the extraordinary vitality, dynamic energy of a tiger. You have probably only seen tigers in a zoo where the poor things are kept for your amusement. In some parts of the world where the speaker has been, he was close to a wild tiger, as close as two feet.
We should go into this question because without beauty and love there is no truth. We ought to examine very closely the word beauty. What is beauty? You are asking that question and so is the speaker; we are both looking together, not only at the word, but at the implications of that word, at the immensity, the incalculable depth of beauty. We can talk about it, but the talk, the words, the explanations and the descriptions are not beauty. The word beauty is not beauty. Beauty is something totally different. So one must be, if one may point out, very alert to words because our brain works, is active, in a movement of words. Words convey what one feels, what one thinks, and the brain accepts explanations and descriptions because most of our brain structure is verbal. So one must go into it very, very carefully, not only with regard to beauty but also with regard to austerity and self-interest. We shall go into all these questions this morning, if we will.
So we are asking ourselves: What is beauty? Is beauty in a person, in a face? Is beauty in museums, in painting - classical paintings, modern paintings? Is beauty in music - Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and all the noise that is going on in the world called music? Is beauty in a poem? In literature? Dancing? Is all that beauty? Or is beauty something entirely different? We are going into it together. Please, if one may respectfully point out, don't accept the words, don't merely be satisfied with the description and explanations, but let us, if we can, put from our brain all agreeing and disagreeing and look at it very carefully, stay with it, penetrate into the word.
As we said, without that quality of beauty, which is sensitivity, there is no truth. That quality implies not only the beauty of nature - the deserts, the forests, the rivers and the vast mountains with their immense dignity, majesty, but also the feeling of it, not romantic imaginings and sentimental states - those are merely sensations. is beauty, then, we are asking, a sensation? Because we live by sensations - sexual sensation, with which goes pleasure, and also the pain involved in the feeling that it is not being fulfilled, and so on. So could we this morning put out of our brain all those words and go into this enormous, very complicated, subtle question: what is the nature of beauty? We are not writing a poem.
When you look at those mountains, those immense rocks jutting into the sky - if you look at them quietly you feel the immensity of it, the enormous majesty of it, and for the moment, for the second, the tremendous dignity of it, the solidity of it, puts away all your thoughts, your problems - right? And you say, `How marvellous that is.' So what has taken place there? The majesty of those mountains, the very immensity of the sky and the blue and the snowclad mountains, drives away for a second all your problems. It makes you totally forget yourself for a second. You are enthralled by it, you are struck by it, like a child, who has been naughty all day long, or naughty for a while, which he has a right to be, and is given a complicated toy. He is absorbed by the toy until he breaks it. The toy has taken him over and he is quiet, he is enjoying it. He has forgotten his family, the `Do this, don't do that: the toy becomes the most exciting thing for him.
In the same way, the mountains, the river, the meadows and the groves absorb you, you forget yourself. Is that beauty? To be absorbed by the mountains, by the river, or the green fields, means that you are like a child absorbed by a toy, and for the moment you are quiet, taken over, surrendering yourself to something. Is that beauty? Being taken over? You understand? Surrendering yourself to something great and that thing forcing you for a second to forget yourself? Then you depend, depend as the child does on a toy, or on the cinema or television, when for the moment you have identified yourself with the actor or actress. Would you consider that state - being taken over, surrendering, being absorbed - would you consider that that quiet second is beauty? When you go to a church or a temple or a mosque, the chanting, the rituals, the intonation of the voice, are carefully organized to create a certain sensation, which you call worship, which you call a sense of religiosity. Is that beauty? Or is beauty something entirely different? Are we understanding this question together?
Is there beauty where there is self-conscious endeavour? Or is there beauty only when the self is not - when the me, the observer, is not? So is it possible without being absorbed, taken over, surrendering, to be in that state without the self, without the ego, without the me always thinking about itself. Is that at all possible, living in this modern world with all its specializations, its vulgarity, its immense noise - not the noise of running waters, of the song of a bird? is it possible to live in this world without the self, the me, the ego, the persona, the assertion of the individual? in that state, when there is really freedom from all this, only then is there beauty. You may say, `That is too difficult, that is not possible.'
But I am asking: is it possible to live in this world without self-interest? What does self-interest mean? What are the implications of that word? How far can we be without self-interest and live here, in the bustle, the noise, the vulgarity, the competition, the personal ambitions, and so on and so on? We are going together to find out.
Self-interest hides in many ways, hides under every stone and every act - hides in prayer, in worship, in having a successful profession, great knowledge, a special reputation, like the speaker. When there is a guru who says, `I know all about it. I will tell you all about it' - is there not self-interest there? This seed of self-interest has been with us for a million years. Our brain is conditioned to self-interest. If one is aware of that, just aware of it, not saying, `I am not self-interested or how can one live without self-interest?' but just be aware, then how far can one go, how far can one investigate into oneself to find out for ourselves, each one of us, how in action, in daily activity, in our behaviour, how deeply one can live without a sense of self-interest?
So, if we will, we will examine all that. Self-interest divides, self-interest is the greatest corruption (the word corruption means to break things apart) and where there is self-interest there is fragmentation - your interest as opposed to my interest, my desire opposed to your desire, my urgency to climb the ladder of success opposed to yours. just observe this; you can't do anything about it - you understand? - but just observe it, stay with it and see what is taking place. If you have ever dismantled a car, as the speaker has done, you know all the parts, you learn all about it, you know how it works. (I am talking of the 1925 cars; at that period they were very simple, very direct, very honest, strong, beautiful cars.) And when you know about it mechanically, you can feel at ease; you know how fast to go, how slow, etc. So if we are aware of our own self-interest, we begin to learn about it - right? You don't say, `I must be against it, or for it, or how can I live without it or who are you to tell me about myself?
When you begin to be aware choicelessly of your self-interest, to stay with it, to study it, to learn about it, to observe all the intricacies of it, then you can find out for yourself where it is necessary and where it is completely unnecessary. It is necessary for daily living - to have food, clothes and shelter and all the physical things - but psychologically, inwardly, is it necessary to have any kind of self-interest? For that let us investigate relationship. In our relationship with each other there is mutual self-interest. You satisfy me and I satisfy you; you use me and I use you. Where there is self-interest there must be fragmentation, breaking up - right? I am different from you - self-interest.
What is relationship? Relationship to the earth, to all the beauty of the world, to nature and to other human beings and to one's wife, husband, girl friend, boy friend and so on: what is that bondage, what is that thing about which we say, `I am related'? Please investigate this together. Don't, please, rely on the description the speaker is indulging in. Let's look at it closely.
What is relationship? When there is no relationship we feel so lonely, depressed, anxious - you know, the whole series of movements hidden in the structure of self-interest. What is relationship? When you say, `My wife', `My husband', what does it mean? When you are related to God, if there is a God, what does it mean? That word relationship is very important to understand. I am related to my wife, to my children, to my family. Let's begin there. That is the core of all society, the family. In the Asiatic world especially, family means a great deal; it is tremendously important to them - the son, the nephew, the grandmother, grandfather. It is the centre on which all society is based. So when one says, `My wife', `my girl', `my friend', what does that mean? Most of you are probably married, or have a girl friend or a boy friend. What does it mean to be related to them? What are you related to?
Let's move away for a moment from the wife and husband. When you follow somebody, a guru, a prophet, a politician, the speaker, or some other person, what is it you are following, what is it that you are surrendering, giving up? Is it the image that you have created about the speaker or the guru, or the image you have in your brain that it is the right thing to do and therefore you will follow him? Is it the image, the picture, the symbol, that you have built and that you are following, not the person, not what he is saying? The speaker has been talking for the last seventy years. I am sorry for him! And unfortunately he has established some reputation, with the books and all that business, so you have naturally created an image about him and you are following that; not what the teaching says. The teaching says, `Don't follow anybody.' But you have built the image, and you are following that which you desire, which satisfies you, which is of tremendous self-interest - right?
Now let's come back to the wife and husband. When you say, `My wife', what do you mean by that word, what is the content of that word, what is behind the word? Look at it. Is it all the memories, the sensations, pleasure, pain, anxiety, jealousy - is all that embodied in the word wife or husband? The husband is ambitious, wants to achieve a better position, more money, and the wife not only remains at home but has her own ambitions, her own desires. So there they are. They may get into bed together, but the two are separate all the time. Let's be simple with these facts, and honest. There is always conflict. One may not be aware of it and say, `Oh, no, we have no conflict between us', but scrape that a little bit with a heavy shovel, or with a scalpel, and you will find that the root of all this is self-interest. And there may be self-interest in the professionals. Of course there is - doctors, scientists, philosophers, priests, the whole thing is desire for fulfilment. We are not exaggerating, we are simply stating `what is', not trying to cover it up, not trying to get beyond it: there it is. That is the seed in which we are born, and that seed goes on flowering, growing till we die. And when we try to control self-interest, that very control is another form of self-interest. How cleverly self-interest operates. And it also hides behind austerity.
So now we have to examine what we mean by austerity. What is austerity? The whole world, especially the religious world, has used that word, has laid down certain laws about it, specially for the monks in various monasteries. (In India there are no monasteries except for Buddhists. There are no organized monasteries, fortunately.) So what do we mean by that word austere with which goes great dignity? We looked up that word in the dictionary. It comes from Greek, to have a dry mouth, that is, dry, harsh, not just the mouth. Harsh. is that austere? Harsh: to deny oneself the luxury of a hot bath, to have few clothes, or to wear a particular form of robe, or take a vow to be celibate, to be poor or to fast or sit up straight endlessly, to control all one's desires. Surely all that is not austerity. It is all outward show.
So is there an austerity that is not a sensation, that is not contrived, that is not cajoled, that does not say, `I will be austere in order to...'? Is there an austerity that is not visible at all to another? You are understanding all this? is there an austerity that has no discipline - that has a sense of a wholeness inwardly in which there is no craving, no breaking up, no fragmentation? With that austerity goes dignity, quietness.
One has also to understand the nature of desire. That may be the root of the whole structure of self-interest. Desire. Are we together in this? Desire is a great sensation - right? Desire is the senses coming into activity. As we said earlier, sensation is of great importance to us - sensation of sex, sensation of new experience, sensation of meeting somebody who is well known. (I must tell you this lovely story. A friend of ours met the Queen of England and shook hands with her. After it was over a person came up to her and said, `May I shake hands with you because you have shaken hands with the Queen?'!)
We live always by sensation - sensation of being secure - please watch it - sensation of having fulfilled, sensation of great pleasure, gratification and so on. What relationship has sensation to desire? Is desire something separate from sensation? Go into this, please. It is important to understand this thing. I am not explaining it. We are looking at it together. What is the relationship of desire to sensation? When does sensation become desire? Or are they inseparable? You follow? Do they always go together - right? Are you working as hard as the speaker is working? Or are you just saying, `Yes, go on with it'? Or have you heard this before and say, `Oh God, he has gone back to that again'?
You know that the more you understand the activity of thought, the deeper you get to the root of thought; then you begin to understand so many things. Then you see the whole phenomenon of the world, nature, the truth of nature; then you ask, `What is truth?' I won't go into all that for the moment.
Our life is based on sensation and desire, and we are asking: what is the actual relationship between the two? When does sensation become desire? You are following this? At what second does desire become dominant? I see a beautiful camera, with all the latest improvements. I lift it and look at it, and there is sensation of observation - seeing the beautifully made, very complex camera of great value as a pleasure of possession, a pleasure of taking photos. Then what is that sensation to do with desire? When does that desire begin to flower into action, and say, `I must have it'?
Have you observed the movement of sensation, whether it is sexual, whether it is walking in the valleys or climbing the hills, overlooking all the world from a great height, or seeing a lovely garden when you have only a little lawn around your place? You see this; then what takes place that turns the sensation into desire? You are following all this? Please don't go to sleep. It is too lovely a morning. Stay with this question: what is the relationship of sensation to desire? Stay with it, do not try and find an answer, but look at it, observe it, see the implications of it; then you will discover that sensation, which is natural, is transformed into desire when thought creates the image out of that sensation. That is, there is a sensation of seeing that very expensive, beautiful camera; then thought comes along and says, `I wish I had that camera.' So thought creates the image out of that sensation and at that moment desire is born. Look at it yourself, go into it. You don't need any book, any philosopher, anybody - just look at it, patiently, tentatively, then you will come upon it very quickly. That is, sensation is a slave to thought, and thought creates an image, and at that moment desire is born. And we live by desire: `I must have this.' `I don't want it.' `I must become...' You follow? This whole movement of desire.
Now what relationship has desire to self-interest? We are pursuing the same thread. As long as there is desire, which is creating the image out of sensation by thought, there must be self-interest. Whether I want to reach heaven, or become a bank manager, or a rich person, it is the same. Whether you want to achieve heaven or become rich it is exactly the same. If one person desires to be a saint and another to have some great skill it is exactly the same thing. One is called religious, the other is called worldly. How words cripple us.
So we must come to the question: what is sorrow? Is it that sorrow exists as long as there is self-interest? Please go into it. If you understand all this you don't have to read a single book. If you really live with this thing, the gates of heaven are open - not heaven, you understand, that is just a form of speech. So I am asking a very serious question which has haunted man from the beginning of his existence: what is sorrow, the tears, the laughter, the pain, the anxiety, the loneliness, the despair? And can it ever end? Or is man doomed for ever to live with sorrow? Everyone on the earth, everyone, whether they are highly placed or nobody at all, everyone goes through this turmoil of sorrow, the shock of it, the pain of it, the uncertainty of it, the utter loneliness of it. The sorrow of a poor man who doesn't know how to read or write, has but one meal a day and sleeps on the pavement is like you; he has his own sorrow. There is the sorrow of millions of people who have been slaughtered by the powerful, by the bigoted, tortured by religions - the infidel and the believer - you understand all this? Christianity especially has murdered more people than anything else - sorry!
So there is sorrow. What does that word mean? Is it a mere remembrance of something you have lost? You had a brother, son or wife, who died, and you have the picture, the photo of them on the piano, or mantelpiece, or next to your bed, and you have the memories of all those days when they were alive. Is that sorrow? Is sorrow engendered, cultivated by memory? You understand my question? When someone is cut down by death, by accident, old age, or whatever it is, and the memory continues, is that sorrow? Is sorrow related to memory? Come on, sirs.
I had a son, or a brother, or a mother I liked - I will use the word like for the moment. I call that `like' love. I liked those people very much. I lived with them. I have chatted with them. We played together. All that memory is stored. And my son, my brother, my mother, or somebody, dies, is taken away, gone forever, and I feel a shock, I feel terribly lonely and shed tears. And I run off to church, temple, pick up a book, do this or that, to escape; or say, `I will pray and get over it. Jesus will save me.' You know all that business. Sorry, I am not belittling the word. Use the other words - Buddha or Krishna - it is the same thing with a different name, or the same symbol, the same content of the symbol. Symbols vary but they have the same content.
So is sorrow merely the ending of the actuality of certain memories? The actuality that created, that brought together those memories has ended and therefore I feel I am lost. I have lost my son. Is that sorrow or is it self-pity (we are not being harsh), concerned more with my own memories, pain, anxiety, than with the ending of somebody? Is that sorrow self-interest? Please go into it. I cultivate that memory; I am loyal to my son; I am loyal to my former wife, though I marry a new wife. I am very loyal to the remembrance of those things that have happened in the past. Is that sorrow? Then there is the sorrow of failure - you know the whole momentum of self-interest identifying itself with that word and shedding tears. And these tears have been shed by man and woman for a million years. And we are still crying. Those at war are crying, shot to pieces because of an idea that they must dominate, they must be different. The idea. Thought is destroying each one of us. And think of all the people who have cried before you.
So is there an end to sorrow? The word sorrow also implies passion. As long as there is self-interest identifying itself with those memories which are still there but of which the actuality has gone, that self-interest is part and parcel of the movement of sorrow. Can all that end? Where there is sorrow there cannot be love. So what is love? You know, we have entered into very, very serious subjects. It is not just something you play with for a Sunday or Wednesday morning. All this is something deeply serious. It is not galloping down the road. It is walking in the pathway slowly, watching things - watching, watching, watching, staying with things that disturb you, staying with things that please you, staying with things that are abstract - all the imaginings, all the things that the brain has put together, including God. It is the activity of thought. God didn't create us. We created God in our own image, which is - I won't go into this, it is so clear and simple.
To talk about love also implies death. Love, death and creation. You understand? You can spend an hour on this because it is very, very serious. We are asking: what is creation? Not invention. Please differentiate between creation and invention. Invention is a new set of ideas, technological, psychological, scientific and so on. We are not talking about ideas. We are talking about very serious things: love, death and creation. This cannot be answered in five minutes. Forgive me. We will deal with it next Sunday. Not that I am inviting you. We will go into it, and also into what is religion, what is meditation and if there is something that is beyond all words, measure and thought - something not put together by thought, something that is inexpressible, infinite, timeless. We will go into all that. But one cannot come to it if there is fear, or lack of right relationships, you follow? Unless your brain is free from all that you cannot understand the other.
Last talks at Saanen 1985
Last Talks at Saanen 1985 4th Public Talk Wednesday, 17th July, 1985
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