Alternative versions of the last talks at Saanen 1985
Saanen 2nd Public Question & Answer Meeting 24th July 1985
Shall we go on with our questions? Let's forget for the moment the questions. We will come back to it.
What is happening to all of us, living in this world, which is quite terrible? If you have travelled at all you will see the danger of travelling - airport explosions, terrorists, and all the rest of it. When you look at it all, how do you face the world? We may be old, but the coming generation, grandchildren, children and so on, what is going to happen to them? Do you consider that at all? What is the future of the coming generation, of which you are part? How do we educate them, what is the purpose of education? We are all presumably educated, you have been to school, college, university, if you are lucky, or we have been educating ourselves by looking at all these events that are taking place in the world and learning from that. But that learning is very limited, very small, narrow. And if one had children and grandchildren, or great, great grandchildren how do we treat them, what is our response? Aren't we concerned about them at all? I believe there are about 500,000 children who run away from home in America, end up in New York and prostitution and all that - do you understand what it all means? In a country like this, part of the rest of the world, there is no poverty, there are no slums, they are really literally no people starving. There are slums in America, in England, perhaps in Paris too, closer, and all those people in India and Asia, it is quite appalling, degrading. And when we look at ourselves and our future generation to come, what is going to happen to them? That same pattern being repeated? The same callousness? The irresponsibility of being trained in an army to kill thousands and thousands, and be killed? What is our responsibility? Or you don't want to think about all that at all? Or you are only concerned with our own pleasure, with our own problems, with our own self-centred egotistic activity?
This is really a very serious question, frightening, agonizing. Either one becomes bitter, angry, or throws up one's hand. And when you look at all this, what is our responsibility? The agony of all that. Do you understand? What do we do? [Noise of aeroplane] Do you have proper schools. What place has knowledge in all this? Whether it be theoretical, physical knowledge, theoretical physicists and so on, what relationship have we to all this? The tortures. Every country has indulged in tortures of other human beings. My mother may be tortured - do you understand? My son, myself - not myself - may be tortured for some information, for some nationalistic, communistic [noise of train] or some democratic reasons. What is going on in Northern Ireland, Beirut and so on, Afghanistan. Do we shed tears? Or not being able to do anything become cynical, bitter and throw up our hands at all this?
So we have to consider all these things, not merely our own progress, our own happiness, our own self-centred activities.
May we go on with the questions. Maybe that will be more pleasant, less challenging, less demanding on our energies and capacities of the brain. The brain has extraordinary capacity, if you have watched all the progress of the technological world, the amount of energy, in the field of medicine - whether it is right or wrong, that is not our concern - in the field of technology, computers, surgery, eye operation, tremendous advances, incalculable advances. And it is going on and on. In other directions the brain is very limited, and that limitation is being used by the technological world. We are being exploited ruthlessly. There is a whole African tribe that are being deliberately killed through starvation, whole people moved from their country to another part of another country, far away from their own native land. The Communists have done it and they are still doing it, their concentration camps. Not only the concentration camps of tyrannies but also the concentration camps of the gurus - right? You don't mind my saying that? And the concentration camps of all the monks in the world. This is really a tremendous problem.
1st QUESTION: When one understands something must one act on this understanding, or does the understanding act of itself?
When one understands something must one act on that understanding, or does the understanding itself act? Right? Question clear?
Now what do we mean by - I haven't seen this question, all these questions, I like to come to it spontaneously, naturally - what do we mean by understanding? We use that word so easily. So we must investigate, explore the meaning of that word. We are discussing, exploring together, the speaker is not answering the question. Together we are looking into the question. We are together investigating, digging into the meaning of words first, according to the dictionary, which is a common usage of the language. What do we mean by understanding, to understand something? To understand oneself, to understand how the computer, which is so marvellous, how to work it, understand the whole surgical process - you understand? What do we mean by that word? Is it purely intellectual? I understand. Which is a quick communication between two people, or half a dozen people or a hundred people, it doesn't matter, a quick comprehension of the meaning of the word, quickly translated to the brain, instantly communicated to the brain and the intellect says, "Yes, I understand'. Right? That is, I have a problem, I have reasoned it out, I have come to a conclusion and I understand it. Or I understand how to dismantle a car and so on. That is, is understanding merely an intellectual affair, a theoretical affair about which theory I can talk endlessly, adding more ideas to it and think I am enlarging, growing, understanding. In that understanding is there any emotional quality? Do you understand my question? Is there something that says,"That is not quite, quite, quite, you must add more to it.' That is then, there is the intellect, there is emotion, there is action - right? Emotions exist naturally - one hopes - but either those emotions have become romantic, sentimental and very, very superficial, and feelings must be recognized by the brain, therefore it is part of the brain - right? - part of the sensation of feeling, sensation of imagination, sensation of imagination, of looking at a mountain, and the beauty and the silence and the dignity and the majesty of it and putting it on a canvas, or writing a poem about it. It is still part of the activity of the brain. All that.
So is the intellect, which says, "I understand", apart from the rest of it? Or intellect, which is the capacity to discern, to distinguish, to determine and action? Right? And therefore the intellect dominates everything else. I am very clever - I hope I am not but suppose I am very clever, quick, intellectually, that dominates my whole life until I begin to old age, then I believe, then I become a Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, whatever it is. Then I play a game with myself. So we are asking [noise of train] we are asking is understanding a whole movement, not an act of the brain only, act of the intellect only? Do you understand my question? Is - we will now have to examine what is action? Right? What is it that one has to do, act? What determines action? Do you understand my question? What brings about action? What do we mean by action? To act. You understand my question? I won't ask if you understand. I won't ask any more. What do we mean by act? To do. Is that action based on an ideal, or on a theory, or a conclusion, historical conclusion, and on that conclusion, historical, romantic, dialectic, or imaginative, that is, let's put all that into one word - ideological. That is I act on an idea - right? So what is an idea? Why do we have so many ideas? The word idea, not it is right or wrong, but we are investigating into the question of idea. The scientists, the physicist, or the scientific theoretical philosophers, they want ideas, otherwise they feel lost. They want new ideas all the time. So we must examine what do we mean by an idea. I believe, the speaker believes it comes from the original Greek, which means to observe, to see. There is a fact. There is a clock there. It says ten to eleven, and that is a fact. And there are non-facts - right? And the non-facts are totally away from the fact - right? Distance. And so there is the fact and the idea about the fact. So we pursue the idea, not the investigation into the fact. An idea becomes far more important than the fact. The Socialist, the Communists, others, left, right, centre, they have ideas, theories, conclusions, historical, dialectical, Lenin, Stalin, or a philosopher like Adam Smith and American politicians, and they try to fit man into those ideas - right? And to make them fit they torture them, they say "You can't do this, you can't do" - you follow? So to them ideas become far more important than the human which is a fact.
So, do we do this? Do we, each one of us, always move away from the fact? You understand? And pursue that fact - that idea and act according to that idea? Which probably has nothing to do with fact - right? So what do we mean by acting? Either you act according to your past memories, experiences, or some future ideological conclusion. The future and the past. So is your action based on the past, or on the future, therefore it is not an act. Right? Are we making this clear? If we act according to certain memories, conclusions, experiences, knowledge, then we are acting from the past. The word act means do. The doing, not according to the past, or according to the future. So the question is - go into this, it is very serious - is there an action which is not based on time? Don't be puzzled. If one grasps the significance, the content, the deep meaning of the past, how the past modified projects itself into the future, and if I act according to the past, it is not action, it is merely memory having come to certain conclusions acts. Or action takes place according to some future concept. So it is always caught in the field of time, in the cycle of time - right?
Now we are asking is there an action which is not based on time? Think it out Sirs. Think it out, don't wait for me, for the speaker to explain, think it out. It is a very simple question, but has tremendous meaning behind it. That is, I have always acted according to my tradition. The tradition may be one day old, or five thousand years old. I have always acted according to that tradition. You know what tradition means, tradere, hand over. So my parents, grandparents, parents, a thousand parents, have handed over certain traditions, consequences of their thought, their feeling, gradually seeped through various generations, I am that, part of that. That is my background - a Brahmin, and all the rest of it. And I act according to that. Or I reject all that, say, "How stupid" and look to the future. I must do this, I must not do it, according to Lenin, Stalin, and all the rest of them, I will follow. And I call both these action. And I question is there an action which is not based on these two? Right? An action which is not the process of the time. You have to use, sorry, you have to use your brains.
How does one - or what is one to do when you are asked that question? Is there an action which is not caught in the wheel of time? How does one's brain react to that question? Because the brain has been conditioned to that, shaped according to the past, the future. That is, caught in the field of time, in the network of time - right? So the brain withdraws for the moment, is not able to answer it, it says, "It is too much trouble, for goodness sake leave me alone. I am used to this pattern, it has brought its misery, suffering, but also there is the other compensating side to it, carry on. Don't ask these questions. Don't put these question which are so difficult." They are not difficult. The word difficult makes it difficult. So I won't use that word. But I have to find out an action - right? May I go into it? Do you want me to go into it?
Action is related to love, not to memory. Memory, remembering, the images, is not love. Sensation upon which, or through which I act. So sensation is not love. Therefore... or what is the relationship of love for action? You follow? Is love memory? We are met together, we have slept together, we have done all kinds of things together, walked up the mountain, down the valley, round the hills, taken telesiege together, companions, quarrels, all the business. And that is called companionship, affection, love, holding hands, all that - right? Most of it is based on sensation, image, and attachment. Without attachment I am lost, I feel terribly lonely. Feeling lonely, I am desperate, either I become bitter and all the rest of it. Is all that love? We went into it. Obviously it is not. So what is the relationship between love and action? Go on Sir. If love is in the field of time, then it is not love. So love is action - I wonder if you get this. There is not love first and action later, or memory and all that. So for the speaker, don't accept it, for the speaker there is no division between the perception, the quality of that love. When there is that quality it is action. It is not an intellectual process of determination, or choice. I won't go into the more complicated. It is an action of immediate perception, action. Now we must go on. Yesterday we only answered three questions and there are many of them.
2nd QUESTION: You have said many times - You have said many things about violence. Would you allow one of your friends to be attacked in front of you?
You have said many things about violence. Would you allow one of your friends to be attacked in front of you? It is a good old question. What would you do if your sister was attacked in front of you? Right? It is the same question. What would you do, you? Beat him up? Shoot him? Karate? [Laughter] You know what the meaning of that word karate means? It has been explained to me. No self. No me. Not the military art of defending yourself. So what would you do? Find out Sir. You are there, with your husband, with your girl friend, or your girl friend, you know all that. And somebody comes along and is violent towards your wife, or husband. What would you instinctively do? You would attack, wouldn't you? Naturally. You would hit him. If you knew karate, or some kind of yoga tricks, you would trip him up. So this question is put to me, to the speaker - right? We know the normal reaction of people, violence. If you are violent I am going to be violent. If you are angry with me I am going to be doubly angry with you. If you call me an idiot, and I say you are a greater one than me. And so on and so on. This question is put to me, to the speaker. This has been an old question. Not that the speaker is familiar with it, but it is a new question. I treat all questions as something new. What should I do? Are you waiting for me?
Am I violent? If I have lived a violent life all my life - right? - then my response would be naturally violent. But if I have lived as I have without violence, not only physical violence but psychological violence, which is aggression, competition, comparison, imitation, conformity. That is all part of violence. As K has lived that way when my friend, or my sister, or my wife, is attacked - they are all dead anyhow, specially my sisters - so as I have lived I would act. You understand? It depends how I have lived. The art of living, which is the greatest art - not all the paintings, poems, that is part of art. But the greatest art is the art of living. Not according to somebody but to find out for oneself the supreme art. And if I am, if all my life, except once or twice I lost temper, that's all right, I may - one may get irritated because of noise, and all that. But the actual feeling of violence, if one has lived with violence one will act violently. If one has not lived a life which is not violence, he will meet the circumstances as they arise, and his action will depend how he has lived. A simple answer. Right? You are not puzzled over this, are you? No.
3rd QUESTION: What is intelligence? What is intelligence? What do you think is intelligence? The meaning of that word, if you looked into a good dictionary, etymological dictionary, it points out interlegere, to read between the lines. You understand? There is a space between two lines. To read between the lines. That is one meaning. The other meaning is to gather information of every kind and to discern among the various information what is the correct information. That depends on choice, on one's education, on one's way of life and so on. So there is the intelligence, there is the intelligence of the body - right? No? Am I talking to myself? You will join, together? There is the intelligence of the body if you let it alone, not take a lot of wine, you know, alcohol, drugs and live according to taste, sensation, then the body loses its own intelligence. The body is an extraordinary instrument - right? How all the nerves are connected to the brain, how the liver works - you follow? The heart. From the moment it is born until it dies the heart keeps on beating. It is an extraordinary machine - right? It is the product of a million years. Right? Tremendous - if you go into it, if you have seen some of the pictures, photographs, on television where they show the body, it is amazing what nature has done through a million years, or two million years. And we destroy the native intelligence of the body by doing all kinds of extravagant things. Drinking, sex has its place but you know the whole issue of it, ambitious, greedy, fighting, struggling, tremendous strain on the body, heart failure and the by-pass after a great operation, all that affects the brain, the nerves, the organism, therefore the physical, biological instrument is gradually destroyed, gradually withers and loses its vitality, its energy. Right? [Tape over] If one left it naturally alone, not depending on taste, it then looks after itself, you don't have to do a thing, except for a person like K it is ninety years old so it has to be a little careful.
So, what is intelligence? There is the body intelligence - right? Imagine how the heart, the liver, the nerves, all the strain, the structure, the brain itself can defend itself. If there is any danger it reacts, certain glands, I don't know all about it but you can see it, how quickly it comes to defend itself. So there is the body intelligence. Let's leave that alone now.
Then what is the intelligence that a clever physician, a technocrat, technologist, or the man who puts very, very, very complex machine together, who, thousands of people get together send a rocket to the moon, that requires intelligence, co-operation, see everything is perfect - right? That requires great intelligence and co-operation. [Noise of train] That requires great intelligence, a certain type of intelligence. And that intelligence which is very cunning, calculated, which has put together the whole rituals of the world - the temples, the mosques, the churches, that is also very clever, very intelligent, to control people through their apostolic succession, sorry if you are a Catholic forget what I am saying! All that. There is also in India a Sanskrit word for it, this handing it down, the original. Handing down his benediction, or his apostolic succession, that also demands quite a clever movement - right? That is also very intelligent, to control people, to make them believe in something that may or may not exist and to have faith, and to be baptized. You follow, the whole of it is very clever if you have watched it, very intelligent - which the Communists are doing - right? They have their god, Lenin, and below him Stalin, all the way down to the present gentlemen. So it is the same movement. And all that is also very intelligent, partially. And the scientists, the theoretical physicists, all are very partially intelligent. Right?
Then what is a holistic intelligence? You understand? Which is whole, which is not fragmented. I am very intelligent in that direction but in other directions I don't care, I am dull. I am very good at the physical scientists, you know all that. So there is partial intelligence in various phases of life. And we are asking is there an intelligence which is complete - you understand? Which is not partial, which is not fragmented. Right? We are going to find out. Are you going to find out? Or am I going to find out and tell you? Please am I going to answer that question? Or are you going to answer it?
Is there an intelligence which is incorruptible, not based on circumstances, pragmatic, self-centred and therefore broken up, fragmented, not whole? Is there an intelligence which is impeccable, which has no holes in it, which covers the whole field of man? Enquire into it. To enquire into it the brain must be completely free of any conclusion - right? Any kind of attachment - right? Any kind of self-centred movement, self-interest. Therefore a brain that is totally free from fear, sorrow and when there is the end of sorrow there is passion behind it. The word sorrow etymologically has a deeper meaning than merely shedding tears and pain and grief and anxiety. Passion is not for something. Passion per se, for itself. I may have passion for a belief - a belief may invoke in me passion. A symbol, a community, a devotion, an imagination. All that is still very limited. So there is first, one has to discover, one has to come upon this passion which is neither lust nor has any motive. You understand? Is there such passion? Or mere sensation, sensation, etc? There is such passion when there is an end to sorrow. When there is an end to sorrow there is love and compassion. And when there is compassion, not for this or that, but compassion, then that compassion has its own supreme quintessence, intelligence. That is neither of time, neither does it belong to any theories, to any technologies, to nobody, that intelligence is not personal or universal, or the words round it.
4th QUESTION: Oh Lord! Is there any benefit to the human being in physical illness?
Is there any benefit, reward, profit, benefit to the human being in physical illness? Do you understand? Have I made this question clear? Shall I translate in French? Then I would have to do it in Italian. Listen well. [Translates the question into French and Italian] Is there any benefit to the human being in physical illness, in being ill? Now I put you that question.
I am sure most of us have been ill at one time or another. Either mentally ill, that is brain, illness of the brain, which is neurotic, psychopathic and so on, or physical illness, some organ not functioning properly and therefore great illness. You may have cancer, terminal, or going to be operated and so on, it is illness. Now just listen. What is the difference between illness and health? What is health? And what is it to be extraordinarily well? Illness and good health. Right? The question is: is there any profit, benefit from illness, human illness? What do you think? To that question the speaker would say there is - sorry! But how you, when you are ill, how your brain is operating, - right? What are your reactions, responses? The desire when one is ill to avoid pain, taking a pill quickly, or immediately going to a doctor. And say - you know, if you have the money you pay and he tells you what to do and you go back to bed and you get over it. Right? So what - is there a benefit from being ill. [Noise of train] The speaker says there is. It is either purification of the body, when you have fever it burns out certain things, and you take a pill to stop that fever. You Check it and you want to quickly get over it because you may lose the job, you may etc. etc. So your intention is to get as quickly as well as possible - right? That is natural, apparently. Clear? You understand?
So if you are not afraid of illness there - illness has quite a different meaning. The speaker, if I may slightly be personal, was paralysed for a month in Kashmir, North India, for various reasons, they overdosed the poor chap with antibiotics, a tremendous lot. So a few days later he was paralysed for a month. I thought that is final. Right? I thought there it is. I was, the speaker wasn't frightened - he said, "Yes, all right, paralysed for the rest of my life." This actually happened. I am not exaggerating. They carried me, washed me and all he rest of it, for a whole month. You know what that means. You don't. Fortunately you don't. So, but if I struggled against it and said, "For God's sake", - you follow? - "What stupid doctors. I am anti biotic, anti antibiotic!' and so on. I am struggling against this illness so it makes it worse and I have learnt nothing from it - right? It hasn't cleansed my body, it hasn't benefitted. But if I play with it - I have, the speaker has. He has been several times very, very ill. I am not going into that. But if one is not afraid to remain with it, to stay with it, not immediately rush to a doctor, to a pill, you may have to take it later but to go at it slowly, patiently, observing what your reactions are, why this craze to be healthy, to have no pain, then you are resisting the whole thing - right? This self-interest may be one of the factors of illness - right? It may be the true reason for illness. Do you understand all this?
So illness, physical illness has certain natural profit, benefit and so on. Clear? Right.
5th QUESTION: Why do you differentiate between the brain and the mind? Why do you differentiate between the brain and the mind? I am afraid this has to be the last question. There are several left over but this has to be the last one.
First of all what is the brain? Remembering that we are not professionals. We are ordinary people who are not brain specialists, including the speaker, though he has talked to brain specialists, but they go so far - but leave that. The speaker is not, not underlined, a brain specialist. So we are asking each other what is the brain, not the structure of the brain, physical biological structure of the brain, left side, right side, the left side has been used much more than the right side, the right side is the new brain - you follow? - can receive new information and so on. I don't know anything about it. It may be, may not be. But what is this thing that we live with? Which is in operation in our daily life. What is this function of the brain in our daily life, not superior consciousness, lower consciousness, bringing the superior consciousness down to the lower consciousness. You know that game. That is what the gurus play that game. They help you to bring down the higher consciousness to lower consciousness. Or from the lower consciousness through meditation, through following, through doing certain practices, reach the higher consciousness. We are not doing all that kind of thing. We will come to presently what is consciousness, later. You don't mind going into all this?
What is the function, daily function of our brain? Your brain, not my brain, your brain, the human brain, whether you live in Switzerland, America, Russia, and so on, or in India, or the Far East, what goes on in our daily life which is the exercise of the brain, exercise of thought, exercise of choice, exercise of decision and action - we are not talking of action as I explained it, cut that out. So wherever we live the activity of the brain plays a great role in our life - right? So what is this brain? We are learning, amateurs. Look at our own brain. Action and reaction - right? Sensation. Conditioned from the past - I am a Hindu, you are a Christian, I am a Buddhist, you are a Muslim and so on. I belong to this country and you belong to that country. Right? I am Catholic, you are a Protestant, or a Muslim, or a Buddhist, or this or that. I believe very strongly. I have come to certain conclusions. I stick to that. My prejudices are strong, opinions are strong and I am attached, I want to fulfil, I want to become something - you follow? That is our daily routine, and much more. The anguish of anxiety, the bitterness of anxiety, the pragmatism of anxiety, the loneliness, tremendously depressing, and escaping from that loneliness through television, books, rituals, temple, church, mosque, - right? God. Conflict. Conflict. Conflict. Right? That is what the brain is caught up in all the time. It is not being exaggerated. We are facing facts. Right? It is so. So the brain is the centre of all this. The nerves, the memories, the nervous responses, like, dislike, I hate, I am hurt - follow? It is the very centre of all our existence, emotionally, imaginatively, art, science - you follow?knowledge - right? So that brain is very, very limited and yet it is extraordinarily capable - right? Technologically incredibly it has done things unimaginable fifty years ago. So all that is the activity of the brain. Conditioned, living within that conditioning, religious, political, business, surgical and so on. It is all very limited. Concerned with oneself. Self-interest, self-serving, in the name of God, in the name of all the rest of it - right? Are we clear? This is obvious. It says "I am materialistic" and also it says, "No, no, I am better than that. There is a soul." To use the Sanskrit, "There is an Atman" and so on and so on. So consciousness is that - right? People have written books and books about consciousness, professionals, non professionals, but we are not professionals, we are dealing with what is.
Consciousness is its content - right? What it contains makes consciousness - right? It contains anxiety, belief, faith, bitterness, loneliness, jealousy, hate, violence, you know, all the qualities, the experiences of human beings. That is consciousness. That consciousness is not yours because they said it all. This is the difficulty, where you will find it difficult. Every human being on this earth whether they are the most poorest, ignorant, degraded, and the mostly highly sophisticated, educated, have these problems. They may put on robes and crowns and all the circus, but remove all that, they are like you and me. Conflict, annoyance - right? So we share the consciousness of every human being in the world. I know you won't accept it, but it doesn't matter, this is a fact, because you suffer and that villager in India which lives on one meal a day, two clothes, he also suffers, not in the way you suffer, but it is also not the way he suffers, but it is still suffering. Right? It is still suffering. Your memories may be different from the other but it is still memory. Your experience may be different from another but it is still experience. So your consciousness is not yours. It is the consciousness of the entire humanity psychologically. You may be tall, you may be fair, I may be black, I may be purple, but still that consciousness is common to all of us - right? - psychologically.
So you are the entire humanity. Not Swiss and all that nonsense. You are the entire humanity. You know what that means? If you accept it as an idea then you are away, you move away from the fact, from the truth of it, from the reality, the substance of it. When there is that reality, truth, that you are the rest of mankind, you are the rest of mankind - You understand? - then the whole movement of life changes. You will not kill another. Then you are killing yourself. There was an American - oh, I have forgotten - a General at war. He was going to war and he faces the enemy. And he says, he reports to the boss, "We have met the enemy. We are the enemy." You understand? We have met the enemy across the fields but we are the enemy, the enemy is us.
So when there is this truth that you are the entire humanity - sleep with it, go into it, feel your way into it, don't deny it or accept it, but as the river flows go into it. You will see what deep transformation takes place, which is not intellectual, nor imaginative, nor sentimental, romantic. In that sense there is tremendous sense of compassion, love. And when there is that you act according to that supreme intelligence. [Noise of train]
Alternative versions of the last talks at Saanen 1985
Saanen 2nd Public Question & Answer Meeting 24th July 1985
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