The Flame of Attention
Longer, Unedited Versions
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 8th November, 1981
This is the last talk. We were going to talk over together the question of meditation. Before we go into that question, the last three talks have been, if you have followed them earnestly and seriously, bringing about order in our house. The order in which we do not live, we live in disorder, as we talked about it yesterday; and we went into the question of desire, freedom from fear, and the nature of pleasure, and also we talked yesterday about the ending of sorrow, and from that ending passion, not lust, passion, love and compassion arise, with the ending of sorrow. And that compassion has its own immense energy, great intelligence. That is what we talked about yesterday evening.
We ought to discuss or share together, perhaps that is the right word, share together what is discipline. Because most in the world are not disciplined in the sense that they are not learning. The word 'discipline' comes from the word disciple, the disciple who learns, whose mind is learning, not from a particular person, a guru, or from a preacher, or teacher, or from books, he is learning through the observation of his own mind, of his own heart, learning from his own actions. And that learning requires certain discipline, not conformity as most disciplines are understood. Conformity, obedience and imitation, so that you are never in the act of learning, you are merely following. Whereas the word discipline is to learn, learn from the very complex mind one has, from life of daily existence, learn about relationship with each other so the mind is always pliable, active. So we ought to understand when we are going to share together what meditation is, we must understand this question of discipline.
Ordinary discipline implies conflict: conforming to a pattern, like a soldier, conforming to an ideal, conforming to a certain statement in the sacred books and so on and so on. Where there is conflict there must be friction, there must be wastage of energy. I hope we are sharing all this together. It is not a question of agreeing or disagreeing with what is being said. But together we are sharing in this question of discipline and responsibility. And in understanding conflict, a mind, or your heart, if it is in conflict it can never possibly meditate. We will go into that. It is not a mere statement which you accept or deny, but we are enquiring together into this question.
We have lived for millennia upon millennia in conflict, conforming, obeying, imitating, repeating, so that our minds have become extraordinarily dull. We have become secondhand people because we are always quoting somebody else, what somebody said or did not say. So we have lost the capacity, the energy to learn from our own actions, for which we are utterly responsible, not society or environment, or politicians, we are responsible entirely for that, and from there learn. And in learning we discover so much more because we are after all, every human being throughout the world, in him is the story of mankind; the mankind is his anxiety, his fears, his loneliness, his despairs, his sorrows, pain, this tremendous complex history is in us, If you know how to read that book then you don't have to read a single book except books on technology. But we are negligent, we are not diligent in learning from ourselves, from our actions. And so we are not responsible for our actions, we are not responsible for what is happening throughout the world and what is happening in this unfortunate country. So if we share together this question of discipline then we can go to the next problem, the next question.
As we said, we must put our house in order and nobody on earth, or in heaven, is going to put our house in order, neither your gurus, nor your vows, nor your devotion because our house is in disorder: the way we live, the way we think, the way we act. Unless that house is in order, which is to understand disorder, which we went into yesterday, how can a mind that is in disorder perceive that which is total order, as the universe is in total complete order?
And also we ought to share together the question of beauty. You might ask what has beauty to do with a religious mind? You might ask all our tradition, our rituals and so on have never talked about beauty. So meditation is part of the understanding of beauty, not the beauty of a woman or a man, but what is beauty? We must understand this very deeply because it doesn't exist except in tradition, in ancient sculpture in this country. We only too willingly destroy trees, birds, flowers. So we must enquire together, share together, this question of what is beauty. We are not talking about the beauty of a person, a face, it has its own beauty, but what is actually the essence of beauty? Because most monks and sannyasis and those religiously inclined minds totally disregard this. They become hardened towards their environment. Once it happened that we were staying in the Himalayas with some friends and there were a group of sannyasis in front of us, going down the path, chanting; they never looked at the trees, never looked at the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the blue sky, the birds, the flowers, the running waters, but were totally concerned with their own salvation, with their own entertainment. And that custom, that tradition, has been going on for a thousand years. A man who is supposed to be religious must shun, put aside all beauty; and our lives become dull, without any aesthetic sense because beauty is one of the delights of truth.
So what is beauty? I hope you have the energy this evening to sit quietly to go into it even though we may speak an hour and a half because we have to deal with a great many things this evening.
Have you ever noticed when you give a toy to a child who has been chattering, naughty, playing around, shouting, when you give a child a complicated toy he is totally absorbed in it, he is very quiet, enjoying the mechanics of it. There the toy has absorbed the child. Follow all this please, step by step, if you will, because we are sharing this thing together. The toy has absorbed the mischief of the playing of the child, he becomes completely concentrated, completely involved with that toy. And we grown-up people, we have toys of belief, we have toys of ideals, we have toys of every kind, which absorb us. If you worship some image, and all images are created by the hand or the mind, there is no image on earth which is sacred because they are all made by your hand and by your mind, by your thought. And when we are so absorbed, as the child is absorbed in a toy, we become extraordinarily quiet, gentle. And when you see a marvellous mountain, snowcapped against the blue hills, blue sky and the deep shadow in the valleys, that great grandeur, majesty of a mountain absorbs you completely, for a moment you are completely silent because the majesty of that mountain takes you over, you forget yourself by the beauty of that line against the blue sky.
So surely beauty is where you are not. You understand what has been said? The essence of beauty is the absence of the self. And the question of meditation is having put the house in order to meditate, that is the word to ponder over, to think over, to enquire into the abnegation of the self.
And also we ought to share together the energy, the energy that is required in meditation. You need tremendous energy to meditate. So we ought to go into that question of energy. Friction is not energy. When we are in our daily life there is a great deal of friction, conflict between people, the work which we don't like to do, there is a wastage of energy. Please we are sharing together, this is not a lecture. This is a conversation between us, a conversation between two friends who are enquiring into this complex problem of meditation and what is religion? And to enquire really most profoundly, not superficially, not verbally, but go very deeply into oneself, into one's mind, why we live as we do, wasting immense energy.
Meditation is the release of creative energy, which we will go into. So first let us look at what we call religion. Religion has played an immense part in history. From the beginning of time man has struggled to find out what truth is. And the accepted religion of the modern world is no religion at all, it is merely vain repetition of phrases, gibberish nonsense, it is a form of personal entertainment without much meaning. All the rituals, all the gods, specially in this country where there are I don't know how many thousands of gods, all the gods are invented by thought, all the rituals are put together by thought. And what thought creates is not sacred, but we attribute what thought has created in the image the qualities that we like that image to have. So we are worshipping unconsciously ourselves. You understand this? What thought has created in the temples, in the rituals, in the pujas, and all that business, and what thought has invented in the Christian churches, is all put together by thought, invented by thought. And that which thought has created we then worship it. Just see the irony, the deception, the dishonesty of this!
So the religions of the world have completely lost their meaning. All the intellectuals - forgive me using that word - all the intellectuals in the world shun it, run away from it. And when you use the words the 'religious mind', which the speaker uses very often, they say, 'Why do you use that word religion?' Etymologically the root meaning of that word is not very clear. Originally it meant to bind, to bind with that which is noble, with that which is great, and to be bounded to that which is great you had to live a very diligent, scrupulous honest life. All that is gone. We have lost our integrity. So what is religion? If you discard all the present existing religious traditions and their images, their symbols, then what is religion? To find out what is a religious mind, your mind to have the sense of religiosity, one must find out what truth is. Truth has no path to it. There is no path. You have to find out. Your mind with compassion, with its intelligence, will come upon that which is eternally true. But there is no direction, there is no captain to tell you in this ocean of life, or give you direction. You, as a human being, have to discover this. So you cannot belong to any cult, to any group, whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, or whatever they are, you have to abandon all that if you want to come upon truth. And it is the religious mind that doesn't belong to any organization, to any group, to any sect, it has the quality of a global mind.
So religion, a religious mind is a mind that is utterly free from all attachment, from all conclusions, concepts, it is dealing only with what actually is, not, what should be, what must be. It is dealing everyday of one's life with what actually is happening both outwardly and definitely inwardly, to understand the whole complex problem of living. So the mind must be free from prejudice, from tradition, from all the sense of direction too, because to come upon truth you need a clarity of mind, not a confused mind.
So we have talked about discipline, we have talked about beauty, which doesn't exist in our hearts or in our minds. How can one live without this quality of beauty, which is love. You may accumulate all the pictures in the world, go to all the museums, see the latest painter, or read the latest poem, but if you have no beauty in your heart, in your mind, which is the essence of love, one has wasted one's life.
So having put order in our life, let's then examine, share together, what is meditation? Not how to meditate, that is an absurd question. When you ask how, you want a system, a method, a design carefully laid out. See what happens - please do pay attention to all this - see what happens when you are following a method, a system. Why do you want a system, a method? It is the easiest way isn't it, to follow somebody who says, 'I will tell you how to meditate'. When anybody tells you how to meditate he doesn't know what meditation is. The man who says, 'I know', doesn't know. But in enquiring into this really very, very complex question of meditation we must first of all see how destructive a system of meditation is, whether it is Zen meditation, or the dozen forms of meditation that apparently you have invented, or in the West they are all concerned with the form of meditation - how you should sit, how you should breathe, how you should do this, that and the other. And we poor fools follow them. Because if you observe that when you practise something repeatedly over and over again your mind becomes mechanical, which already is mechanical and you add more mechanical routine to it. So gradually your mind atrophies. Please do pay attention to what the speaker is saying. It is like a pianist practising the wrong note. So if you see the truth that no system, no method, no practice, will ever lead to truth, then you abandon all these as fallacious, unnecessary.
So we must also enquire when we meditate, when you do, if you do, this whole problem of control. Most of us control our responses, our reactions, we try to suppress, control desires, we try to shape our desires. There is always the controller and the controlled. We never ask: who is the controller, and what is that that we are controlling in so-called meditation? Who is the controller, who tries to control his thought, his ways of thinking and so on? Who is the controller? The controller surely is that entity which has determined to practise, to control, the entity. Now who is that entity? That entity is put there by the past, by thought, by reward and punishment. So the controller is the past. Right? Are you following all this? That controller is trying to control his thoughts but the controller is the controlled. Do you see this? Look: this is all so childish really. When you are envious, jealous, violent, when you are envious you have separated envy from yourself. Then you say, 'I must control envy, I must suppress it' - or rationalize and so on. But you are not separate from envy, you are envy. Envy is not separate from you. Right? That is so obvious. And yet we play this trick, that we try to control envy as though it was something separate from us. So please listen: can you live a life without a single control, which doesn't mean indulging in whatever you want. Please put this question to yourself: whether you can live a life, which is already so disastrous, so mechanical, so repetitive, whether you can live without a single sense of control. That can only happen when you perceive clearly every action. When you give your attention to every thought that arises, not just indulge in it, every reaction. When you give complete attention to all that then you will find out that you can live a life without a single conflict. Do you know what that means to a mind that has never had conflict, or understood conflict and lives without a single shadow of conflict? It means complete freedom. And one must have that total freedom to enquire or come upon that which is eternally true.
And also we should talk over, share together, the qualitative difference between concentration and attention. Most of us know concentration. We learn it at school, in college, in university, to concentrate. The boy looks out of the window in the school and the teacher says, 'Concentrate on your book.' And so we know what it means. To concentrate implies bringing all your energy to focus on a certain point, and thought wanders away, so you have a perpetual battle between the desire to concentrate, to give all your energy to look at a page, but your mind is wandering, and you try to control it. Whereas attention has no control, no concentration. It is complete attending, which means giving all your energy, your nerves, your capacity of the energy of the brain, your heart, everything, giving attention to something. Probably you have never done it. Probably you have never so completely attended. You know when you attend so completely there is no recording. You understand my statement? For god's sake! When you are attending the brain doesn't record. Whereas when you are concentrating, making effort, the brain is recording and therefore you are always acting from memory, like a gramophone record repeating. You understand all this?
Whereas if you know, if you understand the nature of a brain that needs no recording except what is necessary. It is necessary to record where I live. It is necessary to record various activities of life. But not to record psychologically, inwardly, either the insult, the flattery, all that, nothing to record inwardly. Have you ever done it? Have you ever tried it? It is all so new to you. So that the brain and the mind is entirely free, entirely free from all conditioning, because our brains, our minds are conditioned through education, through culture, through environmental influences, by the food, by the clothes, by the climate, our minds are conditioned. We are Hindus, or Muslims, or Sikhs, or some rot like that.
So we are all slaves to tradition and we think we are all so totally different from each other. We are not. We all go through great miseries, unhappiness, shed tears, we are all human beings. not Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Russians and all the rest of it - those are all labels without meaning.
So the mind must be totally free. That means one has to stand completely alone. And to stand alone we are frightened.
And meditation apparently is a lot of repetition of mantras, prayers, and all that. You mean to say by repeating some words, a mantra, you are going to achieve something? What happens when you constantly repeat, repeat, repeat? You might just as well repeat Coco Cola, only you pay for them more than for the Coco Cola, or Pepsi Cola, or whatever it is. No, please see what your mind has become, for god's sake look at it. So none of those, whatever the mantra, whatever the word - the word is never the thing, the symbol is never the actual - so the mind must be free from all that. Then we can proceed. Then the mind becomes utterly still, not controlled. And meditation then is a mind which is completely religious, not this phoney religion, but a mind that is not only free but enquiring into the nature of truth. There is no guide to truth, no path to truth. And it is only the silent mind, the mind that is free, that can find out, can come upon what which is beyond time.
There are different forms of silence: the silence between two noises, the silence between two notes, the silence between two thoughts, the silence that you desire, that you cultivate, by practice, by control, those are all artificial, cultivated silences of thought and desire. So one must enquire into what is silence? Have you noticed, if you have observed yourself that your mind is eternally chattering, eternally occupied with something or other. If you are a Sannyasi your mind is occupied with god, with prayers, with this, with that. If you are a housewife, it is occupied with the next meal, what you are going to have, how to utilize this and that, it is occupied. If you are a businessman, you know what that is. And if you are a politician, then you also know exactly what they are. (Laughter) Don't laugh please, it is not a matter of laughing. You are not observing your own life. And the priest is occupied with his own nonsense. So our minds are all the time occupied. An occupied mind has no space. And space is necessary.
So let's find out what space is. Space is from one point to another point, which is from here to there, space also implies time. Right? Space implies an emptiness. And that which is empty has immense energy. So we have to enquire, share together, the nature of silence. You can make your mind silent through a drug, by some chemical pill, you can make your thought slow down by some chemical intake so the thought becomes quieter and quieter. Those are all experimental ways of making the mind quiet, silent. But that silence is concerned with sound. Are you all interested in all this? Does it means anything to you, all this? Or am I just prattling to myself? Have you ever enquired what it is to have a mind that is absolutely silent without a movement, a mind that is not recording except those things that are necessary? So that your psyche, your inward nature becomes absolutely still. Have you enquired into all that? Or are you merely caught in the stream of tradition, in the stream of work, labour, and worrying about tomorrow?
So where there is silence there is space, not from one point to another point. Where there is silence there is no point but only silence. And that silence has that extraordinary energy of the universe. Just a minute, I will go into it.
The universe - you know what the word universe is - it has no cause, it exists. This is a scientific fact. No cause. But we human beings have causes. And through analysis you can discover the cause of poverty in this country, or in other countries, you can find out the cause of over population, the lack of birth control, you can find out the cause why human beings have divided themselves into Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, and all the rest of it. You can find out the cause of your anxiety, you can find out the cause for your loneliness. But you may find the cause through analysis but you never are free from the causation. You are following? All our action is based on reward or punishment, however finely subtle, however deeply flattering. That is, our actions are based on that, which is a causation, a cause.
So to understand order of the universe, which is without cause, is it possible to live a daily life without any cause? And that is supreme order. Then out of that order you have creative energy. The technicians, the inventors, the scientists have certain limited energy of creation. Have you ever noticed the scientists of this world? They are specialized, they know their subject extraordinary well, and in that area, in that field they live. They may have wives and children and all the rest of it, but that is all secondhand, that is all part of a necessary life but the mind is occupied, inventive, theorizing, a hypothesis, testing it, moving it further. And we are talking about creative energy, not the scientific inventive energy.
Meditation is to release that creative energy, not through some kind of awakening of Kundalini, and all that kind of stuff, those who talk about Kundalini don't know what it is. You don't talk about those things.
So we have to enquire what is this creative energy, because we have lost it. We have lost it completely. Have you ever noticed that those who go out of this country, some of them, the Indians, are doing extraordinarily well: they are great scientists, great businessmen away from this country. Haven't you noticed it? There are a great many writers now, outside. I do not call those creative energy. Creative energy is necessary for a religion, because religion transforms social order, historically it is so. Every culture is born anew out of a new religion, not in the old repetition of dead tradition. So it is immensely important to know, to understand the depth and the beauty of meditation.
And man has always been asking, from timeless time, whether there is something beyond all thought, beyond all romantic inventions, beyond all time? He has always been asking is there something beyond all this suffering, beyond all this chaos, beyond the wars, beyond the battle between human beings, is there something that is immovable, sacred, utterly pure, untouched by any thought, by any experience? This has been the enquiry of serious religious people, from the ancient of days. To find that out, to come upon it, meditation is necessary. Not the repetitive meditation, that is utterly meaningless. There is a creative energy which is truly religious energy, when the mind is free from all conflict, from all the travail of thought. Thought has its place - I couldn't go from here to the house if I didn't think. Thought is necessary, as knowledge is necessary at a certain level. But in the enquiry into the origin of all things, the beginning of all things, we say, 'Yes, God' - that is an easy word but god is the invention of man, the invention of thought, you have created god, god hasn't created you. If god created you to lead a miserable life, god is not worth it. You understand? Apparently god wants you to live a rotten life, but god is the invention of thought. We have attributed to it all our noble sentiments. But to find out beyond god, to come upon that which has no beginning, no end, that is the real depth of meditation and the beauty of it. That requires freedom from all conditioning.
So what is the origin of all this? What is the origin of all our sorrows, what is the origin of all our suffering, aching, anxiety, seeking security? There is complete security in compassionate intelligence. Total security. But we want security in ideas, in beliefs, in concepts, in ideals, we hold on to them, that is our security. However false, however irrational it is. So where there is compassion there is supreme intelligence, there is security, if one is seeking security. When you are compassionate, when there is that intelligence, there is no question of security.
So there is an origin, the original ground from which all things start, and that original ground is not the word. The word is never the thing. And meditation is to come upon that ground, which is the origin of all things, and which is free from all time. This is the way of meditation. And blessed is he who finds it.
The Flame of Attention
Longer, Unedited Versions
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 8th November, 1981
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