The Flame of Attention
Longer, Unedited Versions
Brockwood Park 3rd Public Talk 4th September 1982
We have got two talks, today and tomorrow morning. I think we ought to talk over together whether it is at all possible to live at peace in this world. Considering what is happening on the earth, where man is living, he has brought about a great deal of chaos - wars and the terrible things that are going on in the world. This is not a pessimistic or optimistic point of view but just looking at the facts as they are. Apparently it is not possible to have peace on this earth, to live with friendship, with affection, with each other in our lives. And to live at peace, to have some peace with oneself and the world, one needs to have a great deal of intelligence. Not just the word peace and strive to live a peaceful life, which then becomes merely a rather vegetating life, but to enquire whether it is possible to live in this world where there is such disorder, such unrighteousness - if we can use the old fashioned word - whether one can live at all with a certain quality of a mind and a heart that is at peace with itself. Not everlastingly striving, striving in conflict, in competition, in imitation and conformity but to live not, a satisfied life, not a fulfilled life, not a life that has achieved some result in this life, some fame or some notoriety, or some wealth but to have a quality of peace. We ought to talk about it together. We ought to go into it co-operatively to find out if it is at all possible for us to have such peace, not peace of mind, that just will be a piece, a small part, but to have this peculiar quality of undisturbed but tremendously alive, undisturbed, tranquil, quiet, with a sense of dignity, without any sense of vulgarity, whether one can live such a life.
I do not know if one has asked such a question, surrounded by total disorder. I think one must be very clear about that: there is total disorder outwardly, every morning you read a newspaper there is something terrible. Aeroplanes that can travel at such astonishing speed from one corner of the earth to the other without having to refuel, carrying great weight of bombs, gases that can destroy man in a few seconds. To observe all this and to realize what man has come to, and in asking this question you may say that is impossible. It is not at all possible to live in this world utterly, inwardly undisturbed, to have no problems, to live a life utterly not self centred. How shall we talk about this? Talking, using words, has very little meaning but to find out through the words, through communicating with each other, to find or discover, or come upon, a state that is utterly still. That requires intelligence, not a phantasy, not some peculiar day dreaming called meditation, not some form of self hypnosis but to come upon it, as we said, requires intelligence.
So we have to ask: what is intelligence? As we said the other day, to perceive that which is illusory, that which is false, not actual, and to discard it, not merely assert that is false and continue in the same way, but to discard it completely. That is part of intelligence. To see, for example, nationalism, with all its peculiar patriotism, isolation, narrowness, is very destructive in this world, it is a poison in the world, and seeing the truth of it is to discard that which is false. That is intelligence. But to keep on with it, acknowledging it is stupid but keep on, that is essentially part of stupidity and disorder. It creates disorder. So intelligence is, is it not, we are talking over together, I am not saying it is, or it is not, we are investigating very seriously into this question: what is intelligence which alone can bring about in one's life complete order and peace? And we said that can come about only when there is this extraordinary quality of intelligence. And intelligence is not the clever pursuit of argument, of opposing knowledge, contradictory opinions and through opinions find truth, which is impossible but to realize that the activity of thought, with all its capacities, with all its subtleties, is an extraordinary waste of thought. It is not intelligence. Intelligence is beyond thought. Please don't agree with the speaker. We are looking at it, going into it.
So one has to find out in order to live peacefully what is disorder? Why we human beings, who are supposed to be extraordinarily evolved, which I doubt, extraordinary capable in certain directions, why they live and tolerate disorder in their daily life. If we can discover the root of this disorder, the cause, and observe it carefully, that very observation of that which is the cause, in that observation there is the awakening of intelligence. Not that there should be order and striving to bring about order. That is, a confused disorderly mind, brain or activity of one's life, that disorder, that state of mind which is contradictory, opposing, such a mind seeking order will still be disorder. I don't know if we comprehend it? I am confused, uncertain, going from one thing to another, burdened with many problems, such a life, such a mind, such a way of living, from there I want order. Then my order is born out of my confusion, and therefore it is still confused. I don't know if we see this? Right?
When I chose order out of disorder, the choice is still based on disorder. When this is clear, then what is disorder, the cause of it? As we said, it has many causes, the desire to fulfil, the anxiety of not fulfilling, the contradictory life one lives, saying one thing, doing totally different things, trying to suppress and to achieve something. These are all contradictions in oneself. And one can find out many causes but the pursuit of searching, of search of causes is endless. Whereas if we could ask ourselves: is there one cause out of all these many causes, is there one root cause? Obviously there must be. And we are saying that the root cause of this is the self, the me, the ego, the personality, which in itself is put together by thought, by memory, by various experiences, by certain words, certain qualities and so on. That feeling of separateness, isolation, that is the root cause of this disorder. However that self tries not to be self it is still the pursuit of the self - right? The self may identify with the nation, that very identification with the larger is still glorified self. And each one of us is doing that in different ways. So there is the self, which is put together by thought, that is the root cause of this total disorder in which we live. If you say it is impossible to get rid of the self, that is a wrong question. But when we observe what causes disorder, and as one has become so accustomed to disorder, one has lived in such disorder, we accept it as natural but when we begin to question it and go into it, and see that is the root of it, to observe it, not to do anything about it, then by that very observation begins to dissolve the centre which is the cause of disorder. Right? Are we following all this together?
And we said intelligence is the perception of that which is true, putting aside totally that which is false, and seeing the truth in the false, and realizing all the activities of thought is not intelligence because thought itself is the outcome of knowledge, which is the result of experience, as memory and the response of that memory is thought. And so knowledge is always limited. That is obvious. There is no perfect knowledge. So thought, with all its activity and with its knowledge is not intelligence. Right? So what we are asking is: what place has knowledge in life? Because all our life is based on thought. Whatever we do is based on thought. That is clear. All our activities are based on thought, our relationship is based on thought. Our inventions, the technological and the non-technological is still the activity of thought. The gods we have created, and the rituals, the mass and the whole circus of all that is the product of thought. So what place has knowledge in the degeneration of man? Please you must go into this. You must ask this question. Can we proceed?
We have accumulated immense knowledge, in the world of science, psychology, biology, mathematics and so on and so on, a great deal of knowledge. And we think through knowledge we will ascend, we will liberate ourselves, we will transform ourselves. And we are questioning what is the place of knowledge in life? Has knowledge transformed us, made us good? - again, an old fashioned word. Has it given us integrity? Is it part of justice? Has it given us freedom? Of course it has given us freedom in the sense that we can travel, communicate from one country to another. It is all based on knowledge and thought. Better communication, better systems of learning and so on, the computer and the atom bomb. All that is the result of a great deal of accumulated knowledge. And has this knowledge given us freedom, a life that is just, a life that is essentially good?
So we are again examining those three words: freedom, justice and goodness. This has been one of the problems, those three words, in the ancient people who have always struggled to find out if you can live a life that is just. That word 'just' means to be righteous, to have righteousness, to act benevolently, to act with generosity, not deal with hatreds, antagonisms. You know what it means to lead a just, a right kind of life? Not according to a pattern, not according to some fanciful projected ideals by thought, but a life that has great affection, a life that is just, true, accurate. And in this world there is no justice. You are clever, I am not. You have power, I haven't. You can travel all over the world, meet all the prominent people, and I live in a little town, work day after day, live in a small room. Where is there justice there? And is justice to be found in external activities? That is, you may become the prime minister, the president, the head of a big intercontinental business, great corporations. I may be for ever a clerk, way down below, a soldier. So do we seek justice out there, which is, we are trying to bring about an egalitarian state, all over the world they are trying it, thinking that will bring about justice. Or justice is to be found away from all that. Please when I am asking, you are asking this question, not the speaker. The speaker is only putting into words that which we are enquiring into. Justice involves a certain integrity, to be whole, integral, not broken up, not fragmented, which can only take place when there is no comparison. But we are always comparing, better cars, better houses, better position, better power and so on. That is measurement. Where there is measurement there cannot be justice. You are following all this? Please see it. Where there is imitation, conformity, there cannot be justice, following somebody. We listen to these words, we don't see the beauty, the quality, the depth of these things, and we may superficially agree and walk away from it. But the words, the comprehension of the depth of it must leave a mark, a seed, justice must be in there, in us.
And also the word 'goodness', it is a very old fashioned word. One hardly ever uses that word any more. The other day we were talking to some psychologist, fairly well known and one used that word. He was horrified! He said, "That is an old fashioned word, don't use that word." But one likes that good word. So what is goodness? It is not the opposite of that which is bad. If it is the opposite of that which is bad then goodness has its roots in badness. I don't know if one realizes this. Anything that has an opposite must have its roots in its own opposite - right? So goodness is not related to that which we consider bad. It is totally divorced from the other. So we must look at it as it is, not in a reaction to the opposite, as a reaction to the opposite. Right? Goodness implies a quality of deep integrity. Integrity is to be whole, not broken up, not inwardly fragmented. And goodness also means a way of life which is righteous, not in terms of church, or morality or ethical concept of righteousness, but a person who sees that which is true and that which is false, and sustains that quality of sensitivity that sees it immediately and acts. And the word 'freedom' is a very complex word. When there is freedom there is justice, there is goodness. So we have to enquire together what is freedom?
Please sirs, we are going together in this, not just you are listening to the speaker. If you are merely listening to the speaker and getting some ideas out of it - I hope you are not - if you are merely listening to it then it becomes another lecture, another sermon and one is fed up with all that kind of stuff. Why don't you just go to church? But if the words ring a bell, if the words awaken the depth of that word, if the word opens up a door through which you see the enormity of that word, not, "I want to be free from my anger" - that is all rather... or "I have a headache and I must be free from it". or I have a relationship which is rather tiresome, boring and I want to get a divorce. Freedom for us has been the capacity to choose. Because one chooses one thinks one is free - right? That is so. Because you can choose to go abroad, you can choose your work, you can choose what you want to do, but in the Totalitarian world you cannot do all that. There they stamp it all down, they want you to conform, obey, follow. In the so-called Democratic world there is still the choice of so-called freedom. Where there is choice, is there freedom? Please go into it. Who chooses? And why does one have to choose? When one is very clear in one's capacity to think objectively, impersonally, not sentimentally, very precise, there is no need for choice, when there is freedom. That is, when there is no confusion then there is no choice. It is only a confused mind that chooses. This is so. Look at yourself. When you choose between two parliamentarians, you don't know for whom to vote, so you choose one whom you like, who sounds rather good verbally, but you know all that game.
So what is freedom? Freedom is not the opposite of imprisonment - right? Then again it becomes a totally different kind of escape. So freedom is not escape from anything. That means a brain that has been conditioned by knowledge, knowledge is always limited and therefore always living within the field of ignorance, such brains which is the machinery of thought, through thought there can be no freedom. I wonder if we understand all this? That is, we all live with a certain kind of fear - fear of tomorrow, fear of things that have happened in many yesterdays. And we seek freedom from that fear. So freedom has a cause. That is, "I am afraid", I have found the cause of that fear and now I have got rid of that fear, therefore I am free. Where there is a cause the effect can end, like a disease, if one has, and the enquiry into that disease and the cause of that disease, then that disease can be cured. So if we think in terms of causation and freedom, then that freedom is not freedom at all. Freedom implies not just in a certain period of one's life but freedom right through one's life, and therefore freedom has no cause. Are you following this?
Now with all this being stated let's look at the cause of sorrow and whether that cause can ever end. Because man, all of us, have suffered in one way or another, through deaths, through lack of love, or having love for another and not receiving in return, sorrow has many, many faces. And man has tried to escape from sorrow, from the ancient of times. And we still live after all these million years, we still live with sorrow. Man has shed, or woman too, man has shed untold tears. There have been wars which have brought such agony to human beings, great anxiety and apparently we have not been able to be free from that sorrow. This is not a rhetorical question but is it possible for a human brain, human mind, human being, to be totally free from the anxiety of sorrow and all the human travail with regard to it?
So let's go together, walk along the same path to find out. Along the same road, let's walk together to see if we can in our daily life end this terrible burden which man has carried from the time he has lived until now. How do you approach such a question? We are asking, the question is: the ending of sorrow. How do you approach it? What is your reaction to that question? What is the state of your mind, your quality when a question of that kind is put to us? My son is dead, my husband is gone, I have friends who have betrayed me, I have followed and it has been fruitless after twenty years. Sorrow has such a great beauty and pain in it. Now how does each one of us react to that question? Do we say, "I don't want even to look at it. I have suffered, it is the lot of man, I rationalize it and accept it and go on." That is one way of dealing with it. But you haven't solved the problem. Or you transmit that sorrow to a symbol, and worship that symbol, as is done in Christianity. Or as the ancient Hindus have done, it is your lot, your karma. Or in the modern world you say your parents are responsible for it, or your society, or you inherited genetically some kind of genes and you have to suffer for it, and so on. There have been a thousand explanations. But these explanations have not resolved the ache and the pain of sorrow.
So how do I approach this question? Do we want to look at it face to face? Or casually? Or with trepidation? How do I approach such a problem. Approach means come near to the problem, very near. That is, is sorrow different from the observer who says, "I am in sorrow." When he says, "I am in sorrow" he has separated himself from that feeling, so he has not approached it at all. He has not touched it. So can we not avoid it, not transmit it, not escape from it, but come with such closeness to it, which means, I am sorrow? Is that so? Like I am anger. I am envy. But I have also invented an idea of non-envy. That invention has postponed, put it off further but the fact is I am envy, I am sorrow. Do you realize what that means? Not somebody has caused me sorrow, not my son is dead therefore I shed tears. I will shed tears for my son, for my wife, for whoever it is, but that is an outward expression of that pain of loss. That loss is the result of my dependence on that person, my attachment, my clinging to it, my feeling I am lost without him. So as usual we try to act upon the symptoms, we never go to the very root of this enormous problem which is sorrow. So we are not talking about the outward effects of sorrow. If you are you can take a drug and pacify yourself very quietly, or take a pill and pass off for the rest of your life - not for the rest of your life, you can end it. But we are trying together to find for ourselves, not be told and then accept, but actually find for ourselves the root of it.
Is it time that causes pain? Time not by the watch, or by the day, or sun rise, sunset, but the time that thought has invented in the psychological realms? You understand my question?
Questioner: What do you mean by psychological time?
K: I will explain sir, have a little patience. We are asking a very serious question. You are not asking me what is psychological time. You are asking that question yourself. Perhaps the speaker may prompt you, put it into words but it is your own question. I have had a son, a brother, a wife, father, whatever it is, mother, and I have lost. They are gone. They can never return. They are wiped away from the face of the earth. Of course I can invent they are living on other planes, you know all that. But I have lost them, there is a photograph on the piano, or the mantelpiece. My remembrance of them is time. How they loved me, how I loved them. What a help they were. And they helped to cover up my loneliness. And the remembrance of them is a movement of time. They were there yesterday and gone today. That is, the record has taken place in the brain - you understand? A remembrance is a recording on the tape of the brain - right? And that record is playing all the time. How I walked with them in the woods, my sexual remembrances, their companionship, the comfort I derived from them, all that is gone and the recording is going on. And this recording is memory, memory is time. Please listen to this, if you are interested, go into it very deeply. If you are interested, I am not asking you to. I have lived with my brother, my son, I have had happy days with them, enjoyed many things together but they are gone. And the memory of them remains. It is that memory that is causing pain, for which I am shedding tears in my loneliness. Now is it - please find out - is it possible not to record? This is a very serious question. I have enjoyed the sun yesterday morning early, so clear, so beautiful among the trees, casting a golden light on the lawn with long shadows. It has been a pleasant, lovely morning. And it has been recorded. And I have enjoyed the morning. How beautiful it was. Now the repetition begins. You understand? I have recorded that which has happened which caused me delight and that record, like a gramophone or tape recorder, it is repeated. That is the essence of time. And is it possible not to record at all? That sunrise of yesterday, look at it, give your whole attention to it, and not record it, it has gone, that moment of light, that golden light on the lawn with long shadows is gone, but the memory of it remains. Look at it and not record. The very attention of looking wipes away recording.
So we are asking is time the root of sorrow? Is thought the root of sorrow? Of course. So thought and time are the centre of my life - right? I live on that. And when something happens which is so drastically painful, I return to that pattern, to those memories and I shed tears. I wish he had been here to enjoy that sun when I was looking at it. Don't you know all this? It is the same with all our sexual memories, building a picture, thinking about it. All that is part of time and thought. If you ask how it is possible for time and thought inwardly to stop - again that is a wrong question. But when one realizes the truth of this, not the truth of another but your own observation of that truth, your own clarity of perception, will that end sorrow? That is, part of sorrow is my loneliness. I may be married, have children, responsibilities, belong to a club, play golf and all the rest of it, if one is lucky. And there I must record, recording there is knowledge, I must have knowledge. But that sunrise in the cloudless sky and the blue, and the shadows, numberless - I am not quoting Keats! - what need there be to record that? It is ended.
So to find out how to live a life without psychological recording - do you understand? To give such tremendous attention. It is only where there is inattention there is recording. I am used to my brother, to my son, to my wife, to my mother. I know what they will say. They have said so often the same thing. They have repeated, they have scolded. I know them. When I say "I know them" I am inattentive. When I say, "I know my wife", obviously I don't really know her because a living thing you cannot possibly know. It is only a dead thing that you can know. That is the dead memory that you know.
So when one is aware of this with great attention, sorrow has totally a different meaning. There is nothing to learn from sorrow. There is only the ending of sorrow. And when there is an ending of sorrow then there is love. How can I love another, have the quality of that love, when my whole life is based on memories, on that picture which I have hung on the mantelpiece, put up on the piano, how can I love when I am caught in a vast structure of memories? So the ending of sorrow is the beginning of love.
Tomorrow I think we ought to talk over together the nature of death and meditation. That is enough for this morning.
May I repeat a story? A teacher, a religious teacher, had several disciples and used to talk to them every morning, about the nature of goodness, beauty, love. And one morning he gets on the rostrum and as he is just about to begin talking a singing bird comes, alights on the window sill and begins to sing, chant. And he sings for a while and disappears. So the teacher says, "The sermon for this morning is over." May I get up please?
The Flame of Attention
Longer, Unedited Versions
Brockwood Park 3rd Public Talk 4th September 1982
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