The Way of Intelligence
Chapter 4, Seminars Madras 1979
The Way of Intelligence Chapter 4 Part 3 3rd Seminar Madras 4th January 1979 'The Nature of A Religious Life'
N. Vasudevan Nair: What is the choice before mankind, sir? In the enormity of his grief, man faces the world, which is a very devastating experience. He crawls on all fours to catch a blade of grass, he suffers, he is lost. Can there be a complete rebirth or has he to undergo the pain of one birth after another?
K: Are you asking, sir, what is the challenge before mankind? N. V.N.: What is his choice? To be born or not to be born? To be or not to be?
K: Would you say that is a real question: What is the challenge for mankind in the present crisis?
N. V.N: No. That is not the real question. The real question is, to be or not to be.
K: I don't quite understand the question, sir. Please explain. What is the real question which we have been discussing for the last two days? We all see, quite obviously, the deterioration of mankind not only in this country but in every country, and we have not only to stop it but also to bring about a re-birth - not the old pattern but a totally different way of life. Is that the question we are asking? We also see that science, Karl Marx, Gita, the Upanishads, Mao and all the organizational propaganda and institutions have completely failed. And we are asking: Is there a way of living which is totally religious in the sense that we are using the word? And we are trying to investigate what is that religious life. Because historically, as one observes, a new culture, a new way of painting, music, living, comes out of a deep, profound religious life. What is that religious life which is not sentimental, romantic, devotional, because all that is utterly meaningless? What is a truly religious mind? That is what we are trying to investigate in this group.
As Achyutji pointed out, knowledge, whether it is Marxian or scientific or the accumulated knowledge of mankind in any field, is destroying man, and to end that destruction, a new way, a religious way, has to be found. Is it possible to find a religious way in the modern world with all the technological advancement, with all the crumbling relationships?
P.K.S.: Earlier we came to the conclusion that a religious life is the very antithesis of fragmentation. We spoke of two things which are mutually incompatible as far as I can see: One, complete emptying of the mind, and the other, the removal of fragmentation. But fragmentation is the opposite of totality. Totality is richness, not emptiness. You spoke of emptying the mind. Are we going to fill the mind or empty the mind? This incompatibility I am not able to follow.
Prof. Sanjivi: Now, that is the pertinent question which I also wanted to pose before you. Is emptying the mind practicable? Is it possible, relevant, in day-to-day life?
K: We are trying to examine a way of life which is non-fragmentary, which is holistic, whole, and perhaps that would lead us to a truly religious life. We said that because thought in itself is limited, all its movements are fragmentary. Thought itself is fragmented. Would you accept that?
San: Sir, there is one difficulty in accepting this. Even this thought is the result of a fragmentary thought. Is it not?
K: No. This is not a thought; it is a statement.
A.P.: It is an insight.
San: Even if you call it an insight, is it not the result of a fragmentary personality?
K: No, sir.
G.N.: We have a lot of knowledge, and from that knowledge there is a way of functioning. What is the difference between knowledge and insight? What is the nature of insight? A religious life, you say, is a sane life. There is some connection between that and insight which is not just knowledge, which is not a memory function. Is it possible to communicate this distinction?
A.P.: I would like to add that insight is different from conclusion. When there is knowledge, there is conclusion. When there is insight, it opens a door. So, we must also understand the difference between a conclusion which comes from knowledge and an insight, which is qualitatively different.
K: Are we trying now to explore what is insight? D.S.: We should also discuss the question of how a fragmented mind can investigate.
K: First, let us see that the movement of thought must inevitably be a broken up process. You are asking whether this statement is not also a fragmentary statement. It is.
Uma: I see the movement of thought; I am observing it, I am perceiving it. Even as I observe, I become very silent. But at the same time, I see the need for change, the urgency of change, and the very content of observation prevents that. There is conflict because I want to change and I see it is all in the movement of thought.
K: All that is the movement of thought, and that very movement is a fragmentary movement. The point and the question is, can that fragmentary movement end? What do you say, sir?
D.S.: Krishnaji, I am rattled. Even the question `Can this end?' comes out of another fragment.
K: She used the word `perception'. She watches, she perceives her own life, and in that perception she discovers that there is conflict, that there is fragmentation, and the need for change in herself. So, the essential point here is perception, the seeing of this whole movement of thought. Is that what you are trying to say? Could we then discuss what perception is, not theoretically but actually? Could we go into that and move from there?
San: I think the relevant and useful thing for us to discuss today will be what the technique behind it is and how it is possible as a practicable solution in day-to-day life.
P.J.: Sir, could we start the investigation into the religious mind with the query, how can thought end?
San: I, for the time being, accept you suggestion that the solution to all the problems would be the cessation of thought, the stopping of the thought process. How does one achieve that? K: Would you say a religious life is the ending of all movement of thought, the ending of all problems?
San: That's how I have understood you.
K: Sir, it is much more complex. Shall we discuss that?
R.D.: One difficulty arises in almost all of us - that is, the `I' and thought. When we use the word `thought', we seem to externalize it as if it is there as a kind of object we don't perceive. Insight is to see from within. Is it possible for one to see from within?
K: You have put so many questions. Where shall we start? Do we all see or understand, either verbally or intellectually or deeply, that thought, in itself being limited whatever its activity, is broken up? Do we see it, or intellectually agree with it? The next question that arises would be, is it possible to stop thought, and if it is stopped, then what is my activity in my daily life? Can thought be stopped, and who is it that stops it? If there is an entity which can stop it, that entity is either outside the field of thought or created by thought itself. I am an outside agency and I am going to stop it. If that agency is outside - heaven or god or whatever - then that very outside agency is created by thought. So, our problem then is: Can thought realize itself as limited, and, therefore, being limited, limit itself to a certain activity in daily life? Now, the next question is: Can thought become aware of itself, and in that very awareness put itself in a particular corner, as it were, and from that corner act? But it can't.
D.S.: Let us look at it from another angle then. If I want to put a nail in the wall, I take a hammer and hit the nail. If I want to go rowing in a boat I use an oar and row. What happens to thought? Thought does not see itself in such a fashion. In other words, thought has a function like a nail to a hammer or an oar to a boat. What happens if thought arrogates or takes on more than it is supposed to take on? You were saying thought has a limited function. K: No sir. This is the question: Can thought become aware of itself as being limited?
R.D.: Can thought intellectually think that it is limited?
K: It is still another thought that says I am limited. So, let us move out of that for a while. Can your consciousness become aware of itself?
P.J.: What is the difference between thought becoming aware of itself and consciousness becoming aware of itself? Does consciousness itself have a capacity to reflect itself?
K: Has consciousness the capacity to observe itself, not reflect itself? Is there in consciousness a seeing or an element that observes itself as is? It is very important to find out if there is observation. Is there an observer observing, or there is only pure observation?
P.K.S.: If consciousness can observe itself, then I think we are introducing a duality within consciousness itself.
K: Sir, consciousness is full of duality. I do, I don't, I must not, fear, courage - the whole of that is consciousness. That's why it is so difficult. I say one thing, you say another. We never meet.
M.Z.: Are we admitting that thought is capable of recognising a fact?
S.P.: Is awareness of consciousness part of consciousness?
K: I would like to discuss it. Is there an observation without the observer? Because if there is, then that observation operates on the whole of consciousness. It is important to discuss this question of observation. We are missing a very important thing, which is, there is only observation, not the observer.
D.S.: If I know that there is observation without the observer, I have already introduced an observer. K: Why is there not pure observation? It is because you are introducing an observer into observation. So, who is the observer? Am I introducing the observer into observation? I am saying: As long as there is an observer different from his observation and what is observed, there must be duality. As most of us observe with the observer, we, therefore, have to examine what the observer is. I want to come to a point where I can carry this out in my daily life. How can I observe without the observer? Can I observe my actions, my wife, my husband, my children, the whole cultural tradition, without the observer? Who is the observer to whom you give so much importance?
P.K.S.: Sir, you seem to be dogmatically accepting the distinction between the observer and observation as though there is an observer apart from observation.
K: No. I said we have established this in our life - the observer, `I am observing', `I am looking', `My opinion is that', and so on. That is the whole build-up through generations, the idea that the observer is different from that which he is observing. I observe this house. Obviously the home is different from me, from the observer.
P.K.S.: The object is different from the observer but observation is not.
K: I am coming to that. There is an observation of that thing called a tree. There is an observation, and I say it is a tree, and so on. Now, we are talking about psychological observation. In that observation, there is a duality - I and the thing I am observing. It is the observer who brings about this distinction. Now, what is the observer?
S.P.: The whole collection of experience and identification is the observer. The observer has many depths.
K: That is, knowledge, the past; the past being accumulation of knowledge, experience of mankind - racial, non-racial. The observer is the past. A.P.: With one addition - the observer is the past plus the sense of continuity.
K: The continuity is the observer who is the past meeting the present, modifying itself and continuing the present.
San: The observer has depths which are very difficult to fathom.
K: I don't think so. I know the observer has depth, the depth being knowledge of centuries.
P.J.: The nature of the observer is the field of consciousness. What is the totality of the observer, the totality of consciousness?
K: You talked about totality of consciousness and whether there can be an observation without the observer. Now, when you say there are depths to the observer, I say the observer himself is the field of consciousness. The totality of the observer is itself the field of observation. You can keep on expanding the observer endlessly.
Look, Pupulji. Make it very simple: Can I observe my wife or my husband without all the accumulation that I have had during my twenty years of life with her or him?
P.J.: I may say `yes'.
K: That would just be agreeing. We are not meeting the point. Can I observe my wife or husband with whom I have lived, and about whom, during the course of those twenty years, I have accumulated knowledge, as she has about me? Can I observe her without the accumulated knowledge?
San: As it is, it is not possible.
K: The observer is the past, whether it is the totality of consciousness, infinite depth and so on. Can you observe your wife, husband, as though you are seeing a human for the first time? Then your whole relationship changes.
S.P.: There is one difficulty. There have been occasions when one can see a husband or a friend without any move- ment of the past. So, one sees it is possible to see that way. When you say the entire relationship is changed for ever, then the difficulty arises.
K: All right. Have we communicated to each other that the observer who is the past and, therefore, time-bound creates the distinction between himself and his wife - dominating her, pushing her? So, the past is always operating. And, therefore, his relationship with her is based not on affection, not on love, but on the past.
S.P.: We have affection.
K: I question it. Can we have affection if there is the operation of the past?
San: There is only one way out.
K: I am not seeking a way out. I want to understand the problem in which I live. There is no way out. All I am concerned with is how I approach a problem, because the approach is going to dictate the understanding of the problem.
P.K.S.: Then the question arises: Is the observer able to observe the past?
K: That constitutes the ego, the `I', the self, the `me'.
P.J.: You say: Can the observer observe the past? That is the essential nature of the enquiry. Is it possible for an observation to be there without the observer?
San: Is that the question or something different: (a) Can you make an observation without the burden of the past; or (b) Can there be an observation without the observer? I find a world of difference between the two.
K: Sir, this is the problem with all of us. Can I observe a thing without all the burden of the past? Because, if it is possible to observe totally, then that observation is not time-bound, it is not a continuity. The moment you do it, don't you fall into a new mode of existence; something totally irrevocable?
P.J.: How is it possible?
S.P.: At this point, what does the mind do? What can it do? There is no movement of thought.
K: That's why I am enquiring into the process of observing the observer. The observer is the past. Can the observer see the movement of the past as it operates? Is there an observation of the past - the hurt, for example? Is there an observation of the movement of hurt, the whole cycle of hurt, psychologically, biologically, physically and so on, the hurt which involves resistance, agony, pain, all that? Can there be an observation of that hurt, that observation telling the story of the hurt, revealing itself? Is it impractical?
S.P.: Again, we are taking a fragmentary view of the whole thing.
D.S.: Everything you see in some way is the action of the observer. So, every question arises in the condition of the observer.
K: If I tell you a simple fact, that love is not of time, then duality, the observer, everything ends. Now, what is a religious life? Obviously, all things that go on in the name of religion are not religion - all the rituals, the puja, the gods, all that is out. Then what will it be? All that is thrown out, which means you are throwing out yourself, the `me'. So, the essence of religion is the total absence of the `me', of the `self.
San: What is it you mean by self? Is it ego?
K: Ego, which means my characteristics, my desires, my fears.
San: But is it not the mechanism of observation - an instrument to observe?
A.P.: Would you accept it if I say that the self is only an adhesive, it has the quality of making things stick to it. K: The description is not the self. I want to see what the self is. Can that self be washed off? Can I get rid of my jealousy, anger? As long as that is there - fear of this or that - I have no religious mind. I can pretend to be religious by going to a temple. You have to see that you are selfish. The self is jealousy, envy, greed, authority, power, position, domination, attachment. End it. And can you be selfless, can you live without the self and live in this world? Is that what you asked?
San: Not exactly that. We left at the point that the solution of all problems is to stop thinking, stop the whole process of thinking. It will be more fruitful if we find a technique for this.
K: Sir, the word `technique' signifies practice, a continuous repetition and that makes the mind mechanical. A mechanical mind can never have love. Please see that any system will make the mind mechanical. If you see it intellectually, probe it further. We have had systems galore and nobody has come to anything with these systems.
D.S.: The fact is that we have talked about it many times. Inevitably the question is: Is there a system? In the very nature of the observer arise the questions: How can I be religious, how can I be unselfish, how can I be this, how can I be that? Everybody wants to get another drug; everybody is trying to get there.
K: Yes sir, every body wants to be something else. Everybody is doing something. So, all I say is: Start where you are.
D.S.: You stick to that?
K: I do.
D.S.: But you talk of being unselfish.
M.Z.: Envy, jealousy and all this is where you are.
D.S.: In all that he has said, there is a subtle suggestion that you can get rid of jealousy, envy. K: No sir. That is your comprehension, rather misinterpretation. I am saying: Start near. Because, if you know this whole history of man which is you, it is finished.
D.S.: You just don't change that.
K: It is a book, a vast book, and I read it. I am not trying to change it. I want to read the whole history instantly.
S.P.: Without movement in time, how can you read?
K: I just want to know the whole content of myself. My whole consciousness is its content. And I am investigating. You can investigate something when you are free, when there is no prejudice, belief, conclusion.
R.D.: Then there is no investigation at all of the history. The history is the prejudice, and you are saying, `Read it.'
K: Then it is finished. I have come to the end of the chapter.
S.P.: Then you are not really interested in investigating the content but in stopping?
R.D.: There are people who are seeking systems. I see intellectually that a system will not end the problem at all. So, I don't seek. Now the question is, what do I do? I am learning and observing, but my tool of observation is still the intellect. And I am sitting and observing with you. The tool is inadequate - investigation through knowledge. I see this now; I see something very practical. I have denied systems, denied practice. Where am I?
K: If you have put away systems, practice, what is the quality of your mind?
R.D.: It is enquiring, investigating.
K: You are not answering my question. What is the state of your mind when you have put away systems? Look, sirs, you have seen something false, and you have dropped it. You have put away systems. Why have you put them away? Because you see they are silly, you logically see it. Which means what? Your mind has become sharper, more intelligent. That intelligence is going to observe, put away everything that is false. That intelligence sees fragmentarily or sees the wholeness of it. When you put away something false, your mind is lighter. It is like climbing a mountain and throwing away that which you don't need. Your mind becomes very, very clear. So your mind has the capacity of perceiving that which is true and that which is false.
Discard everything that is false, which is, everything that thought has put together. Then the mind has no illusion. Sir, that is the whole book, I am not reading anything but the book. I began with the first chapter which says: Be aware of your senses. And the next chapter says: Human beings have their partial senses, exaggerating one sense and denying the others. The third chapter says: See that all the senses can operate; that means there is no centre of a particular sensory operation. And the fourth chapter and so on. I am not going to read the book for you. Read it and explore the nature of the religious life.
The Way of Intelligence
Chapter 4, Seminars Madras 1979
The Way of Intelligence Chapter 4 Part 3 3rd Seminar Madras 4th January 1979 'The Nature of A Religious Life'
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