Bombay 2nd Public Talk 27th December 1959
This evening I would like to think aloud about the question of effort, conflict, and that limited field of consciousness whose boundaries are laid down by thought and experience. It is rather a complex problem, and I think one has to give a fair amount of attention to comprehend it. We are caught up in conflicts of many types, in varying degrees, and at various depths. Some conflicts are very shallow, mechanical and easily resolved, but there are others which are much deeper, almost unfathomable. These hidden conflicts invariably produce distorted actions, which in turn create a great deal of misery and sorrow, the everincreasing problems with which we are all confronted in our daily life.
So, if possible, I would like to talk over this whole question of effort, conflict, and that limited field of consciousness, the boundaries of which have been laid down by thought and experience. You may ask, "When we have so much unemployment, poverty, starvation, degradation, sorrow, fear, and all the other miseries which plague our existence, why discuss the subject of consciousness? What has that to do with our daily living?" I think it has a great deal to do with it. Without understanding the whole process of our own thinking, without being familiar with its ways and movements, I do not quite see how there can be any way out of our difficulties.
In this unfortunate country, you have not only economic, political and linguistic problems, but you also have individual difficulties arising from the problems which the western culture has imposed upon the eastern culture. There are problems of which, perhaps, many of you are unaware - and probably you do not care to be aware of them, because you want to live an easy life, a sluggish, indolent life. We are surrounded by many things, both ugly and beautiful. The filth in the city streets, the poverty and squalor of the village, the beauty of the trees against the sky, and our relationship to all these things - most of us are not sensitive to any of this, because we want to lead a safe, secure, undisturbed life. But disaster is always just around the corner.
Wherever you are placed, whether you have a great deal of money, or are struggling to make ends meet, these problems exist both within and without, and it seems to me of the utmost importance for every serious-minded person to be aware of them. But it is no good merely being aware of the outward problems, and trying to reform the pattern of our physical existence. To bring about clarity in the world, there must first be inward clarity. You cannot put things about you in order without having order inwardly. Order begins with perception, not with the rearrangement of things outside the skin.
So, what we are going to talk about is intimately connected with our daily problems. Please don't shut yourself off by saying, "That does not concern me". It does concern you, terribly. You may not want to be concerned, you may not want to think about it; but it is the job of every human being to be aware of the whole human problem. We cannot concentrate exclusively on a specialized problem, and be occupied only with that. We must be concerned, it seems to me, with the totality of consciousness, and not just with a particular segment of it. You and I must be concerned with the total man, because we are responsible for everything that happens in the world, whether it happens in Russia, in America, here in India, or anywhere else. We are closely interrelated, and whatever happens in one place affects us all. No country can be rich while another is stricken with poverty. This is not a political speech, it is merely to point out the responsibility of each one of us as an individual; and that is why I say it is of the utmost importance to be aware of the problem which I am going to talk about this evening.
But before going into it, I think it is important to understand one central issue: that the means is the end. There is no end apart from the means. Do please see the importance of this - but not just intellectually, because mere intellectual or verbal comprehension has very little value. Any fool can understand verbally; but to feel the truth of this, to feel that the means and the end are one, is quite another matter.
Through a particular means you cannot reach an end or an object different from that means. There is a right means by which to become an engineer, an architect, a scientist, a surgeon, and so on. There is also a means of working for the utopian goal which the Communists and others talk about. We are not concerned for the moment whether the means is right or wrong. But apart the learning a technique where there is a means to an end, it invariably develops a mechanical attitude towards life, which is really materialistic. The man who puts on a sannyasi's robe, who renounces the world and becomes a monk in order to be `spiritual', is really a materialist, because he is dividing the end from the means.
Please understand what I am talking about, and don't say, "You are talking nonsense, because all the sacred books, from ancient times up to the present, insist that a system or a method is necessary". That is merely the accepted tradition. You don't know, you just accept and repeat what you have been told. You may say that tradition is the only thing you do know. If that is so, then you must obviously listen fairly intelligently when something is said which is not in accord with tradition. For the time being, at least, you must listen to find out the truth or the falseness of what is being said.
Please see the truth that to use a means to an end develops a mechanical attitude towards life. Using a means to an end implies efficiency. An efficient mind is necessary in the world of engineering, in the world of mechanics, in the world of science; but an efficient mind in the world of thought, is a tyrant. Your gurus, your swamis, your religious books are all tyrannical, because they are always bound to the pursuit of an end through a means. Therefore the means strangles you, it makes you a slave. There is no freedom through a means. If the end is freedom, it is no good going through slavery to reach it. If freedom does not lie in the very first step that you take, there will be no freedom at the end. To say that by going through slavery now you will ultimately be free - that is the good old game of the politicians, of the swamis and the yogis.
This is a very important point, so let us be very clear about it. What I am going to uncover and talk over with you does not permit a mind that is in any way mechanical. If, being used to a system, you have come here looking for a new system to replace the old, I am afraid you will be disappointed; because I am offering no system, no method, no goal. What we are trying to do together is to uncover, and therefore discover, as we go along. But discovery can take place only when the mind is free, and that is why freedom is so very important. You cannot discover even the common things of life, you cannot see beauty, the lovely shape and colour, the newness of things, if you merely look at them habitually. In the very unfolding of a problem, lies discovery; but the moment you begin to accumulate what is discovered, you cease to discover. Do please understand this. The discovery or understanding of something new is impossible for the accumulative mechanical mind.
Look, sirs. You have often heard the crows calling to each other, have you not? What an awful noise they make settling down for the night in a tree! Have you ever listened to their noise, actually listened to it? I doubt that you ever have. You have probably shut it out, saying it is an ugly noise, a nuisance. But if you are really capable of listening, there is no division between that noise and what is said, because attention implies the clarity of altogetherness, in which there is no exclusion. And that is what we are trying to do now: to uncover, to unfold the altogetherness of thought, of attention.
So, I hope you are listening to what is being said as you would listen for the first time to something new. Fortunately or unfortunately, but probably most unfortunately, some of you have heard me many times. Your listening has become a habit, and so you say "I have heard that before, it is nothing new". Sirs, there is nothing new on the earth, but there can be a newness in the way you listen to what you hear. Then everything is new, everything is living; then every movement of the mind is an uncovering, a discovery. So do please listen to me in that way because I am going to touch upon something to which you are not accustomed at all. I want to go into the problem of self-contradiction. Why does it exist, and must one everlastingly bear with it? Or is there a possibility of understanding and going beyond it?
Self-contradiction implies the question of effort, does it not? Our whole life is based on it; from school-age till we die, we everlastingly make effort. As a student you were urged to make effort, otherwise you would not pass the beastly examination. You have to make effort to concentrate at the office; you have to make effort to be reconciled to your boss, to your wife or husband, to your neighbours, with all the ugliness of it; you have to make effort to control, discipline yourself; and some of you make tremendous effort to find what you call God. That is your life, sirs, is it not? From morning till night, you are making effort, with never a moment of quietude, never a moment when the mind is at ease, when it is full, rich, joyous. It is always struggling, struggling, struggling.
To me, such a life is vain, useless, it does not mean a thing; so I would like to examine that whole process. Don't say, "Effort conflict is inevitable, it is part of human nature ", for then you have stopped listening, you have ceased to inquire. Don't accept anything - either what is being said now, or anything else in the world - because life is not a matter of acceptance and denial. Life has to be lived, it has to be felt and understood. When you merely accept or deny, you have barricaded your mind; you have ceased to feel, to live.
Do please apply this to yourself. You are not just listening to a lot of words that have no meaning in your daily life.
You have accepted the inevitability of effort; and when you are asked why you make effort, you say, "If I did not make effort, I would be torn to pieces by society. If I did not discipline myself, I would be all over the place", and so on. But to find out why you really make effort, you must uncover the source of this urge, must you not, sirs? Throughout your life you make ceaseless effort, and you have never asked yourself why; and at the end of it, what are you? A useless human being, crippled, dehydrated, worthless. So, what is the cause of this constant effort you are making?
Now, when you are inquiring into a cause, mere definition, which is a form of conclusion, has no value. You have to feel it out. You know, there is the intellect, and there is pure feeling - the pure feeling of loving something, of having great, generous emotions. The intellect reasons, calculates, weighs, balances. It asks, "Is it worthwhile? Will it give me benefit?" On the other hand, there is pure feeling - the extraordinary feeling for the sky, for your neighbour, for your wife or husband, for your child, for the world, for the beauty of a tree, and so on. When these two come together, there is death. Do you understand? When pure feeling is corrupted by the intellect, there is mediocrity. That is what most of us are doing. Our lives are mediocre because we are always calculating, asking ourselves whether it is worth while, what profit we will get, not only in the world of money, but also in the so-called spiritual world: "If I do. this, will I get that?"
So the cause of effort has to be discovered. Don't accept or deny what is being said, because I am only helping you to uncover, to look. It is stupid merely to accept or deny, for then one does not look; and we are trying to discover something, to experience it for ourselves.
So, what is the cause of this effort we are always making? Surely, it is self-contradiction. Do you understand? There is contradiction in our thinking, in our living, in our very being; and where there is contradiction, there must be effort - the effort to be or not to be this or that. Contradiction exists in little things, and in big things too. There is contradiction in our various desires; there is the contradiction or what I am and what I think I should be, which is exaggerated by the ideal. Wherever there is an ideal, self-contradiction is inevitable. All ideals perpetuate this inward conflict. However noble the ideal may be, a mind that follows the ideal must be in a continuous state of self-contradiction; and a self-contradictory mind is caught in this net of incessant effort.
Please, sirs, see the truth of this, and do not merely accept or reject what I am saying, for then it will have no value. It is of the utmost importance to see that the ideal perpetuates self-contradiction, and that through self-contradiction there can be no action which is not corrupt. As long as there is self-contradiction, all action is corruption. Sirs, `good' action in the wrong direction is evil, and the `good' action of a mind which is in contradiction with itself, is bound to produce misery. That is exactly what is happening in this and every other land.
So, self-contradiction is the cause of this ceaseless effort which most of us are making. Self-contradiction exists, because one wants to be something, does it not? I want to be the governor, or the prime minister; I want to be noble, non-greedy; I want to become a saint. Do you follow, sirs? The moment you have an idea of being or becoming something, there must be self-contradiction. Don't say, "Then must I not become something?" That is not the problem. Just see what is implied in becoming something. That is enough.
If you say that you want to become something, in the worldly or the so-called spiritual sense, then you must inevitably accept self-contradiction and effort, with all the crookedness that is born of that effort. And as long as there is contradiction within yourself, you will never produce a world in which human beings can be happy. All your saints, all your leaders have been brought up in this tradition of becoming something, and they are seething with self-contradiction; therefore whatever `good' they may do will only produce evil. You may not like what is being said, but this is a fact.
Self-contradiction does produce action, does it not? And the more determined you are in your self-contradiction, the more energy you pour into action. Do watch this process in yourself. The tension of self-contradiction produces its own action. If you are a clerk and you want to be the manager, or you want to become a famous artist or writer, or a great saint, in that state of self-contradiction you act most vigorously, and your action is praised by society, which is equally in a state of self-contradiction. You are this, which you dislike, and you want to become that, which you like. So, self-contradiction is the cause of your ceaseless effort. Z Don't say, "How am I to get out of self-contradiction?" That is a most silly question to ask. Just see how completely you are caught up in self-contradiction. That is enough; because the moment you are fully aware of the contradiction in yourself, with all its implications, that very awareness creates the energy to be free of contradiction. Awareness of the fact, like awareness of a dangerous thing, creates its own energy, which in turn produces action not based on contradiction.
So, there is contradiction in each one of us, is there not? I hate, and I want to love; I am stupid, and I want to be clever. We are all so familiar with contradiction in ourselves, we live with it day and night. And how is it to be understood - understood, not transcended, suppressed, or sublimated? You know, to understand something, you must have love in your heart. To understand the beauty of a tree-trunk, or of a curving branch, or of the sunlight through the leaves, you must look, you must feel, you must love. In the same way, there must be the state of affection, of sympathy, of love, if one is to understand this inner contradiction. And to go deeply into the problem of what creates contradiction, there must be infinite patience. Do you understand, sirs?
I want to know myself, the entirety of myself; I want to know the shallowness, the pettiness of every thought, every feeling; I want to delve deeply into my own consciousness so that I begin to understand its whole process. But to do that, there must be love, there must be patience, there must be a sense of insistency which is not a product of the will, but a spontaneous movement in everyday living. So, with love and patience, and with this sense of insistency, let us try to find out what consciousness is.
Consciousness, surely, is based on contradiction; it is a process of relationship and association. If there is no relationship, there is no consciousness. The relationship of ideas, the association of experiences that one has gathered, of memories that one has consciously or unconsciously stored up, the racial instincts, the traditions that one has inherited, the innumerable influences to which one is subject - all this makes up what we call consciousness. After all, in considering yourself a Hindu, a Parsi, a Buddhist, or a Christian, you are merely the result of certain influences. We are not talking about good or bad influences. All influence limits the mind; and a mind that is limited, narrowed down by influence, is a very effective tool - which is what the organized religions want.
So consciousness, surely, is that state of contradiction, with its ceaseless effort, which lays down the boundaries of the mind; it is the way of thought which creates a centre and a circumference.
Look, sirs, let us make it very simple. What are you? You are a businessman, a clerk, a professor, an engineer, or what you will. If you are a professor, your mind is limited by the knowledge you have acquired. That is obvious. If you are a businessman, your experience in the world of acquiring money, with its competition, its cheating, and all the rest of it, limits the field of your thinking. If you are a scientist, your field of inquiry is likewise limited by what you know. If you are a so-called religious man your consciousness is held within the frontiers of the particular environment in which you were brought up, whether it be Hindu, Buddhist, Moslem, Christian, or any other.
So contradiction, with its effort, limits the mind, and that limited consciousness becomes the `me' - the `me' who is an engineer, who has lived so many years and constructed so many bridges; the `me' who is an inventor, or a swami, or a businessman; the `me' who is bound by thought, by experience, by knowledge.
The experiences, the influences, the traditions by which we are bound may I be conscious or unconscious. Most of us are probably unaware of all these things that bind us. Being in a state of contradiction, we ask "How am I to get out of it?; or else we accept this inward contradiction as inevitable, and somehow put up with it. But a man who would find out if there is a way of living free of self-contradiction with all its miseries, must begin to inquire into the nature of his own consciousness, not only at the upper level, but at the deeper levels as well. And if you begin to inquire into yourself, you will inevitably see that your conscious and unconscious conflicts, which produce dream; and various other psychological states, are the result of a deep, inward contradiction. An ambitious man, whether he be a merchant, a politician, or a so-called saint, is essentially a self-contradictory human being. So do please see the psychological revolution that will take place when you begin to inquire into this whole problem of self-contradiction.
Self-contradiction is not productive of intelligence, but only of cunning. It produces a certain efficiency in adjusting oneself to the environment - and that is what most of us are doing. Self-contradiction, with its ceaseless effort, places a bondage on consciousness; and action born of self-contradiction is fundamentally productive of misery, though on the surface it may seem to be worth while. If your mind is in a state of self-contradiction, you may do good superficially, but essentially you are creating further misery. Of course, the streets must be cleaned, and all the rest of it - but we are not talking about that.
Now, seeing that any action born of self-contradiction, with its tension, will invariably produce misery, not only in the individual, but in his relationship with everything, one begins to inquire, "Then what is intelligent action? What is the action which is not born of self-contradiction, which is not the outcome of effort?" Please follow this, sirs. With most of us, idea and action are two separate things. The idea is over there, and our approximation to that idea is what we call action; so there is self-contradiction. Do you follow? The mind which conceives of action as an idea, and then shapes its action according to that idea, is in a state of self-contradiction, is it not? So then is there an action which is not self-contradictory? We all know the action which is in contradiction with itself - that is our everyday life. The mind is very familiar with it. And seeing the misery, the confusion, the ugliness, the brutality, the fleeting joys that result from such action, the mind is now inquiring if there is an action which does not come out of the womb ,of self-contradiction. If it exists, what is the nature of that action? Surely, it is a movement which is not divided as idea and action. When you feel-something very strongly you act without calculation, without bringing in the intellect and its cunning reasons, without thinking how dangerous it will be. Out of this pure feeling there is an action which is not self-contradictory. Perhaps I am not making myself clear.
Sirs, when you love something with your whole being, there is no self-contradiction. But most of us have not that wholeness of love. Our love is divided as carnal and spiritual, sacred and profane, and all the rest of that I nonsense. We do not know the love which is a total feeling, a completeness of being, which is neither of the past nor of the future, and which is not concerned with its own continuity. That feeling is total, it has no border, no frontier, and that feeling is action free of self-contradiction. Don't say, "How am I to get it?" It is not an ideal, a thing to be gained, a goal you must arrive at. If it is an ideal, throw it out, because it will only create I greater contradiction in your life. You have enough ideals, enough miseries - don't add another. We are talking about something entirely different: freeing the mind of all ideals, and therefore of all contradiction. If you see the truth of that, it is enough.
So, you see, intelligence is neither yours nor mine, nor is it to be found in any particular book; it is anonymous. When the mind listens to what is being said without accepting or denying, without comparing or evaluating, when it uncovers the truth of everything as it goes along, such a mind is in a state of intelligence; and that intelligence is completely anonymous. Do you understand, sirs? All great things are anonymous, are they not? All the great temples of this country, all the great cathedrals of Europe, are anonymous. You don't know who built those structures. No man has left his petty little name on them. Similarly, truth is anonymous, and you must be in a state of anonymity for it to come to you. All creation is anonymous - the creation which comes from nothingness.
If you have diligently followed all that has been said, you will perceive that where thinking is based on experience, it is productive of self-contradiction. What does that word `experience' mean? There is a challenge, and a response; the response to the challenge is experience, which becomes memory. Such memory is productive of thought, which says "This is right, that is wrong", "This is good, that is bad", "This is what I must do, that is what I must not do", and so on. As long as the mind is thus the residue of experience, as long as there is thought which has its roots in the soil of memory, there must be self-contradiction.
I know this is very difficult to understand, sirs, because for most of us life is based on experience. We move from experience to experience, and each experience, gathered as memory, shapes and conditions all further experience. But I am suggesting that there is a state of mind in which action is entire. There is then no idea apart from action; there is no approximation of action to an idea. If you really begin to inquire into that state of intelligence, you will discover for yourself the astonishing fullness, the entirety, the altogetherness of a mind that has no past, no future; and from that state, action is inevitable. Then living itself is action, and in such action there is no contradiction, but an extraordinary sense of bliss, a quietude which cannot be repeated, which is not to be imitated or learnt from another. It comes darkly, mysteriously, without your asking for it. It comes only when you have gone into yourself very deeply and have torn away the roots of all your conventions, customs, habits, methods, ideals and superstitions. Then you will find there is love; and with that love there is no evil, neither is there the good, for both are bondages. It is only love that is free.
December 27, 1959
Bombay 2nd Public Talk 27th December 1959
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