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New Delhi 1960

New Delhi 5th Public Talk 28th February 1960

I would like this evening to talk about several things, especially about effort, discipline and meditation. But, unfortunately, most of us are satisfied with theories, we are not concerned with being. We would rather talk about compassion, than be compassionate. We would rather talk about goodness and explain why we are not good, than flower in goodness. We are so easily satisfied with symbols, with ideals and cunning explanations which, when examined closely, are found to be mere words in the air.

I think it would be a great mistake if we now merely resorted to words and explanations, because what we are going to discuss is a rather complex issue. Our lives at present are very shallow, empty, and we are making a lot of noise philosophizing about that shallowness, that emptiness. We read books about it - books by well-known modern philosophers, or our own traditional books, the Gita, the Upanishads, and all the rest of it - and think we have understood the whole significance of life, with all its vastness, its beauty, its complexities. We think we are marvellously free when we have only read about freedom - which all indicates a childish sense of verbal satisfaction.

So I would like to suggest this evening that we try to uncover, if we can, some of the problems which confront us in our daily lives. We are concerned with effort, everyday effort - the ceaseless battle within ourselves, the struggle to be or not to be something, the effort involved in going to the office every day, the conflict in relationship, and the various other contradictions in our lives. To say that everyday effort does not concern us, that it is not part of a religious life, seems to me utterly wrong. So I think we must be concerned with effort, which we shall discuss presently.

There is also this whole problem of discipline - the discipline demanded by the Communists and by the various other political parties, the discipline that you impose upon yourself if you are lazy, the discipline of learning a technique, and the discipline insisted upon by the books, the teachers, the gurus. All that is part of our life.

And it is also part of our life, surely, to find out what is the state of the mind that contemplates, meditates. Without knowing for ourselves the quality of a mind that meditates, that is in a state of contemplation, we miss an enormous part of life; because this contemplative state of mind is, in its very essence, sensitivity to beauty, sensitivity, not just to a part, but to the whole process of existence.

And we should be concerned with the whole of life, not just with a part, should we not? Politics deal only with a part; social revolution concerns itself only with a segment of the whole. In all our activities, whether bureaucratic, scientific, or what you will, we are concerned with the part and not with the whole. And if we do not understand the whole, we shall be in everlasting conflict with others and with ourselves. So it seems to me very important and most urgent that we should find out what is the quality of the mind that is in a state of meditation.

Now, we are not going to explore the so-called steps to meditation, because all practice is mechanical. We are not going to say what meditation is, and what it is not. First we have to understand the mind as a whole, and then we shall come upon or discover the nature of meditation; we shall find out whether a discipline is necessary or not, and what is true effort. All this will be clear if we can understand what is the way of thinking. Because that is really our problem, is it not? - how to think. Thinking is possible, surely, only when there is room in the mind for observation. We must have space to think. The mind must be wide open in order to function freely in thought. For a limited mind cannot think freely. A mind that is free can think freely, but not the other way around. When there is open space in the mind for observation, there is contemplation. But our minds are limited, tethered to various techniques and experiences, bound to knowledge, and our space for observation is very narrow. So it is very important, surely, to understand the nature of consciousness - not only the conscious mind, but also the unconscious, which is the world of symbols. Without understanding this world of symbols, of words, of instincts, the mind is not free to observe, and therefore there is no space for contemplation.

If I may turn aside for a moment, I think it is important to understand what it means to listen, for then, perhaps, what is being said will have a meaning beyond the words. It seems to me that very few of us ever do listen. We do not know how to listen. I wonder if you have ever really listened to your child, to your wife or husband, or to a bird? I wonder if you have ever listened to the mind as it watches a sunset, or if you have read a poem with an attitude of listening? If we know how to listen, that very listening is an action in which the miracle of understanding takes place. If we know how to listen to what is being said, we shall discover whether it is true or false. And what is true, one does not have to accept: it is so. It is only when there is contention between the false and the false, that there is acceptance and rejection, agreement and disagreement.

So it is important to find out how to listen. You have certain ideas about discipline, about effort, about meditation; you have various images based upon the traditional or the modern approach, and upon the experiences which you have had; and all these, surely, prevent you from listening. When the mind is comparing what is being said with what is said in the Gita, the Bible, or by another person, there is no real listening. When there is comparison, there is no understanding at all, because a mind that is comparing ceases to see the fact.

So listening is quite an art - listening with your whole being. And you do listen in that way when you are tremendously interested in something. If it is a matter of getting more money, or becoming famous, you listen with all your being, don't you? When you hope to get something for yourself, you are so eager that you put all comparison aside. So you do listen when it is profitable to you - and you are probably, listening in that way now. But then, unfortunately, you will be listening in vain, because what is being said is not profitable to you; you are not going to make money out of it, either in this world or in the next. All you have to do is to find out, uncover, discover; and that requires, not only listening, but an attention which is not mere concentration.

Do you know the difference between attention and concentration? A concentrated mind is not an attentive mind, but a mind that is in the state of attention can concentrate. Attention is never exclusive, it includes everything. If you are attentive as you are listening to what is being said, you are also aware of the sound of the birds, of the noise on the road, of your own posture, your own gestures, as well as of the movements of your own mind. But if you are concentrating - which involves strain, exclusion - in order to pay attention, you will find that such concentration is not conducive to understanding. I am not going to go into all that at present.

What I want to convey is that the mind is the field of symbols, the field of memory, the field of knowledge; and as long as the mind remains within its own field, it cannot function in freedom. So it seems to me that meditation is the whole process of discovering and understanding for oneself the limitations placed upon consciousness by effort, by discipline, and through this process of meditation, giving the mind space to function widely, deeply, without the boundaries of its own anxieties and fears.

We have to begin, surely, by seeing that life is infinitely wide, that it has no beginning and no end. Life has a beginning and an end only when it is `yours', that is, when you function from a centre. This centre is the `you' that pursues pleasure, the `you' that quarrels, that is ambitious, vain, stupid, the `you' that was born and is going to die. The mind that functions from this centre is like a man who has carved out for himself a little space on the bank of a wide, deep flowing river, and for the rest of his life remains in this little space - which is what most of us do. In this little space we meet, in this little space we cultivate virtue, in this little space we are lustful, we are vain, and all the rest of it, and we never enter into the full stream of life. All our ambitions, ideals, disciplines, controls, adjustments are in this little haven which we call our life - and just beyond it is the real life, the life which is in constant movement, which has no beginning and no end.

Now, we have to see that life as a fact, and not regard it as a theory, or say, "It sounds awfully nice, but it is not practicable". We have got to contemplate, live it every day, otherwise we shall continue to be in a state of misery in which we now are. We are in a state of contradiction, we are confused, we are full of sorrow, inwardly poor; our joys are so empty, because we have separated ourselves from that extraordinary movement of life, and we have very little touch with it. This is not a poetic simile, and what is being said is not romantic sentimentalism. I am talking about a fact which we must directly experience in our everyday life, and not regard as something which we have to strive after. So we have to understand effort.

What is effort? I do not know if you have ever thought about it. We make constant effort, do we not? In the morning you feel lazy, but when the bell rings you make an effort and get out of bed. A little later you go to the office, where again you make effort. The schoolboy makes an effort to pass a beastly examination. There is the effort to be virtuous, the effort to control one's mind, the effort to adjust in relationship, the effort to achieve an aim, and so on. For most of us, life is a process of striving, striving - a ceaseless conflict. Why? Have you ever thought about it?

Surely, most of us make effort because we are afraid that if we don't we shall become more lazy, or lose our jobs, or stagnate. So at the back of effort there is fear. Watch your own efforts, observe yourselves and you will see there is this fear of going to sleep - physically, mentally, inwardly - if you don't make effort. And we say that it is natural, that it is part of our existence to live like this. Everything around us makes effort. The tree has to make an effort to grow, and so on; therefore effort is inevitable. But let us go a little further into it and find out whether effort really is inevitable.

Effort implies conflict, does it not? If there were no conflict, would you make an effort? Do please consider this, go into it with me, because I want to uncover a state in which the mind functions without effort and in which it is much more alive, vastly more intelligent than a mind that makes effort. Effort implies, surely, a conflict within and without. Conflict arises because of a contradiction in oneself. If there were no self-contradiction, you would be what you are: stupid, petty, violent, envious. The discovery of what you are never creates a conflict. It is only when you want to change what you are into something else that there is self-contradiction and therefore conflict. Effort invariably implies duality, does it not? - the good and the bad, pleasure and pain, and all the rest of it. Duality is contradiction; and as long as the mind is in contradiction with itself, there must be conflict, which shows itself in effort. So our problem is not whether one can live without effort, but whether it is possible to eradicate totally this state of self-contradiction. That is one problem, which we shall come to a little later.

Now, what do we mean by discipline? From childhood we are disciplined to conform, to obey the elders, to follow tradition, to imitate an example, a hero, to adjust ourselves to the established Pattern. And the pattern, the hero, the tradition, is always respectable - the respectable being that which is recognized as worthwhile by society.

Please do follow this, because it is a description of your own life.

Every political or religious organization inevitably contains the seed of reaction, and you can see why. The leaders have a vested interest, they are somebodies in their organization or party, and they do not want it to be broken up. They are fulfilling their ambitions in the name of peace, in the name of brotherhood, and all the rest of the nonsense that they talk. So, religious and political organizations of every kind are invariably hotbeds of reaction. They want things to go on as they are, with only slight modifications.

Similarly, a mind which is organized, disciplined - discipline being suppression, conformity, imitation, fear - , whether in the political or so-called religious field, is a reactionary mind. It is afraid of change, it is anxious about new ideas setting in. But this does not mean that a disorganized mind is a free mind. If you oppose the organized mind with the disorganized mind, you will not understand what I am talking about. I am talking about only one thing, which is the organized mind, the disciplined mind - the mind that imitates, conforms, follows - , not its opposite. Such a mind inevitably invites fear, and therefore resists every form of change, transformation, revolution. I am not using the word `revolution' in the economic, social, or political sense. Revolutions at that level are only partial, therefore they are not revolutions at all. Revolution cannot be partial, it is something total. It has nothing whatsoever to do with religious or political beliefs, or with economic upheavals. Revolution, which is always total, is in the mind, in the quality of thinking, in the quality of being.

Most of us have been disciplined, made to conform. If you belong to a political party, the whips, the leaders make you conform to the party line. If you criticize, out you go. It is the same with religious organizations, if you criticize the Pope, or Shankaracharya, or any of the big, influential religious leaders. So a disciplined mind resists freedom, because its thought is organized to conform, to function within a pattern. A disciplined mind is incapable of inquiry, because it has not the space, the freedom to find out. Your inquiry about God within the framework of discipline, is no inquiry at all; it is just the muttering of tradition. But if you would find out whether or not there is reality, that energy which has no beginning and no end, which does not belong to any belief or organized religion - if you would find that out, then your mind must understand this process of being disciplined to conform. You will also have to understand why conflict exists between the thinker and the thought.

If you observe your own mind you will see that there is a conflict between the experiencer and the experienced, between the thinker and the thought. The thinker is the censor, the judge who says, "I must not be this, I must be that. That is pleasurable, and I must pursue it; this is painful, and I must avoid it". So there is a division between the thinker and the thought. This is an everyday fact which you know and accept, is it not? The thinker is always trying to dominate, to change the movement of thought; and this division with its conflict, you say is an inevitable part of existence.

Now, what we are concerned with is the total elimination of conflict; because a mind in conflict is a silly mind. It is like a machine that functions badly. It may be very clever in its conflict, it may produce great books, make eloquent speeches, write poems that reflect its struggle and tension, but it is not a mind that flowers in goodness; it flowers in contradiction and pain. So, we are concerned with the total elimination of conflict. It is only when the mind is free of conflict that it can be what it is; and then it is capable of an extraordinary sense of creation - which we will not go into at present.

As long as there is a thinker apart from thought, there is conflict. This division, with its conflict, you have accepted as inevitable; but is it? You say, "That is my practical experience". But even though Shankara, Buddha and all the rest of them have said so, may I suggest that you put aside these authorities, as well as the authority of your own experience, and examine it.

Is there a thinker apart from thought? Or is there only thought, which creates the thinker? If there is no thought, there is obviously no thinker.

Please, sirs, this is not a verbal trick, it is not an argument for you to accept or reject. If you think in terms of acceptance or rejection, you are living in a false world. I am asking a question, which is: if there is no thought, where is the thinker? Because thought is fleeting, transient, in a constant state of flux, it demands a permanent entity; so thought creates the thinker. Don't you want everything to be permanent? Your job, your property, your bank account, your relationship with your wife or husband - don't you want these things to be permanent, lasting? You want your soul to continue in the hereafter; you want your way of thinking, your way of living, your comforts, your vanities, to go on everlastingly. So your thought creates a permanent entity which you say is the thinker, and you give to the thinker various qualities, calling it the Atman, the higher self, and all the rest of it. But it is all within the field of thought, and thought is time, because thought is the reaction of memory - memory as knowledge or experience.

So thought creates the thinker, the censor, the observer. And is it possible to think without the censor? Do you understand? Is it possible to observe without the observer? Don't agree or disagree, sirs. Please, you have to find out. One direct experience of your own is worth more than all the books put together. If you can find out for yourself what is true, you can burn all the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Gita and the Bible; they are not worth looking at.

Now, you have to find out directly for yourself whether it is possible to be in that state of thinking without the thinker, experiencing without the experiencer. Please, sirs, it is not complicated. In the moment of your intense anger, is there an observer? It is only after the emotional upheaval has taken place that you say, "By Jove, I was angry". Then comes identification, and the condemnatory process begins; there is contradiction, conflict, an effort to conform to the pattern recognized by society as being respectable. Do you understand, sirs? The pattern is recognized as being respectable, otherwise you would not try to conform to it. And respectability is a horror, an ugly thing, because it opens the door to mediocrity.

So, our problem is to understand the state of the mind which is in meditation, because meditation is essential - but not the meditation that most people practise sitting in a room and repeating a lot of words, that is not meditation. Repetition merely puts the mind to sleep, and you can do that very easily by taking a tranquilizer. I know you will dislike what is being said, because you have found that your traditional repetition of certain words and names for ten minutes or so, gradually makes your mind quiet; but it has only gone to sleep, and that is what you call meditation. You also call it meditation when you solicit, pray, beg for something for yourself, for your country, for your party or for your family. You put forth the begging bowl of inward poverty and ask somebody to fill it. That is not meditation. Meditation is something entirely different, as you will see. The state of meditation is possible only when there is space in the mind for observation, and that space is denied to a mind which is suppressed, disciplined to conform to a pattern. A mind in the state of meditation, contemplation, is not striving to be anything.

Sirs, I am only trying to convey in different words what has been said previously. If you have not followed the talk for the last forty minutes or more, you won't understand what is being said now.

A mind in contemplation is free of symbols; it has no visions, because visions are projections of that background in which it has been conditioned. A mind in contemplation is no longer making effort, as effort is generally understood; therefore there is no observer, there is no censor. A mind in contemplation, which is the state of meditation, is completely silent; and that silence is not induced. You can discipline your mind to be silent, but that is merely conformity to a pattern in the hope of getting what you desire; therefore it is not silence. A mind in meditation is absolutely silent, and that silence is not projected, not wished for, not cultivated. That silence is from moment to moment, it has no continuity; therefore it cannot be practised, it cannot be developed, any more than you can develop humility. Do you understand? If you cultivate, develop humility, you are no longer humble; you don't know what humility means. Leave the cultivation of humility to the saints, to the leaders, who are full of vanity and therefore cultivate the opposite, hoping thereby to become still more respectable. The cultivation of virtue is effort in limitation; so this quality of silence is not something to be cultivated.

The mind in meditation is in a state where there is no movement of thought, and therefore no projection of the background in which it has lived. Only the mind which has understood all that we have been talking about - understood in the sense of having perceived the fact, not merely having accepted the words, the explanations, which are ashes - and is therefore completely silent with a silence that is not induced by breathing or any other trick: it is only such a mind that can know the immeasurable, the eternal, that which has no beginning and no end.

February 28, 1960


New Delhi 1960

New Delhi 5th Public Talk 28th February 1960

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