Bombay 3rd Public Talk 28th February 1962
We have been talking about the necessity for the emergence of the individual. Society with all its complex influences and conditioning shapes thought; and if an individual is to emerge - and it is only the individual that can find the immense, it seems to me that this social influence, its morality, its corrupting ideations must be understood. Is it possible for the mind which has been so conditioned - every thought which has been so shaped, moulded by every kind of influence - , to emerge totally, uncorrupted, without a mark, completely free? Because it is only such a mind which is an uncorrupted mind - not a shaped mind, not a mind that is moulded by circumstances, by influences - that can go very far in the discovery of what is truth, that can find out if there is a Reality which is beyond the measure of the mind. And as we were pointing out the other day when we met here, power, position in every form, breeds authority.
This evening I think we should go into the question of desire, ambition and fulfilment, and enquire if the mind can come out of all this without a scratch.
As we have pointed out at every talk, it is important to understand what `listening' is - just to listen completely, easily, without effort. Because it is effort, struggle, that prevents clarity. It is effort that perverts, that induces every form of distortion. And is it possible to listen to anything without a struggle, without a distortion? To see a flower, not botanically, not horticulturally, but to see it actually - what is it? It is quite arduous to see your friend, your wife, your children without distortion, without giving an opinion, without bringing in innumerable ideations - just to observe. From that observation and from that listening there is an action which itself brings about clarity without any form of effort.
And it seems to me that if each one could so listen, could so see, easily without effort, then the whole process of living would miraculously, without a struggle, change. And it is possible, because man can do anything with his mind, with his brain. He has gone, or he is going, to the moon; he has built computers, he has done the most extraordinary things outwardly; but he has not gone very far deeply within himself. The journey to the moon is very near compared to the journey within; and very few are willing to take the journey within, because it requires attention and nothing else. It requires total attention to listen, to see exactly, every minute, without distortion, every thought, every feeling. I do ask most earnestly that you should so listen.
Most of us are ambitious, most of us are ridden by the desire for success, for fame, or by the desire to be known; and it is an everlasting struggle and effort. Struggle is apparently accepted by each one as a necessity, in learning, in getting educated, in going to the office, in climbing the ladder of success, in understanding what is truth; everything has become a question of struggle, effort. To think, to love, to be kind, to have humility - all this has been reduced to a formula of struggle and effort, control and discipline. For me such a life of discipline, control, struggle, subjugation, conformity, is destruction of the individual who must emerge; and it is only the individual that can find out the Eternal, if there is such a thing as the Eternal.
So we must understand struggle. I am using the word `understand' in the sense not intellectually, not verbally, but actually observing the fact of what you are, the fact that you struggle from morning till night, from the moment you are born till the moment you die, fighting, quarrelling, making incessant effort without end. Surely, there must be a different way of living. But we have accepted the way of struggle. The schoolboy accepts it; the older generations have accepted it; and every saint, every philosopher, every teacher has asserted that you must struggle, that you must make an effort. I am pointing out, if you will listen, that there is a way of living without effort - which does not mean that you become sluggish, that you become dormant, stagnant; on the contrary. That effort, that struggle, is a waste; and when effort, struggle, entirely, totally ceases, there is a way of living completely with such energy. And to find out such a way we must enquire diligently, wisely and intelligently into this problem of struggle.
We are investigating, we are not accepting what is being said, because it is not a question of accepting or rejecting. We are not doing propaganda; we will leave that to the politicians, to the others. Propaganda is the continuity of non-fact; and a man who would understand a fact must approach it without distortion, see clearly what are the problems involved in ambition, in desire, in struggle. And we are going to investigate together. Therefore, you are going to journey into yourself, and not merely listen to what is being said.
Why do we struggle? What is the essence of struggle, what is the essence ambition? Surely, conflict is the essence of ambition. Why are we so everlastingly ambitious at all levels of our existence? The so-called spiritual man, the sannyasi, the man with a beard, the politicians, the merchant, the man who is acquiring knowledge - they are all ambitious. Why? Why this conflict and struggle? Conflict exists because there is contradiction. If there was no contradiction there would be no struggle.
Please follow this, not the words, but actually observe yourself as it were in a mirror. If there was no contradiction, there need be no effort. And we are a mass of contradiction. Why does this contradiction exist? Why does desire tear in different directions? Being torn in different directions, we say to ourselves, `I must be without desire', or `I must control the desire'. Psychologically it is impossible to control desire; you have to understand it, you have to unravel it, you have to go to the full length, not in its expression, not in its fulfilment, but understand the whole significance of desire which breeds contradiction. Because it breeds contradiction, we resist desire, we suppress desire, we say to ourselves, `We must be desireless' - which is to destroy the whole immensity of life. For desire is part of life; and merely to suppress it, deny it, control it, is to shut off the immensity of life.
So, struggle exists because there is contradiction outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly there is the attraction of power, position or prestige, which is offered to a man who seeks status. There is a living with function. We have to function as human beings, we have to go to the office, we have to learn, we have to do things - a function. But with that function goes the desire to be more than a functionary, because you use that function as a means to acquire power, position, prestige; and so, there is contradiction. Function produces contradiction when there is the desire to use function, to arrive, to achieve success, to achieve power. Please observe this. This is a fact. Cooking is treated by people, not as a function but as a position, as a status, and therefore with contempt; and so, there is a contradiction. The minister, the man of power, the man of position, the man of wealth - you treat him with respect, with tremendous consideration, because he will give you, or can offer, patronage. So, he uses his function to achieve status - which you also want - , and therefore there is contradiction. So, where there is function which gives status there must be a contradiction. And society is based on this: that the function is not important but the status is important, status being power. And that contradiction is sustained by society. Whether it is the function of a minister or of a saint, with it goes prestige. And what you want is not the function, what you respect is not the function, but the status; and therefore you have contradiction.
A man who uses function to achieve status can never be efficient. And we need to be efficient in this world, because function matters enormously. The rocket that goes to the moon has a million parts, literally a million parts; and if even one of those parts does not function properly, it cannot go. And the man who designs it, cannot seek, through that design, status; he must love what he is doing; otherwise he cannot make the thing perfect. It is only the man who loves what he is doing - whatever it be; design, construction, structure - and is not deriving a psychological status, a psychological position - such an entity alone can be efficient and not be ruthless. It is the man who is using function for status, who becomes ruthless.
So, struggle is not necessary to learn a technique. But through your education, the society in which you are brought up forces you not to love what you are doing, but to pursue the necessity of a particular demand of the society. Society now demands engineers or scientists, and everybody becomes an engineer or a scientist, because it is more profitable. But very few are real scientists, real engineers; they are using science and engineering as a means of acquiring money, position, prestige. So they are breeding contradiction. And outwardly there is all the expression of society with its wealth, comfort, progress. We all want wealth, we all are caught in this mania to achieve success in the world, to derive fame.
Why is there this intense desire on the part of each one, almost every one, to achieve fame? Why is there this desire? I do not know if you have gone very far into that question. Let us look at it. Let us find out why you want to fulfil, why you want success, why there is this incessant battle with yourself. Surely, for most of us, we are aware at some time or other, consciously or unconsciously, that there is a great emptiness, loneliness in us. You know what that phrase means: `to be lonely'? It means: to have no relationship with anything, to be completely cut off, to be in solitude, suddenly to find oneself alone, inwardly. And we are all the time struggling psychologically to fill that loneliness, to escape from it. I do not know if you are aware of your own loneliness, if you have ever come across it. And because we are so frightened of that loneliness, we run away from it; so there is a contradiction. We try to escape from that loneliness through knowledge, through success, through money, through sex, through religion, through every form. But the fact is that you are lonely - which you don't want to face - and you are escaping from it; and so there is contradiction which breeds conflict.
We are concerned with conflict. A man who has no conflict, is not ambitious. And a man who is ambitious, can never love; he does not know what it means to love, because he is concerned with himself and with his own ideas and his own achievements. A man who seeks fame - how can he love, how can he have kindliness, generosity? And this sense of achievement can only come about when there is an escape from the fact that you are lonely. Do what you will, till you understand that extraordinary loneliness, your gods, your knowledge, your power, or your position, have no value; nor does virtue have any value.
Now how does this loneliness come about? You understand what I mean by that word `loneliness'? Perhaps many of you have not felt that, because you have never been alone, because you are always surrounded by your friends, family; you are always doing something, going to a cinema or to a temple, doing puja, being active all the time and therefore never aware of yourself or of what is going on within yourself. So, very few know this sense of complete loneliness. You must have come across it; perhaps when you are sitting alone in a bus, or suddenly when you are talking to your husband or your wife, and when you are surrounded by your friends, you are aware that you are completely alone, lonely. And it is a very frightening thing suddenly to come upon it; and being frightened and not being able to do anything about it, you run away from it and thereby you create a contradiction. And where there is contradiction there is conflict.
So, all our life, wherever we go, whatever we touch is conflict. Is there a way of living without conflict? There is a way of living without conflict, without struggle - it does not mean becoming lazy, the mind going stagnant, dull. That way of living without effort can only come about, if we understand this whole process of contradiction. Contradiction exists where there is an ideal. The ideal of nobility, the ideal of goodness, the ideal of non-violence - that, you must be; this, you must not be - all this breeds contradiction.
Please listen to this; because if you can listen, you can walk away from here without conflict for the rest of your life. Then ambition, struggle and the brutality of ambition and the ruthlessness of ambition - all that will go away. You will have a simple, clear, unspotted mind. And it is only that unspotted mind that can function clearly, design without seeking perversion, without seeking position, and therefore love what it is doing. And it is only love that has no contradiction; and to understand that extraordinary state you must understand the contradiction in yourself.
So, this contradiction exists when there is an avoidance of the fact - the fact that you are lonely, the fact that you are angry, the fact that you are violent. You are violent, you are angry, or you are ambitious - that is a fact. You should not be angry, you should not be violent, or you should not be ambitious - that is an idea, that is a non-fact. Therefore ideals which have no reality, no substance, breed contradiction. The man who faces the fact of every day, of every minute, without distortion - such a man has no conflict. And to live without conflict demands tremendous energy. Not that the man who has conflict has no energy; he is dissipating energy. Not that the man who is ambitious has no energy; he has the energy which comes about through resistance, but that is destructive energy. There is that energy which comes when there is no conflict, when you are facing the fact every minute - I mean by `the fact' the psychological fact, what you are inwardly.
Now, to understand the psychological fact you must understand the outward movement also - the outward movement of expression, of design, of colour, of structure, of function. You cannot come to the inner without under - standing the outer. They are both interrelated. You cannot understand the inner world without understanding the outer world - that is, without understanding society which is relationship. Relationship between two people is society. And that relation has built the social structure which is ambition, greed, envy, ruthlessness, cruelty, war, corruption - which is what is going on at the present moment in India, which you know very well. Without under - standing that whole outward movement of life you cannot understand the inward movement. They are interrelated; it is like a tide that goes out and comes in. You cannot separate the tide as the outer and the inner, it is one movement; and it is only the uncorrupted mind that rides that movement.
So, that is the fact, and one has to understand the fact. We do not understand the fact, because consciousness is the result of influences. We cannot see the fact because of the influence that has shaped thought, the influence which is shaping the conscious mind as well as the unconscious mind. Do you understand? The newspapers, the speeches, the books, the cinema, the food, the clothes, the environment, the buildings, the air - all that influences you, your mind, consciously or unconsciously. Every form of propaganda, political or religious, the so-called gods that have become the tradition - everything influences and shapes thought. You are listening to what is being said, and you are not being influenced. You are not being influenced, because there is no direction, there is no compulsion, there is no pressure. The speaker only says, 'Look, observe, listen, watch; and therefore what the speaker says does not influence you at all, consciously or unconsciously. But you have to understand the social influence.
Is it possible for the mind to be free of influence? You understand, sir, influence? - the word, the family, your wife, your husband, the books you read, and the things that unconsciously impinge on you. Can you be aware of every influence - be aware without choice, just be aware of every influence that is going on around you? Is that possible? Because, if you are free, if you can observe influence, your mind is already sharpened and therefore capable of freeing itself from influence. This is a complex subject, it needs attention, it needs all your thought to find out, because you are the result of influence. When you believe that you are the Higher Self, and all the rest of it, when you say there is in you God, Divinity, the Atman - all that is influence. When the communist does not believe in God, he is also influenced.
So all life is influenced. And is it possible to be free of influence totally? Otherwise whatever you think, whatever you deny, whatever may be your action, is the result of the past, is the result of your conditioning; and therefore such a mind cannot possibly be free to discover if there is Reality. So, is it possible to be free of influence? Which means, really, is it possible to be free of experience? We will come to that presently. Surely, you cannot be free of all influences. You can only be free of those of which you are conscious. But you can only be conscious of a very few influences; there is the whole unconscious which is receiving influences all the time.
Please listen to this. Is it possible to be free of all influences? Otherwise you cannot proceed to enquire into the question of freedom, and be free. As I said, you can never be free of influence; but you can always be watching every influence that you meet. That means watching every minute what you are doing, what you are thinking, what you are feeling; and in that watching not to allow any form of distortion, self-opinion, evaluation to take place, which is the result of influence. All influence is evil, as authority is evil. There is no good influence or bad influence, as all influence shapes the mind, corrupts the mind.
So, if one understands the fact that every form of influence - it does not matter whether it is good or bad - distorts, cripples, corrupts the mind, if one understands that fact, sees that fact, then one will be aware, totally, of every influence that impinges on the mind. That is: in denying, in negation, there is the emergence of the fact, of truth. When you deny, when you say, `No', you do so either with a motive or without a motive. Probably you have never said, `No'. Because, most of us are yes-sayers; we accept, we never say, `No' to anything without a motive - which means that when you say, `No', without a motive, you are out of influence.
Please do understand this. It is a very simple thing once you understand this. When you say, `No', to power to fame, to ambition, to authority, you do so, because you don't happen to have authority, power, position, but you would like to have it; apparently you can't get it, and therefore you say, `No, I can't have it'. That is what most people do; but give them position, offer them authority, they will take it. So, there is denial with a motive, saying, `No' with a motive. There is also denial or saying, `No' without a motive - which is to see the fact that ambition in any form - spiritual or otherwise, outward or inward - destroys, corrupts. If you see that as the truth, then you will be aware of every form of influence, positive as well as negative. Then you are concerned with the fact only.
So, negation is the ending of influence, not the positive mind. I mean by `positive mind' the mind that conforms, the mind that imitates, the mind that obeys, the mind that is made respectable by society - that is merely a mind which has accepted and pursued a definite pattern of social, environmental, cultural living. That mind is called a positive mind; but it is not a positive mind at all, it is a dead mind. I mean by a `negative mind', a mind that denies without a motive. When you deny the attitude of the politician who thinks he will change the course of the world or he will alter man, when you deny the whole attitude of the politician, you are out of that particular influence, totally. The politician is concerned with the immediate projected into the future, which he thinks is the long-term, is the long view; but that long view is still the short view. That is, the politician, like all the technicians, is not concerned with the total man; he is only concerned with the outer. And when you deny the outer which is the short view, without a motive, then you are out of that field altogether; then you are concerned with the total being of man.
So it is important to understand a mind that faces facts through denial, through negation, and only remains with the fact.
I hope we are not making it very difficult. It is not difficult - what we are saying. For instance, if I am angry, it is a fact that I am angry. Then to deny that I am angry, to find reasons why I am angry, to substitute, to alter, to condemn that, to pursue the ideal - all those are negations of the fact, distractions from the fact. And when I deny totally all evasion, all distractions, only then is my mind empty of all influence, and therefore capable of looking at the fact; then I look at the fact.
Please do this as you are listening. Most of you are ambitious; most of you lead a contradictory life, and you know the pain of contradiction. You are trying to fulfil either through the family, through a name, through writing a book, through your children, or trying to become a big man - you are all the time trying to fulfil. And where there is this urge to fulfil, there is also frustration with its misery. You try to fulfil as you are lonely, empty inwardly. That is a fact. Now, look at the fact that you are ambitious and do not find excuses; do not say, `What am I going to do to live in this rotten society which is built on acquisition, power and ambition?'. When you deny that society, you are out of that society; therefore, you may live a different kind of life, and yet be in society. So, you have to look at the fact that you are ambitious, that you are envious, that you are acquisitive, and be aware of the influences that prevent you from looking at it - which are the ideals and all the rest of it. When you deny the influences, you are moving from fact to fact. So, out of that denial, out of that negation, there is energy to look at the fact - you need tremendous energy and not friction.
Where there is conflict, there is the dissipation of energy. Where there is fulfilment, self-fulfilment in any direction - in God, in a book, in a woman, in your children - there is the dissipation of energy, because it breeds frustration, contradiction. And to deny it is to face the fact that you are ambitious. And that fact reveals why you are ambitious. You don't have to do anything; you merely observe that fact, and that fact reveals. All that you have to do is to observe without comparison, without judgment, without evaluation; then you will see how extraordinarily empty one is. You have a job, you have a wife, you have a husband, you have money, you have knowledge - outwardly. But inwardly, there is immense poverty, an emptiness, a loneliness, that nothing can fill; and running away from that is the essence of contradiction. Now, you have to look at that loneliness. I am going to go into it a little bit, how to look at it.
First, the fact is that you are lonely; the fact is that your mind is completely distorted by society; the fact is that you are trying to escape from the reality of what you are - which is absolutely nothing. You are absolutely nothing - which does not mean despair, disgust; but that is a fact. Now, to observe the fact means denial, as I have pointed out, without comparison, judgment, evaluation. But also, to look at a fact demands the understanding of the word. You understand?
The word `anger', the word `God', the word `Communist', the word, `Congress', the word `India' - we are slaves to these words. And a mind that is a slave to a word, cannot see the fact. When we think of India, we get emotionally stirred up - the ancient land and all the rest of it - and that prevents you from looking. To deny all the past, and see the fact - that you cannot do because of the word, because of the meaning which the word `India' gives you, an extraordinary sense of emotional gratification, with which - the word, not the reality - you have identified yourself. What is the reality that is not related to the word? In the same way, how do you look at anger? The word anger, in itself, is condemnatory. Is it not? As the word `anger' is, in itself, condemnatory, how is one to be free from the word, and look at what is called `anger'?
So, you begin to discover for yourself how extraordinarily slavish thought is to a word. And you will find, if you will go into it very deeply, that there is no thought without a word. And you will find, if you go still deeper, that where there is a thinker and a thought there is a contradiction, and every form of experience only divides and strengthens the thinker and the thought as a separate process. So, it is only when this whole process which I have explained from the beginning till now, is understood, examined, watched, that the mind comes out of this social, environmental, verbal structure as an uncorrupted, clear, sane, rational mind. It is only then that the mind is no longer influenced, it is completely empty. It is only such a mind that can go beyond Time, and beyond all Space. It is only then the Immeasurable, the Unknowable, can come into being.
February 28, 1962
Bombay 3rd Public Talk 28th February 1962
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