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Saanen 1964

Saanen 1st Public Talk 12th July 1964

As you know, there are going to be ten talks here, and some discussions after all these talks are concluded, so we shall have plenty of leisure to talk things over together.

I would like to begin this morning by pointing out the extraordinary importance of freedom. Most of us do not want to be free. We have our families, our responsibilities, our duties - and in those we abide. We are hedged about by social laws, by a certain code of morality, and we are burdened with daily troubles and problems; and if we can find some kind of consolation, some means of escape from all this conflict and misery, we are very easily satisfied. Most of us do not really want to be free at all, in any direction, at any depth; yet it seems to me that one of the most essential things in life is to find out for oneself how to be completely and totally free. And is it at all possible for the human mind, being so heavily conditioned, so narrowly caught up in its everyday labours, so full of fears and anxieties, so uncertain of the future and constant in its demand for security - is it at all possible for such a mind to bring about in itself a radical mutation, which can take place only in complete freedom?

I think each one of us should be really concerned with this problem, at least for the three weeks that we are here. We should be concerned - not just verbally, but through the verbal or linguistic analysis we should go much more deeply into ourselves - to find out whether it is at all possible to be free. Without freedom one cannot discover what is true and what is false; without freedom there is no depth to life; without freedom we are slaves to every form of influence, to all the social pressures, to the innumerable demands that we are constantly faced with.

So, can you, as an individual, really go into yourself very searchingly, ruthlessly, and find out if it is at all possible for each one of us to be completely free? Surely, it is only in freedom that there can be change. And we do have to change, not superficially, not in the sense of merely pruning a little bit here and there, but we have to bring about a radical mutation in the very structure of the mind itself. That is why I feel it is so important to talk about change, to discuss it, and to see how far each one of us can go into this problem.

Do you know what I mean by change? To change is to think in a totally different manner; it is to bring about a state of mind in which there is no anxiety at any time, no sense of conflict, no struggle to achieve, to be or to become something. It is to be completely free of fear. To find out what it means to be free of fear, I think one has to understand this question of the teacher and the taught, and thereby discover what learning is. There is no teacher here, and there is no person who is being taught. We are all learning. So you have to be completely rid of the idea that someone is going to instruct you, or tell you what to do - which means that the relation ship between you and the speaker is entirely different. We are learning: you are not being taught. If you really understand that you are not here to be taught by anyone, that there is no teacher to teach you, no saviour to save you, no guru to tell you what to do - if you really understand this fact, then you have to do everything for yourself; and that demands tremendous energy.

Energy is dissipated, degraded, totally lost when there is the relationship of the teacher and the taught; so during these talks here, and in the discussions that are to follow, I hope there will be no sense of any such relationship. It would really be marvellous if we could wipe that out completely, so that there is only the movement of learning. We generally learn through study, through books, through experience, or through being instructed. Those are the usual ways of learning. We commit to memory what to do and what not to do, what to think and what not to think, how to feel, how to react. Through experience, through study, through analysis, through probing, through introspective examination, we store up knowledge as memory, and memory then responds to further challenges and demands, from which there is more and more learning. With this process we are quite familiar, it is the only way we learn. I do not know how to fly an airplane, so I learn. I am instructed, I gain experience, the memory of which is retained, and then I fly. That is the only process of learning with which most of us are acquainted. We learn through study, through experience, through instruction. What is learnt is committed to memory as knowledge, and that knowledge functions whenever there is a challenge, or whenever we have to do something.

Now, I think there is a totally different way of learning, and I am going to talk a little bit about it; but to understand it, and to learn in this different way, you must be completely rid of authority, otherwise you will merely be instructed, and you will repeat what you have heard. That is why it is very important to understand the nature of authority. Authority prevents learning - learning which is not the accumulation of knowledge as memory. Memory always responds in patterns; there is no freedom. A man who is burdened with knowledge, with instructions, who is weighed down by the things he has learned, is never free. He may be most extraordinarily erudite, but his accumulation of knowledge prevents him from being free, and therefore he is incapable of learning.

We accumulate various forms of knowledge - scientific, physiological, technological, and so on - and this knowledge is necessary for the physical well-being of man. But we also accumulate knowledge in order to be safe, in order to function without disturbance, in order to act always within the borders of our own information and thereby feel secure. We want never to be uncertain - we are afraid of uncertainty - and therefore we accumulate knowledge. This psychological accumulation is what I am talking about, and it is this that completely blocks freedom.

So, the moment one begins to inquire into what is freedom, one has to question not only authority, but knowledge. If you are merely being instructed, if you are merely accumulating what you hear, what you read, what you experience, then you will find that you can never be free, because you are always functioning within the pattern of the known. This is what actually happens to most of us; so what is one to do?

One sees how the mind and the brain function. The brain is an animalistic, progressive, evolutionary thing which lives and functions within the walls of its own experience, its own knowledge, its own hopes and fears. It is everlastingly active in safeguarding and protecting itself - and in some measure it has to be, otherwise it would soon be destroyed. It must have some degree of security, so it habitually benefits itself by gathering every kind of information, obeying every kind of instruction, creating a pattern by which to live, and so never being free. If one has observed one's own brain, the whole functioning of oneself, one is aware of this patterned mode of existence in which there is no spontaneity at all.

Then what is learning? Is there a different kind of learning, a learning which is not cumulative, which doesn't become merely a background of memory or knowledge that creates patterns and blocks freedom? Is there a kind of learning which doesn't become a burden, which doesn't cripple the mind but, on the contrary, gives it freedom? If you have ever put this question to yourself, not superficially but deeply, you will know that one has to find out why the mind clings to authority. Whether it be the authority of the instructor, of the saviour, of the book, or the authority of one's own knowledge and experience, why does the mind cling to that authority?

You know, authority takes many forms. There is the authority of books, the authority of the church, the authority of the ideal, the authority of your own experience, and the authority of the knowledge which you have gathered. Why do you cling to those authorities? Technologically there is need of authorities - that is simple and obvious. But we are talking about the psychological state of the mind; and quite apart from technological authority, why does the mind cling to authority in the psychological sense?

Obviously, the mind clings to authority because it is afraid of uncertainty, insecurity; it is afraid of the unknown, of what may happen tomorrow. And can you and I live without any authority at all - authority in the sense of domination, assertion, dogmatism, aggressiveness, wanting to succeed, wanting to be famous, wanting to become somebody? Can we live in this world - going to the office, and all the rest of it - in a state of complete humility? That is a very difficult thing to find out, is it not? But I think it is only in that state of complete humility - which is the state of a mind that is always willing not to know - that one can learn. Otherwise one is always accumulating, and therefore ceasing to learn.

So, can one live from day to day in that state? Do you understand my question? Surely, a mind that is really learning has no authority, nor does it seek authority. Because it is in a state of constant learning, not only from outward things, but also from inward things, it does not belong to any group, to any society, to any race or culture. If you are constantly learning from everything without accumulation, how can there be any authority, any teacher? How can you possibly follow anyone? And that is the only way to live - not learning from books, I don't mean that, but learning from your own demands, from the movements of your own thought, your own being. Then your mind is always fresh, it looks at everything anew, and not with the jaded look of knowledge, of experience, of that which it has learnt. If one understands this - really, profoundly - then all authority ceases. Then the speaker is of no importance at all.

The extraordinary state that truth reveals, the immensity of reality, cannot be given to you by another. There is no authority, there is no guide. You have to discover it for yourself, and thereby bring some sense into this chaos which we call life. It is a journey which must be taken completely alone, without companions, with neither wife, nor husband, nor books. You can set out on this journey only when you really see the truth that you have to walk completely alone - and then you are alone; not out of bitterness, not out of cynicism, not out of despair, but because you see the fact that aloneness is absolutely necessary. It is this fact, and the perceiving of this fact, that sets one free to walk alone. The book, the saviour, the teacher - they are yourself. So you have to investigate yourself, you have to learn about yourself - which does not mean accumulating knowledge about yourself, and with that knowledge looking at the movements of your own thought. Do you understand?

To learn about yourself, to know yourself, you must observe yourself with a freshness, with a freedom. You can't learn about yourself if you are merely applying knowledge, that is, looking at yourself in terms of what you have learned from some instructor, from some book, or from your own experience. The `you' is an extraordinary entity, it is a complex, vital thing, tremendously alive, constantly changing, undergoing all kinds of experiences. It is a vortex of enormous energy, and there is no one who can teach you about it - no one! That is the first thing to realize. When once you realize that, really see the truth of it, you are already liberated from a heavy burden: you have ceased looking to someone else to tell you what to do. There is already the beginning of this extraordinary perfume of freedom.

So I have to know myself, because without knowing myself there can be no end to conflict, there can be no end to fear and despair, there can be no understanding of death. When I understand myself, I understand all human beings, the whole of human relationship. To understand oneself is to learn about the physical body, and the various responses of the nerves; it is to be aware of every movement of thought; it is to comprehend the thing called jealousy, brutality, and to discover what is affection, what is love. It is to understand the whole of that which is the `me', the `you'.

Learning is not a process of laying the foundation of knowledge. Learning is from moment to moment; it is a movement in which you are watching yourself infinitely, never condemning, never judging, never evaluating, but merely observing. The moment you condemn, interpret, or evaluate, you have a pattern of knowledge, of experience, and that pattern prevents you from learning.

A mutation at the very root of the mind is possible only when you understand yourself; and there must be such a mutation, there must be change. I am not using the word `change' in the sense of being influenced by society, by climate, by experience, or by pressure in some other form. Pressures and influences will merely push you in a certain direction. I mean the change that comes about effortlessly because you understand yourself. Surely there is a vast difference between the two: between the change brought about through compulsion, and the change that comes spontaneously, naturally, freely.

Now, if you are at all serious - and I think it would be rather absurd to come all the way to attend these talks in this heat, and put up with a lot of discomfort, if you were not serious - then these three weeks here will offer a very good opportunity for learning, for real observation, for deep inquiry. Because, you see, I feel that our life is so superficial. We know and have experienced a great deal, we can talk very cleverly - and we really have no depth. We live on the surface; and living on the surface, we try to make that surface living very serious. But I am talking about a seriousness that is not merely at the superficial level, a seriousness that penetrates into the very depths of one's own being. Most of us are not really free; and I feel that unless we are free - free from worry, free from habits, free from psychosomatic disabilities, free from fear - our life remains terribly shallow and empty, and in that condition we grow old and die.

So, during these three weeks, let us find out if we can break through this superficial existence that we have so carefully nurtured, and delve into something much deeper. And the delving process is not through authority, it is not a matter of being told by another how to do it - for there is nobody who can tell you. What we are here to do is to learn together what is true in all this; and once you really understand what is true, then all looking to authority is over. Then you do not need any book, you do not go to any church or temple - you have ceased to be a follower. There is a great beauty, a great depth, a great love in freedom, of which now we know nothing at all because we are not free. So our first concern, it seems to me, is to inquire into this freedom, not only through verbal or linguistic analysis, but also through being free of the word. It is very hot, but I am afraid we have done everything we can to make the inside of this tent fairly cool. We can't have these meetings any earlier, because many people come from a distance, so we shall have to put up with this heat as part of the discomfort.

You know, one has to discipline oneself - not through imposition or rigid control, but through understanding the whole question of discipline, learning about it. just take this immediate thing: the heat. One can be aware of this heat, and not be bothered by it, because one's interest, one's inquiry, which is the very movement of learning, is much more important than the heat and the discomfort of the body. So learning demands discipline, and the very act of learning is discipline; and therefore there need be no imposed discipline, no artificial control. That is, I want to listen, not only to what is being said, but also to all the reactions which those words awaken in me. I want to be aware of every movement of thought, of every feeling, of every gesture. That in itself is discipline, and such discipline is extraordinarily flexible.

So, I think the first thing you have to discover is whether you - as a human being living in a particular culture or community - really demand freedom as you demand food, sex, comfort; and how far and how deep you are willing to go in order to be free. I think that is the only thing we can do at the first talk - or rather, that is the only thing we can do during these three weeks, because it is the only thing we can share - that, and nothing else. Do you understand? Because everything else becomes mere sentimentality, devotion, emotionalism, which is too immature. But if you and I together are really seeking, inquiring, learning what it means to be free, then in that abundance we can all share.

As I said at the beginning, here there is no teacher, there are no taught. Each one of us is learning - but not about somebody else. You are not learning about the speaker, nor about your neighbour. You are learning about yourself. And if you are learning about yourself, then you are the speaker, you are your neighbour. If you are learning about yourself, you can love your neighbour - otherwise you cannot, and all this will remain mere words. You cannot love your neighbour if you are competitive. Our whole social structure - economic, political, moral, religious - is based on competition, and at the same time we say we must love our neighbour. Such a thing is impossible, because where there is competition there can be no love.

So, to understand what love is, what truth is, there must be freedom - and nobody can give that to you. You have to find it for yourself through hard work.

July 12, 1964


Saanen 1964

Saanen 1st Public Talk 12th July 1964

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