Saanen 1st Question & Answer Meeting 23rd July 1980
About nearly two hundred questions have been put. I think to answer them all would take about two months. And I don't think you will be here, nor will I!
The word question comes from the Latin, to seek. And when one puts a question one is actually seeking the answer in the question itself. I hope we are understanding that statement. We ask a question and then wait for somebody to answer it. If you were in ancient Greece you went to the Delphic Oracle; and if you were in India you went to some special rather unbalanced guru. If you were here, in the west, you went to the psychologist with your problems, or to the priest to confess. But here we are asking questions and trying to find an answer, but the answer is in the question itself. If we know how to put the right question we will find invariably for ourselves the right answer. And it is very difficult to put a right question: it implies that one has thought a great deal about the problem and followed the problem in sequence and to see if there is an answer to the problem in the problem itself. I hope this is clear.
Now we have here many questions. We have chosen them carefully, not according to what one likes but according to the seriousness of the question. And in answering, in questioning, which is seeking, we are both of us involved. It is not you ask a question of the speaker and he answers it, and you either accept it or reject it according to one's romantic state, or some peculiar idiosyncrasy, or according to one's own fanciful imagination, or an answer which will be comforting. But I am afraid it will be none of those things. If we could, as we are going to answer several of these questions this morning, please bear in mind that the speaker is not answering the question, that we are together investigating the question, which becomes much more fascinating, much more agreeable, and therefore there is no authority. We are together investigating, looking into the question itself, together. I hope this is clear: that you are not waiting for an answer from the speaker but since you have put the question either you seek an answer from another, or seek an answer in the problem. That is, investigating the problem you find the answer, which is much more fun! I am glad we have a nice day at last. And I hope it won't be too hot.
1st QUESTION: Without the operation of desire and will how does one move in the direction of self knowledge? Is not the very urgency of change a part of the movement of desire? If so, what is the nature of the first step?
That is, the questioner is asking: is desire and will necessary or required to understand the depth of self knowledge? Is not desire itself a movement towards self knowing? That is the question.
First of all to understand this question, not only superficially but also at depth, we must understand the nature of desire and will, and the structure and the nature of self knowledge, knowing - you understand? First desire, will and what does it mean if there is no desire, the movement of self knowledge? If one has not the urge, which is part of desire and will, how can this flowering take place in knowing oneself? Right? That is the question.
As we went into the question the other day: what is desire? And what is the relationship of desire to will? I'll go into it very carefully, you have probably heard it ten times, but please don't get bored with it, but look at it. How does desire come into being? One can see actually perception, visual seeing, contact, touching, sensation - right? Then thought comes, creates an image out of that sensation and desire is born - right? I'm not an oracle. Delphi has gone long ago. But you can see this for yourself. You can see for yourself when you watch through a window a dress, or a shirt, specially a blue shirt, and the seeing, entering into the shop, touching it, the material, then the sensation, then thought comes along and says, "How nice it would be if I had that shirt" - or that dress, it creates the image - right? You having the blue shirt and putting it on, or the dress, and at that moment desire arises. Is this somewhat clear? No, please clear to yourself, not understanding the explanation. This is the movement of perception, of contact, sensation. That is natural, healthy. Then thought creates the image, you sitting in the car and driving it. When thought takes possession of sensation, creates the image, then desire is born - right? And will is the summation of desire, the strengthening of desire, the stability of desire, the urge to achieve, the urge to express one's desire and acquire, which is the operation of desire but strengthened as will - right?
So desire and will go together - right? And the questioner asks, if there is no desire or will, why should one seek self knowledge?
What is self knowledge? Let's examine that first. What is self knowledge? That is, the ancient Greeks, and the ancient Hindus talked about knowing yourself. It is as old as the hills - Socrates and others in Greece and in India talked about knowing yourself. What does it mean to know yourself? Can you ever know yourself? Please we are exploring together, we are doing this together. What is the self? And you must know about it. You understand my question? What is the self that apparently it is necessary to know it? Now what do we mean by the word 'know'? Sorry to be so careful about this, otherwise we shall be misleading each other if we do not understand the words. What do we mean by 'know'? I know Gstaad because I have been there for twenty two years. I know you because I have seen you here for twenty years or more. I don't know why, but you are there and I am here. And when we say "I know", we mean by that not only recognition but also the remembrance of the face, the name - right? Which means recognition, remembrance and association. Or rather association, remembrance, which is I met you yesterday, I have recognised you today, that is the memory operating. So when I say, "I know", it is the past expressing itself in the present. I hope you are following all this. Does it interest you, all this? So the past is the movement of knowledge - right? I study, go to college, one goes to school, college, university, acquire a great deal of information. Then I say I am a chemist, or a physicist and so on and so on. So when we say one must know oneself, do you come to that knowledge about the self afresh, or do you approach it already having knowledge about it? You see the difference? You understand my question? Oh, for goodness sake. Am I making it difficult? No.
That is, I want to know myself. Do I approach myself through the knowledge I have acquired, which is, I have studied psychology, I have been to psychotherapists, and I have read a great deal, and I approach the understanding of the self through the knowledge I have acquired? Right? Or, do I come to it without all the previous accumulation, knowledge about oneself? Right? You understand the question? We have explained what is desire, what is will, and when we say, "I must know about myself", I am already acquainted with myself. And so this acquaintance, this knowledge, dictates how I observe myself - right? This is very important if you want to go into this carefully. So having previous knowledge about myself I use that knowledge to understand myself, which becomes silly - right? It is absurd. Which is, I have understood about myself from the knowledge of others - Freud, Jung and all the rest of it, the modern psychologists and so on.
So can I - please listen - can I put aside all that knowledge because I am looking at myself through other people's eyes? Therefore can I put all that aside and look at myself afresh, anew? You have understood my question?
Now the questioner asks: is desire, will necessary in observing myself? Right? Now see what happens. I have acquired knowledge about myself through others, and the actual fact of what I am. You see the difference? The knowledge I have acquired through study about myself, and the fact of myself, what it actually is - right? So there is a contradiction between 'what is' and 'what I have acquired'. To overcome this contradiction you exercise will. Got it. You have understood this? How marvellous that is. You have understood that?
One has studied - I have not, I have not studied any of these things, thank god - one has studied, let us say, the latest psychologist, the latest - what do they call them? - psycho-therapists. And one went to him, talked with him, discussed, and he gives me certain knowledge about me, about myself and I acquire that knowledge, take it home and discover that knowledge is different from me. And then begins the conflict: to adjust 'what is' to 'what I have been told'. Then in that conflict, to suppress it, to overcome it, to accept it the desire and will comes into being. Good. Come sirs. Is this clear?
So that is the question. Now we are saying: is will and desire necessary at all? It only comes into being when I have to adjust myself to a pattern, to a pattern of good and all that stuff. And then the struggle, the conflict, to overcome, to control, all that begins. Right?
I am a seeker - you understand? I am a seeker, which is, I am questioning; therefore in my questioning I reject all that. I reject completely what others have told me about myself. Will you do it? You won't do it because it is much safer to accept authority, then you are secure. Whereas if you reject completely all that - authority of everyone, you don't become a follower, you don't become a disciple, you are absolutely out of that field altogether, then how do you observe the self? You understand? The movement of the self. The self is not static, it is moving, living, acting. Now how do you observe something that is tremendously moving, active - urges, desires, ambitions, greed, romanticism, all that - how do you observe? You follow all this? Which means, can I observe this movement of the self, the me, the desires, the fears, you know, all that, can I observe it without any knowledge acquired from others, or the previous knowledge which I have had in examining myself? You understand what I am saying? I will show you sirs.
One of the activities of the self is greed - right? Or comparison, comparing myself with another. That is the activity of the self. Now when I use the word 'greed', I have already associated that reaction, or that reflex with a memory which I have had of that reaction previously. You understand what I am saying? I am greedy. I use the word 'greed' to identify that sensation. The identification of that is, I have already known it. So I use that word to identify it - right? So can I look at that reaction without the word, and therefore without the previous acquaintance with it? You are following this? Am I making this clear? Can I look at that reaction without a single movement of recognition? The moment that recognition takes place I have already strengthened that reaction because I recognise it and take it back into my memory. You are following?
Now can I observe myself without any direction, without any comparison, which is, "I have had this before" - you follow? - just to observe without direction and therefore without motive. That is learning about yourself afresh each time. Not that you have accumulated knowledge about yourself and you know about yourself. If you go very, very seriously into this question you will find that it is not little by little by little, first step, second step, third step, first initiation, second initiation - but to see the truth of this instantly - you understand? To see the truth that the moment recognition takes place you are not knowing yourself at all. Is that clear? That requires a great deal of attention. And most of us are so slack, so lazy, we have got all kinds of ideas, that we must be this, we must be that, we must not be this. So we come to it with a tremendous burden. And so we never know ourselves.
That is, to put it differently: as we said the other day, we are the rest of mankind - mankind whether they live in Asia, here, in America, suffer, go through a great deal of anxiety, uncertainty, sorrow. So we go through it, each one of us. So we are essentially the common human kind, psychologically; you may be tall, you may be short, dark, I am not talking about that. Psychologically we are like the rest of humanity, so we are humanity. And what is there to know about myself? You understand my question? I am all that. That is a fact.
Then the problem arises: can that content of my consciousness be wiped away? That is the learning about oneself, which is not yourself but the consciousness of mankind. I wonder if you are meeting all this? No. You see we are so trained, we are so conditioned to an individuality - I am psychologically different from another, which is not a fact. So we are so trained, conditioned, we accept it. And so when we say, "I must know myself", we are saying "I must know my little cell". And when you investigate that little cell there is nothing. But when the actual truth is that we are mankind. We are the rest of humanity. And to enquire into this enormous complex human mind is to read the story of yourself. You are history - you understand? Historia. And there, if you know how to read the book, it is finished. But we come to the book with knowledge. We don't say, "I know nothing, let's read the book". Then you learn vastly, not accumulate knowledge - you understand what I am saying? So you begin to find out the nature of yourself which is mankind, and the nature of this consciousness which is the consciousness of all human beings, and enquire into that.
So we are saying, that the answer to the question is in the question itself. You see that?
2nd QUESTION: Is not a right way of life a ground of austerity, sensitivity, integrity, necessary before total transformation can take place?
The questioner says is not austerity necessary? Sensitivity, integrity - these three. Austerity, sensitivity, and integrity necessary before transformation in the consciousness can take place. The word 'austere' means ash, the root meaning of that word is ash. You know what ash is? What remains after you have burnt a piece of wood. The ash. See the meaning of it. That is, those who practise austerity, practise, end up in ash.
So let's go into that question. Throughout the world monks have practised austerity. In India there is a monk who is called sannyasi, he renounces the world, sex, drink, drugs, he becomes a mendicant, not organized mendicant - you understand this? He becomes a mendicant, he has one meal a day, and he can never stay in the same place twice, he has no home. I won't go into the whole nature of sannyasi, the meaning of that word means. Let's leave it at that. That is, a monk, specially in India, who lives on one meal, begging, mendicant, and never staying in the same place twice, and has abandoned the world, the world being the senses, which ia sex and all that. And naturally he goes around from village to village, town to town, and preaches, talks about what it means to live a good life, and so on. Right? The monks in the western world have it carefully organized. They belong to a monastery with an Abbot, authority.
So first of all the expression of this austerity is an outward sign. You understand? Putting on a robe, that you have really renounced the world. There are all kinds of phoney sannyasis now, here too. But they are not sannyasis. That is a very, very serious affair. And austerity is not the practising or the denial or the acceptance of sex and all that. It is austerity, which is a form of high discipline, according to a pattern laid down by the Abbots and so on and so on, in India laid down by the Brahmanas from the ancient of days. There is a pattern set. And you conform to that pattern, denying everything in yourself, your desires, your ambitions, your greed and all that. And that is called generally austerity. That is, look what happens: you start with certainty - right? Certainty that you have given up the world, the senses, sex and so on. You start with that. When you start with certainty you end up in uncertainty. I wonder if you understand all this? If I start accepting everything, all the religious edicts, sanctions and I begin to enquire into them, if I ever do, I end up saying, "My goodness, this is nothing, I don't believe in anything". You understand? When one starts with certainty you end up in uncertainty - if you are at all intelligent that is.
So austerity has quite a different meaning - may I go into it? You are interested in it? Never deny anything, but observe very carefully, intensely, and that very observation frees the mind from the worldly affairs. That is real austerity. I wonder if you understand this.
Look: I observe I am violent, that is part of human structure, human nature, derived from the ancient animals and so on and so on - if you accept evolution. Or if you are one of those who start with creation suddenly, then you have your own way. One is violent. The ordinary person who wants to be austere struggles with violence - right? He won't kill, he won't do this, he won't do that, he won't even take part in society, he won't join the army, he is a pacifist and so on. He is constantly denying 'what is' by saying "I won't" - you follow all this? I say that is not austerity, that is only a form of suppression. But when one recognizes in oneself violence, that is, violence is anger, hate, envy, comparison, imitation, conformity are all patterns of violence. To observe that in oneself without wanting to go beyond it, without wanting to suppress it, without wanting to escape from it. See the fact and remain with the fact. You understand? Remain with it without any movement away from it. That is the depth of austerity.
We are trained to control: control your desires, control your anger, suppress it and give all that energy to Jesus, to Krishna, whatever it is. But we are saying the depth of austerity is not in sacrifice, is not in conformity, in training yourself to accept an ideal but to see completely the nature of this violence. And to see it completely don't move, thought mustn't interfere. Don't let thought carry away in any direction. Just observe it. And you will see, if you do, the real depth of understanding comes and with it intelligence. And when there is that intelligence you don't have to struggle, it is finished.
And the other thing is sensitivity. Most of us are sensitive about our own feelings, our own ambitions, our own struggles. But we are not sensitive to others because we are so concerned about ourselves, our little cell. And when there is tremendous concentration on oneself, what one is doing, how one looks, why shouldn't I do this - you follow? - this everlasting concern about oneself - how can you be sensitive about another? Not about - how can you be sensitive? How can a man be sensitive who is ambitious? So physically one has to be sensitive first - right? There is no school, or college or university that is going to teach you how to be sensitive - right? You go off to India to learn to be sensitive - think of the ridiculousness of it!
So are your nervous reactions, alertness of the mind, are they alive? Or have you drugged them? You understand? Drugged them through belief, drugged them through acceptance of some authority, drugged your physical system as well as psychological structure by constant struggle, battling, battling, battling. I am romantic, I know I am romantic but it pleases me to be romantic which is contrary to seeing clearly, but I like it. So that drugs me so that I become insensitive - you are following this?
Integrity means to be whole, the word, integral, means whole. Which means no contradiction in oneself. We are examining the question itself, the meaning of the words. That is, austerity, sensitivity and integrity. Which is, never say a thing that you don't mean. And what you mean may be doubtful - you understand? I say something and I think that is what I feel, think, act but what I think, feel and act may be the result of some conditioning, of some desire, of some motive, therefore it is not integral. I feel like doing something - you know, that is the latest craze - I must express myself immediately. What does that mean? That is, there is no depth of understanding of that urge, the meaning of it, the content of it, why it arose, but just act because you want to - and you think that is having integrity. The word integrity means to be whole. And we human beings are broken up, divided, antagonistic, dualistic, and we accept all this and try to be integrated, to have integrity, which is impossible. So one must go into this question: what it is to be whole.
First of all any image that thought creates about being whole is not whole - right? Because thought in itself is fragmented, limited. Therefore whatever it projects as the whole is not. So then can the mind discover for itself what it means to be whole, integral, have this sense of tremendous integrity? First of all you cannot have this sense of integrity if you follow anybody - right? Yes. If you are a disciple of anybody, then you are merely conforming to what somebody has laid down. Then you are merely romantically playing tricks upon yourself. Which means to have integrity is to have no ideals, no beliefs, no sense of the past and the future. Sirs, this is tremendously difficult, you can't play with all this, because the past is dictating, is translating which is the present - right? And the past is modifying itself through the present and going, but it is still the past. How can a mind, your heart, be whole, integral, have absolute integrity if it is living in the past? Past experience, past memories, romantic - you know, all that stuff.
So austerity, sensitivity and integrity are not the first step. The first step is the first step. You understand? Are you all asleep?
If you are going north and think that is the right direction, somebody comes along and tells you, "Look, what you are doing" - explains the whole business and you say to him, "What is the first step?" He says, "Stop!" Then he says, "After having stopped turn south". You understand this?
Two questions have been answered in nearly an hour. So we will do one more. I haven't seen these questions, I went through them but I haven't looked again.
3rd QUESTION: There are so many gurus today, both in the east and in the west, each one pointing his own way to enlightenment. How is one to know if they are speaking the truth?
When a guru says he knows, he doesn't - right? You understand what I am saying? When a guru, or a man in the west or in the east says "I have attained enlightenment" - enlightenment is not to be achieved. It isn't something that you go step by step by step, climb, the ladder. That is the first thing to understand: that enlightenment isn't in the hands of time. You understand? That is, I am ignorant but I will have, if I do these things, I will come to enlightenment - whatever that word may mean - right? Because what is time? Time is necessary to go from here physically to another place. Psychologically is time necessary at all? We have accepted it, it is part of our tradition, training - I am this but I will be that. What you will be, will never take place because you haven't understood 'what is'. The understanding of 'what is' is immediate. You don't have to analyze, go through tortures - oh, for god's sake it all becomes so childish.
So enlightenment - I don't like to use that word myself because it is loaded with the meaning of all these gurus. They don't know what they are talking about. Not that I know, they don't know, that would be silly on my part, but I see what is involved when they are talking about achieving enlightenment, step by step, practising, so your mind becomes dull, mechanical, stupid.
So the first thing sirs, whether they are eastern gurus or western gurus, is to doubt what they are saying, including the speaker; much more so because I am very clear about all these matters. It doesn't means I am the only person, which is equally silly, but the mind must be free from all the authority, followers, disciples, patterns, you understand?
So how does one know that these gurus are speaking the truth? How do you know the local priests and the bishops and the archbishops and the popes, and all that, how do you know they are speaking the truth? Instead of going off to India, accepting new gurus, how do you know that they are speaking the truth? Please sirs, this is very important. Either they are all engaged in some kind of guile and blood, which means money, position, authority, giving you initiations and all the rest of it. And if you question them and say, "What do you mean by that? Why have you put yourself in authority?" - you follow? Question them, doubt everything they say and you will soon find out, they will throw you out.
It once happened to the speaker that a very famous guru came to see me. I am saying this en passent. And he said, "You are the guru of gurus. You live what is right. What you are speaking is truth, you live it" - he touched my - you know. And he said, "I am a guru with lots of followers. I began with one and now I have a thousand and more, both in the west and in the east, especially in the west. And I can't withdraw from them. They are part of me and I am part of them. They have built me and I have built them" - you follow? Listen to it carefully. The disciples build the guru, the guru builds the disciples. "And I can't let them go". And so gradually authority in the spiritual world is established. You understand the danger of it. Where there is authority in the field of the mind and the heart there is no love. There is spurious love, there is no sense of that depth of affection, love, care.
And so to find out who is speaking the truth, don't seek truth but question. Because truth isn't something you come by. Truth comes only when the mind is totally, completely free from all this. Because then you have compassion, love, not to your guru, not to your family, not to your ideals or your saviour or your guru - love, without any motive and therefore when it acts it acts through intelligence. And truth is not something you buy from another!
Sirs, they all say, both the eastern and the western gurus, the old saying that you must be a light to yourself. It is a very famous saying in India, old, ancient. And they repeat it, "But you can't be a light unto yourself unless I give it to you". Right? You are all so gullible, that is what is wrong with you. You want something, the young and the old. Young people: the world is too cruel for them, too appalling, what the old generations have made of the world. They have no place in it, they are lost, so they take to drugs, drink, all kinds of things are going on in the world with the young - communes, sexual orgies, chasing off to India to find somebody who will tell them what to do, so that they can trust them. And they go there, young, fresh, not knowing, and the gurus give them the feeling that they are being looked after, protected, guided, that is all they want. They can't get it from their parents, from their priest, from their local psychologists and so on, because the local priests, the psychologists and the psychotherapists are equally confused; so they go off to this dangerous country, which is India, and they are caught in that, by the thousands. And they are seeking: they are seeking comfort, somebody to say, "I am looking after you. I will be responsible for you. Do this. Do that". And it is a very happy, pleasant state. And also they say you can do what you like, sex, drink, go on.
And the older generation are equally in the same position, only they put it much more sophisticated. They are both the same, the young and the old. You see this all the time taking place in the world. So nobody can give guidance, light to another, only you yourself. The light cannot be given to you, you have to stand tremendously alone. And that is what is frightening for the old and for the young. Because if you belong to anything, follow anybody you are already entering into corruption. If you understand that very deeply, with tears in your eyes - you understand? - then there is no guru, no teacher, no disciple, there is only you as a human being living in this world, the world, the society, which you have created. And if you don't do something in yourself the society is not going to help you. On the contrary society wants you to be what you are. Do you understand all this? So don't belong to anything, no institution, no organization, don't follow anybody, you are not a disciple of anybody, but you are a human being living in this terrible world. And there is you as a human being who is the world, and the world is you. You have to live there, understand it and go beyond yourself.
Saanen 1st Question & Answer Meeting 23rd July 1980
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