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Brockwood Park 1981

Brockwood Park 4th Public Talk 6th September 1981

This is the last talk. I am glad we have had such good weather for the whole week. Strange for England!

I think we ought to talk over together this morning not only about meditation but what is a religious life. And we ought also to consider together: what is beauty? Religious life, beauty and meditation go together. They are not separate states, to be compartmentalized, and kept separate. So if we could this morning together first consider: what is beauty?

I think this is an important question: whether beauty is in those things that man has created, paintings, sculpture, poetry, literature; and the beauty of nature, the lovely evenings, the clear stars, and the bright sunlight, the evening light of a sun setting among all the hills and the mountains and the valleys; and the wild animals, though in this country you have almost destroyed them all, they do still exist. So we ought to consider together the question whether beauty is in the paintings, in the poems, or in nature, or it is something entirely different. The beauty of a face, the loveliness of a poem, the great delight of a sunset and a large sheet of water and the border of light, and the breeze on the leaves, whether all that is beauty. Or when you look at a mountain against the blue sky, the deep valleys and shadows, when you look at something enormously great, all the problems that one has had are for this moment wiped away and you are in front of that silent quiet. There the majesty of the mountain has driven away your self, the self with all the problems of daily life, that great rock has banished your problems for a second. And so, like a child given a toy, a complicated toy, he is absorbed by it for some time, until he breaks it or he gets bored with it. So human beings too are absorbed by the toy of a mountain, or by football, or when one enters into a temple, the temples of the world, where there is a certain quality of silence and all that, that also helps human beings for the moment to forget themselves. And in that forgetfulness they appreciate that which is beautiful for a second. That is, where the self is not beauty is. Is that beauty in the picture, painting, in a concert of Mozart or Beethoven, or in the poems of Keats, or is it possible to be totally free of oneself to look at the world? Then in that there is great beauty, where you are not absorbed by anything. Something doesn't take you over, or the very grandeur, the majesty of something drives away for a second the self. And when there is the absence of that self with all its problems, there is then great beauty, not in something, or externally or subjectively but the very complex problems of one's life, which is the problem of the self, the selfishness, the agony and so on, to be free of all that, totally, completely, then there is great beauty - beauty to be found nowhere else on earth or in any painting or in any poem.

So that is part of meditation.

And also we are going to talk over together: what is a religious life and what is meditation? I think we should begin with meditation. What is meditation? That word has been brought over from India quite recently, unfortunately. They have brought with it a lot of systems, methods and all kinds of fanciful imaginative thoughts and the projection of thought of various types. There are the meditations of Zen, probably you have heard about all these things, and also the Tibetan meditation, the Buddhist meditation, varieties of Hindu meditation, and one can invent one's own meditation. And one can observe, see logically, that any form of routine, repeating over and over and over again, certain words - Ave Maria - or some words which you have bought with a coin, and repeating those words only makes the mind more dull, makes the mind or the brain continue in a certain pattern. And all these meditations are basically, if you have gone into it and studied it or talked to people who have done it, or you have done it yourself, their basis is control - controlling thought, disciplining it, being aware, exercising great effort to be aware, to concentrate, to attend. In all this there is the exercise of will. If you have studied it, or if some of you have practised various forms of meditation and also if you have done any of the so-called transcendental meditation, guru spoilt by repeating a certain mantra, and all these forms, all these efforts of practising, what relationship has all that to daily life? Is it a form of escape? Or trying to understand something, or experience something, which will then alter your whole way of thinking and then that experience will totally alter the ways of one's life. That is, meditate, whatever that may mean, then that meditation will somehow alter the ways of one's living. That is one approach to this whole problem of meditation. I don't know why we have made it into a problem, but apparently it has become a problem.

Or bring about order in one's daily life, not order based on some form of conformity, imitation, but understanding the whole movement of thought, in daily life, in our relationship with each other, so that we put our house in order first. And that bringing about that order in daily life is part of meditation. There are these two approaches.

The first, which is the traditional; meditate first, control your thought, concentrate, be aware of every movement of your hands, toes, all that, begin with that and that will transform your daily life. Let us talk that over first. What are the implications of such meditation? We are not denying or condemning one or the other. We are examining together the whole question of meditation, which when it is really understood has an extraordinary significance. So together first let's examine this question of meditation first which will then flow into our life and alter the whole misery of life.

When you meditate in the first category, if we can put it that way, you sit in a certain posture, breathe properly, control your thoughts, concentrate, either on some word, on a sound, which is the word, and put your whole energy on some concept and not let your thoughts wander away, so that gradually over innumerable days of practise not only do you control your body but also you control the very movement of thought through concentration. That is what is generally understood by meditation by those who practise it.

Now in concentration what takes place? Please, as we said, we are thinking together, we are not laying down any laws, we are not doing any kind of propaganda for this or for that, but we are examining together what is right meditation. And in the examination of that we ought to consider all the implications that are involved in concentration. In concentration on an idea, on a picture or a symbol, or on a word and follow the sound of that word because sound has an extraordinary importance, which we will go into presently, if we have time. Concentration means focusing all your energy, forcing thought in one direction upon a certain point, which the student does in a school, he wants to look out of the window, see that lizard going by and watch that spider spinning its web, or the bird. And the teacher says, "Concentrate on your book, don't look out of the window". So he learns gradually to concentrate, which means focusing thought. But thought wanders off, that is its nature, a movement, a flow. So there is a controller and the controlled. That is what is implied in concentration. Resistance, narrowing it down and focusing on a certain point by repetition of words or by buying a mantra, making the other fellow very rich, and pursuing all that.

The word mantra, unfortunately you have all heard about it, means, the root meaning is meditate or ponder over not becoming. And also put away all self-centred activity. That's the meaning of it. Ponder over not becoming, put away all kinds of self-centred activity. You understand? And you can't buy that. You can't practise it by repeating, repeating for twenty minutes, thirty minutes - you follow? - all that nonsense that goes on with it. And there are also meditational centres - the Buddhist, the Hindu, - you know - which is a good racket.

And concentration, one must understand who is the controller, who is it that says, "I must control my thought from wandering away" - who is the controller and the thing he is going to control? Are they two different things? This is very important to understand, if you don't mind it being pointed out. As long as there is a division between the controller and the controlled there must be struggle. Thought wanders away and you pull it back by will, will being the essence of desire, that desire is to achieve certain results, or experience certain states, and so there is this battle going on in concentration. Until of course you can achieve complete concentration which is thought being controlled by thought, so that thought never moves away from its focus. That is mechanical. It is so obvious, you can see it. And that does not alter one's daily life because in that meditation, that concentration, you can experience anything you want according to your conditioning, according to your knowledge, according to your desire. So that is one type of meditation which has been practised throughout the Asiatic world. Take a certain posture, concentrate, repeat and so quieten the mind or the brain which is to make the brain more and more routine, dull and lethargic. And those who practise such meditations have not brought about a social change, or a change radically in themselves. They may be more polished, more theoretically involved and so on. That is one type.

The other is to put your house in order first. If the house has not a deep foundation the house is of very little importance. So the other which we are considering now is to see if we can bring about order, which is an art, not just following a blue print of order, because order is a living thing, like morality is a living thing. Aesthetics or conduct are a living thing. So if we do not put that house in order, do what we will, without love, without fear, finding out the right relationship between human beings, without laying a deep foundation in that, which is in our daily life, not an abstraction called life. So one has to consider what is discipline in that order and what part memory plays in it, that is knowledge, which we went into yesterday. So is it possible living in this modern world, society disintegrating, the authority of governments which are inept, which follow tribalism and therefore creating more and more wars, more and more misery for humanity, can we live in this world, in the modern world, pursuing our daily life, job, relationship, the whole problem of existence of one's daily life, can there be absolute order? That is really the first question in meditation.

The word 'meditation' means also to measure, both in Sanskrit and in the root meaning of that word 'meditate' is to measure. Measure is not only this act of becoming - I am this, I will be that, I will be better still. This idea of climbing, getting better and better and better, nobler and nobler, getting less and less angry, violent and so on, is measurement. Our brains are trained to measure. This measurement was given to the Western world by the Greeks, the ancient Greeks on whose philosophy, democracy from those Greeks, and the whole mathematical, theosophical world is based in the Western world - measurement is technology. That is part of the word we are understanding, that is the meaning of that word, to measure. And the Asiatic world says, measurement is illusion. Follow this just for fun! Is illusion. And so they look at the technological world, they are full of it, the Indians at present when they come over to the West, they are inventing a great many things, but in their blood, in their past, there is this idea that every form of measurement must be technical and therefore is not spiritual, therefore seek that which is immeasurable. You follow the sequence of it? And so exercise will to find the immeasurable, control thought, back into the old rut. You are following this? It is very interesting if you go into it, observe it, how man plays tricks with himself. Denying measurement is an illusion and yet be caught in measurement.

So that is one of the meanings of meditation. If you want to go into it very, very deeply, is it possible to live a life without measurement, that is without comparison, without any form of psychological limitation, because all that is measurement? And can the brain, which has been trained for a million years to measure, can that brain put aside its conditioning and be afresh? That is one of the issues in meditation, an issue which must be answered if you really want to find out, if one is really serious enough to find out, or allow that which is eternal, if there is an eternity, to come into being. That is part of meditation.

And also, if one is serious and wants to go into it, to give knowledge its place, because without knowledge we couldn't communicate with each other, without knowledge we could not drive a car, go the office and so on. So knowledge has its place in our daily life, but psychological knowledge is what we are concerned about. Can that psychological knowledge which has been accumulated through generation upon generation, not only the communal knowledge, the family knowledge, the traditional knowledge, the knowledge which one has acquired, can all that psychological knowledge end? Otherwise it will project, that knowledge, which is part of memory, thought, action, if that knowledge is not completely understood, the nature of that knowledge, it must inevitably lead to all kinds of illusions, all kinds of neurotic actions. In that there is no sanity. So that is one of our problems in meditation.

And also another deeper problem is whether the brain which is constantly recording, recording your reactions, conscious or unconscious, recording every incident which affects the psyche, can that record stop? Please - meditation isn't something you play with if you are serious - you can play with it but that is your affair, but if one wants to go very deeply into the whole nature of meditation one has to investigate all this and be absolutely clear, not vague and fanciful, imaginative. Can this recording, which is psychological knowledge, because that is what is happening, when you tell me something that is harmful to me, that is you insult me or flatter me, which are both the same, it is recorded. That becomes the knowledge and can that recording of this brain, where it is necessary, where it is psychologically not necessary, end? Are we working together in all this? Probably it is all new to you.

So what will bring about the end of recording? You understand the importance of it? I record an insult, it has wounded me, wounded the image which I have about myself. That image is hurt by your insult, by your word, by your gesture. Or that image is strengthened through flattery, you come and tell me "What a marvellous talk that was" - and that image records, the brain records that knowledge. You understand? So you when you insult or flatter to have no record. That is to learn. To learn the process of recording, what is implied in the recording, and the consequences of that recording, when you flatter me you are my friend, when you insult me you are my enemy, you are a foreigner, barbarian, but when you are pleasant and all the rest of it, then you are my friend. So the consequences of recording, that is very superficial but it is the deeper layers of that, the recording of deep incidents, of deep relationship, deep experiences that one holds to, conclusions, theoretical, practical and so on, all those are forms of recording. On that record we live psychologically, because one needs to record how to go to the office, take the bus, etc., time and so on and so on. A carpenter, a surgeon, or a scientist, they must be recording, not that the scientists are helping the world, in certain ways they are, in other ways they are helping to bring about the destruction of man, because the poet, the artist, the scientist have partial insight. It is only the religious mind that has total insight.

So is that possible? To have a brain that only records that which is absolutely necessary and not record anything else. You understand the beauty of it? In that there is tremendous freedom, that is real freedom, not the freedom that money gives, or some fanciful imaginative idea of freedom. That is one of the problems of meditation. That is, to learn because learning demands certain order. The word 'discipline' means to learn, it comes from the word disciple who is learning from the master. You are not learning from me, we are thinking over together. But learning, not conforming, not obeying, not repetitive: "I have read this, you have said that, what do you mean by this, explain it" - which means you are not learning. Learning is to observe, to observe how the brain records. You can watch it yourself, it is very simple. Recording - it thinks everything is necessary because it is seeking security because the brain must record when it goes to the office because there it is necessary to acquire money and so on and so on. And also it thinks it is necessary to accumulate all the psychological knowledge that is being gathered together in the past generation after generation, which is the structure of the 'me'. In that it seeks security.

So we went into that: there is no security except in intelligence. The intelligence which is not yours or mine, that intelligence can only come about when there is love, compassion. We went into that yesterday.

So meditation is to understand the futility of all systems, to learn about it, not say it is wrong or right, but to learn the implications of systems, which is to follow a pattern laid down by somebody who says, "I know and you don't know. I am the guru, follow this." - it is too childish. But we all want to follow somebody. The more bizarre it is, absurd it is, the greater we want to follow, we are so gullible.

And the other question is: that knowledge has a certain place and psychological knowledge is totally unnecessary. Because if I am related to you as a wife or a husband, or a girl friend, and if that relationship is based on memory, on the recorded incidents, building images about you and you build about me, then in that relationship, in that recording, it is merely memory. And we have said, is memory love? We went into that yesterday. Knowledge is not love, on the contrary, knowledge brings sorrow, psychological knowledge. So that is one of the questions in meditation.

The other is to be in a state of constant observation and learning which brings its own order. Learning is order. If you want to be a good carpenter you have to learn the quality of the wood, the right type of tools, grain, the beauty of the wood, and all the rest of it you have to learn. If you are a gardener you have to learn and so on and so on. But our brains are sluggish, so we follow the easiest. Therefore not to follow the easiest is to doubt everything, be sceptical about your sacred books, about your gurus, about your countries, about your self, because doubt, scepticism, cleanses the brain, sharpens the brain, gives clarity. But you can't doubt all the time. You must hold it and let it go sometimes, like a dog on a leash.

And also learn about the whole movement of concentration. It is only strengthening, controlling the energy of thought. Controlling the energy of thought by will, by conformity, by measurement. I hope you are all doing all this. Is this too much for a morning?

Meditation also is to find out, learn, whether it is possible for the brain never to be occupied. Because our brains are occupied all the time: about god, about sex, about oneself, about one's own conclusions, beliefs, you know, you can surely watch yourself how one's brain is occupied. When the brain is occupied there is no space. When knowledge has occupied the brain, occupied it, how can that brain experience anything original? So to experience something original when the brain is crowded, occupied, you take drugs to experience something fantastic - you do, not that the speaker has taken any drugs - he has talked to many other people who have taken drugs, they have certain experiences which are projected by their own conditioning, by their own desire, will and so on, of which they are unconscious, only the chemical alters their focus, and sometimes it does great harm, if one has taken drugs for a couple of years then your brain is gone. Or if you have played with it for a little while there is some still. So one has to find out whether the brain can ever be free from all occupation. That is, are we listening with occupied brains to what is being said? Or watching your own activity of the brain to see whether it is occupied now, sitting there quietly, whether it is occupied. That is, are you occupied with listening, or are you just listening? Do you see the difference? May I go on with this.

When you are attempting to listen, making an effort, say, "I must understand what that chap says", and so you are exercising, your will to listen, you are occupied. But if you are listening to what the speaker is saying, he is explaining yourself, so you are not listening to the speaker, you are listening to yourself, therefore you are listening very quietly without any occupation. That is, to be aware of yourself, how you are listening. And in this listening are you learning or merely observing? You see the difference? If you are observing there is no accumulation. But if you say, "I must learn what he is saying, I must remember what he says," then your mind is being occupied and therefore there is no space in which you can listen. In the same way to observe without occupation, just to look.

And the other deeper problem is: whether the brain can ever be quiet, absolutely still? It has its own rhythm, its own movement - we are not talking about that, you can't stop that - of course you can stop it if you take some kind of drug, or you die, but we are talking about the movement which thought has created, whether thought can ever be completely still. That is part of the enquiry into meditation, not how to make the brain still because then you can practise some form of idiocy and you can force the brain, force thought to be still - you follow? That is mechanical. So there is no exercise of will at all in meditation. Oh, you don't see the beauty of all this.

And is it possible for thought to be absolutely still? That is, for time to stop, not scientific fiction time, but the actual movement of time as thought. This question is very complex. Unless one understands the whole movement of thought, sees how thought operates, what it has done in the outside world and the inside world, what is the nature of knowledge, what is the experiencer who experiences, or the thinker who thinks, all that is the movement of thought. And a brain that has been educated for a million years to think, because everything we do is through thought, the movement of the arm because I want to move it in that direction, it is all the movement of thought. And the brain is conditioned to that. And you are asking something enormously significant and against the conditioning. One has to learn the nature of thought and find out for oneself, not through compulsion, imitation, conformity, will, whether there is absolute stillness of thought.

Silence is of many kinds. There is silence between the barking of that dog, when the noise stops there is a certain silence. There is silence between two thoughts. There is silence of an evening when everything is quiet. There is silence of a morning when there is not a movement just before the dawn comes. But there is a silence which is entirely different, which is the silence of a brain which has no movement of thought. In that silence alone there can be that which is sacred. The things thought has created are not sacred. The things thought has invented are not holy. But we worship the things which thought has created. See the game we play. That is, I worship a symbol, a figure, that figure, that symbol is created by thought, invented, moulded by hand or by the mind, and then thought says, "I must worship that", which is worshipping itself. I wonder if you see this. And we pray to that.

So this is meditation. Either you go through all this step by step, by step, which is impossible. Or you see the whole of it at a glance. You understand the difference? Either we take into consideration, analyse fear, pleasure, pain, wounds, all that bit by bit by bit, having slight insight into each, and then try to meditate, which is obviously incomplete. Or you watch the whole movement of it. They are all related to each other, you can't separate them and say, "This I will examine today, and tomorrow I will do this, and the day after tomorrow that" - that is all... But if you can observe the whole movement of it, and you can only observe it when there is no motive or direction at all. And that silence of the brain is necessary to find out, for into that silence something sublime, something timeless can come into being.

Now the question is: what value has all that in daily life? What value has meditation, the thing which we have talked about, not the first category, what value has that meditation? In asking that question one must ask also what is a religious life? As the world exists now, technology is the most important thing. The marvellous submarine with its atom bomb, the warships, the mechanical culture is spreading through the world. That is not going to bring about a new religion. The old religions have lost their meaning altogether, they are still popular, they own a great deal of property, money, position, all the rest of it, but they are all sectarian - the Catholic world, the Hindu world. And they have broken up the world into their own particular forms of beliefs. One religion is not going to conquer the rest of the world. They may want to - the Hindus want it, so do the Catholics. And the mechanical world, which is now being put together, is not going to bring about a new society, a new culture, only religion has always done it, not the present religions. So there needs to be a religion, not a faith, not belief, not rituals, not authority, however profitable, however comforting, the hierarchical religious structure has lost altogether its meaning for any intelligent man, for any thoughtful man. The thoughtful man rejects totally all that.

So religion is the way of life which is built on right order in our daily life and the meditation in which is born the most sacred, not that sacred is my experience and your experience, that which is sacred has no experience, you cannot experience it because if you experience it there must be an experiencer. I don't know if you are following this? So we are back then if there is an experiencer who says, "I have achieved. I am illumined" - altogether the very words "I am illumined" is something abominable. So that realization, if all of us can do that we will be the most religious people. We will be responsible then for a new culture, not based on fear. And have a society which is incorruptible because we are incorruptible. That is the meaning of meditation, to gather all our energy which is now being dissipated so that our consciousness is totally empty of its content of fear and so on. So where there is this emptiness and space there is vast energy. And that energy is sacred, it is not the energy of belief in god, that belief in god is created by thought through fear. But when there is no fear, no sorrow, then there is that quality of silence in which that which is nameless can come into being. That has immense significance in daily life.


Brockwood Park 1981

Brockwood Park 4th Public Talk 6th September 1981

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