Madras 4th Public Talk 3rd January 1982
What shall we talk about? We were talking yesterday afternoon about the whole movement of fear, how important it is to be completely, wholly, free of that terrible burden that man has carried through millennia. We said it was a movement of desire, time and thought that bred fear. And out of this fear we invent all the gods, all the rituals that accompany this fear, all the pain involved in this fear. We went into it quite in detail. And we ought to talk this afternoon something about beauty. It is again a very complex problem and we need a certain quality of mind, of sensitivity to grasp the enormous significance of beauty, because beauty is truth, beauty is love, beauty is that infinite. So we ought to talk over together this question: what is beauty?
Again if one may remind you that we are together looking into this question. This is not a lecture as it is understood generally, where the speaker has a set of ideas and is rather good with his tongue, glib, and gives you what you should do, what you should not do, or what you should think and so on. That is generally what is considered as a lecture. But here this is not a lecture, far from it. We are together, as two friends who trust each other, who have confidence in each other, who are walking together in a beautiful lane full of trees and flowers; and as two friends concerned not only with the problems of daily life but also this question of beauty. Because vulgarity is increasing in the world; the vulgar, the noise, the dirt, the squalor and the cities that are really frightful. And living in one of these cities far away from all nature, to them beauty is merely, and perhaps more, than architecture; the quality of a building, the line of a building, the proportion, the gratifying sensory appreciation; going to museums and seeing all the marvellous paintings by the great masters of the Renaissance period. And to them and to most of us, beauty is something our there - in a museum, in a marvellous old cathedral or a temple, or one of the great delicate mosques. And beauty to us, if you are at all aware, which I question, is the gratification of a particular sense; either visual, optical or the hearing, not only with the sensual ear but also going beyond the senses and inward appreciation of a magnificent symphony, or a great song. And also when we see a marvellous mountain, snow capped against the blue sky, the great majesty with deep shadows, valleys, rivers and the feeling of this grandeur, the enormity that is in front of one. And also beauty may be in a poem, or in literature, or in the face of a man or a woman, in a form.
And beauty to us is not only rather rare but we do not have the sensitivity, the quality of being with something that is entirely made by nature; like a marvellous tree full of leaves, the great branches, and if one has ever sat under that tree, that tree tells you a great deal. And also, for us, beauty is something that very few of us appreciate. We are not talking of the beauty of a face or a form, which is also part of beauty. Because if we do not understand beauty we have no love in our heart. Beauty is not pleasure, sensory reaction of gratification, appreciation; beauty is something far greater than all this. And most of us unfortunately have lost the sense, or never had the sense of looking around, being aware of the environment, with all its ugliness, with all its squalor, misery, and with it goes the feeling of pain, the pain that one can live in such a world which is so full of vulgarity, noise, loud speaking. There is no sense of grace.
And religions throughout the world have denied, or never appreciated beauty. Because beauty has been associated with pleasure and pleasure is sensuous, sexual; and religions, both those who are highly organized and those who are not, lay emphasis on the denial of any sensual appreciation. I hope we are following all this, we are thinking together. You are not just listening to the speaker.
So, what is beauty? It is very important to understand this. What is, to us, the quality of a mind that sees beauty? Not only the beauty of a sunset, or the beauty of a curve of a branch, or the beauty of a simple flower by the road side, or the beauty of an early morning when there is complete silence, when there is only one star shining in the sky. Beauty is not sentiment, it is not a romantic appreciation, a romantic sentimental talk. Beauty is also the way one behaves, the way you treat another, the way you look at somebody, because without that quality of beauty, do what you will, go to all the temples in the world, you will never know what truth is. So it behoves us to enquire, if we are sensitive, that is, if all our senses, not just one or two separate senses are in action, but when the whole of our senses are operating, living, feeling together, feeling this sense of this marvellous world, the universe. Has you ever looked at your wife, and your husband and your children, with that quality of mind in which there is great affection, love, because beauty is love? To look at a person, to look at a tree, to look at that poor beggar going by in the street, to feel that, not pity, the sense of great compassion, because where there is no compassion there is no intelligence. Where there is intelligence there is right action born out of compassion; and beauty is that compassion.
And so we should enquire together, not only what is beauty, but what is pleasure? For most of us pleasure is very important, not only sexual pleasure, the pleasure of possession, the pleasure of power, the pleasure to dominate people, the pleasure of achievement: there are so many different forms of pleasure. To look at a sunset and delight in that, the moment of that sunset and that delight when remembered and pursued then it becomes pleasure. At the moment of seeing a beautiful scene, seeing fast running waters, then there is no pleasure, just pure observation of this movement of water, with tremendous volume behind it, carrying everything before it. But that incident, that perception, is recorded in the brain as delight, as sensory reaction, then thought pursues it and then out of that pursuit pleasure arises. This is so obvious if you examine it closely. For most of us throughout life pleasure becomes extraordinarily important: pleasure in doing rituals, pleasure in worship, pleasure in prayers, however the mind is tortured, pleasure in achievement, in being somebody, or being an ascetic, being a monk who has refused the world and lives a solitary life, to him also that is pleasure.
And if one is aware of this movement of pleasure and the pursuit as most of us are pursuing pleasure, we have never asked what is the other side of pleasure. You understand my question? I hope we are meeting each other, that I am not talking to myself. Is not pleasure the other side of fear? Is pleasure another form of fear? Please enquire into it carefully. Look into it. Those of us who are constantly chasing pleasure of entertainment, both religious and physical, the football and the mass, the ritual of your puja and cricket. In this country you are fond of cricket as a form of entertainment, pleasure, which is almost the same as doing your puja, your rituals, going to your temple. We want to be entertained, entertained which will be pleasurable, which will gratify our sensations. So we are always caught between either fear or pleasure. This is our life: pleasure to achieve something called the eternal, something called illumination, or as you call it in India, self-realization - I don't know what that means but you talk about it a great deal. So we are caught in these two: fear and pleasure. We are not denying pleasure, we are saying, just observe it, look at it, be aware of the extraordinary subtleties of pleasure and fear, how the human mind is caught in it from the most ancient of times to the present day; which is, reward and punishment. On that we live. We will do anything for a reward and avoid punishment. But you do the right thing if you are going to be punished, you will do the right thing if you are going to be rewarded. You know all this.
So, on these two principles we work. Our daily life is balanced between the two: reward and punishment. And apparently the human mind cannot go beyond it. That is, to do something without a single motive, without fear or deriving pleasure in doing something, which is not duty. Duty is an abominable word, it is the understanding of this very complex process of life, that all of us function on these two principles. And therefore we totally deny the sense of beauty. Beauty is not a reward; beauty is not something that you can achieve through sacrifice, through pain, through denial, through control.
So we ought to think over together, examine very closely, why our minds, our hearts, are caught in this. Not only sexual pleasure, which is now permissive in the West, and is gradually seeping into this country; and can beauty exist where there is greed, envy, anxiety, agony? Or beauty is when the other is not?
And also we should talk over together this evening the question of sorrow, which is all part of it. Fear, pleasure, pain, grief, sorrow; they are all interrelated, they are not separate states, separate reactions. One translates the reactions as fear, as pleasure, as pain, as sorrow. We are together going to investigate, explore, subtly, hesitantly, carefully, why man suffers. Again this has been our burden from time beyond time, why we human beings, who live on this beautiful earth, why we go through tortures of pain, tortures of suffering: we have never solved that question. We are always talking about social change, how rotten politics are, how poor the world is, vulgar, so much poverty, over population and so on; we are always talking something out there. But we never examine the question of suffering; who suffers, why there is suffering. To understand this question of suffering we must understand ourselves first; that is to know oneself, to understand the very complex entity, the complex movement of oneself. That is, knowing all the subtleties of thought, these feelings, to be aware without any choice what we are.
So we are first going to examine what we are. Not what I say you are, or the philosophers say you are, or your guru, books, psychologists and so on: you can put all those aside. If you do not you are merely repeating what others have said about you, therefore you will never know what you are. So we are together examining very closely what we are. We are learning about ourselves; not accumulating knowledge about ourselves because ourselves is a living thing, extraordinarily complex. Ourselves are the result of innumerable impressions, pressures, other people's thoughts, other people's opinions, judgements, values; we are secondhand people very deeply, there is nothing original. And to discover the origin requires a great deal of attention, understanding ourselves and pursuing right to the very end of what we are.
So we have discussed fear and the movement of fear as desire, time, thought, which is part of us. We also talked about pleasure, which is part of us. And also we have to discover for ourselves the totality, the wholeness of ourselves. Are we following each other? You sit so readily and nod your head. Have you ever looked at yourself - not in the glass when you are shaving or combing your hair, but looked at yourself; the form that you have, the hands that you have, the way you look, the way you walk, the way you eat. That is also part of the understanding of yourself. The way you talk, the words you use; the way you talk to your superiors and you grovel to the governors, the cheap politicians and all the rest of it. So that is part of it. That is, your consciousness is what you are. Your consciousness is you. Your consciousness is your belief - please follow this, watch your own consciousness, not my description of your consciousness, not my words but use the speaker as your mirror in which you are seeing yourself. And seeing yourself as you are, the mirror becomes unimportant; you can throw away the mirror afterwards. But use the speaker as a mirror in which you are seeing yourself because the speaker is going to describe, but the description is not the actual, the description of a mountain, the painting of a mountain is not the mountain, it is not that cold air, that freshness, the majesty, the deep valleys and the shadows. The description is never the real, the word is not the thing. So please, the speaker is describing and the description is your own observation. So the description is not real, but watching yourself is real.
We said consciousness, that is to be conscious, to be aware, to perceive what you are, what you think, what you do, what you say, is part of that consciousness of which you are. So your consciousness is your belief, your vulgarity, your jealousies, your anxieties, your agonies, the sense of deep hopeless loneliness, the desire to seek security, to have something permanent. So seeking permanency, safety, security, you invent the atman, whatever you call it, the soul, or god, you invent it, and that is part of your consciousness. Your consciousness is put together by thought. Right? You are following this? Your thought has created your gods in which you believe; your thought has created pain, suffering, anxiety, all the neurotic activities, the illusions, the realities; the whole content of your consciousness is not separate from you, you are that. That is, when you are angry, that anger is you, it is not something away from you, you are that anger. But thought says, "I must control it", "I must suppress it", "I must rationalize it" - which is thought then separates itself from anger. So the observer is different from the observed. I hope you are following all this. Are you following all this?
Look sirs, we are dealing with something very, very serious because we are concerned with the degeneration of the world. We are concerned with that society which is corrupt, in which we are living, and all the illusions of gods, and all the noise you make about the gods. There must be a radical change in the human mind otherwise we are going to destroy ourselves; you may not destroy yourself but your grandchildren, if you care for them. So it is very important to understand all this. So we are saying, which is a fact, your consciousness is the result, and the content of that consciousness is the product of thought. You believe in a particular concept, that concept is put together by thought. Your experience is translated by thought and registered or recorded in the brain. So thought is the source of your consciousness. Thought may think that there is god in you, that there is super, super, consciousness; that saying that there is superconsciousness, is still part of thought. So the content of your consciousness is put together by thought; all of it. And that content is in contradiction with each other: you believe in gods, going to temples, taking vows, and you are a lawyer on the other hand, an engineer; a modern man and a traditional man. Therefore there is contradiction, therefore there is conflict. So your consciousness is in contradiction with each other, the content of your consciousness is in contradiction with each other, therefore there is conflict, therefore there is pain. I hope this is clear.
And part of this consciousness is the inheritance of great suffering of mankind; not only personal suffering but the immense suffering of man who has been through thousands of wars, thousands of actual physical pain, all recorded, all shaping our brain. And suffering, which is fear, pleasure, pain and suffering, they move together, it is one movement, though we call it by different names, it is one unitary movement. So we are not separating suffering as though it had nothing to do with fear. Fear is part of suffering; pleasure is also part of suffering: suffering is not merely having some disease, some physical pain, paralysis, or lack of limbs, that is part of suffering also, physical suffering. One can bear with it, one can put up with it but there is much deeper suffering: the suffering of a man who is ignorant, who is poor, uneducated. The suffering of those who are highly educated, sophisticated, with great deal of work, they have their sorrow. So sorrow is common to all mankind, it is not Eastern sorrow or Western sorrow, there is only human sorrow. And we have put up with it, we cry, perhaps for a month and then forget it but remember it, and every remembrance of an incident that has caused pain, again you suffer for that. So there is constant pain and suffering: suffering when you lose your son, your brother, somebody on whom you have depended, and suddenly you are faced with loneliness. That is sorrow which we all have; nobody in the world has escaped from sorrow, everyone has sorrow. And we have never been able to resolve it, we have never been able to be totally and completely free from sorrow. And when the mind is in suffering it is distorted, it acts neurotically. Where there is suffering there is no love. So one must enquire if there is an end to sorrow. Perhaps some books have been written about ending sorrow; it is in the books but you have not ended sorrow. So you use books, or some idea to escape from the actuality of sorrow. When you suffer physically there are doctors to cure it, if they can. But when you psychologically suffer inwardly, through loneliness, through failure, through not having ever loved anybody, and then when you suffer inwardly you seek comfort, some kind of psychological palliative. So we are always escaping, running away from actually 'what is', which is our sorrow.
So could we, at least this evening, not run away, not seek comfort, not seeking some soothing words but actually face sorrow? Have you ever faced anything directly? Have you? Have you faced your jealousy, faced it? Say, "I am jealous" - not "I should not, why am I jealous", or try to find a rationalization of it, which are all escapes from it. But to face jealousy; that means to remain with it, to look at it, to understand it, to go into it. Or when you are aggressive, to comprehend it.
And also part of our consciousness is attachment: attached to a person, attached to some experience, attached to some belief, attached to some tradition. There are all kinds of tentacles of attachment. And we don't see the consequences, or the consequences of attachment, which is jealousy, anxiety, fear of being left, loneliness; these are all the consequences of attachment, whether you are attached to a person, or to an idea, to a concept, to a belief. Most of you do believe in god, god of the West or god of the East, you are attached to that because you want some explanation for all this misery, vulgarity, pain, ache, suffering. You, you are attached to that idea of god. But that god has been created by your thought to escape from reality of your life; and your gods have not solved your problems, your loneliness, your depressions, your aches, your agonies. But we want to escape from the actuality. And now we are saying: please face the actuality of your suffering. Is that suffering - please follow this carefully - is it a word? You understand? By using the word 'suffering', you think you suffer. You have understood? Yes? We are talking together, aren't we? You understand? The word 'violence' may create violence - you understand? Because to us words are extraordinarily important. We are caught in a network of words. So one must be very clear that the word is not creating the reaction. Therefore one has to understand how the word has shaped our minds. When you say you are a Hindu, that is a word, that has shaped your thoughts, your tradition and so on and so on, the words. So one has to be very clear whether the word anger, jealousy, fear, suffering, that that word creates the feeling, or there is a feeling independent of the word. You understand? Independent, the word is not the actual, but we are caught in the words. God is a word and you are caught in that. So similarly, is suffering a matter of words? Or the feeling, the depth of that feeling is actually independent of the word? It is, if you look at it closely, it is independent of the word. Please, independent in the sense that even the word suffering is not the actuality. So one must be free of the word suffering. To suffer is a word which describes the feeling: the feeling is tears, the sense of desperate loneliness, and also it is part of self-pity.
So all that is the state of suffering, which is not the word. Now can you remain with that suffering without any escape from it; calling it suffering, which means you have already moved away from the actual fact. When you say to me or I say to you, "I am suffering", I have already moved away from the actuality. So can I look, observe that suffering without the word, without escape, without trying to seek comfort, and so on? Which is, no movement of thought, but actually remain with that state called suffering? You understand? To so look at it that the very observer is not different from the suffering: the observer is the observed, which is, the observer is suffering, not he is separate and looking at suffering. You are following all this? So the observer is the observed. The observer is suffering, is sorrow. You get it? That there is no division between observation and the fact, so that you are completely with it. That means all your energy which you have dissipated by seeking comfort, by shedding tears, by running away from it, all that has been a wastage of energy because to understand sorrow, to live with it, you must bring all your energy to it. If you do, or when you do, then there is no difference between you and suffering, you are suffering, you are sorrow. Then because you have brought all your energy, it is like focussing light on a particular object, when you bring light onto an object you see it very clearly. So in that clarity of attention sorrow ends completely.
It is only a mind that is free from sorrow, totally, that can only know what love is. Without understanding the shock and the pain and the passion of sorrow; that passion is love, not lust, not sensual pleasure. So we will have to go into the question of what love is, because love cannot possibly exist where there is sorrow. Sorrow is part of self-centred activity and love is not. And so we will perhaps talk about love another time because it is nearly half past six.
So we are learning, learning, not memorizing - you understand the difference? Learning requires a certain curiosity, a deep interest and the mind is moving. There is a process of constant activity, whereas memory is static, you may add more to it, expand it, but it has not the same quality as learning. Learning is a movement; there is no end to learning. And therefore learning becomes an extraordinarily beautiful thing if you can see it that way.
So we began by talking about beauty: the beauty of your body, the beauty of your mind, the beauty of the mind that is free from conflict, from pain, the beauty of a mind that is free from sorrow and therefore it has that quality of love. And without that extraordinary perfume, and that very perfume may be truth, probably it is; and where there is truth there is beauty. Right sirs.
Madras 4th Public Talk 3rd January 1982
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