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Questions and Answers

Saanen, 2nd meeting 1980

Questions and Answers 24th Question Saanen 2nd Question & Answer Meeting 24th July 1980 'Right Living'

Question: I work as a teacher and I am in constant conflict with the system of the school and the pattern of society. Must I give up all work? What is the right way to earn a living? Is there a way of living that does not perpetuate conflict?

This is a rather complex question and we will go into it step by step.

What is a teacher? Either a teacher gives information about history, physics, biology and so on, or he himself is learning together with the pupil about himself. This is a process of understanding the whole movement of life. If I am a teacher, not of biology or physics, but of psychology, then will the pupil understand me or will my pointing out help him to understand himself?

We must be very careful and clear as to what we mean by a teacher. Is there a teacher of psychology at all? Or are there only teachers of facts. Is there a teacher who will help you to understand yourself? The questioner asks: I am a teacher. I have to struggle not only with the established system of schools and education, but also my own life is a constant battle with myself. And must I give up all this? Then what shall I do if I give up all that. He is asking not only what right teaching is but he also wants to find out what right living is.

What is right living? As society exists now, there is no right way of living. You have to earn a livelihood, you marry, you have children, you become responsible for them and so you accept the life of an engineer or a professor. As society exists can there be a right way of living? Or is the search for a right way of living merely a search for Utopia, a wish for something more? What is one to do in a society which is corrupt, which has such contradictions in itself, in which there is so much injustice - for that is the society in which we live? And, not only as a teacher in a school, I am asking myself: what shall I do?

Is it possible to live in this society, not only to have a right means of livelihood, but also to live without conflict? Is it possible to earn a livelihood righteously and also to end all conflict within oneself? Now, are these two separate things: earning a living rightly and not having conflict in oneself? Are these two in separate, watertight compartments? Or do they go together? To live a life without any conflict requires a great deal of understanding of oneself and therefore great intelligence - not the clever intelligence of the intellect - but the capacity to observe, to see objectively what is happening, both outwardly and inwardly and to know that there is no difference between the outer and the inner. It is like a tide that goes out and comes in. To live in this society, which we have created, without any conflict in myself and at the same time to have a right livelihood - is it possible? On which shall I lay emphasis - on right livelihood or on right living, that is, on finding out how to live a life without any conflict? Which comes first? Do not just let me talk and you listen, agreeing or disagreeing, saying "It is not practical. It is not like this, it is not like that saying, "It is not practical. It is not like this, it is not like that" - because it is your problem. We are asking each other: is there a way of living which will naturally bring about a right livelihood and at the same time enable us to live without a single shadow of conflict?

People have said that you cannot live that way except in a monastery, as a monk; because you have renounced the world and all its misery and are committed to the service of God, because you have given your life over to an idea, or a person, an image or symbol, you expect to be looked after. But very few believe any more in monasteries, or in saying, "I will surrender myself". If they do surrender themselves it will be surrendering to the image they have created about another, or which they have projected.

It is possible to live a life without a single shadow of conflict only when you have understood the whole significance of living - which is, relationship and action. What is right action - under all circumstances? Is there such a thing? Is there a right action which is absolute, not relative? Life is action, movement, talking, acquiring knowledge and also relationship with another, however deep or superficial. You have to find right relationship if you want to find a right action which is absolute.

What is your present relationship with another - not the romantic, imaginative, flowery and superficial thing that disappears in a few minutes - but, actually, what is your relationship with another? What is your relationship with a particular person? - perhaps intimate, involving sex, involving dependence on each other, possessing each other and therefore arousing jealousy and antagonism. The man or the woman goes off to the office, or to do some kind of physical work, where he or she is ambitious, greedy, competitive, aggressive to succeed; he or she comes back home and becomes a tame, friendly, perhaps affectionate husband or wife. That is the actual daily relationship. Nobody can deny that. And we are asking: is that right relationship? We say no, certainly not, it would be absurd to say that that is right relationship. We say that, but continue in the same way. We say that that is wrong but we do not seem to be able to understand what right relationship is - except according to the pattern set by ourselves, by society.

We may want it, we may wish for it, long for it, but longing and wishing do not bring it about. We have to go into it seriously to find out.

Relationship is generally sensuous - begin with that - then from sensuality there is companionship, a sense of dependence on each other; then there is the creating of a family which increases dependence on each other. When there is uncertainty in that dependence the pot boils over. To find right relationship one has to enquire into this great dependence on each other. Psychologically why are we so dependent in our relationships with each other? Is it that we are desperately lonely? Is it that we do not trust anybody - even our own husband or wife? On the other hand, dependence gives a sense of security; a protection against this vast world of terror. We say: "I love you." In that love there is always the sense of possessing and being possessed. And when that situation is threatened there arises all the conflict. That is our present relationship with each other, intimate or otherwise. We create an image about each other and cling to that image.

The moment you are tied to another person, or tied to an idea or concept, corruption has begun. That is the thing to realize and we do not want to realize it. So, can we live together without being tied, without being dependent on each other psychologically? Unless you find this out you will always live in conflict, because life is relationship. Now, can we objectively, without any motive, observe the consequences of attachment and let them go immediately? Attachment is not the opposite of detachment. I am attached and I struggle to be detached; which is: I create the opposite. The moment I have created the opposite conflict comes into being. But there is no opposite; there is only what I have, which is attachment. There is only the fact of attachment - in which I see all the consequences of attachment in which there is no love - not the pursuit of detachment. The brain has been conditioned, educated, trained, to observe what is and to create its opposite: "I am violent but I must not be violent" - therefore there is conflict. But when I observe only violence, the nature of it - not analyse but observe - then the conflict of the opposite is totally eliminated. If one wants to live without conflict, only deal with `what is', everything else is not. And when one lives that way - and it is possible to live that way - completely to remain with `what is' then `what is' withers away. Experiment with it.

When you really understand the nature of relationship, which only exists when there is no attachment, when there is no image about the other, then there is real communion with each other.

Right action means precise, accurate action, not based on motive; it is action which is not directed or committed. The understanding of right action, right relationship, brings about intelligence. Not the intelligence of the intellect but that profound intelligence which is not yours or mine. That intelligence will dictate what you will do to earn a livelihood; when there is that intelligence you may be a gardener, a cook, it does not matter. Without that intelligence your livelihood will be dictated by circumstance.

There is a way of living in which there is no conflict; because there is no conflict there is intelligence which will show the right way of living.

Questions and Answers

Saanen, 2nd meeting 1980

Questions and Answers 24th Question Saanen 2nd Question & Answer Meeting 24th July 1980 'Right Living'

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