1st Question & Answer Meeting 11
Attention and order
1st Public Questions, Ojai, California
May 22, 1984
There have been a lot of questions sent in. And we have chosen some of those questions. We are going to examine the questions, not the answers. It's a dialogue; you ask a question, and the speaker replies to that question. Then you respond to that question. You ask a question, the speaker then responds to your question, then you respond to the speaker's response, and so keep this going till only the question remains and not the persons. You have understood this? Probably you have not gone into this question of dialogue. I think it is important to understand this because we are together going to investigate these questions. And in the process of investigation you ask a question, the speaker then replies to that question, and you respond to the reply, and then I pick up and reply to that - we go on this way - until only the question remains. You understand? So the question then has tremendous vitality, it is not tinged by any personal prejudice. Have you understood this? We are going to do it, we will see it for ourselves.
I wonder why we ask questions, and from whom do you expect a reply? It is good to ask questions, the more questions, enquiry, the better. But we expect someone else to answer the question. The question is really a problem. A problem, the root meaning of that word, is something thrown at you. The etymological meaning of the word 'problem' means something hurled at you, thrown at you, it is a challenge. And we expect others to solve our problems - religious, economic, social, all kinds of problems that human beings have. And therefore it becomes one-sided. You ask the question and the speaker replies to it, if he is silly enough. But if we together investigated the question, the significance of the question, and not move away from the significance of the question, then the answer is in the question. Right? Do you understand this?
Most of us put questions and then wait for somebody to answer them. So what we are interested in is the answer and not in the question itself. Whereas the importance is in the question, not in the answer. You will discover this presently. Because this is a question put to the speaker, then the speaker responds to the question, then you pick up that response and reply to that response, we keep this going until the question remains, and not anything else. And when the question becomes extraordinarily important it has its own vitality, and therefore its own answer. We will see it in a minute.
1st QUESTION: I understand that all people have a similar consciousness, but it seems a vast jump to say that all people share the same consciousness. Could we walk together slowly between these two points?
This is a question that has been put. What is the significance of that question? The questioner says, I understand that all people have a similar consciousness. What do we mean by understand? I am not being facetious, hair splitting, but I would like to know what you mean by understand. I understand the nuclear bomb will kill ten million people in one blow. I understand it. I have seen the experiment, not the ten million people blown up, but have seen the mushroom cloud and all the rest of it. Is the understanding merely intellectual, verbal, or, the understanding has tremendous significance, depth, and not merely a verbal understanding. Right? I have asked that question. Then you reply to that question: you say, no, when I use the word understand, I don't mean logically, or merely verbally, but I understand it, the meaning, the significance of people having similar consciousness. Right?
But it seems a vast jump to say that all people share the same consciousness. Could we walk together slowly between these two points?' What do we mean by consciousness? You reply to me - there are too many people, therefore I will reply for you. We mean by consciousness to be conscious of things, conscious of the trees round here, people round here, in their various dresses and hair and so on. I am aware of it. What do we mean by being conscious? Being aware? In that awareness see what is happening around us, and the happening, or mere things as they are, and in that awareness there is a certain choice - I like, I don't like. I like oak trees, I don't like palm trees, or I wish it was something else. So in this awareness there is a sense of choice. Now is there an awareness, which is part of consciousness, in which there is no choice at all? So the speaker puts that question, and the speaker representing you answers that question: which is, in our awareness there is always choice, choice being I like, I don't like, I wish it were different and so on. So where there is choice there is a conflict. Right? Do we see this? Where there is a choice between this and that, this division breeds conflict. Now is there an awareness without choice? You understand my question? As you cannot reply, I am taking your part: it seems it is very difficult to be aware without choice. And the reply to that is, why? Why is it difficult? Is the word 'difficult' preventing, throwing a barrier? The word 'difficult'. You understand? When I use the word 'impossible', 'difficult', 'I am a failure', those words act as a barrier. So in using the word 'difficult' you are already making it difficult.
So is it possible to be aware, conscious, without any choice, just to observe? Right? And the reply to that, 'I will try'. And to that reply the speaker says, 'Don't try'. The moment you try you are making an effort. And when you make an effort you don't understand anything. Whereas if you don't make effort, but just see, perceive the actual. Right? And then you may say, sorry, I don't understand it. So I say, let's go into it further.
I am having fun with this! I haven't read these questions before. I like to look at them first when I am speaking.
But it is a vast jump to say that all people share the same consciousness'. Is that so, or not? That all people throughout the world share the same consciousness, is that so? And you say, it is not the same, each one of us different, each one of us has his own peculiarities, his own idiosyncrasies, his different environment, different religious upbringing, or non-religious upbringing, educated in different ways, so we do not say all the same consciousness, you reply. And the speaker says, it is not like that, let's look into it, don't assert. You understand? Don't take a position, then it becomes battle. But if you are pliable, move, enquire, then we are together in this.
So I say, now let's examine this very closely, without any bias, taking up any position, that I believe in this, then you can't discuss, you can't explore. So let's examine this. You say, what do you mean examine, explore? Who is exploring? Your own attention, I am not using the word 'interest'. Now we must go into the question of interest, and attention. I hope you are coming into this game.
Most educators are concerned with interest, to awaken the interest of children, students, be interested in mathematics, if you are not interested in mathematics be interested in history. The teacher is concerned with awakening the interest in the student. Right? Isn't that a fact? I want to play the violin. Don't play the violin, it's not worthwhile because you can't earn a good livelihood, but get interested in something else. And so on. Now where there is interest there is always a contradictory process going on within yourself. Clear? Oh no. All right, I'll explain again.
I am interested in climbing a mountain. And my teacher says, don't be interested in that, be interested in something much more serious. There is a contradiction immediately. I am interested in wanting to climb the mountain; and the educator says, don't climb the mountain, be interested in what I am saying. So in me there is already a contradiction taking place: wanting to do something else, I have been forced to do something else. Right? So don't use the word 'interest' at all. Then what word would you use, you ask me. I say, find out what is the nature of attention. Right? Are you all so puzzled by all this? What is the nature of attention? The student is very interested in watching something very closely. And I want him to be interested in history, but he is watching the frog, or the lizard, or the bird, out of the window. He is paying much more attention to that than listening to my demand of history. So I would encourage him, or help him to watch much more carefully. You understand? Much more carefully so that his whole attention is given to his watching. When he does that then I can see and demand that he pay attention to everything slowly. Learn to pay attention, not interest. You've got it?
So let's examine, or explore, that we all share the same consciousness. Wherever we live, whether in the Far East, or in the Middle East, or here, human beings go through terrible times. There is great poverty in Africa and India, and parts of Asia. There is great suffering. People are anxious all over the world. People are afraid all over the world. And they all want security, both physical as well as psychological. Right? This is a fact. So the fact is common to all of us. Right? You suffer, the Indian in India suffers, the Russian suffers. So human beings, looking at all the inhabitants of the world, go through this extraordinary phenomenon. Right? All human beings have their own idiosyncrasies, their own way of doing things, their peculiar habits, their fears, their gods, their beliefs, right through the world this is a common factor. This is so. The speaker says so. And you say, no, it is not like that. I am different from my neighbour. The speaker then says, are you really? You may have a bigger car, a wider garden, beautifully kept, you work at that garden, you may have a bigger house, or a smaller house. Right? But the superficial difference both biologically and physically, is natural, it is there, it is a fact: you are tall, another is short, one is very, very clever, the other is not, and so on. But go beyond that, or go below that, which is in the psychological world. In the psychological world we all share the same sorrow, sorrow is common to all of us. You may have pleasure in one way but it is still pleasure. It is still fear. You may be afraid of the dark, another may be afraid of some other thing. Fear is common to all of us. Right?
So we all share the same consciousness. And you say to that, it sounds very logical, but is it true? Is it a fact, or are you making something to be a fact, because you want to bring about a non-individual existence, which is unreal? So I say, listen to what I am saying: are you an individual at all? Factually, are you? Because you have a different complexion, different upbringing, you are a Catholic, I am a Protestant, you are a Buddhist, I am a Hindu and so on. Externally you are different, obviously. That is a fact. But inwardly, are you different? Please. You say, yes, I am quite different. What makes you say that you are different? Is it because you think you are different? Or is it a fact that you are different? You understand? Thinking is one thing, and the fact is another. Thinking about a fact is something totally different from the fact. The fact is are you different? Not that you think you are different. Psychologically, inwardly? We cheat, we lie, we want success, we want money. This is a common thing to all human beings. Right? So we are saying there is no individual consciousness, it is not your consciousness. And you say, I don't believe it. It's your invention. I say, look, when you call yourself an individual, what is the meaning of that word 'individual', the meaning? The root meaning of that word, it means indivisible. Right? Are you indivisible, or fragmented? You understand? If you are fragmented, as you are, you are not an individual. Don't use that word. You are a fragmented human being, like all other fragmented human beings. Individual means unique. You are not. We would like to be unique, we think we are unique because we are clever, we are this, you know, which is a form of vanity.
So when you examine it very closely, unbiased, without any sense of egotism in this, you find we are humanity. We don't share the same consciousness, we are humanity. I wonder if you understand this? When you hear that statement, either you accept it as an idea, or hearing that statement you make an abstraction of it and say, it is a good ideal. Right? And you say, you are avoiding the fact when you make an ideal of the fact. Right? So please look at the fact that every human being in the world goes through all kinds of problems, misery, unhappiness, and if he is a clever man and wants to earn money he does all kinds of crooked things, you know, the whole game. And we all do the same thing in a different way, but the motive, the urge is the same. And you reply to all that, yes, I follow it all logically but I can't feel the depth of your statement that we are humanity, the feeling of it. Then the speaker says, why, why don't we feel this tremendous sense of wholeness in humanity? You understand? Not that we share the earth, the earth is our mother, and we are all born, etc., etc. I know that's the latest fashion, another fad in this country. Do you realise this, we move from fad to fad, the latest box we fall into.
So if one can look at the fact and not make an idea of it, or an abstraction of it as an ideal, but remain with the fact that we are really the whole of humanity, psychologically, then that feeling, when you remain with the fact, it gives a sense of tremendous energy, and there is no separation.
Let's move to the next question.
2nd QUESTION: Have you designated a special teacher, or a person, to carry on your Teachings after you have gone? Someone is claiming this position.
Have you designated a special teacher, or person, to carry on your Teachings after you have gone? - Where?! Someone is claiming this position.
I wonder why he is claiming this position. I know this is happening. I know the various people who are doing this kind of rubbish, but what are they claiming? Why do they want to follow somebody, after somebody. Suppose - not suppose - K is going to die. The speaker is going to die. That's certain, as all of us are going to die. That is one absolute, irrevocable fact, whether you like it or not. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he has said many things, written some books, and become somewhat - may I use the word notoriety - notorious, not as a criminal but some kind of freak, or religious teacher, another freak, or some kind of biological exception. And because of that, a sense of reputation in the world - which is so ugly, and it has no meaning, reputation - someone wants, or feels, or thinks himself that he is going to carry on K's work. Why? Probably it is very profitable, both financially, and you can say, well I can collect a lot of silly people. This is happening in the world. In the church there is the apostolic succession, you know, handed down. They have it too in India, in a different way.
So we all love authority. We all want to follow someone who says, I know. And we are all so gullible. We never say, look, I just want to live, I want to find out what you say, what you are, not what you represent, or your symbol, and all the rest of it. What you are. And you begin to doubt, question, what you are. And you soon discover that it is nothing very much.
So K is saying, the speaker is saying, he has designated no one, no teacher, or anyone to represent after he has gone to England, where he is going next week! It is all rather silly, isn't it?
3rd QUESTION: What do you mean by observing thought down to its very roots? I watch my thoughts but each one leads to another in an endless chain. What is the factor that ends this? What actually brings change?
We will answer this question. We will stop this back and forth. One of the questions is: can thought be aware of itself? One is thinking about what you will do when you get home. You are thinking what you will do when you get back. And you want to find out what is the quality of that thought, and can that thought be aware of itself? You understand my question? I am thinking of my next meal. Now can thought be aware that it is thinking of the next meal? Or is there an observer who says, I am thinking about my next meal? You understand? Right? Is the observer different from the observed? You understand? Is he different? Or both are thought? Isn't it? The observer is thought, and that which he is observing as thought is still thought. So the observer is thought. The observer is all the accumulated memories of the past. Right? And the observer then says, I am going to watch my thinking. I am going to watch what I think. I want to find out the root of my thinking. Right? The observer is saying this. But the observer is also thought. So two thoughts, one thought is watching the other thought. So the common factor between the two is thought. Right?
And what is the root of thought? That is the question. What is the root of it? What is the root of all our thinking, because we all think. The greatest scholar, the great scientists, and the most ignoramus, primitive person, thinks. So what is the root of thinking? And is it possible to find the root of thinking and is it also possible not to think at all? We are going to go into all that.
If I ask you a question, what is thinking, what is your reply? Probably you would say, I have never thought about it, I have never gone into this question. And I say, why not, because all your life is based on thought - business, everything you do is based on thought? Why aren't you interested in finding out what is thinking? What's wrong with you? You explore so many things, you go under the sea, you go in the air, you do all kinds of things, exploring, but you have never given your energy, or your urge to find out what is thought. And you say, sorry, I have never done it. And so we say: look, carefully observe what thought is first, what it does, what it has done in the technological world, and also what it is doing psychologically, what it is doing in its relationship to others. This whole movement, the technological world, what is happening psychologically, inwardly, and what is happening in your relationship through thought. The movement of thought, from the extreme technological world to the personal psychological world, and the relationship between the psychological world and the next person. It's the same movement, thought.
Now what does it do in the relationship between you and another? Right? What does it do? You say, I don't know, because I have never thought about it. Even if I thought about it I don't know how to go into it. And you leave it like that, hoping somebody will come along and explain the whole thing. Which means that you are not - forgive me for pointing out - you are not really concerned. If you are concerned you work at it. You are concerned to earn a livelihood, and you jolly well work at it. But here you say, sorry, I am used to this, or my parents, past generation upon past generation, are used to thinking, they have never gone into this question at all. And so you brush it aside and go on.
But whereas if you begin to apply, look, perceive, committed to find out, you must find out, then you say, is it that I can answer certain things very quickly, instantly, other things I take time. Right? So an instant response, taking time before response, and ultimately saying, I really don't know, I don't know. Right? These are our states of thinking: instant reply, taking time to respond to a question, thinking, looking, watching, asking, reading about it and then say, this is the answer. And the other is to say, I really don't know. So these are the states we go through. Now when you answer quickly you are familiar with it, it's everyday. You know the way to your home, you know the way to turn on the heater and so on, wash the dishes. But if one asks you something much more complex you take time. And if there is a question like, is there eternity, you say, I don't know. When you say, 'I don't know', either you are waiting for somebody to tell you, or you don't accept anything from anybody, but you say, I don't know. Right?
So let's examine what is the root of thinking. Please, you must work at this, otherwise there is no fun in this, just to listen and say, yes, this is so, and walk off. But to apply, find out, go into it, then it becomes extraordinarily interesting. Thought is surely memory, or rather the response of memory. Right? If there was no memory you can't think. That's obvious. If you are in a state of amnesia you can't think. So what is memory? Please, you are working, just don't listen, you are working to find out. What is memory? One is driving a car, going along, and you look in another direction and you have an accident - I hope not you, I. I am having an accident. And that accident causes pain and all the rest of it. So that accident has been recorded in the brain, as memory of that incident. Right? So that accident has brought certain knowledge. Right? And that accident has been an experience. Right? So that accident is an experience, which has brought knowledge, and that knowledge has been stored in the brain as memory. Right? And the response to that memory is thought. Right? That's simple. Right? So my experience is limited, my knowledge is limited, my memory is limited, so my thought is limited. Right? These are facts. So whatever thought does is limited. Whatever it does, whether it imagines there is eternity, it's limited, whether god, invented by thought, that god will still be limited. I can give him various attributes, say he is omnipotent, he is all powerful, all compassion, but he is still limited because thought has put him there.
So thought is limited. Right? Do we see this fact? Not my explanation of the fact, but the fact that thought is always limited because it is based on knowledge. Knowledge can expand, more and more and more and more. When there is more, there is still more. You understand? More is a measurement. Right? So the 'more', which is measurement, and that measurement is limited. Whenever I say, I am better, it is limited. Right?
So thought is limited. And all our actions based on thought naturally must be limited. Clear? That's a fact. Now what does limitation do? When I am thinking about myself, which is very limited, I spend all my days thinking about myself, that limitation creates trouble for somebody else - to my wife, to my husband, to my children - because I am thinking about myself which is very small. So any action that is limited must bring conflict. Right? My country, small, the country may be enormous, many thousands of miles across, but my concept of my country is very small. I can imagine it is not, but it is still that imagination saying, it is very large, it is marvellous - it is still limited. So that limitation is creating conflict with another limitation, with a British limitation, or - which is your common enemy now? So it goes on.
So do we see this fact that limitation must create division and therefore conflict? And we have accepted conflict as inevitable, as part of our existence. And we have never asked: is it possible to live without conflict? And it is only possible if you understand the whole significance of thought. And to find out what place has thought and where thought has no place at all. You understand? Thought has a place - when you go from here to your house, drive a car, write a letter, do your business, the computer, and all the rest of it, thought there is necessary. And in the psychological world is it necessary at all, which is my relationship with another? Go into, sir, work it out. In your relationship with another, intimate or not, has thought a place, knowing that thought is limited, divisive, therefore conflict? If you see that as an actuality not just a theory, a concept, then that very perception, the seeing of it, then relationship means something entirely different. Right?
So one asks then further - perhaps this is not the moment - is love an attribute of thought? What is the relationship of love to thought? Has it any relationship, or no relationship at all? We will go into that when we talk about all this.
But the question is: what is the root of thought, and whether thought can bring about a change? Please understand, this is the question. What is the factor that ends this, the continuity, change, and what actually brings change? Can thought bring change? You understand? That which is limited thinks it can change. And therefore when it tries to change it will still be limited. I wonder if you see all this. This is not clever, logical conclusions but actuality. There must be change in human behaviour, human endeavour, human existence. That's obvious. But when thought organises the change, that change is still limited, therefore no change at all. When thought says, I am going to create an organisation, the new world, the new box you invent, that is created by thought. Therefore that organisation, that foundation, that institution, is limited, and it is going to create conflict. Right?
So what is it that brings about change? You are following all this? Somewhat at least. Thought obviously cannot. It can organise change. Organisation is put together by thought. It can plan change but the planning is limited. So when one realises, sees the fact, the truth that thought cannot possibly bring about a change, because thought itself is limited, and therefore whatever it does is limited. Right? Therefore what will bring change?
The thing is laid before you very clearly. Verbally, the description is accurate, not exaggerated, and it's left to you to answer that question: as thought cannot possibly bring about change, mutation, total psychological revolution, then what will? So thought says, 'Yes, god, I'll pray'. This is happening. 'I'll pray'. Prayer again is invented by thought, therefore very limited. So if one sees the fact, the truth, that thought is absolutely limited, then what takes place in the brain? Answer it, examine. When one realises actually the fact, and an enormous fact it is, it is a tremendous revolution to see the fact. Already revolution has taken place when you see the fact. Because we never accept thought can do anything; it can - it has gone to the Moon, and put a silly flag on there. It can do anything, but always limited. If you see that revolutionary fact there is already a mutation of the cells themselves in the brain. I wonder if you understand this?
One has walked all one's life north, going always north - suppose. And you come along and say, sorry, that leads nowhere, try going east or west or south. And I say, yes, I'll go south. The very movement, where you had been going north has now suddenly changed to going south. There is a mutation taking place, a change has taken place. You have been going north habitually day after day, so the brain is conditioned going north. Now you come and say, there is nothing there, you explain it, logically, sanely, so you say, quite right I'll go south. That movement away from the north has brought about a mutation in the very brain cells themselves. Right? You won't accept this, go into it, you will see it for yourself. The realisation of a truth, that very realisation brings a radical change. There is no, 'I will meditate to change, I'll make an effort to change'.
4th QUESTION: Please explain what you mean by saying that if one perceives truth and doesn't act, it acts as poison.
Do you need an explanation for that? All right. I have heard the truth that thought is limited. That's the truth, that's not an invention, that's not an exotic idea, something conceived by some idiot or other, it's a fact. And I listen to the fact, the truth of it. And I carry on my daily life. What takes place? I have realised something to be true and I am acting quite the opposite to that. What happens? Conflict increases more and more and more. It is much better not to hear the truth, then you can carry on in your old way. But the moment you hear something to be extraordinarily beautiful, and that beauty is not just a mere description but the actuality of that beauty, when you do something ugly, and keep on repeating doing the ugly thing, obviously it is a poison. It not only affects you physically, inwardly, and also it affects a great deal the brain that has heard something to be true and does the contrary. Therefore it's much better not to hear if you want to carry on in your old way.
There is a very good story of two robbers. And they have been robbing, and their father has been praising god for his kindness, for their benefit - you understand, thieves have also gods, not only the rich people. So one day they have been robbing somebody or other, and they are coming back. In the square, there is a man giving a sermon, and he is saying you must never steal, you must never hurt another, be kind. The other brother closes his ears, he doesn't want to hear, and the other brother hears it. And for the rest of his life he is in pain.
I think this is a fact, really a great fact, and we don't seem to realise it; that when something enormously beautiful, you see, you are sensitive enough to see that beauty, and you do something ugly, it really tortures you, if you are sensitive. And that's why truth is such a dangerous thing.
5th QUESTION: Why is the observance of silence so important for seekers of truth?
Who said this? Who said that the observance of silence is necessary to perceive truth? Has the speaker said it? Or some other person said it? Or have you searched for truth and you have discovered silence is necessary? Can truth be searched? You understand my question? Can truth be sought after? If you seek truth you have already established what truth is. Right? You are already moving in that direction. Which means truth is something fixed, and you, in your search for truth you find it because you believe truth is already preconceived and you go after it.
Now why do you think silence is necessary? I don't know. Somebody says so. So I am not going to listen to another, however reputed, or has a great reputation and all that nonsense. I am going to find out. Can a chattering mind, brain, chattering, ever listen to anything? You are chattering, talking to your friend, and you come along and say, I want to tell you something. You don't listen because you are chattering. So can a chattering mind listen? Obviously not. So to listen you have to pay attention. Right? That's natural. To pay attention is rather difficult because we never attend to anything completely; we listen partially, partially talk, and partially do this. We never proceed to find out anything to its very end. I don't know where the end is but we will go on until we discover something. So can a chattering mind, can a mind that is occupied from morning until night, and during the night, can it ever be quiet? Not to find truth, good god! It's an ordinary question. Please answer it for oneself: can a brain that is occupied, with business, with sex, with pleasure, with fear, with its loneliness, you follow, occupied with something or other, with its hair, how it looks, how it doesn't look. You know, all the rest of it, it is occupied - with god, with Jesus, with saviours, with meditation - being occupied with meditation!
So the natural question then is: is it possible to stop this tremendous endless continuity of occupation? It would be natural to stop when you are attending to something. If you are attending to what the speaker is saying now, attend, which is listening, you are not occupied, you are listening. Not in that listening when you say, well I don't quite agree with that, I think you are right, I think you should put it differently, I understand this differently, why do I understand it differently, and so on. But if you actually listen you are attentive, and attention is silence. Right? I wonder why we make everything so complex. Life is complex, tremendously, like the computer, it is a tremendously complex thing. But to understand it one must have a very simple mind. To have a simple clear mind, uncluttered, then attention becomes extraordinarily simple.
That's enough for today. It's over.